How can retailers make online reviews more useful?
Beyond making sure they’re credible, many websites are improving sorting capabilities, providing more information on reviewers and taking other steps to help consumers quickly benefit from online reviews.
A review of several websites by RetailWire shows a few unique techniques being used:
- Editing: Sites such as Amazon.com let reviews run long while others edit copy down to key points.
- Images/videos: Reviewers can add videos and images on Amazon and Kohl’s.
- Multiple ratings: While most sites only show the overall rating of the product on a one- to five-star basis, Macy’s enables reviewers to rate footwear by whether it fits narrow or wide or whether it has arch support. Home Depot lets reviewers provide a rating on refrigerators based on features, energy efficiency, quality and value.
- Pros and cons: Best Buy sums up five brief pros and cons for each product based on mentions in reviews.
- Reviewer profile: On Williams Sonoma’s website, a review of knives provides information on the reviewer’s ability level, how long they’ve owned the product at the time of the review, and how frequently they use the product. On Macy’s, reviewers often provide their age range, gender, location, how frequently they purchase at Macy’s, a description of their style and what occasion they bought the product for. Walmart highlights whether the reviewer is a “top 1000 contributor” or a Walmart associate. Amazon details how many helpful votes each reviewer has earned and their reviewer ranking. Many sites display whether the reviewer is a “verified purchaser.”
- Searching reviews: Both Amazon and Best Buy enable keyword searches, such as looking for the word “battery” in reviews of electronic devices.
- Sorting: The most common sorting is newest to oldest, most to least helpful, and highest to lowest rating. A few reviews sort by relevancy, which combines factors such as helpfulness votes, latest reviews and other beneficial traits. Kohl’s enables sorting by photo reviews first or video reviews first. Garnett Hill enables reviews by rave reviews first, expert reviews first, staff reviews first, top contributors first, and length (long to short, short to long).
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How can online reviews be taken to a more useful level? Should any of the techniques and features mentioned in the article be adopted more commonly?