Online Customer Reviews Becoming Bigger Purchase Driver
By Tom Ryan
According to a new survey from e-tailing group and PowerReviews, online shoppers are taking more time reading customer reviews before making purchase decisions. They are also reading more reviews to gain confidence.
Of the 1,000 respondents, 64 percent of the online shoppers spend 10+ minutes reading reviews, compared with 50 percent who did so in 2007, according to marketingprofs.com. Thirty-nine percent said they read eight or more reviews to be confident in judging a product (vs. 22 percent in 2007) and 12 percent say they read 16+ reviews (vs. five percent in 2007).
Overall, 64 percent said they consistently read online reviews prior to making product purchase decisions. When asked what website capabilities or features most influence product selection and purchase decisions, customer reviews and product ratings was the top selected answer (72 percent). That was closely followed by customer service information (69 percent), third-party buying category guides and expert opinions (64 percent). Top-rated product lists, as rated by customers, were named by 60 percent.
Other findings from the survey:
- When asked what community or social media tools have the greatest impact on their buying behavior, customer reviews ranked first (71 percent.) That was followed by Q&A (customers asking/answering questions on site) at 57 percent; community forums (45 percent), and Facebook wall (31 percent).
- Over one-half (57 percent) of online shoppers say they trust customer reviews, but only to corroborate other information. Some 35 percent, however, think they might be biased and only six percent trust reviews completely and more than other source.
- Asked what degrades their trust in reviews, not enough reviews (50 percent) ranked first, followed by doubts that they are written by real customers (39 percent); lack of negative reviews (38 percent), positive reviews always positioned first (25 percent) and lack of information about reviewer (23 percent).
Discussion Questions: How critical a purchase-driver do you believe customer reviews and rankings are becoming for e-commerce? What else can retailers be doing to capitalize on interest in customer reviews? Are there feasible ways to better capitalize on customer reviews at the store level?