Ratings & Reviews are a key source of information that help drive purchase decisions. They are two of the main signals consumers use to determine the quality of a product they see online. Since they can’t physically hold your products or test them out (and returning something they bought online usually isn’t as convenient as going to the store), they want to be confident they’re getting a product that will meet their needs.
Branding is obviously an important factor that helps you stand out among the competition. But when it comes to online retailers, being the most well-known brand isn’t the only way to stand out. Established brands constantly get beat by up-and-comers with good reviews.
If you want to win in your product category and maximize conversions, here are three things you need to know about ratings and reviews.
1. An average rating under four stars will cost you sales
It’s impossible to please everyone. Some consumers give low reviews because of a bad shipping experience, a poor experience with the retailer, or other factors that have nothing to do with you or your products. That can’t be helped. And savvy shoppers learn to mentally filter out these kinds of reviews.
But once your overall rating dips below four stars, it sends a signal to your potential customers: a lot of people have not been happy with this product. And if it sinks too close to three stars, that makes purchasing your product feel like a gamble: they’re just as likely to have a poor experience as a good one!
A low average rating is a problem you need to proactively address.
If the problem is retailer specific—meaning you have lots of great reviews on Amazon, but only a handful of mediocre ones at Walmart, it might mean that you just need to focus on soliciting reviews from Walmart customers, and the problem will resolve itself over time.
Depending on the retailer though, low ratings associated with a particular seller could be a sign that they aren’t representing your brand well, and that you should reconsider whether you want them to be a retail partner moving forward.
But maybe there’s something that’s consistently coming up in negative reviews. A flaw in the product or a feature people were expecting. That’s something you need to correct if you want to see your reviews improve. This could include updating the product description to make sure there is no confusion to the customer of what they’re buying. (By the way, you can use our Ratings & Reviews tool to see what your negative reviews have in common.)
2. Consumers don’t trust a low number of reviews
When a consumer looks at your ratings and reviews, they’re looking at the subjective opinions of random strangers. They have little reason to trust a single review, whether it’s good or bad. A higher review volume brings credibility to the product and the overall brand.
Sometimes the context of that review helps build trust—maybe someone mentions they’ve been a roofing contractor for 20 years. Or an electrician. A hair stylist. Or they have some other experience that’s directly relevant to their ability to assess the product in question.
But sometimes people don’t say anything about the product. Or their clipped sentences and emotional reactions don’t communicate anything useful to other consumers.
Regardless of how reliable the content of your reviews are, a low number of them can make your product seem unestablished, untested, or not reputable. Even a perfect five-star rating is questionable when you only have a handful of reviews. It’s too small of a sample size, and it can lead people to assume your product isn’t a popular choice in your category.
A product with a 4.1 star rating and 3,000 reviews looks a lot more reputable and established than a product with a 5.0 rating and four reviews. That difference in consumer trust can easily outweigh price differences as well. People will gladly pay more for a product they’re more confident in.
If you have a low number of ratings, there are a few things you can do. You can:
- Participate in a product sampling program that gives away your product in exchange for reviews
- Ask your customers to review your product via email and other channels
- Include a request to review your product in your packaging materials
Over time, you should naturally accumulate more reviews, but you can also take steps to accelerate the process. (And if you’re confident in your product, there’s no reason not to!)
3. You can leverage reviews on a retailer’s website
Big online retailers like Amazon, Target, and Home Depot tend to accumulate a lot of reviews on their product pages. Many brands, on the other hand, tend to have a low number of reviews on their own website. You simply don’t get the same kind of traffic as major online retailers.
If you have a low number of reviews or bad ratings on your website, but a high number of reviews (or good ratings) on a retailer’s site, you definitely want to use those reviews to your advantage and display them on your website. This is an easy win that can help drive purchase decisions and give an immediate boost to your conversion rate—especially if you link directly to your product page on that retailer’s site (just don’t make any of these basic mistakes).
It’s also worth noting: whether you do it or not, consumers assume you’re curating the reviews on your own website and hiding anything negative—so they trust reviews on a retailer’s site more.
Our Ratings & Reviews tool lets you showcase reviews from retailers’ websites directly on your product pages, so every product can make the best impression. You can also link directly to the relevant product page on each retailer’s site, helping consumers purchase your products in the way that’s most convenient for them.
Maximize your conversion
“Ratings and reviews” was just one of the areas we covered in the most recent episode of our podcast, PriceSpider Ecommerce Connected. Each episode is packed with ecommerce expertise that manufacturers and retailers alike can leverage to improve their product pages, polish up their brands, and maximize conversions.