User reviews are changing the landscape of online shopping – sharing is caring

“Power to the people” has never been as meaningful in the context of modern e-commerce trends. A potential online shopper has never relied more on the analysis of the people already using the product than in the last few years.

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Let’s begin the analysis with five mind-boggling statistics:

  1. In 2014 a poll discovered that 29 % of people are making decisions by reading 1-3 reviews, today that number is at 44%
  2. In 2014, 88% of potential buyers read online reviews, the already high % went up to a staggering 92% today
  3. Judging by today’s poll, the single most important factor that forms the opinion of a consumer is the rating a company or product receive from other users
  4. 58 % percent of people would do business or be a customer of a business that has a 3 star rating. Add one star, bringing the review ratings to 4 star and the number skyrockets to 94 %
  5. 88% of people already have a formed opinion by reading no more than ten reviews

The trend gave birth to a whole new industry – companies that harness the power of user reviews, process the pool of data and present it in a single number or rating.

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“Reviews are the new word-of-mouth – it’s like running to your best friend in the 80s and hearing them raving about their new Tube Cube TV set”, says James Menta, the editor-in-chief of 3beds.com, a website that does just that – gathers intel and reviews about the best camping air mattresses and presents it in a single number – the rating of the airbed.

The power shift to transparency

The new data that we presented above means that the jungle market is settling down and honest businesses are the ones that will stay afloat in online shopping

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A decade back, online shopping was already all the rage, but there wasn’t a reliable system in place to form your opinion. Sure, you had reviews, but there was no way to authenticate whether it’s genuine.

Imagine this scenario – a small company launches a new product.

A decade back all they’d have to do to jump up to the top of the listings of online retailers is have their own people leave raving reviews about the quality of the product.

A few year’s back, things changed as the biggest names in Online shopping like Amazon implemented strict policies of “verified purchases” tags (launched in 2009).

They are still way around this and they do happen – companies might offer the product to people at a discount for their review, but the review will not have the verified purchase tag. The company can go on with this, which is OK if they are doing it just to attract the attention to the quality of the product and the users actually provide honest reviews.

But, as time goes by, it’s impossible for the companies that do it just to get positive reviews to keep up with the natural flow of things and still flip a profit.

With the system of verifying the order, only true quality can stay afloat.

What this means for you, the shopper?

Businesses need you, the customer, to form a good opinion about them which has made all the difference in the way customer care is approached, as well as warranties and returns.

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It also makes life easier – you can do your own research and be confident that you are getting the right information.

“Caveat emptor – buyer beware”, however, still applies. Only the “emptor” can now stress a bit less.