Online shopping has become a multibillion-dollar revenue stream for retail businesses across the world. In Europe alone, B2C eCommerce is predicted to generate over €250 billion in revenue by the end of 2017. With the rise of eCommerce sites such as Amazon and eBay, retailers around the world are under pressure to win over customers who have a vast amount of choice when it comes to buying products and services online. In fact, consumers are now turning to each other for guidance.
According to a BrightLocal survey, 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Online product and company reviews are one of the top channels customers use frequently to gain unbiased insights into a brand’s product – or even customer experience – before completing a purchase.
Customer reviews are also a great way for retailers to showcase their products and optimise customer service practices. But what can we learn from some of the millions of reviews out there?
Trusted Shops, a customer assurance and review platform, analysed over 4 million reviews from its clients’ largest markets in Europe – Germany, France and the UK – and here’s what they found.
Sectors and ratings
What kinds of stores get the most reviews?
Around the world, it appears that fashion retailers receive the most reviews. Perhaps this is indicative of all the factors that go into purchasing clothing and accessories online. Whether it’s the size, fit, material, colour or durability of the items, it’s something you can’t always see in photos.
The more details you can provide in your product descriptions, the fewer returns a shop gets. Product reviews are a great way for customers to share their experience with others.
When do customers leave reviews?
When it comes to the day of the week, Monday is the most popular day for leaving reviews. This makes sense as the weekend has passed and customers have had a chance to fully test out their products.
The most popular time of the day for customers to leave a review is between 8am and noon. The most negative reviews (14%), however, happen between 10pm and 6am.
It seems that people are more open to airing their grievances in the evening after a long day of work, so it would be best to send out review requests in the mornings, especially on Mondays.
This could be due to people procrastinating their Monday morning responsibilities. Bad for bosses around the world, great for retailers selling quality products!
What average rating do stores get?
An impressive 79% of stores receive 5-star ratings, while 14% receive a 4-star rating. Only 3% of reviews received 3 stars (2-star and 1-star ratings received 2% each). It must be noted that because Trusted Shops offers their clients a trustmark with a money-back guarantee for shoppers, participating retailers must go through an audit to qualify for the trustmark.
Those displaying the trustmark are proven to be quality online retailers, so perhaps these numbers don’t match the general results of shops that display reviews with other review providers.
How long is the average review?
The average review is about 14 words. Not very long, however, this can be contributed to the fact many Trusted Shops stores are audited and usually receive high ratings. If a product is great, reviewers don’t have much to say. On the other hand, when a retailer provides a bad customer experience, there can be plenty of things to complain about.
How much time do customers in different countries spend reading reviews?
We analysed the three major European markets to see what differences we could find when it comes to customer research. It seems that Britons spend the most time reading reviews from Trusted Shops review profiles, spending about 50 seconds scanning a shop’s reviews. French customers came in at about 45 seconds, and German spent about 38 seconds doing this.
Though these numbers can’t necessarily be attributed to cultural differences, what is apparent is that reviews are being read more and more around the world. The stats seem to back this up when considering that customers spend 31% more with a business that has “excellent” reviews, according to Invesp.
Furthermore, BrightLocal states that 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business. Yelp received their 100 millionth review last year indicating there’s no denying that reviews are the go-to source for consumers wanting to research a product before making a purchase.
Which devices do customers in different countries use to leave reviews?
These statistics are a bit more telling of how shoppers differ in different countries. In the UK, 50% of reviews were written using a desktop PC. The other 50% were written on mobile devices (26% on tablets and 24% on mobile). However, French and German customers were much more traditional.
In France, 62% of reviews were completed on desktop PCs, while 21% came from tablets and 17% came from mobile. Germans were the most traditional, with an overwhelming majority of reviews coming in on desktops (76%), 15% on tablets and only 9% on mobile.
As Britons are perhaps the most tech savvy reviewers, this trend is likely to continue for the eCommerce industry as a whole. While these statistics are only for reviews, you can be confident that shopping and of course general web-surfing is conducted on mobile devices even more than these numbers indicate.
Though one country may be more mobile-focused than another, it’s a clear sign that your shop should reflect the devices being used. Making sure your eCommerce site is mobile-responsive is imperative as many online retailers are increasingly becoming mobile friendly. Especially when you consider that Google’s updated search algorithm now prioritises mobile-friendly sites in its mobile search results pages.
With this in mind, if you’re a larger retailer that uses an app for online sales, it’s encouraged to use the push notification system to encourage your customers to leave a review.
Think about how Skype asks you for a rating directly after you end a call. If review requests are sent out at a strategic point after delivery – much like mobile games – customers are much more willing to leave a review.
As much as a customer might love your product, if you don’t ask them for a review, they probably won’t go out of their way to leave one for you.
Which demographics leave the most reviews?
Customers aged 25-34 seemed to be strong reviewers all around, but they were not the most likely to review a product in every country. In the UK, 25-34-year-olds came in at a close second-place, behind the next age bracket 35-44-year-olds. In France, 25-34-year-olds came in first place with slightly more than 25% of reviews.
In Germany, however, they were the 3rd biggest contributors to reviews, but it was still a high ratio, coming in at just under 20%.
But what’s really interesting is that across the board, young people aged 18-24 seem to be providing the lowest number of reviews overall. Consumers aged over 65 reviewed more products than 18-24-year-olds in every country researched apart from France.
With social media playing a large part in the lives of younger demographics, it’s important for eCommerce retailers to pay close attention to how review systems evolve with social media networks especially when you consider sites such as Facebook and Google utilising review systems within their own platforms.
As well as offering feedback to both retailers and their customers, implementing a review system is also a great way to produce user-generated content which can improve your search rankings as well and increase the value proposition of your products or services.
Adding star-ratings to your AdWords campaigns and organic search results through semantic markup has also been proven to generate higher click-through rates and increase conversions but these benefits can only be obtained by collecting a high volume of positive reviews.
But, collecting and displaying reviews isn’t where it ends. It’s also important to handle negative reviews appropriately and be transparent with your customers when something goes wrong. Many customers specifically search out negative reviews to see what went wrong and more importantly, how the company handled the situation.
Either way, a customer review system is a necessary part of any successful eCommerce strategy. If you don’t have one in place, it’s a good idea to start implementing one now. After all, having a good reputation is much better than having no reputation at all.
If you’d like to see this information and more in the form this article, an infographic with the results of the analysis can be found here.