New research from the e-tailing group has reinforced the importance of user reviews for etailers, with 98% of shoppers reading reviews before making a purchase.

The US-based study (pdf) concludes that reviews are a 'must-have' for e-commerce sites, so why are some retailers still not adding reviews?

Highlights from the study include:

  • More than half of consumers said they spent 10 minutes or more reading reviews before deciding whether to purchase.
  • 65% of consumers read reviews 'all' or 'most of' the time. Of these users, 76% were more likely to shop on a website that offered user reviews.
  • The more reviews, the better - 68% felt that at least four reviews of a product were needed to make a purchase decision.
  • For etailers, the top three reasons for adding user reviews were customer experience, customer loyalty and driving sales.

Despite the apparent benefits of user reviews, a lot of etailers have yet to adopt them.

In our Social Commerce Report last year, we found that just 28% of retailers surveyed had added them, though 52% were considering this option.

According to Bazaarvoice's Brett Hurt, the addition of reviews can lead to an uplift in conversion rates of up to 20%, as well as increasing average order values by 15% to 30%.

Reviews can be especially useful for consumer electronics purchases, yet many UK websites in this sector have yet to adopt user reviews, including PC World, though both Comet and Curry's have recently added this function.  

As well as being useful to help customers decide on a purchase, reviews can have a positive effect on etailers' credibility and also provide some useful unique content, which is very useful from an SEO perspective.

Related research:
Social Commerce Report 2007

Related stories:
Online reviews are mostly positive – Bazaarvoice
Online review authenticity - do we really have a problem?

Graham Charlton

Published 19 February, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (5)



I read reviews but my criticisms are :
they are mostly useless.
I would only write a review if paid. Maybe a discount voucher could be offered
The info given by the seller is usually not good enough. Often appalling.

Maplins has a good idea. It lets viewers ask questions under an item, which is then replied. Ironically, as bad as ebay is, its shop sellers often give more info on a product because they wrote it themselves, albeit still at an ignorant level as to what could be achieved. Internet shopping should be very enjoyable, but instead you often don't know what exactly you are buying.

over 10 years ago


Chris Winstanley, Marketing Manager at Reevoo

An interesting article - the study results are similar to findings of research conducted last year by YouGov, on behalf of Reevoo.

One inaccuracy that I would like to correct is that Comet and Currys websites both have customer reviews. Reevoo work with Comet and Currys, along with dozens of other UK retailers, to provide impartial reviews on their websites.

Interestingly, the research conducted last year also pointed to 'impartial reviews from customers who had definitely bought the product' as being by far the most influential, in terms of influencing a shopper's decision making process.

This goes to show that customer reviews are important to retailers; making sure they are 100% genuine is vital.

Chris Winstanley

over 10 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the comments. I did have a look at Curry's and Comet and didn't see any reviews for the products I searched for, but I can see a few reviews now so I'll correct the errror.

over 10 years ago

Jonathan Moody

Jonathan Moody, Freelance at Language4Communications

Reading reviews is clearly part of the consumer journey before making a purchase decision and if that can be done on the same retailers site (or closely linked to it) then that obviously has an impact that will be positive in most cases.

Equally important are the myriad social media (networks, blogs, forums, usenets, message boards etc) that consumers can consult for opinions to inform their choices. Some e-tailers are always going to be reticent in allowing complete freedom of expression on their websites and hence the importance of them knowing where their company, products, services and brands are being discussed, what people are saying about them and the impact these conversations can have on purchase decisions.

Genuine reviews clearly have greater credibility among consumers and there are many examples / accusations of fake postings in social media. However, companies still need to extract insight from all reviews / opinions - good, bad, fake and real because all can make an impact on reputation and ultimately, sales.

Jon Moody

over 10 years ago



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about 9 years ago

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