Product ratings: benefit from your customers’ opinions

by Kristof Maletzke, 18.05.15



Product ratings and reviews play a vital role in e-commerce. In our article, we explain why ratings can boost your revenue and how to let your customers have their say in your shop.

You as a merchant can make a lot of promises to your customers – but at the end of the day consumers know your goal is to make a sale, and understand that you will therefore always showcase your products and services in their best light. For exactly this reason, e-commerce product ratings are now playing a key role in the sales process. Product ratings are generally understood as the evaluation by using stars or points. At Amazon for example, each product can be evaluated with one to five stars. Product reviews in which buyers describe their experiences with the products are even more helpful for potential customers.

If you allow your customers to publicly rate the products in your online shop, you can in many cases boost your sales success. That’s because Internet users love product ratings and attach great importance to them: in a survey conducted in 2012 across the USA, England and Canada, 72% of the respondents said they trust online ratings from strangers just as much as they do personal recommendations from friends.

Product ratings in your shop work like this

When this feature is activated, the product ratings are displayed at various places in your shop. You can see them most prominently on the individual product pages: that’s where the average rating and number of ratings are displayed, directly below the product name.

feature-spotlight-product-ratings-1-small-ENWhen customers click on it, they arrive at the product ratings further down on the same page. Customers then get to the rating page for this product via the “Write your own review” link. They can give a rating of one up to five stars and describe their experiences in a product review.

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While doing this, they’ll also be asked to leave their name and e-mail address. However, only you can see this data and they will not be disclosed in the shop.

The ratings can be seen in the search results and on the category pages too. This way, your customers get an overview about which products were rated positively by other customers.

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The ratings also play a role for the search: when the filter search is activated in your shop, your customers can use the rating as a search filter. During the search, for example, the customers can specify that only products which were rated with at least four out of five stars on average are displayed.

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Settings for product ratings

Numerous settings are available for product ratings in your shop’s administration area. The most important one is the activation or deactivation of this function, so you have the option to completely switch off the product ratings. You can also specify that new product ratings are not displayed right away in your shop, but that you have to approve them first. If you want, you can also allow only registered users to give product ratings. Since many customers simply forget about giving product ratings after their purchase, you can ask them to give a rating automatically by e-mail after a freely definable number of days.

You’ll see new ratings in your administration area and – if you have activated this option – you can then enable them.

Product ratings have these benefits for you as a merchant

By making product ratings possible in your shop, you get a wide array of benefits that can have a – direct or indirect – impact on your shop’s success.

  • Logically: favourable product ratings positively impact sales of the products which are praised. A study conducted by Big Social Media in 2014 revealed that products rated positively sell 200 percent better than those without a rating. The number of product ratings plays a role in this connection too: for the study, products with more than 50 ratings were compared with products that had a maximum of five ratings. Products rated a lot sold 63 percent more.
  • An online shop’s average shopping basket value often increases as well thanks to the implementation of product ratings, according to findings of E-Consultancy’s study.
  • Product reviews in which customers describe their experiences with a product are very interesting for other customers. Questions are also frequently answered here that potential customers ask and which could have possibly kept them from buying.
  • Reviews by customers are what you call “user-generated content”. The big advantage of this type of content is that you don’t have to write it yourself. To be displayed as close to the top as possible within search results of Google & Co., it’s also extremely useful to be able to continuously show new and current content in your online shop. This work is done thanks to product reviews by your customers. Your customers’ reviews usually also include important keywords that potential buyers enter into search engines.
  • A lot of online shoppers first research about the quality of the product they intend to buy before the purchase. On Google, they then, for example, type in “iPhone 6 ratings.” When you offer ratings in your shop, these users are then more likely to arrive at your shop. One example of the impact this can have is the animal feed brand, Friskies, from the USA: following the implementation of customer reviews, the number of users that came to the Friskies online shop through a search request with the keyword “reviews” swung up by 147 percent.
  • You get honest feedback from customers and learn a lot about their ideas and wishes. Alongside sales figures, the product ratings are one of the most important key performance indicators for your products. Through this, not only do you see how often certain products are bought, but also with which of your products customers are really satisfied.
  • The possibility of giving product ratings and writing reviews makes your customers feel they’re taken seriously. By leaving a rating, what marketing experts call “engagement”, takes place: another direct interaction with your online shop. In return your customers build a stronger loyalty to your shop, which turns them into regular customers faster.
  • The star rating is not only displayed on the individual product pages in your online shop but, also on the category pages and in the search results, where the ratings grab the users’ attention.

The positive effect of negative ratings

Some online merchants are afraid that products will be rated negatively, and that these ratings visible to all potential customers will then adversely affect their business success. But there are some reasons why negative ratings are justified too and do not necessarily have to be bad for you as a merchant.

  • The most obvious point was already mentioned above: you get direct feedback from the customer. This is how you find out which products did not fulfill their expectations and how you can take appropriate action.
  • Negative ratings often also contain valuable information for other customers and can to a great extent ensure that the return rate is reduced. Returns – that is, orders customers send back – are certainly a constant and costly annoyance for online merchants. Thanks to product ratings, the US online shop Petco, for example, succeeded in sharply reducing returns: products without customer reviews have a return rate that is around 20 percent higher than articles that do. Noteworthy as well: for Petco products which were reviewed more than 50 times, the return rate even dipped down by 50 percent compared to articles with a maximum of five ratings.
  • According to Big Social Media’s study, products rated negatively are purchased just as often as those that did not have any rating at all.
  • Anyone who believes products must always be improved or taken out of the program to resolve customer complaints is wrong. Big Social Media also analysed the reasons for negative ratings and while doing so, found that you can eliminate 55 percent of the points of criticism without changing the product itself: for example, by enhancing the product descriptions or optimising shipping and packaging.
  • And last but not least, negative ratings make the positive ones stand out, shine and appear more authentic. This is the finding of a study conducted by US-based Reevoo in 2012: accordingly, 68 percent of the customers are more likely to rely on product ratings when there are both good and bad ratings. And a full 30 percent become suspicious when there aren’t any negative ratings at all, which then leads them to suspect censorship or – even worse – fake ones.

Summing up, we can say: by displaying product ratings in your shop, you can in many cases boost your revenue, learn more about the quality of your products and create more interaction with your customers.

About the author


is Communications Manager at ePages.

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