Why product reviews are essential in eCommerce

Care to share?

Shopping online is not the same tangible experience as shopping in a physical store. Customers can’t see or touch the product and may not be familiar with a store or a brand. Online shoppers need to gather more information and build confidence in order to make a purchase.   

In the brick-and-mortar world, customers often rely on word of mouth, which means recommendations from their friends, relatives, or acquaintances. Online reviews are a new form of word of mouth. They help online shoppers progress from consideration to purchase. For businesses, online reviews are free marketing.  

Why product reviews are essential in eCommerce 

If online customers don’t know much about your business, brand, or product, they won’t have much reason to buy from you. After all, today’s eCommerce platforms and online marketplaces are brimming with countless products at competitive prices. You might be doing your best to stand out in an oversaturated landscape, but just listing product details on your website may not be enough to convince customers to click the buy button.  

During the early stages of their purchasing journey, customers are more willing to trust other people who have already had an interaction with you even if they don’t know that person. In other words, they need social proof. They want to know that your brand is reputable and trustworthy, your products do what they say, and they’ll have a positive experience with your brand. That’s where customer reviews come in. 

Customers read reviews to learn about a business, gather information such as a product’s quality, fit, and size, and decide whether said product is right for their needs. For example, if you’ve ever tried to buy hiking shoes online, you know that brands size products differently. Even within one brand, sizes may vary between the collections and models. As retailers and manufacturers rarely make this information available, the best way to understand what an online product is truly like in the flesh is to read opinions from people who have walked a mile in those hiking shoes.  

These factors are arguably more influential for customers of high-engagement products that have longer consideration stages. If someone is in the market for luxury goods, tech products, or financial services, for example, they’re more likely to turn to product reviews to make sure they’re getting what they’re paying for.  

Ultimately, these testimonials could be what convinces someone to make a decision to buy a product from your platform or look elsewhere. You only have to look at Amazon to see how much weight verified reviews carry. The marketplace has millions of product reviews and features them prominently because they know that these strongly influence purchase decisions.   

But if you want more solid proof, just look at recent research on local businesses. It showed that 98% of consumers read online reviews, and 46% trust them as much as a personal recommendation.  

Whether it’s a positive or negative review, they directly affect everything from your brand reputation to SEO. When used correctly as part of your overarching business strategy, they can also provide invaluable insight into how to improve your products and increase sales. Let’s look at each of the reasons why product reviews are essential in eCommerce.  


Free to use image sourced from Unsplash 

Good product reviews help increase sales  

A recent study found that having just five good product reviews can increase the likelihood of a purchase by 270%. If you’re an eCommerce business that doesn’t attract many reviews, you may find it hard to grow sales.  

New customers who are not familiar with your business or products need to see positive reviews from other customers before they can decide to purchase your products. If you have good reviews, it is easier for prospects to build trust in your products and brand and buy from you.  

For example, companies looking to upgrade their communications will find thousands of customer reviews for the Vonage cloud-based business phone system, APIs, and contact centers. By leveraging TrustPilot, Vonage gathers feedback from existing customers and displays verified reviews, which can carry considerably more weight. These testimonials form a vital part of Vonage’s sales and marketing strategy by helping generate leads and boost brand image. 


Screenshot sourced from Vonage.com 

In the eCommerce environment, trust is built through online reviews, which is why it is essential for any business, particularly new businesses, to have a social proof strategy in place. This forms the conceptual basis of such powerful metrics as the net promoter score, which is so useful to marketers because it is a direct indicator of how likely customers are to recommend their product or service to someone else.   

Product reviews are essential in the B2C environment, but their importance is also growing in the B2B sector where eCommerce is making strides. How do your new B2B customers gather information on your business and products? Yep, by searching online.  

Good product reviews support an SEO strategy  

eCommerce businesses aim to rank high in search engine results pages because it drives organic traffic, makes paid search spending more effective, and ultimately delivers sales. An SEO strategy helps achieve this goal, but it takes a lot of time and effort, and there are many factors that affect the rankings.  

A strong SEO strategy is a priority. And product reviews are a big part of this strategy.  

Google’s algorithm ranks web pages with customer reviews higher in search results. Customer reviews tend to contain relevant keywords, such as the names of your products or brand, that further boost your SEO. The more good reviews your business has, the higher you’ll rank in the search results.  

Because Google shows ratings and reviews in search results, they may influence the customer’s purchase decision before they even click through to your website. And those prospects who click through contribute to higher website traffic and sales if your website does its job.  

In addition, many companies like to feature good ratings on their own website. Only Domains, for example, puts its Trustpilot reviews at the bottom on a banner for everyone to see.   


Screenshot from onlydomains.com 

Product reviews provide product insight  

Companies spend large amounts of money on market research every year to learn more about customers and their preferences. Yet, not every company incorporates customer reviews into their marketing strategy even though they provide free insight.  

This may be especially true in the B2B sector where businesses tend to rely on human contact to make a sale. As business solutions become more technological and more complex, the procurement process is moving online. 

Your customers use your product reviews as a source of insight. When you book a hotel or a restaurant, you’ll be interested in the overall rating but also want to read negative reviews. Negative reviews can be a rich source of information that a business would not disclose publicly.   

In fact, five times more buyers look for the bad reviews than the good. A negative review provides your prospects with an alternative view of your products, their features, functionality, uses, pricing, and customer service. And some reviewers may even recommend your competitors.  

A single negative review doesn’t constitute a trend of course, but if there are several reviews that mention the same issues, this is something you want to look into. Use the feedback to improve your products and customer service. You never know; your customers may even give you an idea for a new product. 

Free to use image sourced from Unsplash

Embrace product reviews for success  

We are leading increasingly digital lives, and eCommerce is a big part of it. More and more businesses are going online and adopting eCommerce platforms to stay relevant and grow sales.  

Successful eCommerce businesses understand the value of product reviews. They embrace and proactively solicit them in line with their social proof strategy. They treat reviews as a source of invaluable customer feedback, monitor and analyze them, use them to differentiate themselves from the competition, and showcase them in multiple customer touchpoints to help customers convert.  

Published April 26, 2024