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Why Reviews aren’t enough in today’s world

By Chris Dawson May 21, 2021 - 1:44 pm

Liam Chennells, CEO, detected - Why Reviews aren’t enoughLiam Chennells is CEO of detected, who are building the global mark of trust for ecommerce, aiming to verify that businesses are who they say they are adding trust to the buying, whether this be a business buying from a business or a consumer shopping online. Today Liam examines the value of reviews and postulates that, in themselves, review aren’t enough.

Why Reviews aren’t enough

Buying online is easier with reviews. They help us to make decisions.

For retailers and marketplace sellers, positive reviews become proud badges of honour. For consumers, positive reviews signify safety and confidence.

Poor reviews? No sale.

Reviews aren’t perfect though.

Buyer trust in recent years, especially the public’s trust in product reviews, has been eroded. While helpful for shoppers, their credibility has been undermined by those who have recognised a review’s limitations.

In fact, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been busy investigating fake reviews since 2015.

Despite the organisation’s efforts, there is now a thriving ‘fake review’ trade. Only recently did Facebook take down 16,000 groups that were trading in fake reviews. Arguably, the industry has been too slow to respond, instead choosing to wash its collective hands of the problem.

Action only seems to occur when there’s external pressure.

Can marketplaces do anything?

Some think so.

Progressive marketplaces believe in the selling power of trust and as a result they are investing in processes, data and technologies that tackle this issue head on.

Trustpilot, for example, has taken significant measures to strengthen trust in its reviews. More than 100,000 reviews are analysed every day through a powerful combination of technology and people. Last year, Trustpilot culled 2.2 million reviews according to its transparency report.

So, while fake reviews appear to be a never ending challenge for the entire eCommerce sector, progress is happening.

This brings us onto the real heart of the problem – what builds and breaks buyer trust.

Fake reviews might be the headlines, but their existence is not the real problem

What is a review? Think about that for a second.

Reviews provide us with insight into a product and the customer service that we expect to receive.

They talk about how easy a flatpack desk is to assemble. They tell us whether the product matches its description. They indicate value. They validate customer service teams.

All this information is helpful, however something is missing.

Reviews don’t tell us about the business itself

The buyer doesn’t know what country the business is registered in, or if they do, how long the company has been trading for. Our flatpack seller could be based in Liverpool and have been in business for two decades. Or, it might be trading out of another country and formed less than six months ago.

Reviews won’t tell us what a company’s credit rating is or whether it’s changed. Is the business likely to be in financial difficulty soon? Customer service might be excellent, but what happens if the business suddenly liquidates? Often, buyers don’t even know if the seller is allowed to legally trade.

Everyone is at risk with these unknowns. The consumer. The marketplace.

The shortcomings of reviews affect sellers too. There are plenty of reputable businesses with strong trading histories out there ready to sell through marketplaces. A negative review can dramatically skew their feedback and derail that company from growing online in the future.

Is there a solution?

Reviews, when they work, are great, but buyers need more nowadays. They need information they can trust. They need context. They require transparency.

Sellers sell more when buyers trust them. Buyers are more confident when they know precisely who they’re dealing with. Marketplaces become safer, more profitable and more productive.

People often say ‘you need to earn my trust first’. The same applies to the world of reviews.

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