A recent survey by Digital.com of 1,250 online shoppers in the United States found that 54% of them read reviews for everything they purchase. This is a significant increase from the days of simply buying a product and hoping for the best. Good reviews are playing the biggest role in online purchasing decisions, with 39% of online shoppers saying that 100+ reviews make a business trustworthy. Additionally, 88% of online shoppers read at least 3 reviews before making a purchase.
Consumer Habits: Checking Online Reviews
In the United States, 54% of people consult online reviews before making a purchase, regardless of the cost of the item. An additional 19% of people only read reviews for items that cost more than $100. Only 5% of respondents do not read any reviews before making a purchase. These numbers are consistent across different age groups, genders, and income levels.
The power of online reviews
We found that good reviews are the most influential factor in online purchases, with 26% of respondents saying that this is the deciding factor in whether or not they click buy. Male shoppers are more likely than female shoppers to say that good reviews have a significant impact, by a rate of 30% to 22%. For women, free shipping is more important, with 26% saying that this plays the biggest factor in their purchasing decisions.
What online shoppers really want is convenience.
Even though online reviews play a big role in their purchasing decisions, many consumers don’t really care which reviews they read. According to the survey, roughly one-third of respondents read whichever reviews they see first. This is something that online businesses should take note of. Nguyen says, “Most review platforms and 3rd-party marketplaces allow visitors to rate other customer reviews by their helpfulness or relevance. These reviews are often displayed first by default.” Companies should focus on maintaining a highly-positive overall review rating for their products because customers won’t read all product reviews before making a decision.
It’s even more important to respond to and resolve negative reviews and turn them into positive experiences for future visitors to see. For most shoppers, the effect that reviews have on their purchasing decisions is “average.” Fifty-five percent say a glowing review will help them make the final decision to buy a product, while 57% say a negative review will help convince them not to buy a product. And for 21% of shoppers, one negative review is all they need to see to convince them to spend their money elsewhere.
A plurality of respondents, 39%, say that businesses need 100-999 reviews to be considered trustworthy
while 19% say that 1,000-4,999 reviews are the sweet spot. Twenty-five percent of respondents are content with 1-99 reviews. Consumers rely on the shared experiences of others to learn about new brands and products, and review platforms give business owners a way to engage with customers.
How to Handle Customer Reviews, Whether They’re Good or Bad
Despite the reliance that many consumers place on online reviews, not all customers are confident that these reviews are actually written by fellow consumers. Eighty-six percent of respondents in a recent survey think that positive reviews are likely written by satisfied customers, while 73% think that negative reviews are likely written by unsatisfied customers. In addition, respondents also believe that negative reviews are frequently written by competitors (38%), online trolls (36%), and disgruntled former employees (32%). As a result, companies need to have a strategy in place for generating positive reviews and for handling negative reviews, says Nguyen. He offers the following list of do’s and don’ts.