PowerReviews surveyed 800 consumers in late 2014 and confirmed that reviews are growing in importance for online and in-store shoppers.

95% of consumers use reviews and 86% say they are essential when making purchase decisions. And nearly one-third of consumers under the age of 45 consults reviews for every single purchase. Only price impacts purchase decisions more than ratings and reviews.

Consumers Seek Reviews

56% percent of shoppers specifically seek out websites with reviews. I know I do. If I’m shopping and the site I’m on doesn’t have reviews for the product I’m considering, what do I do? I go to Amazon. And that is the last thing a retailer wants. Because if I go to Amazon for the review, I am very like to stay for the purchase.

Most Important Product Categories for Reviews

We asked consumers which categories were most important to them when it came to reviews. The top categories were Electronics (82%), Appliances (80%), and Computers (80%), all big ticket items.

Shoppers want confirmation of the quality of these products before they purchase. Baby came in fourth, with 44% of consumers ranking reviews as important for this category. Parents take extra care when choosing equipment and toys for their children and like to see photos of equipment being used in real homes. Here’s a great user-contributed photo from BabiesRUs, a PowerReviews customer.

Looks Matter

We also found that consumers had strong views on what helpful reviews looked like. An overwhelming majority– three out of four consumers– found a tag-based approach more helpful. We showed them two reviews of the same product, Hope in a Jar, a moisturizer from Philosophy.

The first review came from philosophy.com and has a plain text approach. All you can see with a quick scan is the title and star rating.

Tag-Based Reviews Preferred by 3 out of 4 Consumers

The second review, preferred by three out of four shoppers, is a tag-based review on Ulta.com, a PowerReviews customer. With the tag-based approach, shoppers see what’s important very quickly. You can see the pros—absorbs quickly, goes on smoothly, etc– and the CONS– quickly. This tag-based approach makes it easy for shoppers to get the information that’s important to them, quickly.

Negative Reviews Earn Trust

Some retailers or brands may initially wonder why they would display negative reviews about their products on their website. In fact, negative reviews drive consumer trust. Posting negative reviews assures consumers that the site is not hiding anything and that they can trust the content on the site. 82% of consumers seek negative reviews. For consumers under 45, the number jumps to 86%.

Who Writes Reviews?

The survey found that less than half–42%– of consumers report writing reviews. And while 42% report writing reviews, they don’t do so for every purchase. When consumers are asked to write a review after a purchase, only 3-10% will write a review. So that means that a consumer will write a review once every 4-14 purchases, depending on category, timing and other factors.

Percentage of shoppers leaving reviews

Interestingly, the biggest consumers of reviews, Millennials, are the least likely to write a review. What’s a brand or retailer to do?

What’s in it for me?

When we asked consumers why they don’t write reviews, 55% said that they needed motivation– recognition and rewards– to write reviews.

A challenge for brands and retailers then is to develop strategies to encourage consumers to write reviews, particularly for key products. An engagement-based loyalty program can help.

To learn more about engagement-based loyalty, join our March webinar to hear how Step2 increased images and videos uploaded to reviews 600%.

Power of Reviews’ explores shifting consumer expectations and the resulting implications for retailers.

Feb. 11, 2015 – CHICAGO – Mobile devices have blurred the lines between in-store and online environments, making product specific information available at your fingertips. As technology continues to facilitate better access to this information, consumers will only demand more of it – not only from retailers and manufacturers, but from other consumers as well.

PowerReviews, the leading provider of ratings and reviews technology to more than 1,000 brands and retailers, has released a new study, “The Power of Reviews,” that explores the nuances of how shoppers are using ratings and reviews. Specifically, the study investigates how shoppers consume reviews, the resulting impact on buying behavior and how retailers can better navigate this shift in consumer expectations.

“Reviews have become standard resource for consumers making purchase decisions.  Ratings and reviews are no longer an option, but an expectation,” said Matt Moog, CEO of PowerReviews. “The burden ultimately falls on retailers and brands to provide shoppers with the information they need to make confident purchase decisions, present it in a compelling format and make it available across channels.”

Among the findings of PowerReviews’ study:

Product reviews drive channel preferences

Consumers prefer to shop through channels that make product information, including ratings and reviews, easily accessible. If e-commerce sites or mobile apps lack the product information shoppers need to confidently make a purchase, they will search for it elsewhere, and retailers risk losing them to a competitor who is providing the information. As the retail industry becomes increasingly omnichannel, retailers should incorporate ratings and reviews at every touch point.

  • More than half (57%) of online shoppers reported specifically seeking out websites with product reviews.
  • Seventy percent of mobile shoppers reported being more likely to purchase a product if the mobile site or app they’re purchasing from has reviews.

How Shoppers Consume Product Reviews

As consumers are using new channels to seek out reviews, their information consumption habits are changing as well. Shoppers should be able to search for product information and find what they need with minimal effort. Most consumers read between one and 10 reviews and thus need information presented in an easy-to-scan format. Additionally, consumers are seeking out negative reviews to validate the authenticity of those reviews and the trustworthiness of the site.

Just as the finding and consuming of reviews should be made easy, the process of leaving a review must be simple as well. Less than half of consumers contribute reviews and Millennials, who consult review feedback most frequently, are least likely to contribute.

  • More than half (53%) of shoppers consider retail websites to be the most trustworthy source of reviews.
  • Eighty-two  percent of consumers specifically seek out negative reviews. For shoppers under 45, it jumps to 86%.
  • Three out of four shoppers prefer tag-based reviews, which provide a quick snapshot of review keywords and sentiment.
  • On average, 42% of consumers write reviews, while for shoppers 18-29, only 32% contribute review feedback.

For more information and to download the full report, visit  www.powerreviews.com.

About PowerReviews

PowerReviews software helps more than 1,000 brands and retailers collect, display and syndicate customer reviews and answer customer questions. Ratings, reviews and Q&A allow companies to reach customers at the moment of purchase and help to drive traffic, increase sales and create actionable insights. The PowerReviews Syndication Network helps clients reach hundreds of millions of in-market shoppers on leading ecommerce sites and search engines. For more information, visit www.powerreviews.com.

If you’re without reviews, checkout our post on how to get more reviews to help get your program off the ground!

For additional information:

Andrew Cross

Walker Sands Communications



From Click to Brick: Did you do a double-take when it was announced yesterday that Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar store at Purdue University? Amazon@Purdue, the company’s first pickup and drop-off location, offers free one-day shipping for textbooks and other products.

Last October, there were also rumors swirling that Amazon planned on opening a pop-up store to showcase new products in the heart of downtown San Francisco in time for the holidays.

Bobos, Birchbox and Warby Parker are other online retail giants who have recently opened physical stores. Clearly, there is a trend among online retailers to add physical presence, as shown by these companies.

Boosting Brand Loyalty:
Despite the popularity of online shopping, 90% of shoppers surveyed would prefer to buy in a brick-and-mortar store and have a tangible experience (A.T. Kearney Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study). Also 94% of total retail sales are still generated at brick-and-mortar stores (eMarketer).

Today’s consumers are multi-dimensional, embrace the online and offline worlds and typically require multiple interactions to develop brand loyalty. Priding itself on competitive pricing and fast shipping, Amazon’s brick and mortar experiment could make for an effective in-store experience. One could argue that breaking into brick and mortar could generate more buzz for Amazon, feed into a well integrated marketing strategy, and create more points of contact with their customers.

Amazon could also benefit from showrooming (examining merchandise in a traditional brick and mortar retail store and then buying it online). Its new brick and mortar location may be the answer for consumers looking to try out the product or return the product to the store.

Generating More Reviews:
Research cites a Pew study showing 24% of shoppers look up online reviews of products while actually in stores conducted in 2011; since then, smartphone usage has only increased (Pew).

According to a Stanford University data study on ‘Understanding Rating Dimensions with Review Text’, Amazon had 35 million reviews as of March 2013. With a wealth of customer reviews, Amazon can leverage this valuable user generated content to engage with consumers in a more intimate fashion and collect even more valuable feedback.

Matt Moog, CEO of PowerReviews, says “Amazon has ample opportunities to show shoppers what other customers are saying about each product in real-time. There’s beacon technology, there’s near-field communication ‘tapping’ like you see with Google Wallet. There are QR codes, digital signage, iPhones. Amazon has this incredible flow of user-generated content.”

Whether Amazon becomes a brick and mortar expert before traditional retailers nail their digital strategies, reviews are the glue in binding an authentic, customer centric company to increase traffic and drive sales.

The New Retail Experience:
While moving into the brick and mortar world is not a sure bet for Amazon, the impact of this move is being felt throughout the e-commerce world. Online and offline retailers will feel the pressure to reinvent themselves through multiple strategies ranging from differentiated products to alternative distribution methods. With raised stakes for retailers everywhere, let the games begin!