There was a time, in the not so distant past, when the only option for purchasing groceries was to head to the local grocery store. Fast forward to today, and consumers have a growing number of online grocery shopping options.

Yet despite the growing number of choices, our recent survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers found that less than a quarter (17%) are purchasing groceries online today. However, as expected, we also found that consumers residing in larger cities are significantly more likely to purchase groceries online than their rural counterparts. Nearly a quarter (23%) of consumers living in a city with a population of 500,000 or more have made an online grocery purchase in the last 90 days, compared to 10% of consumers who reside in a town with a population of less than 50,000.

While these numbers may seem small, the number of consumers who choose to shop for groceries online will only continue to grow. Read on to find out what we learned about why consumers are opting to shop for groceries online and what information they’re using to make informed purchase decisions. By better understanding the grocery shopping habits of today’s consumers, you’ll be better equipped to develop strategies to effectively reach, convert and retain these shoppers across channels.

Consumers Shop Online to Save Time and Access Information
Consumers lead busy lives and are always on the lookout for ways to maximize their time. So, as anticipated, saving time is the most popular reason consumers purchase groceries online, with 72% indicating it’s a key reason they choose to do so.

[bctt tweet=”72% of online grocery shoppers shop online to save time.” username=”powerofreviews”]

Shoppers also appreciate the access to information that online grocery shopping provides. 36% indicate that online shopping makes it easier to compare products and prices online, and 27% like that they can easily access information about products, including reviews.

Other top reasons for shopping for groceries online include avoiding impulse purchases that often happen in-store (30%) and avoiding the hassle of getting to a grocery store (23%).

Shoppers Use a Variety of Online Grocery Services
Depending on geographic area, there are a variety of online grocery shopping options available to consumers. Our research found that online-only services (think Peapod, AmazonFresh or Jet.com) are the most popular option — 39% of online grocery shoppers say they’ve used this type of service in the last 90 days. Following closely behind is ordering directly from a local grocery store for pickup or delivery (commonly referred to as click-and-collect), with 38% of online grocery shoppers using this service.

Meal boxes — such as HelloFresh and BlueApron — are another popular option, with 34% of online grocery shoppers using these services in the past 90 days. Surprisingly, only 17% of online grocery shoppers have used a third party service — such as Instacart — that pairs consumers with a personal shopper who purchases groceries from a local grocery store, then delivers them to the consumer’s home. This is likely because these services are often only available in densely populated metropolitan areas.

 Online Shopping Services

Shoppers Purchase a Variety of Grocery Items Online
Grocery shopping is a sensory experience—much more so than other product categories. Consumers who shop in a store have the opportunity to touch, smell and even taste items to assess their quality and freshness. It’s much more difficult to judge the quality of fresh food items—such as meat and produce—when shopping online.

So it comes as no surprise that shelf-stable goods are the most popular grocery items to purchase online. 58% of online grocery shoppers purchase non-perishable packaged foods (such as cereal, canned soups and snack foods), 49% purchase personal care items (such as soap, shampoo and body wash) and 45% purchase home care items (such as detergent and cleaners).

But, as the survey results reveal, online grocery shoppers aren’t completely steering clear of fresh food purchases online. Nearly half (47%) of them shop online for fresh food, such as meat, produce and dairy. Other popular grocery items shoppers are purchasing online include frozen foods (32%), soft drinks (33%) and alcoholic beverages (12%).

Online Grocery Shoppers Read Reviews
Ratings and reviews have become a key part of the path to purchase, regardless of what a consumer is shopping for. And our survey found that online grocery is no exception. If reviews are available on an online grocery service’s website, 93% of shoppers will read them at least occasionally. And most online grocery shoppers read them much more often. 19% of online grocery shoppers always read reviews for grocery items, and an additional 34% read them regularly.

Reviews Influence Online Grocery Shoppers
Thanks to our previous research with Northwestern University, we know that reviews are  especially impactful for new or unknown brands and products. It makes sense, then, that 72% of online grocery shoppers indicate that they are more likely to purchase a grocery item they’ve never purchased before if there are customer reviews for that product.

Online grocery shoppers are turning to reviews—and this content is influencing their purchases. Grocery retailers: make sure you have plenty of reviews available for plenty of your products, especially those that are new to market.

Shoppers Want Reviews for a Variety of Grocery Products
Clearly, consumers are turning to reviews when they’re shopping online for groceries. But are they looking for reviews for specific types of grocery products more than others?

We found out that the top categories online shoppers want to access product reviews for are personal care items (68%), home care items (54%), non-perishable packaged foods (39%) and fresh food, such as meat, produce and dairy (31%). Other top categories include frozen foods (27%), soft drinks (23%) and alcoholic beverages (21%). Since consumers want reviews for a variety of products, it’s important to maximize your review coverage, which is the number of products in your catalog that have reviews. 

Reviews for Online Shoppers

 

Online Shoppers Want Reviews Directly on the Ecommerce Website or App
Online grocery shoppers want to find reviews—and they don’t want to look hard to find them. Here’s the breakdown of where online shoppers prefer to find review content for grocery products.

  • 53% want to find reviews directly on the website or app they’re using to purchase their groceries
  • 38% want to find reviews on Amazon
  • 9% want to find reviews on a third party review site

It’s key for grocery retailers to provide all of the information shoppers are looking for in one place. Retailers that don’t prominently feature product reviews directly on their website or mobile app risk losing shoppers to Amazon or another service that does.

Wrapping Things Up
Today, less than a quarter of consumers are purchasing their groceries online. But this number will only continue to grow as options increase and consumers expect the convenience of online shopping. If you’re a grocery brand or retailer, now’s the time to develop a strategy to effectively reach shoppers across channels.

 

Sara Rossio

Sara Rossio

Rossio, a 2015 Crain’s Chicago Business “40 Under 40” recipient has more than 20 years of experience in product management and marketing. Before joining PowerReviews, Rossio served as vice president of Product for Gogo, where she led a team to develop the product strategy and roadmap for the leading inflight internet and entertainment provider.

Research Paper Details How Consumers are Navigating Grocery Online and In-store

CHICAGO – September 26, 2017 – PowerReviews, a consumer feedback technology company to more than 1,000 global brands and retailers, conducted a survey to explore the grocery shopping habits of American consumers. As a result of the survey, the company provides six recommendations for retailers to better attract, convert and retain grocery shoppers across channels, in an increasingly competitive space.

“Grocery retailers need to rethink their in-store and online strategies, to meet the changing needs of today’s consumers and stay ahead in this new era of grocery shopping. Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, followed by its application for a prepared meal-kit trademark, shows their growing presence in the grocery industry,” said Matt Moog, chief executive officer, PowerReviews. “Today, less than a quarter (17%) of consumers are purchasing groceries online but that number will only continue to grow as online shopping options increase and more and more consumers crave the conveniences they have come to expect from online shopping.”

Based on its findings from its recent study, PowerReviews provides six recommendations to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive grocery space.

  1. Feature Ratings and Reviews Content on In-Store Displays
    Grocery shoppers want access to reviews in-store — and they don’t want to look hard to find them. In fact, more than half of in-store grocery shoppers prefer to find ratings and reviews on store signage. And the goods news is, featuring ratings and reviews in your stores doesn’t have to be a big investment. Simply feature star ratings and customer reviews on signs alongside your products — similar to what Amazon does in their bookstores.
  2. Include Ratings and Reviews on Your Website and Mobile Apps
    In addition to craving ratings and reviews on store signage, both online and in-store grocery shoppers want to find this content on retail websites and mobile apps. So be sure you have plenty of reviews for plenty of your products — consumers are looking for this content for a wide range of grocery products.
  3. Leverage Product Sampling to Generate Reviews
    Product sampling is certainly not a new concept for grocery brands and retailers. But in addition to being a tactic to get shoppers to try — then buy — your products, sampling campaigns are also an effective way to generate ratings and reviews for your products. Work with your ratings and reviews provider to send samples of new products or products in need of additional review coverage, then request reviews from those who received a free sample. More than half (52%) of in-store shoppers and nearly a quarter (72%) of online shoppers are more likely to purchase a grocery item they’ve never purchased before if they can find review content for those products.
  4. Create Memorable Experiences
    If you have brick and mortar grocery stores, think of ways you can leverage these assets to create memorable experiences for your shoppers that go beyond a transaction. For example, offer cooking classes that’ll entertain and inspire consumers. Offering rich experiences for your in-store shoppers will allow you to forge deep connections with them. And chances are, those who visit your store for these experiences will stay to pick up some groceries, too.
  5. Leverage Brick and Mortar Stores to Drive Online Success
    Look for opportunities to leverage your brick and mortar stores as a tool to help drive your online success. One way grocery retailers are doing this is by offering click and collect services, which allow consumers to place an order online but pick it up in a store. For example, 55% of all digital sales for Target are fulfilled in-store. Offering this service not only saves your customers time, it also has the potential to drive additional in-store sales.
  6. Bolster Your Online Presence
    A growing number of consumers are shopping for groceries online. And even those who are visiting brick-and-mortar grocery stores are using their phone as a shopping tool. That’s why it’s important to have a strong online presence so consumers can find your product pages — and easily convert on them. Make sure your website provides a greater user experience for your shoppers and includes plenty of information about your products and stores. Go beyond your own product descriptions to prominently feature product ratings and reviews on your website and your mobile apps. In addition to providing your shoppers with the information they’re looking for, featuring user-generated content on your website can also ensure your product pages are showing up in search engine results.

To read the full PowerReviews study, please visit, https://www.powerreviews.com/grocery/.

About PowerReviews

PowerReviews works with more than 1,000 global brands and retailers to deliver cloud-based software that collects and displays ratings and reviews and questions and answers on websites. PowerReviews unifies and amplifies the voice of the consumer throughout their journey, across all channels to help consumers make better purchase decisions and to help businesses drive conversion and improve products and services. Ratings and reviews are essential for consumers as they search and shop online and in-store, driving traffic on more than 5,000 websites, creating actionable insights to improve products and services, increasing conversion, and growing online site-wide sales. The PowerReviews Open Network reaches more than 1 billion in-market shoppers every month, giving retailers and brands the power to reach shoppers wherever they are. For more information, visit www.powerreviews.com.

Featured Presenter

Rebecca Grimes | VP Marketing

As Vice President of Product Marketing, Rebecca Grimes is responsible for defining, managing and executing PowerReviews’ go-to-market strategy, as well as driving initiatives tied to growing the PowerReviews Open Network. Rebecca brings nearly 20 years of experience developing marketing, product, sales and business development strategy. Prior to PowerReviews, Rebecca spent five years leading sales and marketing teams at Vibes. Before Vibes, Rebecca led product, marketing and go-to-market strategy for companies including Panduit, Jentro Technologies, West Corporation and ServiceMaster.

Meet the Team is a recurring series on the PowerReviews blog, allowing you to get to know the people behind our success.

We recently caught up with Arit Nsemo, Senior Client Success Director, EMEA at PowerReviews, to hear about her move to London and what it’s like working with some of the biggest brands and retailers around the world.

You’ve been a part of the PowerReviews team for almost three years. What were you doing before PowerReviews?
Before I worked at PowerReviews, I was the Director of Client Services at a company called Cappex, which works to match high school students with colleges. I managed our client services team there and worked closely with our college and university clients. I have a strangely vast knowledge base about even the most obscure colleges, if anyone’s interested. Before that, I managed a daycare, worked in content writing and editing, and even had a brief stint in corporate banking at JPMorgan Chase.

You recently moved from Chicago to London, to work more closely with clients outside of the U.S. What made you decide to make the move?
I’ve always wanted to live and work internationally, and I travel a lot as it is so it felt like a natural next step for me. I love working for PowerReviews, and the opportunity to continue my work for a great company, connect with our European clients and learn to adapt to conducting business in a foreign country were all very appealing for me.

What’s your favorite part about having a client-facing role?
Building relationships and the pace of work. There is a lot that goes into ensuring that clients are successful with PowerReviews, and when you’re in a client-facing role it’s important that you stay on top of everything and think of things that your clients don’t. We want to be the experts and build trust with our clients so they’re able to lean on us and we’re able to be consultative. The more I work with our amazing customers, the more I learn about their businesses, the better our relationship becomes — and that’s super satisfying for me.

You work closely with some of the biggest brands and retailers in Europe and Australia. What’s that like?
It’s a lot of fun. Seriously. Being new to living in Europe, it’s so lovely to get this kind of introduction to the culture through working with some of the biggest brands and retailers. I get an inside look at how their customers interact with them, and therefore I get a holistic view of a ton of different types of people.

What’s the best part about living in London?
The weather! Just kidding. The best part of living in London has got to be proximity to all of Europe for fun weekend trips, and having the ability to easily visit clients across Europe. I also enjoy that London is such a global city. I’m a native Chicagoan, so big cities aren’t a stretch for me, but London’s diversity in culture is really unique. If I’m being honest, I’m also looking forward to skipping out on below zero temps in Chicago this winter.

The following is a guest post from our partners at Mavrck.

As a result of the proliferation of digital channels and connected devices, U.S. consumers now spend, on average, two hours per day on social networks and the equivalent of 12 hours per day consuming media online.

This rise in media consumption has also come at a cost, namely consumers’ increased ad fatigue, as well as a growing challenge for marketers to create relevant content. Nearly 33% of U.S. adults online say they currently use an ad blocker, and 48% report they actively avoid ads, according to a recent report from Forrester Research.

As consumer trust in institutions continues to dissolve, we’ve become a society whose purchase behavior is increasingly influenced by those we choose to connect with online. In 2016, 74% of people trusted social networks to guide their purchase decisions. With the growing need for content, it’s also not enough for marketers to rely on social listening and content curation alone. Investing in an influencer marketing and relations strategy is now essential for brands to compete for consumers’ attention.

When you hear the words ‘influencer marketing,’ I’m sure the Kardashians and other Hollywood celebs are some of the first to pop into your mind. However, celebrities aren’t the only type of influencers. The content that consumers trust and seek out today, is content that’s created by consumers. In the context of your brand, you have the opportunity to harness this interest and intent by leveraging the power of your most underutilized business asset: existing customers with social influence.

As more consumers seek out credible and authentic information online, here’s how to leverage the influence of your most influential customers to impact consumers in the moments that matter.

The Power of Micro-Influencers
By now, you’re probably realizing the power of identifying your most influential customers. These micro-influencers are everyday customers who possess influence around relevant topics among their followers on social media. Let’s take a look at the ways micro-influencers can be most beneficial for your brand — creating, amplifying and submitting branded content, such as social posts and product reviews.

70% of mobile shoppers say they’re more likely to purchase a product if the website or mobile app has product reviews. On top of this, 73% of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant. How do brands keep up with the infinite demand for content?

While there are many ways to generate a steady stream of ratings and reviews, leveraging your micro-influencers is one key way to keep this content coming. Due to the sheer number of micro-influencers, they are able to generate more content than macro- or mega-influencers. They also have such rich knowledge and insight, that to not leverage them for content creation is a significant missed opportunity. Since micro-influencers are loyal customers of your brand, their feedback is more authentic and credible than mega- or macro-influencers. Still not convinced?

The Latest From Us
We want to help your brand reach its goals. We are excited to announce that PowerReviews and Mavrck have partnered to enable merchants to generate user-generated content on demand from their Mavrck influencers, advocates, referrers and loyalists, and syndicate that review content out to 5,000 sites and one billion monthly in-market shoppers across the PowerReviews Open Network. This combined solution has been proven to help merchants and marketers activate and drive more business value out of their influencers and advocates.  Want to learn more? Contact us today

About the Author

Liz Gottbrecht is Vice President of Marketing at Mavrck, an influencer marketing company. Prior to joining Mavrck, Liz was the Director of Marketing at Streetwise Media, a digital media and events company that operates news properties in Austin, Boston, DC and Chicago.

PowerReviews Releases Research Paper on the Growing Importance of Grocery Retailers Having an Online and In-Store Presence

CHICAGO – September 19, 2017 – PowerReviews, a consumer feedback technology company to more than 1,000 global brands and retailers, today released a new research paper exploring the results of a survey on the grocery shopping habits of American consumers. The research paper titled, “Beyond the Supermarket Shelves: How consumers are navigating the grocery shopping experience online and in-store” examines the changing landscape for grocery retailers and provides recommendations for retailers to better attract, convert and retain grocery shoppers across channels, in an increasingly competitive space.

“Traditional retailers have been grappling with the effects of e-commerce for several years. The Amazon effect continues to put pressure on revenue, operations and shopper expectations. We are beginning to see a similar pattern in the grocery marketplace,” said Matt Moog, chief executive officer, PowerReviews. “Although the vast majority of shoppers (90%) still opt to visit a brick and mortar store, grocery retailers have a perfect opportunity to get ahead of what promises to be a disruptive trend and build an omnichannel grocery strategy that effectively engages shoppers wherever they’re shopping.”

Online Grocery Shopper
First, PowerReviews’ research found that online shoppers aren’t abandoning brick and mortar stores. In fact, only 17% of shoppers are purchasing their groceries online. Of those online shoppers, 92% have also made an in-store grocery purchase in the last 90 days. It is worth noting that shoppers residing in a city have more availability to online grocery retailers so they are more likely to shop online. Nearly a quarter (23%) of consumers living in a city with a population of 500,000 or more have made an online grocery purchase in the last 90 days, compared to 10% of consumers who reside in towns with a population of less than 50,000.

Ratings and reviews have become a key part of the path to purchase, regardless of the product a consumer is shopping for. PowerReviews’ data indicates that online grocery is no exception. If reviews are available on an online grocery service’s website, 93% of shoppers will read them at least occasionally. Previous research with Northwestern University found that reviews are especially impactful for new or unknown brands and products. It makes sense, then, that 72% of online grocery shoppers indicate that they are more likely to purchase a grocery item they’ve never purchased before if there are customer reviews for that product.

In-Store Grocery Shopper
Grocery shopping is a sensory experience — much more so than other product categories. Consumers who shop in a store have the opportunity to touch, smell and even taste items to assess their quality and freshness. When it comes to purchasing items online, shelf-stable goods are the most popular (58%) compared to 49% of shoppers who purchase personal care items (such as soap, shampoo and body wash) and 45% purchase home care items (such as detergent and cleaners).

Similar to the online shopper, in-store consumers want access to user generated content where they shop. It makes sense, then, that the majority (68%) of in-store grocery shoppers are at least somewhat interested in accessing product ratings and reviews while shopping for new products in a grocery store. Of in-store shoppers, 52% are more likely to purchase a grocery item they’ve never purchased before if the product has reviews.

It is important that retailers understand the changing dynamic of the shopper and adjust their approach to meet their evolving expectations. With Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, grocery retailers must accelerate their omnichannel strategies, in particular the role of user generated content (UGC) across channels, Shoppers have become increasing reliant on other shoppers feedback or UGC to make purchasing decisions. Retailers who provide and display that information upfront can attract and retain customers. To read the full PowerReviews study, please visit: https://www.powerreviews.com/grocery/

About PowerReviews
PowerReviews works with more than 1,000 global brands and retailers to deliver cloud-based software that collects and displays ratings and reviews and questions and answers on websites. PowerReviews unifies and amplifies the voice of the consumer throughout their journey, across all channels to help consumers make better purchase decisions and to help businesses drive conversion and improve products and services. Ratings and reviews are essential for consumers as they search and shop online and in-store, driving traffic on more than 5,000 websites, creating actionable insights to improve products and services, increasing conversion, and growing online site-wide sales. The PowerReviews Open Network reaches more than 1 billion in-market shoppers every month, giving retailers and brands the power to reach shoppers wherever they are. For more information, visit www.powerreviews.com.


By now, you’ve likely heard the stats about how user-generated content — particularly
ratings and reviews — drive traffic and sales. But in case you haven’t…on average, when a product adds one or more reviews, that product experiences a 108% lift in traffic, a 65% lift in conversion and a 92% lift in sales.

In addition to driving traffic and sales, reviews — both positive and negative — are also full of valuable insights that can help you improve your business. Read on to learn six ways you can start using the insights from customer reviews to improve your products and the overall customer experience.

1. Fix a Product Flaw
A negative review or two may tip you off to something that is a legitimate – and correctable – gripe. For example, Hammacher Schlemmer, a PowerReviews customer, noticed that a watch they sold on their website had an average star rating of 2.7. After digging into the reviews for the watch, the company noticed that several customers mentioned the clasp on the watch wasn’t working. Hammacher Schlemmer took this information to their manufacturer to change the clasp, and the average star rating for the watch climbed to 4.7.

2. Add a New Feature
If enough shoppers mention a relatively easy enhancement that could provide a benefit, consider adding it. For example, let’s say you’re a sportswear brand. You observe that several reviews suggest adding a zipper to the pocket of one of your running jackets, to ensure personal belongings don’t fall out while running. So, you work with the manufacturer to add a zipper to the product. Once you add this feature, you notice that many reviewers sing the praises of the new zipper and your overall star rating soars.

3. Enhance Your Product Descriptions
Sometimes, a negative review is the result of a buyer not having a clear understanding of the product’s details. For example, you’re a luggage brand, and you notice for one particular suitcase, several reviews mention that they expected the handle of the suitcase to be leather, when it’s actually foam. You use this as an opportunity to add a statement similar to this in the product description:

“Foam handle for more comfortable carrying.”

Now, future shoppers have a more accurate picture of what to expect from your product, and they can use this information to find the products that best fit their needs.

4. Improve Instructions
Imagine you’re a brand that sells home furnishings. You note that the reviews for a children’s dresser aren’t so great. Shoppers love the design, but several mention that it’s extremely confusing and time consuming to assemble. Use this as an opportunity to simplify the assembly instructions that are sent with this item.

5. Highlight an Unsung Feature
Most likely, there are certain product features that you tout the most. But by examining your product reviews, you might identify other product features that you’ve overlooked — but are important to your customers. Consider adding these features in your product descriptions.

6. Build Customer Loyalty
If you improve your product or another element of the customer experience based on feedback from reviews, let your customers know. People want to feel like their voices are heard. And acting on their feedback — then letting them know you’ve done so — will help you forge even deeper connections with your customers.

Start Identifying Actionable Insights Today
Ready to start identifying insights that can help you  improve your products and the customer experience? If you’re an existing PowerReviews customer, contact your Client Success Director to learn more about identifying actionable insights in your review content. If you’re not an existing customer, schedule a demo today to learn how you can drive traffic, sales and insights with ratings and reviews.

An Analysis of 7.8 Million Reviews in the PowerReviews Open Network

There was once a time (in the not so distant past) when the idea of asking for feedback from customers — then displaying that feedback for the world to see — was a pretty radical concept. But now, the importance of ratings and reviews is largely understood by brands and retailers as a key part of the consumer’s purchase journey. In fact, nearly all consumers consult customer reviews, and 86% consider them an essential resource when making a purchase decision.

Clearly, consumers find reviews helpful when identifying the products that best fit their needs. But not all reviews are created equal. While one review may be full of great insights, another may fall short. At PowerReviews, we allow consumers to give individual reviews “helpful” or “not helpful” votes to indicate how useful a given review was during the shopping experience.

A helpful review example.

So what makes one review more helpful than another? To shed light on this question, we analyzed 7.8 million reviews from the past year in the PowerReviews Open Network to determine the common features of reviews that have been voted by consumers as helpful. We explored the impact of various review characteristics — including review length, sentiment and recency — as well as the types of products that are most likely to have reviews with helpful votes.

During the most recent PowerReviews webinar, I shared the results of this analysis. Read on for a summary of three key findings that I shared during the webinar, as well as some recommendations for brands and retailers to start generating and displaying the content that’s most helpful to consumers.

Longer Reviews Aid Consumers

We found that review length is the characteristic most correlated with helpful votes. The longer the character count of a review, the greater its average number of helpful votes. While a review that’s under 20 characters has an average of 2.3 helpful votes, a review with 500 or more characters has an average of 5.3 helpful votes.

Longer Reviews are More Helpful
Longer review helpfulness infographic

Recommendation for Brands and Retailers: Longer reviews provide greater detail, which make them more helpful to future shoppers. One way for brands and retailers to generate longer (and likely, more helpful) reviews is to tie in review generation to an existing rewards program and award points for longer reviews, regardless of the star rating. Then, once a consumer accrues a set number of points, they receive some type of award, such as a coupon or a code for free shipping.

One-Star Reviews Have the Most Helpful Votes

Our analysis also found that one-star reviews, on average, generate more “helpful” votes than any other star rating. Why? Because—in addition to adding a level of authenticity to your review content, negative reviews steer consumers towards products that best fit their needs.

Consumers want to hear the worst thing someone has to say about a product. In fact, 82% of consumers seek out negative reviews. Reading negative reviews helps a consumer determine if negative elements are relevant to their needs.

For example, let’s say you’re a brand that sells running shoes. One particular style of shoe has a one-star rating, with a review that notes that the shoe doesn’t work well for trail running. A future shopper finds this review helpful because she does all of her running on a treadmill. The previous consumer’s comment about trail running is irrelevant to her.

Average Helpful Votes By Star Rating
How helpful a review is based on star rating

Recommendation for Brands and Retailers: Though you certainly don’t want to aim for negative reviews, this content is a helpful tool that allows consumers to identify the products that best fit their needs. In addition, negative reviews provide a level of authenticity to your content. Previous research found that nearly half (44%) of Generation Z shoppers wouldn’t trust a product’s reviews if there were no negative reviews present. And finally, negative reviews allow you to identify insights to improve future iterations of your products, as well as the overall customer experience.

Visual Content Boosts Helpfulness

A growing number of consumers are seeking out reviews that include user-submitted visual content, such as photos and videos. In fact, recent research on the role of visual content found that 88% of consumers look for visual content—such as photos and videos—submitted by other consumers prior to making a purchase. And a product experiences a 69% conversion rate lift, on average, when that product adds at least one user-generated image.

Since consumers are actively seeking out this content, it makes sense that reviews with helpful votes include more photos and videos than those without. Reviews with helpful votes have 16% more videos and 13.8% more photos than those without visual content.

Recommendation for Brands and Retailers: More and more consumers depend on user-generated visual content to inform their purchases. Ensure you’re making it easy for your shoppers to submit photos and videos as part of their reviews. This visual content makes product reviews even more helpful to future shoppers.

Curious what else I covered during this webinar? Watch the on-demand session now!

Arend Henderson

Arend Henderson

Arend is the SVP, Analytics for PowerReviews. He is responsible for leading the analytics team, which develops behavioral insights and other optimization and measurement solutions for our clients.

Later this month, myself, along with other members of the PowerReviews team, will be headed to Los Angeles, California for Shop.org 2017, a three-day ecommerce conference hosted each year by the National Retail Federation.

This year’s agenda is packed with sessions on all things digital, from creating omnichannel experiences, to using data to drive personalization, to making your company fit for the future with new technologies. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from industry leaders, including Walmart, Kohl’s and Wayfair, among many others. Plus, there will be plenty of time for ecommerce pros to network with their industry peers. It’s going to be a fantastic time, and I’m looking forward to it.

If you’re going to be at Shop.org, don’t miss these two opportunities to connect with the PowerReviews team:

Hear about the Transparency Economy
I’m not a neuroscientist, but I’m playing one at Shop.org. On Wednesday, September 27 at 9:00am, I’m presenting a tech talk session on the Transparency Economy. Today, consumers have access to more information than ever before. They expect it, but even more importantly, their brains require it to make better decisions in all aspects of their lives.

During the session, I’ll explore how the human brain makes decisions, and its connection to how transparency through authentic feedback from other consumers (both positive and negative) drives the Transparency Economy.

Meet with the PowerReviews Team
Our team will be at booth #732 in the expo hall, so be sure to stop by to find out what’s new at PowerReviews, win prizes and discuss the opportunities and challenges your business is facing and how PowerReviews can help.

We’ll be in the expo hall during the following shifts:

  • Tuesday, September 26 from 9am-5:30pm
  • Wednesday, September 27 from 9am-3pm

If you’re not currently a PowerReviews client and would like to schedule a time to meet with a member of our team, reach out to us and we’ll get something scheduled. If you are a current PowerReviews client and want to schedule time to connect with the Client Success team while you’re at Shop.org, feel free to reach out to your Client Success Director and they can make that happen.

I hope to see you September 25-27 in LA!


There’s no longer any doubt that reviews are a helpful tool for consumers. 95% of consumers consult customer reviews and 86% consider them an essential resource when making a purchase decision.

But here’s the thing — when it comes to helpfulness, not all reviews are created equal. While one review may be full of detailed insights to help a customer make a smart purchase decision, another may provide no insight at all. 

Let’s say you’re an expectant mother shopping for a rocking chair for your baby’s nursery. There are two reviews for one model you’re considering. The first review is full of details and even includes a photo of the chair in a nursery, to give you a better idea of what it looks like “in the wild.”

“I live in a small condo in Chicago and searched forever for a rocking chair that would work for my son’s small nursery. This one was exactly what I was looking for. It’s high quality and sturdy and has a high back to accommodate my tall husband. As an added bonus, the chair is very stylish so once we no longer need it in the nursery, we’ll move it out to the living room.”

This review helped you determine that you want to add this rocking chair to your shortlist, so you give it a “helpful” vote.

The next review is also five stars, but provides short, vague feedback, with no visual content.  

“Great chair.”

Since this review didn’t provide very much insight, you give it an “unhelpful” vote.

What Makes a Review Helpful

So what makes one review more helpful than another? Recently, we analyzed 7.8 million reviews from the past year in the PowerReviews Open Network to identify common characteristics of reviews that have been voted by consumers as helpful. Here are four of our key findings:

1. Longer is Better: The longer the character count of a review, the greater its average number of helpful votes. This makes sense, since longer reviews likely provide more details, as illustrated in my example above.

2. Visual Media Matters: Reviews with helpful votes have a 16% higher volume of videos and a 13.8% higher volume of photos than those without. This comes as no surprise, since previous PowerReviews research found that 88% of consumers look for visual content (think photos and videos) submitted by other consumers prior to making a purchase.

3. Product Price Makes a Difference: Reviews with helpful votes tend to be on higher priced items, most likely because shoppers are spending more time consuming reviews for expensive products and taking the time to indicate a review’s helpfulness.

4. One-Star Reviews Pull in the Most Helpful Votes: One-star reviews, on average, generate more “helpful” votes than any other star rating. In addition to adding a layer of authenticity to your review content, negative reviews steer consumers away from a product that doesn’t meet their needs, and steer them toward products that do.

Six Tips for Collecting and Displaying the Review Content Most Helpful to Your Shoppers

Reviews are a key tool for helping consumers make smart purchase decisions. But, as our analysis found, not all reviews are created equal. Here are six recommendations for generating and displaying more of the review content that’s most helpful to your consumers. 

1. Identify Your Most Helpful Reviewers
Analyze your review content to identify contributors of helpful content. For example, look at the number of reviews your consumers have written, as well as the components of those reviews — including helpful votes, visual content and length.

2. Reward Reviewers for Optimal Content
Once you’ve identified your helpful reviewers, ask them to contribute additional content. Consider tying review generation to your existing loyalty program and awarding points to reviewers whose content meets certain criteria. For example, give points to reviewers that write reviews that are a certain number of characters long or include a photo or a video. Then, when the consumer accrues a certain number of points, he can redeem the points for a reward such as free shipping or a percentage off a future purchase.

3. Focus on High Priced Items
We know from previous research with Northwestern University that reviews are more impactful for items that are higher priced in their category — for example, an organic cereal that is more expensive than a non-organic variety. And our most recent analysis found that reviews with helpful votes tend to be on higher priced items, likely because consumers are spending more time reading reviews for items that cost more.

Identify higher priced items in your product catalog, and prioritize generating reviews for these products. There are many ways to do this, but the most impactful way is to send a post purchase email to shoppers, asking them to contribute reviews for products they’ve recently purchased. In fact, we’ve found that more than 60% of reviews are written as the result of a post purchase email.

4. Allow Consumers to Sort By Review Helpfulness
Most likely, your website allows visitors to sort reviews for a given product by a number of different factors, such as star rating (highest rated vs lowest rating) and recency (most recent vs oldest). Be sure you’re also allowing consumers to sort reviews by helpfulness. This allows shoppers to easily identify the content that has been most helpful to others like them.

5. Prominently Feature Helpful Reviews
Once you’ve generated plenty of reviews, make it easy for shoppers to find the most helpful review content for each of your products. Ask your ratings and reviews provider if they offer a review “faceoff” that provides consumers with an at-a-glance summary of the most helpful positive and negative reviews. This faceoff will help your shoppers more quickly determine if a product is right for their needs.

6. Embrace Negative Reviews
Our analysis also found that one-star reviews, on average, generate more “helpful” votes than any other star rating. And though you certainly don’t want to aim for negative reviews, this content is a helpful tool that allows consumers to identify products that best fit their needs. In fact, 82% of consumers seek out negative reviews. And 44% of Centennial shoppers (age 13-18) don’t trust a product’s reviews if there’s no negative feedback present.

In addition to helping shoppers make smart purchase decisions, allowing negative reviews to be posted on your website provides a level of authenticity to your content, which helps you build trust with your shoppers. Plus, negative reviews allow you to identify insights to improve future iterations of your products in order to better serve your customers.

Want to find out what else we learned about helpful reviews? Download our latest report: Anatomy of a Helpful Review.

 

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