Reviews provide important feedback for brands, helping them shape and improve their products. Having review content on your website is also good for SEO, providing fresh content to Google and lifting organic traffic by 20% on average. Most importantly, customers who interact with reviews are 115% more likely to convert.

The ROI of UGC is clear. 

But for non-ecommerce brands without checkout data, the path to collecting reviews isn’t. 

If you don’t collect orders like a traditional ecommerce site, there’s no automatic way of sending a follow up email with your customers to solicit reviews. 

The challenge of review collection affects a large number of non-ecommerce companies, from B2B brands who primarily sell to contractors to those who sell primarily through large retailers. You may be a food and beverage brand, a home supply company, or a personal care brand. 

If your website showcases your products with a button that says “Find a Store” instead of “Checkout Now,” we’ve got good news. 

You don’t need a transactional website to collect reviews. There are plenty of success stories from non-ecommerce brands who collect real, positive reviews from their customers, brand advocates, and fans. You just have to get a little creative.

8 Creative Ways Non-Ecommerce Brands Can Collect More Review Content

What’s the #1 thing non-ecommerce brands can do when it comes to collecting reviews? Make sure your customers know that you have a website (we know, it seems obvious), that your website offers the ability for them to write reviews, and that you want their feedback. 

Are you ready to collect reviews for your non-ecommerce brand? Get started with these eight proven strategies.

1. Leverage Your Email Marketing

Again, one of our biggest tips is simply to let your customers know that you want reviews. What better place to do that than in your email communications?

Ask for reviews in your email marketing newsletters. This campaign from sports drink brand BodyArmor collected over 1,000 reviews in just five days!

Ready-made cocktail brand BuzzBallz took a similar approach, offering free merch to the first 50 people to leave a review.

To ensure authentic reviews, send these emails to verified customers in your CRM. Offer an incentive for writing a review, or just let people know their feedback can help others. Then, include a link that takes them straight to your review form.

2. Create a Landing Page Just for Reviews

Don’t know which customers bought which products? Take a cue from Skippy Peanut Butter. They put all four types of peanut butter they sold on one landing page and added a “Write a Review” link beneath each one. 

This approach is really effective because you can send customers straight to this page and they don’t have to navigate. There’s just one call to action for them, and one link for you to include in your emails. 

3. Use QR Codes to Gather Reviews

When it comes to getting reviews, QR codes are a brand’s best friend. Use promotional labels with QR codes to drive customers to your site to leave a review. 

For example, you can attach a promotional card insert or tag to your product that has a QR code on it, or print the QR code on the product packaging itself. When customers scan it, they’re taken directly to your review form. 

You can also print QR codes on cards you hand out at different events with a note like “Let us know what you think.” Get inspired with these business-sized cards from gluten-free bread brand Canyon Bakehouse.

QR codes make it easy for your customers to leave feedback. They don’t have to type anything in; they can just scan the code and leave their feedback right there on the spot. 

4. Exchange Coupons for Reviews

Coupons are a great way to get people to try your products. They’re also a great way to get people to review your products. 68% of shoppers who receive a digital coupon are likely to leave a review. That number goes up to 76% for shoppers who receive a physical coupon. 

Many non-ecommerce brands use this strategy to drum up reviews for new products. For example, organic dairy company Horizon Organic invited customers to sign up to leave a review. Once they signed up, they received a coupon to use on their purchase of cheese sticks, a new product that needed reviews. 

This approach builds loyalty, as customers feel like they’re part of the process of helping you towards a successful launch. When customers know you need their feedback, they’re often happy to give it. 

5. Pair Product Sampling with Review Requests

If you thought our statistics on coupons were impressive, wait until you hear about our research on product sampling. Brands who send customers a physical product see an 85% average review submission rate.

So, share product samples with your brand advocates and customers. Add a QR code on the product packaging or as a product insert and ask for feedback in that way. The key is letting  customers know about the ability to write a review on your site. This will drive traffic and prompt them to share their feedback.  

For example, Hormel sent five packs of their Compleats entrees to customers with clear, two-step instructions. Try them all, and then leave a review!

Like with coupons, asking for reviews with your product samples invites customers to be a part of your success. This earns reviews, builds loyalty, and drives more purchases!

6. Follow Up on Product Registrations and Warranties

One challenge non-ecommerce brands face in collecting reviews is knowing whether a customer has actually purchased the product. 

If this sounds familiar, consider asking for reviews on printed receipts, emailed receipts, and even your product warranties and registrations. For example, Simonton, a non-ecommerce brand that sells windows and doors, follows up with each customer who registers their product and asks them to leave a review.

7. Run a Sweepstakes or Giveaway

55% of customers who don’t write reviews say they need an incentive to leave a review. Enter sweepstakes and giveaways to save the day. Target specific products for a review generation campaign, and then promote your contest via email and social media communication. 

Offering an incentive is always a surefire way to get people to write reviews. Here are a few examples from The North Face and Duraflame.

After one PowerReviews client implemented a sweepstakes, they saw a 290% increase in collection rates — in just 45 days! They now run sweepstakes sporadically throughout the year and have more than doubled the amount of reviews they collect than they did previously.

8. Ask for Reviews on Social Media

When people rave about your products on social media, it’s the perfect time to ask them to leave a review. These customers were already excited enough to write a positive comment, so they obviously love the product. They may just need an extra push to write a review. That’s where you come in. 

If you respond and say thank you and ask them to leave a review (with a link that takes them directly there), they’re probably going to because you engaged with them and they love your product. 

Proactively reaching out to customers can quickly increase your review count. Make this a part of your customer service routine on social media, like men’s care brand Just for Men does:

Regularly ask for reviews in posts across your social media channels, like the below example from Exmark Mowers

You can also include swipe up links in your Instagram Stories to your Write a Review form, asking customers to engage. Explain the value of reviews, and people may just respond. 

Start Collecting Reviews Now

Since they purchase your products elsewhere, a lot of customers don’t even know that non-ecommerce brands collect reviews. Letting them know that you do collect feedback, and that you want theirs, can be a powerful first step in generating positive reviews.

Don’t wait. Try one (or all) of the strategies above and start collecting reviews for your brand.

Sydney Sek

Sydney is a Customer Success Manager at PowerReviews, where she has been focusing on driving ecommerce growth and executing strategic initiatives to increase conversion with user-generated content for brands and retailers. When she's not talking through a best practice, you can find her working on her fitness or scoping out her next athleisure outfit to create her own UGC!

 Differing motivations and generational trends revealed; insights can guide brands on how to best cultivate user generated content to aid conversions and sales.

CHICAGO—JANUARY 27, 2020—User-generated content – ratings and reviews, and consumer submitted video, imagery, and Q&A content – have been shown to be highly effective in maximizing conversions and sales, but how do brands go about cultivating consumer advocacy for competitive advantage? 

To find out, PowerReviews conducted a survey of over 10,000 consumers to uncover the psychology and motivations behind product reviewers across four generations – Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers. The survey insights provide crucial insights into what motivates consumers to provide ratings and reviews and who are the most inclined to do so. 

Key findings include: 

The highs and lows. A positive experience earns a product rating and review from more than 9/10 consumers surveyed, and a negative experience will motivate more than three quarters of consumers to share their experience. 

First impressions must delight from Day One. Reviewers say overall product experience must be great right from the very first use. An overwhelming majority of consumers (76%) – and 83% of Gen Zers – leave a review within the first week of receiving an item. One-third of consumers say they’d post a review after only using a product one time. 

Younger reviewers are more prolific. Some 56% of Gen Zers submit reviews more than once per month, compared to 47% of Boomers. 

Free samples and fraternity. Free samples are a critical motivating factor for 86% of respondents, while incentives (reward points, discounts, etc.) are important for 76%. However, reviewers also have a benevolent side; 67% said “helping and guiding others” was a key motivation, and “helping a brand improve a product” was cited by 65%. Younger respondents – 77% of Gen Zers polled – were significantly more motivated to provide reviews for the purpose of helping others than older respondents. 

The lure of exclusivity and the sense of duty. Some 85% of respondents said receiving a product before it’s available to the general public incentivized them to post a product rating and review. Coincidentally, 86% said they would be more likely to submit a rating and review for a product with low review volumes. This may indicate reviewers feel a sense of duty to provide feedback for the betterment of the consumer collective. 

Motivations to respond to queries. Of those surveyed, 77% said a “desire to help and guide others” was the biggest motivator to provide answers to questions posed by other customers online. While “having a positive product experience,” and “having a disappointing product experience,” were the motivations behind 73% and 60% of those polled, respectively. 

Rich media value propositions. Free samples and incentives had the greatest influence on the posting of images and videos as part of reviews. Younger consumers are more titillated by this prospect — perhaps unsurprising, given the popularity of visually-oriented social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok among this demographic. Some 80% of thrifty Millennials cited free samples as a winning incentive to drive them to post a video with their review. While 40% of Gen Zers said they were motivated by the chance their image might be subsequently shared on a brand’s website. 

Consumer Advocacy Strategies and Best Practices 

“With an understanding of reviewer motivations, brands can devise winning strategies to win over their advocacy and generate more user engagement and ratings and reviews,” said Andrew Smith, vice president of Marketing for PowerReviews. 

Smith recommends the following best practices: 

Adapt user-generated content collection strategies according to age demographics. Different generations have slightly different preferences and motivations to provide user-generated content. Consider tailoring outreach strategies and approaches for greater alignment and improved results. 

Send out free samples as a review generation mechanism. This is clearly the most effective method to generate ratings and reviews for a particular product quickly. Encourage consumers to provide imagery and video in their reviews. 

Incorporate user generated content throughout marketing initiatives. This creates more buyer confidence, generating more conversions and sales, and influencing customers to submit more ratings and reviews. Target younger demographics to provide video and imagery with contest-style invitations focused on including their content in corporate brand marketing. 

Leverage user generated content as a valuable customer feedback source to improve your business. 

Above and beyond its obvious conversion power, brands should also leverage the analytics value of this content. It’s a highly valuable form of customer feedback that can drive improvements in products, customer experience, and overall marketing and messaging efforts. 

View the full survey results on the PowerReviews website

Research Methodology 

The PowerReviews survey draws on responses from 10,486 active shoppers across the United States who have opted in to offers and discounts from retailers. The online survey took place in October 2020. Throughout the survey, we defined Boomers as born in the years 1946 to 1964 (aged 56-74 on Dec 31, 2020), Gen X as born in the years 1965 to 1980 (aged 40-55 on Dec 31, 2020), Millennials as born between 1981-1996 (aged 23-38 on Dec 31, 2020) and Gen Zers born in or after 1997 (ages 22 and younger on Dec 31, 2020). 

About PowerReviews

PowerReviews ( helps leading retailers and brands generate customer product ratings and reviews in larger volumes to significantly increase sales and then analyze and benchmark all this data to improve product quality and customer experience, while also delivering store experience feedback to help them optimize their retail network. PowerReviews is headquartered in Chicago, IL, USA. 

Media Contact 

Erin Lutz 
Lutz Public Relations (for PowerReviews) 

A survey of more than 10,000 consumers to help you understand what motivates shoppers to submit Ratings and Reviews and other types of User-Generated Content.

User-Generated Content (UGC) – ratings and reviews, and consumer submitted video, imagery and Q&A content – is typically a core pillar of any successful ecommerce strategy. And with good reason: it’s proven that the more UGC you have on your website, the more sales you generate.

In fact, PowerReviews data from across more than 1,000 brand and retailer websites highlights how consumers who interact with reviews convert at 115% the rate of those who don’t. The same figures for Q&A content and imagery are 153% and 81% respectively.

However, one question we get asked a lot by brands and retailers is: how can we generate more of this content?

There are a wide range of theories behind why consumers opt to provide UGC.

But there isn’t a huge volume of concrete data-driven information examining specific reasons. This survey was conceived to change that. It provides a deep dive into exactly what motivates shoppers to submit all types of User-Generated Content (ratings and reviews, and consumer submitted video, imagery and Q&A content) by exploring the opinions of a total of 10,486 active consumers.

We also dig into whether generational differences affect review submission preferences and behaviors. Does age impact whether consumers are more likely to provide review content? And do different factors motivate different age groups?

Throughout, we offer some tips to optimize UGC collection based on the survey results.

Ratings & Reviews

Typical Review Submission Behaviors

To level set, our 10,486 respondents are active shoppers across the United States who have opted in to offers and discounts from retailers. We ran the survey in October 2020.

To get an idea of how these consumers approach UGC, we first wanted to understand how frequently our participants typically provide ratings and reviews.

Review submission frequency
Number of times consumers need to be asked for a rating/review

More than half of our respondents claim they provide a product rating or review more than once a month. And almost nine in ten (89%) say they do so at least once every six months.

More than two-thirds say they only need to be asked to leave a review once to submit one, while 96% claim they will do so by the second request.

These results show that our survey panel is highly engaged with User-Generated Content (UGC). They submit ratings and reviews in significant volumes.

This means the subsequent findings we highlight are critical for brands and retailers trying to understand how to generate more UGC. Our survey provides crucial insights into how to motivate consumers to provide reviews who are among the most inclined to do so.

Review submission frequency
(Generation Comparison)

Baby Boomers
Gen X
Gen Z
Number of times consumers typically need to be asked before leaving a product rating and review
Gen X
Gen Z

When comparing review submission behaviors according to age, younger generations are more prolific review writers and contributors. 47% of Baby Boomers submit reviews more than once per month, compared to 54% of Gen Xers, 53% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Zers.

However, younger generations also need to be asked to provide this content on more occasions before they do so. 61% of Gen Zers say they will submit a review on the first request, compared to 62% of Millennials, 70% of Gen Xers and 74% of Baby Boomers.

Based on our results, younger generations are overall more committed to providing reviews but less immediately responsive to initial requests.

Primary motivators for providing review content

As a starting point, we wanted to understand the main motivating factors for consumers to provide product ratings and reviews.

We based the response options on our experience of working on UGC programs for a number of years at more than 1,200 brands and retailers. In other words: this is what we and our own customers believe to be the main reasons that their customers offer up this content.

Factors that motivate consumers to leave a rating/review

Our responses provide an easy-to-rank list of the most important motivating factors for consumers. Our top ranking result shows there is simply no substitute for a good experience. More than nine in ten say this is the primary reason they choose to provide this content.

By the same token, a negative experience also leads more than three quarters to leave a product rating and review.

With that being said, incentives clearly – if employed correctly – can stimulate review content. A free sample of the product is a critical motivating factor for a massive 86% of respondents. Incentives are also important for 76% of the consumers surveyed.

Factors that motivate consumers to leave a rating/review
(Generation comparison)
Gen X
Gen Z

In terms of reasons consumers provide review content, there are not too many cross-generational differences.

Regardless of age, a similar volume of respondents feel compelled to submit ratings and reviews if they:

  • have a positive experience
  • receive free samples (or are incentivized in some other way)
  • are looking to help the brand improve the product
  • want to be part of a review community.

The one factor where we identified a clear trend was a desire to help and guide others – younger generations are significantly more motivated to provide reviews for this reason (77% of Gen Zers, compared to 68% of millennials, 68% of Gen Xers and 58% of Baby Boomers).

What incentives are reviewers looking for?

With consumers seeking incentives in exchange for submitting ratings and reviews, it begs the question: what incentives particularly motivate them to do so?

Incentives leading to review submission

Unsurprisingly perhaps, any incentive can be used to generate more review content. But two particularly stand out: receiving the product to be reviewed free or before it officially hits the shelves (digital or physical).

Incentives leading to review submission
(Generation Comparison)
Gen X
Gen Z

Influence of existing review content

Although near the bottom of the rankings in the list of motivating factors (only 42% claimed this would lead them to submit a review), reading existing ratings and reviews content does still have an impact.

More or less likely to submit a product rating and review if it has low review volumes
More or less likely to provide a product rating and review after reading ratings and reviews from others

In fact, these results show that 1) reading reviews from others and 2) low review volumes is still a significant motivator.

Timing of review submission

One question we get asked a lot: how long after asking for a review is it likely to be generated? We explored this topic with our respondents, also questioning them about typical product usage before submitting this content.

Average length of time taken after first using/receiving product to submit review
Number of times product used before review submission
Likelihood to provide a rating or review after using product more than once

The vast majority of respondents submit review content within a week of receiving the product (76%) or within the third usage (86%) of the product. Few do so immediately but a surprisingly high third of all consumers surveyed will provide a review after only using the product once.

Average length of time taken after first using/receiving product to submit review
(Generation comparison)
Gen X
Gen Z
Number of times product used before review submission
(Generation comparison)
Gen X
Gen Z
More likely to provide a product rating and review if used product more than once
(Generation comparison)

Likelihood to provide a rating and review after only one use increases with age: 40% of Baby Boomers submit reviews after one use, compared to 27% of Gen Zers. It appears that younger consumers like to more robustly road test products before delivering their verdict.

Impact of pricing

We wanted to explore whether product price point has an impact on the likelihood to submit review content. We know more expensive products typically require higher buyer consideration, so we wanted to see if this was reflected in motivation to submit reviews.

Percentage of respondents who have left reviews for products by price point
Whether a more expensive product makes a rating and review submission any more likely

Our results show that price does not have a notable impact on review submission likelihood. In fact, around eight in ten respondents explicitly stated this to be the case.

However, the sweet spot for actual review generation by price point is – according to our results – between $6 and $50. Fewer consumers have left product reviews at the higher ranges ($101+) but this can be explained simply by fewer purchases at this level.

Whether a more expensive product makes a rating and review submission any more likely
(Generation comparison)

Younger generations are clearly more compelled to provide a rating and review as the price of the product increases. In fact, 32% of Gen Zers say this has an impact (compared to 28% of Millennials, 19% of Gen Xers and 16% of Baby Boomers).

Visual Media

While ratings and reviews are the bread and butter when it comes to UGC, they are also just a piece in a bigger overall puzzle. A best practice UGC strategy will also include many other elements, such as imagery and video.

As we outline above, data from across more than 1,000 brand and retailer websites we work with highlights how website visitors who interact with imagery are 81% more likely to convert than those who don’t.

This is why many brands and retailers incorporate visual media – either collected within the review itself or on social media – throughout their digital experiences (i.e. on their product pages, category pages, homepages, in email marketing and within social media campaigns etc.). It’s proven to drive purchases.

With this being such an impactful and important element, we wanted to see what makes shoppers feel compelled to leave this specific type of content.

Visual media within reviews

Factors motivating consumers to post an image with a product review
Factors motivating consumers to post a video with a product review

Incentivizing consumers to submit images and videos within their reviews is clearly – according to our survey results – the single most likely factor to drive this outcome.

Again, however, it’s impossible to ignore product quality and demonstration of real-life use cases as a motivator (the main reasons visual media has such an impact on conversions).

There is simply no hiding place for a product perceived to be poor quality when it comes to UGC.

With respect specifically to product quality, this can be managed by appropriately setting expectations up front – primarily through messaging/positioning and pricing. Outlining any features that have potential to be perceived as weaknesses and then adjusting price as necessary goes a long way.

Factors motivating consumers to post an image with a product review
(Generation comparison)
Gen X
Gen Z
Factors motivating consumers to post a video with a product review
(Generation comparison)
Gen X
Gen Z

Baby boomers are the least compelled to share user generated imagery and video overall.

The percentage figures for the reasons more senior generations would share this type of content are consistently lower than younger respondents – which highlights a relatively less appetite to submit it.

As mentioned, incentives to submit imagery and video are big motivators regardless of age. But the biggest age-related difference in what compels consumers to provide this content is whether a brand subsequently shares it.

The trend is clear. The younger the consumer, the more this excites them. 32% of Gen Yers say they are motivated to provide product video content if it’s shared by the brand (40% of Gen Yers say the same for imagery), compared to 13% of Baby Boomers (15% say the same for imagery).

This is perhaps unsurprising given the popularity of visual social-media focused platforms like Instagram, TikTok and so on among this demographic.

Posting about products on social media

Consumers who have ever posted on social media about a product or brand
Factors that motivate consumers to post on social media about a product or brand

Nearly all the consumers we surveyed have posted about product experiences on social media. 

However, why they are motivated to do so is slightly different to the reasons they provide imagery and videos within review content – with product and brand experience typically being the primary factor. This is demonstrated with 80% saying they do so to express gratitude (for a good experience) and 70% to help and guide others.

Consumers who have ever posted on social media about a product or brand
(Generation comparison)
Gen X
Gen Z
Factors that motivate consumers to post on social media about a product or brand
(Generation comparison)
Gen X
Gen Z

Similar to the trends identified directly above, the engagement element of social media really inspires younger generations to share content there about your brand.

Questions & Answers

Customer questions and answers on product pages are a tactic used by many brands and retailers to address consumer concerns. Essentially, both the questions and answers can be customer or brand-submitted but their purpose is to get right to the heart of known barriers to purchase.

And this content is really effective: as we highlight above, consumers who interact with Q&A content are 153% more likely to convert than those who don’t. This makes it the single most impactful type of UGC.

Percentage of consumers surveyed who have:
Factors that would motivate/has motivated you to provide answers to questions asked by other customers on online product pages

Our survey results reiterate the importance of Q&A content. Almost nine in ten consumers have read Q&A on product pages as they consider a purchase decision. Fewer have posted this content, but a healthy volume of shoppers claim to have done so.

As with visual media, the main motivation for submitting either questions or answers is a desire to guide others in the event of either a positive or negative product experience. However, the fact that more than half do so to improve the product highlights strong personal brand attachment and investment.

Critically, consumers are very open to providing Q&A content. Only 6% are not (which – to state the obvious – means 94% are). So there is a definite opportunity to tap into this appetite for brands and retailers.

Interaction with Q&A
(Generation comparison)
Gen X
Gen Z
Factors that would motivate/has motivated you to provide answers to questions asked by other customers on online product pages
(Generation comparison)
Gen X
Gen Z

Similar themes evident throughout the rest of the survey are clear in responses to the questions we asked around Q&A content. Again, younger generations are motivated mostly by a desire to help and guide others in their purchase decisions.

Key takeaways & recommendations
Incentives and freebies lead to more review content

There’s no getting away from it: consumers are most likely to provide review content if they are incentivized to do so. Offering a free sample of the product is the single most effective way to generate a ton of fresh UGC.

Deliver great experiences to generate great ratings and reviews

Ultimately, the UGC you generate is a reflection of the quality of your products. However, you should do everything you can to manage expectations up front by educating shoppers with accurate product descriptions and imagery.

That great experience needs to be delivered from the get go

Not only does the overall experience your product delivers need to be great, it needs to be great from the very first use. The overwhelming majority of consumers leave a review within the first week of receiving the item, often after a single use.

UGC is more than just ratings and reviews

Q&A and user-generated video and imagery is extremely impactful in providing buyer confidence and driving sales online. And your ability to generate this content is dictated more by a great experience than ratings and reviews (which, as we explain, relies more on incentives). A best-in-class UGC program will incorporate all these elements.

Consider your UGC a valuable source of customer feedback data to help improve your business

Sure, the primary reason you have a UGC program is to create buyer confidence at the moment of truth. But it also includes a goldmine of customer feedback that can significantly help improve your product experience, customer experience and overall marketing and messaging efforts. Make sure you make use of this insight to drive your business forward.

Consider adapting your UGC collection strategies according to age demographics

Different generations clearly have slightly different preferences and motivations to provide UGC. If you have products focused on different age groups or are able to segment your database by generation, consider adapting the nature of your collection outreach and requests.


The importance of ratings and reviews on Target+

Target+ has a significant online footprint and digital customer base that can transform the success of your business.

But many brands and sellers leave dollars on the table by not fully maximizing their presence on and app.

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Matt Hiltner

Ecommerce Lead - Ratings & Reviews, Target

Peter V.S. Bond

VP - Retail, PowerReviews
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© Copyright 2021 PowerReviews. All rights reserved.

Paige Thulin

This is the post-Holiday special edition of our monthly snapshot, an analysis of consumer activity on the weekend from Thanksgiving thru Cyber Monday across more than 1.5MM online product pages from more than 1,200 retail/brand sites. This is old news but worth reiterating due to knock-on Holiday impact: the effect of Covid on ecommerce activity has been immense.

To recap, a huge initial surge led to an overall 3x increase in online purchase volumes between February (pre-pandemic) to May. However, the subsequent four months through to October led to a steady decline and then stabilization, with purchase volumes consistently between 40% and 70% higher than they were pre-pandemic (we actually re-aligned our reports to three month periods due to this stabilization).

We then saw a slight uptick in preparation for the Holidays (remember: shopping was expected to start early this year).

Then onto the Holidays. No one really knew what to expect given the unique conditions created by the pandemic.

Last month, we commented how our data at that point showed a bigger increase in 2020 than 2019 (of course coming off a bigger baseline in 2020). However, this proved premature.

Read on to find out more.

Key ecommerce market trends


Traffic and sales surge over Holiday weekend


Holidays lead to review submission surge


Reviews consistently more important than pre-COVID

Traffic and sales surge over Holiday weekend

Prior to the Holidays, consumer behavior had clearly become more predictable, with purchase volumes consistently around 1.4x to 1.7x where they were at the start of the pandemic (this was after a giant surge in April, May and June). So remember that is the baseline we’re dealing with in the chart below.

But the Holidays brought us into uncharted territory. Typically, we can predict online shopping volumes will increase, but this Holiday period is completely unprecedented for obvious reasons.

Below we compare the increase in online purchase and traffic volumes for the Cyber 5 weekend over the past two years.

Last month, we commented how surges in purchase volumes were more pronounced in 2020 than 2019. This proved to be a little premature. The relative increase (from pre-Holidays to the Holidays)  was actually higher in 2019 than 2020. But – again – this jump is coming off a baseline of between roughly 1.4x and 1.7x higher in 2020. The post-Holiday drop off proved consistent year-on-year.

Relative to the 1st of October, there was a bigger spike in the first week of December in 2019 vs 2020. Purchase volumes were consistently higher year-over-year prior to that date, indicating that shopping was happening earlier and consistently higher during holiday 2020. The spike in last minute December shoppers seen in 2019 wasn’t as pronounced in 2020.

Online purchase volumes actually leap further in 2019 than 2020
Site traffic surge mirrors purchase levels year-on-year

Holidays lead to review submission surge

After reporting a significant leap in review submission levels from April to May, we subsequently highlighted a consistent drop through to September to the point where levels were on par with what we saw pre-pandemic.

In last month’s snapshot, we again reported little change but noted that this would be one to watch post Cyber 5 weekend. Our theory being that a leap in overall purchase volumes in this period would be reflected in review submission volumes in the days and week afterwards.

This conclusively proved out, with a giant surge evident at the end of November. This trend – broadly speaking – held throughout the entire month of December – and on December 28 actually peaked at a level 90% higher than where it was at the start of October.

Notably but perhaps unsurprisingly, this was the biggest and most significant increase in review submission volumes we saw all year.

Despite the increase in volumes, trends evident in review length and sentiment were broadly consistent with everything we saw throughout 2020. However, there was a very slight dip in length – peaking at -10% – during this period.

Review submission levels climb in wake of Holiday purchases
Review length and sentiment stable, but slight fall in length evident

Reviews consistently more important than pre-COVID

Last month, we did a deep dive into the impact of review content on the buyer journey – paying particularly close attention to year-on-year comparisons over the Cyber 5 weekend.

To recap, the charts in this section highlight the percentage of online shoppers who go onto purchase after they’ve interacted with review content (i.e. searched, filtered, clicked to extend the review from preview to view entire content etc.)

We found that review interactors were consistently converting at around a 25% higher rate than they were a year previously (the conversion figure is typically around 5.25% in the three months prior to Black Friday, compared to around 4.25% in the same period for in 2019).

For context, this figure had come down from its COVID peak (as also demonstrated below) of 6.85% in April. This is in line with when we saw the highest ecommerce purchase volumes (when they hit a peak of 210% above where they were pre-COVID at this time).

However, the influence of reviews surged to their highest rate of the year during the Cyber 5, with 7.41% of review interactors going on to purchase (an increase of 30%). As you can see from the charts, this is entirely in line with typical trends. Reviews always become more impactful on the buyer journey during the Holidays.

But – interestingly and despite their generally increased importance during COVID – they topped out at an almost identical level to for the same period in 2019. Given the clear long-term trends evident  in the data indicates a clear trend both this and last year, we would expect stabilization at the 5.25% level we’ve consistently seen throughout 2020 as we move out of the Holiday period.

Fast forward to the end of December and review interaction is back at comparable levels year-on-year. Because this runs counter to what we saw throughout the entirety of 2020, we would hesitate to call this a long-term trend. The bottom line is: reviews have become a more influential factor in the buyer journey than before the pandemic.

Review influence almost identical on 2019 and 2020 Cyber 5 weekend


Having pulled this data at the end of December, these results provided a clear picture of the entire Holiday period.

Ecommerce purchase volumes and traffic have been consistently trending at levels between 1.4x and 1.7x above where they were at the start of the pandemic. What this ultimately meant: a less pronounced Holiday-generated increase in 2020 than 2019. Remember this does not speak to the overall difference in volumes, just how much they changed during the Holidays.

Notably, review submission volumes surged on the back of Holiday purchases. For brands and retailers, this post-Holiday period represents an unrivaled opportunity to generate user-generated content.

Paige Thulin