MARCH 31, 2021—CHICAGO—US grocery consumers have flocked online at a rate never seen previously due to the Covid pandemic — with time savings being the primary motivating factor rather than Covid-related safety concerns.

However, the store is far from dead. Consumers are increasingly favoring a blended store-online grocery shopping approach.

These are just a few of the key insights from a new consumer survey from PowerReviews, a leading provider of ratings and reviews and User-Generated Content solutions. 

The PowerReviews Evolution of the Modern Grocery Shopper study draws on survey responses from 7,916 grocery shoppers across the country, surveyed in February 2021. Key findings include:

More grocery shopping is happening online than ever before

  • 73% of consumers had purchased grocery items online within the most recent three months of being surveyed, compared to 17% when we asked the same question in 2017. This represents growth of 4.3x.
  • 61% of consumers shop for groceries online more now than they did pre-COVID. 
  • Top reasons for online shopping include time savings (59%), personal safety (49%) and avoiding impulse purchases (31%).
  • Ordering directly from a local grocery store (as opposed to online-only ordering services such as Instacart or Amazon Fresh) is the most popular way to shop for groceries online; 65% of consumers say they’ve done this. 

Brick-and-mortar grocery is alive and well

  • 93% of consumers had made an in-store grocery purchase within the most recent  three months of being surveyed. 
  • 95% of consumers who shopped for groceries online have also made an in-store grocery purchase within the same time period.

Ratings and reviews positively impact the behavior of both online and in-store grocery shoppers.

  • 82% of online grocery shoppers say they read reviews at least occasionally.
  • 83% of consumers are at least somewhat interested in accessing product ratings and reviews when they’re considering a new product while shopping in a brick-and-mortar grocery store.
  • 78% of online grocery shoppers are more likely to purchase a new grocery item if customer reviews exist for that product. The figure is 64% among in-store shoppers.

Andrew Smith – VP, Marketing at PowerReviews, says:

“Although consumer shopping behaviors have shifted online over the past year at an unprecedented rate, grocery was one vertical where consumers always seemed to place more value on the store over online.

“Our results show this is still the case to a certain extent, but shoppers are clearly more comfortable doing their grocery shopping online today than pre-Covid. The fact that consumer convenience is the biggest reason for this is indicative that this trend will continue long after the pandemic is behind us.

“Trends evident in other shopping verticals are mirrored in the grocery sector. Shoppers are relying more on validation from existing shoppers when making buying decisions in the form of user-generated content. Ratings and reviews are key to providing the buyer confidence necessary for grocery consumers to convert — according to our survey, whether shopping online or instore.”

Read the full survey results on the PowerReviews website.

Research Methodology

The PowerReviews Evolution of the Modern Grocery Shopper consumer survey draws on responses from 7,916 active grocery shoppers across the United States who have opted in to offers and discounts from retailers. The survey took place in February and March 2021. 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 (PowerReviews.com) is a conversion-first UGC vendor obsessed with helping brands and retailers grow their businesses. PowerReviews enables these organizations to generate better quality customer product ratings and reviews in larger volumes and then analyze and benchmark all this data to optimize their UGC programs for conversion, while improving product quality and customer experience.

PowerReviews is headquartered in Chicago, IL, USA.

Media Contact

Erin Lutz 
Lutz Public Relations (for PowerReviews) 
erin@lutzpr.com 
949-293-1055

How the Covid era has shaped consumers’ grocery shopping habits, according to research of 8,000 U.S. shoppers.

Survey at a Glance:

The PowerReviews Evolution of the Modern Grocery Shopper report is based on survey responses from 7,916 grocery shoppers across the United States. Key findings include:

More grocery shopping is happening online than ever before
  • 73% of consumers have purchased grocery items online within the most recent three months of being surveyed, compared to 17% when we asked the same question in 2017.

  • 61% of consumers shop for groceries online more now than they did pre-COVID.

  • Top reasons include time savings (59%), personal safety (49%) and avoiding impulse purchases (31%).

  • Ordering directly from a local grocery store (as opposed to — for example — online only ordering services like Instacart or Amazon Fresh) is the most popular way to shop for groceries online; 65% of consumers say they’ve done this.
Brick-and-mortar grocery is alive and well
  • 93% of consumers have made an in-store grocery purchase within the most recent three months of being surveyed.

  • 95% of consumers who have shopped for groceries online have also made an in-store grocery purchase within the same time period.

Ratings and reviews positively impact the behavior of both online and in-store grocery shoppers.
  • 82% of online grocery shoppers say they read reviews at least occasionally.

  • 83% of consumers are at least somewhat interested in accessing product ratings and reviews when they’re considering a new product while shopping in a brick-and-mortar grocery store.

  • 78% of online grocery shoppers are more likely to purchase an unknown grocery item if there are customer reviews for that product. The figure is 64% among in-store shoppers.

Introduction

Traditionally, Grocery Ecommerce Growth Has Lagged Behind Other Categories

Over the past decade, ecommerce has experienced steady growth. In 2010, ecommerce made up a mere 6.4% of overall retail sales. But by 2020, that number had grown to 21.3%. Other product categories, including electronics and footwear, have experienced even more significant growth.

But there’s one category that’s traditionally lagged behind when it comes to ecommerce growth: groceries.

In 2019, eCommerce accounted for only 3% of grocery shopping in the U.S.

According to Bain & Company Research, a mere 3% of grocery shopping in the U.S. happened online in 2019. And our own research from 2017 found that just 17% of consumers had purchased groceries online.

While consumers clearly enjoyed the convenience of shopping online for other product categories, many remained reluctant to purchase groceries online.

COVID Has Caused a Sea Change in Grocery Shopping Habits

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, causing lasting impact to just about every aspect of daily life — including grocery shopping habits. 

With safety top of mind, many shoppers cut down on trips to the grocery store — or eliminated them altogether. And a record number of consumers opted to shop for groceries online — many for the first time ever.

Newly Adopted Grocery Shopping Habits May be Long-Lasting

Of course, some shoppers may abandon online grocery shopping post-pandemic. But many predict the grocery shopping habits adopted during COVID will stick, even when the pandemic is behind us. Case in point? A survey from Acosta found that 75% of shoppers plan to stick to at least some of their new shopping habits post-COVID.

75% of shoppers plan to stick to at least some of their new shopping habits post-COVID.

There’s Plenty of Opportunity for Grocery Brands and Retailers

Grocery shopping behavior continues to evolve. Brands and retailers must continuously adapt to meet (and exceed) the changing expectations of shoppers. 

And there’s plenty of opportunity for those that do. Incisiv predicts that by 2025, online grocery will account for 21% of total grocery sales, or $250 billion. That’s an 8% increase over pre-pandemic estimates.

By 2025, online grocery will account for 21% of total grocery sales.

Grocery Brands and Retailers Must Adapt to Thrive

But in order to grow market share, brands and retailers must first understand how grocery shopping habits are changing and evolving. After all, strategies and tactics that worked just a year ago may no longer be effective.

PowerReviews surveyed nearly 8,000 U.S. consumers to better understand where they’re now shopping for groceries, why they choose the channels they do and what information they depend on to make informed purchase decisions. We also sought to understand how these behaviors have changed in the four short years since we fielded a similar survey — and include these comparisons throughout.

This report explores the key findings of this research and provides impactful, data-driven actions grocery brands and retailers can take to better attract and convert grocery shoppers — both online and in-store.

For the purposes of this report, “grocery” is defined as any product typically found in a grocery store, including (but not limited to) produce, fresh/dry/frozen foods, cleaning products, health and beauty items, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
Who We Surveyed

Generations

Gen Z
(1997-present)
1%
Millennials
(1981-1996)
39%
Gen X
(1965-1980)
40%
Baby Boomers
(1946-1964)
20%

Geography

Household Income

Where Today’s Consumers Shop for Groceries

In the past, when it was time to stock up on food, drinks and other household essentials, a consumer had little choice but to head to the grocery store. But today, grocery shoppers have myriad digital options to choose from. And as it turns out, the pandemic has made them more likely to give these online grocery shopping options a try.

Online Grocery Shopping is Experiencing Explosive Growth

The pandemic ushered in unprecedented eCommerce growth. According to Digital Commerce 360, eCommerce sales were up 44% in 2020 year-over-year.

So it’s probably not surprising that grocery eCommerce also experienced a significant boost.

Our research found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of consumers have purchased grocery items online in the past three months. In comparison, a mere 17% of consumers answered yes to this question in 2017.

Growth of Online Shopping
Have you or anyone in your household made an online grocery purchase in the last 3 months?

Many shoppers have increased their use of online grocery shopping services during the pandemic, too. In fact, 61% of consumers say they shop online for groceries more now than they did before COVID. 

How COVID has Impacted Online Grocery Shopping
Do you buy groceries online more or less often now than pre-COVID?

Age, Geography, and Income Level Impact Likelihood of Online Grocery Shopping

It’s interesting to note that younger generations are more likely to shop for groceries online. 80% of Millennials and 74% of Gen Z shoppers had purchased groceries online in the most recent three months of being surveyed, compared to 60% of Baby Boomers and 72% of Gen X. 

Online Grocery Shopping by Generation
Have you or anyone in your household made an online grocery purchase in the last 3 months?

In addition, geographical location impacts a consumer’s likelihood of purchasing groceries online. 80% of city dwellers purchase groceries online, compared to 65% of consumers living in a town with a population less than 50,000 — which makes sense given there are more options for those living in larger cities. 

Online Grocery Shopping by Geographic Location
Have you or anyone in your household made an online grocery purchase in the last 3 months?

Finally, the higher the income, the more likely a consumer is to shop for groceries online. 80% of those who make over $100,000 have shopped online for groceries, compared to 64% of those who make $0-$25,000. This makes sense, as many grocery services charge a premium for online shopping. 

Online Grocery Shopping by Income Level
Have you or anyone in your household made an online grocery purchase in the last 3 months?

Consumers Buy Groceries Online to Save Time and Ensure Personal Safety, Among Other Reasons

More consumers are opting to purchase groceries online. But what are the reasons behind this dramatic shift in shopping behavior? 

Time savings is the most popular reason. 59% of consumers indicate it’s a key reason they choose to purchase groceries online, which indicates that the trend is likely to stick post Covid. And 49% say they purchase groceries online for personal safety reasons, which makes sense in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

Top Reasons Consumers Choose to Shop for Groceries Online

Brick-and-Mortar Grocery Shopping is Still Alive and Well

Online grocery shopping is experiencing a surge in popularity. But that’s not to say grocery stores will soon be a thing of the past. Quite the opposite: brick-and-mortar grocery continues to thrive. Nearly all (93%) of consumers said they had made a grocery purchase in a physical store location within the most recent three months of being surveyed. 

93% of consumers have made an in-store grocery purchase within the most recent three months of being surveyed.

And as it turns out, most consumers are doing a blend of online and in-store grocery shopping. 95% of consumers who have shopped for groceries online have also made an in-store grocery purchase within the same time period.

95% of consumers who have shopped for groceries online have also made an in-store grocery purchase within the most recent three months of being surveyed.
How Consumers Shop for Groceries Online

It’s clear that online grocery shopping is quickly growing in popularity. But where exactly are these online shoppers purchasing their groceries? And what items are they buying when they do? 

Consumers Use a Variety of Online Grocery Services

Today, there are a growing number of online grocery shopping options. Which are winning among consumers?

When asked where they’d purchased grocery items online from, more than half (65%) said they’d ordered pickup or delivery from a traditional grocery or big-box store. In comparison, only 38% chose this option when we surveyed consumers in 2017. 

Nearly a quarter (22%) use an online-only service, such as Amazon Fresh or Boxed.com. Other popular options are a third party delivery service, such as Instacart (20%) and meal boxes (15%), such as Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. 

It’s also worth noting that a third (34%) of online grocery shoppers use more than one online grocery service.

Top Online Grocery Services
2017 vs. 2021

Online Grocery Shoppers Fill Their Shopping Baskets with a Variety of Items

Four years ago when we asked grocery shoppers what types of products they’d purchased online, items that didn’t require refrigeration topped the list. 

And that’s still the case. 70% of online shoppers indicate they’ve purchased non-perishable packaged foods online. Other popular product categories for online grocery shopping are personal care items (64%), home care items (61%) and soft drinks (58%). 

But online shoppers aren’t completely steering clear of perishable items. 56% have purchased fresh food, such as meat, product and dairy online, and 54% have purchased frozen foods. 

It’s also interesting to note that the percentage of shoppers purchasing every single category has increased since 2017.

Online Grocery Shoppers Purchase a Variety of Items
2017 vs. 2021

Online Grocery Shoppers are Willing to Try New Products

There’s no doubt online grocery shoppers stock up on the same tried-and-true items staples time and time again. For example, most families probably add the same brands of milk, bread and eggs each time they place an order. 

But the majority (83%) of online grocery shoppers are also open to purchasing products they’ve never tried before. Millennials (89%) are the generation most likely to try new products when shopping online for groceries, and Baby Boomers (72%) are the least likely.

Openness to New Products
Are you open to buying products online that you haven't bought in-person?
Openness to New Products By Generation
Are you open to buying products online that you haven't bought in-person?

In addition, as household income increases, so too does likelihood that a shopper will try a new product. 77% of those who make $0-$25,000 are open to buying new grocery products online, compared to 85% of consumers with incomes higher than $100,000.

Openness to New Products By Income Level
Are you open to buying products online that you haven't bought in-person?

In addition, nearly a quarter (21%) of shoppers say they’re more open to buying a new (to them) product when shopping online than they would if they were shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. And over half (58%) say they’re as likely to try a new product online as they are in a store. This is interesting, as it proves that online grocery shoppers don’t necessarily need to see and touch a new product in person before committing to a purchase. We’ll dig into what gives them the confidence to try a new product later in this report. 

Are you more or less open to buying a new grocery product online than you are in-store?
The Impact of Reviews on Online Grocery Shopper Behavior

By now, the importance of reviews is well understood. But just how impactful is this content for online grocery shoppers? Let’s take a closer look.

Most Online Grocery Shoppers Depend on Reviews

Shoppers turn to reviews when shopping for just about all types of products. And groceries are no exception. 82% of online grocery shoppers say they read reviews at least occasionally. Of online grocery shoppers that read reviews, 17% always read reviews and 25% do so regularly. 

Frequency of Review Consumption Among Online Grocery Shoppers

As expected, review consumption is more frequent among younger grocery shoppers. 

Review Consumption by Generation
Boomers
Gen X
Millennials
Gen Z

Reviews Entice Online Grocery Shoppers to Learn More About a Product

When grocery shoppers browse online, reviews often spark interest — and increase the likelihood of clicking through to a product page to learn more. 

Nearly half (47%) say they’re more likely to click through to a product page from search results or a grocery store’s homepage if there are ratings and reviews highlighted in these locations. 

Reviews Positively Impact Click Through Rate
Are you more or less likely to click through to a product page (from search results, homepage, etc.) if there are ratings and reviews highlighted?

Millennials and Gen Z shoppers are even more likely to be influenced by the presence of reviews. Over half (53%) of each of these age groups indicate they’re more likely to click through to a product page if there are ratings and reviews highlighted on the homepage or in search results. 

Impact of Reviews on Click Through Rate, By Generation
Are you more or less likely to click through to a product page (from search results, homepage, etc.) if there are ratings and reviews highlighted?
Boomers
Gen X
Millennials
Gen Z

Reviews Give Online Shoppers Confidence to Try New Grocery Products

As mentioned earlier in this report, the majority of online grocery shoppers are open to purchasing products they’ve never tried before. But there’s a level of risk involved with purchasing a new or unknown product — especially when a shopper can’t first see it in person. What helps online grocery shoppers overcome that risk and convert? Oftentimes, reviews.

Over three-quarters (78%) of online grocery shoppers say they’re more likely to purchase a grocery item they’ve never bought before if there are customer reviews for that product, up from 72% in 2017. This number is even higher among Millennial (83%) and Gen Z (89%) shoppers.

How Reviews Impact Likelihood of Trying New Products By Generation
Are you more likely to purchase a new grocery product if there are customer reviews for it?

What elements of reviews and other types of user-generated content do grocery shoppers find most useful when making purchase decisions? 67% of shoppers say it’s useful to read other customers’ opinions on specific details relevant to a product. A product’s average star rating is valuable information to 65% of shoppers, and the volume of reviews matters for 53%. 

Many grocery shoppers also value other types of UGC, including Q&A (50%) and visual content such as photos (36%) and videos (16%).

UGC Elements that Online Grocery Shoppers Find Most Useful

These findings point to the importance of generating a steady stream of reviews, Q&A and visual content for all of your grocery products. 

Meeting the Expectations of Online Grocery Shoppers

In order to attract and retain the growing number of online grocery shoppers, businesses must consistently meet (and exceed) customer expectations. One key way of doing that? Providing online shoppers with all of the content they need to make confident shopping decisions — including reviews — in the places they want to find this content.

Shoppers Seek Reviews for a Variety of Grocery Products

We know that the majority of online shoppers read reviews at least occasionally. But do reviews matter more for certain types of grocery products? 

Some categories do rise above the others. Three-quarters (76%) of online grocery shoppers want to access reviews for personal care items, and 70% desire this content for home care products. But the reality is, modern consumers want to access ratings and reviews for a wide array of grocery products, from non-perishable items and frozen foods to soft drinks and baby care items. And their appetite for this content has only grown since we last surveyed grocery shoppers in 2017.

Online Shoppers Want Reviews for a Variety of Grocery Products
2017 vs. 2021

Where Online Grocery Shoppers Want to Access Reviews

Online shoppers want to access reviews for a wide variety of grocery products. But where do they ideally want to find this content? 

80% want to find reviews directly on the website or app they’re purchasing from. And 40% seek reviews for grocery products on Amazon. Other preferred spots for finding reviews are search engines (27%) and third party reviewers or review sites (22%).

Where Online Grocery Shoppers Want to Find Product Reviews

This points to the importance of collecting reviews for plenty of your grocery products — then displaying this content so it’s easy to find on your website and mobile app. If you don’t, you risk losing shoppers to Amazon or another service that displays this content. 

How Today’s Shoppers Navigate Brick-and-Mortar Grocery Stores

While online grocery shopping has hit record levels, it’s important to remember that physical store locations aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. As we revealed earlier, nearly all (93%) of those we surveyed said that someone in their household made an in-store grocery purchase within the last three months. And 95% of online grocery shoppers also make in-store grocery purchases. 

But while brick-and-mortar grocery is certainly alive and well, the way shoppers navigate the aisles and the information they use to make purchase decisions is changing.

Most Shoppers Use Their Mobile Phones In-Store

The majority of shoppers (87%) use their mobile phone as a tool while shopping in a physical grocery store. In comparison, 59% said they used their phone to aid in in-store grocery shopping when we asked this question in 2017.

The most popular activities in-store grocery shoppers are using their phones for are finding or redeeming coupons (67%), reviewing shopping lists (47%) and reading product ratings and reviews (42%). It’s worth noting that in-store shoppers are doing all of these activities much more frequently than they were in 2017.

How In-Store Grocery Shoppers Use Their Phones
2017 vs. 2021
How Reviews Can Impact In-Store Grocery Shopping Behavior

Online grocery shoppers depend on reviews to make informed purchase decisions. And as the findings of this survey indicate, this content has the power to impact in-store grocery shopping, too. 

In-Store Shoppers Want Reviews for New or Unknown Products

An in-store shopper is unlikely to consult reviews for their tried-and-true grocery products. But when they’re considering a product they’ve never purchased before, this content can be extremely valuable.

The majority (83%) of consumers are at least somewhat interested in accessing product ratings and reviews when they’re considering a new product while shopping in a brick-and-mortar grocery store. This is up significantly from 2017, when 68% of consumers indicated they wanted access to this content. Of note, Millennials are the generation most likely to be interested in reviews when considering a new product in-store.

Consumer Interest in Reviews When Considering a New Product In-Store
When considering a new grocery product, how interested are you in accessing product ratings and reviews while shopping in a grocery store?

Reviews Boost In-Store Shoppers’ Confidence

We already know that 78% of online grocery shoppers are more likely to purchase an unknown grocery item if there are customer reviews for that product. And as it turns out, this content can boost confidence for in-store shoppers, too. 

When shopping in a grocery store, 64% of shoppers say they’re more likely to purchase a grocery item that they’ve never purchased before if they are able to read customer reviews for the product. In 2017, 52% of consumers indicated this was the case. In line with other survey findings, younger grocery shoppers are even more likely to be persuaded to buy unknown products after reading reviews.

Impact of Reviews on the Likelihood to Purchase a New Grocery Product In-Store
While shopping in a grocery store, are you more likely to purchase a grocery item you’ve never bought before if you’re able to read customer reviews?
Impact of Reviews on the Likelihood to Purchase a New Grocery Product In-Store By Generation
While shopping in a grocery store, are you more likely to purchase a grocery item you’ve never bought before if you’re able to read customer reviews?
Boomers
Gen X
Millennials
Gen Z

How Grocery Shoppers Want to Access Reviews While Shopping In-Store

In-store grocery shoppers want to read customer reviews — especially for products they’ve never purchased before. But how do they want to access this content when receiving communications from a grocery provider or shopping in a grocery store?

The most popular answer is through the store or grocery provider’s app, with 49% of in-store grocery shoppers indicating this is where they want to find ratings and reviews. But plenty of shoppers want to see reviews on in-store signage, as well as through other print and digital marketing channels.

Where In-Store Grocery Shoppers Want to See Ratings and Reviews
When receiving communications from a grocery provider or shopping in a grocery store, where do you want to see ratings and reviews?

Make sure you have easily accessible reviews on your mobile app. And look for opportunities to enhance your in-store signage and marketing campaigns with this powerful social proof. 

5 Ratings & Reviews Recommendations for Grocery Businesses

The way consumers are shopping for groceries has changed — perhaps for good. Grocery brands and retailers must adapt quickly in order to attract, convert and retain shoppers — whether they shop online, in-store or a combination of the two. 

Read on for five impactful actions to take to better meet (and exceed) the expectations of modern grocery shoppers, based on the key findings of this report.

1
Collect reviews.

Online and in-store shoppers alike have a growing appetite for reviews across a number of grocery categories. And the presence of this content increases the likelihood that a shopper will try a product they haven’t purchased before. If you’re not already, start collecting reviews across your product catalog.

Display reviews on your website and mobile apps.

Once you’ve started collecting reviews, be sure to prominently display this content on your website and mobile apps. Both online and in-store grocery shoppers are seeking out reviews on these channels.

2
3
Display review content in-store.

Nearly half (49%) of in-store grocery shoppers want to access ratings and reviews via your website or mobile app. But there’s also a good number of shoppers who want to find this content within the store itself. So look for opportunities to enhance your shelf tags, price labels, store signage and even the packaging of your products with star ratings and review information.

Consider product sampling.

Reviews are especially important when shoppers are considering grocery items they’ve never purchased before. So if you’re launching new grocery items in the coming year (or if you have products with a high volume of traffic and a low volume of reviews), consider sending out free samples in exchange for honest reviews. After all, three-quarters (78%) of online grocery shoppers and 64% of those who shop in-store are more likely to purchase a grocery item if they’re able to read reviews for the product first.

4
5
Regularly analyze review content to identify areas to improve.

Reviews are a gold-mine of insights that can help you understand what your shoppers love about your products — and what they don’t. By regularly analyzing your review content, you can uncover opportunities to improve your products and your customer experience. And by making data-based, impactful changes, you’ll boost customer loyalty — and your bottom line. 

You know you need to ask for reviews. You also have ideas for how to ask for reviews.

There’s only one piece of the puzzle left for you to figure out: when to ask for reviews.

Congratulations — this is actually the easiest part, especially since we’ve already done the research for you. We’ve analyzed the data from hundreds of thousands of review requests and post-purchase emails from PowerReviews clients to determine the optimal time for asking reviews. 

What we found may surprise you. Certain days of the week perform better for review collection. Ultimately, however, the best time to ask for reviews depends on the types of products you sell, as well as the demographic makeup of your audience.

Let’s dig in.

The Best Day(s) of the Week to Ask for Reviews

In general, we’ve found that Wednesdays and Saturdays have the highest conversion rate for review request emails. Maybe people are looking for a way to break up hump day, or they have more time on the weekend.

Whatever the reason, emails sent on these days tend to lead to more reviews. This is not to say requests aren’t effective on other days (we’ve seen plenty of evidence to suggest this is the case). But scheduling your post-purchase emails on a Wednesday or Saturday seems to give it the best possible chance of generating a review.

What Time Should You Email Your Review Request?

The best time to send your review request emails depends on your customer base, and their past interactions with your email campaigns. Review your email analytics. Based on that data, you can determine when your customers will be most likely to open and engage with your review request emails. 

If you’re starting fresh with a review collection email program and looking for some general best practices, however, the best time slot is between 10am and 2pm. This timeframe captures people on their lunch break, when they have a little extra down time to leave a review. 6pm can be another peak time, when people have finished their workday.

When to Ask for Reviews, Depending on What You Sell 

Now you’ve got two days of the week you can dedicate to sending your post-purchase emails. But how many Wednesdays, or Saturdays, should you wait before sending your review request? 

You don’t want to send your email too early. You could come off as too eager, but worse, the person may not have even had a chance to try out the product yet.

The vast majority of people prefer to leave a review after they’ve used a product at least once or twice, and 34% of people would like to use it even more before writing their review.

Younger generations, in particular, prefer to be able to vet a product a bit longer before leaving their review. While 40% of Boomers are happy to write a review after using a product once, only 27% of Gen Zers are.

At the same time, you don’t want to wait too long either. People prefer to leave reviews while the product is still top of mind. 77% of people will write a review within a week of receiving or using the product, and 8% will write a review the same day.

There’s also a risk that if you wait too long, your email will get lost among all the other review request emails they’re getting. People order a lot of things online these days, and that shopping behavior has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. 1 in 5 people buy something at least once a week. For 6% of Amazon Prime members, they purchase something every single day

Getting the timing just right is key to maximizing your review submissions. You want to give people enough time to be able to leave a detailed review (customers rate longer reviews as more helpful), without waiting so long that they lose interest.

How long should you wait before sending your review request? Between 7 to 21 days, depending on the type of product the customer purchased. 

Hard Goods – 21 Days

When we talk about hard goods, we’re referring to products that last a long time, such as refrigerators, washing machines, and computers.

We recommend waiting 21 days before sending your review request for these products. Why so long? With products like these, the person is expecting to use them for a long time. They want to make sure it works as expected, and they need time to confirm that.

Send your review request too early, and they may have only used the product a few times. With some of these products, like a new computer, they may have not even had a chance to set them up yet! 

Soft Goods – 14 Days

Soft goods describe items that are used immediately and only last a few years, such as apparel, cosmetics, and personal care items.

We recommend waiting 14 days before asking for a review on these products. That’s a perfect amount of time for a person to have received the product and used it at least once or twice. With the purchase still top of mind, they’ll be in a good place to write a thoughtful review.

Perishable Goods – 14 Days

Perishable goods are used immediately and have a short lifespan. These may include food and beverage items, as well as flowers and plants.

Like soft goods, we recommend waiting 14 days before sending your review request email. Perishable goods are used quickly, and you want to ask for a review before the person has already forgotten about how much they enjoyed it! 

Seasonal Goods – 7 Days

Seasonal items include holiday and seasonal products. They could be perishable, like holiday-themed foods and beverages. Or they could be a soft good, like apparel or decor. Regardless, many of these items are put to use as soon as they’re out of the box. 

As a result, you don’t want to delay your review request longer than a week. 7 days is the ideal time for sending a post-purchase email on seasonal goods. The person has probably already used the product, if not multiple times, and you want to make sure you ask for a review before the holiday is over.

There’s another reason why you don’t want to wait too long to ask for reviews on seasonal products.

Reviews increase conversions by 115%, and there’s only a short window of time your seasonal products will be available. You have to make the most of that window to boost your review count — and your sales.

When to Send a Review Follow Up Email

If a customer doesn’t respond to your initial review request, how long should you wait before sending them a follow up? A good rule of thumb is 1 additional week, or 7 days. The product will still be fresh in their mind, but you’ve given their email inbox a little breathing room.

Do you really need to send a followup email? Yes, not everyone will leave a review the first time you ask them. In fact, only 68% of customers will. An additional 28% leave a review the second time you ask them. But 4% of people, you’ll need to nudge them a third time before they write a review. That’s why we recommend sending at least two emails as a best practice. 

How many requests you’ll ultimately need to send can depend on the demographic makeup of your customer base, however. Our research shows that older generations are significantly more likely to leave a review after the first request. 74% of Boomers will write a review the first time you ask them, as will 70% of Gen Xers. For Gen Zers and Millennials, however, that percentage drops to around 60%.

The takeaway: If your customer base skews younger, always send at least two emails asking for reviews, if not three. Learn more about what drives customers to leave reviews

Worried about being a pest? Don’t be. Our data shows that up to 80% of all reviews come from post-purchase emails. Asking for reviews over email can work wonders for your review collection, especially if you ask more than once.

Just take a look at the chart below. These are the review collection numbers for one of our clients, before and after they started sending post purchase emails. Can you guess what month they started asking for reviews?

That’s right. Simply starting a post-purchase email campaign skyrocketed this client’s review collection numbers to the tune of 900%.

It’s Always the Right Time to Ask for Reviews

Do what you can to get more reviews, by asking at the right time, and asking more than once. It’s worth it! Why? 97% of consumers typically read reviews before making a purchase and 81% of online purchases take place on pages with ratings and reviews content.
Timing your ask is just one part of a successful review collection strategy. From collecting and displaying reviews, to managing and responding to negative ones, there’s always more you can do to squeeze more value out of your customer reviews. Learn more in our Complete Guide to Ratings & Reviews for 2021.

Riley Smith

Riley Smith is a Senior Solutions Consultant at PowerReviews where he works with existing and prospective clients to translate their eCommerce goals into innovative and powerful solutions. When Riley isn't chatting with clients or fielding technical questions from other PowerPeople, he's usually running on the lakefront or scrolling endlessly through Netflix.

At PowerReviews, our engineering team works on a diverse range of projects. It’s a great place to learn a ton, build skills and grow your career. Read on to learn about just one of these projects – which we were recently working on.

We are always looking for ways to evolve our technology stack with an eye towards scalability.  A recent challenge we faced was the stability of our data ETL processes, which are critical to supporting our analytics platform. 

For context, our ETL processes handle up to a million updates every day and account for 250gb of daily data transfer.  So to say they are a big deal is an understatement.

We recently adopted AWS’s Data Migration Service to overhaul how we move data from our core transactional databases to our Analytics Warehouse in Snowflake. This adoption reduced a multi-day, high-maintenance, data load process to a mostly automated, hours long job.

We wanted to share how we accomplished this 1) to give a flavor of the sorts of challenges we face every day at PowerReviews and 2) in case you are facing a similar challenge.

We started by evaluating different approaches and technologies for streamlining our warehouse loading process. These included AWS Kinesis, RDS Postgres Snapshot Exports, and using the wal2json plugin offered by the Postgres community. 

Each of these solutions were evaluated against our previous ETL implementation in the following areas: operational cost, scope of architecture changes required to implement, and overall completeness of the data capture capability offered by the technology.

We landed on AWS’s Database Migration Service (DMS) because it offered us a managed solution towards leveraging Postgres Write-ahead Logging (WAL) replication to source data for our analytics platform.

AWS DMS – at its core – is an abstraction layer over Postgres’s WAL replication that allows us to concentrate on the data itself, leaving the low level details of the implementation to AWS to manage. In general we look toward managed solutions to keep our DevOps team lean and mean.

With our technology choice made, we went to work on an implementation. Our DMS solution connected DMS replication instances with each of our databases.

These instances included DMS task definitions which defined which tables to capture change data and deliver that change data as JSON files to S3 storage buckets. The file uploads to S3 trigger notifications that initiate loading of files into Snowflake, our data warehouse technology.  

The file loading process then orchestrates reconciliation of insert/update/delete actions to our analytics source of record.  

Another choice we made along the way was to use a tool called dbt. dbt lets our data analysts take ownership of the entire analytics engineering workflow.

With dbt in place, we are able to hand off further ingestion of our data to our analysts – who handle the incorporation of this data into aggregate views. These drive our public facing analytics reports in Tableau.

As a result of our migration to DMS, and the introduction of dbt, we’ve realized a ton of benefits to the business. 

These include moving our engineering focus from tuning of bulky ETL queries, managing database performance, and chasing down data discrepancies to instead expanding the reach of our analytics platform and exploring new and valuable insights in our data that we can provide to our customers.

If you’re facing similar ETL challenges, we would love to hear from you. And if you’re interested in tackling similar tasks, we are in growth mode so are currently hiring extensively in engineering.

They say all you need to do to collect reviews is ask. It’s simple advice, and it works. But, it also feels easier said than done. How, exactly, are you supposed to go about asking for reviews? Should you email your customers, tweet them on social media, or host a contest?

All of the above — and more. The truth is, the more creative you are with asking, the more reviews you’ll receive. Customers respond to different requests for reviews, so the more ways you can ask for reviews, the more successful you’ll be.

Today, we’re sharing 18 proven strategies for collecting more product reviews, with real-world inspiration from our own clients at PowerReviews. Let’s dig in.

1. Ask for reviews in your post-purchase emails

This one’s an essential best practice. Our research has found that nearly 80% of all reviews content is generated from email requests. Personalize your post-purchase emails with the customer’s name and the products they purchased, with direct links to write a review.

Not convinced an email can really make that much of a difference? Take a look at the chart below. The blue bars represent how many reviews one of our clients collected each month. In December 2020, they started emailing customers asking for reviews. As a result, their review numbers skyrocketed by around 600%. When we say asking for reviews works, we mean it!

2. Collect reviews from the email itself

Want to wow customers with your review collection technology? Let them complete their review directly within the email. 

3. Collect multiple reviews at once

60% of orders include more than 1 product. That’s a lot of reviews to write. Make the process quick and painless by letting customers review multiple products in one click. One of our clients saw their review collection rates increase by 54% in just 30 days after implementing this approach.

4. Add a review request form to your product pages

Add review forms to your product pages, so customers have a place to leave a review no matter if they purchased your products from your site, another retailer, or in-store. 

Pro Tip: Encourage longer reviews by gamifying the process! Add a Review Meter link that shows a progress bar and cheers customers on to keep writing.

5. Create a landing page for reviews

Maybe you don’t sell your products through your website. Good news: you can still collect reviews. Create a page on your website that’s just for reviews. Feature each product with a link to write a review. This gives you a handy URL you can share on social media, email newsletters, and other marketing communications.

6. Ask for reviews on receipts and invoices

Post-purchase emails are great, but you need a customer’s email in order to send them. For in-store purchases, you can add a call-to-action on your receipts and invoices asking shoppers to write a review. Take every opportunity you can to remind shoppers that their feedback is valuable and you’re always looking for reviews. 

7. Include review requests in your email newsletters

Do you send a marketing email newsletter to your customers and subscribers? That’s another great spot to ask them to write a review. Remind customers of the value of reviews in a short and sweet callout, or feature some of your products along with links that take people right to the review form. One PowerReviews client collected 175 days in just 2 days with this review collection campaign; another collected over 1,000 in just 5 days!

8. Ask for reviews via text message

For younger generations, email feels so old school. Stay hip and connected by asking them to leave reviews via text message. You can send them links to your review form after their purchase.

9. Host a sweepstakes or giveaway

Among shoppers who don’t write reviews, 55% said they need an incentive or reward to do so. So, give the people what they want! Throw a review sweepstakes, where each review counts as an entry. One of our apparel clients saw a 290% increase in review collection in just 45 days thanks to this strategy!

Pro Tip: Promote your review contest far and wide, including on your website, email newsletters, and social media channels.

10. Include your review request on the product packaging

It’s common to include rave reviews on product packaging. Why not also ask for reviews while your customers are in a positive frame of mind, and excited to start using your product? Print a QR form on product packaging. Once the customer scans it from their smartphone, they’re taken directly to your review form.

11. Collect more reviews via QR codes

Speaking of QR codes, they’re a review collector’s best friend. As long as they’re linked to your review form, you can use QR codes in a variety of places to collect more reviews. Do you attend trade shows? Print a QR code on a business card with instructions on how to write a review and hand it out at your booth. Do you ship products directly to your customers? Include a product insert with a QR code and instructions to write a review.

12. Award loyalty points for writing a review

If you offer a customer loyalty program, make writing a review one of your point-earning activities. Allow customers to earn points each time they leave a review for one of your products.

13. Share product samples to drum up new reviews

Are you launching a new product, or reintroducing a seasonal product line? Generate new reviews fast by offering product samples. You can share physical products, or distribute physical or digital coupons for specific items. Tell customers that you are looking for their feedback. Because you’ve already given them a free product, they’ll be more likely to return the favor with a review. We’ve found that review submission from a sampling campaign can range from 60% to 90%. Not too shabby!

Pro Tip: Supercharge your product sampling campaign by partnering up with influencers. Talk to your notable influencers or register with a micro-influencer platform to expand your reach.

14. Reward reviews with a product discount

Keep the positive momentum going. After a customer writes a review, thank them with a discount. It can be a percentage-off discount or something as simple as free shipping. Offering a discount not only encourages the customer to make another purchase, but to keep writing reviews to score more discounts.

15. Ask for reviews on your Order History page

Customers often review their Order History to reorder their favorite products. That’s an excellent time to remind them to write a review. Include a CTA to write a review next to each product in their order history.

16. Ask for reviews on social media

Your most loyal customers are following you on social media. These are folks who love your products and want to see you succeed. Activate your social media army and tell them they can help by writing you reviews. Ask for reviews on Facebook and Twitter, and include swipe-up links in your Instagram Stories. 

Pro Tip: Prevent writer’s block and inspire your followers by retweeting, reposting, and resharing positive reviews from other social media users.

17. Follow up on Facebook comments

Are customers raving about your products on social media? Join the conversation. Respond to positive Facebook comments with your appreciation and a link to leave a review. Social media is a perfect place to collect review content when you don’t have customer emails — sometimes you just need to do a little digging!  

18. Include review requests on product warranties and registrations

After customers complete their product registration or warranty, ask for a review. These folks care enough about their product to want to keep it protected, so they probably have some pretty good things to say. This is an excellent way for non-ecommerce brands to collect reviews.

Bonus: Syndicate reviews to other retail partners

We’ll include this last tip as a bonus. If you sell through retail partners in addition to your own website, you need to be thinking about how to collect reviews not just for yourself, but for those other partners, too. One easy way to accomplish this is to share reviews from your website out to your retail partners through review syndication. By boosting your review counts on other retailers, you can increase sales there as well. 

As you can see, you’ve got lots of options for collecting reviews. All it takes is a little creativity. Get started by putting these tips into practice today. Collecting reviews is the foundation of any UGC strategy, but there is so much more you can do. Learn more in our Complete Guide to Ratings & Reviews for 2021.

Jen Murphy

Jen is a Customer Success Manager at PowerReviews, where she helps brands and retailers focus on the customer site experience. She provides guidance on how to maintain the client’s branding and voice throughout the UGC collection experience. When she isn’t talking through new strategies with clients, you can find her trying out new restaurants all around Chicago and “patiently” waiting for the world to get back to pre-COVID times.

This is the PowerReviews monthly snapshot trends report for March 2021, an analysis of consumer activity across more than 1.5MM online product pages from more than 1,200 retail/brand sites.

We started measuring at the start of Covid. To recap, a huge initial surge led to an overall 3x increase in online purchase volumes between February (pre-pandemic) to May 2020. 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, when the typical marked seasonal increase materialized.

Read on to find out the key trends post-Holidays as the Covid vaccine began to be rolled out across the country.

Key ecommerce market trends

01

Purchase volumes and site traffic return to pre-Holidays “norms”

02

Review submission volumes increase

03

Reviews still driving purchases more than they were a year ago

Purchase volumes and site traffic return to pre-Holidays “norms”

Prior to the Holidays, consumer behavior had clearly become more predictable, with purchase volumes consistently around 1.4x to 1.7x where they were before 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.

After the Holiday surge, ecommerce purchase volumes settled to similar levels to where they were pre-Holiday (i.e. in the range of 1.4x to 1.7x where they were pre-Covid).

Review Submission Volumes Increase

In the last snapshot, we noted a surge in review submission volumes – when we saw the biggest increase in review collection of the year, 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.

Interestingly, this broad trend continued throughout January and February – this is potentially a hangover from the significant increase in sales volumes over the Holidays. But – as our recent survey proved – most consumers leave reviews within a week of receiving a product having used it once or twice.

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 – fluctuating at a maximum of -10% and +15% of where they were at the start of November – during this period.

Review length and sentiment continues to be stable

Reviews still driving purchases more than they were a year ago

Over the last few monthly snapshots, we have included a deep dive into the impact of review content on the buyer journey – paying particularly close attention to year-on-year comparisons during the Holidays.

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 2020 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.

During January and February 2021, reviews continued to be more influential on the buyer journey than they were a year prior. But the difference was much less marked. We’ll wait before calling this a trend in light of what we saw pre-Holidays.

Summary

In summary, we noted the following clear trends:

  • Purchase volumes and product page traffic stabilized at similar levels to pre-Holidays (at around between 1.4x and 1.7x where they were pre-Covid)
  • Reviews are still having more of an impact on purchase behavior than this time last year but the extent to which this is the case has fallen compared to what we saw pre-Holidays
  • Review submission levels have increased steadily over the past three months

Realistically,  as we look ahead to the rest of 2021, it’s likely that 2020 accelerated the transition online like no other event in the Internet age. More sustainable growth is likely in a post-Covid world – as the below projected chart from eMarketer outlines.

In fact, eMarketer predicts that ecommerce growth in 2021 will be significantly less than half of where it was in 2019. However, coming off the back of the biggest year of ecommerce growth in history (32.4% year-on-year according to eMarketer), the overall trend of an increasing share of dollars being spent online (compared to instore) is a continuing and unpreventable process.

This site and our services use cookies and other technologies to collect and/or store information on your computer. Some are essential to make our site work while others improve your experience. Read our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy to learn more.