Posted February 19, 2008 4:35 pm by with 11 comments

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User reviews are all the rage in online retail. And now a recent study shows that online shoppers typically read multiple reviews before making a purchase online. Research by PowerReviews and the e-tailing group shows that 68% of online shoppers read 4 or more reviews before making a purchase. MediaPost’s Tameka Kee reports:

The companies surveyed 1,200 consumers who shopped online at least four times per year and spent at least $500 in aggregate–finding that almost a quarter of the respondents checked at least eight reviews or more before deciding to buy.

Some 22% of respondents said that they “always” read reviews before making a purchase, while the majority (43%) said they checked ratings and reviews “most of the time.” In contrast, just 2% of the online shoppers surveyed said that they “never” read reviews in advance.

What might this mean for you? If you haven’t already, you might want to seriously consider adding customer reviews. 64% of consumers surveyed by Forrester Research wanted to see user reviews and ratings on websites—more than wanted coupons or deals, or personalization. If they don’t reviews on your site, customers will probably look for them elsewhere—and may end up buying your product elsewhere.

To streamline users’ shopping, you might also consider designing a layout where customers can see multiple reviews on the product screen. Although their product pages are ridiculously long, has a nice section for reviews:

customer reviews at

In this example, there are six reviews visible in a single screen, while there are more than a dozen reviews visible on the page, as well as a summary of the customer ratings and a search box to search customers’ reviews.

  • Hi Jordan, At (consumer face of PowerReviews), I’ve taken a lot of that research and incoporated it into how I rank products on our website. So now you can see that if consumers want 4 or more reviews, we try to deliver products that fit that criteria (among others) in the top 20 results we always show.

    It’s also good to see Amazon finally upgrading it’s review section…-Jim

  • I think equally as valuable as customer reviews is companies publicly responding to reviews –particularly bad ones.

    When I was researching for an upcoming vacation, I went to TripAdvisor to see what people were saying about the hotels I was considering. The one I chose did not necessarily have all the best reviews–but actually had a member of management responding to all the replies. Because hey, nothing’s perfect, but who doesn’t love to know if they feel the need to complain afterwards, they will at least be listened too?

  • This is good news for the consumers! Not only does this demand better service and better products from companies, but also enables them to get a true look at product and services. This puts the consumer back into power and in a day like this where the average person is infiltrated with advertisements, that’s the least they deserve!

  • Jordan McCollum

    @Kelly—Good points. Andy wrote about this a few months ago in Five Ways Negative Reviews Help Your Online Reputation.

  • Speaking as a shopper I love reviews. I won’t base my buying decision on any one review, but they definitely go into the equation.

    For me it’s the common themes in all the reviews. If one reviewer mentions poor customer support I don’t take it too seriously, but if a half dozen all mention the same thing then I do take it seriously.

  • Problem is that a lot of reviews online are made up or manipulated. It’s hard to know what to trust these days.

  • I have to agree with Steve there. The first two pages of “reviews” seem to be from advertisers. I prefer to post on forums that I use and find people who 1. Have used the product and 2. Will give an honest appraisal.

  • Hi Jordan,

    Thank you for your Blog post! We’ve had over a 1,000 downloads of this report and are thrilled to share these findings.

    Regarding Steve Rosenbaum’s post…

    Steve, I completely agree with you. This is exactly WHY PowerReviews has created our “Verified Purchaser” program, which enables us to determine whether the person writing the review at a retailer client site, has indeed purchased the product they are reviewing. You will see this designation on the sites of hundreds of retailers who use PowerReviews and our consumer product research portal,

    Further, we also label reviews written by employees of our retailer clients as “Staff Reviewers and Staff Experts. We even have a credentialing program which if approved, labels your review as an Industry Expert.

    You can see a great example of this at Just search for the K2 Pontoon Ski and read the customer reviews.

    While nothing is foolproof, I think we’ve created a unique method to enable “review credibility” and I would love your feedback if you have time to investigate.

  • I always take reviews into consideration before I buy a product. There are some good legitimate review resources out there.

  • It is always good to check reviews but honestly many times I disagree with the reviews that I read. So I rather follow my own intuition.
    I found a place where I can shop from more than 1000 stores, very secure site. Also I know the great cause for this Shopping Place is to help children in need. A percentage of the shpping from everyone goes to that cause. I feel good about helping people. I have bought computers, clothes, cameras, even little things… always getting rebates. ANyway, the site speaks for itself. Check it out
    [link removed]

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