How ecommerce sites can make customer reviews more user friendly
Customer reviews and ratings are now a must-have for retailers, as there is so much potential to influence a visitor’s purchase decision.
It’s one thing to just present reviews on product pages, but to make them more effective, customers need to digest the information without making them work too hard. This makes for a better experience for users, and means the reviews are more valuable for retailers.
Here are some ideas for sites to think about when using reviews, and some examples of how the masses of review data gathered by ecommerce sites can be used more effectively.
For more recommendations on how retailers can improve their own user experience, download our Ecommerce UX competitive benchmark report.
Help customers evaluate review scores
Shoppers need some basic detail so they can decide whether to trust reviews, and the information presented around them…
Present review scores and volumes
Not every shopper wants to read all the reviews, and many will scan to find the key points and get an idea of the overall sentiment of reviews.
Many will just look at the aggregated star rating, which is why most sites will show this is a prominent position near the product title.
The combination of review score and number of reviews gives a quick indication of the feeling about a product. If the score comes from a reasonable number of reviews, then it is likely to reflect customers’ sentiments.
Show distribution of review scores
Providing summary tables of review scores and the distribution of those scores also helps people form an opinion without having to spend too much time reading reviews.
Amazon shows how many reviews there are for each score. This helps people see the general consensus about a product. It’s also good to show that there are some negative reviews, which increases the credibility of the presented reviews.
Highlight verified reviews
Fake reviews can be an issue on some of the bigger ecommerce sites and review platforms, so it’s important that people can trust that reviews are real.
One way to do this is to use verified reviews, or to at least highlight which reviews are from people who have definitely purchased the product they’re reviewing.
Help people dig into the detail
Many products aren’t necessarily ‘good or bad’, at least not in a way that can be identified through consumer reviews.
Some products are right for some people, but not others, and the presentation of review information can help people make a more informed decision in this respect.
For example, this digital camera on Amazon has an average of 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon, from almost 900 customer reviews. That’s a pretty decent average and, given the number of reviews, it’s a good indicator of general feeling toward the phone.
Presenting average review scores like this is great, but when you look into the detail of reviews, you can find out more.
For example, delving into the negative reviews you’ll find many comments referring to battery life and low picture quality.
Even some of the more positive reviews list photo quality and battery life amongst the drawbacks.
On balance, this is perhaps a decent camera for the price, but there are clearly pros and cons. Buyers for whom battery life is a key concern may not feel satisfied with this product, but the question is how to present review information to draw out key pieces of information like this.
Score products according to key features
There are ways to achieve this. For example, Currys’ reviews ask customers to rate according to product characteristics, including battery life. This means shoppers can see a quick snapshot of ratings for each.
AO.com does something similar with its reviews, in this case for a fridge freezer:
Trivago’s hotel reviews are great at summarising key pros and cons. Hotels are scored on a range of measures, from cleanliness to quality of food.
This helps people to find a hotel based on what’s important for them, as well as identifying areas where hotels excel or need to improve.
So, reading this review, I’d be reassured by the cleanliness rating but maybe wouldn’t bother ordering breakfast from the hotel.
Make reviews searchable
This is a good feature for sites with lots of reviews, and offers a way for people to interrogate the data according to their own concerns.
For example, I can search for something like ‘noise’ if I’m worried about renting an apartment next to a busy road.
It allows people to get into the detail and quickly find out about features or other aspects of products that are important to them.
Allow filtering of reviews
Like making them searchable, filtering allows customers to find the most relevant reviews for them.
For example, reviews on booking.com can be filtered by traveller type, review score, or by how recent reviews are.
Highlight key information
Here, Booking.com picks our key information about the reviewer and their trip – which apartment suite a reviewer stayed in, what type of trip, and whether they’re a family, couple, etc.
It’s easy to digest when presented like this, and helps readers find more relevant reviews. If I’m looking for a child-friendly hotel, reviews like Melanie’s are useful…
Amazon asks reviewers to add a headline to their review, and these can be useful to summarise key points about a product as people scan through the reviews.
Review data should be presented and formatted in a way that makes it easy for customers to understand and use.
If reviews have some visual appeal, people are more likely to use them. Even just a splash of colour helps, as seen on the Eurocamp site above.
Main image by Jess Watters
Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle and former Editor of Econsultancy and ClickZ. When he’s not creating content, he can be found listening to vinyl, spending time with the family and enjoying the odd glass of red wine.