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Why Reviews Aren’t Enough

Reviews help us to make decisions about what we buy online.

eCommerce brands and marketplace sellers wear positive reviews as badges of honour; great reviews are a green light for us to spend with confidence. Shaky review score? Don’t bother.

But these reviews have limitations.

Over the past few years, buyer trust in reviews has dropped. While incredibly useful for consumers, misleading practices have undermined their credibility. Since 2015, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating fake reviews and endorsements.

This is focused on three areas of concern: fake buyer reviews being published, negative reviews being withheld, and businesses paying for endorsements without this being made clear to buyers.

Despite the CMA’s efforts, the ‘fake review’ trade is thriving. Just last week, Facebook took down 16,000 groups trading fake reviews following an intervention by the CMA. Arguably, many technology firms have been slow to respond, choosing to wash their hands with the problem and take action only when pressured by outside organisations.

 

What’s a marketplace to do?

Proactive marketplaces that believe in the selling power of trust are investing in platforms that tackle this issue head on.

Trustpilot, for example, has been restoring trust in its reviews - their automated systems analyse over 100,000 buyer reviews every day, combining technology and humans to tackle fake reviews. In 2020, the company identified and removed 2.2 million reviews, as published in its transparency report.

While fake reviews are an ongoing challenge for eCommerce, progress is being made. This comes from us all taking a deeper look at what builds and breaks buyer trust.

 

Ultimately, fake reviews are news, but not the real problem

Reviews provide us with insight into a product and the customer service that we will receive.

They tell us if the sofa we’re considering buying is worth our money. They tell us if the trainers in our basket will arrive smaller or larger than we expected. They tell us how the customer service team will respond if there’s a problem. But while this information is important, it’s not the full picture.

What they don’t tell us is anything about the business itself. We don’t know where the business is registered or how long it has been trading for. The sofa company could be based in Milton Keynes and have been trading for fifteen years. Or it might be trading offshore and set up just three months ago.

Reviews don’t tell us a company’s credit rating or if it’s likely to be in financial difficulty soon. We don’t even know if the seller is allowed to legally trade.

These unknowns put us at risk. Without understanding these credentials we are buying blind. It’s impossible to know if our purchases will be protected - if the sofa seller goes bankrupt, how can I return it if it’s faulty?

These are not the only shortcomings of buyer reviews - they affect sellers too. Many reputable companies with strong trading histories fall prey to a bad review early on. When a seller only has a small number of reviews on a marketplace, one blip can drastically skew their overall rating. This derails sellers from growing their online business before they even start, sometimes stopping them from trading online forever.

 

So what’s the solution?

With detected, buyers simply tap the detected icon to verify a seller. There and then, they understand everything they need to know about a company to buy with confidence.

Buyer reviews, when they work, are great, but your audience needs a global mark of trust to help. Find out how we're helping at detected.app.

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