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The importance of authenticity: How do fake reviews erode consumer trust?

By Marcel Hollerbach, Chief Innovation Officer at Productsup

Recently, the UK government announced its intention to make fake reviews illegal. Under this proposed mandate, regulators would receive support to rid their sites of false reviews for greater transparency and customer trust. Indeed, ecommerce hinges on this element of trust, and when this is taken advantage of, be it through fake reviews or through inaccurate product information, this tarnishes the relationship between the vendor and consumer. This new move will ensure that ‘black sheep’ sellers that are trying to boost their visibility through misleading and false reviews are stamped out.

The trust element of online retail

Online retail itself heavily relies on any goods sold to be as described, and misleading reviews erode this trust when consumers’ expectations are not met. The vast majority of merchants and online sellers rely on positive, authentic reviews from their customer base to boost profitability and visibility, as well as for creating trust for shoppers. However, consumer faith in online retailers has diminished owing to the recent rise in fake reviews online, which have made it more difficult for the end-user to identify authentic, meaningful insights into a product that they intend to purchase.

Add to this the COVID-19 pandemic, which has naturally generated a huge uplift in online shopping but a general decrease in consumer spending power, and there is now an increased need for brands and businesses to make the most of reviews, particularly at an SME and MME level. But how can business owners optimise their content to receive authentic reviews?

Optimising product feeds will ensure a positive customer experience

The success of online retailers depends greatly on the quality and simplicity of the product feeds that they display. Having data that is accurate, rich and contextualised, as well as up-to-date, only helps to boost visibility for products and improve the overall customer experience. A commerce marketing tool can help brands and retailers succeed online by delivering high-quality product data, with companies such as Productsup providing vendors with automated product listing capabilities across multiple platforms. These tools can also help with order syncronisation, as well as with the creation of product images or videos. Ultimately, a more positive customer experience is going to drive more authentic and more positive reviews for retailers and is an essential area to focus on.

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Correctly marketing products on Amazon drives better reviews

Another important tactic for retailers to remember when striving for more meaningful reviews from customers is to reassess how your products are marketed online across other marketplaces, such as Amazon, for instance. Once a shopper clicks on your listing, either through Amazon’s search engine results page (SERP) or via a category search, they will land solely on your product page. This screen is essential and must be kept up-to-date with accurate product information, informative copy, and the complete rundown on the product, giving the consumer everything they need in order to make an informed purchase.

Not only does accurate and up-to-date product information make a potential customer more likely to make a purchase but it also enhances the probability of a genuine and more positive review being left. These reviews can be bolstered further with the inclusion of high-quality imagery, a clear and not misleading product title, and an accurate description outlining essential product details on all product listings.

The Government’s stance is welcomed – but retailers must take it upon themselves

We welcome the UK Government’s intention to make fake reviews illegal, as this growing level of distrust makes it difficult for a consumer to be certain that the product they see online is what they will get in real life. However, it still remains the responsibility of retailers to ensure that product reviews are legitimate, authentic and helpful. By providing a holistic picture of the products they offer, retailers are more likely to receive more meaningful product reviews that then benefit future potential customers. Ecommerce platforms have a high degree of faith in vendors when selling goods on their platforms, and so it is important that this trust is not broken.

The Government’s proposed plans will help reinstate consumer confidence in ecommerce sites. However, we must not downplay or overlook the importance of authentic reviews, which have a real and palpable impact on businesses, particularly SMEs and MMEs. Whilst making misleading reviews illegal would help to boost consumer confidence in online retailers, businesses must also work to ensure that they have accurate, insightful reviews about their products, building on the trust element that underpins the online shopping experience.


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