Are retailers losing sales because of a lack of ratings and customer reviews?

New research from Fresh Relevance, the real-time personalisation platform, has revealed that retailers risk losing sales by failing to provide product ratings and review information consistently.

Nearly two thirds (61%) of UK consumers base their purchase considerations on detailed reviews from other customers and 56% on product star ratings, yet just 20% of the fashion retailers surveyed are actually providing this information.

The study combines consumer research conducted by One Poll, as well as analysis of the social proof tactics undertaken by 50 leading UK retailers.

It highlights that nearly half (46%) of consumers will extensively research products and compare options ahead of purchasing. Over a third (37%) of shoppers read between three and four reviews before they make a final decision to buy. Retailers that don’t provide peer feedback could be damaging consumer trust as 30% of UK shoppers reveal they are sceptical of brands that fail to share product reviews from other customers, as it leads them to believe that they might have something to hide.

The research also reveals that despite the role product reviews and star ratings play in a consumer’s decision to purchase, its adoption varies across the retail sector:

  • Just half of footwear brands surveyed provide star ratings and customer reviews
  • 60% of jewellery/accessories and electronics brands currently share these details on their websites
  • Beauty brands are leading the way in meeting customer expectations, with 100% of those surveyed providing ratings and reviews information
  • While ratings and reviews are displayed online by more than half (58%) of retailers surveyed, adoption in email newsletters (4%) is very low

Mike Austin, CEO & co-founder of Fresh Relevance, commented: “As consumers’ shopping habits move steadily online, and they are less able to touch and try items as they would in-store, shoppers are more reliant on the feedback and recommendations of their peers. The research reveals that customers view social proof such as product star ratings an increasingly important part of the consideration process. Retailers that are failing to provide this information are missing out on valuable opportunities to make their marketing convert better across channels. In an increasingly competitive retail environment, the brands that give consumers confidence in their choice will be rewarded with increased revenue.

“For fashion and footwear brands in particular, the consumer desire for reassurance that the item will look and fit as displayed is high. Implementing reviews and ratings can have a significant impact on a retailer’s performance. Not only could high return rates be reduced by providing this additional information, but customer reviews can also deliver valuable insights that can inform the design of future collections that hit the mark with customers again and again.

“In email marketing specifically, we uncovered significant untapped revenue potential. With inboxes overflowing, brands have a limited opportunity to capture recipients’ attention. Since consumers rank ratings and reviews as key parts of the decision-making process, retailers across all verticals could be leaving potential buyers behind by omitting this information from bulk and triggered emails. This doesn’t have to require a lot of manual work – marketers can easily incorporate reviews in emails by automatically pulling customer feedback from a trusted ratings and reviews provider or in-house solution. On average, brands that harness the power of social proof in their emails will see a revenue uplift of 39%.”