If you have been working in eCommerce for an FMCG company for any length of time, then you will already know how important ratings and reviews are to shoppers. In this blog article, we talk about how important it is not only to have product reviews on all the online supermarket websites but also that they need to be kept fresh.
Shoppers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approach to ratings and reviews and have adapted their use of them over time. Today, to be influenced into buying a product shoppers not only need to see a good number of reviews (at least 30) but critically those reviews need to be recent (certainly less than 1 year, ideally less than 6 months old). To do this you need to ensure you continuously add reviews to your products ensuring the latest ones are constantly fresh.
The top reasons for keeping your reviews fresh are*:
- 97% of shoppers consider review recency as relevant when considering a purchase
- 86% of shoppers feel that review recency is more important when considering a product or brand they haven’t purchased before
- 62% would not purchase a product if the only reviews available were published a year or more ago.
- The number of reviews displayed by retailers has been growing, for example, the average number of reviews on ASDA.com has grown from 6 to 29 in 2 years
- As most shoppers only read between 1 and 10 reviews, recent unfavourable reviews can unfairly impact shoppers' perception of your brand or product
Why should you always be refreshing your reviews?
Because shoppers care...
In the simplest of terms, because nearly all online shoppers consider the freshness of a review is when deciding what to buy and for 61% it is very important to them. This alone should make keeping reviews fresh a priority for any brand.
97% of shoppers consider reviews recency as relevant when considering a purchase
It matters when they are switching...
The importance of reviews is amplified in shoppers' minds whenever they are considering products or categories they have not bought before. This means that recency is very important in times of higher product switching, such as now as we go through high levels of inflation. If you want to get shoppers to switch to your products online or in-store (think ROPO - Research Online Purchase Offline) then you must ensure you have enough fresh reviews for them to consider.
86% of shoppers feel that review recency is more important when considering a product or brand they haven’t purchased before
Old reviews have limited impact...
Reviews get fully stale at one year old. In fact, you really want to be refreshing them sooner as more than 38% of shoppers would be less influenced by reviews more than 3 months old. We recommend always keeping your latest review less than 6 months old for maximum benefit.
62% will not purchase a product if the only reviews available were published a year or more ago.
Everyone else is adding more reviews...
Further supporting the need to keep working on reviews beyond freshness has been the overall growth in the number of reviews displayed by online supermarkets in the last few years (I guess that is Covid for you). Looking at ASDA in the UK, their average number of reviews per SKU in food and drink has risen from just 6 in May 2020 to 29 in May 2022.
There is no reason to believe that it will stop there as there are still many SKU with just a handful of reviews. We recommend getting your reviews up to 30 to start with but to keep pace with your competitors by adding 5-10 reviews every year.
Food & Drink reviews have been growing, for example, the average number of reviews in ASDA has grown from 6 to 29 in 2 years
Most shoppers only read the last few reviews...
So now we know that you have to keep your product reviews fresh as shoppers care more about recent reviews. We also know that the number of reviews is growing all the time and you need to keep up with your competitors. We can add to that the idea that not surprisingly for any normal purchase, most shoppers only read between 1-10 reviews. For online supermarkets in the UK this cannot be regarded as surprising as the Top 4 display the text of between 6-10 reviews on the first page.
The bad news is, if that first page contains an unfair review on your product, it may not matter that you have lots of genuine informative reviews further down which may never be read. To prevent a "rogue" review from impacting your sales you need to monitor retailer sites for the latest reviews and then be able to react at a SKU and retailer level to ensure you get new balanced reviews on the site.
As most shoppers only read 1-10 reviews, recent unfavourable reviews can unfairly impact shoppers' perception of your brand or product
*Sources: All chart data from PowerReviews / CheckoutSmart
How do you ensure you always have fresh, genuine, verified reviews for all your products?
You need to work with a review provider who has an "Always on" service, someone who can offer you a bespoke program to ensure you have the minimum number of reviews on all your SKUs, and that your NPD has a minimum of 30 reviews in double quick time, reviews are always less than 6 months old and that can monitor for "rogue" reviews and take action for you without you need to ask.
CheckoutSmart has an "Always on" reviews service that covers:
Against an agreed list of SKUs (on-going & expected NPD) and retailers, we will produce an annual program proposal that will include actions to always...
- Exceed the minimum reviews per SKU and retailer to impact sales: By getting all of your existing ongoing SKUs a minimum of 30 new genuine reviews in every agreed retailer.
- Support NPD at launch: By adding 30 reviews to your NPD SKUs within 12 weeks of launch in every agreed retailer guaranteed.
- Ensure the freshness of reviews: By adding another c. 5-10 reviews every 6 months per retailer for all SKUs already covered by points 1 & 2.
- Alert and action “Rogue reviews” – By adding more recent reviews to redress the unfair perception from a recent unbalanced one.
- Report on progress – Updating you twice per year on reviews delivered and the current total number and average ratings of reviews together with progress over time.
Download the summary of our SmartReputation approach to reviews and what our "Always on" service covers.
To know more about how we think about Shopper Marketing and our latest insights into ratings and reviews, please see our Blog and our INTRODUCTION TO SHOPPER MARKETING.