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Survey: Just how damaging are negative online reviews?

Virtual discussions about shopping experiences can have real-world results.

Forty-eight percent of online consumers have left a negative review online, with nearly three-quarters (73%) having done so in the last year, according to new survey of 100 U.S. retailers and 2,000 consumers from ERP platform provider Brightpearl. Almost eight in 10 shoppers (79%) say that it is “very” or “somewhat” likely that they would leave a negative review following a bad experience, and 45% will share a negative retail experience with someone else to warn them off a particular brand.

However, by focusing on one key area of the online shopping experience, retailers can reduce the likelihood of negative online reviews. Survey results reveal that 77% of all one-to-three-star feedback left by online shoppers were related to problems after the buy button, such as issues with delivery or returns.

Retailers have largely not addressed the post-purchase e-commerce experience. Only 13% of retail respondents have invested in technology or solutions to help address the issues that most commonly cause poor feedback and ratings, such as problems with receiving items on time or overly complicated returns.

In one piece of good news for retailers, four in 10 (41%) American consumers have yet to leave a negative review of a company online. However, this figure may shrink as 65% regret missing the opportunity to air their grievances with a brand or retailer when they’ve had a poor shopping experience.

The study also reveals that online consumers rely more heavily on reviews and star ratings from other shoppers to support their decision-making. The majority of respondents (62%) regularly check star ratings for online retailers before buying from them, and more than half of all online consumers (55%) admit that a single unfavorable review of a brand or retailer halted an online purchase.

Consumers consider a rating below four out of five stars as generally negative, and are reluctant about interacting with any brand that has more than five negative reviews.

Other interesting results include:

● 35% of shoppers look more favorably on retailers that actively respond to negative reviews posted about their services online.

● 74% of customer respondents admit they would likely spend more money with an online outlet which had ‘excellent’ reviews or star ratings.

● Consumer respondents are willing to spend as much as 32% more with a brand or retailer which has received mostly “excellent” reviews than one which has been reviewed less favorably.

● Shoppers want a brand or retailer to have 35 positive online reviews before they’d trust it enough to make a purchase.
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