Fake online reviews cost $152 billion a year. Here's how e-commerce brands can stop them.
Did you know that online reviews influenced $3.8 trillion worth of global e-commerce spend in 2021 according to a recent study? Here is how things usually go down:
You’re looking to make a purchase; perhaps it’s a product online, a hotel reservation, a contract with a painting company - really, anything that requires you to take out that credit card. But before making the final decision, you scour the web looking for reviews from others who have purchased the product or service before. These reviews aren’t hard to find, they’re on the company’s website, on Google My Business, on Facebook, on Trustpilot, comparison websites, Youtube, and even on Twitter. Before you know it, you’re not only overwhelmed with reviews: you don’t know which ones to trust. Some reviews are very positive, but others raise concerns. Where are these reviews coming from? Which ones should you listen to?
In an increasingly e-commerce world, reviews are important in the purchase cycle of buyers. 93% of customers read reviews before buying a product, but guess what: almost 4% of all online reviews are fake, translating into a $152 billion economic impact! So how did we get to this point?
The ability to leave a review about a purchase experience allows the customer to feel heard. Even if your company doesn’t provide a platform for customers to be heard, they will find a way to relay their experience through independent platforms. Knowing that 94% of people value reviews before purchasing online, businesses go long miles to ensure positive reviews from customers.
The impact of reviews is so dramatic on consumer behavior that, according to Moz, one negative review can cause 22% of customers to question their decision to complete a purchase. If three negative articles popup during a search, the potential for lost customers increases to 59.2%.Reviews can make or break a business in today’s world.
Given the heavy influence of online reviews in a consumer’s purchasing decision, fake online review providers have popped up everywhere. In order to limit their spread, we won’t link any channels where fake online communities thrive, but, for the most part, they can be found in community-based platforms like Slack, Discord and Facebook. The process typically works by businesses offering a product for free in exchange for a fake review. On Amazon for example, the culprit will purchase the product as is required by Amazon in order to gain the ability to leave a review, and get refunded by the company shortly afterwards. The communities on the above mentioned platform act as a meeting point for both the merchant and the fake reviewer to come together.
Fraudulent reviews have become a big industry meant to fool consumers knowing most people have no idea how to tell the difference between reviews that are real and those that are not.
Being able to spot fake reviews helps consumers make better decisions as well as helps businesses know when to fight back. While some illegitimate reviews are simply written by a business owner’s friends and family to drum up good ratings, very often, fake reviews are provided in bulk. In this instance, the reviewer often has a stock-looking profile picture (sometimes using a celebrity’s photo), a basic and common name and has only provided brief feedback without any concrete examples or photos. Another red flag is sometimes when a business has a perfect five-star rating with a significant volume of reviews. Not one bad experience with over 100+ experiences? Maybe, but proceed with caution. Another good practice is to examine the timeframe in which reviews came in. Notice a large influx or five-star reviews all within a day or two? Those are most likely fraudulent.
Of course when shopping for fast consuming products and services, you may not have time to do all your due diligence. Taking several minutes to scroll through reviews should give you the inclination you need to make a smart purchasing decision. For more expensive purchases, it’s important to cross compare various platforms.
Consumers are smarter and more diligent than ever when it comes to the fake online review epidemic. They’ve learnt to proceed with caution before proceeding to checkout. Just like any relationship, lost trust is hard to regain. That’s why businesses have to kick off their relationships with their consumers on the right foot.
Moast is tackling the fake review epidemic by helping businesses provide authentic and trusting shopping experiences. We accomplish this by allowing shoppers to interact with a business’s real customers before purchasing. With Moast, a shopper can search an interactive map for shoppers in their neighborhoods and connect with them virtually or in-person to ask questions or to experience the product or service. Allowing shoppers to hear from real customers in their community creates a unique shopping experience that builds trust and increases conversion rates.
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