Product reviews and ratings online and in stores drive purchases, PowerReviews finds

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Product reviews and ratings online and in stores drive purchases

Related tags Whole foods market

Easy access to product reviews both online and in stores is playing an increasingly important role in consumers’ purchasing decisions, and could help retailers defend market share from Amazon following its acquisition of Whole Foods Market, according to new research from PowerReviews.

Only 17% of shoppers currently buy groceries online, representing about $71 billion in sales, but analysts at Cowen predict that this will climb dramatically to $177 billion by 2020, and according to PowerReviews a major driver is easy access to information – including reviews.

“Saving time is the most popular reason consumers purchase groceries online, with 72% indicating it’s a key reason they choose to do so,”​ according to PowerReviews. But, it adds, “shoppers also appreciate the access information that online grocery shopping provides.”

Specifically, it found 36% of consumers said online shopping makes it easier to compare products and prices online and 27% said they like that they can easily access information about products, including reviews online.

In addition, if reviews are available on ecommerce grocery sites, 93% of shoppers will read them at least occasionally, 19% of online grocery shoppers always read them and 34% read them regularly, PowerReviews found.

“This points to the importance of having plenty of reviews available for grocery products, especially those that are new to market,”​ given 72% of online shoppers said they were more likely to buy something they’ve never purchased before if there is a customer review, the report adds.

What information do consumers want, and where do they want it?

Digging deeper, the report reveals that reviews are more important in some categories than others. More than two-thirds of online shoppers want product reviews for personal care items, 54% want them for home care items, 39% for non-perishable packaged foods and 31% want them for fresh food.

Most consumers want to find this information directly on the retail website or app they use to buy groceries, and if they can’t they may go elsewhere, the report warns.

“Retailers that don’t prominently feature product reviews directly on their website or mobile app risk losing shoppers to Amazon or another service that does,”​ it says.

In-store shoppers also want access to reviews

Easy access to product reviews is also important to consumers who shop in brick and mortar stores, according to the report. But, more often than not, they want to access this information in the store rather than online.

PowerReviews found 68% of in-store grocery shoppers are at least somewhat interested in accessing product ratings and reviews while shopping for new products, and more than half are more likely to purchase items for the first time if there are product reviews.

While PowerReviews found 17% of consumers who buy groceries in a store use their phones to check product ratings and reviews, the vast majority – 56% – prefer to find reviews on store signs.

“Shopper marketing professionals, take note: Now’s the time to start providing your shoppers with review content in-store. Featuring this content in your stores can be as simple as displaying star ratings an customer reviews on cardboard signs alongside your products, similar to what Amazon does in their bookstore locations,”​ the report advises.

While in-store access to reviews is important, so too is online access, even for consumers who prefer to shop in a brick and mortar location, it adds, noting that 25% of in-store shoppers still want to find reviews on the stores mobile app and 19% want to find it on the store’s website on their phone.

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