Study: Online shoppers rely on product reviews, but don't want to write them

Despite retailers’ continuous efforts, few online shoppers take the time to write a product review.

E-commerce businesses are struggling with how to increase the approximately 20% of online shoppers who regularly write reviews. While email marketing prompts nearly one quarter (23%) of customers to write reviews, online shoppers complain that a lack of time and incentives are the key reasons they are unwilling to share their thoughts, according to a new survey from ratings and reviews platform Clutch.

However, retailers should use the gap as an opportunity to address the reasons why they typically don't write reviews. One way retailers can potentially reverse that unwillingness is to revise their review gathering process. For example, businesses should ensure that the review process is as efficient as possible, and request specific feedback through guided questions or star ratings.

Incentives, such as a discount or contest entry, can also help secure more reviews. However, companies should be aware of Federal Trade Commission regulations that prohibit exchanging incentives for favorable reviews, the report advised.

Timely and effective customer service, including resolving an order issue or complaints, can also increase the likelihood of garnering reviews. Shoppers are also more motivated to write positive reviews than negative ones. One-third (33%) of online shoppers who write reviews share an especially satisfying experience, compared to 2% who write about negative experiences, according to the survey.

The review-gathering process also gives customers the opportunity to alert them early on to problems that could undermine their satisfaction.

"If any issues arise within that initial use of the product, you can usually remedy the situation and put a stop to anything that might put a damper on positive reviews," said Dan Scalco, CEO of Digitalux, a digital marketing and SEO agency.