Customer reviews – what are they useful for?

Symbol image Customer Reviews

Symbol image Customer Reviews

Customer reviews Customer reviews – what are they useful for?

Published on 25.01.22 by Derya Kilic, Digital Commerce Consultant at Swiss Post

Everyone knows them, many of us use them, and just a few of us post them ourselves. We’re talking about customer reviews. Not only do they help increase a shop’s transparency, they can also help improve the ranking in the organic search engine. But let’s start at the beginning.

Reviews have been around for ages. They help customers decide what to buy, and nowadays there’s nearly no getting around them seeing as a lot of major platforms use the function themselves and/or offer it to their retailers. A study carried out by Capterra highlighted how much sway customer reviews actually hold: only 5% of consumers say they don’t read any reviews before buying something. That’s just one in 20 potential customers (Capterra, 2020).

Reviews and social proof – what’s the link?

But reviews don’t just help customers decide what to buy. They also increase the social proof effect (in psychology we refer to “herd behaviour” and the “bandwagon effect”). This means that a product that has lots of good reviews must also be good in the eyes of the customer. It gives the customer a certain sense of confidence (Artegic, 2018). Google, too, stresses the importance of social proof. The more reviews and positive feedback a company receives, the better its search engine ranking is likely to be (Google, 2021).

Are reviews only important to online shops?

The answer to this question is a very straightforward “no”. Customer reviews aren’t just important in online shops, they also matter when it comes to hotel bookings or restaurant reservations. Just think: when was the last time you made a hotel booking without reading at least one review? Booking and reservation platforms like Tripadvisor, Yelp and Google Reviews practically live off reviews. Online reviews for electronic products in fact have the biggest influence on customer decisions, followed by reviews for holidays and hotels, and also furniture and appliances.

Google, Zalando, Tripadvisor: what review platforms are there?

Online giants like Google, Facebook, Zalando and Tripadvisor are not the only ones to use and offer their retailers a review function. In fact, more and more open-source shopping systems like Shopify and Wordpress offer modular review functions, and they can be integrated by the retailer. Another option is to integrate an independent review platform, for instance Trustpilot, into your online shop through a programming interface. The advantage of this is that you make your shop more accessible to potential new customers, and you have independence. A disadvantage, on the other hand, is the running costs this entails.

What else has to be taken into account?

As we said at the beginning, the majority of consumers read reviews before deciding what to buy. The study conducted by Capterra on online reviews even discovered that consumers trust online customer reviews the most when shopping (Capterra, 2020). The majority of consumers do, however, also believe that these sorts of reviews are faked by companies. After all, the fact is that fake reviews can be bought. Anyone doing this, or who writes fake reviews themselves, can be charged with fraud and ultimately prosecuted, as in the case of a sentence passed for fake reviews in 2018 (Tages-Anzeiger, 2018).

Companies considering introducing reviews should start thinking right away about resources. Depending on how many reviews a company receives on average, community management can either be a big job or a small job. A prime example of outstanding community management is Digitec Galaxus, which incorporates the product reviews left by its customers into a campaign (Digitec, 2017). This is why the company received several rewards over the subsequent years.

If, as a retailer, you don’t want to miss out on customer reviews, yet have limited capacity, you may want to consider outsourcing this service, or working with a freelancer. Regular training on things like wording and guidelines is also very much needed here on the part of the retailer as well.


Customer reviews have a major influence on consumer behaviour, and have become even more important as a result of the coronavirus crisis. On large platforms, there is no getting around reviews. So the question isn’t really if a retailer should launch a review function, but rather when. After all, the importance of reviews is unlikely to dwindle in the future either.

Derya Kilic, Digital Commerce Consultant at Swiss Post

She helps retailers to develop their digital maturity through strategic digitization advice and the development of solution concepts.

Portrait Derya Kilic

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