Purchase paralysis. Option overload. Consumer crapshoots. Whatever you want to call it, there’s a major issue percolating within the eCommerce space.
Customers are getting frozen by the infinite shelf — countless choices, endless advertisements, a parade of brands doing and saying similar things.
Practically every single industry is packed full of competitors jostling for position and consumer attention. For businesses, that means the margins for online success – or failure – are razor thin.
Review platforms have the power to make a real difference in this space for companies and consumers alike. Trustworthy reviews help consumers cut through choice paralysis and they can help standout companies really stand out.
What should companies consider when assessing the potential power of a review platform?
Customer-centric features that provide an easy, friction-free experience for writing and accessing reviews.
The platform’s capacity to generate a real, tangible business impact.
And most importantly – trust, transparency and visibility of the reviews themselves.
How do we compare the review platforms?
When considering an online review platform, it’s common for businesses to initially focus on the technical feature set. Does the platform let them display reviews on their site? Can they communicate with customers that have reviewed them? How easy is it to invite people to leave reviews?
However, before all of that, it’s important to focus on what makes the whole thing work: the transparency, independence and integrity of the platform and its reviews. You could be looking at the slickest, most intuitive, business-boosting review platform there is, but if these core fundamentals aren’t in place, then it will all be for nothing.
This matters for both end customers and businesses. Businesses need assurance that the reviews they receive are genuine, accurate and acceptable (for instance, no abuse or personally identifiable information used). And customers need to know that business profiles are fairly run – no hiding of bad reviews, no fake reviews, and no paid reviews.
At Trustpilot, we pride ourselves on knowing that when you see our name, you know those ratings and reviews can be trusted. But – like all industries online – we’re operating in a busy space, and it’s only right that we take a look at how the competition stacks up in terms of trustability. So let’s take a look at how three other review platforms fare: Feefo, Yotpo & Reviews.io.
Feefo is fundamentally different to Trustpilot. Trustpilot is a true ‘open’ platform, whereas Feefo runs what’s called a ‘closed’ platform. This means that, on Feefo, reviews can only be written by customers who are specifically invited to do so by the business. That means if you’re not invited to leave a review, you can’t leave a review. So why does this matter?
At Trustpilot, anyone who has a genuine experience with a business can leave their feedback for the company to respond to.
This ‘open’ approach means that a business gains a wider variety of consumer viewpoints. Yes, this means that a business might receive some negative reviews, but consumers are actually looking for a balanced report card. Very few consumers trust a business that only has glowing, five-star reviews, and will therefore be less likely to purchase. An ‘open’ approach not only helps the business better understand its products and services, but is also more trusted by consumers.
Additionally, we don’t think that feedback should be limited to people who have bought something. For example, we think that the feedback from someone who decided not to buy something can be just as valuable to a business.
To complement this, we also absolutely encourage businesses to invite all customers to leave reviews. Our transparent approach encourages businesses to automate their review invitations, meaning every customer is contacted for an open and honest set of responses. Furthermore, any reviews that are submitted in response to an automated invite is labelled as ‘verified’, as it has come from a genuine customer that the business has contacted. Just another trust layer for peace of mind.
This openness resonates with consumers. Independent research from Sirkin Research showed that 87% of consumers in the UK and US find ads more trustworthy with the Trustpilot logo and stars.
Yotpo is another ‘closed’ platform, with a similar lack of openness to Feefo. With Yotpo, businesses hold all of the cards when it comes to who they invite to write reviews. Simply put, it isn’t an ‘open’ platform where an unprompted customer can log in and leave a review without being asked first.
So the average consumer is unable to make an account, verify themselves and then begin to rate businesses they’ve engaged with. Here, businesses are free to only send links to particular customers. Whilst most businesses will act properly, there is always a risk that businesses are only sending out invites to those that they want to hear from.
In contrast, at Trustpilot, we encourage businesses to invite all of their consumers to leave reviews, using a variety of methods. We also offer consumers the ability to leave unprompted reviews. We then mark these reviews as to how they were collected (invite, automated invite or unprompted), and mark reviews collected via automated invites as verified.
This helps to nullify any potential biases in the reviews and overall scoring for a business.
It’s also a fundamental truth that business should know: that an honest profile – including reviews that have issues or constructive criticism as part of them – will land better with an online-savvy audience who know when something appears too good to be true.
Reviews.io is an ‘open’ platform, where anyone can review a business, subject to the review being verified. And that’s a really strong tool in their arsenal.
One notable aspect with Reviews.io is their blanket import feature that allows people to comb and shift reviews from other sites, combining them within the Reviews.io platform. Doesn’t sound all bad – but when these non-vetted reviews can affect and skew the overall score for a company, it casts serious doubt on the overall business score validity.
Disclaimer time: We also have an import feature for people that want to consolidate their review presence through Trustpilot. The crucial difference however is that these reviews are only for products, not service reviews, and notably, the imported reviews don’t affect the overall TrustScore. These product review ratings can only impact the product’s star rating, rather than the company’s TrustScore.
Another aspect where Reviews.io and Trustpilot differ is with the reviews themselves. When an issue is raised with a review, what happens? Striking the line between minimising undue fallout for a business and maintaining transparency throughout the review process is of the utmost importance.
Whilst Reviews.io takes a review offline when it is being investigated and decides behind the curtain whether it remains or is deleted, we don’t agree with hiding contentious reviews while they’re being evaluated. Of course, reviews flagged for containing harmful, abusive or containing illegal content are swiftly taken down as part of the moderation process, but normal reviews that are being queried remain visible, with a clear marker next to them, stating that they are being investigated at the current time.
Shades of verification
Now that we’ve examined the competition, a quick word on the Trustpilot approach: Trust is a cornerstone of our platform — that means providing radical transparency and openness, filtered through an important lens of verification.
Businesses can set up verified profiles, backed up with proof that says they are who they say they are. This is then shared with consumers as an additional level of transparency. And we encourage the same for consumer profiles too; it’s not mandatory, but something we feel is important: trust goes both ways. Our Trustpilot community told us that this was something they wanted - they’re concerned about knowing whom to trust online, and are happy to provide reassurance for others by confirming their identity. This demonstrates that the reviews are from real people, providing another valuable trust signal.
On that note, businesses are given communication tools to engage with their customers, resolve issues and flag malicious reviews as easily as possible. We’re constantly looking to adapt how we approach illicit reviews too. Recently, we have introduced a review filtering process that can scan for bad behaviors in a matter of hours before reviews are published to our site. Less time for businesses spent hunting down bad actors, and more time doing what they do best.
Trust equals better business outcomes.
When consumers see proof that a brand is trustworthy — it impacts their buying decisions. Here are some findings from a study recently conducted with London Research.
An online advertisement with the Trustpilot logo and stars is twice as persuasive as the same ad without them.
Consumers are 88% more likely to click through on a Trustpilot co-branded ad with a verbatim customer review.
Including a Trustpilot star rating is proven to increase social campaign performance.
Business verification, partnerships with eCommerce platforms and account-based support are just some of the other tools in our box. And yes, businesses can choose to showcase their best reviews via their Trustpilot site widget, but again, radical transparency: we’ll put a note on their profile to signal that’s what’s happening.
Altogether, this strategy to serve both businesses and consumers means that access is universal and verified, consumers are given transparent information regarding a company's profile, and everything serves to build earned trust.
Getting reviews right
Once upon a time, reviews were considered a ‘nice to have’. That time has passed. In a hyper-competitive, internet-savvy period, they are now an essential differentiator for businesses to succeed.
Want to see how the Trustpilot platform feels?