We have definitely heard it being said, and most probably used it ourselves. The word Google has become synonymous with researching anything on the Internet!
Now consider Yelp.
Some, especially those living in San Francisco, might consider Yelp the Google of food reviews. They turn to it to look for new cuisines and food joints to experiment, relying on its reviews and ratings to instruct their decision.
All you had to do was to perform a quick search like “Japanese restaurants near me”, and multiple relevant eateries would pop up. Then, imagine that you have narrowed down your options to the final two, and you decide to further investigate their websites. In your horror of horrors, you find that the two cannot be distinguished. What do you do to resolve that awful conundrum?
You turn back to Yelp, and you notice that small yet stark difference. Restaurant A has multiple 5-star ratings by exceptionally satisfied customers raving about its food and ambience, while Restaurant B suffers a little in the review department. Alas, we have arrived at our decision: Restaurant A.
Reviews are so critical in our decision-making process. While the recommendations of friends and family rank first in our minds, online reviews come in a close second. According to a Fan & Fuel Digital Marketing Group survey, 92% of respondents mentioned that they would hesitate to make a purchase on items with no reviews.
Reviews serve as that tangible form of trust for your business and your online marketplace. While we might not necessarily believe all reviews – and even empathise with restaurants that receive irrational, negative reviews from accusatory customers – relying on the opinion of others to influence our choices is human nature.
Airbnb has a Superhost status for the crème de la crème of hosts; Uber has a star rating for drivers and passengers; Etsy has written reviews from happy customers that praise the workmanship of the good delivered. To users, these reviews are perceived as “real experiences” and are a helpful reference point for them to refer to.
We’ve raved about the benefits of reviews, but how does one get off on the right foot with regards to reviews for their online marketplace or business?
Getting started – reviews and reputation systems
The simple yet fundamental first step as a marketplace or business owner is to encourage buyers to leave reviews for sellers. After a good has been purchased or service rendered, buyers may be prompted to leave a 1 to 5-star rating, coupled with a written review to justify the rating given (a really fuss-free process if you are using Arcadier’s marketplace solution).
Let’s take for example, a marketplace that rents outdoor event spaces. A buyer of that marketplace has had a great birthday party hosted at her chosen venue, so she leaves vibrant compliments about its spaciousness and cleanliness. After her, another satisfied buyer leaves similar reviews commenting on the quality of the space. There is consensus building up that the outdoor event space lives up to the seller’s claim.
Collectively, these ratings and reviews hold tremendous weight. While sellers can post photos and rave endlessly about how roomy and scrubbed their event space is, a review or two solidifies that description’s trustworthiness.
More about reputation systems
One way that businesses and online marketplaces can implement a ratings system is through gamification. This happens when a user (buyer or seller) is awarded points, badges, or a higher status in the community for “playing a game,” like performing an action or achieving a quantifiable goal. Typically, these accumulated points lead to a reward, which could also serve as a reputation status.
Here are some quicks questions to get you started!
o What is the objective of your marketplace: one-time purchases, or repeated ones?
o What kind of user behaviour are you tracking?
o Which behaviour are worth rewarding, and which worth penalizing?
Your answers to those questions will determine the design of the reputation system (or game) most suited for your marketplace. For example, if the goal of your reputation system is to allow buyers to determine whether a seller is trustworthy, then a relevant indicator would be to monitor the seller’s percentage of fully completed transactions, service ratings and comments.
There is a lot to explore in reputation system and reviews, and it might even seem overwhelming initially. Nevertheless, the first step to get started is simple – encourage and build a culture of review giving in your marketplace.
Reviews build trust among potential buyers, which is so valuable and essential in any online marketplace. But more than that, it also helps to validate a buyer’s decision post-purchase.