Why Reviews Are Important on Amazon

Ben Petersen

August 20, 2021

In 2021, shoppers don’t just rely on word-of-mouth recommendations anymore—they lean on the Amazon reviews of their 200 million most trusted peers.

Amazon, which has over 200 million unique monthly U.S. visitors, accounted for more than 37% of all online U.S. retail sales in 2020 and once again dominated in the e-retail space with over $385 billion in net sales. As Amazon continues to see rapid growth, consumers are increasingly making purchase decisions with the help of one of the most powerful ecommerce tools: consumer reviews.

Reviews aren’t just beneficial for shoppers trying to find the perfect product. They’re one of the most effective ways for you to boost your brand’s conversion, credibility, and overall ecommerce presence. If you have very few reviews—or if the reviews you do have are negative—you’re less likely to convince consumers that your product beats the competition. It’s as simple as that.

Despite the importance of product ratings and their prominence in the Amazon shopping experience, consumers and sellers alike have limited knowledge of how Amazon solicits and shapes that information. Let’s talk more about the ins and outs of Amazon reviews and ratings and what brands can do to use them to their advantage.

Why are reviews important?

Reviews are everywhere, from Amazon to Facebook to Google to Yelp and beyond, and for good reason. Research shows that 84% of shoppers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and 91% of shoppers occasionally or regularly read online reviews. Why? Because they create trust and add transparency to the purchasing experience so consumers are more willing to buy.

Shoppers who read reviews are often unfamiliar with a brand and/or a particular product and lack the confidence to make a purchase. These shoppers need social proof to trust they’re getting what they’re paying for. This is especially true when it comes to high-end goods (like luxury items or tech products), functional goods (appliances, electronics, tools, i.e.), and clothing items.

The beauty of most reviews is that they give shoppers second opinions on a product sans the sales spin they’ve come to expect from many brands. Shoppers who read reviews do so to gather information, like whether or not an item is true-to-size, if it’s comfortable, if it’s good quality, and if it’s functional. That information helps them make a more informed purchase.

**How do reviews affect your business? **

While reviews are very important for customers, they’re also very important for businesses. Reviews directly affect your brand reputation (for better or worse), increase or decrease sales, and they can be the final nudge that either converts a customer or convinces them to never give your brand a second thought. More measurably, the number of reviews you have impacts your SEO, as online reviews are factored into Google search results.

How do shoppers use reviews?

Amazon strategically places reviews in higher location priority before the product specifications and detail bullets. Customer feedback appears before your own marketing team’s carefully crafted messaging and even gets its own rollover graphic right on the search page, just another reason why it’s so important to be getting good reviews.

While the A9 search algorithm presents consumers with their options, ratings and reviews are what push consumers from consideration to purchase. Approximately 93% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase, and a whopping 68% of consumers form an opinion on a product after only reading between 1 and 6 online reviews. With so many reviews available and so few being consumed before consumers make a purchase decision, it’s easy to see why you should be scrambling to gather positive feedback and respond to negative reviews on Amazon.

Do reviews influence product ranking on Amazon?

Not necessarily. Product reviews are not the sole deciding factor in where items appear in Amazon rankings; sales are still the champion when Amazon’s A9 algorithm delivers search results (read more on our analysis about how Amazon reviews influence conversion and sales). Amazon happily indicates “Best Seller” and “Amazon’s Choice” next to products, but those only appear on two results for any given search. However, every product gets a boost from its review summary and star rating right in the results page:

amazon product reviews

It’s worth noting here that, similar to the number of reviews you have, the keywords consumers use in reviews can help your product fare better in search results, and according to Search Engine Land, Amazon rewards brands with great customer service that respond quickly to reviews and questions.

While reviews may not be the most important factor in rankings, they greatly influence conversions on Amazon. Statistics show 22% of shoppers won’t look anywhere else once they’ve identified an Amazon product they want to buy, and reviews are a major push when it comes to purchase decisions.

4.5 out of 5 stars amazon review

How does Amazon build those review summaries?

Amazon is very secretive about how it arrives at an item’s star rating summary. Reviews and ratings are weighted to scale, but star ratings don’t necessarily correlate with Best Seller or item rank status. We do know that Amazon’s models factor in how recently a rating or review was written and whether the purchase was verified.

Amazon has migrated through several programs to foster unbiased, trustworthy reviews and currently does so through Amazon Vine, an invite-only program that invites trusted Amazon reviewers to review new products.

Amazon Vine reviewers, called Vine Voices, are invited to participate in the program based on the helpfulness of their reviews and their expertise in specific categories. Vendors participating in the program pay for the products, and reviewers give their honest opinion in return.

While a strong review can lift a product’s conversion, it’s a violation of Amazon’s customer review policy for sellers to incentivize customers into giving product reviews outside of Amazon Vine. Of course, fake reviews and black hat tactics still are common on the marketplace, as we discussed with Buzzfeed News and the New York Times.

More reviews, more problems?

A true black market has materialized through Facebook, Reddit, and other platforms for brands and merchants to game the conversion funnel with fake reviews, despite these reviews being in direct opposition to Amazon’s selling policies. Although Amazon claimed in 2018 that more than 99% of consumer reviews are legitimate, some researchers and consumers have come to vastly different conclusions.

In 2018, The Washington Post found some product categories in which up to 67% of reviews were fraudulent and artificially boosting item ratings. Even though some sellers may argue that they’re not artificially boosting ratings if they don’t ask for specifically positive reviews, ReviewMeta found that incentivized reviewers are almost 4 times less likely to leave a critical product review.

Three years later, it appears the problem is as relevant as ever. In August 2020, Financial Times found that Facebook groups that solicit incentivized Amazon reviews are thriving, with some groups posting thousands of offers a day. After the initial article was posted, Amazon deleted 20,000 product reviews on Amazon UK.

Amazon, which is proactively working to change this perception, stopped allowing paid reviews in 2016 and has since cracked down on platforms like Amazon Review Trader. Services like FakeSpot and ReviewMeta provide consumers tools to research products and weed out suspected fake reviews.

Amazon has said it has a zero-tolerance policy toward product review policy violations, and brands that offer incentives like free products or discounts in exchange for reviews are subject to punishments including permanent delisting from Amazon, legal action, and the withdrawal of selling privileges. Long story short, it’s a much safer bet to focus on improving your legitimate product reviews.

What’s the deal with ratings?

In fall 2019, Amazon changed its review system verbiage from “reviews” to “ratings” and started letting shoppers leave a product rating out of 5 stars in one click. Previously, customers who wanted to leave a star rating also had to leave a written review.

This change, which made it easier for shoppers to leave their impressions of a product, has resulted in a higher quantity of ratings and higher star ratings for products. The new system can be positive for brands since it eliminates some of the negative bias that often accompanies online reviews, according to Marketplace Pulse, but it also makes it harder to verify which reviews are trustworthy.

Vox suggests that Amazon’s move to swap reviews with ratings makes it easier for new Amazon sellers to gain momentum and that increased feedback from legitimate customers will give fake reviews less power. In fact, customer ratings aren’t even considered in an item’s overall star rating unless the rating has Amazon Verified Purchase status.

Even if customers choose to leave just a quick star rating at first, they’ll always have the option to add more text, photos, or videos to create a more detailed, media-rich review.

How should you handle negative reviews?

After reading all about how positive reviews lead to conversion, you might be panicking about every negative review. But take a deep breath—research actually shows that occasional negative reviews can be good, according to Forbes, as a brand seems less credible if it has perfect reviews.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t respond to negative reviews. In fact, responding to these reviews can be a great way to build credibility and show consumers you’re available and willing to fix potential problems. You can read more about handling negative reviews here, but apologizing, fixing the problem, and, in some cases, removing the review are all good steps to take.

You know Amazon reviews are important, so what’s next?

Amazon is continuing to improve its review processes and encourages brands to interact with product feedback. Shoppers appreciate this interaction and are becoming increasingly savvier when it comes to detecting trustworthy reviews. Brands should be ready to partner with companies like Pattern to surpass shoppers’ expectations and keep the authentic positive reviews flowing.

Need help managing and improving your product’s Amazon reviews? We get it. Tell us what issues you’re having with reviews, and let our brand experts fill in the gaps.

Read Next: How to Get Reviews

Explore Our Ecommerce Resource Library

Find relevant content to accelerate your ecommerce business. Stay on top of industry trends and best practices.

Improve Your Amazon Advertising Strategy With One Simple Metric: True RoAS
Blog

Improve Your Amazon Advertising Strategy With One Simple Metric: True RoAS

The purpose of advertising on Amazon is simple: increase traffic and conversions. But the approach to get those conversions is not always so simple. Your Amazon advertising strategy is based on current ad data and performance results such as your return on ad spend (RoAS). 

At a minimum, your RoAS number tells you how well you’re maximizing your ad spend. The problem is the RoAS you’re getting from Amazon or an advertising agency isn’t always accurate. 

As a top 3P seller on Amazon, Pattern helps brands improve their Amazon advertising strategy and results by providing them with one simple metric: true RoAS.

Understanding True RoAS

To understand why true RoAS is helpful to brands, you need to understand how Amazon and other agencies calculate and present your RoAS.

The key to growing your brand and maximizing your ad spend is to drive incremental traffic, rather than cannibalizing what has already taken place. For example, if you are selling probiotics, and paying for sponsored ads to win the keyword “probiotics for women”, but also organically ranked in the top results with the same keyword, that’s cannibalization. The RoAS score you would receive from Amazon includes that level of cannibalism, which inflates the number, causing you to pay more on ad spend. The best ads drive incremental growth instead of cannibalizing organic sales. 

At Pattern, we’ve created the acceleration software to make sure brands are getting their “true RoAS”. Pattern’s patented tool applies artificial intelligence to advertising to maximize incremental growth or true return on investment. 

Our software helps brands optimize their efforts by providing live and updated information on where your brand is not organically ranking, and what you should be paying for. If your ranking improves in one area, the ad spend will automatically decrease for those words or phrases until the software detects a drop in ranking, signaling that your ad spend should go up again. This dynamic monitoring of ad spend will help you maximize incremental growth and improve your RoAS.

Improve Your Amazon Ad Strategy with Pattern

Knowing your true RoAS is key to improving your Amazon performance. Advertising agencies and marketplace account managers often give you an inaccurate RoAS ratio or value, which only incentivizes you to spend more on advertising, ultimately increasing revenue for the agencies and/or marketplaces.

At Pattern, a 3P partner on Amazon and other marketplaces, we view our brands just as that: a partnership. When you win, we win. You succeed on Amazon by maximizing your ad spend and we have the data and resources to help you do just that. Accurate, transparent data and reporting will help improve your advertising strategy to drive more traffic to and conversions on your products. 

Ready to finally get your true RoAS? Contact us.   

Slowing Inflation is Music to Consumers’ Ears
Blog

Slowing Inflation is Music to Consumers’ Ears

**Instrument Pricing Changes Tune Amid Record Inflation** Compared to 2022, consumers should expect to pay more for musical instruments, but the rate of inflation shows signs of slowing. **The backstory:** America’s most popular musical instruments saw a notable price increase in 2022 compared to 2021, but the rate of inflation eased in Q4 ’22. **Why it matters:** Slowing inflation within this product category could indicate economic pressures like increased demand, rising labor costs, and supply chain disruptions are easing across the consumer landscape. **What we’re seeing:** The average cost of musical instruments increased 7.5% from 2021 – 2022; however, when analyzing individual increases year over year, some instruments saw price increases as high as 21%. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for Instruments — 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-02Lwk" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/02Lwk/2/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="379" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * Trombones experienced a 21.73% increase compared to 2021 * Trumpets +20.08% * Flutes +18.6% * Recorders +16.13% * Saxophones +13.63% * Clarinets +10.55% * Drums +5.41% * Ukuleles +5.17% **However:** Inflation among these same instruments was significantly less in Q4 ’22 compared to Q4 ’21. In some cases, prices decreased from Q4 ’21 – Q4 ‘22: <iframe title="Price Change for Instruments — Q4 2022 vs. Q4 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-6X6GZ" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/6X6GZ/2/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="379" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * Trombones +11.23% * Flutes +10.41% * Saxophones +5.94% * Clarinets +5.59% * Trumpets +3.10% * Recorders +2.85% * Drums -2.59% * Ukuleles -8.46% **Moreover:** Certain instruments saw inflation reverse in 2022. On average, prices for melodicas, guitars, and violas saw their prices decrease by 4.41%, 3.19%, and 0.97%, respectively. <iframe title="YOY Price Change for Instruments — 2022 vs. 2021" aria-label="Bar Chart" id="datawrapper-chart-0Tefk" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/0Tefk/3/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="259" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> **Diving Deeper:** Inflation was more significant when comparing Q4 ’21 to Q4 ’20 than when comparing Q4 ’22 to Q4 ’21, indicating a slowing down of price increases for consumers. <iframe title="YOY Q4 Price Change for Instruments — 2020 – 2022" aria-label="Stacked Bars" id="datawrapper-chart-p6iqt" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/p6iqt/1/" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="width: 0; min-width: 100% !important; border: none;" height="206" data-external="1"></iframe><script type="text/javascript">!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!==e.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in e.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r<t.length;r++){if(t[r].contentWindow===e.source)t[r].style.height=e.data["datawrapper-height"][a]+"px"}}}))}(); </script> * In Q4 ’21, average prices for all instruments were up 8.89% compared to Q4 ’20. * When comparing Q4 ’22 to Q4 ’21, the average price for all instruments only increased by 2.65%. **The takeaway:** While consumers should expect to pay higher prices for instruments this year, overall inflation impact within this product category appears to be slowing down. With National Ukulele Day coming up on February 2, now is a great time for ecommerce brands to take advantage of slowing economic worries and reach new consumers. * Want Pattern’s data science team to power your brand with consumer insights like these? Contact us to [request more information](https://pattern.com/contact-us/) today.

Slowing Inflation? What Musical Instrument Pricing Tells Us
Blog

Slowing Inflation? What Musical Instrument Pricing Tells Us

It’s safe to say consumers and brands alike are eager for a change to the pattern of rising inflation, steadily increasing in many ecommerce categories . Pattern’s internal team’s data scientists analysis of instrument pricing shows a glimmer of hope that inflation may be slowing, which would be great news for brands selling online.

At Pattern, we’re interested in and monitoring trends and news related to pricing since price is a key factor in a brand’s profitability (as explained in the Ecommerce Equation). When brands are able to optimize their price, conversions, and traffic, they can optimize their profitability. And profitability leads to better allocation of resources, better brand control, and gives leaders the ability to expand their presence to new markets worldwide.

YoY Instrument Pricing Increased at a Slower Pace

When analyzing the pricing changes of instruments from 2021 to 2022, our teams found that prices increased, but at a slower rate than from 2020 to 2021.

As shown below, the year over year Q4 changes show quite a lower rate of increase.

Inflation Improvements Raise Profitability

Because inflation impacts online shopping behaviors, lower inflation can lead to better overall profitability for brands. This idea, of course, is nuanced, but Pattern’s Ecommerce Equation can help illustrate the general principle.

When inflation rises, consumers change their spending habits. Shoppers spend more time researching products, forego premium, higher-priced brands, and buy more in bulk. Brands tend to see a loss of loyalty as they’re forced to raise prices.

Price is a key variable in the Ecommerce Equation: price x conversion x traffic = profitability. As inflation lowers, brands can expect better performance in all of these areas—more traffic as spending habits return to normal, higher conversion from returning customers, and price that better fits consumer demand. As inflation lowers and these variables stabilize, brands will see profitability increase.

Raise Your Profitability with Pattern

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern is obsessed with gathering data that helps our brand partners succeed. We’ve created best-in-class technology, models, and analytics to understand changes on the horizon and inform our decisions. With an incredible team of data obsessed Pattern employees, we see what makes the difference in truly great ecommerce performance and apply those learnings for brand partners. 

Ready to improve your profitability? Contact us here.