Importance of Online Reviews & Their Impact on Businesses

What’s the first thing you look for when deciding on which next phone to buy? If you’re a millenial then the chances are you will be looking at the star rating for it. If you’re tech-savvy then you will scour the web for detailed reviews on that item from the most popular websites to those that are unknown and then decide. Regardless of how you reach your purchasing decision, online reviews play a major role in our decisions, especially since they are available with the push of a few (touch) buttons.

Fake vs Genuine Reviews

However, not all reviews are real and a whopping 30% are easily fake. Here’s how to spot fake reviews:

  1. Fake reviews are usually one liners and use repetitive words and sentences such as ‘great product’, ‘love using the item’, ‘[relative] loved it’.
  2. No sense of personality in the review and / or story. For instance, anyone who gives the item as a present to a loved one, will not say ‘[relative] loved it’. They will elaborate as to what extent, what the reaction was, how much they enjoyed using / playing with the item etc etc.
  3. Five and four stars only. Products that are rated five / four stars only or with a high number of five stars combined with one line reviews are also fake.

It is important to point out here, that some reviews are paid for in kind. For instance, companies and/or business compensate the reviewer by providing them with a free item to use and write about. In my opinion such reviews are not fake or purchased but rather ‘honest’ because the only implied agreement is that a review be posted in exchange for receiving the item. In such cases, many reviewers mention that they received the item for an honest review.

Online Reviews by Industry

Yes, you’ve read that right. Reviews are not just for things you purchase in store and use, but also for hotels, car ride services, apps, jobs, restaurants, doctor’s office, hospitals, hair salons etc. Pretty much any service available for use, has a review site associated with it.

Here’s an interesting and detailed infographic on the online review industry compiled by Website Builder.

Infographic Online Reviews by Industry

Prevalence of Online Review Industry in Pakistan

Unfortunately, in Pakistan, the idea of posting reviews or giving feedback is alien. I’ve noticed this pretty much everywhere. Daraz, Kaymu, Shophive, Yayvo etc. Any place that people buy and sell from is shockingly low on reviews. Given that these marketplaces sell hundreds (if not thousands) of products across the site all over Pakistan each day, there should be some reviews posted as it only helps other buyers with their purchase decision. This is however, not easy or encouraged.

A few months ago, I tried adding my review to an item purchased from Daraz. It would simply not allow me to review it. Given that I have already purchased it, if I need to wait for a week or 10 days to review the item, chances, that I will come back to the site only to help other users are extremely slim. I am quite sure, other users will have a similar though process because, if anyone is displeased with an item, they complaint and leave a review. Getting peole to review only when there is a bad or poor experience is a sloppy way to do business.

On the other hand, online shopping / marketplace websites such as Ali Express and Amazon, understand the importance of reviews and do their utmost to weed out fake reviews. They both have their own way of ensuring reviews are posted. Email remiders, app notifications, asking for pictures etc. are some of the ways they ensure that buyers post reviews on time and that they are genuine.

I sincerely hope that our culture improves when it comes to leaving both positive and negative feedback. It is important to show both appreciation and give constructive criticsm to improve services, products and overall customer experience.




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