Most e-shoppers don’t trust online reviews: Study

Can you trust all product ratings and customer reviews while shopping online in India? Maybe not.

While top online retailers, including Amazon and Flipkart, are trying their best to encourage shoppers to leave reviews as they boost sales and increase credibility, consumers believe many of these on e-commerce sites are fake or planted.

For instance, a survey of around 15,000 respondents conducted by community-based social network LocalCircles revealed that more than 50% customers don’t trust product reviews on e-commerce sites. A majority of them even said e-tailers don’t publish negative product reviews at all times.

Most e-shoppers don’t trust online reviews: StudyE-tailers, however, said measures that are put in place to block fake accounts could be the reason behind the non-publication of negative reviews. While Flipkart did not reply to an email, Amazon India said it does not allow paid reviews. “We allow customers to use a public pen name when leaving reviews and discussion posts, but we have detection and enforcement in place for fake accounts,” said an Amazon India spokesperson.

The US-headquartered retailer said it requires customers to make a purchase (and pay for it) before they post a review or before their vote counts publicly. “Requiring a purchase allows us to collect uniquely identifying information about the account. We use this information to prevent content created by fake accounts,” said the spokesperson.

Around 34% consumers said their low product ratings have been rejected by an e-commerce site, while more than 70% said fake reviews have become a norm in the Indian e-commerce industry. Industry experts said the lack of stringent cyber laws and policies in India encourages the practice.

“One of the biggest problems of the digital world is that it is difficult to trust reviews on almost all online sites starting from Zomato and MakeMyTrip to Flipkart and others,” said Arvind Singhal, founder & chairman of retail consultancy Technopak. “While developed markets have strict norms in place with regards to consumer reviews, India lags far behind in terms of cyber laws and policies.”

Many consumers complained that businesses are thriving on their ability to provide fake ‘good reviews’ to potential buyers and in most cases, once a business lists a product, the seller himself as an individual goes and rates and reviews the product. Some of them even ask their family and friends to rate and review their product, revealed the survey.


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