Consumers' Trust in Online Reviews Gives Amazon an Edge

Amazon beats brand or retail sites for product info

Author: Krista Garcia

March 7, 2018

Amazon is known for its convenience, selection and competitive prices, but its trove of user-generated reviews is also a valuable asset. Other ecommerce sites should take heed.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that a February 2018 Salsify survey found that over half (51%) of US digital buyers trust Amazon the most for useful product information. What might be surprising is how highly Amazon ranked compared with Google (27%), the brand itself (16%) or a retailer (5%). Brands don’t always have an ecommerce or reviewing component on their sites, but many online retailers, like, have fostered a robust culture of online reviewing.  

Reviews don’t make or break all product categories equally. Salsify also discovered that positive reviews were most important to buyers of electronics (74%) and clothing (66%), while for household staples they ranked fourth (45%). Price mattered most for things like batteries and paper towels. Additionally, 62% of respondents said they read five or more reviews for a consumer electronics purchase, yet fewer did so for apparel (42%). 

Online reviews can even have more sway than advice from someone you know. In "The eMarketer Ecommerce Insights Report," conducted in February 2018 by Bizrate Insights, 64.6% of US internet users thought online product reviews were mostly or very reliable. 

Similarly, per 2017 BrightLocal research, just 3% of US internet users said they didn’t trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, compared with 20% in 2015. One attitude that has held up over the past three years is giving more credence to reviews if more than one is available—20% agreed with this in 2016 and 2017, while 19% did in 2015. 

This belief in the wisdom of crowds—at least as far as online buying is concerned—has given Amazon an edge, but there is no reason it couldn't benefit most ecommerce sites.