58% of Consumers Say Their Negative Ratings and Reviews Are Not Published by E-commerce Platforms: Survey
Moneylife Digital Team 28 June 2022
With value pricing, convenience, selection and fast deliveries offered by e-platforms, for many household consumers, the migration from going to a market to shopping for most things online has become a permanent change. While the majority of consumers relies on product reviews and ratings, according to a survey, nearly 60% of the consumers say their negative ratings and reviews are not published by e-commerce platforms.
 
The survey, conducted by LocalCircles, also reveals that almost 90% of the customers say that the e-commerce platforms should restrict low-rated products from sellers to be relisted as another product.
 
 
The majority of consumers relies on product reviews and ratings on e-commerce sites before buying a product
 
Platforms that provide trustworthy information on reviews and ratings will always have a competitive advantage and will win consumer trust in the long run. In the study, the first question asked consumers, "When buying something on eCommerce sites, how do you use ratings and review the information that is available?" Almost 64% of respondent citizens said they 'always go through them', and 26% said they 'sometimes go through them'. 
 
Further breaking down the poll, 7% said they 'only check them for expensive or non-branded products' while 3% said they 'never go through them'. This indicated that majority of consumers relies on product reviews and ratings on e-commerce sites before buying a product. 
 
65% consumers say that product ratings on e-commerce sites have a positive bias on majority of the products
 
The next question in the study focused on the quality of ratings on e-commerce sites and asked consumers, "How do they find ratings on e-commerce sites for majority of the products?" 
 
About 65% said they found 'positive bias' and 18% find it 'accurate'. There were also 16% who said they found 'negative bias' of the product, while 1% said that the 'sites that I use do not have product ratings'. 
 
Consumers continue to find ratings on e-commerce sites positively biased in the past three years
 
In a similar study conducted in 2019 by LocalCircles, 62% of consumers had found ratings on e-commerce sites for majority of the products as 'positively bias', 12% said it was 'accurate', while 19% 'negatively bias', and 7% said they 'don't look at product rating'. 
 
In the 2022 survey, 65% found the product ratings on e-commerce sites to be positively biased indicating that sellers may be influencing ratings for their products to attract consumers and platforms are not proactively acting in such situations, LocalCircles says.
 
62% consumers say that product review on e-commerce sites has a positive bias on majority of the products
 
Similar to the previous question on ratings, the next question in the study focused on the quality of reviews on e-commerce sites and asked consumers, "How do you find reviews on e-commerce sites for majority of the products". 
 
Almost 62% said 'positive bias', 17% said 'accurate', and 13% said 'negative bias'. There were also 2% of consumers who said, 'sites they use don't have product ratings', while 6% said they 'don't look at product reviews' while making online purchases.
 
Consumers continue to find reviews on e-commerce sites positively biased in the past three years
 
When it came to reviews, positive bias has increased by 5% from 57% to 62%, while accuracy has reduced by 3% as compared to the 2019 survey. This indicated that consumers continue to find reviews on e-commerce sites positively biased over the last three years, LocalCircles says.
 
One of the top issues reported by consumers has been how sellers themselves, via friends and family networks and, in some cases, even via public relations and influencers, get purchases organised which are designed just to rate and review the product highly. Such a practice gives an initial positive ratings and review boost for the seller's products while it misleads the consumers.
 
80% consumers had one or more product they ordered based on high rating on e-commerce sites, not meeting their expectations
 
The next question in the study asked consumers "How frequently has it happened in the last 12 months that a product with high rating on an e-commerce site did not meet your expectations?" 
 
Only 5% said it has happened 'over 5 times', 27% said it happened '3-5 times' and 48% it happened '1-2 times'. There were also 6% who said it 'never happened', 2% said 'they don't look at ratings before ordering' while 12% did not have an opinion. 
 
On an aggregate basis, 80% consumers who have shopped on e-commerce sites have had one or more cases in the past 12 months where a highly rated product did not meet their expectations, LocalCircles says.
 
Percentage of consumers for who the product received wasn't commensurate to the published rating, rose in the past 3 years
 
When a similar question was asked in 2019, the percentage of consumers for whom the product received wasn't commensurate to the published ratings was 62%. This percentage has increased to 80% in the past three years. Further, the percentage of citizens saying it never happened to them in the past 12 months reduced from 17% to 6% in the same period. 
 
This clearly shows that many sellers are somehow able to plant high ratings and reviews of their products to influence the consumers and make them purchase it only for the consumer to regret later.
 
Only 23% consumers say that their negative reviews or ratings on e-commerce sites were published as it is
 
When the study asked consumers, "What has been your experience when you post a low rating or a negative review of a product on e-commerce sites/apps?" only 23% said that their negative reviews or ratings on ecommerce sites were 'published as it is.' There were, however, 41% of consumers who said 'it is not published sometimes' and 17% said 'it is not published at all' while 19% did not have an opinion. 
 
This is currently the single biggest issue with e-commerce ratings and reviews where a genuine, verified consumer review or rating is rejected by e-commerce platforms under the category of 'it does not meet our norms for ratings and reviews'. 
 
Many consumers, if they are shipped a non-returnable fake or counterfeit product or a different product altogether, only have ratings and reviews as the mechanism available to them and express their dissatisfaction via the same. By suppressing this information shared by consumers, e-commerce platforms, most consumers feel, are engaging in an unfair trade practice. 
 
Percentage of consumers whose negative ratings or reviews was held back by e-commerce sites rose from 47% to 58% in three years
 
The percentage of consumers whose negative review or rating was held back by e-commerce sites has risen from 47% from 2019 to 58% in 2022. Further, the percentage of citizens saying their reviews are published as it is reduced from 27% to 23% in the same period. This indicates that e-commerce platforms are not completely transparent in publishing a verified consumers product reviews or ratings on their platform.
 
16% consumers say that e-commerce sellers offered them incentive or credit to rate or review a product
 
Consumers have previously reported receiving communication from sellers with incentives for high rating of their product. The next question asked consumers "In the last 12 months, have any e-commerce sellers with your shipment offered you an incentive or credit to rate or review a product?" In response, 16% said 'Yes', while the majority of 83% said 'no' and 1% did not have an opinion. 
 
While this menace of paid reviews by sellers is not significant, it does exist as validated by 16% consumers and e-commerce platforms, in their seller terms, must clearly list as an unacceptable practice with disincentives for sellers if they were found engaging in it.
 
87% consumers want that e-commerce sites only allow customers with verified purchase to review and rate a product
 
The next question asked consumers, "Should it be made mandatory that e-commerce sites only permit consumers with a verified purchase of a product to rate or review that product?" In response, 87% said 'yes', 5% said 'no' and 8% did not have an opinion. This question in the survey received 8,195 responses. 
 
Consumers continue to strongly believe that only those with verified purchases should be allowed to rate or review products on e-commerce sites.
 
This is evident from the fact that in 2019, almost 85% had voted for it while this year 87% citizens have voted for it. 
 
LocalCircles had earlier suggested to the government on e-commerce consumer protection rules 2020 to only allow ratings and reviews by users who have made a verified purchase on that site.
 
Consumers continue to strongly believe that only those with verified purchases should be allowed to rate or review products on e-commerce sites
 
In 2019, 85% of citizens were of the view that it should be mandatory that e-commerce sites only permit consumers with a verified purchase of a product to rate or review that product. This percentage has slightly increased to 87% in 2022 while the percentage of citizens saying 'no' reduced from 8% to 5% in the same period.
 
Around 90% consumers who shop on e-commerce platforms want that if a product from a seller has a large number of low ratings and negative reviews, the platform should not allow them to relist the same product for sale without a review of the issues.
 
Consumers have often complained that many e-commerce platforms allow a product with a low rating and negative reviews accumulated over time to be relisted by the same seller as a new product. This practice encourages bad seller behaviour. In reality, because the platforms do not publish many negative consumer reviews and ratings, a seller can technically list a product and boost its ratings via unfair means and with platforms rejecting many low consumer ratings, the rating of a product stays artificially high for a prolonged period. 
 
Finally, once the rating catches up with reality, consumer feedback suggests that the seller lists the same product as a different line item or listing with high ratings. The original product with low ratings is then de-listed over time. 
 
To understand if many consumers had experienced this, the final question asked consumers, "If a seller on an e-commerce platform gets a large number of low ratings and negative reviews for a particular product, should the e-commerce platform permit them to relist the same product as a new item for sale?" 
 
In response, only 2% said "Yes, they should be permitted to create a new listing of the product if they choose to" and 8% did not have an opinion. The majority, 90% of consumers who shop on e-commerce platforms, want that if a product from a seller has a large number of low ratings and negative reviews, the platform should not allow them to relist the same product for sale without a review of the product issues. 
 
To summarise, according to consumers, the three systemic changes of only consumers with verified purchases rating and reviewing a product; all negative reviews and ratings as long as the language is non-abusive and non-defamatory, it must be published; and sellers with negative ratings and reviews on a product should not be allowed to relist the product as a new line item if made immediately, can lead to driving up the quality of reviews and ratings. 
 
"In addition to these, if seller terms are made more stringent to restrict paid or influenced ratings along with some basic systems driven features that detect high ratings in short periods of time or from a common IP address, cleaning up fake or biased ratings should not be rocket science," LocalCircles says.
 
LocalCircles says it will be escalating the findings of this study with the key government stakeholders so that the government clearly understands the issue and drives corrective actions with e-commerce platforms at the earliest.
 
Comments
saharaaj
1 month ago
and 40 % who may have said they were taken care by E Commerce may be saying in fashioned truth
wgcdrps
1 month ago
Is there any reliable site where one can post and/or find unbiased and authentic reviews? Moneylife would be doing a great service for the consumer and for itself if they decide to launch a review platform.
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