Data suggests most consumers read online reviews before making a purchase online, even if it is an “impulse” purchase; a consumer will still dive into reading reviews. A study reveals, most consumers actually give the reviews the same weight as the recommendations of friends or family. Personally, I am big on product reviews and take them very seriously before buying a specific product or using a service.

The setback of a negative review can be profound for business owners. Researchers at the Harvard Business School found that an extra star on Yelp is usually an increase in sales by 5 to 9 percent.

“Product reviews have become a part of our everyday life, as many of us are constantly shopping online”, says Matt Stathis of product review site Lodlois.com. These reviews can vary from a tangible product such as a book or a service such as AirBnb.

When consumers browse and read through reviews, most of the time they look for consensus. Naturally if you find a group of people saying the same thing, it probably indicates they are onto something. When you are on an unfamiliar website, with few reviews to read from, it might be harder to trust the product and the website itself – is it trustworthy and reliable?

I believe as a consumer it is important to write your own review for the product. Reviews should not take up too much of your time; they should be designed to be helpful for other consumers. Even if you did not like the service you received or the product you received, your review should not be a banter, that is not the purpose of the review – take your complaints to customer service feedback instead, which should be better equipped to resolve your problem. Your job is not to humiliate the seller or service provider; your job is merely to help other consumers.

When writing your review, try to be precise specific. Remember you are trying to be helpful to your fellow consumers. Tell them the length of the pants was longer than you expected or described, or if a colour of a shoe was slightly brighter than the image posted. Include information that will be relevant to other shoppers.

If you disliked the running shoe you purchased from Puma and realized you should have purchased a Nike shoe instead and you write that as banter for your review, most likely that information will be unhelpful detail for the next shopper who really just wants a decent pair Puma shoes.

I am a frequent traveller so I am always on travel hotel websites; I read many reviews all the time. Many times people will write things such as; “The Street facing the hotel was very loud, many drunk people walking around do not stay at this establishment.” This review is not really useful for the consumer and it is negatively impacting the hotels image for absolute no reason. Instead you can write that the location of the hotel was not suitable for you, instead of negatively stating irrelevant facts that have nothing to do with the establishment itself.

Online reviews will never be flawless; either they will be fake or there will always be people who will rant about the product or service. At the same time, we can be honest and relevant with our reviews and persuasive enough to steer consumers toward the good things in life, reputable businesses that try to make the best product or experience.

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