In consumers we trust: Customer reviews boost online shopping

Release date May 18, 2015

Lawrence Sanders, PhD, professor of management science and systems

“Shoppers trust other shoppers. When companies give their customers a voice, it's a plus for both sides.”
Lawrence Sanders, PhD, professor of management science and systems
University at Buffalo School of Management

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Shopping websites with robust, interactive product review systems make customers more satisfied and improve product marketing, according to a new study from the University at Buffalo School of Management.

Forthcoming in Information & Management, the study found that e-commerce websites that provide buyers with advanced product review features like images and videos improve customer satisfaction and their perceptions about the quality of the site.

“Shoppers trust other shoppers,” says study co-author Lawrence Sanders, PhD, professor of management science and systems in the UB School of Management. “When companies give their customers a voice, it’s a plus for both sides.”

According to the study, 80 percent of potential online consumers who plan to purchase a product turn to online consumer reviews before they make a decision.

“Consumer review systems allow customers to make informed decisions,” says Sanders. “Retailers should create sites that give customers the tools to create reviews in a variety of ways and allow for quick, accurate responses to customer requests.”

The researchers surveyed 313 consumers in Seoul, South Korea, to understand their thought processes and behaviors on e-commerce websites. They chose South Korea because the environment is a good representation of general online consumer behavior, and because their online marketplaces have well-built review systems featuring advanced functionality.

Further research should focus on the effect of review systems on different types of goods and on individual characteristics, purchasing motives and transaction experiences, Sanders says.

Sanders collaborated on the project with Yong Jin Kim, PhD, professor of management information systems at the Sogang University Business School, and Chul Woo Yoo, PhD, assistant professor of information technology and operations management at the Florida Atlantic University College of Business.

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial Times, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit mgt.buffalo.edu.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB’s nearly 30,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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