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A Five-Star Rating and Recommendations from Strangers? Take My Money

Ratings and reviews matter a great deal during the shopping process. Not only can they influence a purchase—or steer consumers to one store over another—but they can also get shoppers to spend more than they intended, according to a November 2018 study from tech provider TurnTo.

The study found that if consumers were looking at two similar products—with a price difference of $2—73% of US internet users would be swayed toward the more expensive product with a higher rating. And if consumers didn’t see a review or a rating on the retailer’s site? Many (76%) would be less inclined to buy anything.

Most consumers turn to reviews to better understand a product's quality. Understandably, shoppers don’t want to spend $80 on a slow cooker that’ll break down after a month. That’s why they heavily rely on reviews—like one from Joe Smith, who wasn’t satisfied with his slow cooker—to better inform their purchasing decisions.

In general, many consumers find product performance reviews to be the most helpful, followed by reviews about a product’s value, in addition to how well it holds up over time.

For the most part, consumers turn to Amazon first for product reviews—before Google, a brand’s site or even social media. That was also the case in a study conducted by Salsify last year, which found that more than half (51%) of US digital buyers trust Amazon the most for useful product information.

“People go to Amazon for reviews because that’s where we buy the most stuff,” said eMarketer principal analyst Andrew Lipsman. “More buyers and products means a higher volume of reviews, many of which are in-depth and provide the level of assurance shoppers want before they make a purchase. As more purchases beget more reviews, and more reviews beget more purchases, this creates a virtuous cycle for Amazon that helps explain why the company owns almost 50% of the US ecommerce market today.”