As the air of skepticism about online transactions got thinner, the Indian masses are shifting in great numbers towards online shopping. Working Professionals benefit largely from online shopping owing to many amazing discounts available on the online shopping sites in India. The increase in the number of people who shop online has intensified the competition among the popular online shopping sites in India like Amazon.in, Flipkart.com, Snapdeal.com
But unfortunately, a few vendors on these popular portals opted for wrong and unethical practices to influence the buying decisions of the online shoppers by posting fake product reviews on their Shopping websites. A Recent article in ‘Times of India’ and other International Media showcased how Amazon has filed lawsuits against 1000s of people for posting Fake Reviews on Amazon.
Coming to the reason why do vendors on the popular marketplaces need to get fake reviews written, we need to understand – Why Shoppers need Trustworthy Online reviews?
- Lack of Touch and Feel of the product before buying
Lack of touch and feel of the product, we rely on getting friend’s opinions or feedback provided by other online users about the concerned product. It feels great to read amazing (but only the true ones) reviews about the product, we intend to purchase and sometimes bad experiences shared by other users can save us from investing our hard earned money in faulty products.
- Reviews save times and money.
Trustworthy and genuine reviews from fellow consumers not only create awareness about the product’s pros and cons but also keeps the manufacturing companies on their toes to improve their quality standards. Thus, genuine reviews are beneficial for customers as well as manufacturers too. People seek online reviews in order to save the time and effort involved in meeting individual users to get their opinions. For e.g. Reading a movie review online on trustworthy sources like IMDB.com is much easier than standing outside a theater and asking all the existing people about their say on the movie.
What Amazon’s Fake Reviews all about?
Amazon had found that some vendors on it’s shopping sites paid writers on freelancing websites like Fiverr.com to write product reviews for the products. These reviews couldn’t be trusted as they are not written by a genuine customer. Such artificially cooked write ups /reviews were written with a motive.
It is statistically proven that products with good reviews about it are more likely to be sold. So the online shopping sites even go to the extent of removing the negative reviews written by suffering customers to safeguard brand’s image of the site as well as the product.
If we asked you to write a review for your mobile phone that you have recently purchased, what would be your reply?
We are pretty sure that your reply would be short and precise. e.g. “Amazing Product.,.” “Best phone for me,” “Not a Good Value for money phone for me” etc. Would you have time to write a 500 -1000 words long review describing the features of the phone in a sugar coated tone, with Pros, Cons etc?
Why do vendors on these Online Shopping websites posted fake reviews?
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Adding content about the product increase the chance of visibility of the product on google search results. Thus, vendors / online shopping websites adopt unethical practices like posting fake reviews because of the increasing importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The number of reviews for a particular product on the concerned vendors online shopping site largely influence the rankings on Search engines like Google and Bing.
- INFLUENCE BUYING DECISIONS
We as customers look out for reviews by other customers and the vendors on online shopping websites try to exploit the same practice by posting fake reviews. The reviews are usually full of praise about the product and also online shopping site as well. After reading such amazing reviews, we, more often than not end up buying such unethically promoted products.
- IMAGE PROTECTION AND ENHANCEMENT
Various Online marketing research negative reviews cost a lot to the Brand and the vendors. It states that for every 1 negative review, 12 positive reviews are needed to safeguard the brand name of the product as well as the e-tailer.
- UNHEALTHY COMPETITION & BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
Lots of people not only get good fake reviews written for their product but try to write bad reviews about competitor’s website and/or other vendors. This probably is the worst of all unethical practices adopted by companies to tarnish the image of the competitors. They post fake reviews on the competitor’s sites through paid writers which can largely affect the sales of the concerned web store. Some opportunists also post fake reviews on the online shopping stores to bargain special discount coupons and other non-deserving benefits from the companies.
Why are fake reviews harmful for the user as well as Online Shopping websites?
- POSSIBILITY OF PURCHASING A WRONG PRODUCT
If you make your buying decisions merely on the basis of the customer reviews available across multiple platforms, you are susceptible to invest your hard earned money in a product which may not be the best option for you.
- BREACH OF TRUST
When we sign up a form or register ourselves on an online shopping site, they ask us to verify that all the details are true to the best of our knowledge. Similarly, we also expect truthfulness and trustworthiness out of the information and reviews on the site.
- UNWANTED HASSLES
If you end up buying a wrong product it is obvious that you would like to replace it or cancel the order. Doing this takes a lot of time and effort which may cause distress in your already tight schedules. Online users in India therefore, seek reliability as the most important criteria for their choice of the online shopping site.
- BIASED CONTENT
When we seek online reviews before purchasing a product, we expect the reviews to be unbiased and trustworthy. However, the fake reviews are biased towards a certain vendor and are targeted towards influencing your buying decision.
How to Identify Fake Reviews?
A professional tone which aims at promoting the product is easily recognizable in the modern times irrespective of the level of sugar coats applied on the content. A genuine review may or may not be written in correct typography for instance use of the chat lingo is prevalent everywhere. Thus, if you find a review written using perfect grammar and punctuations, it is recommended to not rely on it.
A fake review is written somewhere between 300-500 words whereas surveys reveal that a genuine review does not go beyond a sentence. Hence, if you find a long and informative review about Pros., Cons, etc of the product, do not believe it.
The fake reviews can easily be noticed from the information about the features of the products and services rather than just the experience. A genuine review is the reflection of emotions of an individual experience on purchasing a new product.
- NO OF REVIEWS WRITTEN BY THE SAME USER
If you try to Google search about the Reviewer, you may be surprised about the data it reveals. Also, many shopping websites reveal other reviews written by the reviewer and you would notice about great no. of reviews written by some users.
Thus, fake reviews is a practice that needs to be stopped now. Though, Amazon has taken some actions. However, you would have no clue as to how many such fake reviews would have been approved already on other shopping websites?
Buyers must be aware of them to save themselves from the discomforts caused by purchasing a wrong product or service.
Our 2 Cents:
We did foresee this coming and harm it would cause to our online shoppers and thus, to provide the unbiased reviews or opinions, we allowed our users to add their friends / colleagues and share their product related questions and answers, thus making as trustworthy opinion as possible.
1. Amazon suing more than 1,000 for fake product reviews-TOI-Oct 19, 2015