Interactions between shoppers and retailers are no longer linear as technology has rewritten the retail landscape. While new technologies continue to make the path to purchase more complex by increasing the ways in which shoppers and retailers interact, they also create opportunities for retailers.

Gone are the days of shoppers calling or texting friends and family to get their advice on a purchase. Over 70% of tech-savvy consumers now look up product ratings and reviews while shopping online or in-store using their mobile phone.

Consumers are looking for reviews to help them shop wisely and this is where negative reviews come into play.

Sure, negative reviews may feel like a slap in the face sometimes, but handling them correctly can generate trust and respect, and help distinguish your business from competitors whilst ultimately driving sales.

Shoppers are smart enough to know every product can’t be perfect for every person or situation. There are only so many 80 year olds rejoicing over the features on the new Apple Watch!

Displaying negative reviews can help users identify whether a product is a good fit for them, and a mix of positive and negative reviews simply shows each customer has different tastes and needs.

This balanced feedback is a vital part of a consumer’s decision to make a purchase, and a negative review can often lead to a sale, as one person’s negative turns out to be a positive for someone else. A quiet hotel may be a bore for some, but could be absolute paradise to someone else.

Though The Office’s David Brent may believe that “sometimes the complaints will be false”, it may be wiser to take advice from Google’s retail industry director, John McAteer, who, when it comes to displaying and responding to negative reviews, states, “no one trusts ALL positive reviews”.

With 82% of consumers seeking negative reviews, it’s clear negative reviews are not something brands or retailers should fear.

Reviews provide valuable consumer insight

Introducing a mix of positive and negative reviews will show that you aren’t afraid of receiving critical feedback and that you are willing to take customer suggestions on board, no matter how minuscule. Reviews can often be a goldmine of valuable consumer insight that you can use to improve your products, as well as the overall shopping experience.

Generate more reviews

If you’re a young or unknown brand it may be an idea to generate lots of reviews on highly public and reputable platforms as well as prominently displaying feedback on your own brand’s website. Whether they be positive or negative reviews, the awareness brought to your brand is what you’re after, as well as the ability to ‘own’ the conversation and engage the customer directly.

Importance of authenticity

Negative reviews are also crucial to adding authenticity to your brand. In this digital age, online reputation is critical for attracting and maintaining customers. Responding to negative reviews is a great opportunity to prove your credibility and engage with your customers, as well as showing them that management is responsive to any concerns they may have.

Engaging via social media

We all have that one friend who takes any opportunity to spout their feedback over social media, and research has shown that consumers expect a response from brands on these platforms within one hour, highlighting the importance of a response strategy.

Tasking an area of your business to deal with this in the same way you would an angry phone call or email to your customer service team is vital in ensuring a quick response time.

Key areas of a response strategy

Defining a strategy on responding to negative (or positive) reviews can provide huge benefits to brands and retailers. Understanding which reviews require a response, what your timing and solutions will be, along with the response itself are all important components to consider.

Mark Smallman

Mark Smallman


Mark Smallman, Regional Sales Director EMEA, PowerReviews