Ratings and Reviews: What Information Should You Ask Your Customers to Share?

by Grace Miller |

If you’re considering implementing a Ratings & Reviews functionality on your ecommerce website, you’ll find that there are many aspects to consider. There are so many different questions you can ask your customers, not to mention the hurdles of marketing, authentication, and re-marketing the content.

An example of a comprehensive review.
An example of a comprehensive review.

However, considering that 90% of customers are influenced by online reviews, those with higher incomes look to reviews more, and positive product reviews can support a 9.5% increase in a product’s price, it’d be a mistake to bypass implementing Ratings & Reviews.

That said, we’re here to guide you through the whole process.


What to Ask

While the idea of writing a review seems rather straightforward, there are many different ways to ask your customers for information, which vary based on your brand identity, your products, and your audience.

The primary fields that every Ratings and Reviews form should have are:

  • Email address
  • Nickname – not full name
  • Location
  • Review title
  • Review description – where the bulk of the review goes
  • Overall rating   

It’s wise to include writing guidelines for the review description, offering customers suggestions for what to include as well as what to avoid writing.

Prompt customers to:

  • Focus on the product
  • Tell us how they use the product
  • Tell us what they love about the product
  • Tell us what they don’t love about the product
  • Mention if they were compensated for writing the review or if they were given the product as a gift – this promotes authenticity and should be mandatory.
An example of a helpful prompt for Ratings and Reviews.
An example of a helpful prompt for Ratings and Reviews.

Tell them to not include:

  • Obscene or inappropriate language
  • Personally identifying information
  • References to other retailers or manufacturers
  • References to pricing
  • HTML – it won’t show up properly
  • Links to other websites
  • Spam or promotions for other websites
  • Copyrighted content
bh review guidelines
An example of “Do Not Include” guidelines.


Bells and Whistles

There are many additional options to consider, but you should exercise restraint in terms of extra fields. You don’t want to complicate the review writing process to the point of deterring customers from writing reviews. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you have all the bells and whistles if no one is writing reviews in the first place. If you do include several of the following aspects in your Ratings and Reviews form, make them optional.

  • Age and gender fields. For some products and verticals, these are completely irrelevant factors, but for something like health supplements it could make sense to display this information. This, of course, is also valuable information to have about your customers in order to better cater to them.
An example of age and gender entry fields.
An example of age and gender entry fields.
  • A “pros and cons” section of the review, where users can give a quick summary of their thoughts. If your customers tend to write long reviews, you should definitely consider this.
An example of pros and cons fields for a review form.
An example of pros and cons fields for a review form.
  • An area for customers to share photos or videos pertaining to the review. Photos are vital if aesthetics are one of your main selling points. Retailers and manufacturers of makeup, apparel, home goods, and so on should definitely consider adding this photo component. Review videos for electronics and games are huge, so if you sell those products videos should be a no-brainer. You’ll want to streamline the process for customers to add photos and videos from social sites. If you use a Visual Commerce tool, you should also link it to the visual content in Ratings and Reviews.
Photo and video upload fields for a review.
Photo and video upload fields for a review.
  • Sub-ratings, or the ability to rate a product on very specific features. For example a shoe company could have sub-ratings on comfort, sizing, etc. This isn’t a necessary feature for every site, but if you sell products that are a big investment or that have many variables that your customers consider, this is a helpful add-on.
An example of sub-ratings options for a shoe review.
An example of sub-ratings options for a shoe review.
  • Custom questions that vary depending on the product. These questions don’t just help potential customers; they also give your merchandising team valuable information about how people perceive your products. The two examples below show the same retailer’s review forms for, respectively, a camera lens and an external hard drive. Because the two products are so different, the retailer asks about different attributes.
An example of "best use" suggestions for a camera.
An example of “best use” suggestions for a camera.
An example of "best uses" for a hard drive.
An example of “best use” suggestions for a hard drive.
  • Similarly, a checklist of concerns or attributes that the customer has that are relevant to the product. In the example below, Murad, a skincare company, asks customers about their skin concerns. This helps other customers sort through reviews and better understand the effectiveness and uses of the product.
An example of suggested specific concerns for a skincare product review
An example of specific reviewer concerns for a skincare product.
  • A “bottom line” question, asking customers whether or not they’d recommend the product.
An example of the "bottom line" question.
An example of the “bottom line” question.
  • An “experience level” rating for reviewers. This is pertinent if your products may require skill to use, like sporting equipment or tools.
An example of an experience level gauge for a review.
An example of an experience level gauge for a review.

After you’ve decided what sort of information you’d like your customers to share, you’ll have to decide how you want to display and organize it. Stay tuned for our next Ratings and Reviews blog post to learn about design and navigation!

[White Paper]
[White Paper]