The good news is that only about 6% of smartphone-equipped consumers actually engage in “showrooming,” that shopping technique so parasitic to brick-and-mortar retailers. (Look, touch, try in person — then get on your iPhone/Android and buy more cheaply via the Web.) The second piece of good news is that the other 94% of people using a smartphone while shopping are most likely doing so to further research the stuff they’re thinking about buying, driving their own eventual purchases.
The bad news here is that products with few to no online reviews don’t fare so well, because about half of shoppers are swayed significantly by finding a round-up of helpful reviews. And that means the real piece of bad news is consumers bombarded with the increasing amount of fake reviews are being misinformed.
While companies who post paid-for and disingenuous reviews are getting their due in the nightclub, spa, and restaurant sectors, individual products have yet to be called out in the same way. With 60% of shoppers more likely to actually buy something if they can find enough useful reviews online, those posts make a difference, particularly in beauty and fashion. It’s problematic, then, that studies estimate about 10 to 15% of online reviews will be fake by 2014.
We think we’re just at the start of this problem — a trend toward transparency in online reviewing hasn’t even crested the first wave, yet. Obviously retailers, as the instigators and end beneficiaries of this problem, aren’t going to be the ones to initiate the first steps toward regulation. Time for consumers to put out a mass call to review sites (and retailers’ own review sections) to get real.