New research from Digital Business Ireland highlights the need for businesses to demonstrate credibility and transparency to attract and retain customers online

Crucially, the research shows that in today’s digital landscape, the opinions of other consumers is increasingly proving more valuable than marketing, branding or advertising tools

More than 66% of consumers have now bought something online – AND more than a third have said they use independent customer reviews to verify the safety of online purchases. This is according to new Digital Insights research commissioned by Ireland’s leading representative body for online businesses, Digital Business Ireland (DBI), and carried out by leading polling company, Ireland Thinks. It is based on a nationally representative sample, collected from a pool of over 30,000 panellists.

The research probed consumer attitudes towards trust and safety when shopping online; and aimed to elicit the elements of a website that shoppers prioritise the most, when deciding whether to make a purchase from an online retailer. The findings show that aside from payments authentication, and familiarity with brands, consumers are most likely to rely on the independent reviews displayed on a website when shopping for goods and services online. In addition, the findings show that consumers also prioritise verifying the safety and security of their information when purchasing.

Among its key findings, the Digital Insights research found that;
● 36% of consumers use independent customer reviews to check the security of their financial and personal information when shopping online
● Among the younger generation, 59% responded that they would look to customer reviews when buying goods and services online
● There is a clear correlation between a reliance on online reviews and a respondent’s age – 56% of 18 – 34 year olds use online reviews, compared with 21% of those aged 65+

The Digital Insights research is demonstrative of the need for businesses to establish credibility, transparency and trust, as a means to expand their customer base, and attract new and repeat custom. While some consumers may be satisfied with an adequate payment authentication process; supported by prior knowledge of the brand, today’s findings show that independent reviews are a primary consideration for many – but in particular, among younger generations who typically buy a greater proportion of their goods online. With previous Digital Insights research showing that almost half of those aged 18 – 24 years old intend to increase their online expenditure this year, the need for businesses to incorporate independent customer reviews into their website’s dashboard has never been more apparent. In addition, as many businesses seek to enhance their visibility on Google and other search engines, easy-to-read, verified customer reviews can be a useful tool in helping to drive unpaid traffic, and direct customers towards brands which align with their own preferences as consumers.

Speaking today, Secretary General of Digital Business Ireland, Lorraine Higgins, said: “The Digital Insights research, published today, demonstrates that as the popularity of e-commerce continues to grow, many consumers are increasingly relying on independent customer reviews to determine the legitimacy of a website, before deciding to make an online purchase. We see this particularly among younger generations, who as they continue to increase their online expenditure, view the opinions and experiences of other customers as a crucial determining factor in whether to proceed with an online purchase.

Today’s findings will be of particular relevance to businesses throughout the country, many of whom will have invested heavily in developing their website and broader online offering in response to the mass consumer pivot towards online shopping. While having a functional, user-friendly, secure website is crucial, in a highly competitive digital marketplace, independent, verified customer reviews can act as an additional incentive to attract potential customers. In an age when many businesses are battling for online visibility, incorporating an additional layer of trust and transparency, can increase digital footfall and drive consistent, quality traffic to a website, without the need for paid or targeted advertisements”.

Neil Bayton, Head of Partnerships at Trustpilot, said: “Whilst the retail landscape shifting from bricks and mortar to online offers consumers more choice and convenience, without face to face contact, handing over money to a faceless business can be a daunting experience.

“Online reviews serve as a valuable resource to help consumers verify the trustworthiness of a brand without in-store interaction – and this research by Digital Business Ireland just goes to show the value shoppers place in hearing the feedback of other consumers’ experiences, playing an increasingly important role in the consumer shopping journey.

“Businesses have a great opportunity to earn a trusted reputation online through independent review platforms. Those that do not engage with their customers through reviews may risk being left behind.”


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