UK SMEs especially in the retail sector are struggling to cope with increasing costs and time involved with managing online reviews especially if they are negative.
More than half (56%) of UK SMES selling products or services online have been victim to negative reviews of some sort and low star ratings within the last year. The cost and time involved in managing these is rising and is becoming hard to manage especially for smaller businesses.
The SME club's Digital Advice Hub has a section dedicated to managing online reviews as the are so important for the success of SMEs in the UK with an online presence.
A third of shoppers from the research have left a negative review online at some point, with seven in 10 doing this i the last year, as UK consumers use social media or online review sites like Trustpilot or Yelp to share their anger or dissatisfaction.
In a poll of 1,000 decision makers (and 2,000 shoppers), 29% said these negative reviews are getting worse - and 4 in 10 (42%) business owners remain unsure how to manage them - admitting they don’t know how to respond to the negative reviews.
Most business owners - 76% - understand that online reviews and star ratings are very important and have a huge impact on their financial status and reputation, and 1 in 5 agreed that a single 1-star negative post could have serious effects to future business orders.
The research was undertaken by Brightpearl, a retail operations platform, which found that nearly half of shoppers check star ratings for retailers before buying from them, and 40% of UK consumers have been put off using an SME they might have shopped with – by a single unfavourable review.
Nick Shaw, Chief Revenue Officer for Brightpearl, said: “Reviews - whether they are positive or negative - can make a huge difference to the choices consumers make when it comes to selecting a brand or retailer. It’s absolutely right that consumers should have a moan when they receive sub-par service - and brands need to start paying closer attention.”
“Customers pay attention to middling and lower reviews, resulting in lost sales opportunities and potentially damaged reputation. Rather than spending hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to fix poor reviews after the fact, the best approach is to identify and fix the issues that can lead to unhappy shopping experiences in the first place - and those problems typically occur after the buy button.”