The Indian Department of Consumer of Affairs has launched a framework to fight fake reviews. What are the ‘standards’ set up by the framework and why should online businesses care?
Here are the details.
What is the framework to fight fake reviews?
The government framework was launched on November 21, 2022, and came into effect on November 25th. It aims at protecting consumer interest from fake and deceptive reviews on eCommerce platforms.
Even though the framework is currently voluntary, it has the potential to become mandatory if fake reviews continue to cause havoc and monetary loss. So instead of a law, the framework suggested a ‘standard’ that all eCommerce platforms should comply with.
The IDCA along with the Beaureauof Indian standards worked on this framework with a committee that had been set up in June. The committee also included 11 eCommerce brands like Zomato, Swiggy, Blinkit, Meesho etc. who agreed to abide by the standards gradually.
The BIS has also indicated that they would be developing a Conformity Assessment scheme to assess compliance.
According to Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs – India is one of the first countries to have come u with such a framework.
Why is it necessary?
Fake reviews can hurt both the brand and the consumers. Globally, fake or planted reviews implemented either through hidden payments or bots have encouraged unfair competitive practices.
The knowledge that the review is 100% genuine and true can empower a customer to buy a product that satisfies them.
According to the Co-founder and CEO of GoKwik, certain categories that are by nature ‘high consideration criteria” are more dependent on reviews. For example, home furnishing, beauty and personal care.
In an Instamojo survey, we found 41% of respondents do not purchase a product if it doesn’t have adequate reviews and 66% abandon their cart if the reviews are poor.
5 takeaways from the framework to fight fake reviews
Here are the 5 main takeaways from the official press release.
- Platforms should have moderators that filter out biased reviews, fraudulent activity, and foul language and also verify the author of the reviews.
- Paid reviews will have to be highlighted
- The author of the review should accept the terms and conditions and provide their contact information for verification
- Review administrators will have to be trained in safeguarding personal information
- There should be systems like Captcha in place to potentially trace the reviewer
- Brands that are found to be indulging in fake reviews would be taken to the consumer forum and tribunals for adequate penalisation
How will eCommerce businesses benefit from abiding by these standards?
1. Show a willingness to be transparent
By highlighting paid reviews (similar to “sponsored” posts on Instagram), the brand is showing its willingness to be transparent.
Customers can also choose to take a decision based on unpaid reviews. They can even trust the paid ones if they trust the influencer posting the review.
2. Trust badges will win customers in the longer run
If your brand chooses to follow these guidelines, you can also show a trust badge on your website. Customers would then know that the reviews for the products on this particular online store are not adulterated. It would also help increase the lifetime customer value.
3. Incentivize your customers to leave behind reviews
As part of this standard, you can request your customers to leave behind reviews that are descriptive and constructive.
Brands like Kriti Henna like incentivizing their customers with discount codes to encourage them to leave their reviews, either in text or by making a video.
4. Engage in an active reputation management strategy
Brands can engage in an active reputation management strategy by balancing paid and organic reviews not only on their website but also on third-party review platforms.
On Instamojo, you can choose to display testimonials from your loyal customers on your very own independent online store. Check out how here.
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