Did you know that 4% of all online reviews are fake reviews? And that, it also directly causes an economic loss of close to $152 billion globally?
The Indian government has taken note of the gravity of the problem and has decided to develop a framework that helps curb fake reviews on eCommerce platforms.
Why is the government concerned and what are steps you can take as a small eCommerce business owner? Let us tell you.
What are the Indian government’s concerns about fake reviews?
Representatives from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Advertising Standards Council of India, eCommerce companies, consumer forums, law universities, FICCI, CII and other consumer rights activists held a meeting where they discussed the negative impact of fake reviews on online businesses.
Their main concerns are:
- Negative reviews after unrealistic expectations
- Unverifiable reviews
- Not disclosing incentivised reviews
- Tracing the origins of the reviews
Post the meeting, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public distribution released a statement where they promised to develop a legal framework to curb paid and unverified reviews. The statement stated –
“The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA), after studying the present mechanism being followed by eCommerce entities in India and best practices available globally, will develop these frameworks.”
Related read: How to build customer trust online: 8 solid ways
How do fake reviews affect eCommerce businesses?
In 2015, the European parliament released a document which defined fake reviews as
“Any review that is not an actual consumer’s honest and impartial opinion, or that does not reflect a consumer’s genuine experience of a product, service or business.”
In the era of eCommerce, consumers do not have the luxury of touching and feeling each product before they buy it from an online store. 70% of consumers purchase after checking reviews.
A survey by Bazaarvoice showed that 26% of respondents admitted fake reviews would lead them to lose trust in the eCommerce brand. And for a DTC brand, trust is irreplaceable.
In India, dishonest or fake reviews also directly violate a consumer’s right to information, a mandate under the Consumer Protection Act 2019.
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8 ways to reduce fake reviews on your eCommerce website
While we applaud the Indian government’s initiative, it might take some time to finalise a legal framework.
Here are a few ways small businesses can protect themselves from fake reviews becoming a menace till then:
- Monitor all your reviews, and delete the ones that are obvious promotions by other brands
- Use a third-party software that lets you approve a review before it is published
- Respond to the negative reviews promising to do better
- Encourage customers to add photos and videos to increase legitimacy
- Try to trace the review to the user’s transaction ID
- Systematically ensure your customers give you feedback
- Do not pay, give incentives, or give false information that leads to an ingenuine review
- Attach images to testimonials so that visitors to your online store visitors feel assured
On the Instamojo online store, you can easily add a testimonial section so that visitors can see how other customers feel about your products and services. Check out the full details of this feature here.
It has become common to impersonate a shopper to undervalue competitors’ products on e-commerce platforms. That greatly influences the product selection of real shoppers. Therefore, it is very important to solve this problem.
You’re absolutely right. A helpful way to tackle this is, checking with the username to see if they actually purchased the product or not.