It’s time to review the review system!

Last year, eBay finally rolled out their ‘review’ system. At the time there was no great big launch, no whistles and bells, and it’s pretty much stayed that way with no ongoing announcements, updates nor indeed any tips or advice from eBay on this topic!

So reviews kind of went off my radar to be honest. Then recently I received an email asking me what the best way is to actually get reviews and also if they make any difference to the search rankings for products listed on eBay.

So, first let’s rewind a little.

My initial thoughts on the new review system were that that there could potentially be a total lack of interest from buyers to actually leave reviews – because what’s the motivation for buyers to do so? Not all eBay buyers leave feedback, so why would they leave a review instead?

And I’m sad to say that it does seem that my worry was not entirely unfounded, as reviews on the site do appear to be sporadic.

Reviews can still only be left for products in certain categories which is a little odd as in my opinion reviews should have been implemented across the whole of the site, not just random categories.

Also, eBay buyers aren’t really accustomed to leaving reviews as in the past this has been Amazon’s known system not eBay’s. On eBay, feedback comments are the norm, so it all might seem like a bit of a hassle to leave a review as well.

Reviews should work by being rewarding and giving a good reputation to the sellers who offer high quality goods (that’s you and me!) and not assisting those who offer poor quality items.

BUT, unfortunately there’s a flaw in the system and it’s a pretty major one!

It has become clear that product reviews are being broadly applied to any sellers listing that appears to offer the same product as another seller. Reviews are not listing based. In other words, the reviews you see at the top of a listing don’t apply to that individual seller or listing – only the product.

And this is linked up through EAN codes. This means that a poor review of a product could end up applying to your listing even if you didn’t actually make that sale, which is unfair.

In my opinion, reviews should apply only to the listing or seller that the purchase was made from.

In the past, some sellers have been able to offer cheap, shoddy goods but still make loads of sales simply because their prices were ridiculously low and buyers had no idea that the product was rubbish until they actually received it!

Reviews should have counteracted this because reviews concern the actual product, not the seller.

But, if the review is not about the actual product from the actual listing it appears on, this appears to defeat the object of the review!

I’ve also noticed that reviews are coming in really slowly (or not at all). They can only be of benefit to both the buyer and seller if the review system is used regularly. Here’s an example:

437 sold in total. No reviews.

And this one:

793 sold yet only 8 product reviews, despite this seller shifting an average of 4 of every day.

So, to go back to the original question as to whether reviews make a difference to search rankings, I can honestly say that for me personally, this still remains to be seen.

If you have reviews activated on your listings I’d love to hear how they are doing for you and whether they have picked up momentum over the past few months and if you have noticed a significant rise in listing placements.

If you’ve been ignoring the whole reviews scenario and fancy testing it out, then the best way to generate reviews is simply to ensure that you politely remind your customers to leave a product review.

You can do this by enclosing a short message with each order you dispatch, much like you do when you request positive feedback. Remember though that just like feedback, reviews are not compulsory.

Let me know how you get on!