Fake Reviews Are a Genuine Problem for These Major Retailers

Overstating the value of online reviews would be difficult.

Approximately 88% of consumers rely on online reviews to choose where to do business, and consumers spend 31% more with companies that have excellent reviews. Businesses suffer when they don’t pay attention to their online reviews and take customer feedback seriously.

But not all online reviews are genuine, and it’s a real problem. More than half (52%) of reviews posted on Walmart.com were estimated to be inauthentic and unreliable, according to Fakespot, a site that analyzes online reviews to determine whether they are authentic or not. Fakespot also estimates that 30% of reviews on Amazon are fake, and about one-third of reviews on sites for makeup retailer Sephora and game service Steam may be inauthentic. When consumers base purchases on fake reviews, they experience disillusionment and begin to distrust retailers.

Where Fake Online Reviews Come From

Five-star ratings are highly coveted, and some businesses use underhanded tactics to get them. Some use automated “bots” to create false reviews, while others hire people to write them. They may even hire people to post negative reviews on sites of competitors. Ultimately, the result is online reviews that are less meaningful to consumers.

Many major sites do what they can to find and remove fake reviews, but the tools for doing so are not perfect. Machine learning algorithms can learn to spot patterns of deception in online reviews, and some sites have moderators that read reviews before posting them. These practices can reduce the numbers of fake reviews, but they often can’t eliminate them all.

Woman sitting at a table with her laptop and looking at her cell phone.

Authentic online reviews can help businesses earn consumer trust.

How Businesses Deal with Fake Reviews

Fighting fake online reviews is necessary for maintaining and improving your online reputation. You can deal with inauthentic reviews in several key ways:

  • Ensure reviews are verified by entering consumer information into your CRM and requesting feedback soon after they make a purchase.
  • Encourage all customers to share feedback, so you get the most accurate picture of your reputation.
  • Use review moderation to maximize chances that reviews are genuine. (Bear in mind that review moderation does not mean suppressing negative reviews.)
  • Respond to all reviews – good and bad – to demonstrate that you care about your reputation.

Here are some mistakes to avoid when requesting reviews:

  • Asking all customers for reviews at the same time – because a sudden increase in review numbers can arouse suspicion in people searching for reviews.
  • Asking for good reviews – because it dilutes review value and is manipulative and dishonest.
  • Spamming consumers with review requests (which often results in more negative reviews).
  • Creating “canned” reviews for consumers to use, because they dilute the value of the review.
  • Paying consumers for reviews, a practice that can get your business banned from review sites, and which severely degrades the usefulness of your reviews .

Fight Fake Online Reviews to Preserve and Enhance Online Reputation

Two men in business suits discussing a project.

Doing what you can to address the problem of fake online reviews will only enhance your online reputation.

Taking steps to prevent fake reviews and to solicit reviews responsibly makes your business and its reviews more trustworthy, and that’s what consumers want when they conduct pre-purchase online research.

Reputation.com offers a range of solutions, all operable from a central dashboard, to help businesses collect feedback efficiently and effectively. We invite you to learn more by downloading our free guide to Getting Started with Online Reputation Management.