The hidden power of ratings and reviews

Some time ago, I was browsing through a popular eCommerce clothing store and this cool set of jeans caught my attention. I am usually quite skeptical about purchasing certain clothing items online as I am concerned about the size and their fit. However, this time I noticed that the product had various reviews stating that the item fitted perfectly and that customers who had already purchased them would suggest a larger size than what one would usually wear. So there I was ordering these jeans and waiting patiently for them to arrive. When they did arrive, they fitted perfectly and I was more than pleased to write reviews for this item and other items I had purchased!

When shopping in a normal off-line store, you have the advantage of being able to pick up the item, feel the material, try it on and read any information. One of the main barriers to online shopping is “lack of product information”. Customers should not be left wondering about the main characteristics of your products. Therefore, you should provide as much product information as you can, and allow other customers to write additional product information you may have missed!

Imagine if a sales person had to write such valuable product information for each and every item in store. I am sure the process would be both time consuming and impractical. However, by providing the online review feature, a company will not need to invest all that much effort in producing valuable content that might help your customers make a purchase decision.

The idea behind ratings and reviews is to encourage your existing customers to provide valuable content that may help potential buyers to make a purchase decision, and to provide unique product content that may also drive Search Engine traffic.

Why should an eCommerce site have moderated reviews?

  • Reviews add valuable content for your website and will help users to grow confidence in your store.
  • Reviews can help to build a community directly on your own site.
  • They allow your customers to create that precious fresh and unique content that could help to optimise your website’s search engine optimisation, and thus increase traffic to your site.
  • Valuable reviews can help your customers make an online purchase decision and thus increase conversion rates.
  • Reviews save time and reduce the workload on your own customer services personnel. Ratings and reviews allow shoppers to do the writing for you!

Let’s have a look at the moderated ratings and reviews in Magento:

One of the main features provided in Magento Out of the Box is that of moderated ratings and reviews. In order to be able to see the star ratings when reviewing a product on the product detail page, you need to do the following configuration:

  1. Go to Catalog –> Reviews and Rating –> Manage Ratings. Click on each entry on this page, and modify the rating visibility.


Figure 1 – managing ratings

2. One can also create different rating types for the website. This can be done by clicking on the ‘Add New Rating’ button in the Manage Ratings screen and setting a name and label for each rating. In the Rating Visibility section you will be able to specify the ‘website’ or band in which this rating will be visible.


Figure 2 – creating a ratings

This means that when a customer decides to write a review he will be able to vote for that particular rating as can be seen below:


Figure 3 – writing a review on frontend

Please note that reviews are moderated in the Magento backend. The rating and review moderation feature is ideal to reduce spam comments from being posted in your site. Moreover, your administrator can make sure that the posted review is related to a specific product and that the language and wording used are appropriate. In order for a review to be published, the administrator will have to go to Magento backend ‘Catalog’ –>’ Reviews and Ratings’ –> ‘Customer Reviews’ –> ‘Pending Reviews’ and approve the reviews. The administrator user is also able to modify the review before publishing it. You should be careful when modifying reviews, too many positive reviews could make your comments seem unrealistic and biased.

Changes in reviews should be limited to the language grammar or vocabulary used, especially in cases when the message may be misunderstood or if the comment is not entirely clear. One should never change the content of the message, even if the review is a negative one.

In Magento, it is also possible to disable or enable reviews for non-members of the website. To do so go to ‘System’ –> ‘Configuration’ –> ‘Catalog’ –> ‘Product Reviews’.