|Thu Mar 15 2012 11:29:18|
Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides
By: Julia Wilkinson
One thing that makes shopping so effective on Amazon.com is their huge database of user-generated reviews. And not only that, but they sort and present their reviews in ways that are very helpful in making that buying decision. eBay is starting to improve in that area but they have a ways to go in a number of different product categories. The question that arises in my mind is, are there things eBay could do to incentivize their user base to write more reviews, and can they then incorporate them in an effective way so they are helpful and prominent on, say, a main search results page?
Let's take one example: a popular cookbook called "The Silver Palate Cookbook." A search for this book on eBay reveals 163 results, including the 25th Anniversary Edition. There is an unassuming "Products & Reviews" (beta) tab, which, if you click on, brings you to some 26 reviews for various versions of this cookbook. What is nice about this presentation, to eBay's credit, is they have all the different editions and versions of the book clearly delineated. Sometimes all the different (and sometimes duplicate) versions of books on Amazon can look quite schizophrenic.
On Amazon, a search for the same book reveals the first version of the book, the 25th Anniversary edition, with 89 customer reviews, and other versions with 33 reviews. Granted, this is just for one type of product -- and a book at that, the kind of item Amazon began with -- and the type of some of the products sold on eBay, the "one-off," unique items, don't easily lend themselves to reviews.
But Amazon also curates these reviews very well. You will see, in the case of this cookbook, right near the top of the listing page, the average customer review rating, in 1-to-5 stars format, as well as for each review, how many out of how many (e.g. 81 out of 82 people) found that particular review helpful. I must confess that I was surprised to find that eBay also does show an "average rating" and "x of y people found this helpful" on eBay's page for this book; it's just a bit harder to find.
However, the gap widens in other products. Let's look at a hair treatment called "Moroccan oil." Amazon has many listings for this product, and the top three, a 3.4 oz. oil bottle, a shampoo/conditioner combo, and another 3.4 oz. oil treatment, have 503 (!), 66, and 18 user reviews, respectively.
A search on "Moroccan oil" on eBay yields 1,852 product results, but 0 "Products & reviews" (which, granted, again, is still in beta).
Do you think eBay should do things to incentivize users to leave more reviews, and if so, what? And how important are reviews and guides to you when shopping?
Currently, if you post a "guide" on eBay, you do get a link to your eBay id, which leads to your "My World" page and has links to items you sell). Is this enough to get you to write a review, and if not, what would? Post a comment here!