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Thu Mar 15 2012 11:29:18

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

By: Julia Wilkinson

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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!




Comments (14) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Thu Mar 15 12:30:17 2012

The only reviews I consider relevant are those written by professionals who specialize in a merchandise category or by an organization such as Consumer Reports. When I feel a review will be helpful, I look for professional reviews on the Internet as opposed to user generated reviews posted as secondary advertising fluff.

As a buyer, I have never considered a user generated review when purchasing a product.

If I am purchasing tech products, user reviews are worthless. Negative user reviews on tech products are most often written by simpletons who were unable to install, connect, or configure their new tech gadget properly. Product denigration by tech challenged individuals is hardly worthwhile as are reviews where broken product led to buyer dissatisfaction.

IMO, padding search results with user generated reviews distracts from the search experience as it amounts to content with little or no relevance to me in my purchasing decisions.

When a marketplace includes user reviews as part of search results or listings, it makes me want to have the option to opt out of having reviews displayed entirely in order to expedite my decision making process.



Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Mar 16 00:18:55 2012

I think ebay should give up trying to be a shop store front and stop copying Amazon.

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

This user has validated their user name. by: Bijoux Dragon
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Fri Mar 16 00:38:53 2012

What I am picturing is a bunch of little eBay robots ... make that CS reps ... being assigned to write positive reviews for products being sold by diamond sellers.  For a fee of course.

Amazon also notes if the reviewer has actually purchased the item through Amazon.  Some of the comments are so moronic that I almost feel sorry for the fool who wrote them ... almost.  I have a feeling that the eBay review, written by the average user and not an employee of the company offering the product, would bring the art of the review to a new low both in content and in use of the English language.

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 16 00:52:40 2012

I personally do not like reviews by buyers. I was selling one of Clive Cussler's books (great writer) and Ebay popped up the reviews on my page. One of the buyers was bashing the seller for  lousy service, a dirty book, slow shipping, etc. The review beneath my ad made me look like I was that bad seller. I notified Ebay 3 times and they never did remove it. I just took the book off Ebay, as I felt it was doing me more harm than good.  

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Fri Mar 16 01:39:46 2012

I agree with Ric.
I never use customer reviews because most of the time they are done by people that do not know what they are looking at or what the item is actually for.
Also like what happened to Tiffee Jasso they write about their experience with the seller and not about the item they are supposed to be reviewing.

When I want to have an idea about an item I look for an actual product review on line done by a professional reviewer.

Bill  

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser

Fri Mar 16 08:41:51 2012

@Ric - I think that's just a small part of the problem with ''user reviews''.  Plenty of ignorance - but what about malice?

I've seen plenty of neg reviews for Apple products by people that just hate Apple and don't even own the product.  What about Yahoo movie reviews for movies that haven't even been released yet?  Lets not forget despicable sites like ''Angie's List'' that seems to promote shilling and, as some sellers have noted, extorts money from contractors for ''enhanced reviews''.

I think the problem goes way back to the internet philosophy espoused by ebay's Pierre Omidyar that ''people are basically good'' and honest. He made those comments in the early internet days where only a privileged few had real internet access, and even then it was by slow modems.  This online population was predominately young, male, and mostly college educated.  

But now the internet is globally ubiquitous - everyone is online, including pedophiles, scammers (international and domestic), all levels of retailers, and lots of desperate dishonest people.  Any kind of open, anonymous, and unedited ratings and reviews of products or business, services, and resellers will be fraught with users promoting their own products, disparaging their competitors and simple ignorant and capricious statements.  

I've said this on other forums as well, but I believe these kinds of reviews are the bane of online retailing and will not exist in their current form in the future.  

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Mar 16 10:17:42 2012

Ric said >>If I am purchasing tech products, user reviews are worthless. Negative user reviews on tech products are most often written by simpletons who were unable to install, connect, or configure their new tech gadget properly. Product denigration by tech challenged individuals is hardly worthwhile as are reviews where broken product led to buyer dissatisfaction.<<

I think you are missing the point of user reviews Ric. If someone is a simpleton, to use your words, and they want to buy the product it is good for them to know that other simpleton's had problems installing it, making it work, etc. Why should only experts write a review of an item? It doesn't help out the folks that need an honest neighbor next door type of ‘opinion’.

I write a lot of reviews for Amazon, mostly about books. I get a lot of positive and negative feedback. Some of the negative is downright nasty (and it isn’t always about my opinion the item itself), but for others it is a big help in making a buying decision. I always check out reviews of books, especially craft/needlework books so I know how other sellers think of it and it also allows me to contact reviewers to ask specific questions about the book or product.

I like reviews, and even if those of you with apparently higher IQs than the rest of the world don't need or want them, my advice is to ignore them and let the rest of us get to read them if we like.

That being said, I think when I sold on ebay I wrote a few reviews, but now that I am off ebay, I see no point in helping them sell and stuff more money in DoHo's pocket.

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Fri Mar 16 11:28:14 2012

I like to use reviews to get a general feel for the opinion of the product. If I'm looking to buy, say, a mixer, and a large number of reviewers are reporting that the motor burns out after two weeks, then I might investigate that particular model in more depth.

I agree with Ric on the technology products, but that's only because I'm a computer geek and tend to have a lot more knowledge of that space than average. And like Stockmiser mentions, people can get very "religious" about their favorite products, like someone who had a bad experience with Windows 95 panning all Microsoft products, even if they haven't touched them for 10 years. Or Apple fanboys thinking Apple can do no wrong, even if a product is faulty. Those kind of reviews are useless, as are most reviews that depend on anything other than fact. Like we see here so often, everyone has different opinions and those opinions only reflect that person's circumstances, not necessarily how a buyer would use a product.

So, reviews can have some use, but in the end, they're just opinions.  

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

by: JackieBlue This user has validated their user name.

Sat Mar 17 10:59:01 2012

Product reviews are fine for fixed price items or common items.  For other items it doesn't make any sense. Also, there has to be a mechanism for separating problems with a seller versus a product review.  I often write reviews for products on Amazon (I hadn't noticed on eBay) but never put seller  comments there.  

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

by: Aks This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Jun 26 17:46:51 2013

I think reviews are extremely helpful to get a general view of the item that you are going to buy. As a buyer, I always use to buy products from Amazon or eBay by checking out users view first. Even since online shopping become popular, people have looked for various ways to compare product based on their reviews. I got a website (smartised.com) that can compare the product reviews at eBay and Amazon at the same and help people to make their decisions fast by looking at the users personal review about different products.
I think that user review helps a lot in making a decision to buy a product.

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

by: DesiDime This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Sep 3 03:46:39 2013

I think there is not comparison between ebay and Amazon. Amazon is too giant in front of ebay. But one thing is better in ebay that is discount codes. eBay provides discount coupon codes frequently.

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

by: coupodesh This user has validated their user name.
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Thu May 21 00:56:26 2015

Ebay and Amazon both shopping site are very big, in comparison amazon give dest deals and offers, where ebay give coupon code (in time to time basis) to provide discout and i not in mobile which are very expensive ebay gives that in very low price ... so both are great in the way ther are... :)

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

by: Sartaj This user has validated their user name.
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Thu May 21 01:12:16 2015

Amazon's big entry and big price reduction seems to take over not only ebay but flipkart in India... Hope it all ends in consumers interest.

Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides   Amazon vs. eBay's Product Reviews and Guides

by: dealmaal This user has validated their user name.
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Sat Jul 25 08:38:19 2015

Both ebay and amazon has their own Pros and cons.When we consider amazon,they have all sellers verified and quality checked products.But in Ebay,seller are not verified and the products are also not quality checked.



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