E-commerce platforms provide the option for consumers to read and write online reviews on their platforms. Online reviews, therefore, have become an integral part of the shopping experience for consumers. Reviews are used by consumers to know more about the product. When a customer visits an online site to buy something, he/she often checks the consumer reviews before ordering. There are even websites like Yelp.com that provide reviews about restaurants so that consumers can read those reviews and then decide on a restaurant of their choice. It helps in reducing the risk associated with products by providing more information about them. Though online reviews are helpful, the full potential of online reviews has not been fully realized by e-commerce platforms.
While consumer reviews are often used by consumers, they do not know how long the product has been used by the reviewer before writing a review. Although the general practice by the firms is to ask for a review as soon as the product is delivered, one must ask if it is fair. For example, in the case of mobile phones, a person might have used the phone for 1 day and written a review while the other might have used the phone for 3 months before writing a review about it. Are both these reviews equal in their helpfulness? Customers often give importance to the reviews that are written after a certain period of time using the product. Through our study conducted among college students of a national institute, we asked about the importance they give to the time a consumer has used the product. One of the respondents of the study stated, “Knowing the time for which product has been used is important to know the product durability. For the first month of the product, the performance might be good but over a period of time, the performance might decline. The time duration will provide a clearer picture to the consumer reading the review to make a better decision.” Similarly, another respondent said, “The main issues that come in a product can be after a certain period of time. Writing reviews earlier also provides a biased picture of the overall working of the product.”
In practice, showing that the product has been used for a longer duration increases the credibility of the product and information provider. For example, many make-up influencers show their consumers the status of the makeup they have applied throughout the day so that it will provide a better picture of how long-lasting the product is.
While consumers base their decisions on the recommendation of others, it would be better if they knew the time the reviewers have used the product. When we approach a friend for a product recommendation, we also ask our friends to let us know how long they have been using the product. While such practice is normal per human nature, why is the industry not providing this information to the consumer? The information will be able to better serve the consumers and ensure that they are making knowledgeable decisions based on the given information. Knowing the duration for which the product was used would ensure that the consumer reading the reviews has enough knowledge to make the decision. Consequently, it will also affect the consumer’s well-being.