How to review positively and negatively at PumpjackPiddlewick

As an Etsy shop owner for many years (not one but three shops) reviews are part of the natural process. Customers like, or don’t, what they receive. Sometimes they converse direct to tell you they are happy. Sometimes they leave a negative review. There are some very definite do’s and don’t in reviewing, not just to help the next customer but also the seller. So have you ever considered ‘how to review’?

Online shopping is very definitely on the increase, and will continue to be so. These days even a physical shop you can walk into probably has an online presence. And with this online marketing we see review systems increase in stature as well.

Because shopping online doesn’t allow us to touch, hold or even truly get the sense of size and weight, let alone texture, reviews become important. They add another dimension to aid in our shopping experience. They can give us confidence in the shop or the product. A review might give more information, or specific information of interest to you, beyond the online product description.

But a review is even more. An honest in-depth review can boost a small shops sales, change the practise of a shop or simply make or break the day of a shop owner. So give a moments thought to your review.

How to Review

So you have bought your product, it’s been shipped and upon opening the parcel you like it or loathe it. It may be better than the description or photos, it may not be at all as described. So now, how to review?

Negative Reviews

Let’s start with the negative. It’s always a worry for anyone who sells something. But ultimately you can’t get it right all of the time. It may not fit right, it may not be the right colour. It may have been damaged in the post or the person simply doesn’t like it upon receipt.

I have found over the years that when someone doesn’t like what they received, for whatever reason, they tend to reach out directly to me to tell me. (That’s a lovely aspect of dealing with a small business.) We then sort out the problem, which may involve the item being returned and refunded. Or something else, depending on the nature of the issue. How a business responds to your complaint, tells you a lot about that business.

Then there is a small percentage that chooses to use a negative review as the means of communication. This may sometimes be done to not only inform the seller but future buyers as well. It feels more hurtful to the seller done this way, but if it’s an honest issue it is one to be learned from. Of note though, buyers (and sellers) beware, negative reviews are sometimes done to extort.

Negative reviews should always include good reasoning, constructive criticism if you will. In example, if something purchased turns out to be much smaller then anticipated. A good negative review will aid the seller in upping their game to provide more information or better photographs to give a better sense of size. It also helps the future buyer to anticipate. A review like this is helpful to all.

Negative reviews are not helpful in three areas:

A. Star Reviews with no supporting information. Leaving a low star review but no information helps no one. (And to me is a red flag that something is not kosher with the buyer.) If a buyer is unhappy enough to take the time to leave a low rating, the seller and future buyers deserve to know the why of it.

B. Damaged or lost in the mail. When negativity arises outside of something beyond the sellers control, this is not a time to leave a negative review. Many online platforms (including Etsy) will in fact remove these types of reviews. Rather the place for this sort of review is with the shipping provider. This will help them to be aware of problems or up their game.

C. Trolls. That is people who may never have even bought the product but are out to try and kill off the competition by leaving a negative review. Did you know that Amazon allows anyone who has purchased anything from them to leave a review on any product sold through Amazon? In example, I could purchase some cat food and leave a review on a book I haven’t read, simply because I was an Amazon customer. Not very fair is it? So a breath of caution when considering reviews, good or bad.

Positive Reviews

So let’s move on and end on the positive. Good reviews are worth their weight in gold, particularly to a small shop owner.

Seeing good reviews matters to customers, even if somewhat subconscious. If you see consistently poor reviews for a shop or product, you are more likely to look elsewhere. Consistent good reviews gives a sense of confidence, especially when buying sight unseen.

Good reviews also mean that a shop owner is working hard behind the scenes to keep customers satisfied. Consistently high reviews mean the shop is responding to customers comments, questions and concerns to make for a better shopping experience.

Let’s add on, as online systems become more and more interconnected, so to do good reviews aid in boosting an online presence. With my Etsy shops, it’s not only Etsy that boosts my shop and/or items but also other search engines such as Google.

Reviews, especially consistently received good ones, give support to the validity of the shop which search engines and other online areas now pick up on. If shoppers are saying they like a shop, then the likes of shopping platforms and search engines are going to also wish to offer their shoppers the better experience.

Additional food for thought

And lastly, just in case you are wondering, we here at Pumpjack & Piddlewick don’t recommend asking customers for reviews. Not everyone has the time or desire to review, especially if they purchase a lot online. If people feel strongly or are simply inclined, they will.

We do believe in thanking our customers in a communication when they are kind enough to provide a thoughtful review, whether positive or negative.

Closing thought. If you are inclined to giving a poor review somewhere, or even more so if you are a seller and receive a poor review, we very much recommend (and practice) that you give yourself 24 hours before you respond. Time to think, compose yourself, and realise the true purpose of the review.

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