E-commerce companies compete for reviews

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E-commerce companies compete for reviews



With the explosive growth in online shopping, e-commerce companies are paying more attention to the quality of their product reviews as they compete for customers.

According to Statistics Korea, the number of online shopping transactions doubled in the past three years, from 65 trillion won ($53 billion) in 2016 to 134 trillion won in 2019. This January, transactions reached 12.39 trillion won, up 15.6 percent from the same month last year, and with the new coronavirus outbreak, that growth is only expected to accelerate.

E-commerce platform Auction, operated by eBay Korea, lists popular items under its “Auction Best,” page, where an average of one in five customers leaves a product review.

“Less product reviews means less sales,” said an official from e-commerce industry.

Lim, a 36-year-old mother of a 3-year-old child, uses e-commerce two to three times a week to buy child care products or daily necessities.

“I always read the reviews before making purchases because most of the time their honest reviews turn out to be correct,” Lim said. “Products without reviews make me hesitant to buy them.”

Shinsegae’s e-commerce brand SSG.com includes Monday Moon, an online platform for cosmetics and beauty products, boasting 3.8 million “real reviews” from its customers. “Monthly use reviews,” or those written after one month, are considered more reliable.

Coupang awards a “top reviewer” badge to those who write reliable product reviews by assessing their purchases and content, as well as a “real-name reviewer” badge to those who attach their real names to their reviews. In the “best reviews” column, both positive and negative comments are listed so that the pros and cons of the product can be viewed evenly.


A screen capture of online shopping mall SSG.com’s premium review section. [SSG.COM]

E-commerce companies are working to improve their review policies. Some have introduced filters to sort out unhelpful reviews left by users simply trying to accumulate rewards. SSG.com uses a two-step filtering system to hide reviews that repeat the same word or contain inappropriate language. Monday Moon users can set filters based on skin types and skin tones, or they can select “photo reviews only.”

Coupang also filters product reviews by allowing users to designate keywords of interest. Gmarket sorts products by numbers of reviews and Auction sorts products by the number of ratings.

Recently, e-commerce companies are trying to encourage detailed reviews, including photo or video reviews and detailed advice that have proven more effective in selling products.

SSG.com recently placed “premium reviews” at the top of its reviews section and strengthened its rewards system. It selects 20 video review winners every month and gives 200,000 won in rewards. Another 200 premium reviewers receive 10,000 won as a reward. For beauty product reviews, the top 10 video reviewers each month receive 100,000 won each month and 50 beauty premium reviewers are each given 20,000 won.

11st last November launched its video review section, “Kkook Kkook,” with rewards reviewers based on a point system. Currently, 1,000 points are awarded for uploading the first video review, and users who purchase a product after viewing its video review receive a raffle ticket to win 500,000 points.

Market Kurly selects up to 20 top reviews every week and gives the reviewers 5,000 won. Coupang recruits some active reviewers and provides them products for reviews. WeMakePrice will open a “hall of fame” for highly ranked reviewers in April. Some of those hall of famers will be selected for WeMakePrice’s “experience group,” an elite level of reviewers who get products for free.

The fashion industry in particular provides generous rewards for reviewers. As they cannot touch or try on clothing online, those consumers tend to rely more closely on reviews than other shoppers. Fashion e-commerce companies often reward 1,000 won to reviewers who simply post picture reviews, with some providing up to 3,000 won.

The leading fashion e-commerce platform, Musinsa, rewards 500 won for a review without photos, and 1,000 won for a photo review. Up to 3,000 won will be rewarded for “style reviews,” which include styling tips. At the end of 2019, the year’s top three reviewers won 500,000 won for getting first place, and 300,000 won for winning second and third places. The company reorganized its mobile homepage early this year and opened a new page where it collects product reviews.

Musinsa also provides a size recommendation function by analyzing, on average, 3,000 to 5,000 reviews per day. The company also allows reviewers to award stars based on design, color and size.

Coupang’s brand Tamsa was developed in 2017 after the e-commerce giant analyzed more than 100 million product reviews and purchasing patterns. In the case of its bottled water Tamsasu, Coupang offers bottle sizes ranging from 330 milliliters to 1 liter, intended to reflect the range of uses from a child carrying water to school to a single-person household’s drinking water supply. Tamsasu products have received more than 300,000 reviews.

BY CHU IN-YOUNG [kim.yeonah@joongang.co.kr]
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