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Ecommerce Guidelines: Trust Elements

Guidelines 186-189

Ecommerce Best Practices » Product Page » Clarity/Credibility » Trust Elements

A recent study by the Department of Commerce found that half of American Internet users are “deterred” from buying things online because of fears over privacy and security.

Without any prompting, 84% of online households named at least one concern they had about online privacy and security risks, and 40% cited at least two different concerns.

The four most common reasons for people’s distrust:

“News reports of information being stolen from retailers” (43%),
“My information was stolen” (17%),
“I don’t believe that the store will take good care of me if there is a problem” (12%),
“I tend not to trust companies, employees or technology” (10%).

The product page provides an opportunity to build trust. Take advantage of it using ratings and reviews. Sharing all the details about your products, both good and bad, will foster a sense of transparency and trust.

I would buy from this site because it is a company that I trust.

[I would very likely buy because] I really trust the brand name and I know it’s a company that sells good products.

4 guidelines for ecommerce product pages trust elements:

  1. Show reviews and ratings on product page.
  2. Don’t be afraid to include a few negative reviews.
  3. Offer sorting options for reviews.
  4. Ask “was this review helpful?”.

Guideline #186. Show reviews and ratings on product page.

According to the 2016 BrightLocal survey, 84% of people trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. Most people prefer reading 4-6 reviews before making a purchasing decision.

Product reviews are essential and relevant to the product page. Don’t just display one top review, but a few reviews that cover the scope of the product.

Place the reviews in a distinguished area on the page so customers can quickly find them. Offer a link to “see more reviews”. Let users upvote or downvote. Let them organize reviews. Incorporate pictures and videos into reviews. However you do it, make sure ratings and reviews are on the product page.

I really appreciated the customer reviews! I was able to easily identify customer review “star” ratings visually, giving [me] confidence in my product selections.

I would eventually add some more user comments and reviews as they really add value to the site.

I really liked the fit slider (that would tell you if an item had a true fit or not) that seemed like such a helpful feature. (Fit slider data is collected via customer reviews (e.g. runs small, runs big, fits perfectly.)

How to do it RIGHT


provides a “rating snapshot”, most helpful positive review, most helpful negative review, and a list of full reviews underneath.

Users can sort, filter, upvote, downvote, and report reviews.

Reviewers can add photos, videos, main pros and cons of product, and details for filtering purposes like number of pets, gender of pets, etc.


devotes a large section of their product page to reviews, complete with sorting options and the capability to include photos in product reviews.

Guideline #187. Don’t be afraid to include a few negative reviews.

The inclusion of a few negative views contributes to the believability of positive reviews. There is no product in this world that all people love. Seeing a few complaints and issues with a product truthfully represents a full scope of opinions, making the good opinions conceivable.

Remember, this guideline is about including a FEW negative reviews. If you have 10 positive reviews one (maybe two) of these can be negative without seeing a detrimental impact. Use reason when deciding which negative review to display as well. Don’t share anything too terrible that will undoubtedly drive potential customers away.

On one of Petco’s product pages, a “helpful” negative review is showcased alongside helpful positive reviews (notice the praise about Petco’s returns?):

Guideline #188. Offer sorting options for reviews.

Reviews are going to pile up for popular products. There needs to be an organizational system so site visitors continue to get value from them.

Sorting options allow users to view what they consider to be the most helpful reviews. Sorting options commonly include:

  • Newest to oldest (and oldest to newest)
  • Highest to lowest rating (and lowest to highest)
  • Top contributors
  • Expert reviews first
  • Photo/video reviews
  • Most helpful
  • Verified purchases
  • Longest/shortest reviews

Design sorting options as a dropdown box. Here’s how REI does it:

Guideline #189. Ask “was this review helpful?”.

Asking this question allows for the best reviews to naturally make their way to the top of the list. Create a ranking system that gives priority to reviews which are considered “most helpful”. Users should be able to share whether they thought a review was helpful, but also whether a review was not helpful. Users should also be able to report inappropriate reviews.

Consider showcasing both the most helpful positive and negative review.

Home Depot includes this tool at the end of every review:

Bass Pro’s approach:


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