The View from England

Lessons from Ikea’s negative reviews

Those of us who sell on Amazon tend to believe that reviews are all important and that negative reviews can dampen sales, in part, because Amazon likely includes an element of reviews in its Buy Box algorithm.

Moreover, Amazon sellers also assume that customers are influenced by the reviews. Retailers often go to extraordinary lengths to resolve customer complaints, fearing a poor review. Indeed I’ve read accounts on forums of retailers being held ransom by customers with spurious complaints.

Until recently I was one of the many retailers who believed that reviews were all important. But I now realize that they are not as critical as I at first thought. That is because I bought something from Ikea.

Ikea’s reviews

Certainly in Europe Ikea has a good reputation. Millions of shoppers visit Ikea’s physical stores every week. Thus I was surprised to find that 94 percent of Ikea’s reviews were negative on ConsumerAffairs, a major U.S.-based review site. And over 83 percent of Ikea’s reviews were negative on Trustpilot, a similar site.

Think about this. On ConsumerAffairs, of the 297 reviews in 2018, 288 of them were 1 or 2 stars. On Trustpilot in the U.K., Ikea receives an email for every review. It has not publicly replied to any. By any standard, this is appalling customer service.

Further, judging by the long history of one complaint (going back years), Ikea keeps making the same mistake: missing delivery dates and items from orders.

And consumers keep ordering.

Any retailer on Amazon with 1 percent negative feedback would likely get suspended — not to mention 94 percent negative. Yet Ikea appears to be prospering. Ikea’s customers do not care about the reviews, have not bothered to read them, or think its worth the risk because they cannot purchase the item elsewhere.

Unique products

That is the real point. If your product is sufficiently unique, or significantly better value, or has other redeeming factors, shoppers will not give reviews as much weight as they would for generic items. Thus what you sell is more important than how you sell it.

In short, don’t panic for the odd negative review. Learn from it and move on.

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