How do customer reviews convince when buying online?

How do customer reviews convince when buying online?

Trust and orientation – How do customer reviews convince when buying online?

Whether at Amazon, Tripadvisor or Lieferando – those who consume on the Internet can fall back on countless customer reviews. These have now been examined in detail by Prof. Dr. Sascha Hoffmann, Professor of Business Administration and Online Management, and psychologist and lecturer Dr. Frederic Hilkenmeier at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg in a representative study conducted in cooperation with Trusted Shops. They found that by far the largest proportion of people give positive ratings on the Internet.

In an interview, they talk about why the results came as a big surprise to them, what is important about customer ratings, and how they give us guidance and confidence when buying online.

Interview by Andreas Muller

Today, there are hardly any major online retail or service companies that don’t rely on customer reviews. What makes them so important for companies?

Prof. Dr. Sascha Hoffmann: In brick-and-mortar retail, people have the opportunity to look at products directly on site, touch them, perhaps try them out and get advice. This is not the case when buying online, which creates uncertainty about the purchase decision. Companies therefore try to replace the on-site experience with product images, product descriptions and, not least, customer reviews. In this way, they can create orientation and build trust for a purchase decision.

Dr. Frederic Hilkenmeier: Online reviews are ultimately personal experiences that are shared publicly. The psychological construct of social proof plays a central role here: instead of having to work through articles in trade journals, for example, and compare abstract data and facts, you can take a mental shortcut, so to speak, by trusting the authentic experiences of others. […]


You liked this teaser of this interview? The entire interview was originally published on the Fresenius University website.

Click here to continue reading the interview.

If you are interested in more articles on this topic, check out our ECI page.


Prof. Dr. Sascha Hoffmann

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Prof. Dr. Sascha Hoffmann holds a professorship for online management at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg. Previously, he was Director Business Development at XING and Head of Product Management at blau Mobilfunk ( His focus is on e-commerce, online marketing and digital product management.