American Shoppers LOVE to Moan about Bad Customer Service

Brightpearl study spotlights star ratings and consumer reviews of online shopping experiences are key to purchase decisions – great for consumers but damaging for unprepared retailers 


A new report released today highlights the power of social proof and reveals that American consumers are becoming a nation of complainers when online shopping expectations fall short. 

Americans are not afraid to voice concerns and share praise. With online shopping this trend threatens to damage online retailers’ reputations and bottom line results. 

The Brightpearl study, which reflects the opinions of 100 retailers and 2,000 consumers in the United States, reveals that the growing trend plays a major role on purchase behavior: 

  • 48% of online consumers in the States have left a negative review online, with nearly three-quarters (73%) having done so in the last year

  • Almost 8 in 10 shoppers (79%) say that it is ‘very likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ that they would leave a negative review following a bad experience

  • 45% will share a negative retail experience with someone else – to warn them off a particular brand

  • 77% of all 1-3 star feedback left by online shoppers were related to problems after the buy button, for example, related to issues with delivery or returns


Shoppers Who Don’t Complain about Poor Service Still Harbor Ill Will

In the digital age, consumers quickly take to social media or online review sites to share their anger or dissatisfaction with merchants. But, even those who don’t vent, wish they had. 

Forty-one percent of American consumers are yet to leave a negative review of a company online, but a staggering 65% admit that they regret missing the opportunity to air their grievances with the brand or retailer when they’ve had a poor shopping experience.

Derek O’Carroll, CEO of retail operations platform Brightpearl who commissioned the study, said, “With the rise of so many avenues for customer feedback, from online forms to social media, consumer shopping habits are changing. The growing trend of consumers assertively exercising their right to complain when they receive sub-par service raises concerns for brands, especially those that historically have paid little attention to consumer reviews.”

Star Ratings Growing in Importance to Online Shoppers 

Brightpearl’s research reveals that online consumers rely more heavily on reviews and star ratings from other shoppers to support their decision-making.

The majority of respondents (62%) regularly check star ratings for online retailers before buying from them, and more than half of all online consumers (55%) admit that a single unfavorable review of a brand or retailer halted an online purchase. 

  • 35% of shoppers look more favorably on retailers that actively respond to negative reviews posted about their services online.

  • An impressive 74% admit they would likely spend more money with an online outlet which had ‘excellent’ reviews or Star Ratings.

  • Shoppers are willing to spend as much as 32% more with a brand or retailer which has received mostly ‘excellent’ reviews than one which has been reviewed less favorably.

  • US shoppers want a brand or retailer to have a whopping 35 positive online reviews before they’d trust it enough to part with their dollars.

Discerning consumers consider a rating below four out of five stars as generally negative. Shoppers becoming highly dubious about interacting with any brand that has more than five negative reviews.

Brightpearl’s O’Carroll added, “From our research it is clear that a positive review – or 30 – can make a huge difference in the choices consumers make when it comes to selecting a brand or retailer.”

In summary, the survey demonstrates the wide-ranging impact a negative review can have on retail business. Retailers must be aware of the impacts and understand the source generating the negative review – from items not arriving on time or at all, to a lack of delivery updates or cancelled purchases. 

Said O’Carroll, “With the majority of poor feedback resulting directly of these types of issues, it’s clear retailers have work to do on the operational front. Customers pay real attention to middling and lower reviews, resulting in lost sales opportunities and a potentially damaged reputation. The best approach to negative reviews is identification and fixing the issues that can lead to unhappy shopping experiences.”

Failing to Address the Link Between Operations and Poor Online Feedback is Disastrous

Brightpearl’s survey found that just 13% of US retailers have invested in technology or solutions to help address the issues that most commonly cause poor feedback and ratings, such as problems with receiving items on time or overly complicated returns.

O’Carroll added, “To help get the most out of online reviews, businesses need to consider solutions which allow them to fulfill the modern expectations of customers – from same-next day delivery options to real-time shipping, hassle-free returns and incredible response times.” 

In summary, with a great strategy – and the right technology – in place, firms can focus on generating positive reviews and ratings that are more likely to capture the attention of today’s online shopper and that leads to increased spend and better business.

Those curious to find out more about the impact of the ‘Rise of the Review Culture’ should visit

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