Why Girlboss is Right About Customer Reviews

Netflix’s Girlboss is a perfect throwback to the days when every website looked like Craigslist and online shoppers actually bid on eBay items. The tenacious protagonist doesn’t have an iPhone and actually uses AOL instant messenger: a true testament to just how far our technology has come in the last decade.

Girlboss is a captivating look into the early days of e-commerce. In the early 2000s, eBay was one of the only websites where anyone could sell essentially whatever they wanted to whomever wanted it. Since that time, e-commerce has revolutionized consumerism as over 79% of Americans now shop online. Amazon has made it possible to get anything you might need within days, or sometimes hours. The overwhelming majority of eBay items are listed for instant purchase rather than the auctions the site was originally designed for. Additionally, most shops are run by e-commerce professionals rather than individuals who use the site as their digital garage sale. Hundreds of successful brands like Kylie Cosmetics and Caper mattresses sell exclusively online without ever placing products on a shelf. E-commerce has seen major growth and changes since the Girlboss era of online selling, but one factor has remained the same: the importance of customer reviews.

New research shows that more than a third of consumers regard customer reviews as the number one factor that makes them trust an online store. So it’s no wonder that sellers work so hard to build a reputation and will go to extreme measures to maintain that digital prestige. In episode 4 of Girlboss, we see leading lady Sophia conquer her fear of bridges and (almost literally) jumping through hoops just to get a wedding dress to the buyer in time for her big day. While the measures Sophia took were most likely overdramatized in the interest of engaging the audience, it’s true that sellers will take every action possible and bend over backwards in the interest of avoiding negative reviews. So, it turns out some things haven’t changed since 2006.

Online marketplace Bonanza has over 40,000 sellers listing over 25 million items. In a space as saturated as e-commerce, it’s vital to stand out against competition. Earning “Top Rated Seller” status on a site like Bonanza can tip the scale in your favor when browsers see similar items side by side.

“A good experience for one buyer will spread to other interested buyers by way of positive feedback. There may be 10 sellers with the same items at about the same price but when buyers see my 99.99% satisfaction ratings and all the positive reviews it’s an easy choice for them” says Bonanza seller ParacordNinja.

The key to good reviews is to treat each transaction as a chance for buyers to recommend the brand. Using customers as a marketing tool builds brand credibility that will speak for itself. Review-based credibility extends beyond e-commerce into the restaurant industry, where diners rely heavily on Yelp reviews for restaurant recommendations. A bad reviews on Yelp or an online marketplace means losing trust from potential buyers and ultimately missed sales.

Good reviews matter. Bad reviews matter more, which is why online sellers will go to extreme lengths to avoid negative feedback. Without realizing it, the power of e-commerce success lies in the hands of the shoppers. Consumers use peer reviews as the gold standard for who they can and can’t trust to make purchases from. The other reason reviews matter? They are there forever, in the cloud of data making up the internet that is taking control of consumerism one sale at a time.