Eric Artz: Supporting the Great American Outdoors Act
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When shopping online I, like most people, rely on the product reviews to help me decide to purchase or not. Why is it that a lot of the REI products online have few reviews? The lack of reviews makes me leery.
@OC_Planner I don't believe the lack of reviews is any sort of vast conspiracy. The ones that I have made are posted without any change or alteration.
Frankly, I wouldn't worry too much about the number of reviews. After all, they are made by people whose qualifications and abilities are unknown. Often the reviews, especially the negative ones, are uninformative or irrelevant -"I didn't like the customer service, so i won"t buy this sleeping bag again." etc, etc.
I like to look the product over in the store, ideally. I also tend to consider independent reviews which do substantial testing or use of the products.
I just noticed that this is addressed to REI employees. I am not one such.
@Hiker totally agree.
You just don't know the reviewers 'perspective' or background. You really have to take each review with a grain of salt.
One person at a stream crossing sees a very difficult and almost impossible situation, when another, more experienced person, finds the situation very normal and easy.
@OC_Planner I also agree with @hikermor . When I read reviews, I want to learn how that product performed, not that it got a 1-star rating because the box was damaged by the shipper, or that the down didn't insulate when it got wet, or that the packaging was difficult to open. You also have to be cautious of overzealous accolades, as well as the overly negative and critical reviews.
I am not an REI employee either, but with years of experience buying from REI, both in-store and online (including the Used site), I have a great deal of confidence in the quality of what they sell.
For those times that I am really unsure about something, I'll look it up on other sites, such a Outdoor Gear Lab, or the manufacturer's site, and even other retailers to get a more thorough overview, and maybe some unexpected perspectives.
Don't let a lack of reviews on the REI site discourage you. Even if you end up with something that fails to meet your expectations, REI has a very good customer satisfaction policy in place to rectify any concerns.
@OC_Planner I take good care of my gear and usually only replace it when it wears out, not when a lighter/stronger/better piece of gear comes on the market. That being said, I do not write a lot of reviews, especially for lower cost items. The few reviews I have written are either for more expensive or new products I either recently purchased or was supplied with in order to review. Perhaps we need a new category here, requests for product reviews not reviewed through the ordering website.
@OC_Planner Thanks for reaching out!
We're glad to hear that you find reviews helpful, there really is no advice like first person user experience! We were curious if you had any particular REI products you were looking at that you could share with us as an example?
@OC_Planner Others have already mentioned the "volunteer bias" of reviews (going to either be either rave review or hated it to be motivated to write a review, average ratings are underrepresented) as well as reviews straying from actually evaluating the product itself.
As for why there are few reviews of any kind on some items? In some cases it could be from a product update: going from say the 2019 model to the 2020 model might reset the ratings because even though the product name is the same, small changes might have been made in the design.
@OC_Planner thanks for reaching out about reviews on REI.com. You've gotten a bunch of responses already and we wanted to add a little more context. In addition to recognizing how helpful reviews can be for our customers in making buying decisions, reviews are also important to the co-op so we know which products our customers love and which ones need to be changed or replaced. We do have a team dedicated to getting more authentic and verified reviews on to REI.com and, in the end, real reviews are a function of our members being willing to write reviews! You'll notice @John mentioned that he rarely circles back to submit reviews; he's not alone!
Our customers are able to submit reviews on the products they've purchased through their online REI account, and all reviews go through moderation and fraud detection to ensure they are authentic and on-topic - we take reviews seriously because we know how important they are! And as @TomV noted, as we bring new products in each season, they often launch with few or no reviews since we haven't had any members test them out yet.
Finally, we continue to work to optimize the ease of review writing and submission; we recently added more questions on our review forms so submitted reviews have more content, like overall fit and height information. We anticipate some exciting updates to our reviews section in 2021!