In India, fake reviews have become a serious problem for online retailers. They may be fake but they do have an impact on consumers' behaviour. This is because consumers base their buying decisions on reviews posted by real people.
On November 21, India’s Department of Consumer Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) released a new set of rules (IS 19000: 2022) that will help curb the fake reviews found online.
As the e-commerce industry is gaining in popularity every day, it has become important to safeguard the rights of consumers and prevent fake reviews from misleading buyers.
So what are these new rules? Let us find out below.
WHAT ARE FAKE ONLINE REVIEWS
Reviews are important for businesses because they help customers make better buying decisions. A positive review can increase a business's sales and profits, while negative reviews can cause negative effects such as lowering customer satisfaction levels and causing consumers to stop visiting the website altogether.
It is also important for businesses to ensure that their product reviews are genuine and unbiased so that customers will trust them more.
Often companies pay people to post reviews that either provide fake information about their products or harm the reputation of their competitors. The temptation to publish fake reviews on the website has only increased with the growth of e-commerce across the world.
Customers often fall into the trap of these fake reviews and end up having a negative experience. It is thus highly essential to have a set of rules that keep the customers from getting cheated.
Regulation of online reviews will not only help build trust amongst buyers and sellers, but it will also aid in the healthy growth of e-commerce.
WHAT ARE THE NEW RULES
The new rules will help prevent websites from falsifying information. They will help buyers to choose products that are more suitable for them. They will also help to improve the reliability of e-commerce websites.
Medianama has provided the guiding principles for these new rules that will prevent fake reviews:-
● Integrity:- Sites must reflect “the opinions of legitimate review authors who have acquired a product or service and have submitted reviews.”
● Accuracy:- The process of collecting, moderating and publishing consumer reviews must “as far as reasonably possible are accurate; that is, adequate, current and not misleading.”
● Privacy:- Review authors’ personal information must be protected.
● Security:- All systems must “have anti-fraud mechanisms in place to protect personal data from internal and external fraud.”
● Transparency:- The platform must be “transparent about all methodologies, and ownership, that may impact or influence a consumer’s use of the review site.”
● Accessibility:- Reviews must be “easy to find and presented in a clear and simple format so that it can be read and understood by consumers and suppliers/sellers.”
● Responsiveness:- Platforms must respond to communications from consumers, sellers, and other interested parties concerning their online reviews and respond without undue delay.
It is also warned in these rules that any non-compliance with these rules will lead to the removal of the reviews.
Medianama has provided a copy of the rule book IS 19000: 2022 here, from which we have published some necessary information below. The guidelines contain all the necessary steps for websites and review authors to keep the review sections authentic and helpful for the buyers.
All review authors shall be asked, either at the point of registration or before submitting each review, to:
A) Confirm that they have read and accepted the review site’s terms and conditions;
B) Provide an email address or contact telephone number to enable the review administrator to contact them.
It would be the responsibility of the review administrator to safeguard the personal identity of the review authors.
The review administrator shall ensure that:
A) All personal information collected from consumers is stored and handled securely and confidentially to prevent unauthorized access or use;
B) Security settings are put in place to protect the consumer’s personal information;
C) Personal information is used only to moderate reviews and is not transferred to marketing companies, brokers or any other third parties unless the review author has expressly consented to such use or transfer
The review administrator will also be responsible to ensure that the consumer reviews have the following features:
A) The date on which the review was submitted
B) A total rating
The review administrator should also provide review authors with an opportunity to add:
A) A description of the consumer experience in a free text or questionnaire format;
B) The date or period of the consumer experience;
C) The purchase date of the products and services
D) Additional content relating to the consumer experience.
The review administrator is not allowed to knowingly publish reviews that have been purchased and/or written by individuals employed for that purpose by the supplier/seller, or by a third party.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE MOVE
With the growth of digital marketplaces, fake reviews have for some time been a concern all over the world. According to a study, about 89% of customers read reviews before making a purchase.
With so many people relying on reviews, it is essential to keep the reviews authentic. With fake reviews constantly making rounds, customers often end up dissatisfied with the products they buy. The dissatisfaction of customers has a high impact on businesses as well.
With the new framework in place, customer satisfaction will see a boost as they will be able to better judge the products. It will also positively impact the trust between the buyers and sellers.