Reviews are often one of the only ways to get a feel for a product’s quality while shopping online. Though Amazon, Etsy, and other ecommerce sites sell a wide variety of products with varying degrees of quality, it’s hard to judge a weed-whacker or a mug made out of a bear paw by its product photo. User reviews offer the context that can mean the difference between clicking “Buy” and moving on to the next page.
Not all reviews are created equal, however. Besides the, erm, over-dramatic nature of some reviews, the system is also easily gamed – see: the author who wrote “glowing reviews” of his own books on Amazon – and it’s often hard to find out exactly who “princeHumperdink97″ really is. Yotpo, an Israel-based startup that has raised $1.5 million from Rhodium, Gandyr Group, and others, believes that it has the solution to this problem.
Yotpo (don’t ask me how to pronounce the name – I’ve watched their introductory video twice and still have no idea) is, as cofounder and CEO Tomer Tagrin puts it, a “plug-and-play solution” for small businesses that want to get more reviews on their site. The system is meant to make reviewing a product “less boring” while simultaneously working to figure out whether that reviewer is a reliable source of wisdom.
Say “princeHumperdink97″ leaves a review of “Artsy-Fartsy’s” latest product. His highness will have to sign up for Yotpo, which will then keep track of every review he writes on the system and use it to assign a numerical score – similar to a Klout score – meant to convey his trustworthiness. If “princeHumperdink97″ has a habit of leaving poor reviews and shouldn’t be considered a reliable reviewer, Yotpo will mark him as such.
The service does more than that – reviews can also be pushed to Twitter and Facebook to improve a small business’s social media standing, and Tagrin says that the company is planning on making a play for the loyalty market in the coming months – but the streamlined review process and scoring system are the main draw.
While I’m not typically fond of the “slap a number by their face” trend, Yotpo offers a compelling look at how the system can be applied in a smart, meaningful way. Being able to trust what someone says about a product can take a lot of the guesswork out of shopping online without requiring extra effort from the potential customer. Staying true to this vision could end up making Yotpo a valuable part of the shopping experience that doesn’t offend webizens by putting them all on one giant scale.