Reputation and trust are the key drivers of transactions in digital commerce. With the fast-paced growth of online markets, it is vital to establish credibility to secure customers’ confidence. Ratings are an essential aspect of trust-building elements buyers use when undertaking transactions.
Why it matters?
Consider an online marketplace where buyers broadcast their interest in a specific product or service, and a collection of sellers respond with suitable offers. In the absence of in-real-life interactions and in-person communication, the buyers rely on available evidence to evaluate the reliability of the seller and the quality of products and services offered. Ratings serve as this form of social proof, often providing the deciding factor of insights that aggregates the outcome of previous transactions. Higher ratings, positive feedback ease the doubts and reinforces the transaction decision.
Higher ratings act as a signal of approval from a group of similar buyers, and this drives potential buyers to feel more confident about their upcoming purchases – this is social validation, and the proof is a powerful psychological phenomenon.
Ratings are a quantifiable representation of the seller’s credibility and the quality of their offerings. Positive ratings elevate the seller’s authority in that specific product range or niche – they are recognised as a reputable supplier with a solid customer base. This has a direct impact on sales numbers as well as the ability to launch new products on their shelves.
Impact on search results
Sellers with higher ratings are often present near the top rankings of a search engine query. This increases buyer traffic for these storefronts by establishing customer trust and loyalty. The visibility provides a significant advantage to sellers, as increased exposure leads to more traffic, conversions, and, ultimately, higher sales.
Some Concerns with Ratings
In online commerce, ratings act as a great leveller of information asymmetry – it bridges the gap between buyers and sellers by providing easily understandable methods that address the risks in an online transaction. However, since ratings are such a powerful marketing tool, there is an incentive to game the system, so ratings’ authenticity and trustworthiness have often come under scrutiny. The online commerce platforms weathered some challenges from deceptive practices around ratings.
Manipulation of ratings
A well-known concern around the credibility of the rating system is the prevalence of rating manipulations through fake reviews and other means. Unscrupulous sellers game the system by submitting highly positive or negative ratings to boost or tarnish the sales potential of products.
Given the volume of submissions detecting the fake ones is an arduous task, and often online platforms need more tools to detect and prevent such manipulation.
Unverified ratings submissions
The absence of solid verification mechanisms for ratings creates a situation where platforms cannot determine the authenticity of the submissions. This causes a significant negative impact on sellers, who are left scrambling to mitigate the losses originating from fake ratings and feedback.
Review and rating bombing
Coordinated efforts to boost or deflate the ratings for a product are common on online platforms. The absence of verification incentivises such methods where the ratings can originate from entities who might not even be actual product purchasers.
Reimagining rating systems with CORD Network
While ratings and reviews in e-commerce are designed to assist consumers in making informed decisions, deceptive practices often undermine trustworthiness. Ratings are an essential asset for a seller. It is necessary to address the trust deficit between sellers and buyers simply because online platforms cannot do so using traditional approaches.
The CORD Network from Dhiway is a tokenless distributed ledger built to handle data transactions at scale. The blockchain comes with the modularity of pallets – or microsystems which can be designed to address specific use cases. CORD enables persistent and unique identifiers that can address the unique challenges online platforms face around transaction ratings.
As a data infrastructure for an online commerce platform, CORD enables the sellers to receive a journal of ratings only for the transactions with the possibility of coordinated action on ratings being removed. At any point when the seller initiates a rating request, the ratings received are anchored on the blockchain. Over some time, the seller can obtain a ratings score as individual scores or aggregated values. This creates a significant change in experience for the participants on the online platform. Now, the ratings can be reviewed and audited for authenticity and correctness as the immutable data stream of the CORD blockchain brings this capability.
Secure, portable ratings
A well-known problem with online platforms is that the seller’s credibility is pinned to the platform. As credibility is built around the transaction feedback cycle – more transactions can lead to better ratings. However, this also raises the bar for any seller to seek out newer platforms to position themselves. The high cost of rebuilding credibility from the ground up is an economic and operational barrier.
A rating system using the CORD blockchain addresses this by disintermediation – it unshackles a seller’s ratings from the platform. It transforms it into a secure, portable and verifiable score that can cite the transaction records which led to the score. At the same time, enable the seller entity to treat this as a documented portfolio of trustworthiness. Today, as we see open networks around commerce being established, it is necessary to apply the design thinking of decentralization to these network parts. From the perspective of a platform where the value is in the locked-down data silos – to the concepts of a network with the value in the data exchange – CORD brings about the attributes of data provenance, allowing secure sharing.
Such unbundling of data allows a seller to use the data payload of authenticable ratings to seek new opportunities, lines of credit and financing, and other available opportunities in digital ecosystems.
Ratings started as an easily understood measure of evaluating sellers in online transactions. But today, with innovative approaches – the rating data can be viewed in terms of a powerful asset which empowers the seller organizations to design the opportunities available to them. The way ahead is to deliver on this promise by using secure digital identifiers, which refer to provenance-embedded data streams with privacy-by-design approaches and selective disclosure. The idea of “data ownership” can be transformed into “data exchange” by reimagining the points of control and flow. And the CORD blockchain is just there to make this possible.