Trustpilot: The importance of online reviews

His eye for a gap in the market has certainly reaped its rewards, with Trustpilot growing to over 100,000 businesses and has welcomed over ten million consumer reviews since it was founded in 2007. We caught up with Peter to find out more about his inspiring journey and to discover the importance of online reviews for small businesses in the UK.

Hi Peter, so where did it all begin?

I was at business school in Denmark and I wasn’t terribly motivated to attend business school. Me and a friend started a small online retail business. We were selling on eBay and they had these ratings and reviews. We found that even though we were two kids sitting in a basement we were doing something different. The Trustpilot idea stemmed from that/

What was the thinking behind Trustpilot?

As a consumer we’ve always believed you should be able to voice your opinion on a business. Trustpilot is an open platform so in a sense it’s similar to TripAdvisor - where consumers can also review an experience. We’re also offering businesses tools to make their customers use Trustpilot. A recent survey highlighted 77% of UK consumers using the internet look towards online reviews before making their purchasing decision, which speaks volumes and shows the potential of the online review space.

How did the initial launch go?

For the first three years of Trustpilot, we didn’t make revenue which was learning curve. I think the number of one advice I’d give to small business is don’t make the assumption that your business idea is going to be an overnight success. That’s what you read about, right?

 You see these inspiring success stories about a businessman or woman selling a business to the big players in their industry and a year later he’s flying around the world. But the reality is for most companies it take a while to get things right. If you’re a genius you may be able to fast-track the success but most of us aren’t and we a have to scale efficiently. To go forward, you need to have the mentality of building something healthy!

And what was the initial response from consumers?

Well there were two stages of launch for Trustpilot. The first stage was when we first launched the business back in 2007 and the reception from the consumers was amazing. They love the reviews and they were using the reviews from a business to decide where to buy.

The second stage was developing the product today which we help businesses. It consists of tools and allows businesses to utilise their customer base and service by showcasing their reviews. Once we were happy with the product, the reception was really inspiring.

Why do you think consumers rely on online reviews nowadays?

I think consumers rely on reviews for two reasons. Firstly, as individuals we look for reassurance and we’re used to asking people we know. But most people haven’t bought from this new website or visited this place in South East Asia. So suddenly there’s a need to look for advice and websites like Trustpilot gives you the answers that your friends or family may not be able to. As consumers we always want to know as much as possible and now we can.

A recent survey was done where it asked people if the review the read on the product or service was reflected on the actual experience. 97% agreed that the reviews were were correct and the experience turned out how others said it had. That shows that there’s real value in reviews.

How have you grown as a business?

I think important for us to listen to own users when growing the business. We read our own reviews and have tried to see what the customers think about how our business. We’ve always managed to maintain a culture of having fun and I think that’s an important part of any business.

When you’re a small startup with only a few members of staff, people will care because they actually care. But when you grow, it can be difficult to maintain that element so it’s important to look after your staff. We’re all about helping consumers and businesses together, and making the world a better place. For me, it’s important that we’ve been able to instill that sense of a bigger purpose.

Trustpilot has become a credible source of trust for businesses across the globe, this must be pleasing?

I think what we take tremendous pride in is that they find our reviews useful. It’s what we’ve always invested in and have invested internally into it too. There’s real value in a customer review that is credible and consumers can relate too, so it’s pleasing and inspires us to further grow the business.

What we take tremendous pride it is that we identified what the customers wanted. As everyday people, we have never been able to share as many opinions as we do these days and we’ve never listened to people as much as we do. I think our biggest accomplishment is that we predicted this trend.

Trustpilot infographic

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