Nothing incites people to buy a product like a great review with a high rating. And nothing deters them more than a poor review with a low rating. Except, perhaps, no rating at all. In fact, 92% of consumers hesitate to make a purchase when there are no reviews for a product. Even products sold at brick-and-mortar retailers are not immune with an estimated 88% of consumers researching products on the web prior to making an in-store purchase.

Enter review syndication. Over the last decade, review syndication companies have emerged to help brands accumulate and distribute reviews to reach more shoppers. They do this by sharing customer reviews and other user-generated content (UGC) across multiple retail sites.

If you’ve ever stalked a Women’s Sherpa Fleece Hoodie by The Northface – as one does – only to see the same online review for it grace the pages of Nordstrom’s, REI, and Macy’s, you are most likely reading a syndicated review. That means that if no Macy’s customer ever reviewed the hoodie, reviews from the other two websites would still appear on the Macys.com. By reproducing reviews and ratings across different sites, syndicated reviews can also increase the visibility of your product because reviewed content is more likely to show up in search queries.

So, who are these review syndication companies? Bazaar Voice, PowerReviews, and TurnTo are among the largest names in the business and advocate the following tag lines:

BazaarVoice “Make every shopping experience feel informed.”

PowerReviews “Increase Conversion with Ratings and Reviews”

TurnTo “Next generation customer content”

While they offer similar concepts, they don’t all come at the same price. Before signing on to work with a syndication platform, be sure to consider these 7 questions before you move forward:

1. Who are the review syndication company’s partner retailers?

Not all syndication companies are alike and not all have the same retail partnerships. Check which retailers they have direct relationships (and contracts) with and whether there are fees involved to add more.

2. How many Product Families and SKUs do you want to syndicate?

The more products you have, the more expensive review syndication can get.

3. What are the contract limitations?

Do contracts require a minimum timeframe? What happens when the contract is over? Do the reviews live on the retail sites for eternity or with the syndication company only while the contract is active?

4. Are there implementation fees?

Is there an additional charge to distribute reviews from your native retail site to those other retailers? 

5. What about old reviews?

Check to see if past reviews can be syndicated, as not all companies can collect and syndicate “old reviews.”

6. Are the product reviews worth syndicating?

Authentic voice of customer is an important part of review syndication and a few negative reviews are nothing to be afraid of. However, if you have an unusually large number of negative product reviews, you may be better served by enhancing your product using the feedback you already have then syndicating reviews on a product most people can’t stand.

7. Do you have enough reviews to start?

If you first need to build a base number of quality reviews, you may want to consider a sampling program. This is where samples are sent to an elite customer group in an effort to grow reviews more quickly. Sampling programs are offered through some of these syndicated review platforms as well as through some retailers themselves.

Today, according to PowerReviews, 58% of retailer’s content comes from review syndication. Whether you’re looking improve consumer confidence or increase the visibility of your products, review syndication is great way to get started. But what happens when a product only has a handful of reviews on one retail site and hundreds on another? It may unintentionally inflate, or worse, deflate your product’s ratings. It may very well even cost you sales.