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Here's How Online Reviews are Transforming Public Procurement

Do you remember how you knew which businesses were the best before the days of online reviews? You ran your finger down the list of numbers in the phonebook, or frantically called your friends for recommendations, only to settle for the large, mediocre brand down the street. Since then, a lot has changed. 
Today, about 95% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase (Spiegel). When we want to find a local sushi restaurant, we check Yelp. When we’re planning a vacation, we pull up TripAdvisor. When we’re going to buy that new vacuum, we scroll through Amazon reviews.  
The rise of online reviews has transformed how buyers make consumer decisions: 
  • Reviews make customers 71% more comfortable purchasing a product (3D Cart
  • When higher-priced items display reviews, the conversion rate increases by 380% (Spiegel).  
  • If a business has more than nine current reviews, they earn 52% more revenue than the average. If a business has more than 25 current reviews, that increases to 108% (Womply). 

What happens when the power of online reviews is applied to public procurement?  

Now think about how buyers decide which suppliers are the best when preparing a solicitation or awarding a contract. How do they know if a supplier is easy to work with, delivers quality results, and is a good investment of taxpayer dollars? Here is a look at how online reviews have changed our lives as consumers and what they are doing for public procurement.  


Online reviews increase your word-of-mouth network 

Word of mouth has always been the best way to find out more about a business. According to a 2020 survey by Marketing Charts, 93% of respondents trust information from contacts they know personally. But online review sites are not far behind: in the same survey, 91% trust review sites as a source of information about brands and services. 
When it comes to old school word of mouth, the potential to find golden nuggets of information from our personal networks comes with significant challenges. For one, it is limited by its very nature – you are at the mercy of your network’s personal experiences. That web only stretches so far, and it can be uncomfortable to tap the same shoulders time and time again.   
Quantity and relevance come into play, too. If we do find someone who provides that information, it’s hard to decide how much trust to put into one data point. What if they purchased a product or service that was different from what we’re looking for? Or their expectations of customer service are different from ours? 
Online reviews solve both of these challenges. Just as Yelp grew a person's network of ‘foodies’ in a new city from half a dozen to half a million people, a ratings and reviews site for the public sector exponentially multiplies the network of supplier experiences that can be examined by a purchaser.

Online reviews save time for buyers

Let’s return to that old school word of mouth network when considering a new supplier. In an ideal world, buyers have a small handful people in their professional network who they can tap to learn more about the vendor’s past performance. They call all five of them, and they pick up the phone on the first ring and provide real-time information about their experience with that supplier. How great, right?  Unfortunately, it tends to not be that easy.
The chaos of the last few years has thrown a wrench into the communication cycle, and it's not as easy to get in touch with folks as it once was. Many public sector workers are on hybrid work from home schedules, and are often overworked due to staffing or budget issues in the department. As the feedback-seeker, most buyers also have less time to chase down people in your network to hear about their experience with a specific supplier, but that's okay because they don't have to anymore when there are thousands of firsthand reviews available at their fingertips online. No phone tag necessary.  

Online reviews increase the likelihood of spending local 

In public procurement, spending local isn’t always easy. Finding up-to-date lists of small and local suppliers to choose from can be hit or miss; and it can be difficult to understand which local businesses are equipped to handle complex purchases based on their past performance.  
Online review sites help level the playing field for small businesses including minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned, disabled-owned and LGBTQ+-owned businesses. 93% of customers will read reviews of local businesses to determine their quality (BrightLocal, and search directories that include local suppliers, like Procurated, make it easier for buyers to find HUB and SMB suppliers based on commodities, services, and service areas. The one thing that scares public sector buyers off from small suppliers is often a lack of proven track record, but by gathering candid reviews from across their entire service area, Procurated is able to help local suppliers provide buyers with information about past performance to help them feel confident in the supplier’s ability to excel. 

Online reviews increase awareness for suppliers

There are a limited number of government contracts, so it is important for suppliers to showcase the goods and services they offer as prominently as possible on sites like Procurated, while also building lasting brand awareness. The great thing about online reviews is satisfied customers from the past can do part of this work for suppliers by sharing their experiences working with the supplier on previous contracts, allowing the good work that they have already done to help build their reputation. 

Having the combination of recent and relevant reviews also goes a long way in aiding the decision making process for buyers. Procurement professionals across the industry trust their peers, and establishing a pattern of great service and trust that shines through in the reviews is irreplaceable.

Online review sites are transforming public procurement 

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Procurated helps public sector buyers make more informed buying decisions through peer reviews. It is completely free to use.

Write and read reviews, find new suppliers, manage vendor performance and more!