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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 you decide which suppliers are the best when you’re preparing a solicitation or awarding a contract. How do you 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 will do 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 your 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 you can tap into as a purchaser. You learn from buyers you otherwise never would have connected with through your network alone, and you have access to multiple data points that support your preferences and objectives.  
 

Online reviews save time 

Let’s return to that old school word of mouth network when considering a new supplier. In an ideal world, you have a small handful people in your professional network who you can tap to learn more about the vendor’s past performance. You call all five of them, they pick up the phone on the first ring, and each provide real-time information about their experience with that supplier. How great, right?  
 
With the pandemic forcing many of us to work from home, schedules are crazier than ever and it is harder to get in touch. As the feedback-seeker, you have less time to chase down people in your network to hear their experience with that supplier. And the feedback-provider has less time to devote to helping you out, especially if you are one of several people in their network who has tapped them recently.  
 
Using a peer review site like Procurated saves time for both parties. Rather than repeating your experience to each individual person seeking a supplier reference, a single review can be accessed by them all, on their schedules. And for the feedback-seeker, accessing these peer reviews is available with just a few clicks. No phone tag necessary.  
 

Online reviews increase the likelihood of spending local 

In public procurement, spending local isn’t 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. 93% of customers will read reviews of local businesses to determine their quality (BrightLocal). 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. And candid reviews of local suppliers provide buyers with information about past performance to help them feel confident in the supplier’s ability to get the job done. 
 

Online review sites are transforming public procurement 

Sign up for Procurated (for free!) to join thousands of buyers around the nation making faster, more informed supplier decisions using peer reviews.   
  Genna Gold

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