Transparency on online platforms increases buying probability among consumers

Good product ratings boost sales by up to 200%

Online platforms like Facebook, Google, Airbnb and Amazon are now part of millions of consumers’ everyday life. Besides providing users with access to goods and services, these platforms promote innovation and growth in the digital single market. However, they also pose significant risks in terms of consumer protection and market competition.

Research led by the UOC, together with the Universitat de Valncia, the London School of Economics, DevStat and Kantar, for the European Commission, reveals that greater transparency has three key effects on consumers: it aids decision-making, fosters trust in these platforms and increases the probabilities of choosing a product.

The study, entitled “Behavioural study on transparency in online platforms”, is based on a systematic review of 157 scientific studies, a survey of 4,802 people aged between 18 and 65 in Germany, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom, and 10 in-depth interviews per country. It aims to contribute to the regulation of online platforms to foster trust among users.

For researcher Francisco Lupiez, director of the spin-off Open Evidence and professor at the UOC's Faculty of Information and Communication Sciences, transparency is clearly of interest, not only to consumers, but also to the platforms, as it promotes the growth of their online activity. Open Evidence, UOC spin-off and research group

The study reveals that there are three key factors in boosting consumer footfall:

Information about the product search results. The probability of the consumer buying the product grows by 115% if they are informed of the criteria used to run the search, such as popularity. 

Information about contractual identity. The probability of buying the product increases by nearly 50% if the consumer is told their rights in the event of problems arising after buying the product.

Information about users’ reviews and ratings. The probability of choosing the product increases by 200% if it is well positioned and rated on the website, and by 40% if users rate it positively.

Besides the positive effect these three factors have individually on choosing a product, the combination of all three only maximizes the benefits.

Consumer statements corroborate the importance of the three factors: 70% claim that they feel confident if the product search criteria are stated, 68.9% think that information about the contractual identity is important, and 84.9% say the ratings of other users helped them to decide.