Journal of Retailing | 2018 Davidson award | Second-place winner for the best paper published 2016
The article “To Keep or Not to Keep: Effects of Online Customer Reviews on Product Returns” by Prof. Thorsten Wiesel, Dr. Sonja Gensler, Alec Minnema (Ordina), Tammo H.A. Bijmolt (University Groningen) had been nominated for the Davidson award for the best paper published in the Journal of Retailing. The article finally is the second-place winner.
The study examines the impact of online customer review characteristics (i.e., valence, volume, and variance) on return decisions with a rich multi-year dataset from a major online retailer. The main finding is that overly positive review valence (i.e., higher than the long-term product average), induces more purchases, but also more returns. An explanation for this finding is that online customer reviews help to form product expectations at the moment of purchase. Therefore, the purchase probability increases but the high expectations due to overly positive reviews may not be met, which results in negative expectation disconfirmation and consequently increases return probability. The effect of review valence on returns is stronger for novice buyers and for cheaper products. The authors further find that review volume and variance mainly affect purchase decisions, and have little to no effect on product returns. />