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Product Reviews

About Product Reviews

ProductCart includes a system that allows customer to rate and review products on your store, and allows you to manage, check, approve, and reject those reviews. You can turn off and on this feature on a storewide basis, or for individual products. You can allow reviews to be immediately posted on your Web store, or set up the system so that each review has to be approved before it is shown in the storefront. Here is an example of how product reviews can look on your store.

ProductCart contains many settings that allow store visitors to review products in a way compatible with your business

Product reviews are shown at the bottom of the product details page, below cross selling items and the detailed product description. A ratings “summary” can be shown at the top of the page, linking to the bottom section where the actual reviews are displayed. You can set the system to show N reviews on the product details page, while the rest of the reviews are shown on a separate page that customers can get to by clicking on Read all product reviews.

A summary of the ratings given to the product is shown at the top of the section, and customer reviews are shown underneath it. Depending on how you configure this feature, customers will be required or not required to post a textual review of the product. They will also be prompted to rate products on any number of things that you define for them. In the example above, customers were ask to say whether they liked the product or not, and to rate its comfort, performance, and value, etc.

It's entirely up to you how to set the system. You can assign different rating criteria to different products (e.g. “performance” could be a good rating criteria for a pair of skis, but not “comfort”, which instead could be used for rating ski boots sold on your store).

These and a number of other settings can be configured when setting up the Product Reviews feature.

WARNING: Changing settings can cause problems

Take some time to understand how this feature works, and use the demo stores located on the ProductCart Web site to test it. It's important that you do so because once you set product reviews settings on your store, you should not change them. The reason is that things like the average product rating is handled very differently depending on your settings. For example:

  • If you use the “Rate by 'Feeling'” setting, and then later switch to “Rate by Marks”, the existing ratings will no longer apply
  • If you use the “Rate by Marks” setting, and configure the system to calculate the overall product rating “by averaging sub-ratings”, but then switch to have it be “set on the overall product”, the system will no longer be able to display it based on the reviews that exist in the database.

To avoid issues, in ProductCart v4.5 and above, when you switch the main Product Reviews Rating Setting, average ratings will be removed from the database. A warning message is shown to the store administrator before the new settings are saved.

General Product Reviews Settings

From the Products menu, select Manage Product Reviews > Product Reviews Settings. At the top of the page you will find an option to turn the feature “on” and “off” on a store-wide basis. If you would like customers to be able to post reviews on at least one of your products, turn the feature on. You will be able to turn it off for individual products using the Product Exclusion feature, which is discussed later in this chapter.

Customers will be able to give a general opinion on a product by either saying whether they liked it or not (Rate by Feeling) or by saying now much they liked it (Rate by Marks). Let’s look at these two options in more details.

Rate by Feeling

When you enable this feature, customers will be asked to say whether they liked the product or not. It’s a yes/no type of question. The answers given by all of the customers that rate the product will then be taken into account and the product details page will say something like 35% of customers liked this product (46 votes). The language used can be changed using the following fields:

  • Display Rating Text
    This is the “liked this product” portion of the “35% of customers liked this product” statement mentioned above. This is shown on the product details page, in the summary section of the product reviews area.
  • Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down
    This is the text that is shown next to the two radio buttons that allow customers to rate the product. This text is used only for the general rating question, which is the one shown on the product details page. This is the first question that the customer is asked to answer to rate the product (and the only question unless you set up other fields in the Manage Fields area).
  • Sub-Rating “Thumbs Up” and “Thumbs Down”
    This is the text that is shown next to the radio buttons shown for any other yes/no question that you ask your customers to answer when they post a review. This text is used when you create a Rate by Feeling field in the Manage Fields page. If you don’t have any Rate by Feeling custom fields, this text is never shown.
  • Rating images
    Use the default images or upload your own images (e.g. you could upload thumbs up & thumbs down images, or alike).

Rate by Marks

When you enable this feature, customers will be asked not only to say whether they liked a product, but also how much they liked it. You can have them rate a product on a 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 scale. You can have the overall score (Overall Product Rating) be determined:

  • By automatically averaging sub-ratings
    The overall product rating is calculated by averaging the way different product properties are rated. For example, if a customer is asked to rate a product based on “quality”, “comfort”, and “style”, the calculation could be as follows:
    • Customer rates the product:
      • Quality: 5
      • Comfort: 5
      • Style: 2
    • The overall product rating is calculated as the average of the sub-ratings.
      • Overall product rating = 5 + 5 + 2 / 3 = 4

If you choose to calculate the overall product rating based on sub-ratings, there must be a way for customers to set those sub-ratings. This is done by activating two or more Rate by Marks custom fields. These fields are configured in the Manage Fields area, which is discussed below


  • Independently of any sub-ratings
    When customers write a review, they are asked for an overall opinion on the product, and that's what defines the product rating, rather than an average of other product properties. You must choose this option unless you have custom fields whose type is Rate by Marks.

Images are used in the storefront to show customers a graphical version of the numeric average of all the product ratings that have been submitted. You can use the default graphics or upload your own.

Note that changing the main rating option described above from Rate by Feeling to Rate by Marks (or vice versa) after customers have submitted product reviews could result in reviews no longer showing meaningful information in the storefront. We recommend that this option is not changed, or that you remove or hide existing reviews if you decide to change it.

'Write a Review' Reminder

ProductCart v4.1 and above allow you to configure your store so that a reminder to write a review is automatically sent to customers a certain number of days after their order was processed or shipped. An incentive to share their opinion can be given by allowing customers to collect Reward Points when they submit a review (if the Reward Points system is in use on your store).

ProductCart looks at all orders that were placed in the last 45 days. So the first time you turn this feature on, it will send a reminder to customers that have placed an order in the last 45 days, based on the rest of the settings mentioned below (e.g. to customers whose orders have been shipped 5 or more days before the script is run).

This automated task is run when you first access the Control Panel (or when you load the Control Panel start page).

Write a Review reminder

Reminder Options

  • Send a “Write a Review” reminder
    Whether the reminder should be sent.
  • When to send it
    When it should be sent. Enter the number of days after an order has either been processed or shipped. If you don't ship orders (e.g. you sell digital goods), make sure to select processed.
  • Format
    You can send either a text or HTML message. Use the Preview feature to send a sample message to yourself in order to see how it looks.
  • Template
    You have two options:
    • Use default template
      The default template uses text strings that are defined in the languages file. So, you can modify what it says, but you cannot modify its design. You can do that by using a Custom Template.
    • Use custom template
      You can upload your own template. This allows you to control the design of the message (e.g. you can design your own HTML message). When you do so, you can take advantage of the following, dynamic fields (dynamic in that they are dynamically replaced with order-specific information when the message is sent).

      Make sure that your custom template includes the following:
      Link to the page that explains the terms for the “Rewards for Reviews” program, if you decide to use this feature (where “any text” is any text you wish to use for the link):

      <RFR_PAGE>Any text</RFR_PAGE>

      Link to post a review (where “any text” is any text you wish to use for the link):


Sample Custom Template

As mentioned above, you have the option to use a customized template to send the “Write a Review” reminder. Here is an example (save this code as a TXT file and you can use it “as is” on your store, if you wish to do so). Of course, you could add your store logo, use a more complex HTML design, etc.

<div style="border: 1px solid #CCC; margin: 20px; padding: 10px; width: 400px;">
 <div style="border: 1px dashed #E1E1E1; padding: 10px; font-family: Verdana,Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 11px; color: #333;">
   <br /><br />
   Thank you for your recent order. We'd love it if you decided to share your thoughts on the product(s) you purchased with other customers. Your opinion can be very useful to other shoppers.
   <br /><br />
   <POST_REVIEW_LINK>Click here to write your review</POST_REVIEW_LINK>
   <br /><br />
   To thank you for writing a review, we will add <NUMBER_OF_POINTS> <REWARD_POINTS_LABEL> to your account if you do so and your review is approved (e.g. don't use offensive language in your review). Please <RFR_PAGE>see our Web site for details</RFR_PAGE> on our "eCommerce Miles for Reviews" program.
   <br /><br />
   Thanks again for shopping with us.
   <br /><br />
   Customer Service
   <br />
   <br /><br />
   <br />
   If you do not wish to receive &quot;Write a Review&quot; reminders like this one, please <a href="<PRV_UNSUBSCRIBE>">click here to unsubscribe</a>.
   <br />

This is how a sample message looks in Outlook:

Sample HTML message

Customer's Preferences

Customers can opt not to receive the “Write a Review” reminder by unchecking the corresponding setting in their account page. You can do the same in the ProductCart Control Panel when adding or editing a customer.

When you update to ProductCart v4.1 (the release that introduced this feature) from a previous version, all customers are set to receive these reminders, but can opt out at any time.

Testing the Feature

To test this feature before messages are sent to (potentially) a large number of customers:

  • Set the number of days after an order has been placed to a high number (e.g. 100)
  • Set up the rest of the settings
  • Access the order details page for any test order that you have placed
  • Click on Send “Write a Review” Reminder to send the reminder to the e-mail associated with that order. Note that this link is not shown when the “Write a Review” Reminder feature is turned off. This link also allows you to send the reminder to a specific customer, if you ever need to do so.

Reward for Reviews

You can encourage customers to review the products or services that they purchased by rewarding them for doing so. This is what the “Reward for Reviews” settings are for.

Provide rewards for writing a review

  • Reward customer for writing a review?
    Use this setting to turn this feature on and off.
  • URL to page that contains program details
    Enter the full URL to a page that provides customers with details on how the program works (for example, you may have specific requirements for the length of the review that they need to write). The page could certainly be one that has been created directly in ProductCart using the Content Pages feature. Make sure to enter the full URL to the page. Here is an example from one of the ProductCart demo stores.
  • Points to be awarded on first review
    Enter the number of Reward Points that will be awarded when a customer writes his/her first review and the review is approved. Please note that Reward Points are added to the customer's current Reward Points balance…
    • When the review is approved (not when it is submitted). So if a review is not approved, no points are awarded. If reviews are set to be automatically approved (not recommended), the points are immediately awarded.
    • When the customer was logged in (or clicked in a link included in the “Write a Review Reminder” message) at the time the review was submitted
  • Points to be awarded on additional reviews
    The number of Reward Points that will be awarded on additional product reviews submitted by the same customer. See the previous paragraph as to when and how the points are awarded.
  • Minimum length of review
    The minimum number of characters that the customer must enter for the review to be eligible for the “Reward for Reviews” program. A message tells the customer how many more characters must be added for the review to become eligible. Here is a screen shot where you can see that message right below the text area where the review is being entered:
    Message showing characters to be added to product review
  • Max Points to be awarded per customer
    The maximum amount of Reward Points that will be awarded. If you leave it at 0, there is no maximum. If you enter a value, make sure to communicate this to your customers in the “Terms & Conditions” document that you will create for the “Rewards for Reviews” program. As mentioned above, you can use a Content Page for this purpose, then enter the URL to that page in the corresponding field.

Other General Settings

The lower part of the Product Review Settings page allows you to set the following other options:

  • Show Rating Summary on the view product pages
    Check this option if you want to show a rating summary on the product details page.
  • Display average rating on category & search results pages
    A new feature in ProductCart v4.1. It allows you to show the average product rating (if any) when products are listed in the storefront on pages such as the search results pages, category pages, etc.
  • Number of reviews to be displayed on the product details page
    Here you can enter the number of reviews that you would like to show on the product details page. All reviews will be displayed in a sub-page. For example, if 12 reviews have been submitted and approved for a product, and you enter “3” here, then only the 3 reviews are shown on the product details page, whereas all of the reviews are shown when the customer clicks on the View All Reviews link.
  • All reviews must be reviewed by admin before they are published
    This is recommended. Check this option if you want to check and approve every review that is posted on your Web site before it is shown in the storefront. Otherwise, product reviews are shown immediately after they have been submitted. Use the Bad Words filter (see below) to automatically take care of common “bad language”.
  • Lock Posting Options
    Use this feature to limit the amount of reviews that the same customer can post. You can specify how many reviews each customer can post for each product. You can determine who the customer is by registering the customer’s IP address, using a cookie saved to the customer’s computer, or both. Note that in many cases Internet users are assigned a dynamic IP address by their Internet Service Provider and therefore only using the IP address may not work in limiting the amount of times the same customer can post a review for the same product.

Bad Words Filter

ProductCart can help you prevent “bad” language from being used in product reviews through the Bad Words Filter feature. From the Products menu, select Manage Product Reviews > Bad Words Filter. Enter one word per row in the Bad Words List area, and then click on the Update List button to save the list to the database.

Whenever a review is posted, all “bad” words are automatically hidden and replaced with ****. If you decide to allow product reviews to be posted to your Web site without requiring your approval, you should definitely use this feature. But even if you configure the system so that your approval is required, this feature can help you speed up the task.

Manage Fields

The Manage Fields area allows you to add additional questions/fields to the product review submission form. You can ask you customers to answer any number of questions and/or fill out any number of fields. Each question or field can be required or not. You can set the order in which they are shown on the product review submission form, and edit, remove, or add new fields at any time.

Product Reviews - Manage Fields

Note that the fields that you specify on the Manage Fields page are used for submitting reviews for all products except those that either listed in the Product Exclusion List or for which you have defined specific requirements using the Product-specific Settings feature, which is described below.

Let’s look at the different kinds of fields that can be added to the product review form. There are 5 field types:

  • One-line text field
    A one-line input field. Use it for short, open questions (e.g. on a computer store “Where do you typically use a computer?”)
  • Text area field
    A multi-line input field. Use it for longer, open questions, including the main comments that the customer will enter to review the product (unless you strictly want them to answer “closed” questions).
  • Drop-down field
    A special field that allows you to pre-define which answers will be available for the customer to choose from. After you create a drop-down field, you will have to specify which values will be shown in the drop-down. You can do so by clicking on View/Edit Values on the Manage Fields page. A new window will be displayed (see image below). Enter one value per row, and then click on the Update Values button to save the list. If you don't specify any values, the drop-down field will not be displayed on the product review submission form.
  • 'Feeling' rating
    A yes/no question that uses the Sub-Rating “Thumbs Up” and “Thumbs Down” settings mentioned earlier in this chapter. For example, if you entered “Positive” and “Negative” in those fields, you could have a ‘Feeling’ Rating field entitled “What was your experience with customer service on this product?”. Customers will be able to answer by choosing either “Negative” or “Positive”.
  • 'Mark' rating
    A question that is answered by choosing from a 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 scale. If in the Product Review Settings page you have chosen to calculate the overall product rating by automatically averaging sub-ratings, make sure to create one or more 'Mark' rating custom fields here. Otherwise the overall product rating cannot be calculated.

Two things to pay particular attention to: (a) remember to specify the selections for any drop-down menus you create, and (b) make sure to add two or more 'Mark' Rating fields if you have setup the system to automatically calculate the main product rating based on the average of the sub-ratings.

All the product review fields that you have defined in your store are shown on the product review submission form whenever a customer decides to post a review for any of the products in your catalog. However, there could be products for which some of those fields don’t apply. For these product you can define a smaller set of fields using the Product-specific Settings feature, which is discussed below.

Product-specific Settings

Showing/hiding fields for some products

You can limit the number of questions/fields shown on the product review submission form for selected products.

From the Products menu, select Manage Product Reviews > Product-specific Settings. Click on the Add New Product button to choose the products for which you want to define a special set of fields. On the following page, uncheck the Active check box for the fields that you don’t want to show when customers post a review. Click on the Customize button to save these settings. ProductCart will display a list of products for which you have customized the fields selection. Click on View/Edit to further specify which fields should be shown or hidden.

To remove products from the list, check the corresponding check boxes on the right side of the window, and then press the Remove Selected from List button. When you do so, all fields listed in the Manage Fields area will again be shown for those products.

Product Exclusions

There might be products for which customers should not be allowed to post reviews. If that is the case, use the Product Exclusions feature to list these products.

From the Products menu, select Manage Product Reviews > Product Exclusions, locate the products that you would like to exclude using the built-in search tool (ProductCart v4.1 and above, otherwise a list of products is shown), and choose the products for which product reviews are not available. You can add/remove products to/from the list at any time.

Managing Customer Reviews

As customers begin posting reviews in the storefront, you can use the Control Panel to keep track of them. At any time, you can see a snapshot of how many pending and live reviews have been submitted for any product in your store, and you can view details, edit, make active or inactive, and remove each product review.

  • Pending Reviews
    To view a list of reviews that have been posted, but are currently not shown to customers, select Product Reviews > Pending Reviews. If you have set up ProductCart so that reviews always need to be approved before being shown in your storefront, all reviews will always be pending until you manually render them active. You will be automatically notified via e-mail whenever a new review is posted. Click on the link included in the e-mail to check, edit and approve the new review.
  • Live Reviews
    To view a list of reviews that are live in your storefront, select Product Reviews > Live Reviews. If you have set up ProductCart so that reviews are immediately shown to customers when they are submitted, there will be no pending reviews in your store unless you manually render any of the live reviews inactive.


The overall (average) product rating is not shown
This can happen if you recently switched the product reviews settings. For example, if the setting “Overall Product Rating” is switched from “Will be calculated automatically by averaging sub-ratings” to “Will be set on the overall product”, the overall product rating will no longer be shown for a certain product until a customer fills out a review and rates it using the new setting. The opposite is also true.

Product reviews are not being shown
Make sure that they have been approved in the Control Panel.

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