Yelp is getting serious about transactions. That’s a very good thing for the company. This is what CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said about it on the recent Q4 earnings call:
We also made excellent progress in building our transactions capabilities. The number of Yelp Eat24 orders, Yelp Platform transactions and Yelp Reservations bookings grew 40% in 2016 and transactions per user increased by more than one-third. Across Yelp, we expanded the number of transaction-enabled businesses and categories and improved conversion through efforts such as streamlining the checkout process. With the integration of Nowait, we also added the ability for consumers to remotely join waitlists at approximately 3,600 restaurants. We were particularly excited to facilitate more than 4.5 million consumer inquiries through Request-A-Quote in its first full year.
I’ve argued several times in the past that emphasizing transactions can accomplish multiple things for Yelp:
- It helps differentiate the platform and make it a tool for both businesses and consumers
- It provides more data for Yelp itself and for business owners
- It provides new revenue streams
- Transactions can help Yelp capture verified reviews as a service to business owners
According to business networking site Alignable, Yelp has the worst NPS score of any of the SMB brands it tracks. Helping business owners get reviews will partly address the problem.
As with hotel booking sites or OpenTable, Yelp can follow up after a booking and solicit a review on behalf of the business owner. And it has apparently started doing just that:
The more categories that offer scheduling and booking, the more Yelp can seek reviews after the fact. That boosts Yelp’s overall review count. It also broadens the number of reviewers and gives Yelp greater confidence the review is legitimate — although it wouldn’t be 100% guaranteed — enabling Yelp to back away (at least partly) from its controversial “review filter.”
The review filter (“not recommended”) has fed the (fake news) perception that Yelp manipulates reviews to coerce business owners into advertising. This has been one of the major knocks against Yelp and partly the driver of the company’s negative NPS ratings on Alignable.
Transaction-driven review solicitation can help that.