How to use the Feefo API for ecommerce competitor analysis

Learn how to use the Feefo API for ecommerce competitor analysis and understand what products competitors are selling, what customers like about them, and how many orders and how much revenue they're generating.

How to use the Feefo API for ecommerce competitor analysis
Picture by Harry Shelton, Unsplash.
32 minutes to read

Most ecommerce websites use review platforms, such as Feefo, Trustpilot, and Google Reviews, to allow customers to give feedback on their service and the products they sell. The reviews help other customers understand whether a company or product is any good, and crucially, how the business deals with customers who experience an issue when ordering.

While the reviews left can sometimes be painful for ecommerce retailers to read, especially when the reasons for service failure are caused by third parties, such as couriers or other internal departments who just don’t get the impact of their behaviour upon customer retention, they can be extremely useful to analyse.

Ecommerce businesses can learn a great deal about customer satisfaction and the causes of customer churn by examining their own product and service reviews, and those of their rivals.

In this project, I’ll show how you can use some data science skills to query the Feefo API and obtain product and service reviews, analyse them, and even predict what your rivals are selling. To take this to the next step, check out my guide to analysing customer reviews using NLP which is based on Trustpilot data.

Load the packages

To get started, open a Jupyter notebook and import the pandas, requests, and json packages. We’ll be using the Requests package to fetch data from Feefo’s API, the JSON module for parsing the data returned by the API, and the Pandas package to display and analyse the data.

In order to see more of the rows and columns returned, and to avoid data truncation, we can use the Pandas set_option() function to define the max_rows to 1000, the max_columns to 1000, and set the max_colwidth to 1000. This makes the data much easier to read.

import pandas as pd
import requests
import json
pd.set_option('max_rows', 1000)
pd.set_option('max_columns', 1000)
pd.set_option('max_colwidth', 1000)

Create a function to fetch Feefo merchant ratings

Next, we’ll create a function to connect to the Feefo API and fetch the merchant ratings or reviews for each merchant over a given time period. When fetching merchant data from Feefo, there’s no need for you to authenticate, because the data is in the public domain.

You can simply pass the merchant_identifier for your chosen business (i.e. vauxhall) to the Feefo Reviews API using the requests.get() function. The response object returned contains JSON that can be parsed as a Python dictionary, allowing you to extract the data you require and easily import it into Pandas and any other format you wish.

def _get_merchant_ratings(merchant_identifiers, since_period='year'):
    """Return a list of dictionaries containing the product and service ratings for each merchant.
    
    Args:
        merchant_identifiers (list): List of Feefo merchant identifiers
        since_period (string, optional): Time since review (24_hours, week, month, year, all)
    
    Returns:
        Python list containing dictionaries of merchant ratings and addresses.
    """
    
    results = []

    endpoint = "https://api.feefo.com/api/10/reviews/summary/all"
    
    for merchant_identifier in merchant_identifiers:
        response = requests.get(endpoint + "?merchant_identifier=" + merchant_identifier + "&since_period=" + since_period)    
        results.append(json.loads(response.text))

    return results

If you run the _get_merchant_ratings() function on a single business, i.e. vauxhall, you’ll be able to see the contents of the dictionary returned. This contains the name and address of the merchant, the total number of reviews in the meta count, as well as the spread of ratings.

In Feefo, merchants can choose whether customers are allowed to review their service or their products. Many ecommerce businesses prefer to control their own product reviews, to avoid vendor lock-in with review platforms, so you often see only service reviews returned.

As well as the rating, which shows the current rating for the business on Feefo over the period selected, you also get a breakdown of the individual star ratings for 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 stars for service reviews, and product reviews if they’re enabled by the merchant.

results = _get_merchant_ratings(['vauxhall'])
results
[{'merchant': {'identifier': 'vauxhall',
   'name': 'Vauxhall',
   'url': 'https://www.vauxhall.co.uk/',
   'logo': 'vauxhall-logo.png',
   'review_url': 'https://www.feefo.com/en-GB/reviews/vauxhall',
   'addressCountry': 'GB',
   'addressLocality': 'Luton',
   'addressRegion': 'Greater London',
   'postalCode': 'LU1 3YT',
   'streetAddress': 'Griffin House',
   'telephone': '01582426569'},
  'meta': {'count': 1479, 'pages': 74, 'page_size': 20},
  'rating': {'min': 1.0,
   'max': 5.0,
   'rating': 4.7,
   'service': {'count': 281,
    '1_star': 3,
    '2_star': 7,
    '3_star': 10,
    '4_star': 26,
    '5_star': 235},
   'product': {'count': 1479,
    '1_star': 24,
    '2_star': 28,
    '3_star': 81,
    '4_star': 273,
    '5_star': 1073}}}]

Fetch Feefo API data on multiple businesses

In order to make the Feefo API review data easier to read and use, our next step will be to convert the response dictionary to a Pandas dataframe. From there we can export the dataframe to CSV or another format, store it locally use SQLite, or push it into a larger database such as MySQL or Google BigQuery.

We’ll make a function called get_merchant_ratings() which will take a list of Feefo merchant identifiers, and an optional time period. The function will run the _get_merchant_ratings() function we created above, create a Pandas dataframe in which to store the review data, and then loop over each result and store the values in a row of the dataframe.

def get_merchant_ratings(merchant_identifiers, since_period='year'):
    """Return a Pandas dataframe containing the product and service ratings for each merchant.
    
    Args:
        merchant_identifiers (list): List of Feefo merchant identifiers
        since_period (string, optional): Time since review (24_hours, week, month, year, all)
    
    Returns:
        Python list containing dictionaries of merchant ratings and addresses.
    """
    
    results = _get_merchant_ratings(merchant_identifiers, since_period)
    
    df = pd.DataFrame(columns=['merchant_identifier','reviews','rating',
                           'service_count','service_1_star','service_2_star','service_3_star','service_4_star','service_5_star',
                           'product_count','product_1_star','product_2_star','product_3_star','product_4_star','product_5_star',
                          ])

    for result in results:
        row = {
            'merchant_identifier': result.get('merchant').get('name'),
            'reviews': result.get('meta').get('count'),
            'rating': result.get('rating').get('rating'),
            'service_count': result.get('rating').get('service').get('count'),
            'service_1_star': result.get('rating').get('service').get('1_star'),
            'service_2_star': result.get('rating').get('service').get('2_star'),
            'service_3_star': result.get('rating').get('service').get('3_star'),
            'service_4_star': result.get('rating').get('service').get('4_star'),
            'service_5_star': result.get('rating').get('service').get('5_star'),
            'product_count': result.get('rating').get('product').get('count'),
            'product_1_star': result.get('rating').get('product').get('1_star'),
            'product_2_star': result.get('rating').get('product').get('2_star'),
            'product_3_star': result.get('rating').get('product').get('3_star'),
            'product_4_star': result.get('rating').get('product').get('4_star'),
            'product_5_star': result.get('rating').get('product').get('5_star'),
        }

        df = df.append(row, ignore_index=True)
    
    return df

Now, if we want to periodically fetch review ratings for a selection of the competitors in your market, we can simply create a list of merchant identifiers and loop over them to collect and display the information together, then parse the dictionaries to display the contents in a single Pandas dataframe. From discussions with Feefo, they consider 1-2 as negative, 3 as neutral, and 4-5 as positive.

If you want to find all the merchants in your market who are listed on the Feefo reviews platform, the easiest way to find them is to load the Feefo sitemap XML into my EcommerceTools package and analyse it in Pandas. This shows us that Feefo has 5015 merchants listed, but quite a few of them are test accounts or from companies that have since closed.

merchant_identifiers = ['vauxhall', 'expedia-com', 'axa-direct', 'tui-uk']
df = get_merchant_ratings(merchant_identifiers, since_period='year')
df.head(10).sort_values(by='rating', ascending=False)
merchant_identifier reviews rating service_count service_1_star service_2_star service_3_star service_4_star service_5_star product_count product_1_star product_2_star product_3_star product_4_star product_5_star
0 Vauxhall 1479 4.7 281 3 7 10 26 235 1479 24 28 81 273 1073
2 AXA Insurance 30360 4.6 30360 962 402 1136 4829 23031 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 TUI 165 4.3 165 9 8 11 32 105 0 0 0 0 0 0
1 Expedia.com 101913 4.1 101913 13849 3912 5815 15692 62645 0 0 0 0 0 0

Get all Feefo product reviews from a merchant

Another beneficial analysis to undertake is to examine all the product reviews generated by a merchant, when the merchant has them enabled in Feefo. This can show you what they’re selling, and in what volumes, and what customers like and dislike. For ecommerce businesses where you’re selling products that aren’t your own brand, it can be a good way of identifying what is popular in the market and may be a range gap worth filling in your product catalogue.

The process for obtaining all reviews for a business listed on Feefo is more complex, because we have to deal with paginated sets of results. First, we’ll create a couple of helper functions called _count_results() which returns the number of results in the paginated result set, and _count_pages() which returns the number of pages.

def _count_results(results):
    """Return the number of results in a paginated result set."""
    
    if results:
        return results.get('summary').get('meta').get('count')
    else:
        return
def _count_pages(results):
    """Return the number of pages in a paginated result set."""
    
    if results:
        return results.get('summary').get('meta').get('pages')
    else:
        return

Next, we’ll create a function called _get_merchant_product_reviews() to fetch the product reviews for a merchant over a specific time period. This uses the two helper functions created above to fetch the results, then loop through them and return a big list of dictionaries containing the reviews.

def _get_merchant_product_reviews(merchant_identifier, since_period='year'):
    """Return the product reviews for a given Feefo merchant. 
    
    Args:
        merchant_identifier (string): Feefo merchant identifier
        since_period (string, optional): Time since review (24_hours, week, month, year, all)
    
    Return:
        Python list of dictionaries of product reviews
    """
    
    response = requests.get("https://api.feefo.com/api/10/reviews/product?page_size=100&merchant_identifier="+merchant_identifier+ "&since_period=" + since_period)
    results = json.loads(response.text)
    
    total_results = _count_results(results)
    total_pages = _count_pages(results)
    reviews = results['reviews']
    
    i = 2
    while(i <= total_pages):
        response = requests.get("https://api.feefo.com/api/10/reviews/product?page_size=100&merchant_identifier="+merchant_identifier+ "&since_period=" + since_period)
        results = json.loads(response.text)
        reviews.extend(results['reviews'])
        i += 1
    
    return reviews

I’m not going to print the output of _get_merchant_product_reviews() here, as the output will be massive. However, if you run the below code in your notebook, you’ll be able to see a huge list of dictionaries containing the useful data we need to parse from the Feefo API results.

reviews = _get_merchant_product_reviews('vauxhall')

Finally, we can wrap up the above functions and convert the massive list of dictionaries into a Pandas dataframe. We’ll use the get() function to extract the specific values we want to extract from the dictionaries and we’ll put them in a new dictionary called row which we’ll then append to our newly created Pandas dataframe.

def get_merchant_product_reviews(merchant_identifier, since_period='year'):
    """Return the product reviews for a given Feefo merchant in a Pandas dataframe. 
    
    Args:
        merchant_identifier (string): Feefo merchant identifier
    
    Return:
        Pandas dataframe of product reviews
    """
    
    reviews = _get_merchant_product_reviews(merchant_identifier, since_period)
    
    df = pd.DataFrame(columns=['merchant_identifier', 'product_title', 'sku', 'created_at', 'rating', 'helpful_votes', 'review'])
    for result in reviews:

        for product in result['products']:

            row = {
                'merchant_identifier': result.get('merchant').get('identifier'),
                'product_title': product.get('product').get('title'),
                'sku': product.get('product').get('sku'),
                'created_at': product.get('created_at'),
                'rating': product.get('rating').get('rating'),
                'helpful_votes': product.get('helpful_votes'),
                'review': product.get('review'),
            }

            df = df.append(row, ignore_index=True)
    
    df['rating'] = df['rating'].astype(int)
    df['helpful_votes'] = df['helpful_votes'].astype(int)
    df['created_at'] = pd.to_datetime(df['created_at'])
    
    return df

Running the get_merchant_product_reviews() function on a given business listed on Feefo will return a massive dataframe containing all their reviews. We can save the output of this to a CSV using the to_csv() function. You may wish to use Natural Language Processing to analyse the text itself, as I’ve previously shown for Trustpilot reviews.

df = get_merchant_product_reviews('vauxhall', since_period='all')
df.to_csv('vauxhall-product-reviews.csv')
df.sample(5)
merchant_identifier product_title sku created_at rating helpful_votes review
934 vauxhall Astra 9B68 2021-09-14 14:21:22.713000+00:00 5 0 Comfortable drive plenty of space great
469 vauxhall Astra 9B68 2021-09-07 13:21:40.499000+00:00 5 0 Love th styling of the black roof and the black mirrors and the colour red is better than the red that’s on other cars I’ve seen
431 vauxhall Grandland X 92 2021-09-14 14:54:15.008000+00:00 5 0 Everything 😊 apart from having to use the indicator everytime you change lane
930 vauxhall Grandland X 92 2021-09-14 15:06:55.971000+00:00 4 0 There are alot of things, I like.
1111 vauxhall Crossland X 9G 2021-09-17 09:26:52.482000+00:00 1 0 The fuel consumption the look and the colour nothing left to say

Examine reviews by product

To see which products are most commonly reviewed by Vauxhall customers, we can groupby() the product_title and then use agg() to calculate some aggregate statistics. This shows us that the Corsa is Vauxhall’s most reviewed car and has a solid rating of 4.54 out of 5. Both the Corsa-e and the Vivaro get perfect 5 star ratings from Feefo customers, but are selling in far lower volumes than the Corsa.

If you applied this approach to an ecommerce retailer, you’d be able to see a list of the products you probably should be selling, and perhaps also a list of poorly rated products you may want to leave out of your product range to avoid upsetting customers, thus helping increase your overall customer satisfaction and your overall Feefo scores.

reviews_by_product = df.groupby('product_title').agg(
    reviews=('merchant_identifier', 'count'),
    avg_rating=('rating', 'mean'),
).sort_values(by='reviews', ascending=False)
reviews_by_product
reviews avg_rating
product_title
Corsa 360 4.541667
Crossland X 330 4.454545
Grandland X 300 4.400000
Mokka 180 4.833333
Astra 150 4.500000
Corsa-e 105 5.000000
Mokka-e 60 4.500000
Vivaro 15 5.000000

Get service reviews from Feefo

You can use exactly the same approach to obtain merchant or company reviews. The _get_merchant_reviews() is effectively the same as the one we created for products. It runs the Feefo API query using Requests, determines the number of reviews and pages, and paginates through them to return a big list of Python dictionaries containing the review data.

def _get_merchant_reviews(merchant_identifier, since_period='year'):
    """Return the reviews for a given Feefo merchant. 
    
    Args:
        merchant_identifier (string): Feefo merchant identifier
        since_period (string, optional): Time since review (24_hours, week, month, year, all)
    
    Return:
        Python list of dictionaries of product reviews
    """
    
    response = requests.get("https://api.feefo.com/api/10/reviews/all?page_size=100&merchant_identifier="+merchant_identifier+"&since_period="+since_period)
    results = json.loads(response.text)
    
    total_results = _count_results(results)
    total_pages = _count_pages(results)
    reviews = results['reviews']
    
    i = 2
    while(i <= total_pages):
        response = requests.get("https://api.feefo.com/api/10/reviews/all?page_size=100&merchant_identifier="+merchant_identifier+"&since_period="+since_period)
        results = json.loads(response.text)
        reviews.extend(results['reviews'])
        i += 1
    
    return reviews

The get_merchant_reviews() function runs the above function, but creates a Pandas dataframe containing the merchant reviews parsed out of the dictionaries, rather than the product reviews data. Since the Feefo API returns duplicates, it’s important to drop any that are identical, which we can do by using drop_duplicates() and setting the subset to review and setting keep='last'.

def get_merchant_reviews(merchant_identifier, since_period='year'):
    """Return the reviews for a given Feefo merchant in a Pandas dataframe. 
    
    Args:
        merchant_identifier (string): Feefo merchant identifier
        since_period (string, optional): Time since review (24_hours, week, month, year, all)

    Return:
        Pandas dataframe of product reviews
    """
    
    reviews = _get_merchant_reviews(merchant_identifier, since_period)
    
    df = pd.DataFrame(columns=['merchant_identifier', 'customer', 
                               'created_at', 'review', 'service_rating'])
    for review in reviews:

        row = {
            'merchant_identifier': review.get('merchant').get('identifier'),
            'customer': review.get('customer', {}).get('display_name', {}),
            'created_at': review.get('service', {}).get('created_at', {}),
            'review': review.get('service', {}).get('review', {}),
            'service_rating': review.get('service', {}).get('rating', {}).get('rating', {}),            
        }
        
        df['service_rating'] = df['service_rating'].astype(int)
        df['created_at'] = pd.to_datetime(df['created_at'], utc=True)        
        df = df.append(row, ignore_index=True).fillna(0)
        df = df.drop_duplicates(subset='review', keep='last')
    return df

If you run get_merchant_reviews('vauxhall') you’ll now generate a Pandas dataframe containing all the unique service reviews Vauxhall customers have left. Since there are dates in here, you can even plot the Vauxhall sales velocity, and even estimate the number of each type of car they sold within given periods.

df = get_merchant_reviews('vauxhall')
df.head()
merchant_identifier customer created_at review service_rating
1 vauxhall {} 2021-09-17 18:50:06.733000+00:00 Excellent service and very friendly staff who go out of their way to help and answer questions. 5
2 vauxhall Alan Buckingham 2021-09-17 17:14:41.508000+00:00 Sold well and helpfull 4
3 vauxhall {} 2021-09-17 13:47:38.204000+00:00 Nice sales people 5
4 vauxhall Mr. Fletcher 2021-09-17 13:04:42.204000+00:00 Excellent sales person in the showroom . 5
5 vauxhall {} 2021-09-17 11:55:07.526000+00:00 Was very professional and polite 5

We can see from using the value_counts() function that most Vauxhall customers are very happy, but there are a handful of customers who left a lower score. You can examine the reviews from the more disgruntled customers by filtering the dataframe on the service_rating column.

This is a great way to understand what annoys your customers, or those of your rivals, so you can take steps to try and avoid the issues. You might also want to visualise the text of the reviews using word clouds to help understand what annoys customers most.

df.service_rating.value_counts().to_frame()
service_rating
5 77
4 11
3 5
1 4
2 2
df[df['service_rating'] <=3].head()
merchant_identifier customer created_at review service_rating
7 vauxhall Tony Bingham 2021-09-17 10:38:22.805000+00:00 I do not recommend buying a car on line it is the worst experience I have ever had buying a car 3
11 vauxhall Michael Brammer 2021-09-17 09:26:52.517000+00:00 Not very good didn't get the car I wanted and what they promised me and the car I've got I could have had with a lot more spec for the same payment not happy never offers me a test drive either 1
12 vauxhall Paul Mellor 2021-09-17 08:14:50.094000+00:00 make sure the car is prepared properly for pick up and put the right personal details down for the finance company finally the arrogance of the staff at the dealership the attitude is dont come back once the car as left site were not bothered 2
27 vauxhall Kelvin Read 2021-09-14 17:27:58.753000+00:00 The dealership were superb. I had cause to contact Vauxhall Customer Service as the “free” 3 year Nav Plus entitlement as a Grandland X customer (no mention of model requirements, or exceptions) did not get authorised, or activated for use. At the time of writing this review almost a month later it is still not resolved. 3
30 vauxhall {} 2021-09-14 15:06:56.008000+00:00 They need to listen to what their customers say in surveys, after an experience I've had, and these surveys are never looked at, and let's face it, do Vauxhall really care? I don't think so! 1

Estimate each merchant’s order volume

Finally, the other neat thing you can do with Feefo data is use the volume of customer reviews to extrapolate the potential order volume each business might be generating. If the business is very similar to your own, you could even extrapolate their potential revenue by including Average Order Value (AOV) in your calculations.

According to my Feefo account manager, Feefo sees a typical response rate from review emails of around 8-9%, depending on how reminder emails are configured. On my sites, this figure has been anywhere from 2-9%. This means that for every 100 orders placed with a business, about 9 of them leave a service review.

We’ll make another function called extrapolate_performance() to handle this task. This takes the dataframe from get_merchant_ratings(), the estimated response_rate you think merchants in the market probably generate, and the aov or Average Order Value in the market.

def extrapolate_performance(df, response_rate, aov):
    """Given a dataframe of Feefo merchant reviews, an estimated 
    review email response rate, and an AOV, this function returns
    a dataframe containing the estimated order volume and value. 
    
    Args:
        df (dataframe): Pandas dataframe returned by get_merchant_ratings()
        response_rate (float): Feefo review email response rate, i.e. 8
        aov (float): Average Order Value for this market. 
        
    Returns:
        df (dataframe): Pandas dataframe showing results.     
    """
    
    df['estimated_orders'] = ((df['reviews'] / response_rate ) * 100).astype(int)
    df['estimated_revenue'] = df['estimated_orders'] * aov
    df = df[['merchant_identifier', 'service_count', 'reviews', 'estimated_orders', 'estimated_revenue']].sort_values(by='estimated_orders')
    return df

To run the function you first need to fetch the merchant ratings using the get_merchant_ratings() function we created above, and then pass it to extrapolate_performance() along with your estimated email review response rate (i.e. 7%) and your estimated AOV for the merchants, i.e. £90.

This isn’t going to be accurate, but it should give you a rough steer on their probable position within the market, providing you’re comparing very similar businesses (which I am not in the rough example below).

df = get_merchant_ratings(merchant_identifiers, since_period='year')
df_performance = extrapolate_performance(df, response_rate=7, aov=90)
df_performance
merchant_identifier service_count reviews estimated_orders estimated_revenue
3 TUI 165 165 2357 212130
0 Vauxhall 281 1479 21128 1901520
2 AXA Insurance 30360 30360 433714 39034260
1 Expedia.com 101913 101913 1455900 131031000

Matt Clarke, Monday, September 06, 2021

Matt Clarke Matt is a Digital Director who uses data science to help in his work. He has a Master's degree in Internet Retailing (plus two other Master's degrees in different fields) and specialises in the technical side of ecommerce and marketing.

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