Last month, Amazon announced a change that’ll have a significant impact on how Brands, Manufacturers, and Sellers engage with shoppers: the comments feature on customer reviews will be eliminated, effective immediately.
There has been a lot of chatter over forums this week and no doubt some heated conversations with Amazon reps. Understandably, most Brands and Manufacturers are not happy about this change. To add to the chaos of this abrupt announcement, the comments feature still had not been removed for some as recent as January 5, 2021.
But, at this time we have reason to believe that the comments feature will in fact be removed for everyone — Shoppers, Brands, Manufacturers, 3P Sellers, and 1P Sellers. Read on to learn what this means for brands that sell on Amazon — and how you can adapt to meet the needs of your customers.
What exactly is Amazon changing?
Ratings and reviews are key to Amazon’s massive success. In fact, according to Statista, product reviews are one of the top reasons U.S. shoppers choose to shop on Amazon.
Previously, when a shopper wrote a review for a product on Amazon, anyone could post comments on that review.
In some cases, other customers would comment on a review. This was often to support the reviewer’s feedback, counter it, or simply learn more about the original poster’s experience. For example, here’s a one-star review for a battery-powered children’s book. The reviewer complains that the toy requires a “hook up to a computer.” A few other consumers commented on the post, with some arguing that the toy does not, in fact, require a computer hook up. These comments are helpful for anyone thinking about purchasing this product, as it seems the reviewer is mistaken about a computer being required.
The commenting feature was also a tool used by Brands, Manufacturers and Sellers, often to help them resolve the issues customers raised in reviews. For example, this shopper wrote a one-star review for the same toy mentioned in our previous example, indicating the product breaks easily. The brand — VTech — commented on the negative review, offering an apology and inviting the shopper to contact them directly to resolve the issue.
This response not only helped the reviewer resolve her issue, it also showed future shoppers that VTech is a brand that values its customers and their feedback and is committed to resolving negative issues.
But that’s all changed. Now, neither brands nor consumers can post a comment on a review on Amazon. What’s more, historical review comments also seem to have disappeared.
Why is Amazon eliminating review comments?
This change has left a lot of brands wondering “why?”
Well, here’s an excerpt from an email that went out to Amazon sellers, explaining the change.
“While reviews and feedback are important to our customers and sellers, the comments feature on customer reviews was rarely used. As a result, we are retiring this feature on December 16, 2020.”
On the Amazon Seller Forums, some sellers speculated that the change was in light of the move to mobile, and that comments were only used by users on desktop computers. Others felt that Amazon was the one who made the comments difficult for users to use, so it’s circular logic to say that the feature was not used.
In either case, the news came as a big surprise (and a disappointment) to brands that rely on this feature to engage with customers and provide great post-sale service. Frankly, it surprised us here at Reputation Studio too, as you’ll often hear us talking about the importance of responding to reviews — regardless of where they were written.
What can brands do to adapt to this change?
Responding to reviews was a great way to provide great post-sale service shoppers — and boost your reputation on Amazon. Unfortunately, this is no longer possible, and until Amazon announces otherwise, there’s not much we can do about it. But the good news is, there are still plenty of ways to meet (and exceed) customer expectations while positioning yourself as a great, trusted seller on Amazon.
1. Use Product Reviews and Q&As to Enhance Your Product Details
Sellers can no longer respond to negative reviews, so the best approach is to avoid getting them!
Sound impossible? It’s not. Of course, the occasional negative review is inevitable — and it’s certainly not the end of the world. But a key way to prevent a barrage of negative reviews on Amazon is to help shoppers make more informed purchase decisions. You can do that by providing them with all of the information they need — right on your product pages. That way, your customers will have realistic expectations — and there won’t be any surprises when their product arrives in the mail.
Be sure your product descriptions include plenty of details about your products. One key source of data for your product detail pages is User Generated Content. Reputation Studio’s Reputation Insights product can make sure you’re monitoring reviews, questions, and answers so you can have your finger on the pulse of the conversation about your product. Clarify confusion and address questions in your product details and you’ll prevent future negative reviews that stem from inaccurate or incomplete information.
Also, include photos and videos of your products in action. After all, a survey from our friends at PowerReviews found that nearly three-quarters of consumers regularly or always seek out visual content before making a purchase.
A final reminder on this topic: never market your products as something they’re not. Doing so will leave you with unhappy customers — and more negative reviews.
2. Analyze Your Reviews on an Ongoing Basis
Don’t just sit back while reviews pour in on Amazon. Instead, analyze this content on a regular basis to identify opportunities to improve.
For example, if several reviews mention the same product flaw, work with your manufacturer to fix it. Or if you notice multiple reviewers mention confusion about a product feature, update your product description so it’s more clear.
Analyzing your reviews and uncovering meaningful, actionable insights can be challenging. But if you’re a Reputation Studio customer using Reputation Insights, you can easily manage and analyze all of your review content, regardless of what website the content was submitted on. What’s more, you can measure customer sentiment and identify trends, which can help you make impactful changes to better serve your customers.
3. Answer Customer Questions — Quickly
No matter how detailed your product descriptions, you’ll still have customers with questions that are standing in the way of a purchase. Many shoppers ask these questions via the Q&A feature on Amazon.
It’s essential for brands to respond to these questions quickly. In fact, Amazon ideally wants its sellers to answer in real-time. That might seem like a tall order. But if you’re a Reputation Studio customer, you can receive alerts any time a question comes in on Amazon. That way, you can respond as quickly as possible — ideally, when the shopper is still on the product page.
When you respond quickly, you’re helping the shopper make an informed purchase decision. And that means they’re more likely to be happy with their product choice. What’s more, because Amazon’s Q&A feature is searchable, your response is also helping future customers that may have similar questions.
What’s the risk of a delayed answer — or no answer at all? The shopper will likely make a purchase from a more responsive brand. Or, they’ll take a risk and purchase your product even though their question wasn’t answered. Then, if the product doesn’t meet their expectations when it arrives, you’ll have an unhappy customer on your hands.
4. Monitor the Competition
In today’s landscape where the consumer is king (or queen) and their opinion has immense influence, including them in your competitor analysis is essential. Consumer reviews are a great way to analyze the feedback about your products, benchmarked against competitors.
But this type of analysis isn’t well suited on a one-off basis. Reputation Studio’s Competitive Insights product helps you aggregate this data so you can get a full picture of customer feedback across many sites and over time. Use sentiment and intent models combined with natural language processing to uncover actionable trends about the consumers’ true feelings.
5. Keep an Eye Out for What’s Next
In its communication to sellers, Amazon said it “will innovate and develop other opportunities for you to connect with customers.” It’s yet to be seen what Amazon has in store for comments on reviews. But, one recent development has been the ability to add a video answer to a question on Amazon. As the feature states, “shoppers find videos more helpful than text alone”.
Reputation Studio is committed to adapting and innovating as the state of review management changes. Keep in mind, there are still other eCommerce sites on which you should be monitoring and responding to reviews. And, reviews provide immense value beyond just the response. They can be a unique and actionable source of customer experience data.
We also have some new innovations up our sleeves. Be sure to stay informed. One way to do that is to follow the Reputation Studio blog!
Adapt Quickly to Meet Customer Expectations on Amazon
Amazon may have eliminated the ability for brands (and consumers) to respond to product reviews. But there are still plenty of ways to deliver great products and memorable service that’ll drive repeat purchases and boost your reputation on Amazon.