Amazon will no longer allow brands to respond to product reviews on the marketplace with public comments. This change will impact nearly every 1P and 3P seller on Amazon.
The ‘comment’ feature facilitated direct communication between sellers and Amazon customers, and was a useful brand management tool. Moving forward, brands selling on Amazon will need to adjust their strategy when it comes to monitoring product feedback.
In this article, we have explained exactly how this feature removal will change the Amazon landscape, and how brands can adjust. Read on!
What was the ‘comment’ feature?
Public product reviews from customers are an integral part of the Amazon marketplace. They provide necessary ‘social proof’ from unbiased third parties about the integrity and value of each product on Amazon. Products with an abundance of glowing customer reviews will tend to rank higher organically than those that have less.
Customer product reviews include a star rating, commentary about the product, and in some instances, photos and/or videos of the product in question. Other parties were able to respond to public product reviews, creating a comment thread.
Above: Example of a product review and ‘Comment’ button on Amazon
In some instances, other interested customers looking for more product info would respond with comments to reviews posted by fellow Amazon shoppers, see below.
However, comments were largely used by brands as a way to address any customer concerns directly, see below.
By responding to negative customer reviews publicly, brands were able to identify and fix issues that may have been outside their control (e.g. Amazon making an error with fulfillment). Sometimes this would lead to a satisfactory resolution with the disgruntled customer. Even if the disgruntled customer could not be appeased, by posting a public comment with useful info (e.g. more insight about how to correctly assemble a product), brands were doing their utmost to win over other Amazon shoppers.
What has changed?
Bobsled clients received the following notification from Amazon yesterday:
You are receiving this email because you recently left a comment on a review.
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.
We are committed to your continued success and will innovate and develop other opportunities for you to connect with customers.
In their communication, Amazon also promised to “develop other opportunities for you to connect with customers”, but remains to be seen what this alternative communication method will look like.
At this stage it’s unclear whether Amazon will ‘grandfather in’ existing comments on the marketplace, and simply remove the ability to post new comments, or whether existing comments will be wiped from product listings. As of today, it’s still possible to post comments and view existing comments addressing product reviews on Amazon.com, however this privilege could be removed at any time.
How should brands pivot?
For the Bobsled project team, responding to product reviews with public comments fell under our brand management deliverables. The ultimate goal is to ensure that Bobsled clients control how their brand is being portrayed and perceived on the Amazon marketplace. Failing to take charge of your brand’s presence on Amazon can cause serious reputational damage and a subsequent loss of sales.
In light of this new change, here’s how we recommend pivoting:
Closer analysis of reviews posted by Amazon customers. Scrutinizing this content will allow you to identify new patterns and trends, which may indicate that updates to the product pages are necessary. It may be worthwhile setting up a regular reporting schedule e.g. bi-weekly sweep of eye catching new product reviews every two weeks.
Find ways to stuff your product pages with more useful info. Improving your product page content (e.g. images, videos, A+ content or even an FAQ section in the description) could help avoid future negative customer experiences that may lead to negative reviews.
Improve your customer service game. Prevention is always better than a cure! Many customers will try to find a solution with you privately before they resort to posting a negative product review. In some instances the issue is outside of your control, but either way, doing everything in your power to help customers will go a long way in terms of preserving your brand’s reputation on Amazon.
Keep your eyes peeled for new customer communication tools. Amazon has promised to roll out other opportunities for you to connect with customers. It pays to be an early adopter, so make sure you keep informed about every new feature that becomes available.