- Amazon is removing the feature that allowed anyone to comment on customer reviews.
- Amazon said it’s shutting down the feature because it was rarely used.
- But sellers say it was a popular feature that allowed them to respond to individual reviews, answer unfair criticisms, or share updates to their products.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Amazon is shutting down the ability to comment on individual product reviews, a change that sellers say would make it more difficult to directly engage with customers.
The feature, which allows anyone to comment under Amazon’s product reviews, was particularly popular among brands and sellers because it let them respond to customer questions or feedback that may have been unfairly critical, according to e-commerce consultants who spoke to Business Insider. It’s important for sellers to keep reviews positive, given the majority of shoppers look at them before making a purchase.
In an email sent to sellers on its marketplace, Amazon said that it’s removing the comments feature on Wednesday due to the lack of engagement.
“While reviews and feedback are important to our customers and sellers, the comments feature on customer reviews was rarely used,” the email said. “And as a result, we are retiring this feature on Dec. 16,2020.”
The email also said that Amazon is developing “other opportunities” to connect with customers. For example, Amazon has a separate messaging service that allows sellers to directly talk to customers.
In an email to Business Insider, Amazon’s spokesperson confirmed the change, adding that more than 80% of the comments were left by customers, not sellers. And when it was used, the vast majority of the messages were short, declarative statements, like “Thanks,” the spokesperson said.
Sellers who spoke to Business Insider, however, say the change comes as a surprise, as they have heavily relied on the commenting feature to directly respond to customer reviews or share new updates about the product.
Rachel Johnson Greer, a former Amazon manager who now runs the e-commerce consulting agency Cascadia Seller Solutions, said the move is “confusing” because it reduces consumer engagement. Customers generally expect a response from the seller when they leave a comment, and the removal of this feature will only increase “customer dissatisfaction,” even compared to some of Amazon’s competitors, she said.
“Reducing customer interaction is not a good plan for increasing engagement and sales,” Greer said. ” If they’re really trying to make the site interactive, like Instagram or Facebook or YouTube, they need better engagement and interaction, not less.”
James Horey, CEO of Reviewbox, a company that helps online merchants, said that the change will have a “pretty huge negative effect” because brands use it frequently to communicate information for warranties, returns, and product defects.
Removing the feature would make the product reviews less useful because the most high-quality reviews tend to have lots of comments under them, he said. It’s possible that Amazon is removing the feature in part because some sellers have abused it to use it as a channel to solicit customers or illegally promote alternative products, he added.
“My best guess is that Amazon is trying to ‘clean up’ the review responses to make it more useful to shoppers,” Horey said.