How to Turn Negative Amazon Reviews into an Asset

by Colleen Quattlebaum

Negative reviews can really hurt.

If you're a private label seller, you know exactly what I'm talking about. For starters, customer reviews are an important factor in an item's visibility on the Amazon marketplace. Amazon is obsessed with making its shoppers happy, which is why higher-rated products often have the upper hand in the search results. Customers also experience less cognitive dissonance when an item's rating is closer to five stars. As a product's rating slides away from five stars, the more difficult the decision becomes to click "Add to cart."

With so much negativity surrounding negative Amazon reviews, what possible value could they offer sellers like you?

In this post, we'll explore how to convert negative reviews into an asset for your business.

Better Understanding of the Customer

For a moment, let's take a step back, forget about SEO and instead ponder this simple question: Why does Amazon permit reviews in the first place?

As, Inc. ("Amazon") points out here, "Customer Reviews are meant to give customers genuine product feedback from fellow shoppers. Our goal is to capture all the energy and enthusiasm (both favorable and critical) that customers have about a product while avoiding use of reviews to outright advertise, promote and especially mislead."

It's noteworthy that Amazon does not mention the seller anywhere in this definition. Rather, it emphasizes the importance of the customer's voice. Amazon aims to maintain a vibrant community of reviewers that helps others make smart buying decisions. And, clearly, that strategy has paid off, as evidenced by the unbelievable uptick in Amazon transactions.

So, as someone who has invested significant energy to launch your brand, it's at least comforting to know that negative Amazon reviews (although negative) are legitimate. Success in retail is still dependent upon maintaining a keen understanding of customers. Amazon reviews - good or bad - help you to understand the customer in an otherwise anonymous eCommerce ecosystem.

Supplier Accountability

Negative Amazon reviews can be useful for keeping suppliers accountable. Let's say that you're importing jewelry from India and selling it under your own private label brand. Lately, you've been noticing customers are posting comments like these:

"Cheap material - this was supposed to be silver, but it's clearly not."

"The clasp broke a few days after I started wearing it."

"Not bad for the price, but it's definitely not silver."

It's clear you have a bone to pick with your supplier. You're either being sold a bill of goods, or there's some misunderstanding to resolve. Either way, it's better to deal with it now before you fulfill (and refund) hundreds or thousands of orders. In other words, failing fast can help you create a more viable long-term sourcing plan.

Smarter Product & Marketing Decisions

By closely monitoring supplier-related issues and evolving customer preferences, you'll also find it easier to make smarter product and marketing decisions.

Let's be honest - not all of your private label product ideas are destined for best-seller status. Likewise, not all Amazon Marketing Services campaigns will generate the ROI you hoped for. Once again, negative ratings can serve an important role when sequencing your countless business priorities.

Here are just a few examples:

Improving existing products: Look for common threads in the negative reviews you receive. Could a tweak to the product design or material deliver more value to your customers? If so, how many of the negative reviews would have instead been positive? It's worth considering.

Identifying new product ideas: Some sellers actually monitor the reviews of their competitors' products, with the sole intention of uncovering weaknesses. Such weaknesses may represent a golden opportunity to seize market share by delivering a better product option.

Product detail page adjustments: A poorly executed product detail page can sometimes be the root cause of negative reviews. By making a few adjustments to your page's content and images, you might be able to set more realistic expectations, thereby mitigating future negative ratings.

Short-Term Pain, Long-Term Gain

Unless your product is truly unsafe or offers no value, Amazon and its community of customers want you to be successful. More options benefit everyone, Amazon included.

So, don't get discouraged. A few negative reviews, although painful in the short-term, might just be the "tough love" necessary to achieve lasting success in the private label world.

Originally published on March 27, 2018, updated August 14, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.