Negative Amazon reviews are painful–they can bring down your overall rating, damage your brand reputation, and thwart future customers. But they also feel inevitable, because every buyer will come with different expectations. So how do you deal with negative reviews?
Previously, Amazon allowed sellers to provide a custom response to any and all reviews to help mitigate this pain. A brand’s response appeared as a comment in a public thread on the initial review on the product listing page. This gave brands a way to support the customer further, while showing future customers that the brand was aware of the feedback, was working to make improvements, and cared about each customer’s experience.
Unfortunately, buyers weren’t regularly responding to seller comments trying to help the experience, meaning the feature wasn’t necessarily driving better customer support or resolving unfavorable reports.
In a bittersweet way, the ability to comment directly on reviews was retired by Amazon in December 2020. Bitter because removing the feature left brands feeling deflated and hopeless against resolving negative reviews and the issues causing them. Sweet because it paved the way for Amazon to launch a Contact Customer feature under the Customer Reviews tools.
You heard it right, Amazon provides a feature allowing sellers to respond directly to negative reviews to get more information from the buyer, offer a replacement, or offer a full refund.
The Contact Customer feature allows brands to respond to negative reviews in seller central using a templated email. Brands have the option between 2 Amazon created templates: One that offers a replacement or refund, and another that asks for more information.
The templated emails are not customizable, but offer a starting point to allow sellers to contact unhappy buyers. If the customer chooses to respond to a seller’s initial email, the response will show in the messages section of seller central and the seller can then respond freely, no templates necessary.
This feature can help drive results because sellers are reaching out to buyers directly via email, instead of hoping a customer checks their previous negative reviews for responses.
Any review that received a 1, 2, or 3 star rating is eligible for the Contact Customer feature. If a review is eligible it will show in the right hand corner of the review in the Customer Reviews section of seller central.
If a review received 4 or 5 stars, a message will be displayed in the right hand corner letting sellers know the review is not eligible for the feature.
To access this feature you must be a registered brand with Amazon. Adding yet another benefit to the analytics, advertising, A+ Content, and more of Brand Registry. (If Brand Registry is your only barrier to the feature, get in touch today to see how we can help)
Brands are also only able to respond to negative reviews that occurred within the last 6 months, so checking reviews and responding in a timely manner is a must.
The ability to contact customers directly has the potential to benefit sellers greatly. Responding to an unhappy buyer and resolving their issues may result in that buyer removing their negative review, or even better, changing it into a positive one.
Since you can’t remove negative reviews, helping the customer to have a better experience and rethink their negative review is your best option. And, because Amazon is the gatekeeper of customer contact information there is no way for sellers to reach out to disgruntled buyers outside of the feature.
But even if the buyer doesn’t change or remove their review–and even if they don’t respond to your message–if the buyer sees the email attempting to provide a solution for their grievance this can positively impact the way they view your brand going forward, which boosts your brand reputation.
While emailing buyers is a more direct approach to solving their problems, emails can be easily lost or ignored in our digital age. On top of that, these emails are not public, so even when you do your best to resolve the issues raised in the negative review, future customers won’t know.
Previously, when sellers could comment on reviews, prospective customers could see how a brand responded to any down-sides mentioned in a negative review and weigh the brand’s response against the criticism. Now the resolution is between the buyer and seller alone.
Amazon customers also have the option to opt out of all communications from sellers. So, if a buyer has opted out of these communications then the option to contact the customer will not be available. And, unfortunately, there is a good percentage of customers who have opted out.
To use the Contact Customer feature open the main navigation in Seller Central and select brands and then Customer Reviews.
Once on the customer reviews page you can sort reviews by star rating and select 1, 2, and 3 stars.
After you have sorted by stars you will see all reviews that have the potential for the Contact Customer email. The feature availability will be displayed in the top right corner. If the customer has opted out of messaging you will see ‘Unable to Contact Customer’ and if the review is 4 or 5 stars you will see ‘Great job! Reply not needed.’
But if the option is available, you will see ‘Contact Customer’ which you can click to select which email template you’d like to send.
If you select the Courtesy refund you will see a templated email offering a replacement or refund, depending on the customer’s request in their response.
If you select the Customer review email you will see a templated email letting the customer know you’d like to address their concerns.
Once you have decided which email to send, you simply click ‘send’ in the bottom right corner. It’s that easy!
While every consumer can have a unique perspective on how they want their concerns handled, Amazon offering more options for buyer-seller communications is a win in itself.
Looking for help managing your reviews and customer experience? We’d love to set you up with a brand manager who can help manage your marketplace information, optimize your listings, and handle negative reviews and customer support.
Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.
If you’re interested in expanding your brand internationally, you’re probably familiar with Tmall. Tmall is Asia-Pacific’s (APAC) largest marketplace, and indisputably the biggest ecommerce powerhouse in the world. It represents a huge opportunity for many brands, but entering the space is also a big challenge to take on.
At Pattern, we recommend brands looking to enter international markets should first focus on dialing in their domestic presence. Once you’re satisfied that your brand is well-represented and optimized locally, you’re ready to think about tackling new regions, like APAC, and launching on marketplaces like Tmall. Our top advice for entering Tmall is to understand and strategize around its three most important metrics: service, delivery, and content.
Service, delivery, and content ratings are the three elements that make up Tmall’s Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) score. Each component is scored on a scale of 1-5 that is displayed publicly on your brand’s Tmall flagship store page. This is meant to help consumers decide whether or not to purchase your products.
DSR scores are important because they’re highly influential in driving conversions—customers see DSRs as a way to quickly understand if a brand is trustworthy and worth buying from. They also matter quite a bit to Tmall itself—they monitor these scores and will take action to close flagship stores with low scores.
Let’s go over each element of the DSR score and some steps you’ll need to take to achieve high ratings.
Service is a huge ecommerce component in APAC marketplaces. In most other regions, product listings are static, and consumers use content and reviews to make a decision about what to purchase. On Tmall, consumers want to interact with your brand and test its validity before buying—each transaction takes at least one human interaction to convert.
So, to get a great service rating, you’ll need to have a large, established customer service team dedicated to Tmall sales that can offer real, human touchpoints and very fast response times. To get an idea of the speed your agents should be capable of producing, in our Tmall benchmarking exercise, 92.5% of brands’ customer service agents replied to queries via live chat within 30 seconds, 5% replied within one minute and the remaining 2.5% of brands took longer than a minute. So, look for a Trade Partner (TP) that has enough resources to compete with those numbers, support your sales, and maintain a good DSR score.
Another thing you’ll really want to focus on is a high-quality delivery experience for consumers. As in other regions around the world, Tmall consumers have high expectations for their delivery experience. In our Chinese consumer polling report that targeted consumers buying from Tmall Global, we found that 6% expected same-day delivery, 15% expected next-day delivery, and 46% expected 2-5 day delivery.They want to receive their products fast and they want the products to be undamaged and pristine upon arrival.
So, to achieve a high score for your delivery capabilities, we highly recommend partnering with a TP or ecommerce accelerator like Pattern (which serves as a TP) who has the ability to facilitate your distribution. Make sure your TP has the right infrastructure in place to support high-quality logistics experiences for all of your consumers—they should have an established, well-oiled delivery process in place and the capability to fluidly add you to their current fulfillment system.
As in every digital marketplace, content is a huge component of the decision-making process for consumers on Tmall—they can’t touch your product with their hands or see it in person before buying, so it’s important they’re empowered to make a good decision on whether or not to purchase based on the videos, images, and copy.
The goal is to make all of the content and relevant information on your flagship site easily-accessible—consumers should be able to visit your page and make a decision about whether or not to buy without navigating to a new site/page and taking their conversions with them. Images with text and extensive product details are a great way to do this, as well as making sure your service team can speak to all aspects of your product with any consumers (via text or chat).
As the world’s foremost brand partner for ecommerce acceleration, Pattern truly understands the significance of international expansion. With regional offices around the world, Pattern knows how to successfully launch and grow brands on Tmall and other marketplaces, with the data, insights, and marketplace intelligence to build the metrics that matter.
It’s important to have a fantastic brand presence, a knowledgeable guide, and a clear go-forward strategy for your best chance at success. With our in-country resources, expert teams, and extensive experience in growing brands around the globe, Pattern can help you get there.
Set up a call to get your international expansion strategy in motion.