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Improving Product Information on Amazon

Around the middle of last year, Amazon.com took a significant step to help improve product listings, enlisting the help of their customers. They added a new “Report incorrect product information” form on millions of product pages across the site.

Amazon Cares About Product Information

Amazon has a tremendous number of items for sale: nearly 400 million on the U.S. site as of January 2017. The quality of the information on a product page – what Amazon calls the Product Details page – is what helps make shopping on Amazon so popular. They invest in it heavily for their “Sold by Amazon” products, and their professional and individual sellers use it to continue to improve within the permanent Amazon catalog. Amazon’s new “Report incorrect product information” button gives shoppers themselves the opportunity to improve the quality of the facts on the product page for the benefit of other Amazon shoppers. This link appears below the bullet points on the product page for many (but not all) products.

One click there brings up a small window allowing you to pick what you think is incorrect or missing.

You can report an issue about the images, the product name, items listed out in bullet points, or a variety of other product details such as missing, conflicting, or generally incorrect information.

It’s a smart and relatively unique move.

Why Would Amazon Do This?

The simple answer is that they want better product information. As the number one place people start their search for products, Amazon knows that you can’t buy what you can’t find. They also know that buying the wrong product because you had incorrect information is a terrible user experience and an almost guaranteed return.

Amazon has been silent regarding the availability of this feedback mechanism. It just appeared one day, with no fanfare, watchers surmise.

Being in the business of product information, we see a lot of sites and product pages with bad product information: wrong brand, incorrect attributes, fake UPCs, and more. We’re even asked to break out Amazon marketplace-sourced information because of the poor condition of their data quality. UPC is one field that is very commonly faked so that sellers are not competing for the same “buy box” and can appear multiple times in results. Amazon clamped down on this around the same time that the new “Report incorrect product information” button appeared. But it remains a problem on other marketplaces.

Bad product information exists because it’s expensive and time-consuming to do it right. So a lot of people cut corners and put in the minimum information necessary – they either don’t care whether the information’s accurate or don’t have the systems in place to verify it.

Fixing this problem is hard. Particularly at scale.

Does Amazon’s Approach Work?

Publicly accessible results aren’t available at this time. But my view is that it’s not the silver bullet to fix the problem. Their solution still requires people or machines to sift through the feedback, structure and organize it, verify its accuracy, and make the decision to update what’s currently on the product page.

But it’s a constructive step forward and more marketplaces should do it. Certainly it beats the alternative: just leaving incorrect product information there to muck up everyone’s search.



Also published on Medium.

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