A seller recently noticed Amazon was showing seller feedback inconsistently - most offers on a product detail page showed the number of feedback the seller had received in the past year, but one seller had their lifetime feedback count showing.
Obviously that would be of concern to the other sellers since it implied the outlier had a more thriving business than their competitors. However, it appeared to be an intermittent issue, and we're not sure how widespread the issue might be.
But the seller also shared his thoughts with us about the limitations of the current feedback system in general. Like many others on Amazon (and eBay and elsewhere), he believed raw feedback counts don't accurately portray a seller's history and performance because so few people take the time to leave feedback for sellers even when they have a positive experience. He advocated showing the rate of positive transactions.
"Less than 1% of our customers leave feedback on Amazon," he said. "eBay customers used to be better at leaving feedback, but it is less than 10% now. Discogs buyers are the best at around 50% of them leaving feedback. I suspect that it is because buyers can also get negative feedback.
"While feedback can be useful it is now irrelevant on Amazon. I'd rather see a positive completion rating. If there isn't an issue with an order it should count as a positive transaction. Amazon tracks everything already so why not show it to the buyer?"
The reader is a longtime seller who currently sells primarily used books, movies, and music on Amazon and other sites, but he also sells in other categories and has sold in the past using various models, from authorized reseller to retail arbitrage.
He provided a striking example of how he's impacted under the current Amazon system:
"If we have 1000 transactions without issues and one negative feedback that feedback would put us at 50% positive feedback since we only have one feedback in the past 30 days."
Under his proposed system, one negative feedback out of 1000 positive transactions would leave him with an almost perfect score - a more accurate portrayal of his performance, he believes.
"A Positive transaction to me is that the item was as advertised, shipped on time in protective packaging and with good customer service if necessary. The customer has no reason to complain. That same customer may not leave feedback, but the transaction was a positive experience for the buyer.
"A transaction that would not count as positive would be anything that involved an A-Z claim that resulted in a demerit for the seller. Shipping late, INAD or not received claims, and negative feedback would also count as negatives to varying degrees."
We've heard many other sellers discuss the limitations of feedback at a time when buyers are not as inclined to leave feedback as the early days of ecommerce.
"I believe in feedback as a valuable metric, however if less than 1% of customers leave feedback, it can't reflect the true value of the business," the seller said. "Give us credit for all positive transactions since the customer can't be bothered to leave feedback. Feedback is no longer relevant if so few customers are willing to leave it."
Do you agree?