Out-of-Stocks Impact Ratings & Reviews on Amazon for Consumer Electronics Brand
Nintendo has release its NES Classic console in time for the holiday season, but the company has hit a few snags keeping the item in stock. Nintendo products are known for being hard to find at launch, such as the original Wii console which was out of stock for months after launch in 2006. Shoppers who were looking forward to purchasing the NES Classic console have publicly voiced their displeasure, some even accusing Nintendo of keeping stock low in order to drive word-of-mouth demand for the product. This has caused a harsh backlash, as out-of-stocks are negatively impacting online product reviews.
Unlike when the Wii first launched in 2006, shoppers today have a few more ways to make their voice be heard. One way is to post 1 star reviews on the Amazon product page, dragging down the star average. At the time of publication, almost every single 1-star review was from a user without a verified purchase. These reviews will remain on the page well after stock issues have been cleared up, casting a long shadow which may impact future buyers of the item. And since we know many shoppers check online reviews while shopping inside brick & mortar stores, it may be hard to qualify the full scope of revenue impact these reviews will have from an omnichannel perspective.
The item is not only seeing negative reviews, as the Q&A section is also being filled with negative comments. Further fueling this dissatisfaction has been limited item runs with non-traditional electronic retailers selling the NES Classic, including Urban Outfitters. Inventory management and fulfillment problems are more likely to arise with unfamiliar or non-traditional retail partners. Nintendo is risking damage to their brand equity with this NES Classic out-of-stock issue, especially around the holidays. Brands should take note that even if a problem is unintentional (or even unrelated to the product itself) shoppers can make their feedback heard in powerful ways.
However, brands that actively respond to shoppers and work quickly to fix issues can mitigate the damage and even increase their trust with consumers. Responses to reviews and Q&As are not just read by the original poster, but by potentially any visitor to that product page. A good-faith demonstration of your brand’s ability to take consumer concerns seriously can keep shoppers loyal.