Reviews Point to Supply-Chain and Product Issues (WSJ)

Retailers use online reviews as quality-control system.

Online customer reviews can serve as real-time feedback to help companies detect supply-chain issues and product faults, according to the Wall Street Journal. At Wal-Mart, products with bad reviews are removed from the Website until the issue is resolved, and at L.L. Bean, anything with a rating of less than three stars is removed and sent back to managers for retooling.

When reviews are anonymous, authenticity is an issue, and companies have been found paying for positive reviews on their own site or negative reviews on their competitors’. However, in Wal-Mart’s case, monitoring customer reviews allowed the company to respond when a prepaid wireless Internet stick it sold on its Website was malfunctioning: The wireless carrier hadn’t activated the sticks, and the company was able to turn them on and put them back up for sale within days.

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