Retailing on Amazon: manuals matter | Guest post by Heli Cogan

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Picture this- after searching online for bikes for more than two weeks, you’ve finally found the perfect one. Keen and excited, you make an order and pay. Once the package arrives at your door, you rush to open it. “This is great!” you think. After taking all the parts out of the box, you dig in for the instruction manual only to find that it’s completely useless to you. A dozen black and white pictures, numbers and sentences written in a tiny font immediately throw you off. “What am I supposed to do with this?” you wonder…

Sound familiar? You are not alone

As of 2017, an estimated 1.66 billion people worldwide purchase goods online. One of the most valuable brands, familiar to all, is Amazon, which has more than 310 million active customer accounts worldwide. As more people move to online shopping in an attempt to save time and avoid crowds, more products require self-assembly and customers find themselves trying to make sense of the instruction manual on their own.

For the past months, I’ve been diving into the world of online shopping on Amazon, trying to learn more about today’s shopping experience. More specifically, I aspired to understand the importance of manuals. I’ve looked into more than 500 self-assembly product reviews and this is what I found: manuals matter, more than you’d think.

Some reviews I came across stated that, due to poor instructions, the assembly process was difficult and frustrating, while others had a more critical tone and described it as “a pain in the rear”. One customer claimed the manual he received was written “by chimpanzees and for them only” and ended up returning the product to the seller. Whether the reviews had a one, three or five star rating, they all shared the same statement: A bad instruction manual makes a bad product.

Retailers that are striving to gain a good reputation and keep clients coming back for more must not ignore the value of manuals and their importance to the product experience.  They should make the effort to keep reviews high and invest time and money in their user manuals.

Designing good, legible instructions is a challenge, no doubt, but its definitely possible.


This post was written by Heli Cogan, a senior in the Department of Communication at Tel Aviv University.  During her internship with us at Makeree, Heli researched the field of Amazon ratings,  she shares her insights on this guest blog.