Amazon launches ‘Themes,’ a feature for filtering Customer Reviews by popular terms

Amazon has quietly launched a new feature called “Themes,” designed to make it easier for shoppers to navigate a product’s customer reviews. Now, in the Amazon mobile app, you’re able to see which words have been used the most frequently across the reviews left by other customers, and then tap a button to hop straight to a filtered selection of reviews that include that term.

To find a product’s “themes,” as these terms are called, you first scroll down to the Customer Reviews section on the product’s detail page. Here, just above the “Top Reviews,” you’ll notice colorful buttons that highlight the words that have been mentioned by previous buyers in their reviews.

At the top, the buttons are larger and are shaded with a blue-ish green background, indicating these terms have been mentioned the most often. Further down, the buttons and the font is smaller. Those buttons are also displayed in gray, which means these terms haven’t been used as frequently.

For example, a review for handheld vacuum has buttons that point to keywords about the product like “suction” and “battery.”

However, the system also seems to pick up other terms that may not be as helpful, like “vacuum” or various superlatives, like “good,” or “great.”

At launch, the feature simply picks out terms based on how often they appear in a product’s reviews. It’s not currently being augmented by some sort of advanced algorithm or A.I. technology that could make it smarter about which terms people would want to see here.

When you tap on a term that interests you, the app will immediately take you to a page with reviews where it’s mentioned. The term will also be highlighted in yellow in the reviews themselves, making it easier to spot at a glance.

This feature is especially useful when a product has a lot of reviews associated with it, but there are only a couple of aspects to the product that you really want to read more about.

The change comes following a big push on Amazon’s part to clean up its product reviews by removing bad actors from the review ecosystem, through both legal and technical means. It sued sellers who bought fake reviews, websites offering to provide fake and paid reviews, and individuals offering to review products for cash.

It also banned incentivized reviews – meaning those that are tied to free or discounted products given to people in return for a review.

The actions seem to have worked, according to a third-party analysis last year that found Amazon had made good on promises to delete incentivize reviews, even retroactively.

Now the retailer is looking at how the review system itself can be upgraded with more useful features, and the launch of Themes plays into that larger goal. The idea here is that when customers are presented with a large volume of text, they don’t want to have exert so much effort just to understand what reviewers are saying.

The “Themes” feature is available now on the Amazon mobile app on both iOS and Android devices.