Amazon reviews play a major role in your ecommerce performance, whether you like it or not. I’m Marisa Duffy, an Amazon Coordinator at Ignite Visibility—and I know that reviews can make or break your shop.
In the age of Fakespot, here’s what to know about Amazon reviews, including what’s changed and how to adapt.
Did Amazon Review Guidelines Change?
Recently, Amazon has made changes to its review policies in an effort to provide customers with the best experience possible.
While this may be in the customer’s best interest, it’s a new landscape for brands to navigate. In order to thrive, they must be up to the challenge of addressing these changes and finding potential alternatives to their existing strategy.
Customer Review Guidelines on Amazon: What’s Changed?
There are two key changes to the Amazon seller review guidelines:
So what do each of these mean for sellers?
First Amazon Review Policy Change: No More Publicly Responding as a Brand
In December 2020, Amazon took away the ability for brands to publicly respond to reviews posted on their product detail pages.
Businesses are now only able to communicate with reviewers on a one-on-one basis. If the review involves an issue and the seller is able to resolve the issue, they can ask the customer to update their review or review the negative review.
Of course, a customer has full autonomy over whether or not to change or remove a negative review. A brand has no power to hold anything over a customer if they refuse to change their review.
To avoid negative reviews, the best thing brands can do is be proactive. This involves:
- Improving product detail page (PDP) content, including titles, images, videos, A+ content, and bullet features. You’ll want to include all necessary information so that nothing goes unanswered for the buyer.
- Answering any questions that customers ask you privately to prevent the issue from escalating and turning into a negative review. You need to manage your customer’s expectations and satisfaction throughout the buying journey, and this is part of that process.
Be sure to continuously monitor reviews across your entire store. See if you can spot patterns or common complaints, and strategize on how to solve these issues. From product quality to inventory availability, there are many ways you may be able to improve if your customers are unhappy.
Second Amazon Review Policy Change: No More Early Reviewer Program
Amazon will cancel the Early Reviewer Program on April 25, 2021, and is no longer accepting new enrollments.
If you don’t know what the Early Reviewer Program is, then you won’t be affected. But here’s the rundown either way:
The Early Reviewer Program encourages customers who have already purchased a product to share their experience about that product.
Customers who have purchased a product from a seller who’s participating in the Early Reviewer Program are asked to write a review. In return, they receive a really small reward (like a $1–$3 Amazon.com Gift Card, for example).
So what’s the goal of this program? Initially, Amazon used it to help brand owners acquire reviews on their new products. This helps shoppers make smarter buying decisions. For sellers, it can lead to an increase in page views and other impressions, which ultimately makes its way down the funnel and boosts overall sales.
Amazon says that other review-generating programs are more effective than the Early Reviewer Program, which is why they’re putting an end to it for good.
Plus, many experts believe that the pricing module was not profitable for Amazon and that incentivizing reviews would result in biased customer feedback
Amazon has made it clear that sellers will be refunded for any outstanding ASINs when the program officially ends toward the end of April.
Why Did Amazon Make These Changes to Their Policy?
These changes to the Amazon review guidelines are good for the Ecommerce platform’s buyers. Sure, it’s a hurdle for some sellers, but Amazon is in it for the customers. To them, the vendors and sellers are just the medium.
Alternative Programs to Help You Navigate Updated Amazon Review Guidelines
Despite the fact that Amazon is kissing two review programs goodbye, sellers are not completely out of luck. There are plenty of alternatives to help boost your reviews, and I’m covering the most important ones here.
One Tap Reviews
One-tap reviews ask customers who have purchased a product from Amazon to select from 1–5 stars for a product. This makes it possible for shoppers to provide a star rating without writing a review
Ratings have replaced reviews at the top of the product detail page, right under the title.
This has led to an increase in customer feedback, but it’s less descriptive so brands don’t want to rely on just ratings. Plus, as Tom Collinger of Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University says, “The more risk aversion a consumer has to a product or product category, the more likely they are to read written reviews.”
On Amazon’s side of things, they hope it will help to eliminate fake reviews and black hat tactics.
FeedbackFive is a feedback and review management tool for Amazon sellers to manage their feedback scores and monitor reviews on their ASINs
This tool can help increase product reviews, seller feedback and product rating.
Similar to the “request a review” button in Seller Central, sellers can use FeedbackFive to send requests that comply with Amazon’s policies and control the timing of when the requests are sent based on the ASIN.
For example: If a product needs to be used a few times before results appear, then you can send a message to them after a few weeks asking for feedback.
FeedbackFive automatically sends requests in the buyer’s preferred language.
This program does have a fee based on which plan you choose. It can cost anywhere from $0 to $59.99 per month, the latter of which reflects an enterprise-scale operation.
Request a Review
The request a review tool is available in Seller Central under the Order Reports tab.
It allows you to send an automatic follow-up message within 30 days of purchase to customers who have bought your product. Sellers are only allowed to send it to customers one time after a purchase, which prevents annoyances.
Amazon Vine Program
Vine is available for vendors and sellers who have products with less than 30 reviews. You can also use it for up to 30 products.
Vine reviewers receive free products, test them and provide honest feedback
There’s no fee for sellers, but the program does require sellers to offer free products.
Almost all reviews are posted within 35 days of order completion, so it’s super effective—as long as you have a good-quality product deserving of positive reviews.
Sellers can add product inserts as printed marketing materials directly to their Amazon packages before sending them to customers.
It’s a great way to build customer loyalty, increase repeat purchases and get reviews.
Plus, it’s a simple process for brands who have Fulfillment By Merchant (FBM), because they can insert the papers before fulfilling orders.
Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) sellers can add the inserts into the packaging during the manufacturing process before sending the products to Amazon.
Some important notes about product inserts:
- DON’T try to get buyers to purchase off Amazon. Refrain from including a URL or website on the insert that does not directly lead to Amazon.
- DON’T incentive reviews. It invalidates the credibility of the review. You cannot ask for a positive review (as opposed to an honest review). You also cannot offer a discount or other type of reward for leaving a review on Amazon.
Wrapping Up Amazon Review Guidelines
It’s just like the Ecommerce giant to keep sellers on their toes, this time with updated customer review guidelines on Amazon. By keeping an ear to the ground, you can stay ahead of what’s changing and respond accordingly. Plus, you can find solid alternatives that help keep your reviews healthy and your products selling.