One element, often underestimated, that allows Amazon to be so authoritative when talking about selling is the number of opinions about the products present on the platform.
In the overall marketplace ecosystem, reviews are a fundamental element to improve the visibility of the products on the platform: a study by BigCommerce has shown that 77% of online consumers rely primarily on product reviews before making a purchase. The importance of this driver, therefore, pushes many Vendors and Sellers to wonder how to get more and with higher quality reviews.
However, the platform’s review mechanism fits as a controversial process and has been constantly updated. Since 2016, there have been a series of changes in terms of review management.
Here is a list of the main milestones:
- In 2016, Amazon creates the Vine program, which allows Vendors and Sellers to offer free products to a small group of Amazon users in exchange for reviews;
- In 2017, Amazon launches the Early Reviewer Program, intending to encourage customers who purchased a product to leave an objective review;
- In 2019, Amazon creates the One Tap Review, allowing users who have purchased a product to leave a 1-5 stars rating without adding text comments;
- In 2020, Amazon added the “request a review” button on Seller Central, allowing Sellers to quickly request a customer review.
How does the Amazon review system work today?
Below each product on Amazon, you can read the “customer reviews”, which can also be released by those who have not actually made an order: in this case, however, the review will not be marked with the badge “verified purchase“.
Reviews made by customers who purchased the product on the platform – and then with the badge “verified purchase” – are considered more relevant by Amazon algorithm and site users (unless the product was purchased at a large discount).
Amazon users can also then rate the single review as “useful“: those that Amazon’s algorithm considers as “most valuable” will be visible immediately below the product description. The advantage for merchants is that products with more reviews – and more positive reviews – have benefits in terms of ranking in Amazon search results, in fact, they will appear higher at the ranking level. In addition, product pages with multiple reviews show higher conversion rates: a BrightLocal research showed that products with 50 or more positive reviews get a conversion rate increase of almost 5%.
Today, all the reviews of child products in a variation are shown together on the product page. It means that, when a user searches for a specific colour, taste or size of a certain product (child), he/she will find the child reviews altogether.
For example, if a user is interested in the coffee pod “Intenso” and such product is in a variation with the coffee pod “Soave”, the user will see both reviews, but still distinguished by colour, taste or size:
If already the Amazon products had a favorable positioning at a Google’s SEO level (the search for a product on Google in fact privileges Amazon among the first results), recently the Amazon impact in Google’s indexing has become even more important.
Recently, Google has also begun to use the reviews and ratings of some Amazon products as Featured Snippets (and therefore as an answer to precise questions asked by users).
How to get reviews for your products?
Currently, the Vine program is the only official and allowed method for merchants to increase their products’ reviews. This initiative invites the most trusted Amazon reviewers to publish objective and sincere product reviews, intending to help other customers make the most informed purchases possible.
Becoming a Vine Voice, and so joining this “special group of reliable reviewers”, is possible only by receiving an Amazon direct invitation. Amazon offers such an opportunity based on the usefulness and the quality of their previous purchases’ reviews.
In exchange for independent opinions, Amazon offers Vine members free products from the program’s sales partners (publishers, labels, studios, manufacturers).
For merchants, being a sales partner of the Vine program can be a winning strategy to increase and improve the average of product reviews, both in quantity and quality.
To join the program, it is necessary that merchants:
- Are registered in the Amazon Brand Registry;
- Do not participate or have not participated in the Amazon onsite Logistics program in the past.
In addition, reference products must:
- Belong to a brand enrolled on the Amazon Brand Register;
- Have less than 30 reviews on the product page;
- Be associated with an Amazon Logistics offer and be available in “New” condition;
- Not be adults’ products;
- Have already been launched at the time of registration;
- Have an available inventory;
- Have an image, a description and a title;
- Be classified into a navigation node.
For Sellers, the Vine Program provides, in Italy, a registration fee of 170€ for each “parent” ASIN: however, if within 90 days of registration the product does not receive any reviews, this amount will not be charged. For Vendors, the price is 1350€ per product.
If the product is part of a variation, the service applies to the parent ASIN: Vine users will then choose which variant they want to receive and then review.
Each ASIN can only be registered with Vine once. After unsubscribing, the same ASIN cannot be re-registered.
Another method, reserved for Sellers, is to request a review using the homonymous button on the order detail page. After each order, Amazon takes charge of asking for customer reviews: however, this method allows you to incentivize feedback and is configured as a helpful alternative in some cases (for example if you want to make sure you get a review for specific strategic important products).
When using this feature, the user is asked for both a product review and feedback about the Seller. These emails are standardized and are automatically translated into the customer’s preferred language.
You can use this feature once for each order, between the fifth and thirtieth day after the delivery date. This way, customers will receive recent and relevant requests.
Considering that the power of reviews is very impactful, there are alternative methods – unauthorized by the platform – to increase reviews on Amazon.
There are private Facebook groups where some Sellers ask Amazon users to buy their products and write a review. In return, users receive a refund of the purchase plus a small amount (from 3 to 5 dollars) for the review. Amazon has declared its commitment to defeating this system and is implementing a “cleaning” policy of fake reviews, deleting thousands of illegal reviews from the site.
Also prohibited is the practice of including together with the product (e.g. in the packaging for MFN sellers or just inside the packaging produced for FBA) leaflets and similar with discount codes to the customer in exchange for reviews. As a general rule, any behavior with the aim of establishing a transactional relationship to obtain reviews is prohibited.
For all companies that sell on Amazon, it is not recommended to break the guidelines so as not to run into suspensions or permanent blocks of the account, which penalize sales in the long term.
Amazon has always been at the forefront of combating the procurement of illicit reviews:
- A Novembre 2018, Amazon ha rimosso 30.000 recensioni considerate non conformi alle direttive, con l’obiettivo di punire i comportamenti scorretti su questo fronte;
- Nel 2021 ha poi dichiarato una vera e propria guerra alle recensioni false, bandendo i prodotti di 600 brand cinesi – tra cui Aukey, Mpow & RavPower – colpevoli di aver violato le linee guida della piattaforma.
The Witailer approach
Witailer has developed an internal tool, Engage, that can support brands in monitoring and managing product reviews of their customers.
In particular, with Engage, merchants can:
- Monitor product reviews and questions;
- Control communication & tone of voice with Amazon customers;
- Respond in real-time to customer questions with standardized templates;
- Easily measure product ratings and customer reviews with intuitive dashboards & the main KPIs.