Since October 2016, Amazon has made appreciable modifications to its product evaluation coverage. This has led to a number of confusion surrounding the do’s and don’ts of asking for an Amazon product evaluation.
The purpose of this text it to take our real-world expertise, in addition to our dialog with Amazon vendor suspensions professional, Chris McCabe, and browse between the strains of Amazon’s product critiques for you.
You may watch our full interview with Chris right here:
And we’ll dig into ALL the main points to find out what Amazon finally considers unlawful or unethical, and what they consider is okay. It’s a number of (vital!) data, so take a look at our infographic for a fast, clear overview, and bookmark this put up as a reference for the detailed model.
To be clear, at Jungle Scout we consider all varieties of evaluation manipulation convey down the Amazon platform. It results in a lack of shopper belief. And a lack of belief means much less gross sales for the platform, sellers and even our enterprise.
Should you’re ever unsure that what you’re doing may be thought-about unethical or unlawful in Amazon’s eyes, err on the facet of warning. It’s at all times the best choice.
What are the do’s and don’ts of Amazon product critiques?
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So now, let’s begin with the phrases of service, straight from Amazon’s website.
In Amazon’s phrases:
With regards to the precise phrases of service for buyer product critiques, you’ll find Amazon’s pointers in Vendor Central. However to make this very easy for you, right here is strictly what these pointers say:
Amazon encourages consumers to evaluation the merchandise they like and dislike to assist prospects make knowledgeable selections in regards to the merchandise they buy.
For solutions to widespread questions on buyer product critiques, see Solutions to questions on product critiques.
To make sure that critiques stay useful, sellers should adjust to our Group Pointers. For instance, you can’t provide compensation for a evaluation, and you can’t evaluation your individual merchandise or your opponents’ merchandise. You may ask consumers to put in writing a evaluation, however you can’t ask for constructive critiques or ask a reviewer to alter or take away their evaluation. Should you consider a evaluation doesn’t adjust to our Group Pointers, click on on the Report Abuse hyperlink subsequent to the evaluation. As sellers and producers, you aren’t allowed to evaluation your individual merchandise, nor are you allowed to negatively evaluation a competitor’s product.
Inappropriate product critiques
The next are examples of prohibited actions. This isn’t an all-inclusive listing.
- A vendor posts a evaluation of their very own product or their competitor’s product both in their very own identify or as an unbiased purchaser.
- A vendor provides a 3rd celebration a monetary reward, low cost, or different compensation in alternate for a evaluation on their product or their competitor’s product. This consists of providers that promote buyer critiques and web sites or social media teams with implicit or specific agreements or expectations that an incentive is contingent on prospects leaving a evaluation.
- A vendor provides to offer a refund or reimbursement after the client writes a evaluation (together with reimbursement by way of a non-Amazon fee technique).
- A vendor makes use of a third-party service that gives free or discounted merchandise tied to a evaluation (for instance, a evaluation membership that requires prospects to register their Amazon public profile in order that sellers might monitor their critiques).
- A member of the family or worker of the vendor posts a evaluation of the vendor’s product or a competitor’s product.
- A vendor provides a refund or different compensation to a reviewer in alternate for altering or eradicating their evaluation.
- A vendor solely asks for critiques from consumers who had a constructive expertise and makes an attempt to divert consumers who had a unfavorable expertise to a distinct suggestions mechanism. This consists of circumstances the place the shopper proactively reaches out to the vendor to specific satisfaction with their merchandise.
- A vendor creates a variation relationship between merchandise that aren’t truly associated to one another with a view to enhance a product’s star ranking.
- A vendor inserts a request for a constructive Amazon evaluation or an incentive in alternate for a evaluation into product packaging.
- A vendor manipulates the ‘Useful’, ‘Not Useful’, or ‘Report Abuse’ options on any evaluation on his or his competitor’s merchandise.
Notice: References to ‘vendor’ right here consists of all the vendor’s workers and third celebration companions.
You may ask for critiques from prospects who bought your merchandise off Amazon. Nonetheless, notice that every one the shopper critiques insurance policies apply to those critiques as nicely.
Notice: Violation of our insurance policies can also violate relevant legal guidelines, which may result in authorized motion and civil and prison penalties. Should you violate our insurance policies, we might disclose your identify and different associated data publicly and to civil or prison enforcement authorities.
We encourage you to observe critiques often and attain out to prospects to resolve services or products points. Nonetheless, you can’t ask prospects to alter or take away their evaluation, even after a problem is resolved. Additionally, you may attain out to prospects by replying to their evaluation on the product element web page and asking them to contact you thru Purchaser-Vendor Messaging to resolve their points. You can not attain out to consumers by way of different means.
Breaking all of it down
It’s a surprisingly quick doc, however the guideline web page is definitely some of the vital on the complete website. Now, let’s break down what every aspect means, and the way it can influence your Amazon FBA enterprise.
1 – “Amazon encourages consumers to evaluation the merchandise they like and dislike…”
Amazon advocates neutrality. It needs its consumers to evaluation not simply merchandise they like, however these they’re upset with as nicely. Primarily, if a buyer is sad with a product, Amazon needs them to let different potential prospects know.
2 – “…to assist prospects make knowledgeable selections in regards to the merchandise they buy.”
The second a part of the rules’ first assertion reveals Amazon’s true intent. They need to seem completely clear on the subject of their consumers’ experiences. Critiques–good or unhealthy–needs to be trustworthy. Then, different prospects know precisely what to anticipate from a product
3 – Amazon’s assets for sellers
Amazon appears to concentrate on the confusion surrounding product critiques. The phrases of service web page provides not only one hyperlink to its Steadily Requested Questions part, however two.
4 – “To make sure that critiques stay useful, sellers should adjust to our Group Pointers.”
Subsequent, Amazon directs sellers to its Group Pointers doc. We strongly advocate you evaluation this vital information. It’s jut as vital because the buyer product critiques web page.
And once more, to simplify this for you, among the most vital components of the rules are listed under. Nonetheless, the sections on promotions and industrial solicitations, and extra pointers for buyer critiques, aren’t included right here as I am going into extra element afterward.
- “We take the integrity of the Group severely. Any try to control Group content material or options, together with by contributing false, deceptive, or inauthentic content material, is strictly prohibited. Should you violate our Pointers, we might limit your potential to make use of Group options, take away content material, delist associated merchandise, or droop or terminate your account. If we decide that an Amazon account has been used to have interaction in any type of misconduct, remittances and funds could also be withheld or completely forfeited. Misconduct can also violate state and federal legal guidelines, together with the Federal Commerce Fee Act, and might result in authorized motion and civil and prison penalties.”
- “The Group is meant to offer useful, related content material to prospects.”
- “With a purpose to preserve a welcoming surroundings for all customers, your participation within the Group should at all times be respectful of others.”
- Resulting from person sensitivities, sexual content material (although permitted) could also be excluded locally.
- “Don’t put up content material or work together with different members of the Group in a means that infringes the mental property or different proprietary rights of others.”
- “Don’t put up content material that encourages or helps conduct that’s unlawful, together with violence, fraud, unlawful drug use, underage ingesting, or little one or animal abuse.”
5 – Promotions and Business Solicitations
Inside Amazon’s Group Pointers part, there are particulars on what sellers (and consumers) can and might’t do relating to promotions.
First, what’s a promotion or industrial solicitation?
Promos and solicitations embody commercials (each on and off Amazon), product inserts, follow-up emails, or some other content material that you simply put in entrance of a present or potential buyer relating to an Amazon product (yours, your opponents, or some other merchandise on the positioning).
Second, what can and might’t we do?
Inside Amazon’s group, that is what the rules say is NOT permitted:
- “Creating, modifying, or posting content material relating to your (or your relative’s, shut pal’s, enterprise affiliate’s, or employer’s) services or products.”
- “Creating, modifying, or posting content material relating to your opponents’ services or products.”
- “Creating, modifying, or posting content material in alternate for compensation of any type (together with free or discounted merchandise, refunds, or reimbursements) or on behalf of anybody else.”
- “Providing compensation or requesting compensation (together with free or discounted merchandise) in alternate for creating, modifying, or posting content material.”
- “Posting commercials or solicitations, together with URLs with referrer tags or affiliate codes.”
Nonetheless, it additionally states that there are exceptions.
In response to Amazon, these are the one ones:
- “You could put up content material requested by Amazon (equivalent to Buyer Critiques of merchandise you bought on Amazon or acquired by the Vine program, and solutions requested by Questions and Solutions). In these circumstances, your content material should adjust to any extra pointers specified by Amazon.”
- “You could put up a solution to a query requested by the Questions and Solutions function (however not a query itself) relating to services or products for which you’ve a monetary or shut private connection to the model, vendor, writer, or artist, however provided that you clearly and conspicuously disclose the connection (for instance, “I symbolize the model for this product.”). We mechanically label some solutions from sellers or producers, through which case extra disclosure just isn’t vital.”
- “You could put up content material aside from Buyer Critiques and Questions and Solutions relating to services or products for which you’ve a monetary or shut private connection to the model, vendor, writer, or artist, however provided that you clearly and conspicuously disclose the connection (e.g., “I used to be paid for this put up.”). Nonetheless, no model or enterprise might take part within the Group in a means (together with by promoting, particular provides, or some other “name to motion”) that diverts Amazon prospects to a different non-Amazon web site, service, software, or channel for the aim of conducting advertising or gross sales transactions. Content material posted by model, vendor, writer, or artist accounts relating to their very own services or products doesn’t require extra labeling.”
In addition they state, on the finish of the part, that, “E book authors and publishers might proceed to offer free or discounted copies of their books to readers, so long as the writer or writer doesn’t require a evaluation in alternate or try to affect the evaluation.”
6 – “You may ask consumers to put in writing a evaluation…”
Its true! Amazon does inform us in its Buyer product critiques phrases of service that its sellers can ask consumers to put in writing critiques. You simply must observe their rules.
7 – “… however you can’t ask for constructive critiques or ask a reviewer to alter or take away their evaluation.”
Two vital factors right here:
- It doesn’t matter what, you may’t ask a buyer to depart you a constructive evaluation. Not in your follow-up emails, not in your product inserts, and never by one other messaging system like Fb bots. Amazon has been cracking down on this in the previous few months, and are taking it very severely.
- Second, you may’t ask a reviewer to alter or take away a evaluation. Requesting or suggesting a buyer edit or delete their unfavorable evaluation is towards the principles. Even when their drawback is solved, they usually let you know they’re happy, asking them to make modifications just isn’t allowed. Prior to now, Amazon promoting consultants have mentioned asking a buyer to delete or edit their evaluation was okay. However, from what we’ve seen and from what our suspension specialist advised us, that is simply as unhealthy as asking for a constructive evaluation.
8 – “As sellers and producers, you aren’t allowed to evaluation your individual merchandise, nor are you allowed to negatively evaluation a competitor’s product.”
Whereas not a brand new rule, it’s vital to level this one out anyway. You may’t depart critiques in your personal merchandise. You may’t depart an unfavorable evaluation for a competitor’s product both.
It’s value mentioning that it particularly says “negatively evaluation”, although. In different phrases, a constructive evaluation of your opponents’ product may be okay, however I doubt you’ll be doing that!
9 – “A vendor provides a 3rd celebration a monetary reward, low cost, or different compensation in alternate for a evaluation on their product or their competitor’s product.”
October third, 2016, Amazon banned all incentivized critiques. This modified the enterprise methods of hundreds of Amazon sellers in a single day, Jungle Scout sellers included.
Knowledge began to flow into that Amazon’s product critiques had been, on common, greater than their opponents’. Forbes Journal began investigating and printed Why You Shouldn’t Belief All Amazon Critiques on March 3, 2016.
“Finest Critiques checked out 488 completely different merchandise listed on Amazon with a complete of 360,000 person rankings. Out of these critiques, 66.3% (almost 240,000) had been 5-star rankings. It’s an nearly unrealistic quantity for any enterprise, not to mention for the a whole lot of merchandise monitored within the research.”
Amazon’s been making an attempt to repair the issue ever since.
10 – “A vendor provides to offer a refund or reimbursement after the client writes a evaluation.”
After incentivized product critiques ended, some inventive sellers began providing refunds and reimbursements after the sale to encourage critiques. Amazon caught on. Now, the Amazon abuse group screens and stops the follow.
11 – “A vendor makes use of a third-party service that gives free or discounted merchandise tied to a evaluation.”
Earlier than Amazon stopped incentivized critiques, numerous evaluation golf equipment existed. They provided deeply discounted Amazon merchandise in alternate for product critiques. When the October third, 2016 insurance policies emerge, these companies needed to shut down.
12 – “A vendor solely asks for critiques from consumers who had a constructive expertise and makes an attempt to divert consumers who had a unfavorable expertise to a distinct suggestions mechanism.”
One tactic we used to see within the Amazon group had been automated emails asking the shopper in the event that they had been happy. The emails had ‘Sure’ and ‘No’ hyperlinks. The ‘Sure’ hyperlink took them to the product’s evaluation web page, whereas the ‘No’ hyperlink took them to buyer help.
However Amazon has cracked down on cherry choosing. Following up with consumers who appreciated your product, however not with those that didn’t, is now prohibited. In reality, even follow-up emails suggesting a buyer ought to depart a evaluation if that they had a constructive expertise are forbidden.
For instance, in case your electronic mail or product insert makes use of language like, “Should you loved this product and want to share your five-star expertise”, you’re in danger. Amazon views this as manipulative.
13 – “This consists of circumstances the place the shopper proactively reaches out to the vendor to specific satisfaction with their merchandise.”
Even when the shopper contacts you to let you already know they love your product, you may’t ask them to depart a evaluation. So, if a buyer writes good vendor suggestions for you, or replies to your follow-up electronic mail, don’t ask for a evaluation. Amazon considers it to be manipulative.
14 – “A vendor creates a variation relationship between merchandise that aren’t truly associated to one another with a view to enhance a product’s star ranking.”
Say you’re promoting a kitchen knife, and it’s been getting poor critiques. For that cause, you attempt to join it to certainly one of your merchandise that’s getting good critiques, like a frying pan.
The speculation behind the transfer is that the product with good critiques will enhance the product with unhealthy critiques. However that’s now not acceptable. Amazon (you guessed it!) sees this as manipulative and forbids it.
15 – “A vendor inserts a request for a constructive Amazon evaluation or an incentive in alternate for a evaluation into product packaging.”
Solely lately did the phrase ‘insert’ seem in Amazon’s phrases of service language. Now, if a vendor features a product insert that particularly requests a constructive evaluation, or offers an incentive for a evaluation, they’ll face evaluation suppression and account suspension.
Amazon isn’t banning all product inserts although. We simply must make it possible for the language within the insert is totally impartial.
Talking with our Amazon suspension specialist Chris McCabe, he clarified what’s NOT allowed on product inserts:
- Incentives for critiques.
- Requests for less than constructive critiques.
- Hints at product critiques. Even a picture of 5 stars is problematic.
- Explaining that you simply donate income to charity, you might be “a family-owned enterprise”, or some other language that means not leaving a evaluation may harm your corporation or damage others.
- Providing to care for potential points (customer support) earlier than a buyer leaves a unfavorable evaluation.
Chris defined that an insert ought to merely ask for a evaluation. Interval.
16 – “A vendor manipulates the ‘Useful’, ‘Not Useful’, or ‘Report Abuse’ options on any evaluation on his or [her] competitor’s merchandise.”
You may’t assault your competitor’s merchandise both. You may, nonetheless, report any abuse you uncover.
17 – “You may ask for critiques from prospects who bought your merchandise off Amazon.”
If a buyer buys your product from someplace aside from Amazon, they’ll nonetheless depart a evaluation ON Amazon. After all, the evaluation shall be unverified, and it should observe Amazon’s pointers.
18 – “…you can’t ask prospects to alter or take away their evaluation, even after a problem is resolved.”
Once more, you may’t ask for a buyer to edit or delete their evaluation for any cause.
19 – “…you may attain out to prospects by replying to their evaluation on the product element web page and asking them to contact you thru Purchaser-Vendor Messaging to resolve their points. You can not attain out to consumers by way of different means.”
You may depart a reply on the precise evaluation itself, however you may’t observe down your buyer’s electronic mail and use it to resolve points. Utilizing software program or “hacks” to seek out the consumers who left a unfavorable evaluation can get you suspended.
Ask the Consultants: Chris McCabe
Not too long ago, Greg Mercer and I sat down with Amazon suspension specialist, eCommerceChris‘ Chris McCabe. He used to work for Amazon, however now helps Amazon sellers keep away from phrases of service points with the retail website.
Listed here are a number of of the issues we discovered from Chris.
“Amazon retains it imprecise – particularly in account suspensions.”
Principally, Amazon needs to remain versatile with its do’s and don’ts of product critiques. Whereas they attempt to stay honest, in the event that they suppose a vendor’s itemizing content material goes towards their core worth of caring for their prospects, Amazon will take motion.
“Amazon is slowly tightening the grip on the method. They nonetheless don’t have a deal with on find out how to forestall pretend critiques.”
For years, Amazon has labored diligently to create new processes and procedures to care for its pretend evaluation concern. After all, the most important transfer it made was banning incentivized critiques.
Since then, as Chris notes, any evaluation loopholes/hacks sellers may use to get round Amazon’s guidelines are rapidly closed. This implies Amazon might proceed introducing new insurance policies to enhance what it, and its critics, see because the retail platform’s largest concern.
Chris explains that Amazon is underneath intense stress and scrutiny, each inside Amazon itself and the general public.
“Suspicion rapidly converts to suspension.”
Suspensions are on the rise, and Chris believes Amazon isn’t taking any possibilities with sellers making an attempt to “break the system.”
Accounts coming underneath suspicion for manipulation and content material abuse are more likely to be suspended, notably in the event that they proceed or fail to deal with the priority.
“Nonetheless, Amazon does warn its sellers.”
A big portion of all sellers are warned by Amazon to stop and desist practices that violate their phrases of service, Chris advised us. Many miss out on–or just ignore–these warnings although.
Don’t be a type of sellers; suspensions of a lot of these accounts are widespread. So, if you happen to obtain a warning, shield your self and make the beneficial modifications.
“Large sellers aren’t handled any otherwise.”
No matter how a lot enterprise you’re doing on Amazon, Amazon takes its evaluation content material very severely.
Chris explains that over the past main “purge”, Amazon banned hundreds of sellers. That included accounts making eight or 9 figures in income. The one benefit bigger companies appear to have is that those that use them are higher at hiding their ‘black hat’ practices.
“Watch your messaging to Amazon’s prospects.”
Messaging despatched to Amazon prospects is one space the place Amazon is cracking down.
Chris critiques follow-up emails, correspondences, and even product inserts to make sure that his shoppers are following Amazon’s phrases of service. He defined that that is the primary space of confusion for sellers.
Additionally, Chris diligently warns his shoppers towards utilizing manipulative dialogue in messaging and promotional materials.
Listed here are some examples of manipulative language:
- Guilting the client. Saying you’re a “small, family-owned enterprise”, that you simply’re “donating to charity,” or your merchandise are “made in America” all qualify as guilting the client.
- Cherry-picking. “If there may be any cause why you wouldn’t depart a five-star evaluation, please contact us.”
- Incentivizing. Something that induces constructive conduct round critiques (reductions, pointless refunds, and many others.).
- Battle of curiosity. Encouraging critiques from family and friends. Amazon’s instruments can detect it.
Amazon has suspended sellers for all the above.
“Amazon bans for segmenting its consumers.”
Sending out product promotions is okay. Nonetheless, if solely those that have acquired product promotions obtain emails asking for product critiques, Amazon sees this as segmenting.
Amazon believes that those that obtain discounted merchandise–even when it wasn’t given in alternate for a evaluation–are simply persuaded to depart a constructive evaluation.
“Simply because others are doing it, doesn’t imply you must, too.”
In a number of methods, Chris’ warnings reminded us of people who find themselves pulled over by the police for dashing. Even when they weren’t the individual going the quickest, they had been nonetheless going over the restrict and, subsequently, received caught. And the identical is true for sellers.
There could also be sellers larger than you breaking the principles, however if you happen to’re not following Amazon’s pointers, you’re placing your account in danger.
What does Chris recommend as finest practices for getting product critiques on Amazon?
- “Be as conservative as doable.” All the time err on the facet of warning. If it looks as if you’re contacting a consumer strictly for the aim of getting a constructive evaluation, you’re most likely going towards Amazon’s phrases of service.
- “Irregular, heavy spikes in gross sales can draw suspicion.” Whereas we advocate that sellers get a gross sales enhance utilizing launch providers like Jungle Scout‘s, Chris advises sellers to play it protected. He thinks getting dozens of gross sales per day from these websites are okay. However, Amazon raises a pink flag if you happen to’re handing out a whole lot of low cost codes, resulting in a whole lot of gross sales every day.
- “Keep away from black hat providers.” There are a number of firms–particularly abroad–that promote providers to control Amazon’s information. Keep as far-off as doable from any service utilizing black hat methods, or that appears disreputable.
What questions do you’ve?
Naturally, as Amazon evolves and grows, they’ll proceed so as to add new guidelines. Hopefully, although, this text cleared up a number of the confusion round Amazon’s present product evaluation pointers.
However if you happen to nonetheless have questions, feedback, and even tales to share surrounding Amazon’s product critiques, please put up them within the feedback under.
And a particular because of Chris McCabe for taking the time to talk with us!