Major Change to Amazon’s Customer Review Policy

Amazon announced a big deal change that will impact many third-party service providers in the Amazon eco-sphere. You see, Amazon’s Customer Review Policy used to allow sellers to offer discounted codes in return for reviews. The requirement, was that the reviewer disclosed that they received the product for free or at a discount. This is no longer permitted.

Amazon states:

Today, we updated the community guidelines to prohibit incentivized reviews unless they are facilitated through the Amazon Vine program.

Amazon Vine program was launched some time ago, however until now, they didn’t make that the only approach for offering discounted products for reviews. Here’s how Amazon describes it:

Amazon – not the vendor or seller – identifies and invites trusted and helpful reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release products; we do not incentivize positive star ratings, attempt to influence the content of reviews, or even require a review to be written; and we limit the total number of Vine reviews that we display for each product. Vine has important controls in place and has proven to be especially valuable for getting early reviews on new products that have not yet been able to generate enough sales to have significant numbers of organic reviews.

Why Amazon’s Customer Review Policy Matters

For Retail and Online Arbitrage sellers, this is probably not a big deal. Many products already have good ranks, otherwise you probably would not have bought them. For sellers that create bundles or otherwise creates listings, this could have an impact, but, I don’t see bundles terribly impacted here.

The real impact is on sellers who do Private Label. Private Label is essentially identifying a product that you believe will sell, and contacting the manufacturer. Many major retailers do private label as well, one of the best known is Costco’s Kirkland brand. Of course, many smaller resellers try out private label as well, because you get the opportunity to build your own brand. This requires a multi-faceted approach, but generally speaking, one of the best indications of a product can be the number of positive Amazon reviews. An example in the mile and point space is TravelMore, Parag, the blogger behind Frequent Flyer University, built a pretty solid brand of private label products oriented toward travel.

This isn’t the end of the world though, because Amazon Vine still provides a way for brand owners to get reviews.

Wrapping Up

Overall, this is the biggest hit to companies like Seller Labs’ Snagshout and ReviewKick. I suspect that this is probably because Amazon wants more control over the customer experience, which they’ve indicated with other actions. I haven’t played around with Amazon Vine, but I plan to in the near future.

Does this change impact you? What are your thoughts of Amazon’s Customer Review Policy change to a single platform for building brand reviews through discounted products?

3 thoughts on “Major Change to Amazon’s Customer Review Policy

  1. Honestly, I am kind of glad about this. So long as they provide an avenue for private labels to participate, it’ll be good to know that the streams of “I loved it, and I’m not just saying that because I had the opportunity to get it free” reviews will become a thing of the past.

    Now, if they can just figure out how to stop the 100 five star reviews for knockoffs from overseas that aren’t even available yet…

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