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A recent study released found that “Amazon reviews” containing language that would indicate the reviewer received the item for free or at a discount in exchange for a review, on average would rate the product .38 stars higher than organic reviews.

On October 3rd 2016, Amazon’s VP of Customer Experience, Chee Chew, announced that these “incentivized reviews” would no longer be allowed with a few exceptions. The original policy used to allow retailers to compensate customers with free products in exchange for reviews as long as the compensation was disclosed in the review.

The change to the policy now prohibits creating, modifying or posting content regarding your own products, your competitors’ products, offering compensation in exchange for content, and posting advertisements or solicitations. Read more here.

There are a few exceptions these include the Amazon Vine program and for book sellers. See the full exception list here. Amazon’s review policy change has been widely covered across the news but little has been said about the actual implications for Amazon sellers. Here’s how our retailers are acknowledging the change:

Exceptional Customer service is key to maintaining positive reviews

Customer service is the most effective way to differentiate your brand from your competition. A glowing review of your team going above and beyond to help a customer is a great way to drive conversion. Look for ways to establish touchpoints and create a connection with customers (within Amazon’s guidelines).

Timely shipments and packing accuracy are paramount

Accurate and on-time deliveries have always been a key piece of being an Amazon seller, but without the ability to fall back on incentivized reviews this could hinder a product’s performance. Ensure that you have the correct inventory numbers on Amazon, especially if you sell on multiple marketplaces, ensuring you only ever sell what you can deliver.

Ensure your review tools are still compliant

There are many review enhancement tools out there for Amazon. Most have amended their approach but it doesn’t hurt to verify that your vendor is compliant with the switch.

Generating your first ground swell of reviews is more difficult

Incentivized reviews were a great way to drive an initial ground swell of reviews to establish your product on Amazon. One of the key factors to winning the buy box is customer service and reviews.

Historic incentivized reviews could be pulled off the marketplace

It's important to identify any of your products that received a high number of incentivized reviews, and be aware that their standing could change. Consider a tactical price change to counter, or adjust your forecast and budgeting appropriately for a change in sales performance.

Need more Amazon selling tips to improve your reviews? Check out our infographic!

The bottom line

Amazon has eliminated the ability for retailers to artificially improve their product’s standing on the marketplace. This returns product reviews to a fully competitive landscape. Retailers with a retail management system in place that allows them to accurately and efficiently ship orders while freeing their staff to focus on customer delight will inevitably garner the best reviews and drive more sales through their listings.

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About the Author

Scott Hill is Head of Product Marketing at Brightpearl and knows the system inside out after 5 years with the company. You’ll find Scott writing tonnes of useful technical and product specific content. He’s the most likely member of the team to be seen on a webinar!