October 2016 UPDATE:
On October 3rd Amazon changed their community guidelines to indicate that any product received at a discount would not be eligible to have a review posted. We are yet to see if Amazon will be removing previously added reviews on products that were received at a discount. While this strategy no longer can be used to directly get product reviews, discount and other promotions can be used to drive additional sales to your product as a vendor. Using an automated email campaign to follow up for reviews can indirectly lead to additional reviews on your product.
Getting Reviews as an Amazon Vendor Central User
We’ve previously discussed the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) business models, but are going to touch on the wholesale business model. We work with many clients that utilize the Amazon Vendor Central interface to wholesale their products to Amazon. In this business model, you submit your product to Amazon, they tell you what they want and you fulfill purchase orders as they come in. This is a great business model for manufacturers or distributors and not so great for small operations. One of the largest problems our clients have are getting reviews for their products on Amazon.
The challenge of the vendor central business model is the lack of control over your listings. When selling FBA or FBM on Amazon you have more control of your listings. Meaning you can giveaway products for reviews, hold sales, buy one get one offers and utilize a variety of other promotions. An Amazon Vendor can be at a disadvantage when it comes to competing with FBA sellers due to their ability to influence their listings visibility.
A listings visibility is affected by a variety of inputs including number of sales, reviews, conversion rates, keywords, advertising, etc. Each of these contribute to Amazon’s ranking algorithm and increases in any of these factors can increase your products visibility. Many FBA and FBM sellers will attempt to manipulate the algorithm by doing large numbers of product giveaways. While Amazon has started to crack down on some of this behavior, it is still widespread and puts vendors at a distinct disadvantage. But there are ways that you as a Vendor can compete.
You need to essentially become and FBA or FBM seller to influence the number of your product reviews. Amazon does not define what is an excessive number of reviews which makes the process slightly more difficult. If your goal is to give away 100+ products at a discount, we recommend spreading out the giveaways over a longer time frame – not all up front.
Amazon does allow you to sell as both a vendor (to them) and 3rd party seller (direct to customer), however we do not recommend using this approach to getting reviews. Again, due to the lack of clarity from Amazon on what an “excessive” number of product giveaways are it is best not to use your own account. We would recommend working with someone you trust who already has a FBA seller account or can create one, and has no direct connection with your business. It could be an individual you know or it may be distributor or wholesaler that you have a great relationship with.
This person will need to list your product for sale through Amazon by clicking “Add a Product” on the manage inventory page in Amazon Seller Central. They can then search by ASIN or name to find your product which they will then list for sale. You need to have the expectations set-up with the beforehand with regards to the amount of a product discount to give. For a wholesaler or distributor, you will want to build a profit in to the discounted sale price or some other type of reimbursement. Whether you use an individual or distributor to implement this strategy you will also need to take Amazon fees into consideration. Be sure to reimburse them for any losses associated with selling the product.
They will then need to create single use promo codes to be distributed for the desired discounted price. When creating these codes make sure to use the dollar off amount and not % off. Many of our clients have made the mistake of not correctly setting up their promotions and have given away hundreds of units at 99% off – a huge loss. Also, be sure to uncheck the “Detail Page Display Text” box on the promotions page to avoid making your promotion codes public. Once the codes are created, utilize review networks such as reviewkick.com or amzreviewtrader.com. Reviewers will use the codes to get the product at a discount and give a review on the product. Always request that the reviewers put “I received this product at a discount for my fair and honest review” into the listing to avoid any violation of Amazon’s Terms of Service.
Product reviews play an important role in your conversions. Higher numbers of reviews will help you convert more of your page visits into sales. Take these important steps and you will be able to stay ahead of your FBA and FBM competitors.
Contact AMZ Advisers to learn more about growing your Amazon presence