xSellco attended the UK Online Sellers Conference in London at the end of October – there was an impressive panel that consisted of former Amazon employees as well as top performing sellers.
Avoid incentivized reviews at all costs
A lot of the talk at the conference was about how Amazon banned incentivized reviews in the US on October 3rd 2016. This major change to the Community Guidelines meant that any incentivized reviews were deleted, and they continue to be removed, unless they emerged within the Amazon Vine program. For readers who are not familiar with it, the Amazon managed Vine review program invites trusted reviewers to post their opinions on new and pre-release items in order to help customers make informed decisions about purchases.
Amazon’s strategic decision to clamp down on incentivized reviews is to improve the integrity of the review process – reviews are an important way for buyers to recommend particular brands and products. What this means for sellers is that it is essential to get your feedback strategy right, so make sure that you’re compliant with the Community Rules. This is a positive development for serious, established sellers as it will be harder for competitors with poor quality products to ‘buy credibility’. The message is clear, there are no shortcuts to be had when developing your feedback strategy.
Although this move hasn’t been announced on the UK marketplace yet, it’s likely that seller rules will be consistent across all marketplaces. It’s estimated that this change will be implemented in 3-6 months time. If your UK business isn’t yet compliant with the new feedback guidelines, then you need to get your feedback strategy right before this regulation is put in place.
Take feedback seriously
Amazon is really serious about maintaining the credibility of their review system, and as a seller this is positive news. This is something you need to be very aware of so you do not accidentally stray outside the guidelines.
Amazon is using their technology expertise to verify at scale the quality of reviews. An example shared at the event was of a US-based mother who left an unsolicited review for her son. They had different surnames, were living on different sides of the US, and Amazon had the resources to realize the connection and track them both down.
Her son never asked for the review, but it was discovered that they were related, and he received a letter cautioning him about his review practice. If he had not acted on this warning he risked account suspension.
A former Amazon employee on the panel, Rachel Greer, emphasized that there is absolutely no tolerance for seller mistakes – Amazon’s customers are buyers, and buyers are their priority.
Do your competitor research
How can you distinguish your business from your competitors? Greer emphasized the need for sellers to use search listings for competitor visibility. Ask yourself – is there a market for your product?
It’s essential to study all of your competitors’ feedback before you launch a new product, and Greer noted the importance of negative customer feedback. If you study your competitors’ feedback, you can ensure that your business will avoid costly mistakes, prevent negative reviews, and ultimately gain a competitive edge.
Make sure your images are in line with the regulations, and provide detailed and clear descriptions of your products. Avoid ambiguity at all costs – you will reduce negative reviews and lower the number of returns because your customers will know exactly what to expect from your product on arrival.
Review your value proposition
The former Amazonians on the panel were very focused on sellers identifying their value proposition. The value proposition of your product is the feature or service that will attract your customer to your product over a competitor’s product.
Do you know what your product can offer in comparison to market competition? The gurus advised to make sure to research every aspect of a competitor’s product and product listing – from their design to their brand name, and everything in between.
The key to gaining a competitive edge? Make sure you’re providing customers with the best possible experience.
Sellers need to recognize that their customers are the most influential brand ambassadors for their business – second only to your customer support team. Customers trust other customers – so positive reviews of your products will boost your sales, your seller ranking, and your search ranking.
In the age of the customer, it’s all about engaging personally with your buyers. If you do this, you will build trust between your brand and your customers and they’ll keep coming back.
I hope that some of these insights were useful – happy selling!