Sell on Amazon – The New Terms of Service Changes during August 2015 and what you need to know for September 2015
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Amazon added a new section to its Prohibited Seller Activities and Action which has everyone buzzing. In this article we cover the new Amazon Terms of Service changes that you need to know.
I’ll now present an actionable plan to make more sales on Amazon, avoid losing seller privileges, and make the TOS changes work in your favor, instead of against you.
First thing’s first. Let’s get on the same page by checking out Amazon’s TOS.
Here’s the excerpt from Amazon’s “Prohibited Seller Activities and Actions”. You can read the full document here: http://amzn.to/1UDoxo3
For the latest on Amazon reviews, check out these pieces:
> Amazon removes verified purchase badges (November 2015)
> Will this get me banned? Getting Amazon reviews the right way (May 2016)
> Amazon sues sellers for fake reviews (June 2016)
How do the new Amazon terms of service changes affect reviews?
But here’s the section on reviews. It reads:
“Reviews: Reviews are important to the Amazon Marketplace, providing a forum for feedback about product and service details and reviewers’ experiences with products and services — positive or negative.”
From this, and from the Amazon Vine Program, which gives free product to reviewers in exchange for feedback, it’s clear that honest reviews will always be a part of Amazon’s system.
“You may not write reviews for products or services that you have a financial interest in, including reviews for products or services that you or your competitors sell. Additionally, you may not provide compensation for a review other than a free copy of the product. If you offer a free product, it must be clear that you are soliciting an unbiased review. The free product must be provided in advance. No refunds are permitted after the review is written.”
This takes money out of the equation. Make sure that you solicit honest reviews, with no compensation for the reviewer except a copy of your product.
And here’s what Amazon added recently:
“You may not intentionally manipulate your products’ rankings, including by offering an excessive number of free or discounted products, in exchange for a review.”
This is great.
It presents an opportunity for most sellers, because this new clause targets black hat tactics, and rewards sellers who build reviews by the rules.
We asked Amazon Seller Support to define the terms. Here’s what Amazon said:
“Intentionally manipulate your products’ rankings”
means knowingly influencing the outcome of the product giveaway— in other words, asking for a positive review instead of an unbiased one. This is against TOS, because asking for 5-stars instead of an honest opinion is intentional rank manipulation. That’s a black hat tactic, so we’re glad it’s gone.
“Offering an excessive number of free or discounted products”
We asked what counts as “excessive.” Like, is it 1000? 500? What’s excessive? Amazon says “excessive” isn’t a numerical value. It refers to offering multiple units to a single person—a single reviewer— because this might influence the review to be more positive. Again, a black hat tactic, so we’re glad it’s gone.
To make sure I understood, I posed this example: can I issue 1000 units to 1000 unique customers for free, granted there were no refunds, no multiples sent to the same person, and no solicitation for positive reviews. The answer?
And while 1000 units is extreme, of course it’s permitted. It’s consistent with Amazon’s best interests.
Amazon wants people to test-drive products. So whether you’re giving away 100 or 1000 units, as long as the reviews are honest and free of manipulation, both quantities are fine. If you give away 1000 units of a great product, you’ll get great reviews. Give away 1000 bad products, and nothing can save you.
Say Millie’s Hairbrushes teams up with HonestFew to send 300 fancy pink brushes to reviewers for honest evaluation. One reviewer writes that she loves the design, it works well for her— but she had trouble combing her daughter’s crazy curly hair. A customer with straight hair sees the review, and buys the brush. A customer with really curly hair sees the review, and avoids a bad experience and a possible return. The customers are grateful, the seller makes a sale and builds their review count, and Amazon’s paid for their service.
Honest product testing will be around forever because it ensures customers get what they need and can buy with confidence.
That’s why we connect products with honest reviewers.
More to the point, we’re actually pioneering HonestFew Video, or HFV, which allows companies to get honest video reviews of their products. So for only a 6-unit giveaway, you could have 6 video demos on your listing. More about HFV here: https://honestfew.com/product/video-package/
To sum it all up, here’s how to avoid losing selling privileges when doing promotions:
– ask for honest, unbiased feedback on the products you’re promoting. In person, email, everywhere.
– have reviewers state that they received the product for honest review in their written review on Amazon
If you’re using HonestFew, we do all this for you with a guaranteed review rate. But if you’re promoting to your email list or something, be sure to use this language.
– ask for positive or 5-star reviews
– pay or otherwise compensate people to write reviews
– issue refunds on products that were sent out for a review
– send multiple copies of the same product to a single reviewer
– write claims regarding your product’s BSR in your listing title or ad copy (things like #1 or Best Selling)
– review your own products or those of your competitors
– send products to friends and family for reviews
These changes aren’t aimed at you.
They’re aimed at those trying to rank by manipulating the review process. Build a good product that works well, optimize your listing, promote as many units as you need to get on page 1, and get where you deserve to be.
If you’re ready to put things into motion, you can drop us a line at https://honestfew.com/amazon-sellers/
We run product promotions every day for sellers who are looking to get to Page 1 without struggling for every review and sale. Thanks for reading the newest piece on the new Amazon Terms of Service changes, and stay honest.
For those of you who would like to continue the conversation, feel free to head over to the HonestFew Mastermind Facebook group. We’re a select community of Amazon Sellers. We share exclusive tips and content, engage with fun and constructive programming, promotions, and contests to win review packages. Best of all, it’s entirely free. So what are you waiting for? Join today! HonestFew Amazon Mastermind!