THE BIG IDEA
It's no mystery that getting reviews is a big topic on Amazon, but their legitimacy is becoming increasingly questionable. With rising competition and Amazon's algorithm favoring well-reviewed products, the fight for the top becomes more challenging, and the number of sellers using fake reviews is climbing. According to an article by the Financial Post, about 42 percent of 720 million reviews in 2020 on Amazon are unreliable.
Honest sellers are irritated by the lack of action by Amazon to combat fake reviews on their platform, and it's obvious when new ASINs (with little to no effort on the listings) very suddenly gain astonishing numbers of reviews in such short periods. Both Amazon and sellers have recognized that in order to generate a healthy (influenceable) number of reviews, it requires some sort of solicitation or incentive. On March 10, 2021, the widely used Early Review Program ended, however, Amazon has created several initiatives to support sellers in other ways.
Gaining legitimate reviews in 2021
On this platform, with growing numbers of fake reviews, programs ending, and increasing competition, how exactly are you supposed to get reviews? Below are some common ways everyday sellers get reviews without violating policies:
Using the Request Review button on orders: On Amazon orders, there is an option to request feedback from the customer directly through Seller Central. This is a great place to start; however, it can quickly become a laborious and unrealistic task when you reach a certain number of orders per day.
Use third-party programs to create automation: Using a third-party program that can allow you to customize a follow-up message is a great way to request reviews. It checks in with the customer at key-points of their post-purchase journey and opens communication lines that allow the seller to deal with any potential issues at the root. This interaction can lead to more willingness to leave a review and is a great way to proactively avoid negative reviews.
Amazon Vine If your products are Brand-Registered, then Amazon Vine is another program offered by Amazon to help sellers gain reviews. In this program, products are provided up-front to the buyer (a vetted, 'Vine Voice') in exchange for a possible review (not guaranteed).
One-Tap Reviews/Global Review Sharing: In Amazon's message to sellers notifying them about the Early Reviewer program's end, they shared their plans to focus on the One-Tap Review and Global Review Sharing initiatives. The One-Tap Review is Amazon's elimination of the mandatory written reviews and allowing shoppers to leave a star rating which is quick and easy for Amazon shoppers. Global Review Sharing displays reviews combined from multiple marketplaces instead of one.
These methods and programs are some of the ways your review count can go up without resorting to black-hat methods. Don't give up on Amazon reviews just yet. There are still customers out there willing and wanting to show support for great brands on this marketplace, and with Amazon's aid and seller-voiced concerns, fake reviews will be controlled, and a level playing field can be established.
THIS WEEK'S BITES
April 5, 2021 - Carrier Names Required: You will be required to provide the carrier name (that is, the carrier-code field) when you confirm shipments via bulk feeds, APIs, or integrators. Some of the commonly used carrier names are USPS, UPS, and FedEx.
May 3, 2021 - Upcoming changes in shipment confirmation: Amazon will validate tracking details (including the carrier name and tracking ID) for all seller-fulfilled orders and show warnings for invalid tracking details.
May 31, 2021 - Extended disbursement reserve period: Sellers who continue to use a bank account from a non-participating PSP after this date will be subject to an extended disbursement reserve period of up to 21 days after the latest estimated delivery date.
June 21, 2021 - Update to Amazon US referral and FBA fees: Amazon is making modest increases (about 2-3% on average) to fulfillment fees, in line with or below industry averages. We will also reduce certain fees, like the returns processing fee.
July 15, 2021 - Disbursements stop for non-approved PSP to sellers using non-participating PSPs until they switch to a participating PSP or use a bank account directly issued by a deposit-taking bank
NEW ON AMAZON
Amazon DSP (Demand-Side Platform) is a platform that allows advertisers to reach audiences both on and off of Amazon with extensive targeting capabilities. Its range makes it such a powerful tool for brands who want to go the extra mile to showcase their products to their audience of choice (and it can get pretty specific). Right now, it's primarily used by larger companies who want to buy display/video ads at scale; however, for the right seller, DSP could be the strategy that leads your brand towards a big and bright future.
What is DSP
Amazon Advertising describes this program as follows "...a demand-side platform that enables advertisers to programmatically buy display, video and audio ads both on and off Amazon". Amazon's DSP is a program that provides exclusive marketing opportunities using Amazon partners and data; with it you have access to:
Who is Eligible for DSP?
Amazon DSP is available for both Amazon sellers and those who are not. If you want to use Amazon DSP, you will find that you can join through 2 different methods:
The spend for managed-services tends to sit higher than self-service, where you can determine budgets and spend with your agency. It would be wise to consider that DSP will likely cost you more than your typical sponsored ad regardless of whether you use self or managed service. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you thoroughly analyze your current status and goals to determine whether this program's benefits outweigh the cost for your business.
TRENDS TO FOLLOW
If you feel like you’ve been seeing a lot of entrepreneurs, new sellers, and e-commerce stores pop up lately, then you would be right. The pandemic shifted our regular routines and everyday people found new and creative ways to work. This drastic change has affected some specific industries and lately, there is a concern in some selling communities about the rising costs of packaging.
Some materials are affected more than others, however, it’s safe to say that the pandemic has responsibility for these increases, which was true for Crawford Packaging:
As a result of the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic & changing market dynamics, many paper product manufacturers are beginning to announce significant cost increases due to a number of factors, including:
Who is concerned and why?
A thread on Reddit gained popularity recently for noting the rising prices of packaging, plastic, and poly among multiple distributors. This Amazon seller claimed that their distributor announced a 14% increase on almost everything. Numerous users on this thread exclaimed similar issues they were facing with their distributors for all sorts of different types of materials.
While e-commerce has provided an amazing platform for many sellers during these less than certain times, it’s important for all sellers (new and existing) to consider costs to support your business. Being aware, having an understanding of how your industry could be affected, and planning for unexpected changes is a great way to stay a couple of steps ahead.
There's no doubt that Amazon takes the lead when it comes to online marketplaces, but are you giving your brand the attention it deserves outside this platform?
Developing your brand can build customer trust and increase repeat purchases, and although Amazon has some amazing features, limitations exist. This is why having a media mix is so important. It uses multiple avenues like social media, email, or websites that will help you communicate different marketing messages to your audience without violating Amazon policy. You'll learn to determine where your target market is and how they behave, and with this information, you can strategize to be more effective and efficient both on and off Amazon!