As a newbie Amazon seller, driving traffic towards your product is tough. You must earn reviews to get sales, but you also need sales to get reviews. It’s a popular online selling conundrum. Luckily, Amazon noticed the hitch.
The online giant is aware that both Amazon sellers and shoppers depend on ratings and reviews. This is why Amazon started its Early Reviewer Program. It is a new way to help gather initial reviews.
What is Amazon Early Reviewer Program?
What Amazon Review Program basically does is help solicit reviews. It encourages buyers who have bought a product to share their experiences with the purchase by leaving a review. Customers who bought a product and are participating in the early review program are incentivized into leaving a rating and a review. The small reward is a $1-$3 Amazon gift card incentive which is given regardless of the review ratings.
This way, sellers get initial reviews, customers get rewards, and future shoppers become more informed about their purchase.
How Does Amazon Review Program Work?
Amazon arbitrarily selects customers participating in this program. These buyers should have no history of abusive or dishonest reviews. They should also be eligible for Amazon’s eligibility criteria. The program is not limited to elite deal club members and reviewers.
Amazon’s early reviewer receives an incentive after submitting an authentic review within a period of time. The reviews should also meet Amazon’s community guidelines. The early reviewer rewards are not dependent on the rating the buyer gave to the reviewed products.
Future shoppers can trust the reviews because Amazon does not disclose during the buying period if a product is enrolled. Not all customers of an enrolled product get a reward from writing a review.
This is not a giveaway service where all reviewers receive free stuff or discounts. It is also not a rewards program that encourages buying.
Things You Should Know About the Early Reviewer Program
Before you start learning how to join Amazon early reviewer program, you should first learn about these few important facts about the program:
The reviewer program is only available to US-brand registered sellers at Amazon. You may be qualified to apply for Brand Registry. That is if you own the trademark to your brand name that appears on your product packaging.
Product price and reviews
Not all products are eligible for enrollment. Also, not all new products at Amazon can enroll. For a product with an Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) to be eligible, it should have less than five reviews. It must be priced at least $15.
Payment for each stock keeping unit
As a seller, be aware of a payment for your stock keeping units (SKUs). For each SKU enrolled in the program, a seller will have to pay $60 after the first program has generated review rolls. Amazon will continue to obtain reviews for each SKU for a year or until five reviews have been solicited, whichever comes first.
Limits of seller’s influence
Sellers can select the products they wish to enroll in the program. However, they will not have influence over the ratings or reviews. They also cannot influence the selection of customers who will receive the rewards. Sellers are not allowed to email customers about their reviews. Amazon, on the other hand, does not remove or modify reviews of participating buyers. This remains true as long as they conform to the community guidelines.
Reviewers will receive a free Amazon gift card after submitting a review. The review should meet Amazon’s community guidelines to qualify for a review. These guidelines essentially uphold respect and relevance to the product being reviewed. For instance, content that is libelous, defamatory, profane, or sexual is not supported. It may be removed or rejected.
Creating reviews about your products and services or your competitor’s are also not allowed.
As mentioned, only customers who were randomly selected and has not been abusive or dishonest can receive the reward. Amazon rewards such customers who contribute genuinely to the Amazon community, sellers and shoppers included.
The indication of a participating product
Reviews enrolled in the program can be identified through an orange badge that says “Early Reviewer Rewards”.
How is the Review Program Different from the Vine Program?
The Amazon product review program is not the first system they created to help sellers gain reviews. Amazon built the Amazon Vine Program to do the same. In the Amazon Vine, Amazon invites the top reviewers or the most trusted ones to post about their honest opinions on new or pre-release items on Amazon. This was done in the spirit of helping other shoppers make informed decisions about their purchases.
In return for posting a review, the Vine reviewer, who is called a Vine Voice, receives free products that participating vendors passed on Amazon. The opinions of the Amazon reviewer participating in the Vine Program are independent. Like in the new product reviewer program, the seller or vendor cannot influence the reviews. Neither can Amazon, unless the reviews do not conform to the community guidelines and terms of service.
One of the main differences between the early review program and the Amazon Vine lies here: how to become an Amazon reviewer? The Vine is an invitation-only program. Amazon selects Vine Voices based on feedback from other customers and a reviewer’s rank. The ranking is scored based on the overall helpfulness and relevance of their reviews.
The Early Review Program, on the other hand, is not limited to elite or invited reviewers. Amazon randomly selects the buyers that will be rewarded. However, enrolled reviewers do not know which product is enrolled in the program.
These two programs are similar in many aspects, too. As in Vine Voice reviews, enrolled vendors of the Early Review Program can’t contact the reviewers. As regards to IDs, Amazon uses tags and badges to recognize the reviews. Reviews left by Vine Voices can be distinguished by a tag beside their names. An early reviewer also gets a tag on the written review.
These tags and badges will somehow bring sizeable weight to their reviews to future shoppers.
Why the Early Review Program
Reviews are a very important aspect in online businesses. For one, it brings traffic to your product listing. In e-commerce, gaining reviews is a serious venture, if not a business in itself. That is why a lot of Amazon review sites or AMZ review trader sites sprouted over the internet.
Amazon knows how important reviews to sellers and future shoppers are. They also know how hard it is to get reviews. Not so long ago, Amazon created a system of incentives to help new sellers hurdle this difficulty. In this program that Amazon just launched, sellers could give free products in exchange for real reviews. However, issues and complaints about manipulated reviews came up. Amazon then had to shut down the rewards program in October 2017.
In the case to speed up the process of getting product reviews, some sellers also requested family members and friends to leave reviews to help their products gain popularity. Consequently, more and more methods are considered as black hat techniques. On top of that, reviews, which make up a lot of Amazon content, lost their credibility.
The early product reviewer program, in addition to Amazon feedback services, is the perfect solution to address the situation. It works in favor of both sellers and shoppers as well as of Amazon itself. Sellers gain authentic reviews without having to hustle from friends and family.
Buyers are rewarded for their honest reviews. As there are no perks for positive reviews and bad ratings are not getting any backlash, reviews tend to be authentic and credible.
With this program, Amazon does away with reviews that transgressed their terms of service and guidelines too. Plus, Amazon will draw more people to their Brand Registry. It’s a win-win situation, finally.
How to Enroll in the Early Reviewer Program
By enrolling in the program, you’ll gain five initial reviews to drive your sales. Here’s how:
1. Enroll in Amazon’s Brand Registry
Your brand must be enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry to be eligible to the program. Please be reminded that it is only available to US registered brands. Once the brand is enrolled, you can now access the portal for this program. You can find the portal at the Seller Central under the Advertising tab. Be aware that it may take 72 hours after registering to access the portal.
2. Have a CSV file ready
CSV is short for comma-separated values. A CSV file is a tabular record of some particular data. A CSV template, which is provided by Amazon, is necessary for you to submit products for enrollment. The table in your CSV file should reflect the eligible stock keeping units or SKUs. You can upload up to 100 SKUs per upload.
Please be reminded of the following eligibility requirements:
- Your product must have fewer than five reviews.
- Your SKUs must be parent-level or stand-alone. Child SKUs will be automatically enrolled with the parent. You cannot enroll variations of the parent SKUs.
- Products that are priced below $15 are not eligible. Soliciting reviews from customers will be ceased for products that are below the price requirement.
3. Upload your products into the program
After filling out the CSV template, upload the file with your eligible SKUs. A payment of $60 is required per SKU. It will be charged upon receipt of the first review. As was mentioned, Amazon will stop soliciting reviews after a year or when five reviews have been obtained, whichever comes first.
4. Keep track of submission status
Finally, you’re done. You can view the status of your submission within the portal. You will find the uploaded CSV file, the number of accepted and unaccepted products, as well as the total uploaded products in the portal. These will show in the Submission History and Product Enrollment Details section at the bottom of the page.
What This Program Means to You
This program offers many advantages to both sellers and shoppers. With this new program, sellers are given a new way to build early reviews. It also reduces the incentive to spam customers to elicit reviews. For shoppers, reviews help them decide for or against buying.
This program also benefits Amazon. For one, the early reviews help bring a perceived diversity of products for buyers. Amazon also benefits from the payments for parent-level stock keeping units. Besides that, they are also drawing more sellers to the Brand Registry.
Other Things to Always Remember
You may have noticed that incentivized review programs on Amazon change from time to time. Amidst these changes, you should remember one thing: shady techniques to get reviews only lead to failures – and Amazon is not messing around. They can suspend your seller account if you do not conform to the community guidelines and terms of service. They will be able to put a huge dent on your brand. And it will have serious effects. It will be very hard for you to get up and run on another channel.
That said, steer away from these violations:
- Posting a review about their own or a competitor’s product.
- Offering a third-party financial or other compensation means to earn a review. You will be flagged for using services that sell customer reviews.
- Using a customer account to write or change a review.
- Asking a family member to write a review for your product.
- Diverting negative reviews to a different feedback mechanism.
Reviews are necessary aspects in every e-commerce venture, may it be products or services. That cannot be denied. However, they are not the only crucial element in the success equation of any online business. The volume of sales monthly or the attractiveness of your sales copy help drive sales. The quality of your images also contributes greatly to gaining leads and traffic as well as earning sales.
Amazon can only assist you in its own little ways to help you get a headstart until you can stand on your own. The new program has made gaining reviews a little bit lighter for new sellers. Think of it as a push while you are still on the launching page.
In the past, you may only get five reviews for every 100th or 150th sale. In this new program, maybe you will gain one in every 20th or 30th sale. Is that a huge jump? It is. But whether or not that raise is enough for you lies on the kind of entrepreneur you are.