October 12, 2018 by Price-Fuel
Imagine if a chunk of your Amazon product reviews disappeared overnight.
This is what happened in the two great Amazon review purges in 2016 and recently in 2018. It was an Amazon’s seller’s worst nightmare.
As an Amazon seller, you know how important reviews are for your business. In fact, nearly 90% of buyers read online sales reviews before they purchase a product. Online reviews affect 67.7% of buying decisions and 84% of consumers say they find online reviews as trustworthy as a personal recommendation.
Why did Amazon delete hundreds of thousands of reviews, and what can you do to avoid having your reviews removed? Read on to learn more about Amazon deleting reviews.
Back in 2016, Amazon modified its terms of service for posting reviews. The e-commerce giant wanted to remove incentivized reviews. Users could no longer post reviews in exchange for compensation such as free or discounted items.
The reasoning was that free stuff would skew reviews, whether intentional or not. People were more likely to post a favorable review if they received an item for free.
In fact, data showed that products with incentivized reviews earned on average a 4.74 star rating while non-incentivized reviews had an average of 4.36 star rating.
Amazon ended up removing over 500,000 reviews. Seventy-one percent of those reviews were incentivized and their average rating was 4.75 stars. Some products had thousands of reviews deleted.
The only users who could post reviews in exchange for incentives would be through Amazon’s Vine program. This program is an invitation-only group for the top Amazon reviewers. The users do not communicate directly with sellers.
Amazon states that although sellers can pay for the Vine program, Amazon would not promise them positive reviews because of payment. Also, Amazon would mark which reviews were Vine reviews through green text.
Recently as of April 2018, Amazon did another purge of reviews due to practices that violated their terms of service.
Hundreds of Amazon users had their accounts shut down or locked. They took to social media to express their frustration. Amazon sent out a mass email that explained some individuals had their accounts locked because they either violated the company’s review policy or used their Amazon account for commercial uses.
Amazon found that some Amazon users and sellers participated in actions that were in violation of their terms of services.
There is speculation to exactly why Amazon cracked down on reviews and accounts. Read on to learn the various reasons why Amazon could be deleting reviews.
According to Business Insider, some sellers would create fake accounts and send their products to random addresses all throughout the United States and Canada. They would then use those fake accounts to leave verified reviews for their products.
As a result, people received mysterious, unsolicited packages. However, in February of 2018 Amazon denied that these packages resulted in customer review abuse.
Although Amazon has been removing incentivized reviews, some sellers go around this through illicit means.
According to private Facebook groups, some sellers who sold products through Amazon would ask for verified reviews. The sellers would then reimburse the users through PayPal.
Many authors on Amazon have also experienced a loss of reviews. Amazon looks for unbiased reviews, so the company could remove any reviews made by friends or family.
Amazon also is wary of reviews made by people connected to the author through social media. The idea is that if you know the author, you might leave a biased, positive review.
Another way that authors can get their reviews removed: if multiple reviews come from the same IP address.
Moreover, let’s say an author sent a user a gift card in the past for a contest. If the user went on to review that author’s book sometime in the future, Amazon could delete that review. The idea is that the gift card could be a form of compensation.
In addition to the great Amazon review purges, Amazon seller accounts went through other changes. Here are a few changes that have occurred.
When a buyer is on a product page and clicks to see more offers for that product, they are sent to a page with listings from other sellers.
Before, the buyer would see the overall rating for each seller. Now, Amazon displays ratings for the past 12 months only. For a seller who has had a few lower ratings the past 12 months, this could significantly drop their rating on this page.
However, not all sellers have had this change happen. Some sellers still have the same overall rating system.
Many products have different versions of an item, such as a different color or style. Amazon used to combine the ratings of each item version into an overall rating.
Now, Amazon separates some product ratings based on each product version. For example, if you sell a t-shirt in black, red, and blue, you will have different ratings for each color.
If many people buy your red and black t-shirt and leave great reviews, that’s great. But, if no one buys the blue t-shirt, that item version will have no reviews.
It’s great that Amazon is enforcing stricter policies to ban fake or incentivized reviews. However, the changing policies can affect many sellers who have not violated the terms of service. Here are a couple of tips for your seller account.
To avoid Amazon deleting reviews, make sure to review and follow the latest Amazon seller guidelines. There may be ways that sellers violate the terms of service unintentionally.
And of course, do not offer any form of compensation for reviews, even if you only ask for honest reviews. Compensation includes free products, discounts, gift cards, or money.
Another suggestion is to keep track of your reviews. You can enter them in a spreadsheet or an automated tool. This way, if Amazon does ever remove your reviews, you can have them on hand to refer to when contacting seller support.
The e-commerce industry generated 360.3 billion dollars in 2016. It’s a lucrative and highly competitive business. In addition to complying with Amazon Seller terms of service, you can consider optimizing your Amazon pricing strategy.
Want to learn more? Sign up for a free 14-day trial of our Price Fuel tool and see how it can revolutionize your business.