Getting a new product to rank well is one of the eternal challenges of business on Amazon. Product reviews play a pivotal role here as shoppers often base their purchasing decision on the experiences of previous buyers.
It’s a Catch-22 situation:
- Good reviews lead to more sales and a higher ranking
- A product can receive a review if people buy it (for which it needs to rank high enough)
Fortunately, Amazon offers a legitimate way for sellers to generate their first reviews to help improve sales for new products.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- What is the Amazon Early Reviewer Program and how does it work
- How much does the Amazon Early Reviewer Program cost and is it worth it
- What are the program requirements and how to join
Let’s get right into the details:
What is the Amazon Early Reviewer Program? How Does the Program Work?
The Amazon Early Reviewer Program is the program that encourages shoppers who have purchased a new product on the marketplace to leave a review (positive or negative). Amazon contacts randomly selected buyers of the participating products and asks them to provide a review. In return, buyers receive compensation in the form of a $1-3 gift voucher.
The Amazon Early Reviewer Program is a win-win situation for sellers and shoppers:
- Shoppers earn a little cash
- Sellers gain exposure, credibility, and ranking
- Amazon slaps a big orange badge on reviews for participating products, which increases trust in the product and brand
How Much Does the Amazon Early Reviewer Program Cost? How Well Does it Work for Sellers?
- Each eligible product (all SKUs covered by a parent ASIN or stand-alone SKUs) costs $60 plus taxes
- Amazon charges this fee beginning with the first review a shopper generated via the program
- If nobody reviews your product within a year, you won’t be charged
- Reviews made outside of the program don’t count
Is it worth the $60 investment? The answer isn’t the number of reviews you might receive — it’s how fast you get a review. Shoppers receive invitations to leave reviews for 1 year after submission of the product or until it collects 5 reviews via the Early Review Program, whichever comes first.
- The purchase incentive for buyers stays the same: Amazon will only invite customers for a product review if they have already bought the product.
- The compensation in the form of an Amazon voucher increases the likelihood that a customer submits a product review after the purchase.
- Since Amazon selects the shopper at random, and the shopper doesn’t know about a future reward, the system can’t be manipulated.
The resulting reviews are, therefore, very trustworthy.
In short, you can increase product reviews and trust in your brand by participating in the Amazon Early Reviewer Program. The effectiveness of these reviews on your sales depends on the quality of your product and the accuracy of your listing.
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How Do I Join Amazon Early Reviewer Program?
Only SKUs sold on the US- and UK marketplace (Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, respectively) can enter. To participate, submit your product via ‘Seller Central > Advertising > Early Reviewer Program‘.
You can also follow these steps in the Early Reviewer Program Overview:
- Find eligible SKUs
– Each offer price must be greater than $9
– SKUs must have fewer than 5 reviews on the website at the time of enrollment
– SKUs submitted must be parent level or stand-alone (Child SKUs are automatically enrolled with the parent)
- Submit SKUs
You can submit single SKUs directly via the Amazon Early Reviewer Program dashboard. Use the bulk upload via CSV-template to enroll a larger number of SKUs. Review the submission to check for errors.
- Monitor Reviews & Enrollment Status
The dashboard gives you all the information you need, including links to customer reviews and the status of your enrollment (it ends after 1 year or 5 reviews via the program, whichever comes first).
Why Did Amazon Start the Early Reviewer Program?
The struggle to build early reviews for new products is not just a problem for sellers, but also Amazon.
Customers are much less likely to purchase a new product without reviews. These products will, therefore, contribute less to the perceived diversity of products available on Amazon, as well as the number of sales via Amazon. The drop in sales means that Amazon receives less revenue from seller fees and FBA fees.
Towards the end of 2016, Amazon was confronted with an increased number of fake reviews and ratings. Customers felt deceived, and competition became increasingly distorted. To address this acute decline in the credibility of its product review system, Amazon responded with the following measures:
- Incentivized reviews were now prohibited.
- Amazon conducted a large-scale investigation and deleted many incentivized reviews in the process.
- Shoppers can only review a product if their Amazon purchase history succeeds $50 (previously $5)
- Customers could only leave 5 reviews with the label “Not Verified Purchase” per week (not bought or purchased at a discount on Amazon).
Since the ban on incentivized reviews, sellers increasingly turned to spamming customers with follow-up emails asking for product reviews. Amazon also cracked down on this practice and responded with its new optional ’email opt-out’ for customers.
Although this amendment was a sensible step by Amazon to restore credibility and confidence in their product review system, it made it extremely difficult for sellers to accumulate new reviews.
The shift was a huge issue because sellers rely heavily on product reviews to boost the sale of new products.
With the Amazon Early Reviewer Program:
- Amazon attempts to bridge this gap and help sellers accumulate reviews for new products
- Sellers have a way to build early reviews and less incentive to spam customers with follow-up emails
- Amazon retains control of the program to avoid abuse of the review system and potential credibility concerns
In short, the Early Reviewer Program can be beneficial for sellers looking to accumulate reviews for new products. It will also boost them to a stage where PPC and other promotional can affect sales. The program also offers advantages for Amazon, so consider it a win-win.