Word Count: 1,295 words | Time To Read: 7 mins | Seller Category: Beginner
One of the main features Amazon introduced to the marketplace world was the customer’s feedback on Amazon for its sellers. This simple review feature, added to the internet power of giving everyone instant access to information, changed the game. But beware! The power it gave to consumers to hurt businesses is way greater than the power it gave businesses to lure consumers in. Find out what can you do about reviews.
We wrote an article about the critical tasks for successful Q4 sales, in which reviews made the list. You can read that post here.
Let's start with why you should focus on seller and product feedback.
First, check out what a research by the Association of Psychological Science found:
"People favor highly reviewed products, even when they shouldn't (read the whole article here)
The conclusion of the study is that people will favor products with higher number of reviews, even if they're lower in ratings, than products with higher rating but lower number of reviews. That's what they refer when they say "even when they shouldn't". Statistically they should take the better rated but less reviewed option.
Conclusion #1: People will follow the bigger group, so, more reviews = more sales.
Amazon has made it very clear that they're a customer-centric company. That means that "the customer is always right" has even more meaning in Amazon, even if the customer isn't right. That's why your seller account is monitored in these performance indicators:
- Order Defect Rate: < 1%
- Pre-Fulfillment Cancel Rate: < 2.5%
- Late Shipment Rate: < 4%
Lose focus of these and you will lose your Amazon selling privileges.
But that's not all, reviews system have become the preferred way for customers to hurt businesses. A bad experience will make a person go out of their way to post a negative review, and sometimes it can be disastrous for business. The following are very interesting statistics from an article in Reputation Builders
- 88 percent of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their best friends’ recommendations.
- 80 percent of people choose to go elsewhere if they read bad reviews of your business online.
- Customers who have a bad experience are twice to three times more likely to write an angry review than customers who had a great experience are to post a happy review.
- One negative review online (when not countered by positive reviews) can cost up to 30 new customers.
- It takes 12 positive reviews to cancel out the nasty side effects of just one negative review.
Conclusion #2: Bad Reviews are not equal in effect to Good Reviews. Avoid bad reviews like the plague!
So, let's quickly recap:
- People trust large numbers of reviews
- People will try to hurt your business with a bad review if the experience is bad
- Amazon wants and needs you to have a consistent (and positive) customer experience and won't allow you to sell if you act any other way
So, what can you do to improve feedback on your own ?
Product And Seller Feedback Best Practices:
- Don't lie on the title or description. Learn the difference between puffery and false advertisement.
- Don't sell unauthorized products (registered trademarks) and don't hijack listings (more on this below)
- Don't ship items late.
- If you do FBM, make sure your shipping materials are in good condition.
- Be very careful of sizes, especially when sourcing from China.
- Don't sneak company promo materials in the box of an Amazon sale.
- Try to suck up return shipping. Return shipping is a major bad review trigger.
- Don't get upset with customers. Any wrong-placed word will become a reputation nightmare.
- Do have a Satisfaction Guarantee Policy in place, promote it and honor it. Later on this post we address scam practices from shoppers.
- Don't think shoppers read. Be mindful and succinct with words. Don't play the Terms and Conditions game where you put a bunch of info and expect shoppers to read it and be aware of it. It doesn't do any good, and any bad is huge.
Special Note: Careful of competitors
Reading comments on groups specialized on Amazon Sellers, we found a tricky way one seller was hurting another seller's business. Seller A created a listing for product X and sent 32 units to FBA. They also enabled orders up to 32 units. Makes sense, right? 32 units for sale, hopefully one buyer comes and buys the whole thing. In this case, it critically backfired.
Seller B (their competition) bought all 32 units of the product, making it unavailable (damaging Seller's A rating and probably losing the Buy Box) and then opened a return request, waited until the last day and returned all items.
What happened? Seller A lost the Buy Box, got its rating damaged, got out of product, out of money (payment delay) and returned their product a few days later. In all you can spend 21-30 days in this cycle and lose a lot of money.
What to do? NEVER make possible to buy your whole inventory in one transaction. Set a limit and monitor your inventory regularly.
A New Kind Of Danger: Scams On Amazon And Feedback Blackmail
A new kind of danger exists in Amazon (and other e-commerce platforms) where scammers may try to get an unduly refund on the threat of bad reviews.
The mechanism is that they purchase something from your store, then open a false claim and on the threat of bad reviews will try to get a refund.
Here are some examples:
Fail To Deliver Scam
This is the oldest trick in the book ("I never received the product") and has the simplest of solutions. Pay for shipping with tracking. In the specific case of Amazon, this may be the biggest FBA benefit there is and nobody talks about.
Replace And Refund Scam
This is for more sophisticated scammers. Let's say you sell a iPhone 5 on Amazon. Then the buyer gets one defective piece on Craigslist or eBay, and then claims you sold him the defective one. Asks for a refund. Unless you're able to prove the condition you sold your item, there's little you can do to avoid the refund. Protect yourself with security tamper-proof stickers. If you can record serial numbers for your products, record them. Include the reference to the security measure in the description. Scammers tend to be more thorough in their research and will go to the next possible victim if they detect preventive measures.
This is probably the most probable to happen to you. If you sell private label products you must monitor your listings closely and have your brand registered with Amazon so you can flag unauthorized sellers. Imagine this, you have the Buy Box and other seller "hijacks" (meaning a carbon copy) your listing and for some reason a buyer chooses to buy from them. Then the hijacker sends a counterfeit item. The buyer receives it, returns it and goes to your listing to leave a bad review, and if they can't, probably a bad seller review.
It's a nightmare, but it can happen, and a lot more likely than you'd like.
So, to avoid hijacking of your listing do this:
- Register your brand with Amazon
- Monitor your listings to make sure you're the only seller
- Report unauthorized sellers if you find them
- Send Cease and Desist letters to unauthorized sellers (this may only work in the US)
- Make sure your product is not easily to counterfeit. Try to have your logo on the actual product
As you can see, running an online business, and especially an Amazon store is a time-consuming job. Always keep in mind the transaction doesn't end when the buyer pays and Amazon ships. Until the customer gets the product, starts using it and confirms is what they wanted, and then the product delivers what was promised about it, you're still in the hook with that customer and need to do everything in your power to deliver a great experience.
Don't forget to check our other articles, especially the one on Critical Tasks For Q4 Successful Sales where we address the review issue along with other important topic.