Policy Update Sequel

Amazon Policy Update – The Sequel & Webinar

It’s been more than a month since Amazon discreetly added a few lines into its Seller Terms of Service. Since our original article posted, we’ve had some time to speak with merchants and contacts at Amazon. We have yet to receive any official response from the movers and shakers at Amazon but we do know some merchants have received approval from their Amazon representatives to use Snagshout. We believe that Amazon is busy updating its technology to ensure its platform is not manipulated, and we do expect to see merchants who use manipulative practices to be penalized if they continue to misuse or attempt to hack the system.

Please watch our Aug 28th webinar for more details!

Super URLs Discontinued

We have also discontinued the use of Super URLs on Snagshout. We are pleased to report that merchants have been getting great results for organic search ranking using the site. Patrick, who’s heading our $25k Challenge, has been doing well and has already moved up to the first page of search results for the highly competitive “apple slicer” keyword. Patrick achieved first page results by using Snagshout and has stopped his campaigns and lowered his price while also using sponsored product adds to keep up his sales.

Case Study:  Read how Patrick ranked on page one in a highly-competitive category.

We also want to add some clarification concerning things we’ve learned about claim codes and the language used in the TOS updates. The new TOS states:

“You may not provide compensation to buyers for purchasing your products or provide claim codes to buyers for the purpose of inflating sales rank.”

What We Thought and Now Believe

What we, and most everybody else, thought Amazon was talking about in this line was one-time use promo codes. It seemed strange to us–and many others including some people at Amazon–that they wouldn’t want merchants to discount their products to drive sales. We knew that Amazon had recently introduced the one-time use promo code system to help merchants give heavy discounts while allowing them to protect their inventory. The logical conclusion was Amazon didn’t want the system to be abused and used for the purpose of jumping a product into the top 100 page in its category. After doing more investigation we discovered something interesting: Amazon uses the words “claim codes” in two different ways.

Allow me to explain:

Within seller central there is an advertising section where a seller can create promotions. Previously, sellers could only create general-use codes that could be used by many shoppers. Around February of this year, Amazon created a feature where a merchant could take a general-use code and then generate one-time use unique claim codes. Below is a screen shot taken from Seller Central showing what I’m talking about:

So if you didn’t know any better, it looks like Amazon was talking about inflating sales rank using these codes. This seems strange though. What if I want to sell my products for 20% off? Would that be OK? If we look at the sentence again, it seems like Amazon is talking about providing buyers with some sort of incentive to purchase your inventory–not a discount. They basically want to prevent fake orders. After more research, we discovered there is another place they use the terminology of claim codes but in a different context. It seems they allows businesses to purchase gift cards in bulk and deliver claim codes to individuals to purchase items on its site.

It now makes sense why Amazon would discourage using this type of claim code rather than one-time use promo codes. Abusing the gift card system to hack sales rank is extremely manipulative, and it’s obvious why Amazon would discourage this type of activity.

So what does this mean regarding the new TOS updates? Our advice to brand owners trying to achieve success on Amazon remains the same:

Avoid trying to hack or manipulate the Amazon search algorithm, instead focus on creating great products that achieve product market fit. Then get your product into the hands of as many people as possible and encourage them to share their opinions.

Hopefully these discoveries shed even more light on the topic. As always we encourage questions and genuine discussion.

Brandon Checketts

Brandon is one of the co-founders and main data geek for Seller Labs. He started Seller Labs after finding no other tools that could provide the flexibility needed for his used-book business. He no longer sells online, but now guides Seller Labs as the lead innovator to make sure that our products remain on the cutting edge.

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