- Seller Labs
- On December 17, 2018
We surveyed hundreds of Amazon sellers and discovered that half of them don’t know they can directly ask a buyer to leave a product review.
Amazon product reviews have been and will continue to be a sticky topic for sellers and third-party service providers. But this isn’t surprising, especially with how Amazon has changed its policies on how sellers can get product reviews for their products. Lots of confusion exists within the industry around just what a seller can and can’t do to get a product review. But Amazon is clear that a seller can ask a buyer to leave a product review.
What does Amazon’s Terms of Service say?
To view the Terms of Service, you must be logged in to Seller Central. Alternatively, you can locate this section of the ToS via the breadcrumb menu at the top of Seller Central: Help / Manage orders / Reference / Policies and agreements / Customer product reviews.
In the top section of the Customer product reviews page in Seller Central, it says:
You can ask buyers to write a review, but you cannot ask for positive reviews or ask a reviewer to change or remove their review.
This is about as straightforward as Amazon can get with telling sellers whether or not they can ask for product reviews. Unfortunately, most of the confusion around this topic comes from having at least three different pages dedicated to communicating with buyers.
This page is dedicated to understanding product reviews (or as Amazon is now calling them Customer reviews or Customer product reviews). The second bulleted list of this page lists violations to Amazon’s customer review policies. Most of the points expressed are focused around review manipulation, which is entirely different from asking for a product review altogether.
On the Amazon’s Communication Guidelines page, in the first yellow box, it says:
In any communication you have with buyers (including shipping box inserts), you cannot ask them to leave a positive customer review for your product, or to leave a review only if they had a positive experience with your product. Similarly, you cannot ask only customers who had a positive experience with your product to leave a review. It is also prohibited to offer them any compensation for a review, including money or gift cards, free or discounted products, refunds or reimbursements, or any other future benefits.
This section clearly outlines that sellers cannot ask for positive product reviews only or manipulate sellers into leaving positive product reviews. If you’re going to ask for product reviews then you have to ask everyone—for better or for worse.
50% of Amazon Sellers Don’t Realize They Can Ask Buyers to Leave a Product Review
We conducted a survey in October 2018, where we surveyed 326 random Amazon sellers. The survey was designed to represent an assumed number of Amazon sellers totaling 500,000.
We needed a mandatory confidence interval of 95% with a 5% margin of error in order to be statistically significant. With that being said, we needed a sample size of at least 269 Amazon sellers to give as an accurate representation of the selling population. With 328 survey respondents, we’re confident that our data represents the selling population.
Here’s one of the seven questions we asked:
Sellers are allowed to email buyers and directly request product reviews.
Of the 326 who answered, 162 (49.69%) sellers answered with true, which means they believe it is OK to email a buyer to ask for a product review. While 164 (50.31%) sellers answered false, which means they think it is not OK to email buyers to ask for a product review.
The results of this survey question are interesting because they almost perfectly split the sample size in half. The answers show that half of Amazon sellers surveyed don’t believe they can ask their buyers to leave a product review.
Read the statistical analyses from our ToS survey
- One-Third of Amazon Sellers Believe Influencing a Buyer’s Actions Is OK…And They’re Wrong
- Nearly Half of Amazon Sellers Still Believe Sending Multiple Emails Per Order Is Best Practice
- Half of Amazon Sellers Believe It Is OK to Ask Buyers to Change a Product Review
- 83% of Amazon Sellers Don’t Know They Can’t Link From an Email to a Detail Page
- 50% of Amazon Sellers Believe It’s OK to Email Coupons for Future Purchases—But They’re Mistaken
- Amazon Terms of Service made simple
So what are we doing about it?
Amazon’s Terms of Service can be (and generally is) confusing. This is mainly because everything is scattered inside Seller Central. However, Amazon is not ambiguous with how it phrases the ToS. Amazon is quite clear about if sellers can ask for product reviews when it says, “You can ask buyers to write a review.” Sellers just need to know where to find this information.
We believe it is our duty to keep our customers—and the community at large—aware of what’s going on with Amazon’s Terms of Service. However, we are not Terms of Service police, nor can we enforce sanctions against violators. Feedback Genius and Ignite will change features and options based on ToS updates, and we will notify our customer of changes.
We can only comply with Amazon through continued education and updating our software tools whenever a change affects us.
Actions you can take to remain compliant with Amazon’s Terms of Service
Sellers should review Amazon’s seller Terms of Service at least quarterly. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the seller to maintain compliance in order to avoid interruption in their sales or suspension. Amazon has given ample warnings to sellers to align their selling practices with theirs throughout 2018.
Following the product review ToS is more critical than ever. Remember, you can’t attempt to manipulate or persuade a buyer to leave a positive product review in any way. You can review Amazon’s list of prohibited activities here.
Product reviews are just as relevant today as they were five years ago. If you’ve browsed or purchased a product online then you know just how valuable they are. Amazon wants your products to have reviews—they just have to be honest, unbiased reviews. Which means that if you’re asking everyone who buys from you to leave a review, chances are that you’ll likely receive less-than-stellar reviews. This is fine and you shouldn’t be worried about a few negative reviews. Shoppers want to know the positive and negative aspects of your product in order to make an informed purchase.
If you’re not asking every person who buys from you to leave a product review then you’re leaving valuable feedback on the table. Don’t hesitate to ask for a review because it’s encouraged by Amazon. Just make sure you’re following the Terms of Service.
Download our Terms of Service checklist to remain compliant the quickest and easiest way.