Amazon No Longer Allows Reviews For A Discount. Now What?

no more reviews for a discount at Amazon
Amazon no longer allows sellers to offer discounts in exchange for an honest review.

Watch the video at YouTube here.

Well this changes everything.  Or does it?

Hey welcome back for another episode of The Bootstrap Boutique where beginners build businesses.  My name is Megan and I just wanted to put out a quick video because yesterday Amazon dropped some really big news.

No More Reviews For A Discount

And that is that they are no longer going to allow incentivized reviews on product.  Here’s the background on why that’s important.

There are a lot of people online teaching you how to launch private label products on Amazon, which is one of the reasons I don’t really get into that to much.  I’ve told you before, you can listen to Scott Voelker he does an awesome job telling you how to launch a private label product on Amazon.  But pretty much everybody follows a step by step by step process.  And one of those processes is the launch process, by which you give out a number of free or substantially reduced products to people in exchange for their honest review.

So why is that important? Because reviews are social proof.

They help people make buying decisions, one product versus the other. And these discounted products have never been a problem, there’s just a few requirements that you have to follow.  One is that you cannot offer a product at a discount in exchange for a four or five star review.  So you couldn’t say, “hey buyer, I have this twenty dollar product, I’ll sell it to you for one dollar if you leave me a five star review.”  You couldn’t do that, you could in no way influence the way that people review your products or the star rating that they give you.

Now on the reviewer side, you had to give an honest review and you had to disclose that you had received the product for a discount.  So a lot of times at the end of these reviews you will see something that says, I don’t know, like, “I received this product  for free or a discount in exchange for my honest review.” Simple enough, right?

And there’s a ton of groups that you could use that would give you those reviews, so you could have anything from a free group on Facebook to paid services like ReviewKick (now called JumpSend) or GetBSR.com.  Here’s the problem with those reviews: Amazon was noticing many customers, and I’ll be honest, myself included, didn’t really trust those reviews, because when you are incentivized through a free or discounted product, studies have shown that you are much more likely to give a more positive review than you otherwise would.

So I know when I would shop on Amazon, and I always look at the reviews, I would kind of scroll past the top five or six or so because you know that those are going to be the discounted ones.  When you have these overwhelmingly positive reviews that don’t seem very well rounded it does create a lack of trust.

Amazon takes issue with that because Amazon is an extremely customer focused company.  I don’t know if they were coming under criticism for allowing this type of review system or what, but at the end of the day, they’ve decided they are just no longer going to allow it.  Of course they are still going to allow you to use Amazon Vine which is their own internal review club basically, but this is their sandbox, we’re just playing in it.  That’s what they are going to do.  Ok, we’ll find another way.

How To Get Reviews on Amazon Now

So what does this mean if you are an FBA seller or thinking of becoming an FBA seller?  A few things.

Number one, Amazon has said in a Tech Crunch article I read this morning that they will go back and delete prior reviews if they are deemed excessive.  Now who knows what “excessive” means or if they’re actually going to do it, or if they are just going to get rid of anything that has that disclaimer in it.  But at the end of the day that is going to help established sellers with established products because even if they have a thousand of these reviews, if Amazon doesn’t deem that excessive that means they are still going to be there while you as a new seller or a less established seller are going to have to kind of claw and scratch your way back up the review chart.

Number two, it is going to be more difficult to launch more products.  Everybody that I have read that’s talked about this new policy has said that yeah, it’s going to become a lot harder to get new products launched.  And that is because its going to be harder to get that social proof.  You have to rely on people that are not discounted or not incentivized buying a product, using it, coming back and reviewing it.  The conversions for that are very small.  So it is going to be a lot more difficult to get those reviews going forward.

Review Request Emails

There’s a couple of pieces of software that can help you with that, one is Feedback Genius another is SalesBacker, I’m sure there’s others, but they will send out auto-response emails to people that purchase your products and ask them to come back and leave you a review.  So I predict that those two companies are going to become a lot more popular going forward.  And I’ll put links to those down below so you can go check them out if that is something you think you need to start using now.

We’re also just going to have to find other ways to market.  A few ideas would be Facebook ads, blogger outreach, have bloggers do reviews of your products and link back to Amazon, youtube marketing could be a new way to do that.  I’ve seen someone say that they used to just back in the day write thank you cards to every person that purchased their product.  That’s a little time consuming but its not a bad idea, I like real mail.  Could be fun.

But at the end of the day we’re going to have to find new ways to do it because this incentivized review program is no more.  And here’s the main thing that I really want you to take away because I have read this in a lot of different Facebook groups over the past 18 hours or so.  Do not try to find a way around this and continue to offer discounted reviews.  Amazon is going to go Liam Neeson on you.  They will find you, and they will ban your account, and then you’re going to be really sad.

My Launch Strategy

Can I tell you a secret.  I was never planning on using reviews in order to launch a product.  I know.  I know that sounds kinda crazy when this has been in the past a proven way to do it, but I just wanted to try something different.

You’ve been watching my videos for a few months now.  You should know, if you don’t know anything else about me, that I’m a little bit hard headed and have to kind of do things the hard way.

My plan was always going to be to use a mix of pay per click within the Amazon platform and also YouTube marketing.  This is a big part of why I’ve been doing these videos, is because I want to practice getting better on camera.  Still needs a lot of work.

The challenge now is that a lot of other people are going to be using these tactics also, and so that’s just going to make it a little more crowded.  However, I think there’s also going to be a lot of people that just drop out, hands up, “This is a step too far Amazon, I’m just not going to do this private label thing anymore.”  See ya.

Here’s the thing guys, it is important in business to be optimistic.  Haven’t you read Good to Great by Jim Collins? What is one of the most common traits among those successful companies? Undeniably optimistic leadership.  So when the game changes, change with it.  It didn’t go away, its just, yeah some of the rules have changed.  But is there still opportunity? Yeah, there is.  Is it going to be harder?  Yeah, it is.  But that’s life.

Leave me a comment in the description below let me know what you think about this new policy by Amazon.  Is it totally screwing you up or are you excited about the opportunity that is to come?  And hey, it can be a little bit of both, we’re not so black and white here, right? But I look forward to hearing what you have to say, I look forward to seeing what changes are going to come and what new innovations people are going to have.  It’s just a new opportunity guys, let’s grab it.  I will talk to you next week, take care.

You can watch this video at The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube Channel here.

You can watch The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube Channel here.

What is Private Label? (RA vs OA vs PL)

What is Private Label for Amazon?
There are many ways to sell products on Amazon – retail arbitrage, online arbitrage and private label are the most popular.

Are you ready to learn a new language?

Hey bootstrappers, my name is Megan and this is The Bootstrap Boutique where beginners build businesses.

Have you ever noticed how whenever you start a new hobby or go to work at a new company, it is literally like you have to learn a new language to understand what people are talking about?  And that has absolutely been the case for me as I’ve been going down the journey of building a private label company on Amazon.

How to Shop on Amazon

What I have learned that I definitely never paid attention to when I was a shopper on Amazon is that there are three different ways that you can purchase products there on the website.

So the first is just buying from Amazon, which I never had paid attention to and thought that was the only way for a really long time.  So what that means is that Amazon is going out there using their purchasing power to buy products from a company, from a manufacturer, from a distributor, from a wholesaler or whomever and are selling them to you.

But have you ever bought something from Amazon and then you didn’t get the Prime shipping that you are used to, or it came in a box that didn’t say Amazon on it?  That was probably merchant fulfilled, which means that a certain company, again a wholesaler, a distributer, or a product manufacturer is just uploading their catalog of products to Amazon and selling them through to you.  However, nothing is in the Amazon warehouse, its actually still with that company and when they get the Amazon orders then they ship them out to you.  So that’s merchant fulfilled.

Finally there is Fulfillment By Amazon, or FBA you’ll see it referred to a lot in the private label community.  So Fulfillment By Amazon is where you have somebody that is purchasing a good, a product, putting a private label on it, and sending it actually to the Amazon warehouse and Amazon acts as first your storefront but also your fulfillment center.  So everything that is Fulfillment by Amazon actually sits in an Amazon warehouse.  So the benefit to that for a customer is that it is eligible for Prime shipping, so you can get it in two days or quicker now that there is that Amazon Now service.  And that’s what I’m focusing on and within that I’m focusing on Private Label.

So I’ll quickly go over the two other ways you can sell Fulfillment By Amazon and then we’ll talk about what is really the meat of this conversation, What is Private Labeling?

How to Sell on Amazon

People can sell Fulfillment By Amazon in one of three ways.

The first being Retail Arbitrage, the second being Online Arbitrage and the third being private label.  So you’ll see those shortened or abbreviated a lot of times as RA, OA and PL.

Remember, I told you we were learning a new language?

Retail and Online Arbitrage

Arbitrage sounds like a really big, fancy name, but all that means is taking advantage of price discrepancies between two different markets.  Wait, that could still be a little confusing.  So let’s say you want to buy a curling iron.  Walmart is selling a curling iron for twenty dollars and Amazon is selling a curling iron for twenty dollars.  Right, so in that case there is no discrepancy between prices.  Say Walmart buts that on sale for half off, so now you have a Walmart curling iron selling for ten dollars and the exact same thing selling on Amazon for twenty.  So someone involved in arbitrage would take advantage of that price discrepancy. They would purchase the ten dollar curling iron at Walmart and then turn around and sell it at Amazon for twenty.  That gives a profit of ten dollars.  Now you’re probably thinking, “Ok, ten dollars, that’s nice but you can’t make a living off it.”  And you’re right.  So usually people in the arbitrage space do not purchase a curling iron, they purchase all the curling irons they can get to from all the different Walmarts that they can drive to in a day.

So retail arbitrage is usually referred to that way, its purchasing something at a local brick and mortar store that you could actually go get your hands on the item and then selling them, that could be at Amazon, it could be eBay, I’m sure there’s some other online markets out there, that are similar, you know, Craigslist.  But you get the idea.

Online arbitrage is really the same thing, its just that the buy and the sell happens online.

What is Private Label?

Alright, but what is Private Labeling, or you may have heard it called white label before?

And if you never knew what that meant, its really just referring to buying some kind of generic product typically, putting a label on it, attaching it to a brand that you have, and then selling it under that brand name.  Many private label sellers, especially on Amazon, are just purchasing purely generic products, putting a label on it, and then turning around and selling it under you know whatever their label or their brand is on Amazon.

Up until recently, people have been very successful at doing that, however the market does appear to be becoming more saturated and with that it means that you’re going to have to put a little more effort into actually improving on products that’s already there.  It’s really not suggested to create something new because you actually don’t know it there’s a market for that, but you can generally take something that’s existing, give it a little tweak, a little improvement and then sell it fairly successfully on Amazon.

Ok so that’s it, I hope that explained it for you, if not, if you still have questions, leave them in the comments below I will be happy to answer anything else that you have as far as “What is a Private Label?” Or if you have questions about the arbitrage space, retail versus online and how you get started in that.  It’s not my specialty but I have researched a little bit about it so I’ll tell you what I know.

Be sure to subscribe so you never miss a video, we post new ones every Wednesday, I will talk to you next week guys, take care!


You can watch this video on The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube Channel here.