Should FBA Sellers Join the Amazon Early Reviewer Program?
It seems like just a few years ago that Amazon was overflowing with review incentives for customers. FBA sellers were nudging customers for reviews using every known tactic in the book. This meant that the reviews customers were leaving on sellers’ listings were more often than not biased and, in a way, sponsored by the sellers themselves.
Amazon, which is known as a company that puts the customer first, went on a review purge to eliminate any and all unverified reviews, along with those that were gained through seller incentives. Today, one of the best ways that sellers can gain legitimate reviews for their products without being penalized is by enrolling in the Early Reviewer Program. This article aims to explain what this program is and whether this program is a good fit for FBA brand owners.
If you are brand new to the world of selling products on Amazon, you may be unfamiliar with how important yet difficult it is to get those first positive reviews. Before we dive deeper into how you can utilize the Amazon Early Reviewer Program to jump-start your review history, we should first cover the basics of the program.
What is Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program?
Sellers can choose to enroll as many products as they want in the Early Reviewer Program. Once approved, Amazon shoppers will be emailed at random and asked to leave an authentic review on their purchased product. In exchange for these reviews, customers will receive a future reward in the form of a small Amazon gift card ranging from $1 to $3. It doesn’t matter whether the customer leaves a one-star or five-star rating; as long as the customers have purchased the product listing item, they will be eligible for the program.
What Are the Requirements?
Not all products that Amazon FBA sellers are marketing will be eligible for the program, so it is important to have a clear understanding of which items qualify and which ones do not. At the moment, this program is restricted to the US marketplace (www.amazon.com) only. If you have an SKU selling in the US market as well as other international marketplaces, you can still enroll your product in the program, but Amazon will only request reviews from customers who purchased the item via the US website.
What Products Can I Enroll?
SKUs with fewer than five Amazon reviews will be eligible for the program. Currently, the SKUs must also be priced above $9. If your product’s price falls below this amount, Amazon may stop requesting customer reviews for the product. As an FBA seller, you may still enroll your other products in the program, but Amazon will halt any further requests for reviews from customers who purchased your product at a price lower than this amount.
How Much Does It Cost?
When you enroll your products in the program, Amazon will charge you $60 plus any applicable taxes. Your enrollment in the program will cover all the SKUs in a parent SKU family or a standalone SKU. The benefit of this is that you do not need to enroll children SKUs individually should you have variations to your main products’ color as an example. You will be charged the $60 fee once you receive your first review after enrolling in the program. This will be the only fee you are charged for that SKU whether you receive one review or five. If you do not receive any reviews for your product after enrolling, you won’t be charged anything.
What If You Disagree with the Reviews?
If you disagree with a review, you can submit a complaint to Amazon as long as the reviewer was not following the community guidelines. Once you have submitted your request to Amazon to review the customer’s testimonial, Amazon will make the judgment call of whether to remove the review or let it stand. This can be quite troublesome as even a bad review cannot be removed unless it breaks the community guidelines in one way or another.
How to Join the Early Reviewer Program
If you’re an FBA seller and wish to become a part of the Amazon Early Reviewer Program, just follow these steps:
- Login to your Amazon Seller Central account.
- Select the ‘Advertising’ tab. In the dropdown menu that appears, choose the Early Reviewer Program.
- Click the orange ‘Get Started’ button on the Early Reviewer Program home page.
- Enter an eligible SKU; if the SKU you submit has too many reviews already, it will not qualify for the program and will be rejected automatically.
- Submit the SKU and confirm your product’s enrollment.
You will now have submitted your SKU for enrollment in the Amazon Early Reviewer Program. At this point, you will need to wait for Amazon to approve your product and begin reaching out to the customers who have purchased your product to obtain honest reviews.
How are the Reviewers Chosen?
Amazon is constantly looking for authentic reviews to provide the best possible experience for customers who are deciding on a product to purchase. Amazon selects customers from a list of those who have already purchased the products participating in the program, as long as they meet the criteria for eligibility and don’t have a history of abusive or dishonest reviews. All customers who have purchased your participating SKUs will receive a rewards offer to write a review for your products. Amazon wants to generate enough reviews to help other customers make smarter buying decisions. This is therefore not a rewards program intended to encourage purchases; rather, it is used to gain trustworthy testimonials from those who have purchased the products themselves.
The Benefits of the Program
After doing a little of our own research on the program, we found that some FBA sellers felt that this program was a huge help. The first benefit these sellers noticed is that it was very straightforward and easy to enroll their products in the program. Unlike some other programs in Amazon’s ecosystem, like with Amazon Brand Registry for example, fewer issues may arise when signing up for the Early Reviewer Program.
Another benefit many sellers found with this program is that customers know they can trust these first reviews, which in turn gets the review ball rolling for the seller. Allowing Amazon to perform this outreach for you and having those initial reviews come in without any marketing effort on your part is a great benefit. Building social proof right from the launch of a new product and gaining positive feedback would be ideal for all who enroll in the program; however, there are a few downsides that we should mention.
The Cons of the Program
We would love to think that every customer who participates in the Early Reviewer Program will be shouting nothing but positivity about your product, but in reality this isn’t the case. A huge drawback to this program is that you may end up receiving negative or one-star reviews for your product from the outset, and this can be a huge negative to a product you have just launched.
Another downside to this program that some sellers have complained about is the fact that these reviews often take a few months to start rolling in. When comparing organic reviews with testimonials received via the program, some sellers have noted they were on an even playing field and wondered why they should bother paying that extra $60.
With no true winner on either side of the positive and negative outcomes, it all boils down to the individual seller because, as with any products being sold, there are just too many factors at play. So, you may be wondering what other options beyond the reviewer program you might have that will allow you to gain positive feedback from your customers in a shorter amount of time from the very start?
What Are Some Other Ways to Get Product Reviews?
When looking to find other ways to gain positive feedback for your products on Amazon, you may discover a few tools available in the market today. Product launch platforms are showing up in abundance as FBA becomes increasingly popular with e-commerce professionals. These programs allow you to share product promotions with shoppers to help boost your sales. A drawback to these launch platforms however is that there is never a guarantee customers will leave a review on your products.
Another great option if you happen to be conducting some marketing efforts via Amazon’s platform is to use automated email responders to follow up with your customers. This is a fabulous way to keep your customers within your sales funnel, and at the same time, it doesn’t require much effort once you’ve optimized an email campaign based on your buyer personas. Not only is this a nifty way to gain some quality reviews from your customers, but it will also help you address any issues your customers might have with a given product prior to leaving a bad review on your Amazon listing for the world to see.
Is Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program Worth It?
Whether you decide to enroll in the Amazon Early Reviewer Program or not, focusing on producing the best quality product that you can should be your primary objective. If you have a quality product that solves a problem for your customers in a way that the competition has can not, positive reviews will be sure to follow, irrespective of whether you enroll in this program or gain them organically over time.
Many FBA sellers, having received their first few positive reviews which created a windfall of orders, claim to love this program, while others have experienced a bit of a struggle in the early stages. The response to your products may vary depending on the approach you have taken regarding the quality of your products and how they solve your ideal customers’ problems. If you have already been gaining hundreds of product reviews for your Amazon products and are looking for a new niche to expand into, head over to our valuation tool to jump-start your exit planning. Once you have an idea of how much you could gain financially for an Amazon FBA business you have been growing, you can plan your next venture and utilize any of the customer review techniques we have covered in this guide.