Amazon Product Review Policy: What You Need to Know

by Becky Trowbridge

Aligning closely with Amazon’s mission to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company” is key for sellers who want to succeed on the Amazon marketplace. It’s also imperative to fully understand and follow Amazon’s Terms of Service. Amazon customer reviews are making headlines once again, and as Q4 ramps up we thought it would be a good time to offer a quick refresher on product review guidelines.

Trust Matters

Cheating the system isn’t good for anyone. When you hear advice that seems too good to be true, take a moment to check out what, Inc. (“Amazon”) says on the matter. Don’t experiment with a grey or black hat technique because it’s working for your friend. It’s not going to work for long, and your friend is probably going to be suspended from selling on the Amazon marketplace, perhaps for life.

“Trust in product reviews is essential to Amazon’s success,” said Louis Mizzell, FeedbackFive Product Manager. “Our tool is designed to help you save time when you ask buyers for product reviews, but it’s important to make sure that you are acting in accordance with Amazon’s guidelines at all times.”

Amazon’s Customer Product Review Policies page states, “Customer reviews are an integral part of the customer shopping experience on Amazon. Customers use these reviews to learn more about the product, assess whether it fits their needs, and make an informed purchase decisions. Customer reviews also help sellers understand the customers’ sentiment about their products, what features or aspects of the product customers like, and what areas need improvements.” Clearly, Amazon product reviews offer value for both buyers and sellers.

Protecting Product Reviews

In October 2016, Amazon banned incentivized reviews from the platform. Previously, sellers who were launching new products or hoping to get more reviews to improve an item’s ranking in search results could offer products to buyers at a discounted rate in exchange for an honest review. Since incentivized reviews were banned, getting reviews—which are integral—has become more challenging for many sellers. Buyer-Seller Messaging tools, such as FeedbackFive, make it easier for Amazon merchants to reach out to buyers for product reviews, but getting verified purchase reviews remains a top concern for many sellers, especially those who are launching private-label products. (Want tips on improving email open rates and getting more verified purchase reviews? Don’t miss Liz Fickenscher’s webinar with Shannon Roddy!)

In order to protect the integrity of the Amazon marketplace, Amazon has adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards violations of customer reviews. Requesting product reviews should be a best practice for most sellers, because reviews are so important in the Amazon ecosystem. They also provide a lot of important data for merchants who want to ensure that they are providing quality items and continuously improve their product offerings. You can absolutely reach out to buyers to ask them what they think of your product (and, by the way, doing so is good customer service), but it’s essential to follow the rules and avoid any attempts to manipulate Amazon product reviews.

If you do break the rules, here are the potential consequences as outlined by Amazon:

· Immediate and permanent withdrawal of the seller’s selling privileges on Amazon and withholding of funds.

· The removal of all the product’s reviews and preventing the product from receiving future reviews or ratings.

· Permanent delisting of the product from Amazon.

· Legal action against the seller, including lawsuits and referral to civil and criminal enforcement authorities.

· Disclosing the seller’s name and other related information publicly.

Those are serious repercussions that could destroy a thriving eCommerce business. Educating yourself and your employees about Amazon’s policies is essential. Liz Fickenscher, eComEngine industry liaison, said, "It's important to pay attention to Amazon's terms of service. Updates occur frequently and sellers need to stay on top of the rules so that they can protect their accounts."

What Are the Rules?

Any attempt to manipulate an Amazon product review is forbidden. As a seller, this means that you cannot review your own product or a competitor’s product—and neither can your family members or employees. You also can’t ask anyone to review your product or a competitor’s product in exchange for financial compensation, a discount, free items, or any other form of compensation. Never use services that sell Amazon customer reviews, including social media groups. You cannot provide a free or discounted product in exchange for an Amazon customer review.

Don’t ask a reviewer to change or remove a product review. (You can, of course, comment on the review publicly as long as you adhere to Amazon’s Community Guidelines.) You should never ask for a positive product review.

Sellers shouldn’t divert negative reviews while positive reviews are sent to Amazon. This means that language such as “If you had a positive experience with our product, leave us a review on Amazon! If you don’t love our product, reply to this email and we’ll make it right” is a violation of the customer review policy. This type of language is often standard in messaging to customers from outside of the Amazon environment, which is why some sellers accidentally violate Terms of Service. It’s a good idea to check all of your automated communication with buyers regularly to ensure that the language matches Amazon’s guidelines.

Creating a variation relationship between products as an attempt to manipulate reviews and boost an item’s rating is prohibited. If you send a physical request for a review in your product’s packaging, that request should not ask for a positive Amazon review or offer any type of incentive in exchange for an Amazon customer review.

Stay Up to Date

Want to dig in even more? You can always see the current customer review guidelines here.

Originally published on October 12, 2018, updated June 21, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.