In the last article in my series on launching a private-label product, I shared how to optimize your product page for search and conversion. Once you have a high-quality product page created, there is one more piece to the page that is a big part of the Amazon shopping experience: product reviews.

Gone are the days when you could do a large giveaway and quickly gather dozens or even hundreds of reviews. Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”) has banned that practice and does suspend sellers for perceived review manipulation. However, there are still ways you can be proactive in gathering those much needed product reviews for your brand-new products.

Amazon Early Reviewer program

You’ll find the Amazon Early Reviewer program in the Seller Central dashboard under Advertising. When you enroll products in this program Amazon will reach out to randomly selected customers after they have purchased your product and ask them to leave a review. In exchange Amazon will send them a small reward, usually a gift card between $1-$3. You can read more about how reviewers are selected and rewarded on Amazon’s help page.

The program costs $60 per parent or standalone SKU and will run for one year or until you have 5 reviews. There are a few guidelines to be aware of:

  1. Must have fewer than 5 reviews on the website.
  2. SKUs must be parent-level or stand-alone. Variations are not allowed. Child SKUs are automatically enrolled with the parent.
  3. Offer price of each product must be greater than $15. If the offer price falls below $15, Amazon may cease requesting reviews from customers.

Amazon Vine Program

The Amazon Vine program is currently only available to Amazon vendors, although rumor has it that Amazon is testing the service for third-party sellers. If you do have access to the program, this is another great way to get those initial product reviews.

Amazon Vine does come with a price tag. It can be a couple of thousand dollars per ASIN plus the cost of providing your product for free. For that price you will get high-quality reviews by top Amazon reviewers. Amazon Vine reviewers are chosen by Amazon based on the quality of their reviews and how helpful they are to customers. Amazon will ship them the product for free and they are required to leave a review within 30 days.

Post-Order Email Series

While sellers cannot offer any sort of reward, discount or incentive in exchange for reviews, you can still send a follow-up email asking customers for an honest review of your product. Using a tool like FeedbackFive makes this very easy and allows you to create and send messages at various times after the purchase.

I often get asked how many emails to send and what to say. I suggest limiting to 2-3 emails at most, remembering that Amazon already sends two emails after the purchase (order confirmation and shipping confirmation). Amazon now allows customers to opt out of messages from sellers, so don’t give them a reason to by spamming them.

As for content, think about what you want to communicate about your company and brand. Keep it short and be sure to invite them to contact you with any questions. Invite them to leave a review, but don’t beg for it. Also be careful not to use language that asks for positive reviews only. Copy such as “if you feel like this was a 5-star experience, please leave a review” is prohibited by Amazon. You can only ask for an honest review; there should be absolutely no hinting at leaving a positive one.

Get Started!

Leaving the review-gathering to chance will give you a slow start. To increase your review rate and get a jump-start on that vital part of your product page, you should use one or more of the above tactics. As long as you understand and play by Amazon’s rules when it comes to gathering product reviews, your account will not be at risk and you’ll be off to a great start in selling your new private-label product. Next up, I’ll talk about marketing and driving that initial traffic to your now-optimized Amazon product page.

Liz Adamson

Liz Adamson is the owner and lead consultant at Egility. In addition to extensive experience selling on the Amazon marketplace, she brings over a decade of experience in producing, marketing, and selling consumer goods as well as an MBA emphasizing in marketing and brand management. Her author profile can be found here.

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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.