It’s been a long time coming, but Amazon has finally updated their Prohibited Seller Activities policy page with specific new terms prohibiting two of the most egregious abuses of selling privileges happening in the Amazon Marketplace:
- Misuse of product reviews
- Sales Rank manipulation
Sales manipulation by a percentage of the Amazon seller community has run rampant over the past 5 years.
Millions in product sales have been made off these black hat strategies and millions more have been made by the programs that teach them.
Not all sellers who use these prohibited strategies realize they are breaking the rules, because the programs and the programs that teach these strategies promote them as OK to use.
But there is a segment of sellers who knowingly break the rules each and every day.
For honest sellers who play by the rules, competing against a seller who is breaking Amazon’s TOS is not only frustrating, it can also cause a huge loss income unless you know how to compete SUCCESSFULLY against these black hat practices.
And unfortunately, Amazon has in large part turned the other way to let these rule breaking tactics continue for far too long.
But over the past six months we’ve FINALLY started to see the crackdown on these practices.
Listings are being taken down, and accounts are being suspended.
And now Amazon has published new policies prohibiting these activities in their latest update to the Prohibited Seller Activities and Actions page.
Amazon Now Specifically Prohibits the Misuse of Product Reviews
Product Reviews on Amazon were never meant to be used as a tool to manipulate sales rank or volume by sellers.
While a few legitimate product reviews are a fully acceptable practice in retail (and by Amazon), over the past five years, we’ve seen a massive increase in sellers who solicit hundreds of 5 Star reviews per product, either from pools of other sellers, large communities that are part of programs that teach these black hat strategies, or from “fishing” for reviews on social media sites.
There are also paid services that sell 5 Star review services to sellers. In fact Amazon has recently filed a lawsuit against fake review providers.
Amazon has also come under fire recently from the consumer community who more and more recognize that the review you read on an Amazon page very likely may not be authentic.
Product Reviews have been a foundation of the Amazon Marketplace for 20+ years. This feature alone draws millions and millions of buyers to Amazon a month.
They compromise in credibility of Amazon reviews threatens the success of the entire marketplace.
Amazon Now Prohibits Review Manipulation
Newly added to Amazon’s Misuse of Ratings, Feedback, or Reviews Section:
“You may not provide compensation for a review other than a free copy of the product. If you offer a free product, it must be clear that you are soliciting an unbiased review. The free product must be provided in advance.”
“You may not intentionally manipulate your products’ rankings, including by offering an excessive number of free or discounted products, in exchange for a review.”
In the Reviews Section:
“Reviews are important to the Amazon Marketplace, providing a forum for feedback about product and service details and reviewers’ experiences with products and services — positive or negative. You may not write reviews for products or services that you have a financial interest in, including reviews for products or services that you or your competitors sell. Additionally, you may not provide compensation for a review other than a free copy of the product. If you offer a free product, it must be clear that you are soliciting an unbiased review. The free product must be provided in advance. No refunds are permitted after the review is written. You may not intentionally manipulate your products’ rankings, including by offering an excessive number of free or discounted products, in exchange for a review. Review solicitations that ask for only positive reviews or that offer compensation are prohibited. You may not ask buyers to remove negative reviews.”
The bottom line? You can get a few reviews for your product if you offer the product to the reviewer for free.
Amazon also now specifically prohibits FAKE sales.
A segment of sellers have been soliciting purchases of their products at a discount to drive sales. This includes having people order the product, and then cancel which drives up a products Best Seller Rank (BSR)
Newly Added to the Misuse of Sales Rank Section:
“The best seller rank feature allows buyers to evaluate the popularity of a product. You may not solicit or knowingly accept fake or fraudulent orders. This includes placing orders for your own products. You may not provide compensation to buyers for purchasing your products or provide claim codes to buyers for the purpose of inflating sales rank. In addition, you may not make claims regarding a product’s best seller rank in the product detail page information, including the title and description.”
The bottom line? Let real buyers make real purchases.
Already the outcry from the Amazon sellers who have been using black-hat-strategies is at pitch fever.
“How are we going to sell when we can’t give our product the competitive edge?”
The answer is simple and it’s the method that my clients and students have used from the beginning to build six, multi-six and seven-figure businesses.
Treat Amazon as you would treat a real retail business.
- If you owned a brick and mortar store, you wouldn’t lie to your customer’s face (at least I hope you wouldn’t).
- You wouldn’t make false claims about your product, present it in a way that misrepresents what it does
- You wouldn’t use false advertising to get customers in the door
- You wouldn’t have a bunch of friends purchase the product at a discount or for free and leave fake 5 stars reviews on your website
No! You would advertise the product ethically and serve you customers with honesty and integrity.
The Future of Selling on Amazon
Since starting with Amazon in 2001, I’ve never taught black or grey hat strategies for selling on Amazon. You can sell very successfully without breaking the rules.
My clients and students enjoy very successful and profitable Amazon sales channels, with our biggest clients selling 10 Million + a year. All without black hat strategies.
As I’ve been saying for the past year +, Amazon IS cleaning up the abuse of the marketplace. They have a LONG way to go.
But the days of gaming the system to sell products are coming to an end.
This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to learn to promote your products and drive traffic to your pages with Inbound Marketing.
This is why Product Page Optimization cannot be ignored.
This is why sourcing good products and branding them is KEY.
And this is why all along we only teach white hat strategies here in SBM.
Because these days were coming. It was only a matter of when.
The future is changing on Amazon and you don’t want to get left behind or caught in the net.
Whether you’re currently breaking the rules, not sure if you are or simply want the best strategies for selling profitably and successfully on Amazon, sign up for “How to Sell on Amazon Successfully without Breaking the Rules” below…