6 Steps to Control Your Merchant Reputation on Amazon
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
Less than 5 percent of customers who buy through Amazon take the time to leave feedback. For the two million third-party merchants who account for more than 40 percent of all Amazon transactions, this comes as frustrating news.
In an ecommerce world largely focused on price, a quality seller reputation is one of the few opportunities for differentiation. With so few customers willing to leave feedback, however, many sellers get trapped into a race to the bottom and experience ever-dwindling profit margins.
With this in mind, the days of hoping for automatic positive feedback on Amazon are over. To maximize profitability, it’s crucial that you focus on improving one of your most valuable assets: your Amazon Feedback Rating. Doing so will help you win the buy box more often and grow your business.
1. Learn Amazon’s feedback system and rules.
As the world’s most customer-centric brand, Amazon offers very detailed guidelines on how third-party sellers should conduct business. Reputation management is no exception.
While Amazon maintains an exhaustive list of prohibited seller activities, asking for customer feedback is not only allowed -- it’s encouraged by Amazon. The company openly states that "Maintaining a high feedback rating is an important factor in becoming a successful seller on Amazon. Customers often review feedback ratings when determining whether to make a purchase from a seller.”
Amazon goes on to say, “You may request feedback from a buyer. However, you may not offer pay nor any incentive to a buyer for either providing or removing feedback.”
You have been given an open invitation to proactively manage your feedback rating. As long as you play by the rules, feedback management is not only perfectly legitimate, but encouraged.
2. Develop a game plan.
After studying Amazon’s guidelines, you’ve decided to take control of your seller reputation by soliciting feedback. Before sending your first email, develop a plan and stick to it.
Ecommerce professionals have many obligations to meet. Sourcing, inventory management, order fulfillment and accounting are just a few of the priorities already filling your day. Feedback management can easily slip to the bottom of any to-do list. To prevent this from happening, create a recurring calendar reminder with a frequency that you can realistically commit to. Once or twice a week will initially suffice. When prompted, invest time in the process, and don’t be frustrated by low response rates.
You should also develop and test different email language. As any email marketer will tell you, a few subtle changes to your wording can make a big difference in your conversion rate. Try to develop action-focused wording without sounding too aggressive. Remember, you want to ensure customer satisfaction as the first priority.
3. Start soliciting feedback.
Requesting feedback on Amazon is relatively straightforward. When logged into Amazon Seller Central, click Manage Orders and edit the date range as appropriate. Select any order to initiate the Contact Buyer process. You’ll notice that Amazon offers a dropdown menu for the email’s subject line. Select the option for Feedback Request. (If you’re still not sure about soliciting, seeing Feedback Request as a standard option should provide additional peace of mind.)
Next, you’ll want to craft your message. Amazon recommends keeping your email brief and focusing primarily on the customer’s satisfaction. When using Amazon’s Feedback Manager, you’re also allowed to provide customers with instructions for leaving feedback.
It may be wise to ask advice from more experienced merchants on the Seller Forums. As you’ll quickly learn, many sellers opt for pre-built feedback templates rather than starting entirely from scratch.
4. Jump on negative feedback.
The customers most motivated to leave feedback are often those who have had negative experiences. While Amazon offers a list of situations to avoid, you’re bound to encounter an occasional problem. A single piece of negative feedback, if left unchanged, can be devastating to your share of the buy box.
Luckily, there is a process for merchants to resolve negative feedback. If, for example, the customer used profane or obscene words, Amazon will remove the customer’s post. In addition, customers can get confused and accidentally leave a review of the product (instead of reviewing the seller as intended). In this case, Amazon will also delete the feedback.
There are many situations, however, that fall outside of Amazon’s conditions for automatic removal. For example, perhaps you make an honest mistake and ship the wrong item to a customer. Before you realize what happened, the customer leaves a scathing piece of feedback. Amazon allows you to contact the buyer and work to correct the issue. After solving the problem, you may ask the customer to remove the original feedback. Amazon customers have 60 days to delete feedback, so it’s in your best interest to move quickly.
5. Seek product reviews.
Unlike eBay’s auction-based format, Amazon merchants commonly compete for the buy box on permanent, product-focused pages. It is therefore in a seller’s best interest to contribute to an item’s visibility, even if competitors have the same strategy.
Many merchants proactively solicit product reviews in a similar fashion to asking for feedback. This can be especially helpful for companies that market private label or kitted products.
6. Consider automation.
As sales increase, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of time spent soliciting feedback and reviews. To alleviate your burden, it may be wise to hire an assistant who can help facilitate the process and follow up on negative feedback. Just be careful when making this type of staffing decision. You’re placing a valuable asset in the hands of another person. Be cautious and set clear expectations up front.
Another way to streamline the feedback process is by utilizing an automated software tool, such as our FeedbackFive platform. There are a number of options available to sellers, but again choose wisely. Your Amazon reputation, the lifeblood of your business, is in someone else’s hands.
Successful sellers understand the importance of a stellar Amazon reputation. Prospective customers and Amazon use this information when comparing you to other merchants. It’s time to take control of your feedback score and position yourself for greater success online.