As the world of ecommerce trading becomes more and more competitive, sellers will go to greater and greater lengths to improve their sales. But although investing in new technologies, such as AR for ecommerce, or utilizing YouTube videos, can be beneficial, there are simpler ways to boost your conversions.
If you’re selling products through Amazon, you’ll already know the importance of reviews. Positive reviews improve a product’s ranking, and ultimately its sales performance. Luckily, Amazon has a dedicated review program designed to help vendors gain those all-important reviews.
Welcome to the Amazon Vine program. If you’re a seller on Amazon, it’s time you learned a thing or two about it.
What Is the Amazon Vine Program?
Simply put, Amazon Vine is a program designed to provide honest and unbiased reviews. The most trusted and reputable customers buying from Amazon are invited to become Vine Voices, thereby giving them the opportunity to review products sent to them free of charge from participating sellers.
These customers are chosen based on several criteria, including how often they have posted reviews previously on Amazon, and how helpful their reviews have been to other sellers. These criteria form a “reviewer rank”, and only those with high enough ranks are invited to participate.
Vendors are not able to influence the reviews they receive in any way, as they do not have any direct communication with the Vine Voices. In fact, vendors do not have any say in who receives their products. Reviewers are chosen based on their interest and familiarity with similar products. The review is submitted directly to Amazon, meaning the vendor does not have the opportunity to edit the review in any way, ensuring honest feedback is provided.
Vendors request to be enrolled in the Vine program. Products are sent to the reviewers from stock already held by Amazon on behalf of participating vendors. The products are provided for free in exchange for the review. Any reviews provided by Vine Voices are promoted as such in the review section, allowing other customers to differentiate between those and reviews provided by everyday buyers.
Vine reviews will typically be more detailed and in-depth than a standard buyer review, and will often include several pictures, providing other buyers a 360-degree overview of the product. This is a great benefit if you have a product that you really want to show off. If you’ve ever found yourself asking, ‘what is ecommerce merchandising?’, this can be a great way to compliment it.
Vendors are able to enroll up to 30 units of a parent ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) and specify which lines should be available for review. This allows Vine Voices to select their preferred version of a product when they are selected for review, meaning they provide feedback on products in the size, color, or specification that suits them, allowing for even more accurate and relevant reviews.
The Vine program has recently been overhauled, and now features new pages and features, with a streamlined and more user-friendly enrollment process. The eligibility criteria have also been updated. Let’s take a look at the enrollment process, and how much it costs.
How Can I Enroll?
The Amazon Vine program is open to third-party sellers, but not every seller or product will be eligible.
The eligibility criteria for enrolling in Vine are as follows:
- Be registered in the Amazon Brand Registry
- Have 30 or fewer existing reviews on the products you wish to enroll
- Have buyable FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) stock in “New” condition
- Not be an “adult” product, alcohol, jewelry, or cosmetics
- Items must have already launched at the point of enrollment
- Items must be in stock, (be sure to avoid any common inventory management mistakes)
- Items must have a description and an image
If you meet these criteria, it is simple to enroll, just follow these steps:
- Go to the Advertising tab in Amazon Seller Central
- Scroll down the list to Vine and click
- If you are brand registered, you will see a button labeled “Enroll in Amazon Vine”
- Input your desired ASIN when prompted
- Click “Begin Enrollment”
It’s as easy as that. Simply repeat the process for all the individual ASINs you wish to enroll.
If you’re having difficulty enrolling, it’s worth going to the “Settings” tab in Amazon Seller Central, and checking that you have the required permissions to enroll in Vine. Click on User Permissions, and allow access for Vine in the “Advertising” section.
While you’re there, it’s worth checking out the other advertising tools Amazon offers sellers to make sure your brand is being promoted as effectively as possible.
When Amazon Vine initially launched, it was only open to first-party sellers, and enrollment fees were really steep. First-party vendors could be paying anywhere from $2500 to $7500 per ASIN to be enrolled.
The program was opened up to third-party vendors in 2019, and it was initially free to enroll. However, after the recent updates to the service, a small fee of $200 per ASIN has been introduced. It will also be up to sellers to cover the cost of the items which are provided to the reviewers free of charge.
But is the Amazon Vine program worth this investment? Let’s weigh up the costs and benefits.
How Does Amazon Vine Benefit Sellers?
There are many benefits that can come from enrolling in the Amazon Vine program. If there weren’t, there wouldn’t be so many vendors using it! The key thing to remember is that Vine Voices are in no way obligated to review your products positively, so you need to be sure you’re confident in the quality of what you’re selling before enrolling.
You should look at investing in building your brand through reviews in the same way you would invest in any other area of your business. If you were experiencing high volumes of customer queries, which you were struggling to deal with, you would invest in contact center workforce management to alleviate the problem and build stronger customer relationships. The same principle applies to building a strong customer base through positive and informative reviews.
One of the key benefits of the Vine program is that it’s great for new products, and indeed, new brands trying to establish themselves. Because one of the requirements for eligibility is less than 30 existing reviews on a product, it provides a great opportunity to spread word of mouth about products that may have only just launched and are still trying to find an audience.
Say you’re offering a headset designed to make conferencing calling easier when working from home. A review by a Vine Voice who has successfully used your tech to conference call on android, will instantly make it appealing to customers looking for similar solutions.
Reviews are important to customers. In fact, over 40% of respondents surveyed said they shopped with Amazon because of the access to reviews from other buyers. And that’s not all, shoppers, especially younger ones, expect to see a large number of reviews available for a product before considering it as a possible purchase.
Previously, in order to get reviews, you would need to sell stock. Because Vine gives away your product for free in exchange for the review, it’s a great way to quickly build brand awareness, without having to make a lot of initial sales. This stops you from getting caught in an endless cycle of needing reviews to make sales but needing sales to receive reviews, a position which all too many Amazon sellers have found themselves in before.
An excellent bonus of the Vine program is that it helps weed out unfair or biased reviews. It’s an unfortunate truth of the ecommerce world that customers can easily try and sabotage a brand through unfavorable, and sometimes unjustified reviews.
Because Vine Voices are invited to take part because of their credible review history, this risk is minimized. The only reason you should receive a bad review is if you provide a bad product.
Occasionally, of course, you may receive a negative review from a Vine Voice. In this situation, it’s always a good idea to engage with the review in a fair and professional manner. If other potential buyers can see you attempting to make amends for any shortcomings with a particular product, it’s more likely to build trust in your brand, as customers can see that you are a reasonable and attentive seller.
It’s necessary to remember how important building a customer relationship is. You can aid in this by integrating CRM tools into your customer databases to keep track of any negative feedback to follow up on in the future.
Positive reviews, however, will carry much more weight when posted by a Vine reviewer. Firstly, Amazon’s algorithm prioritizes highly-ranked reviewers. As buyers have to be highly ranked in order to become Vine Voices, this means that any reviews they post will be seen by the largest possible audience.
As mentioned previously, their reviews will typically be in-depth, fair, and will provide a great overview of your products. This will ultimately boost your average ecommerce conversion rate by driving traffic towards your listings.
Now You’re Up to Date on Amazon Vine
There we have it. Now you know the basics of Amazon Vine, and what it could offer you as a seller. The importance of reviews for boosting your Amazon conversion rate can not be overstated, and Vine is a great way to get a running start in this area.
The vine is there in front of you. What grapes you choose to pluck from it, and what wine you make with them, is entirely up to you.
About the Author: Grace Lau – Director of Growth Content, Dialpad
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud PBX phone system for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.
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