The Dark Side of Amazon Reviews
In a recent blog on reviews we highlighted how to get great reviews for your products, what we didn’t mention was the dark side of reviews. E-commerce platforms and fake reviews have recently made headlines, most notably after the investigation by the Financial Times, and we thought we should touch on these. There are two types of fake reviews to be on the look out for, the first is paid for 5-star reviews and the second is false 1-star reviews which are often the work of a competitor to discredit a shop or product.
A 5-star review is the aim of any Amazon shop for their products, cumulatively they result in your product being listed at the top of the search results on Amazon and instils confidence and trust in potential customers to purchase the item. Reviews, price and delivery time, are all crucial in pushing the products up Amazon’s rankings and help promote products and getting endorsements, such as the influential “Amazon’s Choice” badge. However, Amazon has just deleted approximately 20 000 product reviews in the UK. This means that those 5 stars are not as trustworthy as they first appear. To add to the discovery is the fact that these reviews were written by seven of the top 10 UK reviewers. The Financial Times investigation into suspicious activity showed that users were profiting from positing 5-star reviews. These were primarily from Chinese products from relatively unknown brands and manufacturers, some of these products were founds in groups and forums offering money and/or free products in exchange for good reviews. This means that potential customers are wooed away from your shop under false pretences. The United Kingdom’s competition watchdog – The Competition and Markets Authority did its own investigation, which found that manipulated reviews had an influence over approximately £23bn worth of product every year.
The rate of fake reviews has increased during the coronavirus pandemic with so many more people on e-commerce platforms. One estimate, from Fakespot, suggested that the problem peaked in May, when 58 percent of products on Amazon.co.uk were accompanied by seemingly fake reviews.
Bloggers and Influences often receive and publicise free products but Amazon is different.
Amazon’s community guidelines explicitly prohibit “creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anyone else”. The exception is the company’s “vine” review programme, an invite-only scheme where top reviewers are sent free products, but these are not dependent on giving a good review. Amazon has said that it suspends, bans and sues people who violate its policies.
The flip side of the coin are fake 1-star reviews used to negatively impact the sales of competitors. There has been a call for the UK watchdog to include these types of reviews in any investigation on fake reviews. Given that reviews play such an important role in influencing sales rivals are targeting reviews of competitor products. The power of negative ratings are even greater than positive reviews, a product could have numerous positive reviews, but potential customers will focus on those 1 or 2 -star ratings. They are also very difficult to remove; it is not possible to bribe or blackmail customers into removing them – so you cannot offer to refund the product for them to remove the negative review. Amazon will remove a bad review in some very limited cases such as a delivery issue which is not the seller’s responsibility.
Whether it is fake 5-star or 1-star reviews the world of ratings on Amazon is complex and multifaceted and before you find yourself on the receiving end of these or even worse part of an investigation consult the services of an online sales management service in the UK.
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The London Bridge Project (LBP) is a leading sales and management consulting firm that provides both amazon consulting services and amazon sales support for businesses looking to grow exponentially within the biggest marketplace in the world. We offer a complete end-to-end service for Amazon based businesses, which includes providing valuable insights into Amazon sales data and a pipeline of under-explored opportunities within your niche.
If you would like to learn more about how the London Bridge Project can help your online business, make sure to contact a member of our team today to discuss your requirements.