The presence of ratings and reviews is one of the most important attributes of the online shopping experience, second only to search and navigation. Features, benefits, and high-quality images and videos will only get you so far: shoppers look for reviews as social proof. Amazon understands this completely. One might even argue their choice to prominently display reviews and ratings is a big part of their massive success as an e-commerce marketplace.
As with all things Amazon, ratings and reviews evolve, with features like Amazon Vine being added and updated all the time. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the importance of Amazon ratings and reviews and how to take advantage of new tools and resources to stay ahead.
How Important are Amazon Reviews?
Online shopping is intense and competitive, not just for the seller, but for shoppers as well. A single search term can yield hundreds of results, and with no ability to interact with the product in person, Amazon shoppers rely on the feedback of other customers who have handled and tested the product themselves to determine whether their choice is a good one. Even brick-and-mortar customers might look up reviews online before making a final purchase.
According to Statista, 53 percent of U.S. shoppers list product ratings and reviews as one of the most important attributes of their shopping experience. Amazon and other e-commerce giants recognize this and allow shoppers to easily filter their search based on ratings alone. Their focus is on the customer experience, and customers do not enjoy the uncertainty of an unknown or unrated product.
The Emotions Behind Buying Behavior
Ratings and reviews increase customer confidence and provide insights into product quality and appeal. Reviews also give the shopper missing information, such as how the product fits and feels, how it performs, and whether other shoppers are happy with the product they purchased and the brand they purchased it from.
The key word here is happy. People are not always rational, and data shows buying decisions are often driven by emotions. Sellers know this, and the savviest play on emotions in their product images and videos to improve conversion rate. Smart shoppers know they are being sold to and recognize a company will do and say almost anything to make a sale. If there is any doubt, rationality overrides their impulse to buy. Even the most desirable and enticing product becomes less appealing when paired with a negative or non-existant review.
Positive reviews and ratings are a way for buyers to override uncertainty and rationalize their desire. Ratings can even prompt shoppers to choose a more expensive product based solely on how others feel about that same purchase.
The Weight of Influence
Amazon knows shoppers are looking for confirmation, and many sellers have used influencer marketing strategies to boost sales. Influencers can help brands reach a broad, relevant audience and build trust and credibility quickly. Shoppers are much more likely to trust a product or brand if an influencer they “know” recommends it.
As popular as this strategy is, there are several drawbacks. Failing to choose the right influencer for your brand or product can mean a costly investment with little to know results, and in some cases can do more harm than good. The over-saturation of this type of marketing can also lead followers to become disinterested and disengaged. Buyers know influencers are paid to promote products, and this type of marketing becomes just another unwanted advertisement interrupting their favorite content.
What is Amazon Vine?
Amazon Vine is a chance for top product reviewers on the marketplace to provide valuable insight to other shoppers. This invite-only program selects reviewers as Vine Voices who will then have the chance to order specific items free of charge and share their experience with other customers.
Since they are not paid to provide positive recommendations like influencers and do not have to incur the cost of the product, these Voices can more easily provide unbiased reviews and react honestly their true opinions, whether positive, negative, or neutral.
Customers who regularly provide thoughtful reviews are more likely to be invited into Amazon Vine, and their continued membership is based on consistently providing honest reviews. Amazon Vine reviews will receive a special badge for full transparency.
Using Amazon Vine to Grow Your Brand
A higher number of reviews from trustworthy sources like Vine Voices can help boost brand visibility and reputation, improve buyer confidence, and build trust with your target audience to improve both sales and brand loyalty. Here are a few ways in which sellers can benefit from submitting products to Amazon Vine:
- Obtain reviews for new product releases
- Improve ratings for existing products
- Increase audience size for top-performers
- Boost sales of slow or stagnant inventory
- Build a larger online presence
Amazon Vine is a great way to both boost ratings and visibility and increase brand awareness. Sellers can enroll up to 5 different ASINs in the Amazon Vine program, with up to 30 units of a parent ASIN to make the products available for review in a variety of colors and sizes.
In launching this program, Amazon hopes to provide a solution to the problem of helping customers find the social proof they need without subjecting them to unwanted ads or promotions. In addition to participating in programs like Vine, sellers are encouraged to pay attention to reviews and ratings, respond to both positive and negative feedback, and ask customers for reviews.
Grow on Amazon
Stay up-to-date on the latest Amazon tips and trends by subscribing to our weekly blog newsletter. If you’re looking for additional advice tailored for your brand, consider reaching out for a free consultation.