Where do you go from here, after 4 years with product reviewing/product marketing? Where do you turn when rules have changed; tables have seemingly turned, and what you knew has made a huge transformation.
Four years ago, product reviewing wasn’t “new” but it was a new concept to many. Back then, it was fairly unheard of to get products for free or at a deep discount, at least to mainstream public. Four years ago marked a turning point for many. It was fairly easy for third party sellers to become successful on Amazon. A product launch made infinitely easier by getting those first products into the hands of willing members of the public and/or private groups of people. Fast forward months later, and hundreds of shady groups/websites/people jumped on the bandwagon to exploit a system that, had it continued on a smaller scale minus the shady behavior, could have PROBABLY continued at the status quo. Had it not been for greedy, inconsiderate sellers and administrators who always had to try to game the system to get more than their fair share, or try to bypass current rules, the original status quo very possibly could have sustained for much longer.
With the shadiness and greediness that ensued, Amazon began to look hard at their review policies. They began investigating these “fake” review programs where members of the clubs or sites were paid for reviews of items that were never received, paid for placing orders that would never arrive or would arrive an empty envelope.. or better yet would simply post fake/fraudulent reviews from 100’s of fake accounts (as in the example of the Fiverr.com lawsuit & 3 other websites here.) Many of these (sellers, websites, groups AND reviewers) faced legal repercussions when they were slapped with lawsuits from Amazon.
Over the course of the next couple years, Amazon began refining their Review Guidelines, began changing the back end for sellers so that discount coupons were limited on what could be sent, and they began to “wipe” Amazon review accounts and suspending seller accounts (back then on a more limited basis dependent upon the infraction.) Sellers who gave up the names of their “fake” reviewers were granted somewhat of an immunity. Their accounts’ suspensions were often lifted by giving names of those who had participated in their fraudulent behavior.
On October 3rd, 2016 Amazon dropped the hammer. They changed their Review Guidelines and Seller Guidelines, completely wiped 1000’s of review accounts and 100’s of thousands of reviews, especially those reviews that stated that they received a product “in exchange for review”. Many sellers, websites and groups shut their doors to reviews. They got scared, and rightfully so. The average layperson would automatically think that it’s done. It’s over. But does it HAVE to be?
Review groups and review programs that follow the TOS are still out there, and they follow RIGOROUS guidelines in order to be compliant by Amazon standards. Reviewing is still possible, and is still within the guidelines of Amazon IF it is done the proper way.
Are you looking for options to continue receiving products at a discount or free? Are you a seller or a company looking for ways to get your name/product out there into the hands of WILLING samplers? Stick around! This is just the BEGINNING of our product review series!