Amazon Vine Program for Sellers: How and Why to Use It



You just launched your new, incredible product on Amazon and want to direct customers to it, but how? You could work on better content, improved photos, and advertising (which are all important). But even with all of that, a buyer may not feel confident to purchase your product without first seeing reviews from someone else. This is where the Vine program comes in handy for many sellers out there.


It may seem crazy, but it’s pretty hard to gain traction for an item no matter how wonderful it is without getting some reviews on the listing. The issue is how do you get a review without some purchases first? It’s a real chicken or the egg situation and that’s why the Vine program can be useful. A recent study even shows that 75% of U.S. consumers stated that they rely on ratings & reviews when looking at products online.


The rest of this article will discuss how you can get involved as a seller. It will also touch on other important topics including requirements for sellers, steps to get started, the positives and negatives of the program, and other great ways to get reviews.


What Is The Vine Program?


The Amazon Vine program is Amazon’s answer to helping sellers get their products off the ground after launching them on the platform. Previously Amazon would allow sellers to provide products for free or with steep discounts in return for reviews, but this was all changed in 2016. Amazon updated their customer product reviews policy to stop products from being flooded with biased reviews that persuaded customers to buy products that weren’t as great as they would initially seem.



The Amazon Vine program allows sellers to provide products to some of Amazon’s top reviewers with the request that they will provide unbiased and honest reviews. It is not guaranteed that you will get a review, but you have a much higher likelihood to get an in-depth review due to products going to specific people who Amazon has selected. Reviews left by people in the program will also have the below tag to help potential customers know.



How Do I Use The Vine Program?


As a Seller there are requirements that need to be met in order to have your products be a part of this program. The biggest one being that you must be brand registered. The process of becoming brand registered can take some time and follow up to the people at Amazon, so make sure to start that process right away! Additionally, you will want to confirm that you meet all the below prerequisites in order for your products to be considered eligible.

  • You must be a brand registered seller

  • You must give away each product for free

  • You must have fewer than 30 reviews on your listing

  • Your product must be an FBA offer in ‘New’ condition

  • Your product must not be an “adult” product

  • Your product must already have launched at the time of enrollment

  • You must have available inventory for your product

  • Your listing must have an image and a description


Steps To Enroll

  • While in your Seller Central account you will want to click the top Advertising tab and then click Vine from the drop-down menu.


  • You should see the ‘Enroll in Amazon Vine’ button on this screen.

  • On the next screen, you will be able to enter your ASIN and then click Begin Enrollment.



  • You are all set! Just make sure to check the results on a regular basis.


Can I Hear Some Positives & Negatives?


Of course you can! Below are some insights on the positives and negatives for this program.


Positives

  • Even though it is not guaranteed that you will get reviews with this program, you have a much higher likelihood of attaining reviews. Even a few initial reviews can help get the ball rolling for sales.

  • Every item has a rank within a category and that rank is due to a variety of reasons, but mostly historical sales. Any time you get reviews it helps add visibility to your product and higher visibility means greater sales.


Cost is minimal

  • Comparative to many other tactics or tools, this program is fairly affordable. It’s $200 to enroll each parent ASIN, which can include multiple child ASIN’s if you have various sizes or colors of your product. Many sellers spend a small fortune on advertisements to help gain traction for products, but most buyers don’t leave reviews. The reviewers selected for the Vine program are picked due to their history of leaving well formulated feedback.

Receive quality reviews

  • If you have seen enough Amazon listings, then you know it isn’t uncommon to see the classic one or two word review from customers. You will frequently see reviews that say “bad product” or hopefully it at least says something like “good purchase”. The reviewers with the Vine program have been chosen in order to leave detailed reviews. This is more helpful for prospective buyers and also gives you more insight on your items.




Negatives

  • It costs $200 to enroll for each parent ASIN plus giving away products for free. Amazon does state that “We will not charge the enrollment fee if no reviews are received or the first Vine review is published more than 90 days from the date we make your product available to Vine Voices”.

  • The reviewers in the Vine program are known to leave longer, well developed reviews, but that doesn’t mean they will be good. An in-depth negative review can really hurt the sales of an item so you will want to make sure your product is something you want someone to take a hard look at. It is also impossible to take down the review unless it goes against Amazon’s policy.

  • This has been mentioned a few times in this article, but when adding products to this program there is no guarantee you will get reviews in return for the free product. There is a high likelihood of receiving some, but there is also the chance that you gave the product away with nothing in return.


I’m Not Liking The Vine Program. What Else You Got?


The Vine program can be very useful, but it is definitely not the only way to encourage customers to leave reviews or at least gain attention for your product on the platform. If you gain additional attention, then sales will hopefully go up and you have a higher likelihood of getting more reviews.


Ideas to encourage potential customers to purchase

  • Coupons and discounts are a great way to incentivize customers to purchase your product over a competitor. It also is a lot more favorable than dropping the price and raising it later since the Amazon algorithm doesn't like to see that.



Advertisements

  • Advertisements are a classic way to gain attention to your product. Initially you will want to focus on specific keywords that heavily relate to your product or competitors that are similar, but listed at a higher price. Your advertising cost of sale (ACoS) percentage should be high since you will want to see customers clicking on your ads. If you don’t see any costs associated with your ads, then that means customers do not find them interesting and you need to reevaluate your keywords.



Ideas to encourage customers who purchased to leave a review

  • Package inserts are a wonderful way to engage with your customers after they purchase your product. Let them know about your product and ask that they leave an unbiased review.

  • There are a lot of tools out there to help automate emails to buyers of your products. It’s always great to see a brand reaching out to people asking them how they are enjoying their purchase, and it helps you get additional reviews. A very popular option is FeedbackWhiz.


Vine, a Great Starting point


As a seller this program can be a very worthwhile investment as long as you meet the requirements. It provides your product the opportunity to be reviewed by people who have a much better track record of providing quality insights on the items they purchase.


On the other side, there are plenty of ways to gain sales and reviews with a few well placed advertisements or some good follow-up emails to customers. Typically the best answer is to use a combination of these efforts to provide your product ample opportunity to grow quickly. The Vine program can be a great start to get you going in the right direction!