Amazon is limiting customers to five user reviews per week or fewer, excluding verified purchases, and deleting reviews from customers who receive free goods outside of its “Vine” review program, according to Amazon’s revised policy on community participation.
The new guidelines also require reviewers to acknowledge any relationship to the brand, including when the writer represents the brand, was paid for the post or is a relative or friend of the seller. Books, music and video are exempt from the new policy, Geekwire reports.
The e-commerce giant earlier this year sued sellers using fake reviews and in the past has also sued entities that provide such reviews. In October Amazon banned reviews from sellers providing free products to reviewers.
Reviews are especially important for Amazon, which has few physical stores for customers to try on clothes or test out a product before buying. Making sure all reviews on its site (even the negative ones) are real is key to building customer trust and loyalty, something that has been a hallmark for the retail giant.
Amazon has been deleting incentivized reviews, even older ones, according to research from ReviewMeta, which develops filters that allow users to screen out incentivized or misleading reviews. ReviewMeta in a previous analysis of more than 18 million reviews found that reviews with an incentive disclaimer (For example: "I received this product for free or at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review") are much more likely to be positive than reviewers who did not receive a discount.
Amazon is stepping up its game for good reason: Many customers use online reviews when evaluating a purchase, with 95% saying they have consulted reviews in the past, according to research from PowerReviews. Reviews fall second to price as the most important consideration when a customer is contemplating a purchase, above free shipping, product brand and even recommendations from friends and family.
The integrity of reviews is critical, according to user-generated content solutions firm Bazaarvoice. The firm’s research shows larger numbers of reviews lead to improved search results and conversation rates. That’s why so many companies are using this content and why there’s so much enthusiasm on the part of bad actors generating inauthentic positive reviews, Bazaarvoice told Retail Dive last year.