Reputation is everything. For Amazon sellers or vendors launching a new product, building a positive reputation and credibility can sometimes feel like a catch-22. To appear at the top of the search results (SERP), you must convert well and receive solid, positive reviews, but how do you get those first sales and reviews if people aren’t seeing your listing until three pages into the SERP? A listing that far down with no stars or reviews isn’t likely to instil consumer confidence in your product, which can seriously impact your opportunity to make a sale.
Here’s where Amazon Vine comes in. For those who aren’t in the know, this is what Amazon has to say about this handy review feature, ‘Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new products to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions’… (aka Vine Voices). ‘If you participate, you can provide free units of your products for this selected group of Vine Voices to post customer reviews for the products you submit.’
For anyone who has shopped online, it’s no surprise that product reviews are integral to a product’s success. When it comes to Amazon, it’s imperative, as sales velocity and ratings feed into a product’s ranking and can also affect your seller ranking. Want to be on the first page of the Amazon search results? You’re going to need some serious star power.
Ye olde Amazon Vine
Amazon initially launched Amazon Vine as a tool for vendors. Back in the days of yore (2019), vendors were looking at steep joining fees starting from $2500 per ASIN! In late 2019, Amazon overhauled the program and expanded it to include sellers that met certain criteria. With the discontinuation of the Early Review Program in 2021, Amazon Vine is now the best and most legit way to get reviews on your products.
Vine prerequisites for 2023
Before we get into the fundamentals, here are the Amazon prerequisites you must fulfil before getting excited about your potential 5-star feedback.
- You must be a Professional Selling Partner.
- You must be identified as a brand owner.
- You must have eligible FBA offers.
- You must be an authorised brand representative in the Amazon Brand Registry for the item that you want to enrol.
Currently, Amazon vendors and Amazon professional sellers with FBA fulfilment are all eligible for Amazon Vine, but the tool is only available for those enrolled in the Brand Registry. To participate in Vine, you must register as the brand owner in the Amazon Brand Registry.
If you’ve ticked those off, we’re in business – let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
Are all products viable for Vine?
In short, no. Amazon states, ‘the items you enrol must be of a brand that you are authorised to represent in the Amazon Brand Registry’. They also stipulate that selected ASINs must meet the following criteria:
- ASINs should have fewer than 30 reviews on the product detail page.
- ASINs should have a buyable FBA offer in “New” condition.
- ASINs must not be adult products, digital, or heavy and bulky items.
- ASINs should have already been launched at the time of enrolment.
- ASINs should have the available inventory.
- ASINs should have an image and a description.
In summary, each enrolment lets your business offer up to 30 product units for review by Vine Voices. Eligible products must have less than 30 reviews. The products must be provided FBA and in “New” condition. Your product must have sufficient inventory and be buyable.
As of 2023, Amazon has expanded the enrolment limit from 60 to 200 ASINs per brand. So, there is ample opportunity to capitalise on modern-day word-of-mouth for brands with larger catalogues.
Tip: If you are a Brand Registry seller, ensure your products are all properly associated with your registered brand. You can only enrol products for brands you own, so ensuring your products are set up and mapped correctly is crucial. All fairly standard, common sense requirements!
Amazon Vine costs
So what’s it going to cost? As of 2023, in the UK, sellers will be charged a £140 fee once per parent ASIN after the first review is published; in the US, a $200 fee is charged once per parent ASIN after the first review is published. Vendor costs will vary per vendor.
How does Amazon Vine work?
As we covered earlier, Amazon Vine is an in-house program where Amazon allows a pool of trusted reviewers (based on the helpfulness of their reviews, quality of writing, and overall activity) to evaluate products put into the program. Once enrolled in the program, these chosen few, whimsically referred to as ‘Vine Voices’, will decide your fate.
Vine Voices are obliged to give honest, unbiased feedback; they are also encouraged to disclose that they received the product for free in their review. As long as your ASINs cut the mustard, you should anticipate balanced, authentic and hopefully positive feedback.
How do I enrol?
Ensure you’re logged in to your Brand Registry-linked account in Seller Central. Under the “Advertising” drop-down, navigate to “Vine.” At the top, enter the ASIN you wish to enrol at the top right of the page.
In Vendor Central, ensure you’re logged into the account associated with your Brand Registry account. Under the “Merchandising” tab, click “Amazon Vine.”
From there, Amazon will guide you through setup, which can be done quickly and easily. Just select the number of units you want to offer and confirm that you agree with the terms and conditions. Amazon will then automatically offer your products to Vine Voices through the reviewer portal.
Tip: Once you have enrolled an ASIN, it cannot be enrolled a second time (even if it still meets all other requirements). Consider this when deciding how many units to place into the pool.
How soon will I see reviews?
How long is a piece of string? Review turnaround time depends on your product and category. Amazon will offer units to a select group of people likely to want your product, typically those who have previously purchased in your category. After 28 days, they will expand it to a broader group. Reviews can roll in as quickly as five days after enrolment, but it may take weeks or months. Reviewers usually need time to use the product and form an opinion about it.
Vine Voices reviewers typically post a detailed evaluation and, frequently, are very thorough with feedback. This type of scrutiny could be good or bad, depending on your item.
Is Amazon Vine worth it?
First up, let's lead with the positives. If you enrol your ASINs in Amazon Vine, there’s a solid chance you could reap some seriously impactful rewards:
- Vine can lead to an increase in product reviews, improving product visibility.
- Vine ensures your product receives unbiased reviews that buyers can trust.
- Vine delivers well-written, quality reviews.
- Vine increases the awareness of unknown sellers or new products.
- Vine can lead to an increase in sales.
Here’s the big caveat. Amazon does not guarantee you will get reviews from the program; even if you receive reviews, they are not guaranteed to be positive. Sellers and vendors have no contact with the potential reviewers or influence over the reviews. The product must speak for itself, so ensure you’ve done your QA and optimised your detail pages to answer common customer questions and issues.
Because the program charges money for each parent ASIN enrolled and factoring in that your business must give the product away, Amazon Vine can end up being a pricey endeavour. Some products, especially those with a high price point, may not be able to support 30 enrolled units. At the very least, some businesses might not want to cough up that much product or money for every single listing.
That said, Amazon Vine is really the only legitimate way to get reviews. The cost of not having reviews can be detrimental. It goes without saying nefarious package inserts, giveaways, or other black hat tricks on third-party sites to garner positive reviews are a massive no-no.
‘Once our clients have strong foundations in place and have their listings retail-ready, the Vine program is always something that we suggest to get the Amazon flywheel going. For many of our clients, it's an integral part of their marketing plan.’ says eCommerce Nurse Senior Marketing Manager Dani Thompson.
Help with Amazon Vine
Amazon Vine offers a simple way to expand your reach and solicit genuine reviews from people who are likely to provide a comprehensive and fair opinion. Brands should be prepared for constructive, honest feedback and to swallow the cost of giving away free units to customers who are in no way obligated to be positive. Although the enrolment costs are not to be sniffed at, it’s still worth it and may require brands to be more strategic about which ASINs they choose to run the gauntlet.
If your listings are getting a bad rap and need a little TLC, get in touch. Our full-service agency is comprised of Amazon experts and ex-Amazonians, ready to get your brand review ready.