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Preparing for Q4: Why Reputation Matters [Webinar Recap]
Did you know that 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase? Customers flock to their most recently visited e-commerce websites to browse reviews and gather information before they decide to move forward with a purchase. Amazon, one of the most common e-commerce destinations today, has solidified themselves as a customer-centric company, dedicated to making sure their customers’ shopping experiences are pleasant and hassle-free from start to finish.
Due to the fact that Amazon is intimately focused on the customer experience, it is your responsibility as marketplace sellers and brands to take this into account as you sell products, optimize your listings, and establish a customer-first strategy. In our latest Ask the Amazon Experts webinar, Feedvisor’s team was joined by Colleen Quattlebaum and Liz Fickenscher from eComEngine to explain the importance of having a reputation management strategy, how reputation can impact conversions, and how you can carry your Prime Day momentum into the next high-volume traffic season of Q4.
Competitive Seller Reputation Factors
With nearly 90% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, it’s critical for you to pay attention to both customer reviews about the specific product purchased and seller feedback which is about the purchasing experience as a whole. Importantly, emphasis should be placed on feedback score and feedback count, as these metrics impact Buy Box share. Feedback score is the culmination of all of the feedback that a seller has received from customers and is grouped by the last 30 days, 90 days, 365 days, and lifetime and the most recent feedback has the greatest impact on your ability to win the Buy Box.
Feedback count is the total number of buyers that have given the seller feedback. It serves a dual purpose — it is used to accurately weigh the feedback score between sellers with a long history and a lot of feedback and newer sellers with less feedback and is considered a core metric for the Buy Box if all other metrics are equal. Both metrics rely entirely on the buyer taking action and providing feedback.
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Private Label Seller Recommendations
If you are a private label seller, here are some tips and tricks that you can implement to fortify your reputation and establish credibility:
1. Drive SEO. Refining your SEO strategy will help your rank, visibility, and ultimately conversion rate on the Amazon marketplace.
2. Register your trademarks. Doing so will help legitimize your brand and help you establish a distinct presence online.
3. Sell high-quality products. Especially relevant to newer sellers, selling quality products will help you establish a reputation as a quality seller. It will become easier to garner strong reviews and minimize returns if you avoid selling products that could pose problems such as defects and damages.
4. Polish your brand. Customers are more likely to trust your brand if it is inundated with positive reviews, crisp and compelling copy and descriptions, strong images, and accurate sizes and descriptions.
5. Optimize pricing and fulfillment. Be sure to price your products competitively and fulfill your orders on time and within the margin of expectations and policies established by Amazon.
Your Reputation Can Impact Holiday Sales
The biggest takeaway from this section of the webinar was that there is an overlap between your reputation management strategy and your sales strategy — the closer these two are aligned, the more opportunity you will have to minimize risk, properly forecast, and avoid any potential roadblocks.
As new and seasonal inventory present risks for both competitive and private label sellers, it is important to keep in mind that reviews impact your return rate. Negative reviews are frequently a tell-tale sign of returns and Amazon may suspend your ASIN as a result. If possible, implement software that sends you alerts when you get a negative or neutral product review and then act quickly upon receipt of the alert so you can troubleshoot the issue immediately.
Additionally, Q4 is a busy time of year for everyone — shipping companies, local and overseas manufacturers and suppliers, and of course, customers. Be sure to implement a quality control arm of your business to make sure your items are up to par and in good shape.
How You Can Prepare for Q4 Now
Establishing a reputation management strategy will help you capitalize on conversions and sales year round, but particularly during peak seasons like the Q4 holiday time period. You can prepare for the holidays by beginning to monitor your ASINs now, both the ones you currently sell and the ones you plan to sell by the time the fourth quarter arrives, and establish a benchmark so you can identify any trends between now and then. Analyze your feedback and reviews and make any changes to your product descriptions, making sure they are up to date and include copy that will answer any potential questions customers may have.
Here are some strategies that you can implement to prevent negative feedback from day one:
1. Avoid inventory stock-outs. Maintain tight control over your inventory levels and inbound shipments.
2. Avoid shipment issues. If you are an FBA seller, your shipping obligations are innately reduced. For merchant fulfillment, you need to meet or exceed FBA standards for timeliness, packaging quality, and accuracy.
3. Establish a pain-free return policy. Identify the root cause of the return as soon as possible and incorporate a strategy to prevent the same return from happening again.
4. Respond within 24 hours. Avoid any communication delays to avoid shoppers from leaving poor feedback.
5. Have a robust order management workflow.
6. Request feedback regularly.
Next, in order to have an engaging relationship with your customers, you should incorporate a functional email strategy into your business model. Creating standardized but personal email templates with your customers’ names and the specific items they purchased will help show them that you are dedicated to tailoring the process to them.
Be sure to follow Amazon’s Terms of Service and compliance rules and avoid offering an item in return for feedback and never ask customers for a positive review. In order to save time, automate your email campaigns and decide outright which ASINs you want to solicit feedback for. You can exclude certain refunded orders or specific items and make sure the emails are optimized for mobile and include strong subject lines.
Put a Process in Place
You should prioritize putting a plan of action in place to respond to negative feedback. Train your staff on how to handle these scenarios and work toward a resolution with the buyer. Once the issue has been solved, you can request an update or removal of the negative review. Our partners at eComEngine stated that negative reviews are in fact time-sensitive — you should always respond within hours not days, as this increases the likelihood of engagement by the buyer.
In order to maximize results, set up alerts for negative feedback and reviews and set time aside to analyze the data regularly, especially throughout the holiday season. A high volume of orders means more opportunity for feedback and reviews, so be proactive and reach out shortly after the item delivers to your customer or after the holiday once you know it has been open or used. Encouraging positive feedback and communicating with customers not only enhances your performance metrics, but solidifies your position as a reputable seller who values the shopper experience.