TAS 281 Response from Amazon’s Legal Team about Review Sites + New Launch Strategies with Greg Mercer

When Amazon changed its policy concerning discounts given in exchange for product reviews the private label sales community exploded. People panicked, bailed out of Amazon, and encouraged others to do the same. But much of it was an overreaction. The companies and sellers who were doing well long before the policy changes adjusted their strategies and continued making a killing selling their products on Amazon. One of the people who was dramatically impacted by the change was Greg Mercer. His company, Review Kick had to entirely rebrand and change its business model but is still viable and running effectively. Today Scott is chatting with Greg about the things he’s learned from the changes and how he sees Amazon handling the issues it affects.

What did Amazon’s attorneys have to say about the review policy changes?

One of the opportunities Greg Mercer had when the Amazon terms of service changed – no longer allowing discounts in exchange for product reviews – was to speak personally with attorneys from Amazon’s legal team to understand the particulars of what the changes mean on a practical level. Today Greg shares what he learned from his conversation with the Amazon legal team and how he understands the terms of service now that they’ve changed. You won’t want to miss what Greg has to share. It could save you a bunch of headaches in the future.

Why private label sales on Amazon is an even better opportunity.

When Scott asked his friend Greg Mercer if he still thinks Amazon private label sales is a good opportunity for those who want to start their own online business, Greg said that he believes it’s an even better opportunity than before. He thinks that Amazon’s penchant for changing the rules periodically has scared off those who are unwilling to work hard – those only looking for an easy buck. That leaves more room for those who understand what it takes to build a successful business and are willing to put in the effort. You can hear the ways Greg thinks the recent review policy changes will improve the ability to sell on Amazon on this episode.

How the policy changes at Amazon impacted a business built on Amazon reviews.

Greg Mercer is the head of a company called Review Kick. The focus of the company was to help Amazon sellers get more reviews – and they did so by helping sellers effectively promote discounts in exchange for a review. But Amazon’s terms of service recently changed and that practice is no longer allowed. As you can imagine, it was potentially devastating news for Greg and his team. But rather than throw in the towel they decided to pivot and make their business better than ever, even creating an avenue to expand their user base outside of Amazon sellers. You can hear how Review Kick became Jump Send, on this episode of The Amazing Seller.

How you can effectively use deal sites to promote your products.

One of the concerns about Amazon’s changes to its review policy is that any discount offer sellers make might prohibit those discounted customers from being able to leave a review. But Greg Mercer doesn’t think that’s the case. In fact, he’s done a few product promotions on his own since the changes went into effect and has seen reviews of those discounted products post on Amazon. On this episode, Greg gives you his take on what the Amazon legal team says about the new policy changes and tells you how he’s used deal sites like JumpSend to promote his own products.

OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER

  • [0:03] Scott’s introduction to the podcast and his guest, Greg Mercer!
  • [2:36] Why Scott invited Greg onto the show again so soon.
  • [3:53] Greg’s perspective of the day Amazon announced their review changes.
  • [5:30] Why Greg believes Amazon private label is still a great opportunity.
  • [7:40] Revealing conversations Greg has recently had with attorneys from Amazon.
  • [14:20] Do purchases made with discounts limit the purchaser’s ability to review?
  • [19:48] Changes to Greg’s service – Review Kick as a result.
  • [22:40] The best uses of deal sites like JumpSend – and will Amazon target them?
  • [28:09] How Greg is retraining his current subscribers to abide by Amazon policies.
  • [31:28] The future of Amazon from Greg’s perspective.

click

Resources Banner2

TRANSCRIPT TAS 281

TAS 281 : Response from Amazon’s Legal Team about Review Sites + New Launch Strategies with Greg Mercer

[INTRODUCTION]

[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone! Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 281 and today we’re going to be talking about a response that was given by Amazon’s legal team about…

[read more=”Read full transcript…” less=”Read less”]

Click Here to Download Transcript <<

…review sites, what you can do, what you can’t do. Very interesting topic here because a lot of times you don’t get to hear from the legal team directly but my good friend Greg Mercer has because he had a review site called Review Kick. You guys might have used it, you might have heard about it. Great site when it was up and running and doing what it was meant to do.

But since the change he had to kind of pivot and kind of see what can we do, what can’t we do? Then he got those answers back from the Amazon’s legal team, he’s going to share them with us today, pretty interesting by the way and kind of where the direction of “review sites” are going to be heading. You can almost kind of see it now where we’re starting to talk about like deal sites. Slickdeals has been out there for years and I think you’re going to see that that’s probably the way that we’re going to be moving but I’m going to have Greg talk all about that and kind of like the pivot.

You guys probably heard of Review Kick, well it’s now called Jump Send and you can probably imagine why the name change and he’s going to talk about that. But he’s also going to talk about some new launch strategies and we’re going to kind of go back and forth on that stuff, what we feel you need to do moving forward to select products. So this way here you’re not competing so much on reviews and we can kind of go through some of those strategies and kind of talk through it. You’re going to be able to listen in on this. It’s really a great conversation, we had no plan as to where it was going to go.

Really excited for you to listen to this. Before we jump in let me just remind you, show notes, we have all the show notes, the links that we’re going to be discussing, all of the conversation will be transcribed so you can go ahead and download that if you want to by heading over to theamazingseller.com/281. That’s theamazingseller.com/281 and you can get all the show notes, the transcripts there. I’m pretty much going to stop talking now so you guys can listen to this conversation that I had with my good friend Greg Mercer, enjoy.

[INTERVIEW]

[00:02:17] Scott: All right Greg, what’s up my friend? We are back at it again. I forget this has got to be I think four times for you back on the show, what’s up man, how are you doing?

[00:02:27] Greg: Good Scott, thanks for having me on again, it’s always a… You’re my favorite person to talk to so I appreciate you having me on. I know we’re going to have some fun as always.

[00:02:35] Scott: It’s funny because we didn’t really plan on doing this so soon but we kind of wanted to because you and I have been talking back and forth a little bit privately through Skype and stuff and kind of like so what does this mean now? Everyone knows really that you also had a review group or not even review group just a group of people that we wanting to basically get products at a discount. It just happens that yours was called the Review Kick at the time, which we can talk about why that’s been changed and all of that stuff.

But really I wanted to dig in from your point of view as well because you’re being affected because the people that are using your service may have been affected or could be or whatever. I really want to dig into kind of like what’s going on in Greg’s head and we can dig into that. Also, I know you said privately, you just told me that you’ve had some interactions with some attorneys from Amazon’s legal department and you’re willing to share that, so that’s awesome. Then also you launched a product recently after this recent update and you’ve got some updates with that. We’ve got a lot to talk about.

[00:03:42] Greg: It’s good stuff and I think it’s all on everyone’s mind right now so this should be very relevant to most of the listeners.

[00:03:49] Scott: This is going to be good. I guess, where should we start? Let’s talk about the day it happened. Let’s talk about the day.

[00:03:59] Greg: Just in case anyone’s living under a rock we can just do a 30 second recap.

[00:04:01] Scott: Yes, let’s do that, why don’t you do that?

[00:04:04] Greg: Okay. Before October 3rd… If you listening to this in the feature, before October 3rd 2016, it was perfectly okay with Amazon and per the terms of service to give away a product at a discount or free in exchange for a product review on Amazon. That was okay, it was written clearly in the terms of service. It was a very effective launch strategy and it worked well and it was by the book.

Kind of without a warning on October 3rd they released some new terms of service as well as a press release stating that that was no longer allowed. Most sellers kind of had to scramble like well how do I get my initial reviews now? What’s the launch strategy look like now? Of course everyone had lots of other questions. That was a few weeks ago. We have been able to get some clarity from it and now we kind of start to have some answers.

[00:05:03] Scott: That was a great recap on our… It was kind of a little bit bumpier than that than what is happening but that was a smooth way to explain it. But I’ll tell you what, my Facebook page was blown up well over 30,000 people in there just blowing up saying, “It’s over. The Amazon game’s over, we’re done.”

[00:05:25] Greg: There’s an apocalypse.

[00:05:26] Scott: If you’re going to launch a product next week you probably shouldn’t, it’s a waste of time now. What’s your thoughts on that? I just want to get your thoughts on people that are saying that. What is it? What do you think it i?

[00:05:39] Greg: I’ve seen like headlines like ‘Amazon no longer allows reviews’ and all kinds of crazy stuff that’s just like… Amazon’s still a great opportunity, they still allow reviews. The big scheme of things, this is like one tiny little change of their terms of service. They changed like a few words. They didn’t like outlaw FBA sellers. They just no longer allow a discount or a free product in exchange for a review. It’s still a great opportunity. I think everyone’s starting to realize that. I think now the first few days everyone’s kind of panicked but it’s like now when I really think about this it’s not that big of a deal. I have to kind of go back to the basics as far as like marketing principles and stuff go. Have a good listing, do good PPC, all these things and then these products still work very well.

[00:06:32] Scott: I agree. Again, if that as your whole business strategy of giving away product for reviews, I don’t think you were really building a business or even understood the full business. Like you said, there’s so much more that goes into it all the way from, like you said, picking a good product but then also treating your customers with the best customer service that you can I think is what it comes down to and having a great product and living up to what you’re selling.

That was a strategy or a tactic I should say. There’s other ones out there and again I think that we still can do this in certain ways which we can talk about just not going to be doing it in exchange for a review. I think that’s the big thing here. Let’s maybe go right to the conversation that you’ve had recently with some attorneys. Again, let’s just say like this isn’t legal advice, we’re not giving you legal advice. I’m not an attorney, Greg’s not an attorney. He spoke to a couple. Brody’s sleeping, he is an attorney but he’s not here to say that he can give any advice. What did they say and how did that conversation start by the way? Did you reach out to them?

[00:07:45] Greg: Yeah. I speak quite a bit with other people in the space and of course I was concerned about this because at the time I had what was called Review Kick which it did exactly what the old terms of service was. You could give away a product at free or a discount in exchange for a review. Of course I was worried when the terms of service changed and actually Amazon’s legal department I guess reached out to a fair amount of other people in kind of the space from where I could tell.

I didn’t personally get an email from them, I’m not sure why because from where I could tell I was doing the same thing that these other groups that did get the email were. But I was able to get the email address and respond to them or send an email to them and just ask for some further clarification. They were actually… I have to give them a little bit of credit here because they were actually quite a bit cooler than I was expecting.

I was expecting them either to not respond to me at all or respond back with like they copied and paste the terms of service to me. It’s like okay thanks a lot. But we’ve exchanged like 4 or 5 emails now and they’ve actually been pretty cool about clarifying what’s allowed, what’s not allowed and that’s the gist of like what is allowed now, what’s now allowed. They actually even gave me some examples.

I don’t have the exact email in front of me but if I were to summarize these 4 or 5 emails into a few paragraphs it would be that, A. they’re taking it very seriously. They were well aware of what was going on kind of in the industry. There was nothing wrong at the time because it was legal but they were very aware that there was Facebook groups, there was websites, like Review Kick and like all the other ones. They’re not dumb at all. They know exactly what was going on but at the time of course it was okay so no problems there. They made it clear that there should be no type of… Of course you’d be straight up against the rules if you still required people to leave a review after getting a discount, that’s pretty obvious.

[00:09:54] Greg: But they also made it very clear that there should not be any like hints that you need to leave a review and the shoppers shopping on these deal sites should not be incentivized in any way to leave a review. They gave some good examples like they can’t only have… Say for instance I guess what they’re getting at is like someone could try and say, “Oh, you don’t have to leave a review but if you want to be a member of this club you should reviews,” or something.

You can’t give someone membership to now like a deal site if it has anything to do with them being required to leave a review, that was one thing that they made very clear. They also made it very clear that you shouldn’t be able to track the person that purchases your deal. I guess I should back up a little bit and say that promotions are still 100% by the book. You can still create coupons in seller central. You can still do promotions. I can say hey my mention of 60% or 50% off I’m trying to get additional sales or I’m trying to launch this product so I’m offering it at a discount.

That’s still by the book however, they made it clear that they don’t want you tracking the people that you give the discounts to and whether or not they leave a review. This was something that we did do before the terms of service update that has definitely been changed to comply with the new rules. Now no longer can you track to see whether a shopper has left a review for a discounted product they got.

[00:11:36] Scott: Got you.

[00:11:37] Greg: They also made it clear that it should be like… There shouldn’t be any like selection biased. It would be against the rules to be able to say like hey I’m going to give a coupon to this person because in their history they have left a whole bunch of reviews or they would usually leave like 5 star reviews or anything like that. In order to be like a legitimate deal site which my new site is now, you can’t tell anything about the person who you’re giving the coupon to.

[00:12:10] Scott: It’s got to be available to everyone and you can’t have someone in order to be in that group to have to give a review. Now my question would be what if and this is just again hypothetical, what if you had a group that was formed that just wants deals like Slickdeals or Fat Wallet or any of those and let’s say that you had to pay to be a part of that, is there anything wrong with that for the person that’s on there buying product?

[00:12:43] Greg: Yes. The way I interpret it… We had 4 or 5 emails so I think I understand it pretty clearly now is that that’s no problem. What would be a problem would say that if you don’t have a review history on Amazon it costs $50 a month whereas if you do have a review history on Amazon it only costs like $10 a month. Selection bias based on people’s review history or anything else that lets you know how good of the chances are you going to get a review that would be against the terms of service.

[00:13:13] Scott: You’re pre-qualifying them in a sense and they don’t want that?

[00:13:17] Greg: That’s exactly right. Which I mean, I can’t really blame them. That would be I think like a little bit like of a grey hat type tactic which… Whereas if you just gave a coupon to everyone that’s what they want.

[00:13:32] Scott: You’re taking a chance that people in this pool there’s going to be people that are very critical and there’s some people that aren’t so critical. But you have to basically give it to everyone and you might have given it out that time but you got half of them that are very critical and half of them that aren’t but in the past we could pre-select kind of based on their recent review history or even their life long history. But what they’re saying is they want it to be pretty much just random. They want it to be random, they don’t want you to basically go out there and just target those people that you feel they’re going to be easier to give you a review. That all it is right?

[00:14:10] Greg: That’s exactly right, that’s what they’re looking for. They’re definitely still totally cool with doing like promotions and getting additional sales from selling discounted products in the form of coupons. There shouldn’t be any way to… Just kind of reiterate this one more time. There shouldn’t be any way to like increase your chance of getting a review when you do these types of promotions.

[00:14:34] Scott: What about this … I know you and I talked about this before about unverified and verified but now I’m thinking like, what about depending on how much of a discount you would offer does that hurt your chances of getting a review even if that person… Let’s say I just send it out to my email list. Let’s say I got an email of 1,000 people and I say, “I’m going to do a special promotion for all of you that are my long time customers, 50% off this weekend only.”

I give a code off for 50% off, they buy it, they come over and they just happen to leave me a review because they’re going through my review follow up. Is there going to be… I don’t know if you know this but, what’s your thoughts on this? Do you think there’ll be a filter in place or something that says if you have something that’s more than a certain discount then were aren’t going to allow a review come through?

[00:15:16] Greg: This wasn’t verified by the lawyers but. As you said during the beginning of the podcast I did do a launch I think around like October 7th or 8th, so like 10 days ago and so far I’d sold 15 at a discount at 50% off. 15 at 50% off, I also had like 4 or 5 organic sales and that product has 4 reviews on it now. There’s no way for me to know whether this came from the people who bought it at 50% off or who bought it at full price because I don’t track it.

It was totally anonymous but I would probably assume that at least one of those 4, maybe 2 or 4, I mean I’ve no idea. But I would probably guess one of those… At least one or two of those came from the people who bought it like 50% off.

[00:16:10] Scott: You would think so.

[00:16:11] Greg: The reviews are there, as far as I can tell that’s still okay for those people who leave them. They appear to be allowed to leave their reviews. Like I said, there’s no way for me to know for sure, that’s just like my assumption right now.

[00:16:30] Scott: What do you think about the leaving the disclaimer that was left in there before? Some people on a certain group that you might use again whether it’s yours or someone else’s they’ve been already conditioned, they’ve already been trained to kind of put that disclaimer in. What about that now? Are we just going to have to take the good with the bad and let it happen?

[00:16:48] Greg: This is a really good question. This is like one of the things that I was really trying to get Amazon’s lawyers to clarify and this is like the one thing they kept being vague about. But essentially they just kept saying like referred to like FTC guidelines which then if you look at those the FTC guidelines and rules, again it’s not clear whether… It is very clear that if you specifically gave it to someone and asked for a review that they need to leave a disclaimer.

But even in the guidelines it isn’t clear whether… If you’re totally anonymous… Another good example of this would be say I just go to Walmart. I have like a 10% coupon, I buy a few things and then like leave a review on their website, would you need to leave a disclaimer with that? Honestly I don’t know their right answer to this however I will say like it seems like most people in the space, in the industry right now believe that as long as it is totally anonymous and by the book like we’ve been talking about how to do it in this podcast that it’s okay not to leave that disclaimer. But that’s just seems what the majority vote is.

[00:17:53] Scott: I think I read somewhere that the FTC said that… Again this is just something I think I read. Again this isn’t like exact, it’s not a fact. But the way that I interpreted it was that if you give a review in exchange or if you give a discount in exchange for the review that is when the disclaimer was supposed to be added. But we’re flipping that around, we’re saying like we’re not requiring a review, we’re not even incentivizing it in any way. We’re just saying like we just want to get a sale at a discount and let our follow up kind of work its magic.

Let our follow up do the job of making sure they’re happy, making sure if they have any questions let us know and then maybe just saying, “Hey could you do us a quick favor? Amazon wants to make sure that we’re taking care of our customers would you go over and let them know how we did?” That’s it. You’re not persuading them. You’re not saying I gave you this discount because of that. The way I look at it is everyone should receive the same message versus just the people that got something at a discount. That’s just my own personal take. What’s your take on that Greg?

[00:18:58] Greg: I agree with that. I think that’s exactly right. I think that’s what kind of Amazon’s after now. They still very much like reviews on their platform. They just wanted to remove all the bias out of there which I can’t blame them for that. But to tell you the truth I was pretty stoked to be able to talk to Amazon’s lawyers and like hear this from them. It’s like okay cool, before I was pretty scared about… I mean I was like a little nervous about still doing promotions. It’s pretty cool that they gave me a thumbs up on that. I was still uncertain kind of about like the future of deal sites and they gave me the thumbs up on that as long as that meets all this criteria which is very reasonable and not difficult to meet.

[00:19:47] Scott: Okay let’s talk a little bit about Review Kick used to be and now what it is and kind of why you changed the name and kind of go through that stuff because I understand why you changed the name but let’s just kind of talk a little bit about that and what you’ve done so far since this has all come out.

[00:20:07] Greg: Sure. Our platform used to be called Review Kick. We re-launched as Jump Send. I guess the main reason for that is Amazon made it very clear that they didn’t want you hinting at or at any way like… I don’t know the exact rule but it was like misleading to a deal shopper if the platform was called Review Kick. We thought it was only appropriate and better for our long term vision if it didn’t have anything to do with reviews. We’ve re-launched it as Jump Send.

As far as like the email campaign stuff goes it’s all the same because no terms of service were changed regarding that. As far as like the deals part of it goes… For shoppers now it’s like almost better because now you can just get like tons of really cheaper discounted stuff and you’re not required to leave your review anymore so that’s cool for them. As far as sellers go there's still tons of shoppers on there. Shoppers still request your deal and you still like approve however many you want each day. However, you don’t know the shopper’s name, you don’t know any of their like review history.

The only things that you know are whether they have verified their account via SMS text message and whether or not they have… It’s essentially now just like fraud protection so we just make sure it not a robot. They’ve verified with SMS text message and they’re verified via login with Amazon. The reason we left those two is it is like fraud protection and make sure it’s not like a computer trying to steal coupon codes or something like that.

[00:21:44] Scott: Right.

[00:21:45] Greg: But you don’t know anything about their Amazon profile, anything about the review history, nothing like that. You don’t have any way to choose one shopper over another based off of their history.

[00:21:58] Scott: That’s all good and everything. I’m playing the seller right now because I am a seller but I also have a lot of sellers listening to this podcast that I feel responsible for and I know you do as well. It’s kind of like it’s tough for me to say go start doing kind of pick up business the way we used to go it without still feeling a little nervous about they’re onto these groups. They’re onto them. What would you… Personally even yourself like you just did a launch and you just kind of did it.

Again let’s kind of go back to this though, the launch you did was pretty low. It was just a slow steady little thing, it wasn’t giving out hundreds a day or 100 a day. It wasn’t like excessive and I think that was the other thing that they put into the terms of service whether it was this time, the last time or whatever time but it’s excessive promotions and giveaways and stuff like that.

What do you think about that because almost like now Amazon may be focusing on these review groups and watching them very closely and then those reviews or those sales that come from there… Again I’m kind of talking around here Greg I hope you don’t mind but I’ve got other thoughts in my head.

[00:23:17] Greg: I know. Let’s chat about it.

[00:23:19] Scott: First of I think of this though, if I was going to use a deal site service like Jump Send or whatever now, I’d be thinking in my own head ‘sales’. Right now I’m in sales mode. I just want to get some sales on the first week. Get on the radar, start ranking that type of stuff. And it’s always been that way really where the reviews was a secondary aspect of the sales. The sales is going to help me get noticed, get seen. I guess I almost answered my own question there is I wouldn’t be really worried about Amazon cracking down on me using one of these or penalizing me for using one of these because I wouldn’t be using them for reviews.

I’d be using them for the sales velocity and then the reviews possibly could come after the fact whether it's from this group or whether it’s from organic sales that I get because now I’m starting to rank. Does that make sense?

[00:24:13] Greg: Yes, it absolutely makes sense.

[00:24:14] Scott: What do you feel as though like the group that you have now that you created like for people using this group, do you think that in the future like Amazon’s going to target these groups or do you think that as long as you’re playing by the rules they’re going to leave you alone?

[00:24:31] Greg: No, I think as long as you’re playing by the rules they’re going to leave you alone. I think it’s like it’s also like pretty naïve to think that Amazon wasn’t watching us all long. I think they’ve pretty made it pretty clear in one of the emails that they have been. I don’t think that I’m the only one that runs like a deal site now that’s been in touch with the lawyers. Again, like I said it makes me feel a little bit better actually now that I have because it’s like I told them what changes we’ve made, I asked them to look at the site again.

I wanted them to reply back and be like, can you put in writing that everything about Jump Send is okay? I’m sure Jeff Bezos wasn’t going to allow that. But I did ask them, I was like I can set up my free account if you want, I was like… Because I want to work with them. Like I said they were pretty cool about like willing to work with people who were willing to work with them to make sure that everyone conforms to the new terms of service. I don’t really see any problem with it in the future.

I’m hoping we can keep like open line of communication with them as well just about everything because I’m sure all the rest of the deal sites feel the same way. We all want to be like compliant, we want to still offer this service to sellers because I’m sure a lot of sellers like me would like it. I’m not worried about it. I would definitely say like if you are even thinking about using like a Facebook group or whatever else kind of secret group that is not following the new terms of service and they are somehow still incentivizing shoppers to leave reviews or any other gray hat stuff that I was talking about earlier that the lawyers want to make it clear you’re not doing.

I think they’re a lot smarter than everyone thinks and might have a better handle on it than everyone thinks. You know me Scott, I definitely am always following the rules but I would strongly advise against that because I think they’re a lot more in tuned with everything than you think.

[00:26:34] Scott: I agree 100%. It was funny I think after this whole news came out I’ve seen a Facebook group get started and it was called something like Full Price Reviews or something because we're thinking that you had to pay full price now and if you did then you can leave a review. Someone already tried to make this group called something, Full Price Review Club or something. You’re always going to find those back alley kind of, here come on over here I’ll get you something, we’ve got an advantage over here. But again I think if you’re treating this like a real business and you want to keep at it for the long game, you got to play by the rules. It’s all there is to it.

[00:27:16] Greg: Absolutely.

[00:27:18] Scott: I think your group is… Forget your group for a second it’s the person that’s I guess managing and really running the ship and it comes down to you and your team to be able to be on that stuff. That’s what I think is critical at this point is when you’re doing this stuff is you have to trust the people that you’re using these services with and they’re not just a faceless kind of brand.

[00:27:43] Greg: Absolutely without a doubt. That’s also kind of what I asked them. It’s like, well how do I turn… I have this deal site that a lot of Amazon sellers would still like to use, we already have a whole bunch of existing shoppers, what do I need to do to make this it’s a Groupon or Slickdeals or another deal site? That’s when they were really cool about describing that all things that are going to be okay and all thing that are not okay. I feel good about it now.

[00:28:08] Scott: Do you ever have any plans? Do you think to ever open this up to just people that are selling ecommerce stuff that want to just use the deal site versus it just being Amazon sellers?

[00:28:17] Greg: For sure, I would definitely like to do that actually either other channels or other e-commerce sellers because that’s exactly what it is now. It’s just a deal site like Slickdeals or like Groupon or anywhere else that you can put up your discounted products to make extra sales. I would definitely like to do that.

[00:28:35] Scott: I think the only thing that concerns me at this stage right now… And again, maybe I’m being paranoid but it’s kind of like those people that are in that group not just yours but any group that has ever signed in the past they’ve already been kind of trained and conditioned for that. What have you done to try to reeducate them or to make them aware? Have you been communicating back and forth with, not the sellers necessarily but the buyers?

[00:29:06] Greg: That’s a really good question. This is something that we’re kind of worried about too. We did a few things and I think we’ve done a pretty good job at it. Of course as soon as the TOS changes we threw up a blog post, we emailed all of the shoppers on the site. That was like the first step. After the re-launch, after Review Kick turned into Jump Send if you have a review account next time you logged in it tells you about the changes. Again just reiterates this would be the third message that they’ve seen and they have to check a box to agree to the news terms before they can continue their account.

That should be pretty clear. Then there was one more email that has already gone out and then there’s a few more that are scheduled for this month. I really just want to keep reiterating this to them. Of course it’s possible someone didn’t open the last email or something but the fact that they have to reread the terms… We put it in very like plain English. We're not like trying to hide this on like 100 page term sheet paper. It’s in very plain English, very easy to read. You have to check a box and agree to it. Through the emails and to the blog posts I think we've done a pretty stellar job like re-educating them, make sure that…

The worst thing we want to do is like to want them to think that like, “Hey, we're just saying this,” but it's like with a winky face or something. It's like very plain English, like very sincere, really trying our best, making sure that they understand this is just a deal site. There is not expectations or anything about a review at all, not hints or anything like that. I feel good about it.

[00:30:53] Scott: Now, that's important and I think anyone that has a group like this, that's a huge part. It's really making sure that you keep mentioning that. Again, I think as time goes on, it will start to take on other new shape of what it's transformed into now, which is a deal site. You go there to get deals and all we're really asking you to do is to basically buy something at a discount. That's it. I think then it's a seller to really wow them with some stellar customer service and stuff like that to get the natural feedback and reviews and stuff. Let's talk a little bit about, before we wrap up here. I did want to talk just a little bit about like the future of Amazon. I know we talk about that every time we're on because it's been a little bit of time since we last talked.

Not that long but because of this and because of other things that may happen in the future, because we never know what's going to happen. Like where does this set right now do you feel like a new seller coming in? Like someone that doesn't have an existing e-commerce business. I would say anybody has an existing ecommerce business like you're foolish not to just put your products up on Amazon. Anyway, but let's just say that person that's just starting, they are just getting their feet wet or whatever. Is it still an opportunity for them to take advantage of or what would you tell them to do before they ended up jumping into this or maybe you would say just jump into this? Maybe you can speak to that.

[00:32:22] Greg: Yeah, that's a really good question. There's a few points I'd like to make. One, I think it's still a very good opportunity to start. Two, now if I was like now on my product research I'm going to be looking at even lesser competitive niches. Where before it was pretty easy for me to like quite a few reviews, so I can get into a little bit more competitive stuff. Now I am looking at it like the lesser competitive type niches. Though be easier for a brand new seller to get into. Which there are plenty of those, without a doubt. One of the other things that I noticing more and more now, when you're launching a product before since like the sales and the discounted sales came with reviews, I think like a lot of people, and to be completely honest including myself a little bit we're thinking like the reviews have like a big reason that you were like ranking well and like getting initial sales and stuff.

What I'm seeing like with this new product I just launched and I think other people too is that like okay, it's actually not so… I don't know if the reviews have anything to do with the ranking algorithm for Amazon. What is very clear is sales velocity without a doubt is like the number one besides of course relevance of the search terms. Sales velocity has like without a doubt the largest and then I'd say like conversion rate probably has a factor in there as well. Yes, having some reviews does affect your conversion rate. However, I'd say there's probably a certain point where it's like 6 or 8 or 10 or 20, I don't know for sure at what point like your conversion rates really starts to improve but it looks more and more like it is just the sales velocity that gets you ranking well. After that it’s the quality of a listing and all these other things starts to affect your conversion rate.

[00:34:23] Scott: Yeah, and I've said that for the longest time. It’s like Amazon is all about sales. It's all about sales and yes the reviews to me helps you get more sales because people trust it but again going at it and again I've always lived by very similar rules as far as product selection and even teaching people how to do proper practice which actually you and I have done a couple of episodes, episode 56, episode 161 or 162. I'll put that up in the show notes but we've went deep into this and really that criteria is changed a little but we've always talked about finding products that aren't highly competitive. I think more so now it's finding products that you don't have to compete on reviews. I think that's the big one.

It's like finding products that before if you found products that had 300 reviews, maybe even 400 reviews, you just thought, okay with a few good giveaways or promotions I can get up there and I can start competing but now it's like finding that product that does 200/300 sales a month at the right profit margin and maybe it only has five reviews. Maybe it only has one picture so it's under optimized. Those are the factors to me, that are going to make it so much easier that you don't have to worry about getting the reviews off the bat. All you have to do is spike the algorithm a little bit with sales so this way here you can start to get noticed by Amazon. That's my thoughts.

[00:35:45] Greg: Yeah and I agree with that. To be completely honest if you're the type person that was just in it like a quick cash grab it's probably like a little bit of a worse opportunity for you now. If you're the type of person who's more into it as like a long term like sustainable business, it's probably actually a better opportunity for you now because there are just going to be like less people trying to get in now. You don't have to worry about probably just as many listings popping up all the time. The people that are willing to put in a little bit extra work and want it to be like a long term, more sustainable business form it's probably better for those people now, if I had to guess.

[00:36:20] Scott: Yeah, I agree with that and I think to really speak to the person going into this and again I don't want to say you can't go in here and you can't just go in and write a trend a little bit and then get out, you definitely can. But like you just said Greg, it's riskier. You're running into that where you might get into something. You might buy bunch of inventory, you might sell bunch of it then you might be holding a bunch of it. Those are some things to also think about but I think again like you said, there's going to be people leaving now.

There's going to be people leaving because they figured, “You know what, it was easier before because I could just go out and buy 250 promotion giveaways and get some reviews maybe out of that.” So they're going to be leaving. That happens in anything. Building niche sites years ago was the thing and it still works but it's harder nowadays but it just requires a little bit more work but it was easier before. There’s always going to be people that fall off so that makes more opportunity for you, the new person, or the new person that's into this thing and I  still think right now for anyone that just wants to get started, that wants to make their first 1000 bucks a month, like revenue. I'm talking about profit. I'm saying basically pay your mortgage payment or pay some students loans. I still think that is so doable with finding a low competition product and doing a very basic launch and optimizing your listing and maybe a little bit of pay-per-click. I still  think that's… I think when people start there, I think they're going to learn and then from there they're going to grow.

[00:37:46] Greg: Yeah, without a doubt. It's still like an awesome opportunity for that if you're trying to make a thousand bucks, no one will argue with that at all I don't think. Well, let me tell you like what other… I was at a conference this past weekend, there was a lot of FBA guys and I was talking to all of them about their new experiences and all the stuff, one guy was doing something that's really interesting and cool to me so, now like listings on Amazon are more valuable. It's harder to create a listing that has a bunch of sales history and reviews and stuff. What this particular guy is doing is he's contacting sellers that have private label type products and have a very like under optimized listing with a number of reviews and most of them, the products aren't selling that well and that's how he's able to get them pretty cheap.

His play here is to buy these listings and products from existing sellers that have a good history, optimize the listings and then the idea there is start ranking a lot better for them and start to do a lot better for them. I thought that was one pretty cool and interesting thing. Then, I will also say some guys are probably going to be upset for me about saying on your podcast but now also like some of the European stores are much more attractive now. Personally I'm going to start looking like at the UK, in Germany, quite a bit harder at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 because it is way less competitive without a doubt. We did like jungle scouts, did the sales algorithms for Germany like a couple of months ago and I was really surprised how much demand there is over there for how little competition it is. I know some guys listening to this Scott, that are pissing me for saying this but it's the truth.

[00:39:39] Scott: Yeah, no, hey the truth sometimes hurts but again for people… Yeah, for people just starting out, I think sometimes that's overwhelming so it's kind of like how do you get started? You got to learn the system. I have international people that are listening to the show and they're like where should I start? What market should I start? I'm like, “Where do you live?” I'm like, “I'd launch there.” It's easier for you to launch there than necessarily in the States. Now, that doesn't mean that I wouldn't say, “I've got plenty of people who listen to the podcast or even that are in my class that they have launched in the US but they live in another country.” And that happens all day long and that's fine but I always like the least amount of resistance and like you said, there are more opportunities in those other countries because there's not a lot of people doing it right now but there's still going to be demand and that demand is going to grow. I'm not there yet, I know you're not currently there yet but that's definitely something in the future that I'd be looking into as well.

As of right now, trying to stay focused and you know how hard that can be sometimes. Right, Greg? Entrepreneurial bug. We can sit here and talk for hours but I really wanted to just, again, we'll wrap this up. I just wanted to get you really on and hear your take on all this and obviously because Review Kick and now Jump Send and I wanted to hear all about that, I wanted to hear about what you were doing on the back end of that now because we want to convert that into a deal site and I'm most glad that we're able to go through some of this stuff and also here about what these Amazon lawyers were saying. I think that's really awesome and then for you to say that you just did a recent launch without having any of this stuff and it's doing okay. I still think there's lot of light at the end of the tunnel and we just have to just remember the good old fashion 101 marketing stuff. Like find good products, find good markets, optimize well and run a little bit of pay-per-click.

[00:41:41] Scott: As long as you do that first part, the product research I think you're golden. I really think that you can make this happen. Greg, is there anything else you want to end with before we wrap up?

[00:41:53] Greg: No, I think that's about it. Being able to speak to the lawyers about it. Before that I was worried because a lot of people would enquire to the customer support reps at Amazon, we're getting like all kinds of just like crazy different answers and there's nothing wrong with reaching out to them but they're obviously like less trained, not like really insightful on it. It was just really good. I was really stoked to hear from the horse’s mouth, the legal team, the ones that actually make the terms of service rules to be able to really clarify it. Yeah, that's about it and without a doubt it's still good an opportunity so we've talked a lot like the bad things on it but it's like man if you compare it to like starting some other type of business right now, it's still like so much easier.

[00:42:49] Scott: Yeah, again we have to remember like Amazon has the traffic, they have all of the ecommerce stuff in place. That's why I always talk what’s the best place to start. Does that mean that's where you stop? No. You can go externally, you can go on different platforms, you can build your own platform, you build your own email list, all that stuff. It's definitely the easiest way still. I say easiest lightly because nothing is easy. It's still going to require work. This isn't like get rich quick thing. It's definitely, it's there. You just have to be able to pivot and we all learned that and I got a good friend of mine, Dom Sugar, he's been in this business a long time before Amazon even existed, was a big eBay guy, still is. He said he's pivoted so many times throughout the years. It's just, it's part of business. I think people just need to understand that.

I want to circle back here before we go though and everyone probably knows Greg is the creator of Jungle Scout, that's where it all started for him as far as like with the online tool suite. He's also obviously started as a seller but it really does come down to that product research in the beginning. It really does and you have to master that art and if you do, I believe it's an art. It's like a skill set, it's like you create this thing or the skill set so you can go in there and identify  good and bad. Then you know how to reverse engineering, you know how to dig deeper than just the surface level stuff. We talked about this. We did a workshop not too long ago on showing your web app.  The web app really to me isn't really where you're going to necessarily find the product but it could but it's really to me, it leads me to a product that I wouldn't have thought about or I wouldn't have seen before because it brought this thing to the surface and then I dig down deeper. We found these acorn containers and they were for gum ball machines.

Then we drilled down into this guy selling gum ball machines and gum ball machine accessories and gum balls and it's like you never would have known that if you didn't have that being pulled to the surface. So, I just want people to understand that it does really come down to picking the right market the right product and you created a great product and with the web app and the extension and you have a suite of other tools as well.

[00:45:01] Scott: If anybody wants to check out more about that, head over to the show notes. I'll like all of that up because there's a bunch of resources there. If you want to go directly to Jungle Scout, the web app and the extension we do have a special deal there for you as well guys as well, theamazingseller.com/js and any other resources we'll plug in there in the show notes. Greg, want to thank you again man. This has been awesome and just wanted to say I'm sure we're going to meet really soon in person may be, I don't know. Are you going to be going to the Miami event? We haven't confirmed that yet.

[00:45:34] Greg: I think I'll go. If you're going to be there Scott, I’ll go just to hang out with you if nothing else.  

[00:45:39] Scott: We'll tell people more about that. If we confirm that or when we confirm that, I think that's in May of this year. Anyway, we'll talk about that but that's always fun. We had a great meet up the last time we went, we had over like 40-some people show up which was awesome. It's always fun, we’ll talk to the TAS audience and the Jungle scout peeps out there. All right Greg, I'm going to let you roll. Let's stay in touch and I'll talk to you soon all right bud.

[00:46:01] Greg: Thanks again Scott. Take care.

[00:46:02] Scott: All right man. There you have it. Another great conversation I had with my good buddy Greg Mercer and he gave us some insider stuff that he had received talking with the legal department, the legal team, whatever you want to call them over at Amazon so it's really cool to be able to get the inside scoop on that stuff and then just to talk about the launch strategies. I want everyone to know that there's no like set formula other than finding a good product that you don't have to compete on reviews and finding enough demand and depth there is key. Depending on how many you want to sell per day or how many units or what your profit is, that's going to determine on that research that you do.

If you go back and even listen to any of the other episodes that him and I did together on product research they are all pretty much the same. The only thing a little bit different now is I would look at products that have a little bit less review numbers. This way here I don't have to compete as much on reviews. Guys, that's pretty much going to wrap up the show notes, theamazingseller.com/281. If you guys want to go ahead and grab Jungle Scout, if you haven’t done so already which will make your product research so much easier you can head over to theamazingseller.com/js and that will take you to that page, that will give you a discount and some other goodies and yes that is an affiliate link. I will earn a cup of coffee and I would appreciate that. Thank you so much if you do go through that link and if not, that's cool tool.

All right guys, that's it, that's going to wrap it up, remember I'm here for you, I believe in you and I’m rooting for you but you have to, you have to… Come on say it with me, say it loud, say it proud, you know what’s going to happen, “Take action.” Have an awesome, amazing day and I’ll see you right back here on the next episode.

[END]

Click Here to Download Transcript <<

[/read] [divider]

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

[divider]

NEW To The Blog and Podcast?

I created a Page Just for You called…START HERE!

If you enjoyed this episode share the love with your friends…Click To Tweet the show.

Subscribe To Be The First To Receive Updates and NEW Podcast Episodes

Join the discussion

12 comments
  • One more “quick” question. I have been following yours and Greg’s product search criteria. Looking for products with at least 1 seller with less than 50 reviews in top 5 and at least 3 in the top 10 with 50 reviews or less. Do you feel this criteria should be changed with the new review policies? If so, what would you and Greg recommend?

  • Thank you so much for all of your great advice! My question is this: I have a product I’m considering selling because it seems to have low competition and high sales. But this product has several variations and some of the variations have very high competition (lots of reviews). So let’s say we are talking about a garlic press, this would have crazy competition. But if you search rubber garlic press (not a real product lol!) and it has lots of sales and low reviews is this a good potential product to sell?

  • What was that “Miami event in May” that you were referencing? Is that an event that you are hosting? Is there a place I can get some more information? Thanks!

    • Hey Karl it was a conference that I attended in May of 2016, not an Event that I hosted. If you’re interested in TAS events you can always sign up for notifications about our next one by going to theamazingseller.com/live

  • Approx at 15:00 minutes it a suggested scenario is to distribute a code to your list. This is pre-selection and not generally available, there is also the ability to track whether a review is left, so against TOS.

    • Stephen, sending a promotion to your list is explicitly allowed under tos, it’s not preselection. What Amazon means by preselection is looking at review history and selecting based on that. You also don’t have the ability to track whether a review is left or not based on that code and are not distributing the code based on if they leave a review or not.

      • Where is it explicitly allowed? Amazon email of 24th October gave explicit examples of where discount codes could be used and to your own list was not one of them.

        • You are allowed to give discounts to your leads and customers as long as you don’t have the ability to monitor if they left a review or not.

          from the Amazon FAQ:

          Can I continue to offer discounts and promotions to customers?
          Yes. You may continue to offer discounts and promotions as long as they are not offered in exchange for reviews.

          You can’t offer discounts in exchange for review but you can offer discounts. Amazon has no logical reason to want you as an owner of a customer list to NOT drive traffic to their site to buy products. Now obviously, if all you ever do is send people to the site with 99% off coupons you may run into issues, but that generally isn’t how you would launch to your own customer base anyway.

  • Hi Scott
    Thanks for your informative podcasts. I found your most recent podcast (281) in regard to Greg’s comments about launching in Germany or the UK. I currently live in the Netherlands after having lived in Florida for 20 years and I had a successful eBay business there. I have to say that the market is totally different here than it is in the USA. Firstly, shipping costs are much higher here than in the USA. Secondly, tax issues are much more complex. For any FBA sellers, it is very important to look at the big picture and consider all factors. If you have any European FBA sellers in your Rolodex, I would be very interested in their perspectives. Thank you again for all you do.

  • Hi scott!
    I have a product I want to start selling, the product answers all the reqirements for success, but in serval keywords the competition is too high, I found a keyword where competition looks really good and actually this keyword got me into wanting to sell this product. The search volume for this keyword on google keyword planner is 1k-10k so its not that uncommon. what do you think?

    • Hey Tom, you generally want to look for the MARKET as a whole, keep in mind that when you look at amazon the sales you see in a tool like junglescout are the TOTAL sales for that product, not just sales on that keyword, so you need to look at the competitive landscape across the market and not just on one particular keyword or phrase.

More from this show