Think you don’t need product reviews as a private-label seller on Amazon? Think again.

According to a recent report from Bright Local surveying 1,031 U.S.-based consumers, 85 percent of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. And given that lists over 500 million products for sale, an unknown private-label brand needs to do whatever it can to stand out from the crowd.

Why Amazon product reviews are important

Put yourself in a shopper’s shoes: if you’re browsing Amazon in search of a suitcase and see two similar options for the same price, you’re more likely to choose the one with the most reviews.

Why? Because reviews written by other shoppers incite a level of trust that no manufacturer-written description can. It’s not like you have the power of brand awareness behind you, driving your sales forward. You need reviews—and good ones, at that—to let people know you’re selling quality products.

Not to mention, the more product reviews you have on Amazon, the better your rank in search results, which will ultimately lead to higher sales. In this in-depth article, Will Mitchell from Startupbros does a great job of explaining the role that customer feedback and other important metrics play in Amazon’s ranking algorithm.

How to get more reviews on Amazon

Amazon banned incentivized reviews in 2016, except for those facilitated through its Vine program, in an effort to cut down on fraudulent feedback. If the company decides that a seller has attempted to manipulate its status by tying reviews to free or discounted products, that seller’s account will be suspended or terminated immediately.

That’s not to say that you can’t ask your customers to write a review. You just can’t request that they leave you a positive one.

Remember, an angry customer is two to three times more likely to post a bad review than a satisfied shopper is to write a positive one, so it’s worth being smart about who you reach out to in the first place. For instance, avoid requesting feedback on fragile items or from buyers whose orders were delayed.

That being said, building up a bevy of positive reviews isn’t as hard as it may seem. In fact, 68 percent of people will post a review when asked. That’s where xSellco can help. Our Feedback software sends smart, selective requests to happy customers who are more likely to leave you a glowing review—without you directly asking them to do so. You can tailor your strategy to target orders by product type, on-time delivery, destination and other criteria, so you can improve your seller rating and increase your sales.

Timing is everything

There’s no point asking a buyer to write you a review if they have not yet received the order. Similarly, if you sell something that needs to be assembled, such as furniture or exercise equipment, or a skincare product that takes a few weeks to show results, you need to allow adequate time to pass before asking for a review.

To reap the most rewards from your feedback strategy, you need to send a request when the buyer is most likely to respond. That means taking time zones into account (if you sell internationally),as well as national holidays or other instances when they may not be available.

To increase your chances of getting a positive review, it’s worth sending a series of emails to your customers.

When sending an order confirmation, exceed customer expectations by going a step further and providing some value-added content that will help them get the most out of your product. This could be anything from a support manual to a video tutorial.

A few days after the order is delivered, send an email to ensure that everything went smoothly and offer to help solve any issues that may have cropped up. This will show your customer that you care and might entice them to throw an extra star your way once the time comes.

Five to 10 days later, follow up with your customer one last time and ask for their honest opinion of your product. Point out that it will help other shoppers make smart decisions and don’t forget to include a link to the product review page to make it easier for them to write a review.

How to avoid negative reviews

Trustpilot research has found that people are more inclined to write reviews off their own bat after an experience that struck an emotional chord. The means an unhappy customer will likely write a negative review out of anger and frustration.

While some things are outside of your control, such as bad weather causing a delayed delivery, there are steps you can take as a private-label seller to minimize your chance of receiving a 1-star review.

First off, provide detailed and accurate product descriptions and include several images from different angles. Not only will this help differentiate your item from a similar one offered by a competitor, it will also reduce the likelihood of a return as customer expectations are more likely to be met.

In the event that a buyer does run into problems with their order, it’s important to ensure that all your communication is prompt and friendly. xSellco’s e-commerce help desk software centralizes queries and order details from all your sales channels in one place, putting a complete view of your customer at your fingertips so you can send fast, personalized responses in a couple of clicks.

Responding appropriately to a negative review

First things first, don’t take it personally. Contact the customer to apologize (either directly or by publicly commenting on the review) and see if you can fix the problem. That way the customer feels their opinion is appreciated and shows that you’re willing to work with them to resolve the issue.

Tone is important here. Avoid being too casual (this can further inflame an angry customer) and ensure you’re addressing them in a positive, respectful tone.

If you believe that a review is false or malicious, Amazon will remove it if it contains the any of the following:

  • Seller and shipping experience: product reviews are not the place for feedback about the seller, shipping or packaging
  • Inappropriate content: this spans offensive language and profanities to contact details and non-Amazon URLs
  • Hate speech and offensive content: any reviews that express intolerance for people belonging to identity groups
  • Promotion of illegal conduct: anything that encourages or supports illegal behavior, such as violence, drug use, underage drinking and child or animal abuse

A negative review isn’t the end of the world. In fact, 82 percent of people specifically seek negative feedback because a mix of opinions appears more authentic than a string of 5-star reviews. Instead of seeing the downside of a 1-star rating, use it as an opportunity to show off your customer support skills.

Final thoughts

Positive reviews drive sales, period. And with Amazon’s own private-label push gaining steam (a recent L2 study identified 41 brands owned by the company), it’s more important than ever to have a review generation strategy in place to boost sales and improve your product’s rankings on Amazon. Follow the steps outlined above when developing your game plan and you’ll be seeing stars in no time.