Product reviews have a significant impact on a product’s ranking, traffic, and sales performance on Amazon. The more product reviews, the more likely a product will improve its discoverability and buyability – two vital components to success on the Marketplace.
The Amazon Vine program has historically only helped vendors ramp up sales and advertising on new products but as of late 2019, the program is also being offered to sellers who meet the required criteria.
In May 2021, Amazon followed up with another announcement – the introduction of a new and improved Amazon Vine experience. In the following article, we outline how Amazon Vine (the Vendor program) works and what you can expect to see from the latest upgrade.
What is Amazon Vine?
Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions. Amazon invites customers to become Vine Voices based on their reviewer rank, which is a reflection of the quality and helpfulness of their reviews as judged by other Amazon customers.
How Does the Amazon Vine Program Work?
Amazon provides Vine members with free products that have been submitted to the program by participating vendors. Vine reviews are the independent opinions of the Vine Voices. The vendor cannot influence, modify or edit the reviews. Amazon does not modify or edit Vine reviews, as long as they comply with the posting guidelines. A Vine review is identified with the green stripe Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program.
As of May 2021, instead of asking vendors to send Vine units to a Vine fulfillment center at the time of enrollment, Amazon will use the inventory they already have on hand, and the vendor funds the Vine-enrolled units.
Because the Amazon Vine program is invitation-only for high-quality reviewers, vendors can typically be assured that their products will receive detailed and well-articulated reviews. But like any reviews solicitation programs, there is no guarantee that the product will receive a positive review. Amazon invites reviewers to participate in the Vine program based on feedback from other customers.
What are the new and improved Amazon Vine features?
Between May 17 and June 9, Amazon will launch a new and improved Vine experience with important changes to the program. The new experience will feature:
- Brand-new enrollment flow
- Simplified fulfillment process (you’ll no longer need to send Vine items to Amazon)
- Convenient parent ASIN enrollments
- Updated pricing
- Improved design and better usability
- New item eligibility and enrollment caps
2021 Amazon Vine Updates and Improvements
1. Simplified fulfillment
As we mentioned earlier, instead of asking vendors to send Vine units to a Vine fulfillment center at the time of enrollment, Amazon will use the inventory they already have on hand and you fund Vine-enrolled units. The good news is this means no more Vine labeling, units lost, delays in transit or unclaimed units destroyed. Amazon will bill you for the price of the units they ship to Vine Voices. Easy!
2. Parent ASIN enrollment
Now vendors can enroll up to 30 units of a parent ASIN and specify which variations they want to add to the enrollment. Vine Voices can then select their preferred variation so you do not need to guess which variation they prefer. This ensures Vine Voices have access to items in the right size or color, resulting in more insightful reviews and higher conversion.
3. Enrollment fees
Amazon will bill you for each parent ASIN enrolled, regardless of the number of variations included. At the same time, they are standardizing the enrollment fee across all categories to charge $1,750 USD per enrolled parent ASIN.
4. Brand ownership
You must be registered in Amazon Brand Registry, and be the brand owner for the ASIN you are trying to enroll in the program. To learn more about Brand Registry, check out our recent post here or check out our seller requirements list below.
5. Item eligibility
Amazon is able to expand item eligibility by leveraging existing inventory across the entire Amazon fulfillment network. This means better support for heavy-bulky and hazmat items, and fewer restrictions based on item attributes. As long as the units are already within Amazon’s network, they are eligible for enrollment in Vine. Direct fulfillment is not supported at this time.
6. Active enrollments cap
When you enroll an ASIN in Vine, it counts towards the active enrollment limit, currently set to five, and remains active unless canceled with no orders or concluded. Enrollments conclude after the lesser of 90 days from enrollment or scheduled start date, if set, or if all units are reviewed.
Pro-tip: If you reached the active enrollment limit, you have to wait until one of your active enrollments is concluded or cancel one of them before enrolling another ASIN in Vine.
7. Improved design and usability
Amazon has improved the overall Vine user experience with new pages, designs, and a better flow. They focused on providing key information within the Vine tool by including tooltips to explain what each field means. They also added discount information for better transparency around available discounts, if any, and streamlined the enrollment process.
When am I eligible for the new and improved Amazon Vine experience?
Amazon will provide an option to create enrollments and shipments in the legacy experience until they give brands access to the new Vine experience.
Amazon will display a banner at the top of the Vine dashboard page to notify you once you have access to the new experience.
At this point, you’ll be able to view and edit your enrollments within the legacy tool until October 31, 2021. After that date, those enrollments will expire and their data will be migrated to the new tool.
If you have not created a Vine shipment yet and would like to try the new Vine experience, you do not need to cancel the legacy enrollment and can enroll your items in the new experience.
If you have already created a shipment but did not send any Vine units, you may cancel your legacy enrollment in the legacy experience. Enrollments that cannot be canceled in the legacy tool must be labeled and delivered to us no later than 60 days after you created the shipment, in order to be offered to reviewers.
What if I enrolled an item in Vine but did not get a review? Will I pay for this enrollment?
Participants in the Amazon Vine program must pay the enrollment fee along with the cost of items that Amazon ships to Vine Voices. However, if the item does not receive any reviews within 90 days after enrollment, only the cost of the items shipped to Vine Voices is charged. Vine Voices will keep the units they received as part of their participation in Vine.
What About Negative Reviews?
Writing a negative review will not impact a Voice’s reviewer ranking. Vendors have no contact with the Vine Voices and have no influence over which Vine Voices will review their products.
On the vendor side, in the event you do receive a negative review, it is considered best practice to publicly reply. Any way that sellers can engage their customers online is only going to help promote your brand. It’s a great way to show customers you care and that you are trying to work through the problem. It can be a little risky, so sellers should make sure that when they do respond to a negative review they shouldn’t be too defensive or let their emotional attachment to the brand get in the way.
The best practice is to sympathize with the customer and show that you genuinely want to address their concern. Ask lots of questions to show that you are interested in resolving the issue at hand – whether that be because of a delivery issue or a problem with the product itself.
I’m a seller who wants to be part of the Amazon Vine program, what are the requirements?
The Seller Vine program is currently free but subject to change. Sellers who want to participate in Amazon Vine must:
- Be brand registered in Amazon Brand Registry.
- Have fewer than 30 reviews on the product detail page.
- Have a buyable FBA offer in ‘New’ condition.
- Not be an adult product.
- Have already launched at the time of enrollment.
- Have available inventory.
- Have an image and a description.