Amazon Vine is often touted as the best way for sellers to get reviews for newly launched products. While this program can help accumulate reviews quickly, the risk is not always worth the reward. In this article, we will discuss how Amazon Vine works and what to know before you sign up.
What is the Amazon Vine Program?
Amazon Vine enables sellers to offer free units of eligible products in exchange for opinions from reviewers called Vine Voices. Amazon invites verified customers to become Vine Voices based on the insightfulness of reviews they routinely publish on their Amazon purchases. Customers who consistently write helpful reviews and develop a reputation for expertise in specific product categories are most likely to be invited into the program.
When you enroll a product in the Amazon Vine program, Vine Vices will have the opportunity to request one of your items to review. After the first Vine review is published, you will be charged a $200 enrollment fee once per parent ASIN. You will not be charged a fee if the enrolled product does not receive any reviews within 90 days of enrollment.
You can receive a maximum of 30 reviews for an ASIN enrolled in Amazon Vine. This means that if you enroll a product in the program that already has ten reviews, you are only eligible to receive 20 additional Vine reviews. Since the enrollment fee is $200, whether you receive one Vine review or 30, it makes the most economical sense to enroll products that have the fewest reviews.
It is important to note that Amazon does not guarantee you will receive a Vine review – or a positive one (more on this in a bit).
To be eligible for Amazon Vine, ASINs must meet the following criteria:
- 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
How to Enroll a Product in Amazon Vine
You can access Vine in your Seller Central dashboard by navigating to the Advertising tab. To enroll a product, follow these simple steps:
- Enter an ASIN in the text box and click Begin Enrollment.
- Verify your product information else. Note: You can enroll any eligible variation for a product family.
- If you are enrolling a product set, Amazon recommends that you choose the option All Product Variations in Stock are Available to Reviewers. This gives the most flexibility to Vine Voices as they will be able to select their favorite variation, optimizing your chances to get insightful reviews. Alternatively, you can select another option if you prefer to specify the variations Vine Voices be able to request.
- Enter the number of units you are enrolling. Note: If you have selected either of the two options that allow you to specify which variation you want to enroll in a product set, you will need to specify the number of units you want to make available for each enrolled variation.
- Click Enroll.
- Review the enrollment fee and accept the Terms and Conditions of the program.
- Click Enroll to complete the enrollment.
Managing Your Amazon Vine ASINs
The Vine dashboard gives you access to all the products you have enrolled in Vine. You can view your most recent enrollments on the first page. You will be able to see the date you enrolled it, the number of units that are still available for Vine Voices to request, the number of units you enrolled, the number of units that Vine Voices have claimed, and the number of Vine reviews that were published.
Your enrollments in Vine will fall under one of five classifications:
- Concluded: Refers to enrollments that either received all the expected reviews or were enrolled over 90 days ago. At this point, we do not expect additional reviews to be published.
- Reviews in progress: Refers to the state of enrollments for which some of the expected reviews have been posted.
- Awaiting reviews: Refers to enrollments that are yet to receive any review.
- Cancelled by seller: Refers to enrollments you have cancelled.
- Action required: Refers to blocked enrollments. You will either need to correct the offer/SKU you enrolled in Vine, update some of your product’s catalog attributes, or send more inventory to resolve the block. For some listing errors, such as the enrolled product’s set parent/child relationship not existing anymore, you would need to cancel and re-enroll your product. For more information on the action required status, refer to the Vine errors page.
Timeline for enrollments:
- Enrolling an item in Vine is immediate if your ASIN is eligible for the program.
- In most cases, Vine Voices can start ordering units within 24 hours of the enrollment being completed.
- Vine Voices can start leaving reviews immediately after receiving units.
- 25% of reviews received occur within 5 days of the order, while 99% of reviews received occur within 35 days of the order (based on Vine’s worldwide reviewer population as of April 2018).
- Vine Voices are not required to leave a review on the product, but Amazon updates its pool of reviewers often to ensure only the most active, helpful reviewers are part of Vine.
- If an item arrives defective, damaged, or the reviewer receives the incorrect product due to labeling issues, Amazon will cancel the Vine Voices order if they contact support.
What to Know Before Enrolling in Amazon Vine
Amazon Vine is an effective way to solicit reviews for new products, but there is a considerable risk to consider before joining. Vine Voices must remain unbiased and insightful, which means their reviews are usually longer and more detailed than verified customer reviews. They often include photos and videos as well. This is great if the review is positive, but Vine Voices also leave negative reviews. If your product contains any faults or defects, a Vine reviewer will likely notice and write about it.
Since Vine reviews cannot be altered or removed (unless they violate Amazon Terms and Conditions), it is entirely possible to receive several detailed, negative reviews for a new product. This will hurt your conversion rate and put your ASIN at a significant disadvantage. On Amazon, no reviews are better than bad reviews.
To minimize the risk of negative Vine reviews, only enroll your best ASINs in the program. Avoid products that have subjective qualities, like aromas or flavors. Just because you think your artisan candle smells great does not mean a Vine reviewer will agree.
Before choosing a product for Vine, conduct your own research to get an idea of how customers will respond. Then use your best judgement. If shoppers keep complaining about the same thing, chances are that Vine Voices will too.
Channel Key Takeaway
A recent report by Spiegel Research Center found that 95% of customers read reviews before making a purchase. Upon visiting a product detail page, many shoppers skip to the first few reviews to determine whether they should read more. This presents a paradoxical challenge to both new sellers and new products. You need reviews to get customers, but you need customers to get reviews. Amazon introduced Vine to help sellers overcome this Catch 22. In some cases, it is the perfect program to help launch new products. Other times, it can handicap an ASIN in a way that is difficult to reverse. It is up to you to determine whether the risk is worth the possible reward. You will never have control over the content of Vine reviews, but you can tilt the odds in your favor by reserving this program for your highest-quality products.