Amazon builds its entire structure around the idea of sales-reviews-more sales. But this system is flawed. Buyers and sellers both work outside of Amazon to manipulate review data, which means you need a review checker to grow your business fairly and honestly.
Read on to find out why reviews are so important, how they’re regulated, and how companies are still working the system to their advantage. Finally, we will discuss what review checkers are, why you need one, and finding the right one to meet your needs.
Why Product Reviews Matter
Product reviews can really make or break the success of your business. In fact, the in-site promotion of your business actually depends on both the quantity and the quality of customer reviews.
In these situations where customers have the power to influence a brand dramatically, you’d think that the process of leaving reviews would be straightforward.
Customers also need a warning about reviews. While they should play a part in selecting a product, you should not rely only on the reviews to make your decision. Reviews can guide you and direct your research. However, you should always keep in mind that some of those reviews just may be fake!
Why Have Fake Reviews?
Fake reviews on Amazon have a long history. In a market where rankings and reviews equal free publicity, any behavior is free game. Up until four years ago, sellers were able to give away their product in exchange for an honest review, and Amazon also allowed for paid reviews. Amazon stopped both of these practices in 2016. Sellers then grew more stealthy, and the entire operation went rogue.
After this crackdown, sellers discovered how to manipulate Amazon rankings by buying fake reviews. This process is a two-pronged approach that involves sellers purchasing positive reviews for their own products while also purchasing false negative reviews for their competitors’ products.
In one instance, Amazon investigated its own employees for taking bribes from sellers to delete negative reviews from customers with legitimate complaints.
Even now, it’s still possible to game the system and take advantage, though. Just a year ago, an Amazon shopper went public, explaining how offering false reviews benefits her and the seller. It’s a complex practice but highly effective. The seller gets a good review of a verified purchase, and the buyer receives her money back along with cashback rewards from an Amazon-branded credit card.
But who really wins here? Certainly not the customers who have to wade through scores of potentially false reviews or the businesses that play by the rules.
Are Amazon Reviews Real?
To cut down on this manipulation of review data, Amazon has introduced several programs that use purchase criteria to ensure all reviews are valid and authentic.
- Verified Purchaser
When a customer buys a product through Amazon, the system marks any review they leave as a verified purchase, which tells customers that the product was purchased from Amazon. People can still leave reviews that aren’t a verified purchase, but the VP program supposedly makes those reviews less relevant. However, as discussed above, there are ways to work around the lenient verified purchase guidelines.
- Human and AI Collaboration
Amazon is using a combination of automated technology and human investigators to weed out fake reviews. They claim that this process, which analyzes data points in the sale and review information, weeds out all but approximately 1% of the false reviews. In 2019, Amazon spent over $400 million to eradicate false reviews.
- Legal Action
Amazon has started suing companies for promoting fake reviews. In early 2019, the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, sued a fake reviewer for the first time. Since 2015, Amazon has filed suit against over 1,000 companies for fake reviews. Despite all this, the pull of gathering reviews is too tempting for most third-party sellers. Many of them are from China and need reviews to boost their standing.
How to Check if Amazon Reviews Are Legit
As a shopper or business owner, you need a way to determine which reviews are fake and which ones are real. You could do the work yourself. For products with only a handful of reviews, it’s definitely doable. But what if there are hundreds of them or even thousands? In cases when there are just too many reviews to read and sort through, a review checker is your best bet.
What is a Review Checker?
A review checker, much like Amazon’s in-house product, is an automated method of verifying the truth. These checkers analyze phrasing, grammar, the timeline for ordering and using the product, and more. A review checker can sort through hundreds of reviews at a time. They look for similarities to other reviews, and even the phrase “I have not used this product,” which is telling of a false review in most cases.
What Are The Best Review Checkers?
There are a ton of free and paid review checkers out there. We’ll cover some of the most popular solutions and their essential pros and cons.
ReviewMeta was founded in 2015 after its founder purchased a nutritional supplement that left him sick. They’re exclusively focused on Amazon, and you can either get a browser extension or copy and paste a product’s URL. ReviewMeta sorts through data and removes any ratings and reviews that seem out of place. Once everything gets filtered, you get an adjusted rating, which is more telling since it doesn’t offer bloated reviewing.
Like ReviewMeta, Fakespot uses browser extensions or copy and paste to check reviews. Their checker scans not just reviews but also individual reviewers, looking at speech, common phrases, and even a reviewer’s profile to determine reliability. Instead of an adjusted rating, Fakespot gives you a letter grade from A to F, and a percentage of reviews marked as unreliable.
Fakespot used to be an Amazon-only review checker, but they have recently added sites like Yelp, Sephora, and Walmart.
- Product Review Monitoring
Product Review Monitoring is not a free site. However, a free trial option exists so that you can see if it meets your needs. The site focuses on businesses. It provides companies a big picture view of their product reviews across 15 different retail sites. It also allows businesses to monitor competitors’ reviews and product performance.
So many review checkers only focus on the consumer side of things. What makes Product Review Monitoring revolutionary is that it uses advanced analytics and near-linguistic programming. This solution can find and evaluate reviews across many platforms, where other review checkers only work with a handful of sites. Product Review Monitoring probably offers too much data for the average consumer, but it is a game-changer for business.
This is another review checker for businesses. AMZFinder pairs each review with a purchase order, allowing your business to quickly and easily identify false reviews. Then, you can take action on the valid reviews and appropriately handle any identified disputes. You can also then email customers who haven’t submitted a review and ask them to do so. AMZFinder is both a review checker and a customer service tool.
The primary reason we use reviews is to ensure we get what we pay for. But sometimes, despite our best due diligence, a product arrives damaged or otherwise not as described. Do you contact the seller, or do you contact Amazon? The best option is getting in touch with the seller unless Amazon fulfilled the product order.
Contacting the seller can be a convoluted process, especially if the item is missing. But for a damaged product, you can find the seller’s information on the product page and click the “Ask a question” button. Then, go to your orders and find the specific order in the list. Select “Problem with order,” and then wait up to 48 hours for a reply.
E-commerce has changed the world. You can buy products at 2 AM in your pajamas and have them on your doorstep in just a couple of days. Companies can expand their reach beyond the geographic boundaries that previously limited them.
However, both consumers and businesses can suffer from unethical practices and fake reviews. The customer can’t get an accurate look at products, and the business can’t track which reviews are real and which ones are fake. Review checkers can significantly speed up this process.
They can slog through hundreds of reviews to give you a clearer picture of an item. Conversely, businesses can use them to weed out and remove fake reviews, streamline their customer service, and get a leg up on their competition. It would be amazing if people would play by the rules and be honest, but since they can’t, it’s a good thing review checkers exist.