Onsite Publishing Keeps Customers In Store
The Onsite Associates program at Amazon is one of many ways that Amazon has innovated and experimented with reviews in its marketplace. Amazon has always valued the opinions and recommendations of third-parties. Amazon’s customer reviews have become a major part of its success; consumers can crowdsource their decision making when buying a product sight-unseen. Through onsite publishing, Amazon is harnessing the authority of the publishers without letting the customer leave the site.
User Reviews are Losing Impact
Review farms, paid posts, and malicious reviewers have corrupted user reviews. The 2020 Amazon Shopper survey by Tinuiti found that 70% of shoppers trust Amazon reviews, but the percentage of shoppers who say they “fully trust” reviews is down by 20% compared to 2018 and 2019.
Consumers now have less trust in the reviews of other shoppers; they look elsewhere for reliable information about which product to choose. For media outlets, this is an opportunity to replace declining ad revenue. For Amazon it represents a risk: as customers leave the store to find recommendations, they might not return to complete the purchase.
Onsite Publishing Brings Publishers Into the Store
Enter the Onsite Associates Program (OSP). Designed to retain the customer within the Amazon ecosystem while still relying on the trusted voice of the independent publisher, the OSP program also benefits sellers within the Amazon ecosystem. This channel of product placement works in concert with natural search results and promoted listings, and presents hardly any downsides to a seller.
A Virtuous Circle
The publishers and Amazon have no incentive to promote poorly made or poorly supported products. Publishers recommend only products that are getting good reviews, staying in-stock, and achieving high sales volumes. The OSP program creates a virtuous circle for featured products. Good performance is rewarded with more visibility, which in turn creates more performance. Stockouts, returns, poor customer service and poor product quality could cause a product to be dropped from an OSP article. Editorial Reviews never feature defective products, while newer entrants must wait until they can prove their value in the marketplace.
Onsite Publishing Impact on Sellers
Editorial reviews hardly ever criticize the products they mention. There is no value in mentioning a product if not to recommend a purchase. Sellers risk little when mentioned in an Editorial Review. If the article fails to perform, it does not surface, and the mention does not drive sales. Editorial reviews never have a negative impact on the products mentioned.
What downsides are there for sellers? Obviously, if a product’s competitors get into an article first, it is the competitors who receive the benefit of the virtuous circle. But being in the article at all, even if next to the product’s fiercest competitors, is a lift for all brands. Failing to get into an article in the first place is the real risk.
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