Amazon has implemented more explicit rules on how sellers can communicate with consumers, in an effort to ensure that customers are not overflooded by sellers’ emails.
Amazon Marketplace, which has always maintained tight control of sellers’ communication with consumers, announced updated guidelines on Tuesday. The new rules, reviewed by Yahoo Finance, explicitly prohibit more than one request for a product review or feedback. It also prohibits sellers from using language that incentivizes reviews or positive feedback. Email attachments that are not necessary to complete the order are also banned, according to the guidelines which will be effective on December 3.
This change comes during the busy holiday season and has sparked some confusion within the seller community. Hours after releasing the updated guidelines Tuesday, Amazon said that there was no policy change and the announcement was made to clarify existing rules.
“Sellers have told us in the past that the policy page was confusing so we have refreshed the language to make it clearer,” said Amazon in a post.
Over half of the sales on Amazon are made by third-party sellers. But unlike other online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon takes over most of the communications between sellers and consumers so that it can provide a standardized experience for customers who buy products on its site.
‘Amazon’s customers, not sellers’
The updates came a week after Amazon rolled out an official tool for sellers to request reviews from consumers. Some sellers had previously used third-party messaging services to follow-up with consumers who buy their products and used templated messages to request reviews. Sellers say Amazon never encouraged unnecessary direct communications between sellers and buyers, but now the rules are more specific.
“It was the same before they just made it more clear now. They stated explicitly. It was common among Amazon sellers to have three email sequences in place,” said Peter Koch, a seller who has been selling on Amazon for five years.
Among the tightening rules, users’ addresses and names are also no longer visible to sellers anymore, which further limits the seller’s access to user’s information.
“This has made it clear that they’re Amazon’s customers, not sellers’ customers,” said Juozas Kaziukenas, founder of Marketplace Pulse.
The move could further protect Amazon consumers, who can expect fewer requests and emails from sellers when they purchase products on the site. Consumers can also opt out of sellers’ messages.
Sellers need to be more cautious to comply with the rules when they seek reviews from consumers, which helps their products stand out on search results pages and affect consumers’ purchase decisions, according to Chris McCabe, who advises Amazon sellers.
“The screws continue to tighten around Amazon sellers seeking to communicate with buyers after orders are completed,” said McCabe. “Sellers may still ask for reviews, but only in 100% neutral language not intended to induce positive reviews.”
Krystal Hu covers tech and China for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.