Understanding Discounts, URLs, and Amazon Terms of Service.
Understanding Discounts, URLs, and not Violating Amazon’s TOS
We’re kicking off our new AMA series with Bradley Sutton, Helium 10’s Director of Customer Success and Training. Look for new episodes going LIVE Monday through Friday. In this episode Bradley is answering the question, “Can you help me understand discounts, URLs, and Amazon’s Terms of Service?”
There’s a lot of discussion about discount coupon and giveaway effectiveness, what’s actually allowed according to Amazon’s Terms of Service, and what strategies are outdated and not worth the risk anyway.
Where do you even start with all of that?
This AMA tries to address a few different things related to Amazon ToS compliance and clear up some of the confusion surrounding commonly-discussed strategies.
Before we dive in, however, remember:
If you are uncertain about if something you want to do or try is a violation of the Amazon ToS, open a case DIRECTLY with Amazon and ask them yourself! You can do this from Seller Central.
As sellers, we know that the seller support rep who answers your question might not be totally knowledgeable themselves 100% of the time, but you don’t lose anything by asking them first. If nothing else, you’ll have peace of mind with having their response in writing.
Our obligatory disclaimer is that we can’t legally advise you on what complies with or is against Amazon’s ToS. We also cannot guarantee what absolutely works and what doesn’t work. Most of the knowledge circulating (including about the strategies discussed here, such as Amazon discount codes) is based on testing, firsthand observation, and sellers’ educated guesses.
That said, let’s get into today’s topics.
First, discount codes.
Bradley personally recommends staying at an 89% discount or lower, however. Amazon may potentially flag a 90% or higher discount as abuse or manipulation; this appears to occur more frequently when in the 90% discount and above range.
Furthermore, Amazon appears to treat the 20-50% discount range as ‘organic.’ In other words, this range looks like an actual sale discount instead of a product launch or other rank-boosting manipulation strategy.
Discount codes are generally a great way to gain some sales momentum when launching a product or when you have a slow-moving product with excess inventory. Just remember, setting too steep of a discount may flag Amazon, and realistically, most people generally can’t sustain a steep discount over several units of product for very long since you’re tossing money out the window.
Bottom line is that Bradley doesn’t recommended storefront URLs. It’s nothing to do with the ToS, just their proven efficacy (or lack of it) in the past year.
Storefront URLs are a version of two-step URLs that bring the buyer to your storefront page with the search results narrowed by keyword. Over the last year, this strategy has been observed to be less effective than it once was.
Instead, try using the two-step URL technique with ‘brand’ or ‘field ASIN.’
Artificially inflating your BSR
Using ‘artificial sales’ to boost your BSR (Best Seller’s Rank) is outright against Amazon’s ToS. Let’s examine what this actually means, so you can avoid it.
Artificial sales are sales NOT made with a real individual account, and any method to illicitly boost sales is prohibited. This includes using a bot to automatically make purchases, or hiring a black hat service to purchase several units of product via multiple ‘empty’ Amazon buyer accounts.
You still technically can have individuals purchase your product however (such as friends and family). These are real sales (even if they’re not 100% organic).
Circling back to seeded links (including two-step URLs), you might question if this counts as manipulating the search and browse experience.
Fortunately, at the time of this AMA, Amazon’s ToS does not specify anything about URLs. What it DOES specify is to not put irrelevant keywords in your listing to try to boost ranking for that keyword.
An example would be, if you were selling a teapot and you put keywords such as ‘fire stick’ or ‘toddler toys’ to try to rank for them due to their popularity/search volume, even though the keywords have nothing to do with your product (unless you were selling a kids’ tea party set, we suppose).
It’s important to note that ‘irrelevant keywords’ includes brand names of your competitors! Trying to piggyback off of competitor names is technically not okay.
Remember, when in doubt, play it safe and open a case with Amazon to ask them yourself.