Amazon Sellers Concerned Sales Trend Display Encourages Black Hat Tactics

Liz Morton
Liz Morton


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Amazon announced this week that buyers will now be shown a "sales trend" to highlight how many buyers recently purchased a particular product.

Customers will now see sales trend for your eligible listings

Product listings for certain categories including health and personal care, home, and sports, will display a "sales trend" that highlights how many customers recently purchased that product.

"Sales trend" is a new listing feature that provides a broad estimate of the number of customers who recently bought a particular product. For example, the listing might show "10K+ bought in past month." The feature is designed to help customers find your most recent popular products.

Similar to customer reviews, badges, and sales rank, sales trend is automatically added to eligible listings.

Sellers were pointed to an FAQ in Seller Central for more details of this new feature.

What is sales trend? How is it calculated?
Sales trend helps customers differentiate products in Amazon’s vast catalog by providing a broad estimate of the number of customers who recently purchased a product (for example, "10K+ bought in past month"). Sales trend data is refreshed at least daily and does not include returns and cancellations.

Why do I not see any sales trend for my ASIN?
Sales trend is shown when a minimum number of customers have purchased a particular ASIN. It is not shown for all categories. We may expand this feature and add new categories in the future.

Why is the sales trend for my ASIN not matching what I see in Seller Central
Sales trend provides a broad estimate of the number of customers who purchased a particular ASIN, across everyone selling that ASIN. Sales trend is not the number of units sold or orders made so it may not exactly match what you see in Seller Central.

I do not want the sales trend to show up for products I sell. How do I turn this feature off?
Similar to Customer Reviews, badges, and sales rank, sales trend cannot be turned off.

Will sales trend impact my search ranking?
Sales trend helps customers make more confident purchases, which can help drive an item’s popularity and visibility in search rankings.

How can I improve my sales trends number?
You can improve your sales trends number by improving the quality, availability, and competitive pricing of your products.

How are variations handled when it comes to sales trend?
If the product is presented as a child ASIN with a single price, sales trend indicates the number of customers who purchased that child ASIN. If the product is presented as a parent ASIN with a range of prices, sales trend indicates the sum of customers who made purchases for all child ASINs in that variation family.

Sellers in the Amazon community did not react positively to the news, with some sharing concerns it could encourage the use of black hat tactics to try to game the new metric and others worried it would tilt the scales even more in favor of large, high volume sellers.

Amazon will focus on anything and everything as long as it has nothing to do with improving profitability for sellers.

"The feature is designed to help competitors find your unit count of highest volume popular products sold."

Like that you will just help big sellers become bigger and kill small sellers because clients will just follow the trend and buy from the big guy.

"When a metric becomes a measure, it ceases to be a good metric." Amazon is really good at building feedback loops, really bad at seeing them.

And when this turns out to be a big driver of sales, if this doesn't encourage shadow-buys and other black hat practices, I will eat my hat. Then Amazon will say "look at all the bad behavior we've stopped ... 95% out of hundreds of millions of attempts (meaning millions of failures) to take advantage of this predictably flawed decision, aren't we good at our jobs?"

You know what would be a good metric to display? Long time sellers with an extensive track record of not doing anything wrong, even if their sales have dropped in the face of black hat tactics as the result of Amazon onboarding every seller with a pulse. As opposed to an overseas seller that's on their 20th store name, with a pending registration for the ;LADSKFJH;KLJDSAFG brand.

Amazon

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Liz Morton is a seasoned ecommerce pro with 17 years of online marketplace sales experience, providing commentary, analysis & news about eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Shopify & more at Value Added Resource!