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An Update on the Update – Clarification on the Amazon TOS Update 2016

Amazon tos update 2016

In my original post, I posed a lot of questions around how exactly Amazon would interpret and enforce their latest TOS update moving forward. As is too common in this space, we’ve heard an insane amount of rumors. Be careful what you believe and guard who you trust. Thanks to a friend of mine with direct contact to Amazon’s legal department, we have some much appreciated clarification. I’ll update this post in the next couple of days with a link to a post by this friend where he will give exacts from the conversations he has had directly with Amazon’s legal department.

To many, the clarification mentioned below was already common assumption. Personally, I prefer to speak on the facts and make decisions based on data, which we simply did not have just 24 hours after the TOS change was posted.

So what is the clarification? What is the information directly from Amazon’s legal department? 


The two largest takeaways are:


  1. It is okay for 3rd party websites to distribute discounted claim codes on behalf of Amazon merchants.
  2. It is okay for merchants to follow-up with the discounted buyers asking for a review, so long as they abide by all other review policies and stipulations (ex. Don’t ask for only a positive review, do not force the customer to leave a review, do not monitor whether or not they were able to leave a review, etc.)


What does this mean? Well, for Viral Launch specifically, we will continue to operate as we have for the last year or so. Fortunately, we had the foresight to position ourselves away from the review group model, which has had incredible benefits for our customers. Largely the only change we had to make post TOS Update is the removal of all language from the site around “reviews”.

What does this mean for you as a seller? Hopefully this helps to ease concerns and increase confidence in the fact that Amazon allows you to run promotions and to ask customers for reviews after purchasing your products at a discount. Hopefully this helps to convince you that the private label world is not dead. That there is still plenty of hope in a bright future moving forward!

As history has shown and as time progressed, we have come to find out that another TOS update did not have such severe an impact as we initially expected. With that said, the landscape has definitely changed, and depending on your previous launch strategy, launching a product has become quite a bit more difficult. As we’ve always preached, you need to do all things GREAT in order to outsell your competition (and sometimes even survive), now more than ever! If you find yourself having a difficult time getting ahead of the competition, launching a product, or even maintaining sales, look around to see just how well you are executing every aspect of your private label business.

So all in all, the dust seems to have settled for the most part and we are all free to go on our merry way, building scaleable private label businesses on the world’s largest commerce platform! Sounds like a great time to be an entrepreneur to me! 🙂

Side Note: With all of this, I feel like this news has definitely confirmed the suspicions I posed in our initial blog post regarding what net affect this would actually have on the market and what Amazon’s true intentions are (you can read them in here).
As always, we will keep you updated as new word comes out and we wish you and your business the best!!

4 thoughts on “An Update on the Update – Clarification on the Amazon TOS Update 2016”

  1. Excellent post Casey and Viral-Launch!! Much appreciated. On this latest AMZ TOS change amongst all the noise, chatter, misinformation, conjecture, rabble, round-tables, emergency podcasts and other modes of discourse often leading, at times, to a near-hysteria… Viral-Launch cuts through the din. And kudos on having the foresight to change your business model a year ago in anticipation of this TOS change. I’ve run my first two campaigns through your VL. I”m a believer in the VL brand and services and your customer service contact has been first rate. Keep up the great work. I’ll be back in a few weeks for my third campaign.

    1. Hey Kevin,

      Gosh! Thanks so much for the kind words Kevin. We are really trying to help everyone to the greatest capacity, and I’m glad it is translating well.

      I’m excited to hear your launches are going well! Excited to be able to keep it going for you!

      Thanks again!

  2. What about this part of their policy:

    “Misuse of sales rank:

    The best seller rank feature allows buyers to evaluate the popularity of a product. Any attempt to manipulate sales rank is prohibited. You may not solicit or knowingly accept fake or fraudulent orders, including placing orders for your own products. You may not provide compensation to buyers for purchasing your products or provide claim codes to buyers for the purpose of inflating sales rank. In addition, you may not make claims regarding a product’s best seller rank in the product detail page information, including the title and description.”

    1. Hey Peter,

      Great question! We’ve gotten this a lot the last two weeks.

      I covered it pretty in-depth in the comments section of the original Amazon TOS update post. It’s around 5000 characters so I don’t want to repost it here and I’d be doing it injustice if I tried to spell it out in just a few sentences. If you scroll down in the comments to Craig’s question, you will see my lengthy answer.

      If you have any questions or other thoughts on the topic though, either comment back here or on that thread and I’d love to talk more!


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