Amazon Removing Access To Buyer API Data

Fix Posted May 31, 2019 at 3:01pm | 1 Comment
James avatar c43c4e35b82d7a44b60420bb1ad1afca40405c3123d7622b0c6e9a076e2338dc

In short; [[BuyerName]] and [[BuyerFirstName]] auto tags will no longer render inside the emails or buyer messages that are sent.

At the current moment, there are no other areas in the app that is affected. We did a global scrub of all templates that is currently using those tags and simply removed them so it will just appear blank.

Emails sent up to 10-12 hours ago may have sent out while the two auto tags were still inside the template and not able to render correctly.

 

What Is Actually Happening & Why?

Amazon is still allowing apps access Orders and other information via their API, however, they recently began limiting access to anything related to Buyers. This is global wide across all apps. If a feedback software does not comply or try to skirt around and still give access to Buyer Data, they are going against Amazon MWS's wishes and sooner or later they will get slapped hard. This comes as no surprise as I had a general feeling sooner or later in order to prevent abuse, they would have to restrict this.

As you recall last year, Feedbackz removed various parts and features of the Buyer's section inside the app to stay ahead of the curve. And it appears Amazon is moving faster with not only this recent API limitation but also implementing cloaked Buyer phone numbers a few weeks ago (https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/headlines.html?ref=nswg_scgw_6341070794486406328_0_nslp&id=6341070794486406328&)

Some examples of blackhat abuse of Buyer information that Amazon is fighting:

  • Creating an external list of all their Buyer's addresses, phone, etc. and then contacting them outside of Amazon.
  • Black hat apps that pulled the same Buyer data via API and created email lists of the unique Amazon cloaked emails. Then even auto-messaging them from various "burner" seller accounts with non-TOS compliant marketing tactics.
  • Outside of trying to gather lists and contact Buyers; an extreme example is one where a Seller actually showed up to the house of a Buyer after getting a bad review.

 

My Predictions On The Future of Buyer Messages

I see absolutely no threats in Amazon removing buyer-messaging or ability to ask for follow up reviews. I see this going much similar to the eBay route and their current messaging. Let me explain why:

In 2018, I was invited to the Amazon Headquarters in Seattle to meet with their MWS team (department in charge of app developers using their APIs). I had awesome talks with them and got great insights into where they stood and where things were headed. We also had discussions around concerns of the explosion of blackhat and greyhat techniques not only among marketplace sellers, but also within apps, data, communication, etc.

With that; I drew my comparison to early stages of Google. When Google could be gamed very easily with keyword stuffing, manufactured backlinks, etc. Google spent 2-3 years of various updates (Panda, Penguin, etc.) to fight the blackhat methods. And this is what Amazon is and was going through. I think they are about 3/4 there..

Now let's step back and view a big picture: Jeff Bezos explosively grew Amazon because he solved some key fundamental things that was lacking completely in buying anything off the internet during that time:

  • Reliability. When will it ship, get here, and how? (aka Prime, 2 day shipping, shipping status, etc.)
  • Social Proof/Product Reviews. Any website can post fake reviews on their own site, people wanted to hear from other real people.
  • Customer Service. Returning product to a website at that time? Forget it. IF they decide they will refund you after they get your return that you paid shipping for; you had no idea when the actually refund would process back into your bank.

Those are the core life bloods of Amazon. And they will not lose that. Why? Because Jeff is going to Jeff. If Steve Jobs was still here, Apple would be innovating because Steve would do Steve. Until Jeff is gone, the fundamental core values will always be around because Jeff.

So.. how do I tie all that together into me thinking it will be how eBay handles messages now?

Product Reviews

They must be protected, at the same time, it must also be allowed to grow.... organically. Follow up review requests are the most white-hat organic way to obtain real product reviews; this is found throughout all industries and types of businesses from postcards to follow up phone calls to follow up text messages, etc. It is the most fundamental, root-based way of obtaining feedback.

The problem lies in the organic part. I believe Amazon will continue to fight against blackhat methods while... maintaing the core functions because Amazon is 110% totally in favor of sellers asking for reviews and feedback as follow up. And always will be.. because Jeff.

Customer Service

There is absolutely no way Amazon can cut off complete communication between two parties and be the 'end-all-be-all middleman'. This would 10x their customer service costs, create tremendous and unsolvable logistics problems, etc. trying to coordinate, confirm, dispute, and hundred other things that only a seller can directly and most effieciently handle.

Tying This All Back To Ebay

Ebay is mature. They have been there and done that and a great roadmap to aim for. 

If you've ordered from eBay, you will most definitely get a follow up seller feedback request in addition to the occasional sellers who will send delivery confirmation emails, etc. BUT one thing you don't see in their messages is your personal information. They do not include your name, address, phone, etc.. they are a generic template to identifying you (the Buyer) but it is targeted in that it contains the exact product(s), etc that was in your Order.

Much like Ebay, I think Amazon will continue to leave their Buyer-Seller messaging open but will more closely monitor and flag various triggers from the abusers.

 

To Wrap This Up, I hope I cleared some concerns and cloudy areas up a bit. If there is any updates or functions of the app that are changed, I will immediately update you all. And as always; thank you so much for supporting Feedbackz!

Sincerely,
James F.

Default avatar 50571a7d6fb7dde1bec3980a534781c64292c4c1b5190fb185ba746a72ad6ea6

Hi James,

 

A co-worker recently received a review solicitation email from an Amazon Seller that used her name (screenshot attached). It appears as though Amazon does allow Seller to autopopulate a buyer's name within the email. Can you elaborate on whether or not we can do this within Feedbackz?

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