In October 2016, Amazon banned sellers from offering discounted products in exchange for reviews. Those sellers who continue to do so which is against Amazon’s Terms of Service—run the risk of getting their seller account suspended. With this in mind, in this blog, we’ll be looking at ways you can avoid an Amazon suspension with some expert advice from Amazon and ecommerce consultant, Chris McCabe.
Chris states that account suspensions have increased in 2016 as Amazon has become more stringent and strengthened its policy enforcement—as a result of buyer complaints about counterfeit or fake items. If you’ve had an Amazon account suspension, here’s a great blog full of useful advice around what steps to take including how to make an appeal.
How to Avoid an Amazon Account Suspension
With an increase in the number of seller suspensions, many sellers want to know what they can do to keep their account safe from suspension. Here’s a list of three things that all sellers can do to minimise the risk of an Amazon account suspension:
1. Respond to Product Quality-Related Notifications
Warned about the quality of an item you sold that generated too many returns, or buyer complaints about defects, functionality, or consistency with your listing details? Take action to review internally all of your processes around the sourcing, inspection and listing content of your item to make sure you demonstrate capabilities for operational improvement.
Out of stock, and not planning to list or sell the item again? Make sure the listing is deleted, locate and remove any remaining inventory (if there’s any left in FBA), then communicate to Amazon what you did to fix the problem. Request an account annotation and further solidify in their minds that you’ve taken the reported problem seriously enough to determine the nature of the shortcoming while offering your already-executed Plan of Action.
What will this show them? You’re a hands-on seller willing to remove inventory or delist products, even if it means a few lost sales, to protect the buyer experience on the site. You’re regularly checking return reasons, looking over buyer messages about their dissatisfaction with orders, and taking steps to prevent future problems from future orders. You’re participating in the marketplace by truly managing your account, not participating as the bystander type of seller would, listing and selling and hoping to repeat enough sales to increase profits month over month minus real due diligence.
How do you tell them? You find the best writer at your company, well-versed in the art of communication of ideas, and put them front and centre in charge of notification replies. This may not necessarily be the owner or manager of your teams, or someone that high up in your operations. This needs to be part of your standard operating procedures.
Make sure that all extraneous, unrelated information is nowhere to be found. Remove comments about metrics, plans to sell other things soon, or how much you’d like it if Amazon called you to explain their approach. This should be detailed, but concise, and cover the specific item quality matters at hand. Are you changing suppliers and sourcing somewhere else? Show them verifiable info on that supplier, and tell them why the change eliminates the problem. Are you aware of safety incidents around a particular product, and have temporarily delisted it in order to pull back products from FBA to inspect them further? Tell them this, in detail, and make it look and sound like a comprehensive Plan of Action. They’ll hold you to what you say you’re doing, so it’s not just for show. This is the real deal — make sure you do it, and effectively.
2. Stay Informed: Don’t Be a Stranger!
Don’t live in a small Amazon bubble of your own making, when there are mountains of resources out in the world to guide you, and in fact warn you, of incoming threats.
Not so savvy on social media? Just like having your best writer draft your correspondence to Seller Performance or Product Quality, make sure someone in your Amazon account management circle pays attention to policy warnings that other sellers receive, instead of disregarding any actions that don’t happen to you.
What happens to someone else in your category today could happen to you tomorrow, so stay active in Facebook groups or email newsletters containing updated info in what teams like Product Quality are doing.
I understand that Amazon often appears to operate with impunity and turn on a dime, but that is NOT always the case. Frequently, sellers contacting me indicate that they had no idea a certain brewing storm that led to their account suspension approached weeks in advance and came as no surprise to informed sellers.
In 2019, notably sellers suspended for product review abuse or Notice Claims of infringement often told me they had no idea what they had practised might turn into restrictions. In our world, both of these matters were visible for months out. Many of those suspensions could have been prevented.
3. Pull any problematic products!
For the ever-common “inauthentic” warnings, don’t blame buyers or competitors and assume it will all go away with a simple email to Amazon, invoice attached, pointing out how many sales you had without bad feedback or claims.
Don’t cling to selling something that attracts the ire of your customers on a regular basis, leading to listing removals, warnings, and further scrutiny of your Amazon account. When in doubt, throw it out! Especially during Q4, when you can hardly risk having one troubled item pull your entire account down during the season of your highest sales!
If it’s your top-selling listing and you have way too much of it to turn back now, make sure you figure out fast the reasons why people keep complaining about it. What you learn today from a negative buyer experience alert on a listing you still have access to could prevent the permanent revocation of that listing tomorrow! Make a solid risk assessment and value judgment before you simply deny that you could possibly consider deleting a favourite.
Proactive, two-way communication with Amazon is THE most important thing you can do to protect your account. Look at the information they and their customers are giving you in your account and respond accordingly.
Amazon Account Suspension Myths
- Suspensions are waived or less common for Top Sellers.
MYTH — Big sellers can be suspended too.
- Amazon tells you the reason(s) why they suspended you.
MYTH — Amazon’s Product Quality team will only give you the ASIN tied to the problematic order, not the order number.
- Suspensions happen because you ignored warnings.
MYTH — Suspensions often happen even if you heed warnings. However, ignoring any warning is likely to increase the chances of your seller account landing in the sin bin.
- Suspensions are rare.
MYTH — The number of account suspensions is unlikely to decrease in the near future. All sellers need to be vigilant when it comes to inventory accuracy.
Read the full blog post on WebRetailer.
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