Season 1, Episode 142

Ensure Your Amazon Account is Prime Day Ready

As Prime Day approaches, it’s crucial for sellers to navigate potential pitfalls, compliance issues, and unexpected challenges. In this episode, Chris McCabe and Leah McHugh discuss the critical strategies Amazon sellers must implement ahead of Prime Day, such as how to proactively manage your account health, handle restricted products, and safeguard your listings from competitor attacks.

Show Notes

Transcript

[00:00:03] Chris: Hey everybody, Welcome back to Seller Performance Solutions. I’m Chris McCabe with Leah McHugh, both of ecommerceChris back with another wonderful episode about things to worry about or have anxiety about, or to look forward to quote unquote, when it comes to Prime Day and the types of things which, of course, Prime Day may, for some people, feel very close.

For others, it might feel far away. But, either way, there could be trouble brewing now that will impact you on Prime Day. So we’re trying to use some of this month’s episodes to get people to look at things, That could mushroom into a much larger problem, look at those things now versus down the road or God forbid waiting for account health to just call you randomly.

That was kind of the 1st point I wanted to make or ask you about your clients is I’m hearing from a lot of sellers saying account health called us out of the blue to say they wanted to discuss stuff that. Maybe they had already addressed, like they thought there were unresolved IP complaints that were already off their account out.

Maybe you’ve seen resolved compliance issues that they’ve gotten calls about, but it’s another instance of the right hand, not knowing what the left hand is doing. And a phone call like that just serves one purpose, which is to alarm the business owner. So have you have had the same conversations that I have?

[00:01:19] Leah: I’ve had different ones, actually, because with the restricted products, a lot of people just acknowledge them, and then they’re removed from the account health, and then they get a call from account health saying, we’re suspending your account because you have unresolved restricted products. So a little bit different on my side.

[00:01:32] Chris: Yeah, a couple of people have told me as well, and we don’t have to go down the road of all types of policy violations, code of conduct. Some people have perfect account health and they still get a call from account health reps saying you’ve got unresolved issues and it might just be a policy violation that they haven’t sufficiently addressed, which is interesting because a lot of times they don’t tell you what ASINs it’s around, or they don’t tell you what you did to violate that policy.

So part of getting ready for Prime Day, of course, is scrubbing your account. For unresolved ASIN level issues and complaints and problems, but keep an eye out for policy violation warnings, or even just random references to, we see you may have artificially inflated your product reviews or your positive reviews, or you might be harming another seller.

They never provide examples for what they think you’ve been doing. But unfortunately, some sellers are just kind of like, eh, sounds like this was just a random thing, probably sent an error and they don’t really look into it because there’s no followup. But just because Amazon doesn’t follow up today or tomorrow, like they say they will, we’re going to get back to you within 24 hours.

I know they say that, they may bug you a week or two down the road.

[00:02:47] Leah: Do they still tell you 24 hours? I’d never get told 24 hours. Their like, we’ll get back to you in like 10 days or seven days. I get, I get way longer lead times than the 72 hour that they say.

[00:03:03] Chris: Yeah. The 72 hour language language is still there for you might be suspended your whole account within 72 hours, because those are people who are told you have to address these problems within those three days or you will be suspended. Some are given this 48 hour window, 24 hours. I think where I’m getting the 24 hours is they say, we weren’t able to reach you about XYZ problems. We’re going to try you back in 24 hours.

But yeah, but my main point stands in terms of like, if you’re late June, knock it on the door prime day. That’s the last thing you want is a surprise phone call. And also I’m getting people who are like, they called me at three in the morning. So of course I didn’t answer it. Check your missed calls, just the way you might check your performance notifications, but bottom line, don’t let things fester.

Some of the work you do with people around compliance, they can’t do anything until they have the compliance documentation in their possession. Right? So they can’t react right away.

[00:04:10] Leah: Well, I mean, ideally, we should have that documentation before Amazon warns you about needing it, because usually there are legal requirements.

But yeah, sometimes they do ask for additional testing on things. And those testing do take time and aren’t always. Like mandatory legally. So, so yeah, I mean, certainly some of those, you can’t really rush. I will say they have gotten a little bit better on giving you lead time for those. As opposed to just taking down the ASIN and then requesting something that takes like six weeks to complete.

[00:04:38] Chris: Exactly. So we’re six weeks from prime day, maybe less. So like, think about that now and I’ll tell you why, a lot of competitors I think have figured out. That they can at least attempt to poke Amazon and say, wait a minute, do they have compliance documentation? Are these products compliant?

Sometimes that will result in Amazon asking you when they otherwise wouldn’t have asked you. And of course, if you have all your documentation, your competitor loses because they didn’t really get anything out of it and they just wasted their time. But they’re willing to try it on the off chance that you don’t have it altogether.

[00:05:14] Leah: Yeah. Or they add information to your listing that implies that it needs something that it doesn’t necessarily need. I would be keeping a very close eye on things like age ranges on detail pages for products, because there is a lot of scrutiny right now around baby and toddler products.

You don’t want your listing to look like it’s for babies or toddlers when it’s not actually allowed to be sold to babies or toddlers, also lots of keyword information you want to be looking at. You don’t want to have information in your listing that could make Amazon think that it’s something else.

And that includes saying that your product is not something. So I do still see listings get flagged as a pesticide because it says that it does not contain pesticides or that they don’t use pesticides in the making of the products, so take a very close look at your listing content, including images as well.

Amazon is getting better at. Scanning information and images with their AI. Make sure that there’s nothing in there that could get you flagged because the last thing you want is trying to resolve that around Prime Day. And also keep an eye on listing contributions and make sure no one’s adding stuff that could get you flagged because that’s still an abuse tactic that we see all the time.

[00:06:22] Chris: We’ve had a lot of questions, which tools should I use? You’re kind of better on the tools side than I am, but for changes, ASIN contributions, for changes to detail pages, You do have to really stay on top of it because again, competitors will try to make adjustments to your ASIN contributions just to see if you’re on the ball and just to see, you know, if they can get anything out of it, because if you’re slow to respond or react or do anything, then that tells them you’re a worthwhile target for more abuse.

[00:06:57] Leah: Yeah, it just shows them that they can do things without you noticing or without you taking action. And that’s usually what we see. We’ll see a small change made to a listing and it’s usually not anything particularly bad. It’ll just be them testing to see if you do anything about it and then they’ll come back and either add a piece of words or try to hijack the listing.

So definitely recommend using some sort of alert software to let you know if there are changes to any of your detail pages, especially in the lead up to peak sales periods, like Prime Day.

[00:07:27] Chris: And product dimensions. Keep an eye on those.

[00:07:30] Leah: Especially with all the new fees.

[00:07:31] Chris: Yeahh. People trying to push your inventory into the oversized category by making your product, changing the product dimensions. To make your product, you know, bigger to make it cost you more.

The bottom line is you have to keep an eye on all that stuff. I mean, my suggestion was going to be designate an employee. If you’re working with an agency, make sure the agency designates a specific person to keep an eye on this stuff. For the next, four or five weeks, because yes, in some cases they’re going to wait right before prime day and then unload all this stuff on you.

But consider these weeks, trial weeks, they’re going to stress test you with, did they notice this? Did they notice that? Can we buy from them and report the item for defects or for not being as described or being defective in some way or anything that would force Amazon to come to you and say, Hey, Inspect your inventory better or check your detail page.

Make sure there aren’t mistakes. Now is the time to do that. Right? We’re weeks and weeks before prime day, not months away, but we’re weeks away. So this is the time to sort of, I would say, make an initial assessment of, has anyone already started doing this to me? And have I kind of just not noticed because we open cases or we bug our account manager and we get it fixed quickly?

And does that tip their hand in terms of what they might try when you’re closer to

[00:09:06] Leah: yeah, and something that I’m expecting to see this year. And I’m always reticent to say it because I don’t want to give people ideas. But something that I’m interested to see this year is people taking advantage of the high pricing error.

Because all you need is somebody selling your price lower off Amazon than on Amazon for you to lose the buy box. And there are plenty of marketplaces online where people can easily list your products for a lower price. So make sure you’re keeping an eye off Amazon as well for anything like that that could cause you to lose the buy box during a peak sales period.

Distribution control is more important than ever.

[00:09:42] Chris: Oh, of course, of course. Lots of people are selling products that they say they’ve sourced from the brand. Maybe they’re counterfeit. You got to do a test buy, but I’ve seen a lot of brands getting accused of submitting too many unsubstantiated IP claims.

That’s a big thing. Again, this is a terrible time of year to be told that you can’t report anyone for intellectual property violations.

[00:10:08] Leah: or lose your entire brand registry,Which is usually what happens.

[00:10:11] Chris: One of three things. You either lose your ability to report intellectual property violations, you lose brand registry, or you lose your whole account for abuse.

So people are out there pulling these tricks, expecting you to slip up and to over accuse them so that they can report you for that kind of abuse. That’s somebody baiting a hook and waiting for you to bite. So this is not the right time of year. There’s no good time of year, but especially now, heading right into prime day, this is not the time to start making lots of mistakes around reporting unauthorized sellers.

[00:10:46] Leah: Let’s just make it clear. Amazon doesn’t care about unauthorized sellers on Amazon. You can’t report unauthorized sellers on Amazon, an unauthorized seller doesn’t constitute an infringement claim and reporting it as such on Amazon can lose you brand registry for that brand.

And also access to brand registry for any future brands you would like to register.

[00:11:10] Chris: Or other brands. Weren’t we just talking to somebody today where multiple brands were impacted because they were submitting–

[00:11:17] Leah: One brand gets revoked from brand registry any brand that you’re associated with gets flagged as abusive and if you try to Enroll a new brand it’ll get flagged as abusive and they won’t give you brand registry.

So infringement claims are only for confirmed infringement. If you know it’s a counterfeit product or somebody is using your trademark, improperly on a totally different product or a totally different listing. That is IP infringement. Unauthorized resellers are not infringing on your IP on Amazon so aren’t reported to Amazon as that.

[00:11:49] Chris: 2024 seems to be the year that Amazon’s really just slamming their foot down on this whole thing of we have listing hijackers. We have to kill them. We’re going to report them for counterfeit or for this or for that. That’s also not what listing hijacking is, first of all, that term, every time you use the word hijacking improperly to Amazon, you’re only making matters worse.

You should be using Amazon’s definition for listing hijacking, which is I took over your detail page, changed the content, change the photos, the images. So on and so forth. I hijacked, I took over your page, resellers are not hijackers. So that misnomer is just creating more confusion. And more brand pain. And I think that’s kind of enough pain for one episode.

We’ve discussed so many things that can go wrong for Prime Day. We’re aware that things can go very right on Prime Day, by the way.

[00:12:43] Leah: We have given solutions also.

[00:12:46] Chris: But we’ve talked about so many storm clouds and we will be using and sharing on future episodes this month of June into July.

Trends and examples that we’re seeing. We’re not quite there yet.

[00:12:59] Leah: No, they usually don’t start this early cause it gives you too much time to fix it.

[00:13:02] Chris: Right, right. But as the month progresses, I think people are going to be stress testing and sending up trial balloons to see what works and what doesn’t.

So be vigilant. Keep your eyes out and on this stuff. See anything weird that you don’t understand. Always ask Leah before you ask me.

[00:13:20] Leah: Yep. And then tune in as in the lead up to prime day, as Chris and I look progressively more and more tired.

[00:13:25] Chris: More and more saddened and discouraged by the evolution of Amazon’s failure to understand common black hat trends and competitor attacks and techniques.

So thanks for listening again. We will be back at you soon. Thanks, Leah.

Hosts & Guests

Leah McHugh

Chris McCabe

 

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