Your worst nightmare just hit—Amazon suspended your account. The reason? Late shipments above the tolerated four percent threshold. Your knee jerk reaction might be to fire off a series of emails or phone calls to seller support. Don’t—this will do nothing to help your cause and prolong your time in suspension, resulting in lost sales.
Instead, you need to proceed with your appeal in a precise and measured manner. While it’s understandable that you’re upset—this is your livelihood—Amazon doesn’t want to hear it. This isn’t a time to play the blame game and it’s not a time for lengthy, unprofessional or emotional letters to seller performance. You need to think things through and follow our tried-and-true prescription for appealing your late shipment suspension.
Identify the root causes
There may be one or more root causes behind your late shipment suspension, and Amazon wants you to identify and address these in your appeal. It could be human failure, tech failure, or a combination of both.
Perhaps you weren’t paying close enough attention and your software let you down. Tell Amazon this in very specific terms, owning the fault, not passing the buck to the software. Why weren’t you monitoring it as you should have been? Explain this to Amazon.
This was the recent case for one seller who told Amazon that “due to technical problems, we failed to confirm the shipment of some orders on time.” The seller went on to include specific steps in his POA, including “We have trained and assigned one staff member on our software to specifically check and update order status at the end of each business day. Additionally, he will mark the shipped orders correctly with tracking numbers and time of shipment.”
In some cases, root causes fall into the category of human failure. Did you confirm a shipment as on-time in Seller Central when you weren’t going to make that target date? Stick to the facts, don’t inflate the circumstances, and tell Amazon why you chose this strategy. Then explain why this approach failed in clear, concise terms.
An example: One seller received a late shipment suspension because she makes her products by hand, and fell behind in production waiting on raw materials. In writing her POA, she hit on several good solutions, but failed to address a plan for additional handling time. Amazon rejected her POA. On her second attempt, however, she included a plan that would add a few days cushion to her production and shipping promises, and Amazon reinstated her.
What if your suppliers gave you tracking numbers late in the game? Explain to Amazon exactly how you are correcting this problem with these suppliers so that it won’t happen again.
Keep in mind that, in going through this process, you’re not only helping your case with Amazon, but helping your bottom line. In the end, your time spent working on your late shipment appeal will benefit your operations and sales in the long run.
Write the right plan of action (POA)
Your goal in writing a POA is to get reinstated as quickly as possible so that you can get back to selling. At the same time, don’t just run to your keyboard, whip up your response and then hit the “appeal” button. Take a deep breath and then put some thought into how you are going to write your POA.
Know that clear, specific terms are essential- leave out any filler language. The last thing you want to do is write a long, overly verbose POA. Seller Performance Investigators don’t have the time for this and will reject your POA out of hand. Aim for one page, no more.
Start with a short and targeted introductory paragraph that sets the stage for what’s to come. A couple of sentences will fit the bill here.
Go right into the root causes from there. If Amazon doesn’t see that you understand the root causes, it won’t then buy your solutions to correct the problems. Identify to Amazon what each root cause is, offering a short analysis of what went wrong. Again, be willing to take responsibility for the situation in each instance. Tell Amazon how you are addressing each complaint. If Amazon doesn’t find your argument satisfactory, they will dismiss your appeal. Use bullet points to separate out each item you are addressing to keep your POA organized and to the point.
After you have identified your root causes, what actions you completed to fix the issue? How have you fixed the immediate problem, and how have you made it up to the customers that were impacted?. Again, use bulleted or numbered points for each step you have taken.
Next, spell out your plan of attack. What contingencies have you put in place to ensure the late shipment situation does not arise again? Amazon needs to understand you have implemented solutions to the problems, not just made a plan for if this happens again
Wrap it all up with a final closing paragraph that sums up in a few sentences your grasp of the issues, your understanding of responsibility, and your commitment to fixing the problems.
Final steps to stay on the right side of late shipment rules
Above all else, when writing a POA, you don’t want to wander from your script. Don’t blame Amazon’s processes for the situation. Don’t add in extraneous information or opinions. Don’t blame buyers for your situation. Amazon wants to see your professionalism and grasp of the situation.
Amazon has firmly established selling principles, and a commitment to on-time shipment stands as one of the most important. Understanding the root causes for your late shipments, whether human or technical in nature, is key, as is demonstrating that understanding to Amazon. No matter the size of your operation, when you sell on Amazon, you serve as an extension of its operations and it expects you to live up to its standards.
If your appeal is successful and Amazon reinstates you, live up to the promises you made in your plan of action. Train your team on the changes it needs to implement and be prepared to follow through with these changes. Remember, these steps toward improvement will help you with long-term sales, making the effort more than worth your while. Your goal should be to stay below the four percent late shipment rate so that it’s never again a cause for suspension.