Amazon sellers ask me quite a bit these days how they can protect themselves from a holiday season suspension. With marketplace account suspensions by policy teams already way up in 2015, November and December represent the worst time to face the uncertainty from Amazon’s account reviews. You don’t want to spend your time writing appeals to Amazon’s Product Quality team when you should be busy managing sales. They may take a long time to answer you and when they do, the quality of that reply may be sorely lacking.
Amazon has suspended countless marketplace accounts this year, more often than not for policy reasons. I haven’t seen any signs that the Product Quality teams can handle an email backlog that currently counts response time in weeks, not days. Most sellers lose large chunks of valuable selling time while waiting for a reply. When it arrives, the message frequently contains generic information and indicates that no one on the Amazon side truly read and understood the Plan of Action submitted. To stall for time and delay meaningful decisions, their investigators default to asking for more information, even if what they request matches what you just sent in. Then you have to start all over again.
Given the sheer quantity of account suspensions, sellers must take preemptive, self-protective measures. Most sellers have come to understand that monitoring metrics and keeping your account healthy is a mandatory starting point when it comes to selling on Amazon.
Remedy immediately any causes of excessive cancellation of orders, increased buyer negative feedback and late shipments (or marking orders as shipped when they have not yet gone out) to prevent permanent damage to your selling reputation. Seller Performance teams zero in on sellers who miss the metric targets because shipping on time, not canceling orders due to lack of inventory, and receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback are considered essential to success on Amazon. Holiday peak is not the time to experiment with sales you might not be able to complete in an efficient, timely manner.
If you are suspended by Product Quality, you need to finish a self-completed account review as soon as possible. This team struggles to cope with a high volume of appeals from sellers with suspended accounts and/or suspended ASINs that cost them thousands in sales each day. Once suspended, it will feel like an eternity passes while you wait for a response. Make sure you compose a thorough Plan of Action based on your internal account findings to give your appeal the best chance of success. Remember that investigators often churn through several emails per hour by simply answering that they need more information from you.
Do not write an appeal to this team that emphasizes your devotion to Amazon or criticizes Product Quality processes, no matter how valid your complaints may be. Keep in mind: that buyer complaints about items they receive turn into auto-warnings for item quality. Enough of those will lead straight to an account review and potential suspension if you have taken no steps to address what went wrong.
DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!
In the current climate where item quality warnings quickly develop into suspensions, each seller must maintain a heightened vigilance level in terms of policy compliance. Never rest on your laurels when it comes to your Amazon account. Here’s I have completed a short list of questions to ask yourself to reduce the odds of attracting unwanted Amazon policy team attention this holiday season.
- Do you get back to your buyers ASAP when they report order problems of any nature to you? Buyers may complain directly to Amazon if they’re unhappy and you fail to respond quickly. This includes weekends and normal “off hours” from business
- Did you respond in detail when Product Quality warned you for a potential policy violation? Once you’ve ascertained why your buyer complained about item quality, you must email and ask Amazon to annotate your account that you’ve taken serious steps to resolve the matter
- Did you make sure you submit quality, professional, easy to read, and detailed invoices without missing information? Lapses here will make it a lot harder to have your invoices approved. If rejected, you won’t be able to list against those ASINS again
- Do you have any problems with commingled FBA inventory leading to buyer complaints and automated warnings for an item that is another seller’s, not yours? Do you have any warnings from “resellable inventory” from the FBA repackaging programs? These can lead to buyer complaints about item authenticity or condition and warnings will multiply. Make sure FBA only has stickered or labeled inventory of yours
- If you’re “piggybacking” on already created listings, does your item match 100% to what the product detail page says? Are there any variances that could be reported by buyers as material differences between the item listed and the product they received?
- If you sell consumables, are there any items sitting in FBA warehouses that are nearing their expiration date? If so, have you put in Removal Orders for those products?
If Amazon suspends your account despite all preventive measures, conduct a thorough review, not just of the ASINs cited in previous policy warnings, but of everything. You should analyze thoroughly all of your operations and anything that could have gone wrong with Amazon orders. You will need a solid Plan of Action identifying the reasons that buyers complained about the quality of your products. Specify solutions to these problems with details and a proper strategy for implementation of new steps. Anything less than this could keep you in an interminable and unclear email loop for a long time.