Being a seller at a big online marketplace such as Amazon is no cakewalk. You worry about account suspension and staying compliant with their Terms of Service because you know very well that a blocked listing will eat your profits. In this article, I will teach you how to approach the whole process with ease and hopefully lead you to find effective solutions.
A truly valuable piece of advice I learned practicing e-commerce is to be astutely aware of the early warning signs present before the Amazon account gets suspended. Account suspension is preventable and a smart online seller will aim to avoid it from happening in the first place. A highly efficient seller will diligently sift through the myriad of misconceptions and misinformation in seller forums or groups to gather real intelligence about how Amazon works internally.
The right approach when your account has already been suspended is to take things from an individual strategy perspective rather than abiding by a cookie-cutter approach because there is a lot of apples and oranges type of situation going on in each seller’s account.
Amazon Sellers' Common Mistakes
Note that when a seller's account is being suspended or being considered for suspension, usually there has been a warning in the past. What the Amazon team does, is look at all these previous warnings and conduct a review on whether or not you made patent changes or have responded with them since you received it. One of the most common blunders amongst sellers is when warning signs are missed because people think the messages from Amazon are just bots. This cannot be farther from the truth. As a matter of fact, the warning signs can actually give you a clue how close you are to an actual account suspension and the perfect counter for that is to give it the attention it deserves.
Another type of common mistake is when sellers grab and copy-paste generic templates on their Plan of Action (POA) letter of appeal. I want to put a strong emphasis on this one. Sellers must keep in mind that they are being evaluated based on their individual seller behavior in terms of past policy violations, account history, and type of product they sell. The letter of appeal with the corresponding plan of action should directly address the issues stated in the warnings. Amazon evaluation teams are fairly straightforward on policy-related suspensions. For instance, in performance suspension, your metrics on the site have to be in range as often as possible. If your late shipment metric is over 4%, you can just be auto-suspended as opposed to an auto-warning for the rest of the year.
In the present Amazon marketplace climate, an innocent violation or minor infraction is treated as if it is a major infraction. They are much more aggressive in policing. Putting content in the title that doesn’t belong there such as “Apple compatible” is a common violation because it is treated as trademark infringement in terms of intellectual property and may even lead to lightning bolt suspension.
Product Safety Complaints
Another big thing on Amazon right now is product safety complaints. As it is, there have been few initiatives of policy enforcement in Amazon for the prevention of future safety complaints because they want to polish the image of the marketplace. If you get enough product safety complaints, your entire account can get suspended. If Amazon thinks that by suspending you now, it will save them a lot of work from a liability standpoint in the long run, they are more likely to do it because product safety complaints hurt the integrity of the marketplace.
Counterfeits or inauthentic items inside the Amazon doesn’t mean what it means in a typical layman term. For Amazon, it is a catch-all term in a way that sometimes, even a packaging upgrade can be construed by the buyer as a knock-off item if it wasn’t corrected on the product detail page. The seller might feel they are being accused of selling counterfeits even if they are not and this can cause unmerited negative product reviews. A good countermeasure is to get authenticity letters from the brand suppliers.
Rules of thumb on writing your Appeal Letter to Amazon
Before you hit the Appeal button at the Seller's central page, here are some few things worth keeping in mind:
- Learn how to take a step back and not cave into a knee-jerk reaction that competitors are out to sabotage you, that buyers simply want free return shipping, or just doesn't understand the product because this mindset won't help you. Instead, handle it with a mature approach and regard the Appeal process as an opportunity for you to study the reason/s for your suspension. Ask yourself, “Is it performance or is it policy?” and move on from there.
- In drafting your appeal, it is essential to omit any extraneous information like emotion because you could easily lose your audience. Amazon evaluators are already numb to these things. Instead, what they want to see is a proactive plan of action and measures to see if you have understood the underlying causes that got you suspended, to begin with.
- The Letter of Appeal is your opportunity to prove to them that you have an actual prevention plan for future complaints. Whether or not you had cleared yourself of past complaints is water under the bridge as far as Amazon is concerned. They will not reinstate you if they think that your plan of action is weak and will not prevent future complaints.
- If you are countering the warning messages from Amazon one at a time, you reduce the odds of the algorithm catching up with you. It becomes a risk assessment practice that will help protect your account overall.
- Ensure that the ideal solution you present to Amazon is something you can actually deliver. Over promising and under delivering is a really bad idea in a plan of action because if you get a complaint next month, you are more likely to get suspended.
- The Amazon team evaluates your appeal based on the credibility of what you present and you have to remember that they do not have a standard response time policy.
- The evaluators would not want to reinstate you prematurely because they can be audited for “bad reinstatement on a weak plan of action.”
- A good plan of action must have information that talks about processes, such as new quality control and inspection methods, new item quality assessments, and performance tests that are being observed on an ownership level and being audited on a managerial level.
- They are looking for a detailed due diligence quality control.
Finally, bear in mind that Amazon thinks in terms of which market players are going to be worth their time, who can double or triple the revenue year after year because Amazon is a hot marketplace. The key element to remain competitive in this tough environment is to remember that account suspension is preventable if you are willing to learn how to tackle the warning signs as they come and create a solid plan of action with proactive measures in place.
Do you have a personal experience with Amazon account suspension and/or reinstatement? Please comment down below. We would love to hear from you!