In a Wall Street Journal interview, Amazon VP Tom Taylor noted, “Sellers report an average 50% increase in sales when they join Amazon’s marketplace and use its storage and shipping service.”
Amazon is a profitable channel for retailers, both on and offline–a paradigm Amazon sellers acknowledge, and one which necessitates they follow Amazon’s very specific guidelines.
For sellers who don’t follow Amazon’s rules, Amazon isn’t shy about suspending accounts.
In fact, Amazon representatives will openly note that Amazon has many automatic triggers which suspend seller accounts.
Amazon sellers are suspended regularly, with little hope for sellers who have been flagged (correctly or no) by Amazon.
And Amazon.com sellers are so hardened by the regularity, that you’ll find very little sympathy for impacted retailers on the Amazon support forum. Responses are rather brutal:
For Amazon sellers who have been suspended on the marketplace, a significant amount of marketing profit is at stake, and there’s not much of a positive outlook for getting reinstated on Amazon.
While there may not be a magic bullet to reinstate products on Amazon once a seller has been suspended- there are impactful steps retailers can take to address Amazon’s concerns, and potentially get back to selling on the marketplace.
1) Investigate Amazon’s Reasons for Suspension
Amazon will inform you of the cause for your suspension, but it may not always be overtly clear how your account violated Amazon policies, not to mention Amazon’s language is typically fairly technical. Preview your Seller Central to identify any areas Amazon might be flagging.
Below are the top reasons Amazon suspends seller accounts.
Poor Seller Performance
Amazon is pretty tight on its seller performance metrics. If you score low for customer feedback, cancel too many orders, or don’t have timely shipping, Amazon is likely to suspend your seller account.
“Amazon has been increasingly enforcing their product content policy as it pertains to titles, images, back-end search terms, bullet points, and descriptions. We’ve seen this in the form of both ASIN suspensions and, if violations persist, full account suspensions,” says Pat Petriello, Senior Marketplace Strategist at CPC Strategy.
Ensure your seller performance goals consistently hit or exceed Amazon’s minimum targets:
- Order defect rate: < 1%
- Pre-fulfilment cancel rate: < 2.5%
- Late shipment rate: < 4%
Seller Policy Violation
Ideally, Amazon sellers should thoroughly understand Amazon requirements before signing up to sell, and regularly audit product information to ensure Amazon’s requirements aren’t being violated (and or they haven’t changed).
Amazon sellers should regularly:
- Audit product information to ensure it matches Amazon’s policies
- Become familiar with Amazon policies & agreements (you’ve agreed to them after all)
- Follow Amazon news to make sure Amazon hasn’t updated any requirements
If you’re familiar with all of Amazon’s rules, it’s easier to avoid breaking them, and you’ll have more wiggle room to negotiate when you’re suspended.
Selling/Displaying Restricted Products
Amazon has strict rules for a reason- to maintain high quality for product information and inventory. Restricted products are identified by Amazon to ensure customer’s aren’t seeing products which don’t align with Amazon’s ideals.
Similar to Amazon policies, it’s crucial to preemptively ensure you’re not listing restricted products in your product information. Amazon goes so far as to encourages other sellers to report violations:
“Amazon encourages you to report listings that violate Amazon’s policies or applicable law by using our Contact Us form (select “Report a violation of our rules” and include all relevant information). “- Amazon
We’ve seen that Amazon can get a tad over-zealous when flagging restricted products, a trend associated with health products (among other categories) where items are incorrectly flagged. In this case, it’s crucial to stay on top of your Amazon account to catch notices quickly and contact Amazon support as soon as possible.
2) Appeal the Suspension
Amazon encourages sellers to appeal a suspension, which you can do within Amazon Seller Central (Seller Central>Performance> Performance Notifications> location suspension notice> Appeal.
Outline your appeal before you contact Amazon.
What You Need to Appeal an Amazon Suspension
- Recovery ‘Plan’ that denotes how your store will address Amazon’s identified issue. Consider Amazon plan of action examples here before you send yours:
- Clear, tangible steps which you or your store will take, and how they will prevent similar issues from happening in the future.
- Consider sandwiching in some of your positive store attributes on Amazon to highlight its value to the marketplace.
Amazon’s suspension reply can often take up to 48 hours, but you can also follow up with CPC’s tested secret suspension step to increase your likelihood of getting reinstated.
A word of advice from Jeff Coleman, VP of Marketplace Channels at CPC Strategy:
“When making your case to Amazon for account reinstatement, don’t get defensive or accusatory, and don’t treat the person on the other end of the line as if they’re the cause of your problem. They’re just another person responding to your request, so get them on your side. Explain what happened and share what steps you’re going to take to correct the issue so it doesn’t happen again. In other words, give that person a reason to support you.”
3) Amazon Suspension Appeal Secret Step
On top of appealing to the suspension within Seller Central, the seller can email a formal plan of action to firstname.lastname@example.org which appeals to Amazon’s TRMS (Transaction Risk Management Team).
You can read more about the perfect Plan of Action in our recent interview with an Amazon seller’s lawyer.
The Plan of Action should:
- Be on formal letterhead
- Mention if the seller is working with a Solutions Integrator for inventory feeds, etc.
- Identify the issue as to the original block
- Outline all the quality processes the seller has in place now and will have in place on Amazon to ensure a good user experience
- Be positive and professional in tone
While we’ve seen significant success with this third step, it is not a guaranteed solution and does not always ensure Account reinstatement.
At the end of the day, every seller should focus on adhering to Amazon’s brand policies, reminds Coleman:
“Amazon’s primary motivation is to do what’s in the customer’s best interest. There are thousands of policies that can be difficult to interpret, or even remember, but if you evaluate your actions based on whether or not they’re in the customer’s best interest, you’ll always be on the ‘right side of the law’.”