Amazon Suspension is feared by every seller. It’s a daunting prospect to have your sales stopped and funds held. It often feels unjust, unfair or absurd.
Amazon’s net for catching policy and performance violations has tightened over the last few years and it’s increasingly hard to tip-toe past Amazon’s detection systems.
Not to mention, many sellers are suspended and say, “but I’ve done nothing wrong” and continue this plea in their correspondence to Amazon.
In this changeable, complicated and unusual landscape, what are we to do? How should a seller avoid suspension? How can we be in the best position to get reinstated, if we are suspended?
Firstly, we need to consider Amazon’s motive, the overall ‘spirit’ of their policies and processes; so that we might interpret them correctly.
Amazon’s primary focus is their customer. It is important to realise that the buyers on Amazon are Amazon’s customers, not yours. They have subscriptions for Prime Delivery, Video & Music and Alexa listening in their bedrooms and talking to their children. Amazon acquires the customers, gathers data on them, maintains them and offers them products, which among other things, is you. You, the seller, are one of their products.
As a result, when Amazon thinks about how it can put its customer first, they prioritise the quality of their product, the standardisation, the reliability, the entire experience of the customer. Not to mention the legal and compliance issues associated with the sale of the product. And just like when you may choose to discontinue a troublesome or low-quality product, Amazon removes 3rd party sellers from the marketplace.
Therefore, when we think of the spirit with which Amazon are making decisions about reinstating sellers, setting policies and choosing metrics, they’re thinking of you as a product and they only want the highest quality products – the system is designed to cut the bottom % of sellers, those that bring risk to Amazon’s customers.
Now we’ve considered how Amazon think about this situation, let’s uncover what sellers can do to be the most appealing ‘product’ for Amazon; to remain out the relegation zone.
Ultimately, it’s an issue of compliance. Amazon have hundreds of pages of policies, more than 70 different policies, guides and rules for each marketplace country. As per your Business Solutions Agreement with Amazon, you must comply with all these policies. If you fail to do so, Amazon may remove you from the marketplace and may also hold your funds, if they suspect you’ve been involved in certain practices. Therefore, the best way to be the most appealing product is to be 100% compliant with their policies.
That’s easier said than done. The polices are complex, broad and effect in every business area, plus, change often and without much warning. However, here’s a few general areas that sellers often slip up on.
Firstly, deliver on your promises. Amazon is trusted because they consistently deliver on their promises and you need to do the same. This means on-time delivery, high quality products and accurate detail pages. Take time to build a review process into your routines to check your products, your listings and your orders. It’s easy to spot a big issue, but it’s too late at that point. The ‘Voice of the Customer’ is a very helpful new tool from Amazon to identify early problematic products and read customers comments. Use this and make changes, don’t just ignore it.
Secondly, don’t rely on others without agreement. Many sellers use drop shipping, purchase stock only after sale or rely on retailers to have stock of an item. It’s 100% your responsibility to deliver the item you offer, and this means you are responsible for having authentic stock, supply chain documentation, agreements for fulfilling orders etc. While you may currently be able to get by and fulfil orders without issue, if you make a mistake and have not put in place appropriate protections, Amazon will not receive your pleas for reinstatement kindly.
Thirdly, scale all aspects of your business as you grow. What might be reasonable and practical for a small seller, may be impossible for a big seller to do. As sellers sell more, often their time, resources and attention becomes split between more and more brands, products and tasks. Accounting, auditing, procedure and policy need to grow in their breadth, depth and intricacy as a seller gets bigger – but far too often they are not scaled at the same rate as the marketing or warehouse staff. To maintain growth, you can’t cut corners, but need to build sustainably.
Storfund has the ability to solve some of these challenges of scale, supporting cashflow, especially during times of growth.
Finally, there’s so, so many more areas of policy, compliance and issues that affect sellers. If you want support to identify which policies you may be violating and understanding how to comply, consider having an account audit completed: https://www.suspensionexperts.com