Earlier this week we published Part 1 of an article from our partner ecomdash addressing the first four deadly sins that online businesses should avoid committing when selling on Amazon. Understanding Amazon’s rules is vital in your ability to successfully sell on the platform. Check out Part 2 below!
5. Submitting Stickerless/Commingled Inventory for FBA
If you use Amazon FBA to fulfill sales orders, you need to be sure your products are identifiable when they enter an Amazon warehouse. This means you need to add a UPC or EAN barcode or an FBA label to every product before shipping. For eligible products, you can also opt for delivering these as stickerless commingled inventory, but there are some risks associated with this option.
Commingled items are stored with the rest of that same product in a warehouse. When fulfilling an order, Amazon will take any item from the pile of products, even if it’s from a different seller. Just because you use a professional supplier doesn’t mean all other sellers of that product will, and you run the risk of being lumped in with counterfeit and subpar goods. If an Amazon employee pulls a faulty product to be sent to your customer, it can reflect poorly on you, even though you did not source that defective item.
If you don’t want to commingle your items, follow these steps to add your own labels:
- Print FBA labels directly from your Seller Central account.
- Cover your original manufacturer’s barcode.
- Make sure other barcodes (aside from your FBA printed label) cannot be scanned.
- Label each item before sending.
- Use only removable white labels.
6. Listing Products with Bad UPCs
A UPC is considered “bad” if it is fraudulent or incorrect. To sell on Amazon, most categories require a valid UPC as a prerequisite to ensure item quality. A quality UPC will be found on the barcode and registered through GS1. You can purchase UPCs or apply for brand registry with Amazon, particularly if you manufacture and sell your own branded product. Also note that UPCs for bundled and single products are different. If you’re unsure, or need to know how to buy a UPC, check GS1 US.
7. Ignoring Amazon Communication Guidelines
Although seemingly simple enough, this policy can be breached without intention. The same rules that apply to brick-and-mortar shops do not exist for e-stores. There is no such thing as a 9-to-5 window of being open for business — customers want to be able to reach you at any time. Here are some things to keep in mind when communicating with buyers:
- Saturdays are included in Amazon’s response time metric. Make sure you check your messages at least once every day.
- Messages responded to within 24 hours receive 50 percent LESS negative feedback.
- When contacting the buyer, make sure you use the buyer-seller messaging system, and reach out only for transactional reasons.
Finally, Ryan was kind enough to share one final kernel of wisdom with us — what to do if you do get suspended?
On occasion, some of ChannelAdvisor’s clients have suffered an Amazon suspension and will call Ryan for help with next steps. Ryan has them follow a strict plan of action, and usually within 48 hours they are back selling on Amazon. Here is what Ryan suggests you do in the unfortunate event of facing an Amazon suspension:
- Fulfill any outstanding orders or open customer service issues. Amazon will automatically cancel pending orders.
- Try to get to the bottom of why you were suspending. Review your product details, seller ratings, customer service process, customer feedback, etc.
- Request an appeal. You can do this by:
- Logging into Seller Central.
- Clicking on performance notification on the Performance link.
- Click appeal button within your suspension.
- Enter your plan of action.
- Your plan of action is your appeal for reinstatement to sell on Amazon. Ryan’s key components of a successful appeal are as follows:
- Professional language (remove all emotion — we understand how hard this is, given the situation).
- Address the issues that led to your suspension.
- Be specific about changes. What will you do in the future to rectify this situation completely?
- Identify areas of improvement. What else can you do to become a better Amazon seller?
- Show investment in your business career at Amazon. Consider signing up with FBA, or showing some other initiative that demonstrates how serious you are about selling successfully in the Amazon marketplace.
- Be exact! When discussing the occurrences that led to your suspension, give Amazon all the details and quantify everything. What was the exact time frame that you neglected a buyer-seller message? How many products ended up being flagged as counterfeit or subpar? Number everything, don’t be vague.
With this knowledge in your ecommerce tool belt, you should be able to steer clear of an Amazon suspension. Before you hit the panic button, know that Amazon will send warnings of policy violations before a suspension, so you will have the opportunity to correct any issues. Many thanks to Ryan Barker for putting this all together; this is great information for Amazon retailers and any ecommerce sellers looking to start selling on Amazon.
For more insight on selling on Amazon, visit our Selling on Online Marketplaces page.