Why Me? What Does Seller Performance Want with Me?
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Chris McCabe, founder of ecommerceChris, LLC.
Sometimes, it can feel like an Amazon account suspension comes out of nowhere. But in our experience, clues are often present before your account is shut down.
So if you’re wondering why Amazon has a sudden interest in your account and why you had your active status was suddenly revoked, continue reading to see what our experience has taught us:
Guilty Before Proven Innocent
Investigators don’t vet buyer complaints at a high level before taking strong enforcement actions. Many times Amazon merchants reach out for assistance after their accounts were suspended, claiming that they do not know why the suspension happened.
What often happens is that Amazon sellers read out the first few lines of the suspension notification but are still confused as to why it happened. I hear things like “Well they said I sold inauthentic items, but everything I sell is 100% genuine” or “we don’t have any complaints on the account, and there’s no bad feedback, so this must be a competitor or buyers looking for free shipping” and so forth.
What Were the Warning Signs?
If Amazon suspects that the quality of your inventory, the verifiability of your sourcing, or the accuracy of your listing raises concerns, they prefer to suspend you now to prevent threats to future buyer experiences. What does that mean for you? Where do you look? While account suspension root causes vary, start in Seller Central.
I’ve outlined two use cases that cover the most common Amazon seller suspension scenarios.
Amazon sent you multiple policy warnings for scattered item quality issues, or “different item” complaints from buyers led to warnings of “not as described” or “inauthentic.” You may not think about it much if you lose a few ASINs and they weren’t listings that you cared about anyway, and you may not even notice the loss of a few slower-selling items. But believe me, Amazon notices. Unresolved performance notifications that you haven’t countered often culminate in messaging that cites all of those ASINs in bulk when you receive that suspension notification.
Have you accrued warnings over time for inauthentic items? Make sure your supplier documentation and verifiable links to their websites are ready to send in.
Did you track buyer complaints for “Used Sold as New” items? Make sure you’ve opted out of resellable inventory or repackaging programs and identified any insufficient packaging.
Amazon Notice teams came out of nowhere to strike you down for claims of infringement? Have an intellectual claim prevention strategy ready to execute. Also be able to identify reliable legal help, as needed, in case Amazon actioned notice forms from parties other than the true rights owners.
The fact that you had no plans to list or sell those items anymore won’t stop the account suspension. In fact, for sellers who don’t respond to so-called hard blocked listings, it means that Amazon has no idea whether or not you were even aware of these listing blocks. You may have thought you wouldn’t face suspension given the relatively small percentage of problem orders associated with those ASINs. Time and experience tell us how wrong this perspective is.
Our expert recommendation: Whether you are a Private Label seller who wants to abandon a poorly conceived or weak selling product, or a reseller ditching brands that attract too much trouble, don’t assume Amazon can read your mind. Review your account the right way, and craft meaningful correspondence back to the Seller Performance, Notice, or Product Quality teams that took your listings away. Failure to do so will categorize you as a risk and will increase the chances of suspension.
Amazon often suspends accounts for violations of their policies. We talked to numerous sellers that had no idea that they were violating listing or behavioral policies until they received the notification indicating they could lose entire selling privileges due to them.
All of the below points need to be prioritized anytime you list a product.
Do you know them all? Do you abide by them all?
- ASIN variation misuse. If you are a reseller, are you listing against correctly created variations? If you have a Private Label or are a reseller adding new ASINs to the catalog, do you know how to create variations using proper criteria within your category? Are you creating child ASINs based on the Parent and not another child ASIN?
- Do your products 100% match their detail pages?
- Are you getting your UPCs directly from GS1 for your private label products, and listing with the correct UPC for other brands?
- Does it match the GS1 database?
- Do your images comply with the category specific policy?
- Are your listing titles free from non-compliant language (“compared to” or “inspired by”)
What other policy violations frequently result in account suspensions?
- Product reviews solicited improperly. This is a significant issue, and some sellers have no intention to follow these rules from the beginning. Others join courses or follow “gurus” who guide them into danger with recklessly aggressive tactics geared toward only accruing positive reviews.
- Multiple accounts are prohibited unless you have a proven business need for multiple accounts. According to Amazon, “Operating and maintaining multiple Seller Central accounts is prohibited. If you have a legitimate business need for a second account, you can apply for an exception to this policy.” That means don’t just decide on your own that you need one, deserve one, or meet their criteria. You have to complete a request by following the right procedure, and only if approved, set up a second account.
Assign an internal staff member or better yet, a dedicated manager who will cover all aspects of compliance, including obedience to all internal protocols that are policy-related. Make sure they keep up on all updates and embed into their role the need to stay on top of Seller Performance, legal and policy enforcement trends.
Lightning can strike at any time, so the best thing you can do is to be prepared. Are you prepared in any way for a stoppage of sales on Amazon? What can you do to prevent this, or at least limit the damage? Are you going to be wiped out if you’re off the site for only a couple of weeks or do you have a failsafe plan, a contingency to prevent all-out desperate actions the moment you become aware?
Make sure you have a backup plan ready in case of Amazon unjustly suspends your account.
Chris McCabe was formerly an Investigation Specialist for Amazon’s Seller Performance team. He founded ecommerceChris, LLC, the first company founded by a former Amazonian, explicitly designed to help suspended marketplace sellers get reinstated.