An Amazon account suspension can crater a brand’s cash flow. Even worse, suspension can make it impossible for the brand to make payments, whether to credit card companies, investors, or the bank. Late-pays and no-pays have long-lasting negative impacts on growth.
After design, sourcing and manufacturing, transportation, and all the other challenges of product development, the last thing a brand can afford is to have Amazon cut off its revenue. But that’s exactly what happens if:
- Amazon receives too many product quality complaints that go unaddressed
- Amazon Seller Performance detects policy violations by the seller
When an Amazon seller account is suspended:
- The seller’s products are no longer available for sale on Amazon.com
- The seller’s funds are held by Amazon – sometimes permanently
- The seller’s inventory goes into limbo in the Amazon Fulfillment Centers
A successful appeal, known as a Plan of Action, can get the seller back up and running on Amazon. But the process can take days, weeks, or even months depending on the circumstances of the suspension.
This makes prevention key. By taking a few concrete steps now, a brand can avoid future suspensions that tie up cash and stymie revenue on the world’s largest e-commerce platform.
Step 1: Be vigilant about product quality to stave off Amazon account suspension
The fastest way to failure on Amazon is poor product quality. Shortcomings in product quality can work against a brand in many ways:
- Generate a large number of returns, which are expensive for the seller and result in unfulfillable inventory and low – or even negative – profits
- Prompt negative product reviews, which suppresses future sales
- Create negative store feedback
Fortunately, Amazon provides many data sources where sellers can carefully monitor buyers’ reactions to products. This enables sellers to uncover the root cause of complaints quickly and easily. Sellers should monitor:
- FBA and/or FBM returns reports, where buyers often provide the reason for the return
- Product reviews
- Store feedback
- Voice of the Customer
- Buyer-seller messaging
Sellers must believe the data. The biggest mistake many brand owners make is to assume that the customer was wrong. Yes, sometimes buyers make false or inaccurate complaints. But if a product has a high return rate or similar complaints from multiple buyers, the data must be taken seriously.
Step 2: Always be improving the account’s worst ASIN
Once a seller has a clear vision of product quality across their catalog, it’s time to choose the worst-performing ASIN. This ASIN doesn’t have to be a failure to justify improving it for the future. By taking an attitude and creating processes for continual improvement, the brand can ensure it will gradually improve its reviews, profitability, and success over time.
Most sellers target the product with the highest return rate for improvement. They can then read the specific comments in the data sets from Step 1 to determine why returns are higher than they should be. Improvements can then come in the form of:
- Updating the product detail page to clarify information that is confusing to buyers
- Requiring stepped-up inspections at the manufacturing facility
- Improving product packaging so the item arrives at the buyer in perfect condition
- Redesigning the product for its next manufacturing run
- In the worst cases, choosing to discontinue the product
Is this hard work? Yes. But these incremental, continual improvements are what separates high-margin, successful brands from the flashes-in-the-pan. And while driving more revenue and profitability, these improvements also will keep sellers out of the Amazon suspension doghouse.
Step 3: Know Amazon’s rules to avoid account suspension
Amazon has a broad range of rules and regulations that sellers must follow. Some of these rules are common sense. Others require some Amazon experience, know-how, or research to even know they exist much less to understand them.
Too many brands assume that selling on Amazon is exactly the same as selling on another platform such as eBay, Etsy, or their own Shopify store. It’s simply not.
For example, Amazon has very detailed requirements around:
- Ownership of multiple seller accounts
- Prep of Amazon FBA inventory
- Restricted products and hazardous materials
- Advertising and promotions
- Buyer-seller messaging
- Requests for seller feedback and product reviews
Each of these categories – and many more – provide multiple opportunities for sellers to fall afoul of the rules and put themselves at risk of account suspension.
Amazon offers an extensive Help section on Seller Central, as well as video content it dubs Amazon University. Sellers should spend time ensuring they understand the rules for all Amazon accounts, as well as their specific categories. When in doubt, there are many Amazon agencies and consultants that can provide expert advice. It’s better to be safe than sorry and suspended.