Getting suspended–or worse, terminated–is every Amazon seller’s worst nightmare. Resolution can take upwards of weeks, resulting in your business and cash flow coming to a standstill. While it’s not always avoidable, there are ways you can prevent it.
We’ve put together some important tips for preventing suspension, and how to react effectively in worst case scenarios.
Basic Rules for Preventing an Amazon Suspension
The easiest ways to prevent your Amazon store from becoming suspended are to:
- Comply with Amazon’s guidelines for product pages
- Avoid selling restricted or unauthorized products
- Don’t sell counterfeit products
While straightforward, these rules need 100% compliance or else you’ll endanger your entire business.
In addition, if you sell merchant-fulfilled items you’ll want to maintain excellent seller metrics. Amazon can (and will) suspend you if your metrics don’t meet the following requirements:
- Order defect rate: <1%
- Pre-fulfillment cancel rate: 2.5%
- Late shipment rate: <4%
Within the last few weeks, Amazon added another set of metrics called the Amazon Return Dissatisfaction Rate, which includes these three components:
- Negative Return Feedback Rate
- Late Response Rate
- Invalid Rejection Rate
You can find these metrics in Seller Central, along with ratings that Amazon assigns you based on your performance.
Opening a Second Account
While Amazon has forbidden the addition of second accounts in the past, recent policy changes are now allowing it. Opening a second account can be an effective risk management strategy, should your account become suspended.
However, there are some stipulations sellers must follow in order to open a second account.
- First, you must seek approval from Amazon in order to open one, otherwise you risk suspension.
- There must be no overlap in categories between the two accounts.
Commingled inventory refers to stickerless products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers where Amazon uses the existing UPC to identify your inventory. Amazon then places your units along with other retailers’ units of the same ASIN.
While there are a few perks associated with commingled inventory, such as eliminating the need to label your products before sending them in to FBA, the risks outweigh the benefits.
For example, one of our clients was using commingled inventory for a popular item in the beauty category, the Beauty Blender. While the inventory they were selling was legitimate, the item was commonly counterfeited and other sellers had submitted fake inventory to Amazon. This resulted in a customer complaint when a competitor’s faux inventory was shipped as theirs.
Our client then provided invoices in order to prove the authenticity of the Beauty Blenders. While Amazon accepted their initial appeal, their account was flagged again a month later. This time, Amazon rejected their appeal and permanently suspended their account.
Avoid this nightmare scenario. We strongly recommend avoiding commingling, due to the high level of risk it poses to your business. You can do this by labeling or stickering your products for a fee of 20 cents per unit.
Writing an Effective Plan of Action
Every warning received from Amazon must be taken seriously. We’ve compiled the top tips for handling policy warnings so you can always be prepared. For every warning, you must draft a Plan of Action (POA) that shows you understand what you’ve done wrong, details the steps you’ve taken to correct the problem, and demonstrates the specific procedures you’ve put in place in order to avoid the issue in the future.
Here are some tips on writing an effective POA (you can download a sample POA here):
Even if you operate your business by the book, you are still susceptible to warnings. In order to minimize your risk of suspension:
- Follow Amazon’s guidelines for product pages.
- Avoid selling restricted products.
- Sticker your products to avoid commingling.
- Ensure you are selling legitimate items that are not counterfeit.
- If you are selling with FBM, make sure you maintain excellent seller metrics.
If you receive a warning from Amazon, take it seriously. Respond to all warnings with a well thought out POA using the tips we have provided.