Every time Amazon makes changes to its suspension algorithm, we know about it…not because they tell us, but because we start to see a rash of the same kind of Amazon suspensions. From this we conclude that Amazon tweaks its algorithm often. It is still mostly for product quality although we’ve begun to see a bunching of performance suspensions over the past few weeks as well. This quick post covers some of the latest issues so you can look for them in your seller account.
Late Shipment – Confirmation Before Shipping
These two related issues have been rooted in a couple of changes. First, Amazon does not consider a package shipped until it is picked up by the carrier. Some sellers missed the memo on this and were dismayed to learn that all their packages were suddenly late. Some sellers marked the packages as confirmed shipped thinking that would fix the problem and got in trouble for confirmation before shipping. To fix this problem, you may need to arrange for your carrier to come at a different time or more often. If you are dealing with USPS which is notoriously bad about scanning, give them a bulk barcode to scan that will register all the packages at once (check out how from USPS).
Valid Tracking Rate – Enforced February!
This was a head scratcher. Most of our clients use a major carrier for their packages and they provide tracking data but Amazon was saying that they got invalid tracking data. When we looked at the invalid tracking data report and checked the tracking data, it was all accurate! What the…?
After much back and forth with Amazon by one of my intrepid (and incredibly persistent) clients, we learned what was going on. It was a feed issue. A space or weird character might get added to the tracking number and it would be recorded as “invalid.” Later, it would self-correct as Amazon continued to interact with the carrier. However, the seller was already dinged for invalid tracking data.
You can fix actual errors manually on the buyer’s order page. For errors that have been corrected, however, you need to inform Amazon immediately. It can take 72 hour for updated metrics to show on your report.
Right now this metric is not being counted against you but it will in February. In my opinion, Amazon is having problems on their end and I suspect a lot of sellers will find their metrics plummeting in February. They have a special email just for this problem: email@example.com. If you find, as my client did, that most of the tracking data is accurate, then send them the report so they can annotate your account.
[PS. Be sure to send the email from the same email address you use for your Amazon account]
So how often should you check this report? Every day.
How do you check it?
- From the Performance drop-down menu, select Customer Satisfaction.
- Click Valid Tracking Rate.
- Click the Request Report button.
- Select the date range you would like to view.
- De-select Shipped late and Delivered late to view orders with invalid or no tracking information.
When should you start? Today!
Lesson from the Trenches
This is a lesson for all sellers, MF or FBA. When you have a problem with a listing or a feed, shut it down. This seems obvious, but it is not when you are under stress. Several of our clients over the past year have gotten in huge trouble because of a technology glitch (feed issues) or a problem ASIN that they compounded by not shutting it down immediately.
In most cases, the seller would call seller support and try to work on the issue but they would forget a critical step which was to stop the problem in its tracks. They didn’t close the listing and got in more trouble as the product kept selling (which, maybe, didn’t match the listing or was the wrong item).
In one case with an MF seller, there was a huge glitch with Amazon’s feed system – it wasn’t an outside third-party software or anything like that – which caused a lot of orders to appear not to have shipped on time. I mean A LOT of orders. This seller’s ODR was 98% (goal=<1%). Amazon shut them down in a hurry, but it wasn’t so easy to get them back up. For one thing, they had 700-800 orders to fix first.
What should they have done? In their case, they could have manually fixed each order as they went along. A pain in the butt? Yes, but it would have saved their account until the glitch was fixed. Alternatively, they could have closed all their listings until the problem was fixed. Expensive? Yes. Getting suspended cost them several days of sales and our fees, however.
Now this was Amazon’s fault, shouldn’t they have taken responsibility? Nope. You are responsible to manage all your vendors, suppliers, etc. Even Amazon. They did forgive him (for trusting in their technology!) and reinstate him after he fixed all those orders.
To add insult to injury, the ODR takes time to adjust itself back to normal which means his ability to get the buy box and to sell will be affected for a few days to a week.
In the case of clients who continued to sell faulty product or while they were fixing an ASIN, they were suspended which is a high, high price to pay. In addition, their account will have this negative mark on it forever. Even though they were reinstated, there will come a time when Amazon will not reinstate them again or, they won’t give them the benefit of the doubt.
That happened with a client this week. Amazon immediately decided against them in a situation. We wanted to figure out why our normal tactics weren’t working for them for an ASIN issue. We discovered that they had so many annotations on their account for using copyrighted images, copyright infringement, etc., that Amazon didn’t even read what we sent them. They’ve lost the benefit of the doubt. I haven’t figured out what we are going to do about that and it makes me very nervous if they are ever suspended again. We were told that his negative account annotation was “one of the longest we’ve seen.” That’s not good my friends.
Most of our clients who are reinstated are eager to make things right and avoid ever getting suspended again. Their accounts show a marked improvement in just a few weeks. There is a certain percentage, however, that are slow learners and they get suspended over and over again. Don’t be one of those guys. Remember that EVERYTHING is in your account. It never goes away.
Coming to a city near you!
My business partner Lesley Hensell and I are going to be coming to a city near you this year! At least, we’re going to try. I’ve set up speaking engagements so far in Miami Beach, Orlando, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and Minneapolis. I’m working on opportunities in Chicago, LA, Las Vegas, and Denver. I’ve also got regular meet and greets in Dallas that I attend.
In each city, I will be hosting a get together (for all my friends!) or a private client event. I look forward to meeting many of you in person!
I’m in Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale this week on the 14th. Please join me for lunch or happy hour. I’d appreciate your RSVP so I can make sure we get a big enough table/space in the restaurant.
February 8, 2016 — This will be a private event for clients only at the PROSPER Show in Salt Lake City. Watch your email. I’m still working on the venue. Save the date/time 5-7 PM on the 8th. Lesley, Nate McCallister and I will all be at the show. We look forward to meeting you!
March 20, 2016 — Orlando. I’m in town for the awesome ScanPower conference. I’m coming in early so I can meet local clients for brunch at the hotel. Please note there are only a few more days left to sign up for this conference if you want to attend. Registration closes on the 15th. You donate to Wounded Warriors to attend. It is not your typical conference.
March 23, 2016 — Philadelphia. I’m speaking at SCOE and would love to get together for dinner the night before.
July 22, 2016 — Minneapolis. I’m speaking at Midwest eCom and will be arranging a dinner somewhere near the Mall of America.
As details for the meet and greets are arranged, I’m posting them on my speaking and events page so you can join me. I will also send out emails closer to time for those who are interested.
OK, I can’t fool you guys. You can tell can’t you? I don’t like to eat alone!
Suspension Prevention Book
If you’ve not yet read it, January is the perfect time to pick up a copy of Cynthia’s newest book Suspension Prevention: Get Reinstated and Protect Your Amazon Seller Account. Amazon is getting stricter and stricter with its sellers. You owe it to yourself to be prepared and take a defensive approach.