Amazon continues to accelerate the pace of change for its sellers. With the rollout of its new dashboard many sellers were told they were in immediate danger of suspension…even though most of them weren’t. Talk about the Amazon glitch that stole Christmas! Client after client asks us “Why is Amazon Doing This in Q4?”
What’s Up with Amazon Being Such a Grinch?
My friends, it is only going to get worse. Our sources have indicated that a lot more changes are in the works over the next few months due to the following issues that the company is dealing with. Please note that the following is my OPINION and is speculation based on what I’ve heard and my experience working with Amazon. The company has announced NONE of these things:
- Counterfeit – It is a huge problem for Amazon that they take very seriously. This is why you see them coming down so hard on claims and being less forgiving for receipts and buying from middle men. They want to see a year’s worth of invoices because some sellers mix counterfeit goods with legitimate goods to cut down on their cost per unit, for example.
- Inauthentic – Stolen goods are the big issue here. The products are legit but basically stolen or possibly stolen. It is only a matter of time before Amazon refuses all receipts, all online invoices and starts to verify invoices by phone. They do it sometimes now, but I predict it will be standard very soon which will mean it will take a lot longer to get an answer back from Seller Performance. In addition, more and more of our clients are having to provide Amazon with a list of their NEW, authentic sources before they can sell again. I suspect one day that all sellers may have to provide that list to Amazon…and stick to it.
- Multiple accounts – There’s a reason you only get one selling account and that is RISK. Sellers with multiple accounts are trying to mitigate their risk, but Amazon sees it as they are trying to get away with things…which increases their risk. Some sellers want to buy from liquidators, counterfeiters, inauthentic sources and then still sell when Amazon does a takedown of their account. In this Amazon is usually correct. Most of my clients with multiple accounts get in trouble a lot – more than other clients who only have one account. It is job security for me, but not good news for Amazon. The latest algorithm update that looks for linked accounts is only the beginning. They will be looking much more closely at sellers in the future. My clients are already getting tripped up by things like sending inventory for one account to the address and name of the other account and stuff like that. It is hard to maintain a lie and Amazon is looking for deceit.
- Account verification – This is already a reality in Europe because of EU anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist laws. My speculation is that we will see Amazon start to require a lengthy verification process for all its sellers. They may shut down the platform to new sellers and make it much harder to sell.
- Rapid listings – Bogus, misleading, infringing and duplicate listings are being uploaded at an incredible speed. It is currently taking too long for Amazon to find them and take them down. Even when they do, a new listing will be up within hours. All of you out there who have been complaining about this very thing…believe me, Amazon knows. They are playing whack-a-mole and losing. My guess is we will see Amazon make it harder to become a seller and to add new listings. They will require more verification from new and existing sellers before they are allowed on the platform. They may shut down new applications for a while (they do this in China already). They may require a significant fee just to sell on the platform (already in place in China). Already they are removing listing privileges from some sellers who abuse parent/child rules, create duplicate listings, don’t understand variations, etc. I believe this will only increase. They are tinkering with the algorithm already.
- Dirty seller tricks – They see rampant abuse of the platform by sellers against sellers. Recently we saw them change how they handle copyright infringement cases because they realized many of the cases WERE bogus. Changing a picture or description to mess with your competition, they are aware of that loophole. I expect we will see it closed in the future and offenders more severely punished. Right now, if they are caught messing with a listing they get a warning.
Many sellers have seen the new dashboard and were freaked to see that their accounts were apparently in danger of suspension. Even more alarming, the complaints were ones from months ago that they had never seen before. To a community working frantic hours for Q4 and on edge from previous policy changes…it was the last straw for some. We realized it must be a glitch of sorts and immediately made Amazon aware. For many of our clients we resolved the issue this way, but for the broader community the dashboard glitch stays on their account unless they do something about it.
What Can You Do?
- Don’t panic. Very few sellers are actually getting suspended and they have other problems in their accounts. Amazon is aware of the problem.
- Respond. I was hoping to get the problem fixed holistically but until then, respond.
- Be patient. Amazon is very busy right now. It is taking longer to hear back from them. We are getting a lot more “punts” where they simply send a form letter back stating they need “more information.” It is a stall tactic. You will need to be persistent as well.
- Try this. Sometimes just noting the glitch is enough for it to be removed:
We have recently seen on our new Seller Central dashboard that we have a X claim and yet we never received a performance notification at the time. We looked closely through all our performance notifications to confirm this. Is this a real notification or a glitch from this new system rollout?
Just in case, here is our plan for Y safety complaint. [alternatively: here are our invoices/receipts.]
Thank you for your help.”
These are not real safety concerns on Amazon’s part. Most of these are product quality issues. Just like McDonald’s putting “Caution: Coffee is Hot” on their cups, Amazon wants us to reduce returns and complaints by making buyers aware that they might be sensitive to some of the ingredients and what to do (stop using the product, don’t drink hot coffee, etc). In other cases, they want us to better explain to the buyers how to use our products. If you are getting safety complaints, read through your product reviews, seller reviews, returns reasons and buyer messages to see if you can figure out what the problem is and fix it. Sending your sheet with your latest ingredients test isn’t what they want and it won’t get your listing turned back on.
We are helping our clients deal with the glitch for $500. For the holidays we are also offering expedited services for suspensions. Please note it is a higher charge for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s. Sign up at the expedited link and we’ll be notified immediately by text.
Hopefully you won’t ever need us.