Picture this. It’s early Monday morning. You open your laptop to check yesterday’s sales, but Amazon’s password firewall stops you. Your log-in details are no longer valid. Confused, you hover over to your email, and there it is – the dreaded message from Amazon support.
Amazon’s email states your selling privileges are revoked effective immediately. If this scenario sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In 2021, Amazon went on an infamous suspension spree which saw sellers with $1 billion in total revenue locked out of their accounts.
As you navigate a seller account suspension, the initial questions are what caused Amazon to suspend your account, and how can you get your prized account back? We’ve got you covered. In this post, we’ll reveal 8 common reasons for Amazon seller account suspensions and how to overcome them.
What is an Amazon seller account suspension?
An Amazon seller account suspension is when Amazon blocks you from selling on their platform for breaking one of their rules or failing to meet one of their many standards. This punishment damages your business and your listings as you’ll lose sales, rankings and decrease your IPI score.
In addition, your stock will take on an “unfulfillable,” and you’ll still incur storage fees for any inventory stored in Amazon’s warehouses. Amazon can also destroy your inventory once it’s had the unfulfillable status for 60 days.
An account suspension differs from an account termination, which signifies the end of the road for an Amazon seller. So, there’s still hope for getting your account back if you follow specific steps.
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8 common reasons for Amazon account suspensions
An Amazon account suspension not only puts a roadblock in your eCommerce business’ growth but can also negatively affect your customer experience and reputation. Thankfully, this stressful situation can be resolved and avoided. To help you dodge the Amazon account suspension bullet, let’s look at some scenarios that can cause Amazon to take away your selling privileges:
1) Updating your banking details
A simple bank account update can leave you without an Amazon account. If Amazon feels your banking credentials don’t add up and you can’t provide the additional information, they can suspend your account.
2) Breaching Terms of Service
Maybe you manipulated Amazon’s algorithms, sent unauthorized Hazmat to FBA, used underhand tactics to get reviews, or launched an aggressive launch strategy that toyed with Amazon’s rankings. Breaking any terms of service will have you headed straight for suspension.
3) Providing a bad customer experience
Poor product ratings, high returns, and going out of stock dampen Amazon’s prized customer experience. If this occurs too often, you’ll have your account taken away.
4) Getting an additional account without permission
Amazon is super strict with its one-account policy. Therefore, if you don’t get written permission before you sign up for another account, you could walk away empty-handed.
5) You upgraded from sole proprietorship to a limited company
It’s hard to believe a simple change in company structure can result in an account suspension, but it’s true. Before you know it, you’re swept up into a storm of back-and-forth support tickets, requesting additional verification documents and information. If you can’t provide the requested details within the set time frame, your account is in jeopardy.
6) Glitches in the Amazon Matrix
Sometimes Amazon gets its chastisements wrong, and you pay a heavy price. For example, Amazon’s security checks and measures (algorithms) glitched suddenly, causing it to shut people’s prized accounts. Amazon has also closed accounts due to mistaken identity, believing the account holder violated the one account policy when in fact, another person with an Amazon account used their WIFI or laptop.
7) Inaccurate product description(s)
Whether you twisted the truth or made a genuine mistake, inaccurate descriptions are a huge no-no in Amazon’s books. Why? They can lead to higher return rates and an unsatisfactory customer experience, which Amazon would rather avoid. Amazon seeks to protect its interests with an account suspension.
8) Not providing complete invoices
Amazon expects every seller to upload accurate VAT invoices for their business customers swiftly after their goods ship. If you fail to meet this expectation, you’ll get a warning. But if you fail to meet this requirement again and your invoice defect rate exceeds 5%, you could be waving goodbye to your Amazon account.
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How to handle an Amazon account suspension
Lost your Amazon account? While getting your selling privileges back isn’t easy, it’s still possible. Here are the steps to increase the chances of getting your account back:
Keep calm and find the problem
First things first, don’t panic. Dig into the details to find out what went wrong. Analyze the email you got from Amazon. This information will help you craft a solid recovery strategy and avoid having your selling account revoked in the future for the same reason(s).
Be proactive. Unfortunately, Amazon customer support won’t be coming to your rescue any time soon. So, double-check any information they give you and look through Amazon’s seller central content.
Nail your Plan of Action (POA)
Amazon requires you to create a POA that states what went wrong and how you aim to resolve the issue(s) and prevent it from reoccurring. Here are some questions to answer in your POA to up your odds of getting your account reinstated:
- What did we do wrong?
- What actions will we take to rectify the problem(s)?
- How will we strategize to prevent the issues from happening again?
Also, before writing your POA, understand what you need to do by reading Amazon’s POA guidance for the territory you sell in. From here, implement the following tips to sharpen your POA’s delivery:
- Set the scene with a short introduction.
- Keep your POA short, simple, and easy to read.
- Acknowledge where you went wrong and avoid the blame game.
- Focus on the facts and only include relevant information.
- Provide evidence of your store’s positive performance.
- Add a conclusion summarizing the actions you have taken to make things right.
- Make a direct request for Amazon to restore your account.
For example, if Amazon closed your account because you’ve sold one too many faulty products. You would devise a strategy detailing what you’ll do to increase product quality, including more quality assurance checks throughout the manufacturing process, sourcing better materials, and creating a robust design.
Be strategic in your communications with Amazon Support
Amazon Support doesn’t have the best reputation for being forthcoming with their help towards sellers. So it’s important not to waste your best opportunity to reason with Amazon about your account suspension — your POA.
Here are some things to remember when dealing with Amazon support to dodge communication errors.
- Avoid generic or rambling responses.
- Maintain an upbeat and polite tone in all your communications, whether in your POA or speaking with Amazon Support.
- Don’t bug support for updates, as this could delay your application.
- Don’t blame customers or Amazon support for issues, regardless of whether they did something wrong or not.
3 Best practices to avoid Amazon account suspensions
1) Stay updated on Amazon’s Terms of Service
Amazon’s terms of service are constantly changing so it’s critical you stay updated on the latest rules and policies, to avoid hiccups in your selling journey. To give you an idea of which areas to pay attention to, here are some common areas sellers go astray:
- Trying to rig the review system: asking for positive reviews, asking customers to contact you before they, asking people you know to buy your items and leave a positive review.
- Failing to keep negative feedback at 1% or less: Some sellers get caught out when their product has a low perceived value compared to what they sold in their listings.
- Not keeping canceled or delayed order shipments under 1% or less: Some sellers that fulfill orders internally or with a 3PL get caught out by lagging inventory data and inefficient fulfillment processes.
2) Keep your prep and fulfillment processes in check
It’s important to know your duties and responsibilities according to your chosen prep and fulfillment process. To do this, study the service level agreement (SLA) from your fulfillment service(s). Some typical SLAs you’ll encounter include:
Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) SLA: Details responsibilities you’ll have as an Amazon seller like sourcing and sending goods to Amazon. The FBA SLA also Amazon’s commitments to you as a seller, like receiving inventory into their fulfillment centers and shipping goods to customers on time.
Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) SLA: This covers what you’ll be accountable for as a seller taking on the fulfillment process, like safe delivery of orders to customers within the shipping options’ standard delivery times.
Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) SLA: Explains the obligations you’ll have when sending prime goods from your warehouses.
Whichever SLA you opt for, it’s vital you uphold your responsibilities within the agreement (like replenishing stock before you run out to avoid rushed receiving and restocking). This approach will help you:
- Maintain a great customer experience
- Avoid costly fulfillment errors (e.g., sending goods to FBA compliant that don’t meet Amazon’s packaging requirements)
- Boost repeat orders and returning customer rates
3) Maintain a healthy IPI score
The Inventory Performance Index is a metric Amazon uses to determine how well you manage your stock’s turnover. It’s essential you take consistent actions to improve your IPI score. Failure to do so can lead to Amazon reducing your inventory limits and even the dread account suspension. According to Amazon, the most critical moves you can make are to:
- Keep a happy medium between how much inventory you sell and how much you keep in FBA (between 30-60 days’ worth of stock)
- Avoid racking up excess and aged stock
- Solve listing issues
- Ensure your top-performing products have enough stock to service demand
Tip: Amazon changes their minimum IPI score, so stay informed on what the latest figure is.
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Following an Amazon account suspension
An Amazon account suspension is an uncomfortable situation for any seller to face. However, if you can stay calm, execute a solid win-back strategy, and learn from your mistakes, your Amazon business can make a full recovery. The best strategy is to prevent suspension in the first place so ensure you stay updated on your obligations as a seller.
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