5 Inventory Tips for Suspension Prevention during the Holidays

The holiday season starts during Black Friday week, and continues through to the New Year. If you’re an Amazon seller, this is the most important time of the year due to the increased number of orders from customers. It’s pretty common for sellers to make a significant amount of their yearly earnings during this short time frame.

Sellers usually start planning months in advance by updating their stock levels, and sending items to FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), in order to get ready for the holiday rush. By the time Black Friday rolls around, most sellers have already spent a significant amount of money getting ready for the influx of orders.

Due to the amount of money spent preparing for the holidays, and the amount of potential profits that can be made during this two month period, it is extremely important to avoid suspension during this time.

While sellers usually take time to update their stocks levels, many sellers fail to take time to properly verify compliance, evaluate condition, monitor the expiration date, review current Amazon Prohibited Item Guidelines, and check current Amazon Safety Guidelines. This lack of attention can result in a multitude of problems, and result in an account suspension.

This article will provide 5 inventory-related tips which will help reduce the chance for suspension during the holiday season.

1. Verify item compliance
Many sellers think that if they list a large amount of items, they will increase their sales. Based on this common misconception, sellers list thousands of items without properly vetting them for compliance with Amazon Guidelines.

Amazon has a very extensive TOS (Terms of Service) with specific rules for item compliance. The first step in the process should always be verifying your inventory, to ensure that it will be approved for sale on Amazon. In an effort to quickly increase inventory, sellers skip this step, and ultimately leave themselves open for suspension.

Some common reasons for non-compliance are:

  • Lack of authorization to list a specific brand
  • Infringing on another brands trademark or copyright

Some common suspensions that can occur due to lack of verification are:

  • Inauthentic
  • Counterfeit
  • Infringement (copyright, trademark)

Even though the initial verification process can be time consuming, we strongly recommend taking the time to apply this step before adding inventory. If you already have a large inventory, we recommend analyzing each item to confirm that it’s compliant.

Pro Tip! Use this weekend to go through your inventory, and remove any items that you have any doubts about. Read through the Amazon TOS, and only leave inventory that you are confident won’t experience any issues.

2. Evaluate item condition
This seems like a no brainer. If you think an item is new, you’ll most likely just list that item under the “new” condition option, right? Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of sellers run into issues. Amazon has their own rules regarding what they consider to be “new”.

Your items need to exactly match the guidelines in order to be listed within that category. For example, Amazon provides the following guidelines for “new” items:

“Each item is confirmed to be a brand-new, unused, unopened item in its original packaging, with all original packaging materials included. Original protective wrapping is intact. Original manufacturer’s warranty still applies, with warranty details included in the listing comments.”

If your item differs from this description in any way, it doesn’t qualify to be listed as “new”.

It’s always better to downgrade the condition of your item if it doesn’t qualify. If a customer complains that they’ve received a “used sold as new” item, this can lead to a suspension. Once an account is suspended for a “used sold as new” issue, additional violations may be added by Amazon, which will delay the reinstatement process further.  Also, if your items are in FBA, you may need to spend money removing this inventory from FBA.

Pro Tip! Downgrade your inventory to the next condition option while you take time to compare your items against Amazon Guidelines. If you’ve already sent the items to FBA, and you have any doubts, downgrade the condition, and make sure to carefully check the next shipment before sending it to FBA.

3. Monitor inventory expiration date
Most sellers purchase items in bulk, and store the items until an order is placed. If you sell grocery items, health & beauty items, or other perishable items, it’s important to understand Amazon Expiration Guidelines.  

Sometimes it’s difficult for sellers to identify how long it will take for an item to sell. Due to this, items can sit for a long time, and start nearing their expiration date. Many sellers think that as long as an item isn’t expired, they can still ship the item to customers. This approach typically results in “expired” suspensions. Amazon has their own policies in regards to expiration timelines.

Amazon states that “expiration-dated products intended for regular application or consumption must have a remaining shelf life that includes the consumption period in addition to the 90 days. For example, a 240-count bottle of daily supplements must have a remaining shelf life of 240 days + an additional 90 days.”

If your items no longer comply with Amazon Expiration Guidelines, it’s best to remove them from your Amazon inventory.

Pro Tip! Constantly monitor your inventory to ensure that it’s within the allowable expiration time frames provided by Amazon. For items that have a shorter shelf life, buy smaller quantities to ensure that you aren’t wasting money on items that may expire before they’re purchased.

4. Review current Amazon Prohibited Item Guidelines
Amazon constantly monitors the items that are being sold on the marketplace. Certain items or ingredients may become “prohibited” even if they were previously allowed to be sold. Many sellers are unaware of these changes, and they get suspended for selling “prohibited” or “restricted” items.

Below are several examples of common “prohibited” reasons:

  • If a government agency like the FDA makes a negative decision regarding a specific ingredient, Amazon will ban any item that contains this ingredient.
  • If Amazon considers an item to be a weapon (i.e fidget spinners), they will ban all versions of this item.

It’s up to the seller to review these policies regularly to ensure that their inventory is compliant.

Pro Tip! Review the prohibited guidelines on a regular basis. If any of your items are added to the list, remove them from your inventory right away to prevent suspension.

5. Check current Amazon Safety Guidelines
Amazon takes product safety very seriously. In order to ensure that each item is safe for customers, Amazon has a Product Safety Team that constantly scans inventory to confirm that it’s compliant with Amazon Safety Guidelines.

Items may become “unsafe” even if they were previously allowed to be sold. It’s important to constantly check your inventory to confirm that it hasn’t been added to the list of unsafe items.

Below are some common reasons for items to be classified as “unsafe”:

  • If an item has any type of repeated fire hazard issue
  • If an item has a recall
  • If a negative decision is made by a government agency like the CPSC or the USDA

Pro Tip! Check your inventory regularly to ensure that it hasn’t been classified as unsafe. If any of your items are added to the list, remove them from your inventory right away to prevent suspension.

Conclusion
By following these tips, you can reduce the chance for suspension during the holiday season. We always recommend erring on the side of caution in regards to inventory. If you have any doubts about an item, remove it from your inventory until you can confirm that it is compliant.

If you have any questions related to suspension prevention, or any other performance or suspension related matter, contact Sellercare.

Pro Tip: It is the best to consult a professional such as Sellercare once your account is suspended. In most cases, significant changes need to be made to seller account logistics, inventory, and sourcing before the appeal is prepared.

Evelin Goldin
Evelin Goldin is the COO at Sellercare LLC. Sellercare LLC provides consulting and reinstatement services to Amazon sellers, and manages hundreds of sellers on a regular basis, including some of the top Amazon sellers worldwide. Sellercare LLC has assisted thousands of sellers with account reinstatement. She has over 18 years of experience dealing with Amazon. She worked for a company which was one of the first third party sellers on Amazon. She is an expert on Amazon practices, guidelines, policies, and suspensions. She works with sellers on a daily basis to assist with Amazon account notations, suspensions, and business practice optimization. Check out her company (www.sellercare.com).