As sellers are now realizing, it is quite easy to get suspended for a multitude of different reasons. It’s not uncommon to wake up in the morning to find out that your Amazon account has been suspended. Typically, sellers have no idea how they violated Amazon policy, or how to proceed moving forward. It’s really important that sellers understand each type of suspension in order to effectively take initiative to prevent violations.
Many types of suspensions are easy to avoid if you are carefully monitoring all of your metrics, inspecting inventory, uploading reports, and making sure to manually check any area where software is uploading information. Ultimately, it is up to sellers to make sure that all of the information is being entered correctly.
This article will elaborate on Amazon’s different types of suspensions, and offer some prevention tips to avoid getting suspended for each violation type.
Order Defect Rate (ODR) Suspension
This suspension occurs when your ODR percentage exceeds 1%.
Make sure to monitor your account health page on a daily basis, address A-Z cases, and remove negative feedback when possible.
Some negative feedback is easily removable if it falls into certain parameters that are approved by Amazon. If a buyer posts feedback that is 100% product related or uses vulgar language, Amazon will remove the feedback on your behalf once they are made aware of it. Always check your feedback to see if it qualifies for removal.
If the feedback does not qualify for removal by Amazon, buyers are also allowed to manually remove negative feedback. It is very important to comply with Amazon Terms of Service (TOS) when you are sending your feedback removal solicitation email. You can’t offer a refund, exchange, or any type of compensation in exchange for the feedback removal.
It is best to try to avoid A-Z claims in every situation. Even if the buyer is at fault, it is always better to offer a concession that will appease the customer vs. arguing with the customer regarding the purchase. Once an A-Z claim is filed, sellers may dispute the claim, but Amazon will make the final decision regarding the outcome. Also, even if the claim is decided in your favor, the case still counts against your metrics, and can result in an ODR suspension.
Late Shipment Rate (LSR) Suspension
This suspension occurs when your late shipment rate exceeds 4%.
Up until a few years ago, sellers could simply “confirm and ship” their orders without adding tracking information into Amazon’s system. Adding tracking information was optional, and it was mainly there for the sellers’ convenience. As Amazon keeps updating their seller dashboard, more metrics are added for Seller Performance analysis.
Up to this point, each update has included more metrics which require additional information from sellers regarding their shipments and tracking. Unfortunately, each new metric is another potential area where a violation can occur.
It is very important to monitor the following LSR metrics to ensure that each metric is staying within Amazon Guidelines:
- Late shipment rate
- Invalid tracking rate
- Return dissatisfaction rate
- Negative return rate (rejecting returns)
- Late response rate to the return requests
If you use software to confirm orders, also manually check that the orders are confirmed and shipped on a daily basis. Software is prone to malfunctions, and even reputable software companies experience glitches. Your account may be suspended by a bot, and Seller Performance typically does not reinstate an account based on a “software malfunction” explanation.
Cancellation Rate Suspension
This suspension occurs when your cancellation rate exceeds 2.5%.
It is very important to keep an eye on your stock levels and inventory on a daily basis. Make sure to only list items which are in stock, and ready to be shipped. If you see that an item is about to go out of stock, remove it from your inventory until it becomes available again.
Many sellers list thousands of items assuming that they can simply purchase them once the order has been placed. Unfortunately, any type of delay or stock out from the supplier can cause an excessive amount of cancellations.
Always check your inventory and stock levels more carefully during the holiday season. Keep in mind that buyers are purchasing a larger volume of items more frequently, and it is easy to run out of items which are typically easy to fulfill.
If you drop ship your products, and the drop shipper is causing issues, it may be time to switch to a different drop shipping company. Better yet, stock the items in your warehouse or start shipping items to FBA.
Confirm Before Ship Suspension
Amazon bots carefully monitor the confirm date, ship date, and valid tracking submission date for each order. Many sellers think that they can confirm all of their orders on time, and ship the items several days later. It is very important to confirm orders after they have been shipped.
This goes back to making sure that inventory is audited on a daily basis to ensure that items are ready to be shipped, once an order is placed. Don’t confirm an order unless it is being shipped the same day.
Once the order is shipped and confirmed, make sure that valid tracking is entered into Amazon’s system to avoid any potential issues.
If you use software to enter in tracking information, also manually check that the correct tracking is being entered into Amazon’s system. It is very common for glitches to occur which cause tracking to be improperly entered.
Used Sold as New Product Suspension
This type of suspension occurs when the product meet the condition as listed. Here are just a couple of Amazon Condition Guidelines:
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.
USED-LIKE NEW items: Each item is confirmed to be apparently untouched in perfect condition. Original protective wrapping may be missing, but the original packaging is intact and pristine. There are absolutely no signs of wear on the item or its packaging. Instructions are included. Item is suitable for presenting as a gift.
In order to prevent “used sold as new” suspensions, sellers must monitor their inventory constantly to ensure that the condition of their items 100% matches Amazon Condition Guidelines. Any inventory that doesn’t match the specific guideline for that condition type, needs to be removed, or downgraded to the correct category.
Retail and online arbitrage sellers run into this type of suspension pretty frequently. If a seller purchases new products at a retail store, website, or outlet, they’ll have a very hard time proving the exact condition of those products once a buyer files a complaint. Since Amazon no longer considers retail stores, websites, or outlets as valid sources for inventory, sellers run into issues when trying to resolve this type of suspension.
Make sure to check your inventory on a daily basis to ensure that each item matches Amazon Condition Guidelines.
Incomplete Product Suspension
Since the majority of sellers don’t manufacture their own items, they rely on distributors to provide complete versions of the items they are listing on Amazon. What most sellers don’t realize is that catalog pages are mainly created by other sellers, or the brand owners themselves. Due to this, additional items may be included in the listings, but sellers don’t check these details for every item.
This results in sellers listing “incomplete” items when they believe that they have provided the full version of the listing. It is important to check the product detail page for each listing to ensure that each product matches the item that is listed on the Amazon catalog.
Pro tip: FBA sellers need to check items even more carefully prior to shipping to FBA. If a seller sends a batch of incomplete items to FBA, the seller will need to incur costs to return these items if they are connected to a suspension.
Not as Advertised/Wrong Item/Materially Different Product Suspension
With these types of violations, sellers are usually listing items which don’t 100% match the Amazon product detail pages, and believe that these listings are “close enough”. Also, sellers often list products by title instead of using the UPC code, which is required by Amazon.
There may be minor differences between the products and the listings, and sellers try to include some additional information in the description portion of the listing. Due to the fact that Amazon used to accept this method of listing products, many sellers aren’t aware that this method is no longer allowed.
In other cases, sellers list generic items against brand name versions, and they don’t realize that the item needs to completely match the product listing. It is very important that the UPC code, title, brand, description, and product details coincide exactly with the Amazon listing.
Make sure you check every product against the Amazon listing to ensure there are no discrepancies.
Expired Product Suspension
Amazon has very stringent rules on expiration. This type of suspension typically applies to sellers who sell beauty, medicinal, or grocery products on Amazon. There’s a list of Amazon expiration guidelines which most sellers are not aware of.
According to Amazon Guidelines for merchant fulfilled items, only products with a shelf life greater than 90 days are allowed to be listed to a seller’s Amazon inventory. Therefore, if an item is close to the 90 day cut off, it’s best not to add the item to avoid issues.
FBA Guidelines are even stricter since the items are shipped from Amazon facilities. We are providing a few of the Amazon FBA Expiration Guidelines below:
- Expiration-dated products intended for regular application or consumption must have a remaining shelf life that includes the consumption period in addition to the 105 days. For example, a 240-count bottle of daily supplements must have a remaining shelf life of 240 days + an additional 105 days at the time of check-in at the FBA center.
- Expiration dates must be displayed in the format MM-DD-YYYY or MM-YYYY. If the expiration date is in a different format, you must cover the existing date with a printed label with the expiration date in the correct format. Lot numbers alone are insufficient.
- When you ship expiration-dated inventory to FBA, only 1 expiration date per ASIN is allowed in the same shipping box. Multiple ASINs can be shipped in the same box only if all of the ASINs in the box have the same expiration date.
There are many other rules that need to be followed carefully before shipping any beauty, medicinal, or grocery items to FBA. Items that are within 50 days of the expiration date at the time of arrival at the FBA warehouse will be marked for disposal by Amazon. Also, inventory that has been designated for disposal will not be returned to sellers. Therefore, sellers will lose the money they spent on the merchandise and shipping the items to FBA facilities.
Amazon expects sellers to be fully up to date with all the current Amazon policies and guidelines. This includes understanding all the different types of violations, and implementing the best methods in order to avoid running into issues again.
All notices and warnings must be addressed immediately, and solutions need to be provided to Seller Performance to notate the account. These account notations will either prevent account suspensions, or in the case of an account suspension, these notations will speed up reinstatement after a follow up appeal plan is sent. If you want a professional opinion, in addition to Reinstatement Services, SellerCare also provides Risk Assessment Services and Suspension Prevention Services.
If your account is suspended, it is in your best interest to consult a professional, such as SellerCare, right away. In most cases, significant changes need to be made to seller account logistics, inventory, and sourcing before the appeal is prepared.
To find out what NOT to do if you get suspended check out SellerCare’s post on 10 Things Never to do After an Amazon Seller Account Suspension