Amazon account suspensions can happen to any seller — even highly successful ones like mine, BuyBoxer, which has sold over $250 million on Amazon. In fact, we have experienced a number of Amazon’s crackdowns. And let’s be honest: they really hurt business.
But third-party sales account for more than half of all product sales on Amazon (approximately 60% to be exact), so it’s in Amazon’s best financial interest to invest in us, its sellers. This means giving us tools to avoid suspensions and continue meeting the growing needs of our customers.
Fortunately, they’ve started taking steps to support the 1.7 million of us selling on Amazon worldwide. In this post, I’m breaking down my own experience with Amazon suspensions, what Amazon is doing to help us prevent suspensions going forward, and what you can do to protect your storefront.
Do Large Sellers Get Preferential Treatment on Amazon?
I often hear that Amazon gives preferential treatment to its largest sellers. As a large seller, I don’t see it that way. In some ways, actually, larger sellers are more prone to things like account suspensions. After all, we have more ASINs and thereby more exposure to problems. Even one small issue can lead to big headaches.
For example, 99.9% of our inbound shipments are received with no issue. But for the 00.1% that do have issues, we’ve had to deal with week-long shipping suspensions with little communication from Amazon about what actually led to the suspensions.
All this to say, most sellers that have achieved scale on the platform have either had ASINs or their account shut down. Even the largest sellers. And when we get suspended, we wait in the same queue as everyone else.
How Amazon Is Helping Sellers Prevent Suspensions
Because Amazon is obsessively focused on creating a positive customer experience, anything a seller does that could jeopardize a customer’s happiness is seen as a red flag. And, in most cases, those red flags lead to unexpected suspensions. To us sellers, these suspensions often seem unfair, but they’re also par for the course as an Amazon seller.
Fortunately, I do believe that Amazon is committed to doing better and they’ve made a lot of progress already. Here are a few changes they’ve introduced:
1. More Robust Account Health Dashboard: The Account Health dashboard in Seller Central provides a lot more clarity than it used to. Here’s an actual screenshot from our Account Health page:
Showing these ratings shows that Amazon is finally investing in keeping its sellers above water by letting us see when we might be approaching an account review or suspension before it actually happens.
2. Dedicated Support Team: They now have a dedicated Account Health team to answer questions and help talk through any issues we may be having as sellers. In fact, we recently had a price gouging scuffle in the wake of the pandemic. The individuals that I spoke with were very knowledgeable and gave me solid advice for our Plan of Action (POA).
3. “Under Review” Notifications: Amazon now has a process where they notify you if your account is under review. As part of the process, they give you up to three days to put together a POA. This allows us to actually respond to an issue at hand instead of being automatically suspended for it. We are no longer seen as guilty until proven innocent. Recently, I have received a few calls from Amazon to address a restricted product or to say that our account might be put into the “under review” process — ultimately helping us avoid suspension altogether.
How to Protect Your Amazon Storefront from Account Suspension
As you can see, Amazon is finally starting to show us that they appreciate our businesses. That said, there’s still room for improvement. After all, response times are long, punishments don’t always meet the crime, and legitimate businesses are still threatened daily.
All this to say, it’s important to continue doing your own work to keep your business protected and your account health strong. Here are three ways to do that:
- Read Amazon’s Seller Policies: When was the last time you actually read Amazon’s seller policies? Take the time to read this page and other relevant articles so you know for certain that what you are doing is above board. I can attest that every time I’ve lazily glossed over something policy-related, it’s come to bite us later.
- Commit to Being 100% White Hat: Some Amazon strategies claim to be white hat, but end up being gray or black hat. It may be tempting to try them out, especially if you think you’ll see instant results. Unfortunately, Amazon as a platform is subject to manipulation, but if you have a good product and brand, nothing will get in the way of your growth.
- Be Proactive: At BuyBoxer, we want to make sure we’re in the clear. We even have team members dedicated to understanding Amazon’s policies — for both our own seller account and those of our clients in our growth agency. We go to trade shows and have consultations with Amazon lawyers and experts to stay on top of the best selling strategies. When it comes to your business, think about past suspensions, what solutions you’ve implemented to prevent them going forward. Run an audit to see what you could be suspended for, then start solving that problem backwards.
- Get a Seller Performance Consultant: Consider working with a seller performance consultant to identify your exposure, create solutions to mitigate them, and more. They’ll do an audit of your business, tell you where you need to focus, and help you manage through a suspension or account review. While this requires an investment, it can bring peace of mind and help prevent issues that ultimately lead to a lot of lost revenue.
At the end of the day, you want to stay on the right side of seller performance to have any sort of long-term success on Amazon. Their policies often change, so stay on your toes and remember to be as equally obsessed with customer satisfaction as they are.