As an Amazon seller, having your account suspended is like showing up to work at your store and discovering that someone changed the locks. You might get back inside, but it’s going to take a while—and you’ll probably have to work for it. No one wants to wake up to the dreaded suspension email, but it’s hard to ignore that Amazon is increasingly determined to protect its buyers, sometimes at your expense. If they suspect suspicious activity they will take action, and you may be stuck with a costly and time-consuming effort on your hands.
Not sure where to start? Here are four things you can do right now:
1. Familiarize yourself with Amazon’s rules and regulations. When you sign up for a merchant account on Amazon it’s easy to brush past the rules and get straight to selling. But it’s wise to take a few minutes to understand what Amazon expects of you.
If you’re new to e-commerce especially, you’ll need to consider a multitude of things, from how and where you purchase and ship your products, to business requirements like your tax ID number, legal business name, and insurance policies. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure products you sell are safe and that you’re confident in your sourcing methods.
Finally, for new sellers and seasoned sellers alike, it’s important to keep your eye on any changes to Amazon’s policies. Amazon has been known to change their rules on contacting sellers, including strict guidelines on how to solicit reviews and how negative reviews can affect your account. Studying compliance isn’t everyone’s favorite pastime, but it sure beats an account suspension.
2. Keep meticulous records. If you’ve been selling for a while, you may remember the times when an invoice from your supplier or receipt from your local Target would satisfy Amazon’s authenticity requirements. Today, things are a bit more complex. You need detailed invoices and receipts with the product name and UPC code printed on them, and even then, it can take weeks to get a response from Amazon.
For retail arbitrage sellers, the Amazon landscape has become increasingly difficult. Even if you have detailed receipts, your goods can be considered used sold as new, which is against Amazon’s rules. Similarly, private labelers face increased scrutiny due to baseless infringement claims or safety complaints made by competitors. This forces them into a painstaking process of proving their products and supply chain are legitimate, new and fresh (when applicable) and properly tested.
In either circumstance, proper documentation can be your ticket to quicker reinstatement. Keep in mind that your receipts must be no more than 1 year old, and anything illegible or that looks like it has been tampered with will likely not be accepted by Amazon. Your records should be verifiable, making it easy for Amazon to follow up with specific contacts at your supplier that you’ve worked with in the past. Additionally, you’ll need to show in your records that inventory you’ve purchased and goods you’ve sold match up. If your receipts show 15 goods purchased last year, but you sold 50, you’ll be in hot water.
The moral of the story? Keep detailed records of all your transactions. Make sure you have trusted contacts and permission to sell your items, and be prepared to present documentation to Amazon at any time.
3. Take Amazon’s warnings seriously. This seems like a no-brainer, but one of the quickest ways to have your account suspended is to ignore Amazon’s warnings. If you receive any correspondence from Amazon regarding your performance, don’t panic, and certainly don’t ignore or delete the warning. Instead, see it as a chance to right the ship before you wind up with a temporary suspension. Gather your thoughts and respond professionally, in a timely manner.
If you have already addressed the issue, draft a professional response that informs Amazon of the steps you have taken and your commitment to maintaining your solution. If you have not yet addressed the issues, construct a thoughtful plan of action that outlines the steps you will take to achieve the desired solution. Either way, this process will take less time and resources than dealing with an account suspension.
4. Arm yourself with proper protection. While there’s no way to avoid a suspension entirely, there are safeguards you can put in place to protect your business and help you recover more quickly.
Seller suspension insurance is a great way to protect your business from the financial burden of an account suspension. With suspension insurance like Momentum™ you can get protected for as little as $250 annually to make sure your expenses and losses are covered during an account suspension. This includes your costs to hire a reinstatement specialist to help with your appeal, and reimbursement for the financial losses your business suffers while you’re shut down. It will even cover your costs to hire a tax accountant should you ever find yourself in a tax audit.
In addition to insurance, there are several reinstatement specialists in the field that have either worked for Amazon in the past or have years of experience under their belt. These specialists will not only help you with your appeal process, but many of them also offer risk management solutions to monitor your account and catch potential violations before Amazon does—helping to keep your account clean and free from suspensions. But keep in mind, you should always make sure to research your consultant’s experience and reputation before hiring them, as no two consultants are alike.
While the threat of an account suspension is real, you can protect your amazon account and your business from suspensions by staying informed, keeping great records, and arming yourself with proper protection.
To learn more about seller suspension insurance, visit www.nasmomentum.com.