Amazon account suspensions create numerous headaches and affect a lot of businesses around the world. Find out what Amazon Account Suspensions Expert Joshua Price has to say on today’s episode.
If you think you might be suspended, you could use the “Suspension calculator” on Joshua’s site
Working with Amazon for about 6 years
Worked on suspensions for 4 years.
Almost everyone has experienced an amazon account suspension at some point. Especially if you get rapid growth.
They are more prevalent than account suspensions. Also, Amazon will normally block a listing before suspending accounts.
They vary a lot – may be forever; Or it might be back in a day!
The most common one is about performance, account health and metrics.
Amazon sets the numbers and you can monitor those.
The second one is the policy violations –There are over a hundred pages of regulations!
The detail pages might be wrong, there might be a misuse of variations or IP infringement.
The third kind you might want to stay away from: related accounts, code of conduct, black hat stuff.
Amazon policy only allows one account per business.
If you have another business you can ask for another account.
If you open a new account, Amazon is likely able to link that to you.
In the last two weeks, Joshua has seen a lot of Amazon account suspensions, even for grey hat techniques.
If you’re close to the grey area, at the moment.
It appears that way – but they don’t really. There are millions of sellers and there are constant changes by Amazon.
We all end up with seller friends in that situation which can skew our view.
Sometimes Amazon clamps down on things that become very public.
E.g. counterfeit goods a few years.
It’s very common to get a product listing blocked. It doesn’t have to be exclusively counterfeit.
It could be that a customer has complained about the ASIN – or the brand.
Amazon does operate in separate companies between North America and Europe. They have an Asian department for other marketplaces.
They have separate teams and databases – It’s very rare to have something transfer across from Europe to North America.
If you’re having issues with a product in the USA, e.g. IP, that doesn’t mean it’s not okay in UK.
So one of the best things you can do is to get stock out of the problematic marketplace.
They are quite a common thing. A lot of sellers will run into issues.
It’s a complex part of product sourcing and selling.
Some sellers have products more likely to run into that than others.
Even products purchased from Alibaba may have patents on them.
For example, adult products in other categories.
If you’re using flat files, the “browse node” can be chosen by sellers, which is when they may try to play the system.
If you have one product here or there in the wrong category, Amazon may just change the category.
It’s rare that it will cause an account suspension but it may get your product blocked.
Certain categories like children’s clothes demand categorisation/testing etc.
The only reason it is likely to come up, is if a customer complains.
Because Amazon is getting more competitive, there are a lot of people looking for an edge.
Also there’s a lot of “they’re doing it, so it must be okay to do it.”
I guess you’re making an incorrect intuitive risk assessment.
Joshua encourages people to take very controlled risks – Go as close to the line as you can but don’t cross them.
As sellers aren’t generally professional at creating or sourcing products, it’s easy to fall foul of things.
Eg: Seller didn’t have FULL address on packaging – account is suspended as it wasn’t legit under EU law.
You could even get suspended a year or so after you’ve finished selling a product – it’s not common.
There are now three columns.
Now Amazon has tweaked this with lots of different metrics and layout.
Numbers are the same.
On the LH side, you have orders, complaints, Customer Service.
On the far right is about shipping.
In the middle is about policy violations.
It’s all about the customer experience. Late shipping is quite likely to cause an issue.
Order defect rate is the thing that will most often cause suspensions – The target is 1%.
This is very tough compared to other marketplaces.
Customers open A-Z claims a lot – like Paypal and eBay issues.
There are other metrics – They normally look at the history.
If you’ve been teetering on the edge for 6 months, that is going to go differently.
If you think you might be suspended, you could use the “Suspension calculator” on Joshua’s site
We have other interviews about Amazon Account Suspension with Joshua Price.
Michael Veazey 0:56
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 10 k collective costs, got a fantastic person on the line today, which is Joshua price of suspension experts. com. He’s an Amazon suspensions expert as the name implies, and also an Amazon strategy consultant and a very bright guy all together very good person to talk to you about your Amazon business. So, Joshua, welcome to the show.
Joshua Price 1:17
Thank you so much for having me on.
Michael Veazey 1:19
So bit of background about you first would be that the boring but probably essential first question, so I better ask him.
Joshua Price 1:27
A bit of you just doing some background?
Michael Veazey 1:30
Yeah, just tell me a bit about yourself, the less we do that. And so just to just give us a little bit of background, a bit of a flavor about yourself and your involvement with Amazon over the last few years?
Joshua Price 1:42
Sure, well, I’ve been working with Amazon for about six years doing Appeals for the last sort of four, maybe five years now. Over that time, I’ve helped a lot of sellers with the suspensions thing I’m probably best known for. But I’ve also been working with some sellers behind the scenes on growth, sales and managing their accounts as well.
Michael Veazey 2:04
So I know we’re going to touch on both things. And this episode is all about suspensions. And we’ll talk about your insights from helping people grow their accounts, leases, as well. So first of all, let’s talk about suspense is not a fun topic, but a really essential one, especially for the more serious sellers. And the first question is, what are the risks? What can happen? And how, how bad is it?
Joshua Price 2:28
It’s can be pretty bad. There’s
a lot of people being suspended every day, it’s not just people who are doing things that are intrinsically bad. It’s not the, you know, sellers, who are all badly intentioned, lots of perfectly normal sellers of all sort of size, are running into trouble on a, you know, a daily basis for my experience. And also, not just full accounts, but various other aspects. Definitely a lot of products example, and probably plagues a lot of sellers, even if you’ve never been suspended.
Michael Veazey 3:02
Okay, so block products and suspensions or product. So what are the what’s the sort of size of the problem? What sort of percentage of sellers, would you say? I mean, this is a kind of how long is a piece of string question or a realize, but just to try and dig a bit further, it’s the question of how likely is it that somebody’s likely to face a suspension in the course of that Amazon selling career?
Joshua Price 3:26
it’s highly likely, obviously, I only tend to speak to sellers when they are suspended. But in my experience with sellers outside of this work, almost everyone has experienced the suspension, especially as you’re starting out in those first few years. And when you experience rapid growth, or a sudden driving sales, you know, during a Christmas period or something, then suspensions pretty much inevitable. If you’re going to fail those metrics, it’s going to happen.
Michael Veazey 3:52
Okay, right. So it’s something we’re going to have to come to terms with the possibility of happening and, and have ways of dealing with it. So what’s the downside, then how long do people tend to get? Well, first of all, let’s quantify what you mean by suspension, I guess that you you’ve implied already. Okay. There’s two types of accounts suspension, and there’s listing suspension, presumably, you find that listing suspension is a lot more common than account suspension. But what what can you speak to you about the sort of numbers in that regard? Are the percentages?
Joshua Price 4:20
Yeah, I don’t know, any real facts or data for that I deal with both on a regular basis, often depends on a bunch of factors is how common is listing suspension will be for you, as a seller, that definitely more prevalent to receive an issue with a listing and I was in generally block a listing for they’ll be spending your entire account, if you know, a listing is the sort of cause of it, rather than take you down for one product, they’ll block the product, and then you have to appeal that separately. So it’s, you know, I’d be surprised if there’s sellers who have been selling for a few years and haven’t experienced that, at least on one.
Michael Veazey 4:59
Yeah, that’s a makes sense. And yes, I think that I, I’ve definitely experienced the old listing suspension, but not experienced account suspension. I know lots of people that experience their lesson suspensions pretty frequently if they have a lot of product. So yeah, that that ties in with what IN some for myself and friends and my own experience, but also, I guess, in your case, as you say, he have a sort of darkened view of the world in that people come to you when they have a suspension. So in a way, I guess it’s a bit like asking a doctor, how many what percentage of people have diseases, I guess all they see is the people with the illness. So what is the downside of getting suspended? Then how long does it last? How is it always permanent? Or is it reversible? This is the sort of dumb basic questions, but we gotta ask them just to make sure we get people informed before we delve into these.
Joshua Price 5:46
Yeah, it’s not actually that dumb, Amazon really don’t make things particularly clear. So it’s no surprise, if you’re going to misunderstand these sort of things. suspensions can last for any amount of time, really, it could be permanent, you never going to ever get reinstated. Or it could be a short term thing, and you back off in a day or so. The downside really, is about your money being held. That’s a big issue for sellers. So as most sellers know, you get your disbursement your payment every two weeks. And if you get suspended, and Amazon stop dispersing to you, they hold the money. And so if you just got paid out, then you probably not got very much money in the account. But if you were about to, when you got suspended, Amazon could be holding 10s of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of your pounds or dollars, or euros. And so that’s a pretty big thing, especially if you’re struggling with your cash flow anyway, to experience that. And then Amazon will give you the money back after 90 days, deducting things like at their claims and refunds. Assuming that, you know, you’ve got a suspension type that allows that there were some situations where they actually they will hold you on indefinitely. And so that’s a pretty scary prospect for a lot of sellers, that you could literally tomorrow, have your your money not coming to you and stuck in their bank account and not yours.
Michael Veazey 7:02
Wow, that is quite amazing. So so we’re going to have to look into that. And I’m glad I asked the question, actually, because it certainly brought stuff out that I didn’t know, I didn’t know that it was possible for them to hold your money indefinitely. I didn’t also know that it would generally come out after 90 days. So we’ll look into that a bit more when we come to the specific types. And so what are the risk factors, the main things that will possibly cause account suspension?
Joshua Price 7:26
Sure, we normally break it down into three categories. While Amazon doesn’t explicitly say these are their categories, or whatever it seems to fit that form quite a lot. The first being performance, which is probably most normal for sellers that have experienced these sort of things in the past. And this is about the account health metrics. So your auto defect rate. So it’s about your claims, your negative feedbacks and your chargeback claims, things like late dispatch rates, cancellation rates, refund rates, those type of things, things that you generally can control it or to do with your shipping performance or your customer service some way. And Amazon clear about what the guidelines are they set your numbers, and you can monitor them quite easily inside of your account. Second is policy suspensions. So it’s kind of a bit of a broad term. But essentially, there’s over 100 pages of Amazon rules, guidelines and policies, as well as all the legal stuff that you have to comply with, with each country, you’re selling it. And if you were to break any of those rules in any way, then Amazon would suspend you we call it a policy suspension. Typical of those is something like an inauthentic items, you know, some counterfeit products, or an intellectual property dispute, where the rights owner of a trademark, for example, is contacting Amazon saying you’re infringing, you know, could include a lot of nitty gritty details, well, detail pages, that’s your product listings, kids have an issue, you could be misusing the way variations are created. It’s a broad topic. Third, and finally is the stuff you don’t want to ever get involved with, which is either related account issues, or things like fraud and manipulation of the the Amazon system, essentially gaming the system in some way. So the black hat techniques and lots of pretty bad things you don’t want to get involved with.
Michael Veazey 9:08
So let’s just do the briefly with that link. Because it sounds like skimming the shortest conversation. So the third kind of related accounts, whatever related accounts.
Joshua Price 9:17
Sure. So Amazon’s policy allows you to only have one account, and operate one account if you’re a business owner. And if you have a genuine reason to have another account, such as you run two completely separate businesses that do completely separate things, then you have to request that from Amazon and get permission for it. If you were to open an account and you don’t have permission, then Amazon can link them together. Even if you try to avoid that happening. They’ve got quite complex and pretty good systems to be honest, finding these things. And then they’ll suspend either the new account you’ve created, or potentially suspend both your of your accounts.
Michael Veazey 9:50
So pretty grim business. Yeah, and it’s fairly obvious. And I know there are people that do black hat techniques that, you know, run multiple accounts and Amazon and you have to be if you’re going to, you know, break the law, guess it’s the 11th commandment don’t get found, right. And as you say, via new account, Amazon’s quite likely to be able to link that to you. And one thing I think people forget about with Amazon is, is if you are, you know, wanting to indulge in activities that bend or even break the law, then the law has to prove beyond reasonable doubt, that’s the criminal kind of level of proof that is just required in a civil court is the balance of probabilities. But in Amazon’s case, it’s just whatever the algorithm says is quite likely to be correlated, it may be completely wrong, but doesn’t really matter. So I would caution anyone that is not about them, proving that you’re wrong, it’s almost the other way around. Right? So you gotta prove that you’re innocent. So I would say that not only should you not be breaking the rules, you shouldn’t do things that look like they are breaking the rules, because it’s a pretty tough environment. Have you got anything to say on that. And before we plunge into the policy violation, fun,
Joshua Price 10:49
you’re completely right, actually, you know, to give some pretty up to date information for your listeners. In the last two weeks, I’ve seen a huge increase in suspensions for this type of thing to do with conduct and manipulation of search rankings and these type of things. So Amazon clearly clamping down that a lot more potentially, they’ve designed some new algorithms to find sellers. And I’m seeing people who are sort of in a very much gray area with things they’re doing things that I would have said, if they’d asked me, we’re probably within policy, yet they’re being suspended for them because they appear to Amazon to look a bit like abuse or to be slightly questionable, and they’re just coming down with a really resupplying fist on the issue. So if you’re, if you’re even close to that sort of that gray area at the moment, I really suggest kind of, you know, pull off the gas and, and take a break from it.
Michael Veazey 11:41
That’s very useful advice. Thank you very much, when that might be saving a lot of people a hell of a lot of grief, grief, really, and they seem to go through waves with this stuff. I mean, would you like this talk about that before we get into the detail, but would you say that that’s true? Do they go through waves? And is it safe to say when is a hot, sort of less harsh? And now is it Harsha time? Or is it just always hard to predict anyway,
Joshua Price 12:05
it definitely appears that they go through waves, I think in reality, they, they don’t particularly the thing is that always evolving, and they’re always changing. And there were millions upon millions of sellers. And so when you see, you know, a few of your friends may be experiencing similar issues, you can say, oh, there’s clearly something going on at the moment. And I know it’s easy for me to do the same. The reality is, there’s so many sellers, it’s it’s impossible for us to see a trend, really given the quantity. However, Amazon is always going to be iterating and designing new ways of finding sellers and protecting their, their customers. And so when something like that gets rolled out, and you get a fresh way of doing something, then there’s, you know, obviously an increase in people getting caught for things. But also there’s times when amazon for some reason that sort of like slightly bigger scale, we’re going to pick up on things. So if it’s a maybe they have a, you know, something public, that becomes an issue, they’re going to clamp down there a few years ago, there was a big sort of public issue would them for people selling counterfeit goods, and suddenly, you know, they’re they’re becoming really strict on it. And if a brand complains about something that’s happening on the platform, then of course, they’re going to be stricter towards that brand. We saw that with Apple a few years ago.
Michael Veazey 13:13
Okay, that makes sense that the counterfeit goods A few years ago, there was the review manipulation in sort of October a couple of years ago was, I guess it’s October 2016, is now ready, if I remember rightly, but quite a while ago. Yeah. Sounds like there may be going through a wave. I mean, the thing is that we’ve talked tonight, I just wanted to sort of quantify the risk, because I think, you know, as risk reward, the judgments are the at the heart of good business decision making in it, you know, the downside is that they could hold on to your money forever, then my question is, is it worth even, you know, the grey hat stuff, if that gets you a little bit ahead of the game temporarily. And I guess that’s adjustment Evans going to make, but it’s useful to have that kind of combination of people are getting suspended great stuff, however, likely it is, even if it’s like, you know, point one. But at what point 1% of losing a several million dollar a year business and getting the cash tied up permanently is pretty kind of, you know, pay off. Right? So that’s interesting. Um, it’s something everyone’s got away up themselves, like, I can’t possibly be making that decision for anybody listening, but useful to get some more input into that decision. So tell us about policy violations, because obviously, that you talked about the really black cat stuff. And you mentioned performance. We’ll come to that in a second. But what about the policy violations things? What What does that consist of? So most
Joshua Price 14:31
common of those will be inauthentic items. If you’ve not had a listing block for this, or at least some invoices requested, while they review your listing, you’re pretty lucky, you know, something is inauthentic. It doesn’t mean that it has to be exclusively counterfeit, but it’s in that type of realm. And Amazon decided to review these things in a few different ways from understanding either someone’s complained about you as a seller. And of course, then they’re going to investigate into it. But it could also be that somebody is being complaining just generally about a sin or the company themselves that the manufacturer have complained about the a sin. And so then Amazon is going to initiate a review of it. And of course, if you get caught for one thing, Amazon going to check all your other listings. So just selling, you know, think you’d get away with it with one thing, it’s going to backfire on everything else,
Michael Veazey 15:17
as a good point. And I guess it’s sort of linked with everything else. And I was in there everything. And I’m since linked, if you’re doing something in the UK, they’re going to check what you’re doing to us. If you’re doing something in one account, they’re going to check another entirely what you think of a separate Amazon account. So yeah, everything tends to spread. And I guess it’s similar with anything else, right? If you start giving the law reasons, like in school, if you give a teacher a reason to kind of investigate one thing about you, they tend to put you under the magnifying glass say, best avoid is all right. So that’s one thing, what what are the other comments cycle?
Joshua Price 15:46
Sorry, I will just correct you, actually on what you said there, because it might be an interesting point, the you compare the UK in the US and how they might check you on one and the other. Amazon actually operates as completely separate companies from the North American side of things, which is Canada, the US and Mexico, and Europe, which is the UK, Italy, Germany, France, and Spain. And then they have a sort of Asian and European department for all those other marketplaces. And the teams are separate, the databases seem almost completely separate. In the years and years, I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen very few instances where a problem in one of those, say European countries has caused an issue for them in the US, they might have happened one to the same issue at the same time, especially if it’s a performance issue, which we’ll get to in a moment. But actually, they do operate very differently. So if you’re experiencing issues with a product in the US, for example, maybe you’ve had a intellectual property complaint, then it doesn’t mean that necessarily your product is not okay to sell in the UK. Because in such a property law is different depending on which country you’re in. But also, if you get caught for doing something in the in the US and you have stock left, the one of the best things you can do is to get that stock out of FBA, if that’s where it is. Or if you’re just starting in merchant fulfilled and start setting on the other marketplaces as quickly as possible. Because if Amazon are going to happen to review those things, then you want to get get it sold before they do.
Michael Veazey 17:10
Okay, so basically, if they’ve suspended listings, in particular marketplace, and you don’t think you can get them reinstated, you need to get the stock out quickly before they consider suspending the whole account. Is that basically what you’re saying?
Joshua Price 17:21
It’s just it’s a good way of solving your problem. Yeah, just because they’ve locked it in the US doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to sell it in the UK or the Amazon are about to come and check your UK account. Okay. So you’re, you’d be better to, you know, sell it there. If If you have those accounts, that’s the way you operate, rather than sort of just throw in the hand and not sell anything at all, huh?
Michael Veazey 17:41
Okay. Yeah, that’s good advice. What’s interesting is consumer perspective, which is where you do have more sort of overview than most people because you get people coming to you with suspensions all the time. So after four years of doing that daily, then you’re going to see those patterns. So if you see it very, very few patterns for things transferring across from a European, Amazon to us or the other way on the North America, then that’s interesting. So they are more separated than than I thought, actually, that is interesting. All right. That’s, that’s again, worth knowing as a bit of good news. So what are the other kinds of policy violations that people will end up suffering or being accused of?
Joshua Price 18:15
Wow, I mean, this was, like I said, over 100 pages of policy, so it really can be quite lengthy.
Michael Veazey 18:22
What what are the common ones? Then? Let me let me just say, Yeah, well, the ones that you find to coming across your desk,
Joshua Price 18:29
aside from intellectual property and inauthentic, the the few that are quite common is either selling some sort of prohibited items, listing in the wrong categories. Yeah.
Michael Veazey 18:42
What about intellectual property complaints? You were mentioning those they seem to come up quite a bit, they are very common.
Joshua Price 18:47
And what’s the trend with that? Is it getting more common? I don’t know if it’s getting any more common, but it’s certainly a pretty, pretty common things that happen, a lot of sellers are going to run into issues. It’s a complex part of product sourcing and selling things. And if you don’t stand it, it’s kind of like you’re gonna run into issues. But also some sellers have products, they’re obviously going to be more likely to run into those issues than others. For example, if you were to sell a sort of T shirts that you custom printed with designs, unless you’re doing those designs yourself, you’re probably going to be running into a lot of intellectual property issues. But even products that you have purchased from Alibaba, maybe they may have patents on them, or the brand that you’ve decided you want to use, has got a trademark on it in the US, but didn’t in the UK. And so you just didn’t know about it until you started sending it over there. So unless you’re doing your homework beforehand, it’s pretty easy to run into those type of issues.
Michael Veazey 19:39
Yeah, this is sadly true. I mean, I’ve come into this myself, one thing to say is that so called generic product from China. I mean, there’s there’s not really any such thing. I mean, products don’t grow on trees, they’re not like sort of weeds or something. They’re actually designed by humans. So somebody somewhere, quite often owns the patent. Although there are such things with as you know, nobody’s claimed the patent and every spout too. But I think that something could be really risky, I certainly had to give up selling products, and with it, you know, quite substantial number of units left, like a few hundred or something. What are the other thing Tell me a little bit more about listing things there on category, because that actually seems to be something that people actually almost actively pursue these days as a way to get themselves better BSR is that I’ve seen by Amazon is a pretty serious offense.
Joshua Price 20:21
I think it depends on the scale at which you’re doing it. You know, depending on how you list your product, it’s obviously if you are using Seller Central to create your listings by just clicking on and sort of adding a product singularly, then you can’t do it, you don’t have control. But if you’re using flat file uploads, then you get to download the template and select the browser node, which is the category of the code for the category. And then you could be listing pretty much anything in any other category. And honestly, there was some perks to being in certain categories, you’re going to get different opportunities for variations, you’re going to get different amounts of people searching for your product, and it made lists differently, rank differently in the in the search results. But it’s ultimately going to cause you some problems if Amazon spot IT. And especially if you have a lot of products in the wrong category, you’re one here or there, you’re not really getting in trouble for it, Amazon may send you an email, say with change the product category, but you’re going to get in trouble because it’s gonna like just a mistake, which does happen. It’s quite complicated when you create these listings with these files. But if you’re doing it on a big scale, then I wouldn’t be surprised if you were to run some problems at some point in the future.
Michael Veazey 21:24
Okay, so there’s like a lot of things that don’t do don’t set them making them bigger scale. Really? Yeah, that makes sense as well. So scale, there’s obviously kind of increases risk of anything really, what are the other sort of complaints? What about safety is that something that comes up frequent because I guess it’s one of the scary things that when you’re first starting out as yours, imagine somebody cutting themselves or something harmful with their products in suing you into oblivion is safety actually, something that causes a lot of suspensions, or is that quite a rare thing?
Joshua Price 21:53
It’s relatively rare for it to cause a suspension, but it could get your product blocked, which is quite common. Customers like complain, it’s just the reality of it, regardless of whether your product is actually a fault or not, if you sell enough of them, someone’s going to do something stupid with it, or hurt themselves with it or make a complaint about it. And so, Amazon will block the listing and, you know, start an investigation, and you’ve got to provide information to prove this, it’s safe to use. And sometimes that’s quite easy, because it’s the type of product. But if you are in one of those categories, where there’s loads of legislation, something like children’s toys, or in medicines or supplements, then you know, you you need to get tests from laboratories and endless labeling and all these type of things. So if you don’t have that, when Amazon ask, you’re a bit stuck, really, it’s a very difficult situation.
Michael Veazey 22:43
Okay, and is that a safety issue? Is that sort of about breaking certification and regulations and things like that? Or does Amazon lump them all together,
Joshua Price 22:52
Amazon would present it as a safety issue. Because while they could trigger that separately, it’s unlikely they will realize there’s something wrong because they don’t request you to provide this information. When you create the listing. The only way is if a customer complains, so imagine you’re selling some medicine for children, that is your own brand. It’s a pretty risky product to be selling. And if someone complains, my child, you know, was vomiting after taking this, even if the product has nothing to do with that. And you don’t think you could of course that I’m just going to obviously ask you for documentation to prove that your product is safe and has been tested and all these sort of ways. If you don’t have that information about documentation, then you really screwed.
Michael Veazey 23:30
Yeah, I think that’s one of those things that it and more and more likely, more and more pushing people who are new to the space to consider, which is that just because you don’t get blocked by Amazon from listing a product now doesn’t mean it can’t come and bite you in the behind down the line if you don’t have the certification. So you know, do your homework before you sending something. So I’ve got a client who’s putting some organic kind of duty type products up and I said to a look, go do your homework, I’m not a specialist in this space, but you need to go and check what the latest regulations are about this. So make sure you do and if you need any certification, let’s get that because it’s not a block to be putting on Amazon. But it could be a reason that Amazon will take you down in flames if you need it, and you don’t have it. So it’s like to legal to have in your back pocket as an insurance policy. Right? That’s my understanding.
Joshua Price 24:15
Yeah, completely. And you’re not just taking the risk based on your current situation, you could like your client, now you could sell that product for a year, you could run out of stock, you could decide you can discontinue and you’re going to do something else, maybe move to an entirely new category. But a year down the line, your business could be significantly more successful, you could have staff and teams, and then Amazon could be investigating that product that you sold a year ago and haven’t sold since. And you could be suspended for if you weren’t able to provide documentation. So it’s not just oh, well, I’m not selling anything now. So I can afford to take that risk. If you want a career in a sustainable business on Amazon, then you need to be not taking those risks at any point.
Michael Veazey 24:52
Okay, so you can even get suspended a year or so after you’ve finished selling a product, essentially,
Joshua Price 25:00
you could do it’s not hugely common, but I’ve definitely seen it.
Michael Veazey 25:04
Yeah. And I guess the thing is, why take the risk? I suppose the answers because it takes a bit more homework and maybe a bit of money. But yeah, as you say, it all comes down to digging better foundations if you’re trying to build a serious business. And I guess the more I’m as in developed some more, you have to be grown up, right. That’s an overall sort of trend that comes up from several different angles, whether you’re looking for the sourcing, account, suspension, prevention, marketing, everything just needs to be a little bit in a more professional review these days. So let’s talk about the metrics side of things. And there were two we talked about policy violations. And then the other kind of crazy things like having multiple accounts. What about the metric related suspensions? How does that work?
Joshua Price 25:44
So as you may have seen, if you’re a seller who’s been around for a while Amazon have changed the way that we display the metrics and information used to have an account health page, one very long page with absolutely tons of numbers in it was now you have the account health dashboard, which is quite nicely, you’ve got three columns, and you can see a bunch of different numbers and statistics about your selling activity. So metrics stuffs all about the customer experience. So that might be the late shipment rate, for example. So once a customer place an order in unless you’ve overridden the default, you have 14 hours to dispatch it. And if you don’t do that, then you’re going to get a ding on this issue. And if you get more than 4% of those, you’re highly likely to get suspended. Same for all the defect rate, probably something that most sellers are going to get suspended for at some point. And especially if you sell products with high complaint rates, or you sell into markets where the shipping system isn’t quite as good. It’s the you know, your defect rate is your claims, your negative feedback and your chargeback claims chargeback claims are very common and Amazon, but people open at their claims a lot. They get a refund, Amazon decides to claim sort of similar to the system, people might be familiar with PayPal and eBay issues. And your negative feedbacks is on your seller page, not on the product reviews, but the seller feedbacks to about your service. And if you ship stuff later is damaged, those type of things, customers are going to leave reviews and you’re going to get, you know, run into problems with your auto defect rate. And the reason that people do run into problems is because the target is 1%, which compared to any other platform is incredibly slim, it doesn’t allow for much error. And if you’re not selling products, huge quantities, maybe you have, you know, higher value individual items, you know, just really difficult you get one complaint and you could be over the 1%.
Michael Veazey 27:36
So did they take account of the fact that obviously a very small sample size doesn’t give reliable statistics, because I’m and I have had, for example, I can’t remember what it was I think we set something up for shipping just it was FBM shipping in order to test the system that listing was working, we ended up I think seven late shipments out of a total of sort of 10 sales in a in a matter of a week, which kind of looks ridiculous, but they didn’t suspended over it. Because it was clear that it was a sort of aberration. Is that normally how they look at it? Or do they just take it as a real percentage, and there’s no common sense applied.
Joshua Price 28:14
Now there’s definitely other factors in the algorithm when they decide whether to spend you suspend you for it. And I think one of those will definitely be the accounts history. And you know, if you struggled with this before, and also how long it’s been going on for us, there’s this sudden jump and then everything returns to normal afterwards. They’re going to look at that and say, Well, they’ve probably resolved the problem themselves. We don’t need to suspend them for it and bring this out was if the last six months, you’ve been really teetering on the edge of going over, and then you pop over, there’s probably some underlying ongoing issues and Amazon’s going to bring those up.
Michael Veazey 28:42
Okay, yeah. So there’s a certain amount of common sense, which is, yeah, it as you say, I’ve been teaching on the edge for six months, then that it’s kind of been borderline for a while, that we’re going to go differently.
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