One of the scariest things that can happen to a brand on Amazon is having their account suspended or shut down. Amazon suspends accounts for a number of reasons, including Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violations, review manipulation, violating community policies, and not meeting Amazon’s strict metrics for customer satisfaction.
If this happens to you, pay close attention to the suspension notification, accept responsibility for any violations, and create a specific plan of action that addresses the reason for the suspension. If you have any questions or would like help with getting your account reinstated, Kaspien’s expert compliance team can help you resolve account suspensions.
Account shutdowns are a major problem when they occur, but fortunately, they are one of the less frequent obstacles. What about some more frequent issues that can occur as you sell on Amazon?
We sat down with three experts from our Search Engine Optimization, Purchase Order Management, and Product Compliance teams to discuss some of the most common Amazon issues and their solutions.
In this post, we’ll cover:
1. What is the most common issue sellers encounter regarding their listings?
The most common issue is likely related to listing content, and more specifically, why sellers aren’t able to edit this content.
Most brands whose products are sold on Amazon know that the more sellers involved in their listing, the harder it is to update content. That’s because every seller in the listing is potentially fighting for their content to be published. The struggle can be so great that when your content finally does get published, you feel like you’ve won the lottery.
2. How do you resolve these issues?
If you’re struggling to get updates to publish, you’ll have to resort to making a case with Amazon. When doing, you should know that the information you provide when opening a case can drastically affect how long your case is open. Amazon cases can range from a couple hours to several months before you reach a resolution, so providing the best information first can really help you out in the long run.
What can you do to accelerate the process?
Best practice is to be as specific as possible and make sure that you complete the form as it was intended. Don’t lump together a handful of edits into the “other” option. If you want to update the title, bullets, and images, make sure you select each of those fields individually and input content accordingly.
Additionally, providing a valid Manufacturer’s URL is crucial. If the URL isn’t “secure,” then Amazon cannot accept it. Another pro tip: If you want your content published in record time, ensure that the exact content you want to implement on Amazon is also on the manufacturer’s website to Amazon, this is proof that the listing updates are correct and not misleading. When you provide a Manufacture’s URL, Amazon won’t need to do further digging to ensure the suggested content is accurate.
Other items that could help support your proof for updating content would be a product catalog or price sheet that clearly show the product name and UPC associated to that detail page. Sometimes, Amazon will even accept a simple cell phone picture of the product packaging, so long as it shows the UPC.
3. What steps can you take to avoid those issues in the future?
One solution with strong potential is registering your trademark with Amazon’s Brand Registry program. While you still may have to make cases with Amazon, we’ve seen that communication sent through the registry platform is significantly expedited and has a far higher success rate. You can read our Brand Registry blog post, which walks you through how to apply for Brand Registry.
If you don’t have a trademark, then limiting whom you permit to resell your products on the market will be your best path to preserving brand control. That way you know who is actively updating your content, and you can work with them to make any desired changes.
1. What are the most common issues sellers see regarding inventory and fulfillment?
The most common issues revolve around inbound compliance requirements: Amazon has very complex, specific requirements for receiving inventory at its fulfillment centers. These packaging and shipping requirements may go beyond the scope of what brand owners are used to handling. Amazon’s shipping requirements pertain to prepping products, boxes, and pallets to ship with FBA.
The issues we see most frequently are overweight or oversized cartons, barcodes on master cases, or FBA labels being applied incorrectly or not at all. Non-compliant inbound shipping can result in fees and an adverse impact on a brand’s shipment creation abilities.
2. How do you resolve issues with Amazon’s shipping and packaging requirements?
It comes down to learning Amazon’s requirements and complying with them. With shipping and fulfillment, there isn’t much room to file an appeal with Amazon. Your products either are or are not compliant with their policies, and therefore will or will not be accepted by an Amazon fulfillment center. Your only recourse to ensure your packaging, labelling, and shipping is compliant, and that requires great attention to detail.
3. What steps can you take to avoid these issues in the future?
At Kaspien, we work on partner education, explaining what was non-compliant with Amazon’s packaging, labelling, or shipping requirements in each instance and coaching brand owners on how to avoid those errors in the future. Our coaching conversations ensure that our partners have the tools and knowledge they need to correctly process inventory to Amazon in the future.
We’ve also created several tools and resources for our partners to guide them through the inbound shipping requirements, and we email periodic updates about current requirements to our partners with all PO’s.
1. What are the most common issues sellers see in compliance?
There are three areas where we see the most issues for Amazon compliance: Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), restricted products, and safety issues.
Intellectual Property Rights. IPR violations are always a hot topic, but there’s even more interest as Amazon works to address legitimate concerns about intellectual property. IPR violations filed against your brand can result in your listing being taken down, your inventory blocked from removal, and even the suspension of your Amazon account. If Amazon receives a report that your brand is violating IPR, it will act before waiting for you to offer an explanation, which can result in enormous lost revenue.
Restricted Products. Amazon will remove products that are flagged for violating an Amazon policy. Oftentimes, these flagged listings are not actually restricted products, but they do contain claims that make Amazon designate them as such. Once, we even saw an ignition coil get flagged as a flame thrower.
Safety Issues. Sometimes, products have a feature or malfunction that results in a safety incident, such as causing respiratory issues, catching fire, or arriving to customers contaminated. When this occurs, Amazon blocks the listing and marks the inventory as unsellable. This decision is appealable. If the brand can provide proper documentation proving the product meets all applicable regulations, that the customer may have miss-used the product, and that the product is indeed safe for use, then Amazon, at its discretion, may reinstate the listing.
2. How do you resolve issues regarding IPR, restricted products, or safety issues?
Intellectual Property Rights. Brands who fear IPR violations can enroll in Amazon’s Brand Registry program. In August 2018, Amazon reported that it takes action on more than 95% of all notices of potential infringement received from brands in Brand Registry within eight hours. Amazon also reported that “on average, enrolled brands are finding and reporting 99% fewer suspected infringements than before Brand Registry’s launch.”
Restricted Products. In the vast majority of cases, we are able to get listings reinstated. The problem can often be resolved by removing a claim or other incorrect content from the listing. If your listing is flagged as a restricted product, some of your claims may be overstepping or misleading. Review Amazon’s notes to see if you can determine why they flagged your listing, and then revise the text and images as necessary.
Safety Issues. Brands must identify what might have caused the issue and create a plan of action to address the safety concern. As long as the product has the safety testing, follows Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), and can provide concrete steps to fix the issue, the listing can normally be reinstated.
3. What steps can you take to avoid those issues in the future?
Intellectual Property Rights. To protect your IPR on Amazon, makes sure that your products are properly trademarked, patented, and that your box copy is copyright registered. This will allow you to use the Amazon IPR Infringement tool to report violation of your IPR. You should also use your trademark to enroll in Brand Registry, as this gives brands more leverage in filing IPR infringement complaints and getting counterfeit products removed.
Restricted Products. When creating listings, ensure that your claims comply with Amazon’s guidelines. Amazon has a thorough description of restricted products and prohibited product claims. Brand owners would be wise to review the sections that apply to their product when preparing their listings.
At Kaspien, we evaluate listings for keywords that trigger restricted products and update them to ensure they comply with Amazon policy. Brands should also maintain thorough documentation of their products to prove that they are legal to sell and that they do not violate Amazon policy. Having these documents at the ready will expedite the appeals process should a listing be wrongfully removed.
Safety Issues. Brands must have the requisite testing, GMP processes, and a strong safety track record. It puts a greater burden on brands at the start of the process, but it safeguards your customers and your brands further down the road.
If you have specific questions about resolving Amazon issues, contact your Kaspien account manager or reach out to us through our contact form. We’re always happy to be of service.