Amazon strictly regulates sellers to preserve the quality of its marketplace. Most sellers have no problem following these policies, since they’re eager to access Amazon’s traffic bounty.
Yet, even the best sellers have had their accounts suspended temporarily. Suspension does not mean the end of the world. Sellers can have their privileges restored by submitting an appeal with a clear Plan of Action (POA).
For a successful appeal, sellers have to show Amazon that they clearly understand why they were suspended, and that they have a plan for resolving the issue and improving their practices.
Understand why selling privileges were removed
Amazon will state one of the reasons below for your suspension in their notice to you, but you’ll want to know how Amazon defines them to craft a well-informed appeal and POA.
Sellers on Amazon can be suspended for failing to meet Amazon’s performance targets, which are measured with 3 metrics:
- Order defect rate (ODR): the percentage of orders that have received negative feedback (one and two star ratings), an A-to-Z Guarantee claim (a buyer reporting an issue with their order), or a service credit card chargeback (when a buyer disputes your order as a credit card purchase).
Amazon recommends that sellers maintain an ODR of less than 1% to avoid suspension.
- Pre-fulfillment cancellation rate: the percentage of seller-initiated order cancellations before the order is shipped divided by the total number of orders.
Amazon recommends that sellers maintain a pre-fulfillment cancellation rate of less than 2.5% to avoid suspension. High pre-fulfillment cancellation rates are often a result of poor inventory management.
- Late shipment rate: the percentage of orders confirmed for shipment after the ship date divided by the total number of orders.
Amazon recommends that sellers maintain a late shipment rate that’s less than 4%. A high number of late shipment rates often lead to customer dissatisfaction since shipments that aren’t confirmed by their ship date can’t be tracked.
2) Violations of Amazon selling policies
Amazon believes in maintaining a safe and enjoyable experience for buyers with clear rules, so the company will suspend sellers if they violate any of their five community rules:
- Honor your commitment to buy or sell.
- Maintain current account information.
- Do not open a new selling account if your selling privileges have been removed.
- Leave thoughtful feedback about your transaction partners.
- Do not misrepresent yourself.
Amazon keeps these guidelines broad to encompass a lot of situations sellers could encounter. Some of these rules are pretty obvious though, such as not faking your identity or selling counterfeit goods, and should be easy for most sellers to follow.
3) Violations of Amazon restricted product rules
Rather than one set of product rules, Amazon has specific product restrictions for each of their product categories.
Supplying restricted products is grounds for account suspension, so sellers must check the Restricted Product pages to make sure that their supply is appropriate and whether their supply categories require additional action, like getting pre-approval from Amazon.
Prepare your appeal and POA
To restore your selling privileges, you have 17 days to submit an appeal and POA to Amazon Seller Performance. Submitting an appeal doesn’t guarantee that your seller privileges will be restored, though Amazon does promise to review each appeal carefully.
How to write a successful POA
It’s very important to put time and effort into the initial POA because there’s no guarantee that Amazon will give you the opportunity to submit a second one.
Identify your reason for suspension
Revisit the notice that Amazon sent to inform you of your suspension. This email should note whether your selling privileges were removed because of a performance issue or because you violated a seller policy or product rule.
- Performance issues:
If Amazon indicated that you were suspended because of poor performance, check your Account Health Dashboard under the “Performance” tab of your seller account to determine which metrics are not meeting Amazon’s targets.
- Seller policy violations:
If Amazon’s notice indicated that you were suspended because of a seller policy violation, you’ll need to consider whether your selling practices are consistent with Amazon’s community rules.
Their rules are somewhat broad, so you’ll need to consider how your individual selling practices might fall under each guideline. At the same time, there are some rules, like whether your account information is updated, that can be easily checked on your seller account.
- Product rule violations:
If Amazon’s notice indicated that you were suspended because of a product rule violation, you’ll need to check your inventory and inventory intake process to determine which parts of your supply are prohibited and need to be removed. Amazon may specifically note the prohibited item type in their notice, in which case you won’t need to review your entire inventory.
2) Outline what you’ll do to resolve the issue
There’s no set formula for explaining how you will resolve your issue since the actions you list will depend on your unique seller problem. Having said that, there are a few general tips to keep in mind when listing your action points in your appeal:
- Be specific. Amazon states that they value precision in Plans of Action, so be as detailed as possible when explaining your solution points. Beyond impressing Amazon, writing specific action points with clear steps will set you up for success if your account is reinstated.
- Keep it brief You want your action points to be detailed, but that doesn’t mean each has to be an essay. Amazon receives tons of seller suspension appeals, so they’ll be thankful if you can convey your points with brevity. As a guideline, try to keep each point to less than a paragraph, and at most two.
- Don’t get emotional. You made a mistake as a seller, but that doesn’t mean your appeal should be a heartfelt apology. All Amazon needs to know in order to feel comfortable reinstating your privileges are the actionable steps you plan to take, so keep your points objective and logistical.
- Don’t be defensive. If you make a statement in your Plan of Action about how you think your suspension is unfair or why this issue isn’t your fault, you’re failing to identify your issue as an Amazon seller, a key part of the Plan of Action. Amazon has already determined that you made a mistake as a seller, so you’re better off accepting this as truth in your Plan of Action instead of trying to prove why you’ve been falsely accused.
3) Create your POA template
Need help with framing your identified issues and action points? We’ve provided a general format below for writing your appeal. The language you use in your plan of action will be unique to your seller issue, but this framework will help with the organization of your ideas.
This template should serve as a reference point, not a definitive format, for your Plan of Action. Be wary of including information beyond your identified issues and action points in your appeal. Adding too many extraneous details about your situation will dilute your main points about resolving your issue, which could decrease your chances of being unsuspended.
After submitting, you should be prepared to wait for your response. Amazon reports that they will notify the seller of their decision within 48 hours, but many sellers report that it can take as much as 60 days or more to receive a response. Try not to pester Amazon during this period.
Below is a full timeline of the suspension and appeal process for Amazon sellers.
General practices for avoiding suspension
If your appeal is successful and your Amazon seller privileges are reinstated, you’ll want to do everything you can to avoid suspension in the future. Here are a few habits that will help you track whether you’re meeting Amazon’s standards for sellers or need to improve your practices.
- Check your Amazon reports on a regular basis. The data in your Return, Imperfect Orders, and Feedback reports will provide a clear sense of whether you’re consistently meeting Amazon’s performance targets.
- Keep an eye on your order shipping. Unless you’re an FBA seller and Amazon handles your shipping and delivery, you’ll want to make sure that customers are reporting on-time shipments and properly packaged goods to avoid negative feedback or a high late-shipment rate.
- Double check your listing descriptions. Misrepresenting your supply is a seller policy violation, so make sure you are accurately describing your items in your listings.
- Download the Amazon seller app for quick communication. The earlier a problem is addressed the easier it is to solve. Respond to seller account notifications and buyer messages instantly with the Amazon Seller App.
- Review Amazon’s product rules before adding new items. Check the restricted product rules for the items you want to add to make sure that they are not in violation of Amazon’s policies.
- Have an inventory management system in place. If you’re constantly running out of inventory and cancelling orders, consider getting an inventory management software like Sellbrite that will help keep your pre-fulfillment cancellation rate low and minimize negative feedback.
Sellbrite is the top-rated multi-channel ecommerce solution that saves you time and money, and helps you reach new customers wherever they shop. Create and manage listings on Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Jet and other channels, control inventory, and fulfill orders all from a single, intuitive interface that you’ll love using.
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