One of the most alarming things about selling on Amazon is how suddenly you can have your account suspended.
With very little warning, you can find your Seller account is gone, and it can take quite a long time to get it back.
There are various reasons why this happens. Most commonly it's because your Seller performance isn't consistently high – and the standards you have to meet when selling on Amazon, in terms of customer satisfaction, are very high indeed.
But there are also simple ways in which sellers slip up, such as entering a wrong number during registration, or by including a website URL in the product descriptions, which can lead to suspension. Sometimes the reason can be as simple as not being entirely familiar with the rules in a different country.
Here's a handy guide from the experts at e-Comas on the main reasons accounts get suspended, plus how to avoid getting suspended, and what to do if it happens.
Registering for a seller account is simple enough, but requires precise accuracy to ensure Amazon won't find a reason to suspend you later.
The first thing to do is make sure all the information you enter during registration of your Seller Central account is absolutely identical to the information in the documents you submit. Suspension can follow later on if this information doesn't match up. Make sure the copies of documents you submit are legible, too.
Any slip-ups here can easily go through the net unchallenged, but come back to haunt you later when Amazon notices.
One more thing to bear in mind at the registration phase: do not attempt to sell through multiple seller accounts (i.e. selling the same products on two or more Seller accounts of the same person). One or all of the accounts could be suspended when Amazon catches on.
Amazon suspends poor performing sellers. And it has very high standards of customer satisfaction – that's how it got to be the biggest eCommerce platform in the world.
Negative customer feedback, late shipments, and cancelled orders are all going to drag your performance down, and Amazon won't hesitate to suspend your account if these go above 1%.
You can ensure your Seller Central account stays robust and safe by maintaining your Amazon metric rate.
Easier said than done, but it's what operating on Amazon is all about, and if you can get this right, your Amazon selling will be a success; not just protecting your account, but also keeping your customers happy, winning repeat business and growing your sales.
This is the formula for your Amazon metric rate:
It's a tall order, but it's the key to success (and a protected seller account) on Amazon.
Back to that earlier point about information accuracy. Making sure your info stays up-to-date and correct is essential for preventing suspension. Before changing any sensitive or identity information, inform Amazon in writing and get their permission.
That includes bank account number, business legal name, display name, business type, primary account holder’s user ID and contact, and beneficial owner(s).
You can also get suspended if more than one person is accessing your seller account on one user ID. Do not use the same user ID in multiple locations on multiple devices; instead, create separate access and grant the necessary permissions to each user ID.
We know how important external traffic is, so this one's worth repeating: Never redirect customers to your own website via the product detail page. No external URLs should be on your listings.
Take care not to sell prohibited items on your account. This is common sense really, but it can catch some sellers unaware – especially if you're selling in different countries with different rules.
Used, restricted, and counterfeit items are all banned. In different countries, alcohol, tobacco and fireworks may be banned. You have to familiarise yourself with the rules in each country you sell in. Always read Amazon's terms.
Don’t ignore the performance notification emails!
You won't be suspended with no warning whatsoever: Amazon sends you performance notifications, which can also be viewed in Seller Central (under 'Performance'), warning you if your performance has dropped and suspension is imminent.
They don't give you very long though; 72 hours before suspension is the normal warning period.
Sometimes these performance notifications include a request for a POA (plan of action), in which you can demonstrate that you understand what the issues are, and outline what you're going to do to put things right.
We recommend you do this, and take it seriously. If you don't, and you get suspended, you'll have to do a POA anyway to get your account reinstated.
Don't think you can ignore the performance notification emails, let the account die and simply start a new one; it doesn't work like that.
If you are suspended, you need to write an appeal to the Seller Performance team. Acknowledge in writing what has gone wrong. State what you have done to fix it, and how you will prevent it happening again in future.
It can take weeks, sometimes months, to hear back from the Seller Performance team, so we'll repeat it again: do not be tempted to open a new seller account while you wait. It can make it harder for you to reinstate your original account, and if you're operating two accounts at once, Amazon will suspend you again.
There are two possible outcomes from your appeal: either your account is reinstated, or your appeal is denied. If denied, it's still not the end. You can submit a revised POA.
However, if your appeals are repeatedly rejected, you could be banned. Banned means it's game over. Amazon closes your account and stops reading your emails. Their terms and conditions bar you from opening a new account. Your journey with Amazon is over.
For the best chance of protecting your account, ask for guidance before getting started, or as soon as you have a suspension alert from the system. The first moments are the most important ones.
Working with an eCommerce agency, such as e-Comas, is a good idea. They know Amazon's rules and processes like the back of their hands, and can very quickly identify why your account has been suspended and what you need to do to get it back. They can help you write both your POA, and your appeal to ensure you get your account back as fast as possible.
And, crucially, they can help you improve your Amazon strategy and operations going forwards to ensure you are never suspended again.
It's also worth bearing in mind that Amazon doesn't suspend Vendor accounts. So if you get invited to join the Vendor programme, it's something to consider.
BONUS TIP: If you opened an account a long time ago and forgot about it, make sure there’s nothing linked (i.e. names, credit card, bank account, etc.). Otherwise, there’s a 99% chance it will get suspended.
Talk to the experts at e-Comas for guidance on setting up your Seller account and protecting it from suspension.
e-Comas helps brands grow faster on eCommerce – globally, quickly, across multiple online channels! Our experts coach brands and handle their accounts to sustainably grow their business and improve their agility in tackling everyday challenges with online retail.
Working across Amazon, Shopify, CDiscount, Veepee, Bol, Walmart and more, we get you set up to scale your business and make it profitable by handling your account, content and advertising.
Founder and CEO of e-Comas - eCommerce Made Simple, Jérôme de Guigné is an Amazon expert with over 20 years of experience in brand management and distribution, and an inside-out knowledge of how Amazon works.
Jérôme and his team of experts work with major multinational brands to develop strong Amazon strategies, coaching their management and operations teams to carry them to success, and improving their agility in tackling everyday challenges.
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