Amazon knows its reputation depends on consumers’ trust. Buyers need to know that they can confidently buy from Amazon without being cheated. So Amazon comes down hard on sellers who break the rules.
That could mean having your account suspended without notice. That’s disastrous for your business. You can’t sell your products, and since you’ll lose your access to Seller Central, it’s going to be very difficult to appeal a decision.
So let’s look at some of the reasons Amazon might decide to suspend your account.
• Product inserts that violate policy. For instance, asking for good reviews, or using a ‘cherry-picking’ process (“leave a review if you’re happy, or contact us if there’s a problem”).
• Unsubstantiated health claims for dietary supplements, massage tools, and so on. If you use language that mentions guarantees, health benefits, and so on, you may get suspended even though you have proof – just because it’s been flagged up as a possible issue. If you have a non-regulated product, don’t use language that belongs to regulated products, like ‘approved’, ‘registered’, ‘compliant’. If your product isn’t patented, don’t claim that it is.
• Use of trademarked keywords if the trademark doesn’t belong to you. Unless you are Nike or Adidas, you can’t use Nike or Adidas as keywords, even if you sell sports footwear.
• Violating listing title guidelines. That might involve plagiarizing another brand’s listing, putting up misleading information, or providing photos of another product.
• Copyright issues. You used the photo from Alibaba for your listing? You’re in trouble.
• Sending hazardous materials to FBA. Amazon won’t just suspend you in this case, they’ll destroy your inventory too.
• Contacting customers off the Amazon platform. Anyone who buys your product through Amazon is Amazon’s customer, not yours.
• Offering incentives for reviews.
• Offering prohibited products. This can happen when Amazon changes policies on a particular product that you’re selling, if you don’t pick up the change.
• Product safety issues, such as a toy for young children with small parts that can be torn off and present a choke hazard, or missing product certifications.
• Counterfeit items, complaints about the authenticity of your product. (Make sure you have invoices for your product and can produce them.)
• Conflicting information. Make sure your business name, address and so on are the same on all paperwork, right down to capitalization and punctuation.
• Getting consistently negative feedback. Though let’s face it, if your product is that bad, you’re doing something very wrong.
There are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t break the rules by accident. First, don’t take risks. Don’t try to get through loopholes. Don’t think ‘just once, they won’t notice.’ Account suspension is not a risk worth running.
Secondly, vet your listing before it goes live – especially if you used a freelance to write and design the listing. You need to ensure it’s 100% correct.
And thirdly, keep up to date. Amazon changes the rules and some smaller changes don’t get flagged up to all sellers – it’s your job to keep informed.
Point four: keep your account in good health. If a product is causing problems, discontinue it. Keep your product description accurate and up-to-date, including information on what the product’s for (and what it isn’t suitable for) and how to use it. Make sure your returns/exchange policy is clear. And manage your metrics.
And finally, never ignore a warning from Amazon. Respond immediately, and professionally. Build up a history of being a good, professional seller and you’re more likely to get the benefit of the doubt – and a warning rather than a suspension if something’s wrong.
If you get suspended, you can appeal, and there are a number of services available who will handle the appeal for you. The one thing you really must not do is try to open a new seller account. Amazon is absolutely clear; one seller, one account – and contravening that rule is an offense that will get you suspended all over again.