Common Mistakes Episode 6: Doing Sh*t That Gets You Suspended on Amazon
In the ever-changing world of eCommerce, navigating the world’s largest online marketplace can be confusing even for experienced Amazon sellers. That’s why Envision Horizons is here to help guide you!
For episode six of our video series Common Mistakes, we're talking about the mistakes that can lead to account suspension on Amazon. We have recapped and expanded on our CEO, Laura Meyer’s, thoughts on common reasons for suspension from purposeful tactics like review manipulation to slip-ups in your copy such as false advertising and copyright violations. Watch the digestible episode below, or continue reading for additional insight.
Receiving that crushing email notifying you that Amazon has placed your account under review is often a worst nightmare for brands selling on the platform. We're reviewing the most common mistakes that lead to account suspension so that you know what practices to avoid in order to give you the best chance of keeping your account suspension-free. In addition to reviewing our common mistakes, it is important to familiarize yourself with all of Amazon’s terms of service and abide by their rules.
Review manipulation is more of a deliberate tactic than a careless mistake, but nonetheless, it is a practice that we witness all too often on Amazon's platform which can easily lead to account suspension. First, let's discuss what classifies as review manipulation. Amazon defines it as any attempt by sellers or manufacturers to gain unfair advantages by creating false, misleading, or inauthentic feedback about products or services. Amazon will accuse a brand of review manipulation if they have reason to believe they did something to obtain positive reviews. Review manipulation can be direct or indirect. If an Amazon seller distributes false or misleading content in an effort to obtain or alter reviews/customer satisfaction ratings, it is considered direct review manipulation. Indirect review manipulation often consists of incentives, such as reviews where the vendor offers free/discounted products, gift cards, etc to buyers in exchange for positive feedback on Amazon. Amazon’s policy states that “If we determine that you have attempted to manipulate reviews or violated our guidelines in any other manner, we may immediately suspend or terminate your Amazon privileges, remove reviews, and delist related products. In addition, if we determine that an Amazon account has been used to engage in review manipulation, remittances and payments may be withheld or forfeited.”
Stay far away from review manipulation! Though getting positive reviews on Amazon is extremely important, don't risk your business by getting blocked from selling. This is not to say that you shouldn't have a strategy and tactics in place to generate reviews. However, playing by the rules and focusing on the "long game" is the best strategy on the platform.
Making Claims That Get Flagged
A more unintentional mistake that gets your account suspended is making claims that can trigger Amazon's algorithm to flag you as a restricted product. This can be anything from a medical device to an adult product or even a hazardous product. When writing your copy be cognizant of the language you use so that Amazon doesn't mistakenly flag your product as restricted and remove your listing. It is always better to play it safe than to make claims that could potentially get an ASIN suspended.
Trademark and Copyright Infringement
As an Amazon seller, you are subject to comply with intellectual property laws, which includes trademark and copyright. Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services. For example, if you are selling tissues, be careful not to refer to your tissues as "Kleenex" at any point, as this is a trademarked name. Copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner. For example, if you use someone's text/copy or imagery in your listing without permission, this can be considered copyright infringement. Be careful to avoid trademark and copyright infringement to keep your account from getting suspended.
Poor Seller Performance
Amazon sellers can be penalized for poor seller performance, or in other words failing to meet Amazon's performance targets. The performance metrics considered are Order Defect Rate (ODR), Pre-fulfillment cancel rate, and late shipment rate. Amazon tracks these metrics in order to ensure a competitive marketplace that values respectable customer service. It is a best practice for sellers to make a habit of visiting the voice of the customer metric under the performance tab in seller central, which gives you insight into complaints or positive experiences that customers have had with your products and brand. If you neglect your performance metrics, your listing can go down when you least expect it.
Shady Competitor Tactics
This one is pretty straightforward, don't use shady tactics to attempt to unfairly hurt your competitors. For example, reporting your competitors for doing something that they are not actually guilty of, in the hopes of getting their listing removed. If Amazon recognizes what you are doing, this is a fast way to get your account suspended, and it can be difficult to recover. Amazon wants its marketplace to be a fair playing field for sellers- play by the rules and avoid suspension.
GS1 Certified Barcode
An Amazon UPC code is a unique code assigned to each product on the Amazon marketplace, and barcodes from GS1 identify your company as the brand owner of that product. Amazon now requires all listed products without the Amazon GTIN exemption to have a GS1 registered barcode. Amazon warns that UPC's not registered with GS1 will be deactivated and the seller could be suspended. To avoid suspension in the future, understand that GS1 is the only legitimate place to purchase a UPC code to use on Amazon.
Recovering From Suspension
It's happened. You've been suspended. Though this can feel like the end of the world, it's important to slow down and take steps towards account recovery. The first thing to do is reflect on what could be done to avoid this issue in the future. Amazon requires that you put together a plan of action. Do not bombard Amazon with a ton of cases, as this can put you in the infinite black hole of no return. Ideally, your plan of action to be simple and clean-cut - here's the problem, here is my solution, and this is how it's never going to happen again. Even if your account suspension wasn't your fault, for example, if Amazon misinterpreted what your description was and flagged your beauty device as a medical device, complaining will not get you far. Follow the right steps to get your account back!
Prevention is better than cure. Avoid bad practices that could get you suspended on Amazon and be cautious when writing your copy and using imagery so you don't have to worry about the recovery process at all.
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