A Guide to Getting Reinstated on Amazon

October 11, 2016

Marketplaces ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

If you’ve been suspended or terminated from Amazon in the past, now is the time to come back. Over the first 6 months of 2016 the marketplace grew by 31% compared to the previous year, so it’s a very important channel for many retailers across the globe.

Suspensions and terminations may seem unfair, but Amazon is focused on providing the most customer-friendly buying experience and any activity that doesn’t live up to this standard is monitored. Additionally, Amazon, like any company, is looking to build their own brand reputation and grow, and thus it doesn’t want a buyer to have ANY reason to leave the site and visit a competitor to purchase the product they desire.

As it can be difficult for any company attempting to rebuild a customer’s trust, Amazon ensures the issues that caused suspension are fully overcome before it allows a retailer to return.

Metrics:

Amazon uses a series of metrics to assess a retailer’s overall performance on Amazon. These metrics range from response time to delivery time and provide Amazon with a holistic view of a retailer’s performance.

  • Order Defect Rate (ODR): This is measured by combining A-to-z claims, negative feedback and service chargeback rates. This must stay below 1% for best exposure.
  • Cancellation Rate: below 2.5%.
  • Late Dispatch Rate: below 4%.

If you fail to meet these targets, your account may be suspended or terminated.

Suspensions occur when you are slightly above these percentages, especially ODR: for example at 1.2% or 1.3%. If you are suspended you have a short period of time to rectify all issues and to prove this to Amazon’s Seller Performance team in order to avoid termination.

Terminations occur when you are dramatically above these percentages, especially the ODR, or if you’ve been suspended in the past.

Please note:

  • Buy Box: You automatically lose Buy Box eligibility for all of your offers as soon as your ODR reaches 1%. You will then need to maintain an Order Defect Rate below 1% to regain this eligibility.
  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) offers are still eligible to win the Buy Box even if your ODR is above 1% as these items are delivered by Amazon. Moving to FBA when your ODR reaches 1% is a good way to secure your business, maintain your Buy Box eligibility and to improve your metrics quickly.

Identify the primary issues:

Even if you were terminated two years ago, you should identify the catalyst behind this action and work to make sure you have smoothed out this issue. Was it caused by your ODR, late deliveries, cancellations, poor customer service or a combination of all of these? By understanding your failings in the past, you can implement a strategy that helps avoid these issues moving forward.

We recommend:

  • Download all feedback in Amazon’s Seller Central. You can do this by visiting: Performance > Feedback > Download Feedback Reports. We recommend you analyze this data, for example in Excel you can filter feedback to show negative and neutral feedback.
  • Read all A-to-Z claims in Amazon’s Seller Central
  • Download all issues: in Amazon’s Seller Central, in Performance > Customer Metrics > Performance Over Time > Show order defect rate components > Download.
  • Compare it to claims, negative and neutral feedbacks.

You may think terminations are driven by one recent claim or one specific issue. But these take the time to investigate; often retailers find that their termination was caused by several issues over a long period of time (up to 12 months).

Work to overcome the issues:

Your plan of action has to address all of your issues. From Amazon’s perspective, you shouldn’t be reinstated unless it’s guaranteed that every customer issue is overcome and fixed. As your termination may have negatively impacted on Amazon’s customer experience, you’ll have to prove to Seller Performance that this won’t happen again.

It’s important to understand that:

  • A reinstatement is a very last chance with Amazon. Any other issues could cease your relationship with Amazon.
  • Make sure listings are deactivated when the plan of action is sent. If you are reinstated, inventory has to be up-to-date.

Using Fulfilment by Amazon:

  • FBA can solve many customer-facing issues such as your ODR metric or customer performance, but when your problem is caused by a mismatch (wrong item sent to a buyer) then FBA will not help overcome this.
  • A 100% FBA reinstatement is the best way to be reinstated, though not the only way. You wouldn’t be allowed to ship products directly anymore. Please note you can use only a small selection of your inventory in FBA, as long as you use FBA only: you don’t have to move your whole inventory to Amazon’s warehouses. We recommend to only sell your bestsellers in FBA. It’s not perfect, but it’s still better than nothing and it could be the difference between Amazon success and termination.

Wording

We consider your communication and descriptions to Seller Performance to be very important when appealing for reinstatement. Consider using the template below:

  • First, explain the cause of the problem
  • Following on from this by highlighting your plan of action
  • Double check if anything else would prevent your reinstatement

The following plans of action worked to reinstate retailers:

  • Example 1:

“Please accept our sincere apologies for the drop in performance on Amazon.de. Our ODR is above 1%, driven by customer service issues. We have been late to answer German customers, especially during weekends, plus we were using a software to translate their questions and our answers.

Our plan of action is as follows: starting today, we have hired a German native speaker to answer all questions on Amazon.de. This employee is dedicated to Amazon.de. He’s now answering all questions from Mondays to Saturdays included, to be sure customers get answers even during weekends. Please note we are not planning to use a software anymore, so we believe the issue is definitively fixed.

Please let us know if any other issue is not answered by this plan of action. Could you reinstate us?

Many thanks,

Signature”

  • Example 2:

“Please accept our sincere apologies for the sudden drop in performance on Amazon.com. Our ODR is above 1%, driven by shipping issues. We have experienced a high level of orders not received or received damaged by customers.

Our plan of action is as follows: starting today, we are using FBA only for all items sold on Amazon. With a 100% FBA commitment, we believe these shipping issues shall not occur again. Please note we are not planning to ship items by ourselves anymore.

Please let us know if any other issue is not answered by this plan of action. Could you reinstate us?

Many thanks.

Signature.”

If you’ve found yourself suspended or terminated, these steps should help you overcome this challenge. If you still need assistance, contact us and find out how we can help.