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January 3, 2020

How to Appeal an Amazon Seller Suspension

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This blog post was originally published by Deliverr, which is now Flexport. The content has been adjusted to fit the Flexport brand voice and tone, but all other information remains unchanged. With the merging of Deliverr’s services (DTC fulfillment, B2B distribution, and Last Mile delivery) into Flexport’s existing international freight and technology services, we’re now able to provide merchants with true end-to-end logistics solutions spanning from the factory floor to the customer’s door.

There’s nothing more stressful than one of your main, or only, sales channels suspending your account. However, recent updates to the Amazon suspension appeal process means that you can easily avoid Amazon suspension in the first place and quickly reinstate your account should it happen to you. Let’s find out more.

Why Amazon Suspends Seller Accounts

You might be glad to hear that Amazon seller suspensions aren’t uncommon. Amazon is an eCommerce giant, with a mighty reputation to uphold. Accordingly, Amazon is very particular about seller performance and very reactive to any breaches.

Specifically, sellers must adhere to several performance measurements, covering order defects, late shipments, and cancellations. Sellers must also refrain from selling restricted products or counterfeit goods. These policies enable Amazon to deliver consistently excellent service for customers using the platform.

How to Appeal an Amazon Suspension: Questionnaire

If you breach one of Amazon’s policies, then Amazon should warn you that your account is at risk of suspension. If your performance fails to improve, then they may manually or automatically suspend your account.

Previously, appealing a suspension was a long process that could take weeks to resolve. Recently, Amazon introduced a new process that makes creating and sending an Amazon suspension appeal a lot easier.

1. Take Responsibility

While it’s frustrating to be suspended and tempting to jump online to complain, receiving a suspension is indicative that you’ve done something wrong somewhere.

Amazon will detail the reasons for suspension and the policy that has been breached. Take time to read this policy and pinpoint exactly where you failed to meet Amazon’s expectations. The quicker you find and admit fault, the quicker you can begin your appeal process.

2. Identify the Issue

Next, it’s important to understand why you fell foul of Amazon’s policies. This requires analyzing your own policies and procedures to identify the root cause of the issue.

For example, if four of your deliveries were late in the past 30-days, why has this happened? Is your order management system lagging? Has your warehouse been understaffed? If your shipping carrier underperforming? Narrow down the different reasons as far as possible.

3. Create an Action Plan

Once you have identified the issues, it’s time to fix them. An action plan is necessary to help both Amazon and you understand how you are going to overcome the problem. A solid action plan will detail the following:

  • The policy and metric that was breached
  • What causes of that breach
  • How you are going to solve the problems
  • How you are going to prevent a future breach

For example, an action plan for a high order defect rate would include the following:

  • The order defect rate exceeded Amazon’s target by 2% (total 3%)
  • Analysis of negative performance shows that this was caused by:
    • Two A-to-Z complaints in the past month about slow email response times (26 hours and 26.5 hours)
    • Two refunds in the past two months for late deliveries (both one day late)

These issues will be solved by:

  • Scheduling customer correspondence to be responded to each day at 11 am and 4 pm, and increasing the internal KPI from a maximum 24-hours response to 12-hours
  • Temporarily decreasing delivery lead times from 1-day to 2-day

A future breach will be prevented by:

  • Monitoring customer response rates and hiring additional temporary staff during peak periods, namely 01 November - 20 January.
  • Working towards complete outsourced fulfillment within six months.

This is a brief outline of what could be included. A full action plan includes as much information as possible, including the steps taken, systems and tools, and, where appropriate, supporting evidence.

4. Submit the Questionnaire

Once you’re confident that you can resolve the issue and remain compliant going forward, you can complete and submit Amazon’s reactivation questionnaire.

Complete the form on your seller account by confirming that you:

  • Understand the appropriate policies
  • Have identified the issue and taken steps to prevent it from happening again
  • Agree to adhere to the appropriate policies
  • Understand that if you breach any policies again, this may lead to permanent suspension

5. Learn From Experience

After your account has been reinstated, it’s crucial that you learn from the experience and following your action plan to the letter, to prevent it from happening again.

How to Appeal an Amazon Suspension: Formal Appeal

There may be times when you need to submit a formal Amazon suspension appeal, for example, if you have been suspended before or if your appeal has been denied.

When writing a formal Amazon appeal, ensure it’s detailed, easy to read, and clear to follow. We recommend the following structure:

  • An introductory paragraph that outlines what your appeal is about
  • A bullet-point description of the issues that lead to suspension
  • A detailed action plan in the format mentioned above
  • A closing statement about your dedication to outstanding customer service, the Amazon brand, and this never happening again

It’s vital to stay professional throughout and avoid blaming anyone but yourself for the issues.

How To Avoid Amazon Suspension

Of course, prevention is far better than suspension. It’s good practice to take proactive steps to avoid Amazon suspension in the first place, especially for the three most common reasons: order defect rate, late shipments, and cancellations.

Order Defect Rate

Your Amazon order defect rate (ODR) is the percentage of orders that receive negative feedback. It is calculated as follows:

Negative performance / total number of orders (during a 60-day period)

Negative performance includes A-to-Z claims for unsatisfactory orders or slow delivery, negative feedback or ratings, and credit card chargebacks or refunds.

To continue selling on Amazon, sellers must maintain an ODR under 1%. Ways to reduce your ODR include:

  • Analyzing any negative performance to identify and solve issues quickly
  • Downloading the Amazon Seller app to respond to customer queries quicker
  • Conducting regular product audits to check for quality
  • Assessing your product photographs and descriptions to ensure accuracy.

Late Shipments

Amazon is known for its fast shipping capabilities, therefore, late shipment rates of 4% or over can qualify you for automatic suspension.

There are a number of ways to reduce late shipments and increase on-time orders. These include:

  • Minimizing order handling time by using live order management software, optimizing your warehouse layout, and using additional staff during peak periods
  • Minimizing your shipping time by using multiple warehouse locations, fast shipping carriers, or fast-shipping fulfillment partners
  • Qualifying for Amazon Prime using FBA or a fulfillment partner that supports Seller Fulfilled Prime

Pre-Fulfillment Cancellation

Canceling orders before fulfillment is not only bad for customer service but can also lead to suspension when you’re doing it 2.5% of the time or more.

Reduce pre-fulfillment cancellation by:

  • Conducting regular warehouse audits to ensure correct stock levels
  • Using inventory management software to track and update stock numbers accurately
  • Partnering with a multi-channel fulfillment provider to ensure that cross-channel stock levels are synced in real-time

Being suspended is never a good thing, but with these tactics for running an Amazon suspension appeal, you can quickly reinstate your account, improve performance, and even gain more customers as a result.

The contents of this blog are made available for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for any legal, business, or financial decisions. We do not guarantee, represent, or warrant the accuracy or reliability of any of the contents of this blog because they are based on Flexport’s current beliefs, expectations, and assumptions, about which there can be no assurance due to various anticipated and unanticipated events that may occur. This blog has been prepared to the best of Flexport’s knowledge and research; however, the information presented in this blog herein may not reflect the most current regulatory or industry developments. Neither Flexport nor its advisors or affiliates shall be liable for any losses that arise in any way due to the reliance on the contents contained in this blog.

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