Chris McCabe interviews former Amazon seller account manager Jesur Habek, giving us a rare look into the tensions between Amazon teams
This post is by Chris McCabe, a former Investigation Specialist for Amazon’s Seller Performance team and founder of ecommerceChris.com.
If you asked Amazon sellers what they fear the most, it would be having their account suspended. This is a rational fear, as suspensions are common and can come completely without warning – like a bolt from the blue.
We usually hear about suspensions from the seller’s point of view, but that only gives us a small part of the picture, based on the notoriously thin detail provided by Amazon. What do suspensions look like to an Amazon insider, with access to the teams who are actually responsible?
I worked for years on Amazon performance and policy enforcement teams, and this past month I spoke at length with fellow former Amazonian Jesur Habek. Jesur is a former Strategic Account Manager (SAM) in the consumables category at Amazon. The job of a Strategic Account Manager is to support sellers and help them grow their sales. Their interests are completely aligned to the sellers they work with, so they often need to take the position of an internal advocate for sellers’ interests at Amazon, and speak on their behalf to other teams.
Jesur told me about the the major pain points in his interactions with Seller Performance and Product Quality, and offered some advice to sellers on submitting their Plan of Action (POA) – the central document required when sellers appeal to Amazon for reinstatement.
I began the interview by asking Jesur about his experience defending sellers who have been wrongly suspended.
You can now buy insurance to protect your business against Amazon bans. Will it really pay out if the worst happens?
Being suspended from Amazon is a seller’s worst nightmare. Sales stop and payments are frozen, sometimes for weeks or months, while you desperately make your case for reinstatement. Your expenses – loans, wages, rent and more – continue to mount up all the time you are suspended.
Account suspension is not a rare occurrence. In our survey last year it was the biggest concern for over 60% of Amazon sellers. Some sellers are banned because they fail to meet Amazon’s performance metrics, others are brought down by product quality issues, and others still are kicked off due to underhand tactics by their competitors.
A growing number of Amazon suspension consultants offer expert advice to help sellers get reinstated, but it’s still a nail-biting process. Success can take days or weeks, and there is no guarantee of getting the suspension lifted at all.
In March this year, Amazon suspension insurance was introduced to the market. The new insurance covers lost sales and expenses while you are suspended, addressing head-on the serious damage that suspension can cause.
Surprisingly, many sellers have remained on the fence about suspension insurance. Some think it’s just too good to be true – they can’t believe that anyone would insure them against the random whims of one of the world’s largest companies. Others doubt that the insurance will really pay out as promised.
So, we set out to demystify Amazon suspension insurance and explain the whole process, right from applying for a policy through to making a claim when you have been suspended.
Thank you to Nicole Geiger Welden and Matt Lovell of W.E.L.L. Insurance for their help with this article.
A growing number of unethical Amazon sellers are abusing the system to take down their competitors. Here’s how they do it.
We all know that Amazon is a competitive marketplace. The battle can be intense and sellers are constantly on the lookout for ways to boost their listings. When it comes to the Buy Box, this is usually through price, maintaining good performance metrics and using FBA.
But some sellers will take things a step further and try to shoot down their competitors using a range of dirty tricks. Their aim is simple – to get a competing seller or listing suspended.
This underhand behavior is rife on Amazon, and a variety of different tricks are being deployed. These range from leaving negative reviews on competing products to switching genuine items with counterfeits, then making inauthentic item claims to Amazon.
Massive disruption is caused for the “victim” sellers, who lose money while their account is suspended. They are left frustrated, having to write a Plan of Action to reinstate their account – for problems that don’t actually exist.
To raise awareness of these anti-competitive practices, we’ve found five of the most prominent dirty tricks being pulled by Amazon sellers on their competitors.
Best practices for Plans of Action and DMCA counter notices
This post is by Chris McCabe, a former Investigation Specialist for Amazon’s Seller Performance team and founder of ecommerceChris.com, with Suzi Hixon, an Amazon FBA seller and attorney specializing in intellectual property law at The Private Label Lawyer.
Chris McCabe’s first post on this topic, False Infringement Claims are Rife on Amazon, was published on Web Retailer in January.
The incidence of rights infringement claims at Amazon spiked upward recently, as many parties have realized how easily this can be abused to remove unwanted sellers from a desired listing.
In fact, Amazon’s policy teams have moved much more aggressively to suspend sellers, instead of warning them and removing the ASIN in question from their listings.
The net result of these actions is to drive up the number of suspended account appeals. These appeals require Plans of Action to address not only how you’ll resolve the current dispute with the claimant, but also how you’ll avoid such rights infringement cases in the future.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the increased friction around notice claims has resulted in new methods to prevent notice abuse. Amazon is now taking this subject very seriously and no abuse of Amazon’s systems or policies will be tolerated going forward.
…and the top 5 things you need to know about each of them.
This post is by Austin Fisher, Product Manager for SellerEngine’s product research scouting app Profit Bandit. He also works with SellerEngine Services, helping Amazon sellers with listing and account issues.
For those of us who have dealt with Amazon for a while, it was only a few years ago that selling through the ecommerce giant seemed like the wild wild west.
Anyone could start selling and making money. There weren’t many third-party software or service providers, and – most importantly – there weren’t so many rules, regulations and rapid-fire changes to watch out for.
Today it feels quite different. Amazon selling, FBA, retail arbitrage – they’ve all hit the mainstream now. And Amazon has got a lot more proactive in regulating their marketplace.