This post is by Chris McCabe, a former Investigation Specialist for Amazon’s Seller Performance team and founder of ecommerceChris.com. ecommerceChris shows Amazon sellers how to keep their accounts healthy, or, if the worst should happen, how to get their account back from a suspension.
Amazon have a new program called Marketplace Growth, where sellers pay a monthly fee for access to an account manager. It consolidates into one scheme Amazon’s previous efforts to assist sellers via Seller Support Plus and Strategic Account Management.
Why do we need another account management program? Amazon have had many sellers send questions and requests, begging for an internal contact to help them manage their Amazon accounts. Marketplace Growth is Amazon’s response. They know the kinds of sellers they want on board. Invitations are being sent out and there’s an application process to screen out those who don’t make the cut, as well as pricing that will deter less serious sellers.
Marketplace Growth is new, but it’s already generating buzz and questions are flying my way. I’ve had the opportunity in the past few weeks to speak with two of Amazon’s new Marketplace Growth managers, and ask the questions my seller clients want answered.
For some questions, we’ll need to wait and see what comes out over the next few months. On others, I’ve learned where this program wants to take sellers, and the answers are more straightforward. The skies could be clearing, and the need for a manager inside Amazon to help you navigate increasingly tricky waters may be at hand. Let’s get into some basics.
What is Marketplace Growth?
It’s Amazon’s way to merge previous fee-for-service programs like Seller Support Plus with Strategic Account Manager arrangements that some sellers have had at no cost. The new Marketplace Growth account managers provide one-to-one support on account health, sales growth and merchandising.
Instead of having many different programs that split up seller account management across various teams, this is a consolidation. There’s one flat monthly fee instead of different fees for different types of service, and it’s all provided through one account manager.
What if I already have an account manager?
Some sellers have been working with an Amazon account manager for years. Only those with no account manager seem to be getting the invitation to start fresh with Marketplace Growth.
But eventually, everyone will be folded into this fee-for-service model for all extra services that help you sell more. And that’s what this program is primarily for: increasing sales. Even if your new Marketplace Growth manager helps run down problem resolution like your old-style account manager, the main reason for the new program is growth.
You may hear from a new Marketplace Growth manager a lot more than you did from a grandfathered-in Strategic Account Manager, who simply took over a post from a previous person, for the sake of continuity.
How much does Marketplace Growth cost?
It depends on your level of sales over the past 12 months. The stated fees range from $2500 a month for sellers with less than $1 million in revenue, to $5000 a month for those with over $10 million in revenue.
Larger accounts I’ve talked to have said they are paying anywhere from $4500-$6000 per month, and there may be some really large sellers paying even more.
There’s a minimum commitment of 6 months, and the full program lasts 12 months. You can cancel with 30 days’ notice, after the first 6 months. Amazon, however, can end your service at any time.
Will they help me deal with other Amazon teams?
A lot of sellers want to know if their Marketplace Growth account manager will help them deal with other internal Amazon teams, such as Seller Performance, Product Quality and Notice teams.
Sure, they’ll help you run down answers to pertinent questions, where they can, but give it time. They are each handling multiple accounts, with weekly or monthly calls to speak with each seller. The teams they contact often take time to get back to them too.
Please don’t immediately corner your Marketplace Growth manager with anxiety around listing suspensions or other related complaints. Give him or her time to breath and get to know your account backwards and forwards. If they ask you what things you need help with, then great. But avoid hammering away that you’ve mainly signed up in order to get nonstop assistance with Seller Performance issues.
Remember: Marketplace Growth managers will be much more motivated from the start if they see your interest in expansion, not just in sitting back on your past victories. Show them you’re chasing future success.
How can I get the most out of Marketplace Growth?
Here are my tips on how to handle your Marketplace Growth manager relationship, once you are on the program.
- Create a solid introduction. Why do you want to talk to them? Have a reason, beyond just getting to know some Amazon insiders. Be ready to talk about your top selling ASINs, and favorite categories.
- Describe how you intend to grow, and what you’d like to contribute to the overall growth of the category. They’ll like you helping them achieve their goals, while they help you nail yours.
- When they ask about problems, cite Seller Performance or Product Quality teams, but don’t expect them to know exactly which manager to pursue for resolution.
- Your account will be mapped to them, so they will see your notices too. Even if they don’t call or message you right away, know that they have seen it.
- They will help you with notifications you receive, and can even assist with quick escalation team actions, but give them time to identify the right person and the right path.
- Yes, they can help with any dreaded account suspensions. In terms of timeframe, one manager told me, “Only one seller account took a month to get back up” – which means that it was an outlier case. Others should be resolved in days at the inside, weeks at the outside, depending on how well you provide what they need. This is where a having a solid Plan of Action ready, before it’s officially requested, can be of use to you.
- They can also assist with Notices of Claimed Infringement, especially if it’s a false claim. Marketplace Growth managers can reach out directly to Notice-Dispute teams for you, and interact with them to resolve these faster. They can’t officiate on price disputes with brands, but they can facilitate resolution with Notice team contacts.
- Safety complaints are on the rise, and many sellers are losing their best-selling ASINs for long enough to make it hurt (or even forever). Once again, to take from a recent conversation I had with one Marketplace Growth manager: “There are various teams that may get involved, the policy enforcement guys may not be the ones you need – you may need to clarify what your products are, why they are safe, where they were tested, how their use is defined. Tell them you can improve your product detail page description.”
It’s important to note that engagement with these managers may vary. Some will be more available than others, some will respond faster than others.
Is Marketplace Growth worth it?
For some sellers, it’s worth paying just to find out what they get. The 6 month minimum commitment means you aren’t locked in for years on end. It’s a test, on both sides.
Can a manager help you grow? That’s what Amazon wants to know.
Can a relationship with a Marketplace Growth manager help you identify potential trouble spots before they hit you head on, along with helping you grow? That’s what sellers want to know.
While not everyone will want to pay a few thousand a month for something they think they already deserve, consider the value of expanding your overall relationship with Amazon account management. It’s never a bad idea to get in on something early that involves additional contact with internal teams. That could come in very handy someday!
If you have any questions about Marketplace Growth or the Seller Velocity Conference, please post a comment or contact me – details below.
This post was by Chris McCabe, founder of ecommerceChris.com. Chris offers 30 minute consultations, where he reviews POAs and escalations before sellers send them in to Amazon. You can book a consultation with Chris here or email him at email@example.com.