Multiple Amazon Accounts: What’s Happening and What You Should Do

Amazon is getting harder on sellers with multiple accounts. Here’s what you need to get approval and avoid being flagged for investigation.

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.

UPDATE February 2018: This second edition has been fully reviewed and revised.

Do you have anything to declare?

This is what travelers are asked whenever they pass through Customs at airports around the world. Amazon is asking you this too, if you have more than one account. Which one is it? What’s the email associated with it, so we can have a look and decide if you need it?

If you don’t declare items to customs and they find them later, you pay more, right?

The same principle applies here. Amazon are regularly sending messages to sellers who they suspect of having multiple accounts, but they’re doing more than looking for a confession. They’re sending a warning shot prior to taking more aggressive actions, if past policy matters are any guide.

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The multiple Amazon selling accounts notice

Amazon’s notifications are usually along these lines:

Subject: Multiple Accounts Policy

Dear Seller,

Amazon’s policies prohibit a seller from operating or maintaining multiple accounts; however, we understand that in certain circumstances, sellers may need to own multiple accounts.

We would like to ask you a few questions:

  • Do you have multiple Amazon selling accounts?
  • Have you opened or operated more than one seller account in the past?
  • In addition to your seller account, do any other members of your household also have a seller account?

In order to protect your account, please reply to this email with the following information:

  • The email address(es) associated with each account you own
  • The email address(es) associated with each account owned by members of your household other than yourself
  • The reason(s) why you need each account

If you own just one account, have never owned more than one account in the past, and no one else in your household has or has had an account, please disregard this notice.

Why are Amazon sending these messages? Why do they care if someone has a second selling account?

Amazon wants control over who can have another account, instead of leaving it open to debate, discussion, and a seller’s own decision or judgment. They appear keen to find any unapproved accounts that could spell competitive advantage for sellers looking to game the system. They’re also looking to reduce unnecessary work reviewing extra accounts in the future.

You can reduce your chances of getting this notification, and be in a strong position to respond if you do receive it, if you:

  • Get approval for multiple accounts in advance
  • Avoid being associated with accounts that have no connection to you

I’ll cover those now.

Getting approval for multiple Amazon accounts

First, consider the reasons why you really need another account. Do you have different business entities that genuinely need separate accounts, or do you just want to keep categories or inventory apart from each other?

I worked on the Seller Performance queues as an Amazon account investigator for almost six years. I reviewed appeals from sellers to open second and sometimes even third accounts, sometimes dozens in a single day. Some were from sellers who really needed another account to operate their business effectively, and some were from sellers who were looking to add one as a contingency.

Many never understood, when their appeal was denied, that opening a second account has nothing to do with protecting them from losing the first. Our SOPs gave us guidelines to measure a seller’s real need for opening a second account, but we were also allowed to make judgment calls based on the particular details of each individual case. Requests were not simply rubber stamped, or decided just on having the “correct” wording.

So, understand how Seller Performance evaluates these requests, but also keep in mind that each one is decided on a case-by-case basis. It’s tempting to use groups or forums to compare your request to other sellers, but remember that the decision involves your unique account history and business situation.

Legitimate business reasons

You need to specify “legitimate business reasons” for a separate account and email Seller Performance requesting approval.

What’s considered legitimate? You need to show a significant business need for separate operations of different businesses, or a need to separate inventory or accounting processes, and also demonstrate that the different businesses don’t share financial or tax ID information.

Amazon is interested in preventing unfair competitive advantage across all categories. Sharing inventory, suppliers, and locations or sign-ins won’t be a good idea if you have two accounts doing more or less the same work. Having a different bank account, a different name on the account, or different physical addresses is not enough. You must demonstrate entirely unrelated operations and an understandable reason why you need them to function apart from each other. Anything else will be thought of as an excuse and means extra work for them.

Some sellers will be granted another account if they’ve performed well on the first one, and if they have a strong presence in two categories. But you will NOT be granted many accounts if you sell in many categories. That is way too much work for Seller Performance to handle.

Do’s and dont’s

Don’t ask for another account when you have a recent metrics miss, lots of recent policy violations, Notice Claims of infringements piling up, or anything similar. They’ll think you’re trying to compensate for trouble on one account by arranging a back-up plan.

If you are granted permission for multiple accounts, you must get it in writing from Seller Performance! In my time at Amazon, when I approved requests for second accounts, I made sure to annotate each one, stating the other account was OK’d. In the absence of that wording, future investigators may conclude that the seller took it upon themselves to open additional accounts for their own reasons.

A conversation with a Business Development rep or anyone in Seller Support will not be accepted as proof. The only way to know or prove that Amazon actually annotated your account with their approval, is to produce the email they sent you assuring you that they have done so.

Avoiding “false positive” detections of multiple accounts

If you have what they call a “dormant” or inactive account that you have not used in a long time, I recommend you terminate it. Then it will not show up as a related and potentially active account. They can see you haven’t used it in a while, but why take a chance?

If you have family or friends signing in from your location, or even selling from the same house, ensure you have enough data reflecting different people, companies and operations to distinguish the accounts from each other. Amazon will already have seen that these accounts are potentially connected, in most cases, and may be ready to act on it if they consider them to be too similar to each other. Amazon’s tools pick up layers of overlap between accounts, so separate your operations and think ahead. For example, when it comes to item type, be sure that you’re not selling the same, or similar, items from the same location.

Never offer or agree to help other sellers with setting up their accounts. IP hits are not the sole criteria for making a determination that two accounts are related, but it’s an excellent start. If you also sell in the same category (what Amazon investigators call “IT,” or item type), then you’re well on your way to looking like you share operations with the companies behind those accounts.

Don’t set up partnerships, incorporate your business, or make any other structural changes, before considering what Seller Performance will flag as “shared operations”. They will not lose a lot of sleep after deciding you’re related to another active account. If you look related in the tools, you might as well be related in real life.

Where Does that Leave You?

Think you can outwit the Amazon tools for detecting related accounts?

You can try that out, but if there are consequences later, embrace those as tightly as you have the effort to evade Amazon’s tools. Asking “how will they know?” has rarely worked long-term in the past. Don’t try it now, either.

Anyone with approved accounts established for valid business and legal reasons should have no problem providing email addresses and details about such accounts. Everyone else needs to decide what kind of risk they want to take.

If you want to stay off the radar, secondary accounts and accounts in the same household should not sell the same products. Best practice is to sell in different categories or create different companies, at different addresses, that have no overlaps at all. Not even sign-ins at the same location or computer.

Likewise, accounts that were established to create a backup plan just in case you’re suspended should not be in operation. Take the hint and move it on out of existence. If you have orders to fulfill, by all means do so. But do not leave active listings up solely because no one has yet bothered you about running two accounts.

This post is by Chris McCabe, a former Investigation Specialist for Amazon’s Seller Performance team and founder of ecommerceChris.com. Chris can be contacted via ecommerceChris.com.

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The best tools for your Amazon business
Automate pricing, request feedback and reviews, improve your marketing & SEO and a lot more. Amazon consultants help with difficult issues like suspension, or help grow your business. All in the Web Retailer directory.
View Amazon Selling Tools Now

23 comments on “Multiple Amazon Accounts: What’s Happening and What You Should Do

  1. I have 10 Amazon stealth accounts and Amazon can go FT – untrustworthy and suspend accounts at a moments notice.

    If you have any business sense you will create those stealth accounts asap – always ways around the system!

      1. Never had an account closed and don’t intend to. I’ve read enough horror stories though to know though that Amazon only cares about themselves – not us their guinea pig sellers they use for market research.

        I used to be a cyber security expert – I know how computers and networks work.

        Not that much work to be honest keeping them going- less risk and more peace of mind- multiple revenue streams and multiple products.

        If I showed you my monthly sales – you would do the same.

        1. I would really be nice if you can show me how to open an amazon account, I had one few years ago and was suspended and I can’t open one now what is the best way to go around that, thank for your time

          1. Hi, the purpose of their policies and their tools is to keep sellers who are suspended from simply starting over with a fresh account. Hence, the messaging indicating accounts are closed for relations to a previous block. You were meant to appeal the prior suspension and focus on why it happened, and what you’d do differently if given another chance. Not to start fresh. I can’t help show you how to get around policy, I’m afraid. Appeal the original.

  2. Hi,
    we are agency from Prague and we opened like 10 AMZ account for our clients. Naturally they dont know English, we are experts etc. It is true some of them were closed without warning recently and we try to appeal to the Performance team.

    Is there any tip how to manage accounts as agency? I believe we felt down into this multiple accounts thread yet I feel we have all the legitimacy to run the accounts for our clients- we even add written deputy for each accounts when we are establishing them.

    would welcome any help of tips.

    1. Can’t advise you without knowing more about how you access accounts or how similar their sourcing or inventory are. If you access multiple accounts and they share relations beyond sign ins you likely are causing multiple to appear related.

  3. Me and my husband are both selling from the same household, but via different corporations and use unrelated ASIN’s. Our companies and products we sell are honestly not related in any way shape or form, but we sell in the same general “category”. What would be the way “to demonstrate entirely unrelated operations”? What list of documents can we provide so they allow us to keep selling? Thanks a lot for this article Chris, your input would be of great help!

  4. Looks like the story is only going to have more accounts opening for the same sellers.
    I wonder if this was Amazons reason for it. Boost the bottom line with more stores?
    Interesting.

  5. I use multiple Amazon accounts that were set up by Auction Essistance because Amazon had banned my personal one. It does help you move a lot of inventory and minimize the risk of getting suspended if you know how to use them, but Amazon is very strict so it is hard to tell what could change that can throw everything off course.

  6. Hi Megan, I’ve not heard of Auction Essistance, but when these accounts were set up were they approved by Seller Performance? Or established unilaterally?

    You said they banned your personal one, then set up other accounts, which means there was something that got around the tools and the accounts were not considered related. Sounds like it worked, but will it always work? They may have overlooked something on one go-round. Why was the first account banned? They don’t really measure personal versus other kinds of accounts, they care if the same person or people is operating an account related to one that was closed. They want control over that decision.

  7. I’m starting work as a consultant in multiple seller central accounts. Is it necessary for me to have a separate email for each account, or is it possible for the merchants to invite me with a single email.

  8. I had an old Amazon seller account with my email address. How can I reactivate with the same email? It wont let me. Its my buyer email too.

  9. Hi Chris MCCabe,

    Thanks for the article. My wife has a registered business that manufactures toys and she has been selling her toys on Amazon for 6 years. I have recently opened my own seller account selling pet products. Now I am paranoid that Amazon will spot the two accounts and question them.

    We both log in to our accounts from home. I think her seller account is registered to her separate Business Address; mine is registered to our home address.

    In order to to avoid the risk of my wife’s account being suspended I have been advised to shut my account down and then apply for special consideration when setting up a new seller account from scratch.

    Is there a way of avoiding this? I have already made my listing ‘inactive’ and am thinking of opening a case log to plead my case now without closing my account. I believe we have genuine reasons to require two separate seller accounts, but I am very concerned that opening a case could trigger exactly the account closure that I am trying to avoid?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind regards

    Daniel

  10. Hi there,
    my case is having multiple accounts at the same time. The reason I opened another account is that when I first started I just wanted to test the water a bit and listed a few items that I did not have inventory. And I got sales from those listing. however, I had to cancel on the buyers. With that being said, I got some negative reviews. That’s why I wanted to start over. So I opened another account and made a couple of thousands before my account got suspended. My question to you is that I don’t want to start again with my first account with negative reviews. However, I just sent my first inventory to the warehouse last week and found out my listing is not active due to my selling privilege has been removed, but I am not either banned or suspended on that account. Right now I am tired of contacting Amazon. I kinda just want to close this account and open another new open legally. What can I do? thank you.

  11. Hi. Not following. So you abandoned an account with poor ratings trying to start over ( there is no compliant way to start over like this) and created a new account that they haven’t suspended, they don’t consider them related maybe? They would normally close it for related to the bad performance account. Not much to contact them for if they are allowing it right?

  12. Hello, we would like to open another seller account for different business i own, i have one account in good health with no issues and we just started a new business (Different Tax ID, Different Bank, Different product category) and i would like to contact amazon to obtain an approval. is there a preferred method of contacting amazon? specific department? any help will be appreciated.

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