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10 things you should keep an eye on as an Amazon FBA seller

04/28/2020 • Reading time: ca. 9 min • by Trutz Fries

Especially when it comes to extensive assortments, sellers often find it difficult to keep track of their products on all Amazon marketplaces. This is mostly due to the fact that negative developments are often only noticed when they become noticeable through a decline in sales. In this article, you will get a closer look at the most important events to which you – as a seller – should react to quickly:

  • A product is no longer available
  • You have lost the Buybox for a product
  • A new seller has attached himself to his own ASIN
  • The quoted price has expired
  • A negative product review has been received
  • A negative seller rating has been received
  • Seller performance has deteriorated
  • A product is bought unusually rarely/frequently
  • The product titles, bullet points (attributes), product descriptions or images have changed.
  • A product is about to be out-of-stock

A product is no longer available

You notice an immediate loss of sales when a product can no longer be purchased. There are various reasons for that. The most common reason is that the associated offer has either been deleted or deactivated. Especially when dealing with inventory files, where products are to be merged or separated, there is a chance for unforeseen changes to occur.

Amazon's quality assurance can sometimes play a part in this as Amazon can deactivate an item when there's reason to believe that there's something wrong with it. Here, trademark infringements or excessive return rates are common reasons. Amazon also sends out regular emails in these cases, but in the flood of notifications, these messages can sometimes get lost and making unavailable products often go unnoticed for a few days. This can definitely lead to a disaster, especially for bestseller products, as competitors can catch up to you during that time by achieving valuable improvements in the search results.

You have lost the Buybox for a product

The battle for the buybox is more the rule than the exception when it comes to third-party products with many suppliers. However, the loss of the buybox also occurs with your own products or private labels when you – for instance – raise the price too much. In this case Amazon will withdraw the buybox "as a penalty", even if you are the only supplier on the listing.

When that happens, the product can still be bought, however the buyer must first click on the page with the list of all merchants, which only very few do. The result is a sharp drop in sales. Amazon will of course not let you know when that happens. Many merchants regularly adjust their prices, e.g. even if the manufacturer has set up new (higher) prices. Price updates can be carried out conveniently with corresponding Excel files. There are very few sellers that check whether this has had an effect on the buybox after implementing the changes.

A new seller has attached himself to his own ASIN

Amazon allows other sellers to attach themselves to ASINs. Essentially, there is nothing wrong with this, provided that the new competitor has acquired the product legally and does not interfere with third party brands. However, sellers who sell their own brands generally do not resell these products to other (Amazon) sellers. In this case, new sellers who offer the same product are often making illegal offers.

These days it's quite common to see hijacked seller accounts where fraudsters keep listing a variety of items, usually at very low prices, in order to immediately receive the buybox. As the affected seller, you should definitely be taking action against the fraudulent behaviour. However, Amazon does not notify you here either which means that many sellers only take action when the sales curve is pointing downwards and investigations are made.

Strike-through price has expired

It's not a good thing to see that the strike-through price offered has expired. Many sellers use the cut prices to suggest an advantage. Whether or not that is violating the applicable competition law by doing so is up to you. Amazon provides offer prices with an expiration date and at some point, when the day comes, the offer expires. If the offer price expires, the offer jumps to the (usually unrealistically high) list price and the product immediately prices itself out of the market. A decline in sales is a consequence here as well. Reverse that and you'll notice a problem: If a seller has already been successfully warned because he overdid the strike prices, he must avoid falling into the same trap again. Especially with new employees who "mean well" but do not know about the history of individual products, a new strike price can quickly become expensive.

A negative product review has been received

This one's a classic and even the best products are affected by it. It's part of the everyday life of sellers. Many sellers try to get to the bottom of a customer's negative review by trying to solve the issue with said customer. Those who make a sincere effort can quickly turn a 1-star rating into a 3-star rating or make sure that the 1-star rating disappears entirely.

This is all the more important if the product has only a few ratings and a poor rating pulls the overall rating down. Especially with 10 or less ratings, a negative rating can be the death of a listing. Then it's, "Go back to GO and forget about collecting the 200 bucks." But for that to happen, the seller must first realize that there's a new negative rating. Here you have to regularly check all products and check the latest reviews. This is a time-consuming process, especially since the processing of negative reviews only works well if they are processed promptly after submission.

A negative seller rating has been received

The same applies to negative seller feedback. You should react promptly. And if the customer complains about an FBA order that is too slow, you can transfer the complaint to Amazon and the rating will be deleted. Too many negative reviews have an impact on seller performance. Real problems become apparent here first. So keep an eye on your seller ratings. Unlike product reviews, they are displayed in Seller Central and can be answered there.

Seller performance has deteriorated

Amazon currently summarizes the following key figures under sales performance:

  • Rate of order defects: An order defect occurs when a customer leaves a negative seller feedback, makes an A-Z warranty claim or has a payment returned.
  • Rate of cancellations: A cancellation occurs when a seller has to cancel a self-shipped order (FBM) before it is shipped, for example, because the goods are not (no longer) in stock.
  • Rate of late deliveries: A shipment is considered late if the shipment confirmation for a self-shipped product (FBM) is not in the expected shipment date range. You specify this yourself in your shipping settings.
  • Rate of returns where customers were not satisfied with the return: These include return requests that are not processed until after 48 hours, negative customer ratings for a return, rejections of return requests that should have been approved according to Amazon's guidelines.
  • Violations of guidelines: Amazon reports that Amazon has reported policy violations to you that you have not yet acknowledged.
  • Rate of punctual deliveries: A shipment is considered to be delivered on time if the shipment was delivered before or at the notified delivery time according to the shipment information provided by the carrier. Amazon also measures the number of all shipments with tracking.
  • Contact Response Time: As a seller, you must respond to all messages within 24 hours.

You should take the first three goals in particular (order defects, cancelled orders and late deliveries) seriously. If you miss your goals there, you may lose the right to sell on Amazon.

A product is bought unusually rarely/frequently

Amazon's ranking algorithm is unfathomable and every seller has experienced it: products that have been declared dead suddenly come back to life, bestselling products suddenly sell significantly worse from one day to the next. If one or the other case occurs, further research should be done. Has the keyword ranking deteriorated? Are negative evaluations to be blamed? Did you win or lose the Buybox? Has the listing been dropped? The reasons are manifold. Unfortunately it is not that easy to detect significant deviations. If you still have the top products in sight, the situation may be different in the middle segment.

The product titles, bullet points (attributes), product descriptions or images have changed.

Many sellers go to great lengths when it comes to detailing the product pages on which you sell. They edit the listing so that it gets the maximum visibility in search results ("Amazon SEO"). For brands, however, writing permissions can change from time to time and if another seller then changes the listing, the work of many hours could be going to waste. But sometimes it might be your own ERP system that makes unwanted changes to the listing.

If a low visibility in the listing is annoying in itself, it can become really problematic if claims suddenly appear in the listing that are not legally tenable and can successfully be warned. The German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) considers sellers who sell on the marketplace to be obliged to monitor all products for changes in the listing (ruling of 3 March 2016, Ref.: I ZR 140/14). The Higher Regional Court of Cologne has put this into concrete terms in that the monitoring must take place daily (Monday - Friday) (decision of 15.03.2017, 6 W 31/17). This is a requirement that larger sellers can only fulfil with the help of tools.

A product is about to be out-of-stock

The most common reason for declining sales is the unavailability of individual products. Especially with large assortments, it is not always easy to find the right time to place the next order. Therefore, avoidable out-of-stock situations occur again and again. This can be avoided by looking at the sales speeds of products based on different time periods and developing "worst-case" and "best-case" scenarios on this basis. In connection with a previously defined minimum range of coverage, which usually corresponds to the replenishment lead time + a buffer, it is then possible to quickly determine for which items a reorder should be placed in the near future.

Verdict

The good news is that there is a automated solution to monitor all of the above. AMALYTIX provides you with pro-active alerts if negative things happen. Then its still up to you to take action but at least you know about it and you can act quickly. Sign up for our free trial to see if AMALYTIX can help you as well. Hundreds of sellers and vendors world-wide are using our software to have an additional pair of eyes which works 24/7 for you starting at 50 bucks per month. Try to find an employee who is that powerful and cost efficient.

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