Amazon Sellers are obliged to comply with specific requirements, such as a low rate of order defects or negative feedback. If they deviate from these specifications, Amazon can enforce measures that can extend to blocking the seller's account.
We explain in this article how to proceed with account suspension and how to create a so-called plan of action to reactivate your account.
Reasons for account suspension
Amazon has high requirements for sellers selling through the Amazon marketplace. Amazon wants to ensure a good customer experience and this includes that sellers keep the promises they make with their offer on Amazon. This applies to all areas of the value chain, from product authenticity to shipping, returns processing, and customer communication. Amazon measures the seller's performance at all points. If sellers deviate from these specifications over too long a period, the account may be suspended.
Account blocking can therefore have very different reasons and causes. Typical account suspensions include the following:
- Inadequate seller performance: if a seller's performance does not meet Amazon's requirements over a longer period time, it may result in a suspension. Inadequate seller performance is for example a rate of order defects above 1%, a too high rate of negative feedback, A-to-Z warranty claims, or credit card chargebacks. You can get more detailed information on Amazon (opens new window)
- Sales policy or code of behavior violations: if sellers violate one or more of Amazon's policies, they can be suspended. If you send marketing-related emails to customers to promote your online store or have a cancellation rate of over 4%, it is considered a violation of the sales guidelines.
- Inadequate seller information: missing or incorrect Amazon seller information may also result in suspension.
More information about prohibited actions or sales activities is listed (opens new window) in Amazon Seller Central.
How can an account suspension be prevented in advance?
Not every violation leads immediately to account suspensions. Amazon issues a warning beforehand. In doing so, Amazon informs you in advance about the exceeding of a key figure and gives you time to correct the grievance.
If, for example, there are violations of review guidelines, delete reviews from friends, family, etc., and point out to refrain from this behavior in the future.
It makes sense to be proactive as a seller: contact Amazon and explain how you plan to resolve the issue. Here's how to prevent an account suspension.
If an account lockout does occur, you will receive a message in Amazon Seller Central saying "Your account has been deactivated".
In addition, you will receive a deactivation notification email listing the reasons that led to the suspension.
If you are blocked, you will lose your sales privileges. In some cases, you may only be blocked in certain areas, e.g. you may be blocked from self-shipping and only be able to use Amazon FBA. In addition, only individual products can be blocked.
In the case of an account suspension, Amazon freezes sales that are still to be paid out for approx. 90 days to deduct any returns from them. You can still ship pending orders, but customers will no longer be able to place new orders with you.
If the account has been blocked, you will no longer be able to use internal communication channels. This means you can no longer communicate with Amazon through Amazon Seller Central. Communication will now only be through the following email address: email@example.com Amazon will now ask you to create a so-called plan of action to solve the problem.
What is a Plan of Action?
The plan of action, or PoA, is used to reactivate the account or withdraw other sanctions. Amazon will advise you in the suspension email of the reasons for the suspension and offer you the opportunity to prove that you are fixing the problem.
Amazon expects the plan of action to answer the following three questions:
- What was the root cause that led to the issue?
- What actions will you take to resolve the issue?
- What steps will you take to prevent future issues?
How do I create a Plan of Action?
Amazon does not provide an explicit template for how the action plan should be structured, however, Seller Central will provide you with help (opens new window):
- Explain clearly and concisely how the problem arose
- Provide an explanation for each problem and present a solution
- Provide evidence for all products under review
- Visually highlight important information such as ASINS, clauses, etc.
Amazon wants solutions like specific changes to the business process. Working diligently is not a measure that will suffice.
The 4D Report
The 4D report is a standard report from quality management that includes four dimensions or disciplines for recording and tracking errors. It is useful for creating a plan of action for less serious violations.
The four dimensions are as follows:
- Description of Problem: a precise description of what problem led to the suspension.
- Cause Analysis and Immediate Action: Analysis of the company's own mistakes and possible actions
- Definitions and implementation of remedial actions: explain what changes were established. For example, was there organizational restructuring, staff training, or a new control body?
- Proof of effectiveness: demonstrate that the measures taken are having an effect. For example, use customer reviews to show that a problem did not reoccur after the measure was taken (in the case of account blocking, the evidence can only be given hypothetically).
The 8D Report
Compared to the 4D report, the 8D report is more detailed and thus suitable for action planning in the case of serious violations.
The eight dimensions include:
- Who is working to solve the problem?: name a contact person, such as an in-house team or an external service provider.
- Description of the problem: a precise description of what problem led to the suspension
- Determine immediate measures: briefly state the most important measures to be taken
- Determine cause(s) of error.
- Planning remedial action(s): discuss approaches and how they solve the problem
- Introduce corrective action(s): document how the action(s) were introduced
- Preventing error recurrence: explain how errors will be prevented in the future
- What did the team learn from the error analysis?: draw a summary and present a learning curve.
The final step is to send the plan of action to Amazon Performance via a link provided in the suspension email. It will take anywhere from 48 hours to several weeks for you to hear back. On the Amazon Seller Forum, most sellers report getting a response from Amazon within a week.
A detailed action plan with all relevant information is the only way to recover your account.
Writing a plan of action requires a high level of reflection and initiative. Depending on the cause, your account will be suspended for several weeks and your professional livelihood may depend on the quality of the plan.
According to experience reports, your specific problem and the consequences of the account suspension costing you revenue may not be part of the application. Even if the suspension is very annoying for you, stay polite and do focused research on the cause of the error and the solution.
When writing the plan of action, you can use quality management methods: the 4D- and 8D-report.