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SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH FEB 8-9, 2016
Seller Performance ecommerceChris
Amazon Product Quality & Seller Performance
● Internal team insights
● Policy warnings and how to respond
● Guidance on avoiding suspensions
● Appeals and preventing recurrence
Product Quality Team, Defined
● PQ is tasked with protecting marketplace customers from (possible) rule-breakers:
o Investigates sellers based on complaints or reported policy violations/ manual investigations
o Policy warnings go out based on the nature of buyer comments coming in
● Review appeals of suspensions and assess your Plan of Action (POA)
• Poorly written POAs/ appeals
• Bad invoices/ non-verifiable supplier info
• Unanswered policy notifications
• Listing the “wrong” products
• Lack of understanding of what it means to sell on Amazon
• Lack of a financial back-up plan
• Afraid to escalate when necessary
How to Avoid Getting An Amazon Suspension
Understanding Your Place in System
• Are you irreplaceable? To Amazon you might not be a large seller
• Are you cooperative? Give Amazon what it asks for
• Are you willing to pay for an account manager?
• Don’t resist change or fail to adapt to Amazon’s way
• Escalate when needed
• Have a contingency plan
Be Your Own Amazon Account Expert• Who inspects your inventory for item quality?
• Who are your suppliers? Where do they get their items?
• Who is responsible for listing accuracy?
• How is the item being packaged or handled before FBA? It’s too delicate for multiple shipping & handling?
Listing Right Vs. Wrong Product
• Don’t piggyback ASIN without matching products
• Do you have a legal right to list the items?
• Consider the downside of “hot” but risky items
• Retail Arbitrage – Wean yourself off it
• Don’t use suppliers selling ‘New’ items at big discounts
Understanding Your Supplier • Does the supplier have a positive track record
with other Amazon sellers?
• Are they on the manufacturer's web site as an authorized re-seller of the items?
• Do they provide professional, detailed invoices if buyer complaints prompt scrutiny?
• Have you independently inspected the quality of supplier’s product?
Managing Inventory Risk
• “Opt out” of FBA Repackaging/ “Resellable inventory,” potential for opened or used items to show up in “New” condition for sale
• Policy notifications pile up for “Used Sold as New” and “Inauthentic” warnings -- respond accordingly
• Sticker your inventory and consider what items to remove from FBA commingled
• Expired products: Buy inventory with distant expiration dates and /or verify the dates of expiration before ever sending items in to FBA
• Your company name
• Dated in the last 180 days
• Volume accounts for sales levels
• Not over-redacted; Not made up!
• Supplier can be verified, contact info, web site URL, etc.
• Professional, presentable format
• Shipping info (date, method, tracking, etc.)
Monitor Metrics…even Beta ones!
New metrics sellers are held accountable for:
Valid Tracking Rate
Return Dissatisfaction Rate
Customer Service Response Time Rate
Negative Buyer Experience warnings
Cultivate Internal Contacts• Identify useful contacts from our professional
• Keep contacts from other services, AWS/ Lending/ account manager programs – might be useful when it counts
• Stay in touch with category managers BEFORE problems
• Being a veteran seller doesn’t guarantee immunity
• Read and respond to all policy notifications ASAP
• Research their origin and don’t blame the buyer
• If buyer-related, find out what can be driving complaints
• Look into the last order on the ASIN, even if the item is no longer carried
• If a past issue, explain it
• Have valid explanations and solutions---answers necessary to keep the account active
Policy Notification Response
Who Gets Suspended? Anyone..
• Novice and veteran sellers-no one is immune!
• Escalation might be handled differently for larger sellers as they are handled by senior investigators
• Accounts with account managers and category support get suspended, too
• Individual or groups of complaints matter more to policy teams then “perfect” metrics
• Ensure your suppliers are easily verifiable – do your own search online, be an investigator
• Be prepared! Keep your documents organized and have knowledge about your operations ready
What To Review Before an Appeal
• In POA, indicate all improvements are already implemented and ensure they have been
• Assess all deficiencies on the account:
a) Are all inventory items matching 100% to product detail page?
b) Are listing comments accurate and follow Amazon Item Condition Guidelines?
c) Are any non-branded generic items listed against brand ASIN pages?
d) Were items sent in insufficient packaging, resulting in damage when the order was fulfilled?
e) Is there an item that is potentially not authentic?
Understand an Account Investigator • Amazon managers enforce investigator
metrics based on both how many contacts they resolve per hour AND decision quality
• What would you see if you reviewed your account?
• Manager turnover creates lack of consistency – PQ teams
• Fear of reinstating wrong type of seller -- bad debt
• Poor training, auditing
Steps of a POA
• Resist that first urge to click the “Appeal” button!
• Keep it simple –intro paragraph, specific details and facts, and a PLAN to solve any problems
• Identify what went wrong and present viable solutions
• Avoid the “complaint/solution” format; use root causes/ POA format
• DON’T simply blame buyers! Amazon wants changes!
• No angry commentary regarding the process or Amazon -- Contain the emotion
• Conduct a thorough, honest review of your account to grasp why Amazon took the action
• Assess previous warnings and analyze the “root causes” of the suspension
• Compose a POA to address each concern (bullets format) with all relevant info to improve account's weak spots that also identifies concrete solutions to account’s problems
• Use past-tense in your appeal document when stating the changes you’ve made
Dear Product Quality:
Please consider our Revised Plan of Action as part of our renewed efforts to satisfy any concerns regarding our account. We understand that we received complaints for selling product that appeared to be inauthentic to customers.
We have taken several other steps to verify our product detail pages match the items sent to FBA and to review condition guidelines to prevent “materially different” type complaints. Please review our root causes and our plan below.
• Some items were defective, and considered in a condition other than what we had listed, e.g. ASIN
• Some buyers received wrong or not as advertised items due to picking or packing errors, including ASINs …
• Some items were sent that were missing parts or components, including orders associated with ASINs …
• Some items were not considered accurately described in our listings details and led to inauthentic complaints, e.g. ASIN…
• Some item condition complaints arose due to damage in transit
POA Example (Cont)• We have deleted all of our FBM listings and will use full 100% FBA once reinstated.
Buyers will both receive their items on time, and receive the properly inspected, complete orders that they expect when buying on Amazon. Items that are missing parts or damaged will be greatly reduced by this action.
• We'll continue to emphasize our new QA steps to confirm that items are fully as described, packaged in new retail packaging and not ever opened, and will reinforce our new verification steps prior to dispatch of items to the buyer or to FBA.
• We instituted a new program to verify proper condition classification of items. Items will be checked twice before sending in to FBA, to ensure all items are in the proper condition and as they were listed on the site.
• We have also retrained staff on all condition guidelines in regards to problems with “Used Sold As New” past problem orders. Any item appearing to have any outer packaging blemishes, even if inner contents are considered undamaged, will be removed from our inventory to restore all buyer confidence. We have reviewed the definition of “New” with all staff: ““A brand-new, unused, unopened item in its original packaging, with all original packaging materials included. Original protective wrapping, if any, is intact.” No New items not meeting this criteria will be sold on Amazon.
PQ/SP Email Response Quality • Responses don’t necessarily match the
situation or ask for the same info
• Some emails are not responded to (account could be annotated)
• Email into multiple email queues to get a reply faster
• Got Stuck? Find an escalation path
• A new POA (or two) has been submitted for review, additional information is asked for repeatedly. You’re stuck!
• Write Jeff an email about the appeals review process breaking down but don’t rush it – may be last shot
• Don’t Give Up! Consider hiring a professional (writer, lawyer, seller account consultant, etc.)
Escalation & Other Options
Amazon’s Final WordIs Final word the Final Say? One Client Example:
a) Sent denials 2x, then FW, then on to us
b) Wrote new POA/ submitted to policy, reply asks more info (again)
c) Wrote to Jeff/Exec Seller Relations –reconsidered, reinstated
“We regret we are unable to provide further information on this situation. Further correspondence regarding the closure of your selling account may not be answered.”
• Examine Quality Assurance processes
• Scrutinize product detail page content for inaccuracies or unclear information/ ASIN contribution changes
• Maintain excellent communication with policy teams
• Pay attention to buyer complaints in Feedback, claims and messages to you about problems
• Don’t Break Rules!!!
How to Protect Yourself
• Can't blame the mountain (Amazon) for not being fair when it is dangerous to climb
• You can’t negotiate or debate with the mountain
• You must determine your relationship with the mountain… not other way around
The Everest of eCommerce
• Amazon merchant account assessment
• Manage client communication with Amazon
• Research account suspension causes and identify/ create solutions
• Help sellers understand risks of violating Amazon’s policies
• Advice for Amazon sellers that are stuck in a meaningless communication loop