When setting up their Amazon merchant account, most businesses don’t think about the prospect of getting banned. After all, they’re a real, legitimate seller with real, legitimate products; why would Amazon ban them?
But seller suspensions and bans happen a lot more frequently than you might imagine. Why? Because businesses don’t worry about it. Because they don’t think it could happen to them. Because they don’t pay attention to the rules.
So what are the reasons Amazon might decide to take such action?
Some obvious ones include selling items that are prohibited (like drug paraphernalia), selling counterfeit products (such as knockoff handbags), and attempting to sell used items as new. But even these “obvious” mistakes aren’t always completely clear, as evidenced by the fact that there is no comprehensive list of prohibited items. Instead, Amazon offers examples and asks that sellers use their own judgment.
And then, of course, there are the performance-related reasons for suspension and banning that are truly unexpected even for the most careful Amazon sellers.
If too many of your customers ask for a refund... If too much of your customer feedback is negative... If you don’t ship fast enough... and more.
The good news is—especially if you're prepared—it's all easily preventable.
Let's break it down further.
Amazon Compliance Best Practices
Be honest on listings.
Always provide true and accurate product information for every single item.
If you twist information in an attempt to link your item with a higher-ranking listing and you are caught, Amazon will not hesitate to punish you. Beyond this, if anything in the listing is incorrect, customers are more likely to complain and harm your seller reputation–which in turn makes Amazon more likely to suspend or ban you.
Avoid allowing orders for products that you don’t have in stock.
Don't put yourself in a position where you may need to cancel orders or significantly delay shipments. Both of these actions are black marks and can mean a suspension or ban. You can prevent the problem by using an order sync tool to ensure your Amazon account has up-to-date and accurate inventory information from your shopping cart platform.
Pay attention to your seller account.
Far too many businesses see their Amazon seller account as something they can set up and more or less forget.
Doing this is how sellers miss out on red flags that can lead to suspension. Check customer messages regularly, and respond to them promptly. Address negative feedback as soon as you can. Watch your inventory levels, make sure they don’t dip too low.
Seriously consider using FBA.
You have to live up to Amazon's standards of fast, painless shipping, and sometimes that's just too difficult.
Some sellers opt out of Fulfillment by Amazon because they want to save money and believe it will be cheaper to handle shipping on their own. Unfortunately, Amazon tends to pay a lot more attention to seller accounts that aren’t using FBA. Eschew FBA and you are more likely to get black marks on your seller account related to shipping. This does not mean that you will definitely be suspended or banned, but you’re going to have that much more to worry about.
Set up systems.
The best way to keep from having your Amazon seller account banned is to stick to the rules and put systems in place to keep track of everything.
You can have reports and notifications sent to you regarding communication, chargebacks, reviews, and more, in addition to automating listing updates to keep all your product data correct. Doing this may not solve every single problem, but it will greatly simplify your responsibilities.