At Awesome Dynamic, our culture of positivity extends far beyond our friendly staff meetings and day-to-day client interactions. We are true believers of using the power of patience, politeness, and persistence to help achieve our desired outcomes in everyday life. Believe it or not, this also applies to Amazon case management.
It’s easy to forget that there are real people sitting behind that keyboard or phone, and sometimes our frustrations can get the best of us. If you choose to approach Amazon case management with a sense of serenity and a positive attitude, the person who is trying to help you on the other end will be more likely to stay engaged and be more motivated to help you find a resolution to your issue.
It is also important to remember that the seller support representatives at Amazon genuinely want to help you with your case but sometimes there are communication barriers that make it difficult for them to grasp the issue at hand. At times, we may find ourselves faced with these barriers. Take a deep breath and think about how we can modify our own style of communication to get the point across in a more streamlined and clearer way that may be easier for someone else to understand.
Using this approach and the tips below, you can get (almost) anything you want from Amazon support. These techniques have helped solve a myriad of issues for us at Awesome Dynamic, from a product caught up in Hazmat Review to an Account Suspension. Although using patience, politeness, and persistence may seem like common sense, here is a quick breakdown of exactly how, when and why we utilize these techniques.
1. Keep it Simple
One surefire way of setting yourself up for failure is to ask multiple, complex questions within a single case. Although it can be tempting to try to knock all of your Vendor Central issues out at one time, the most successful strategy for efficient case resolution is to ask only one question per case.
Here’s an example: You have a project on your ‘to do’ list that is highly involved and requires multiple people to weigh in. Looking at it as one task can be daunting.
It may be best to break down that task into smaller items. It’s easier to see the whole picture when tasks or items are clearly and simply defined. Ultimately, the larger task will get completed but in a more streamlined fashion because you broke it down.
The same goes for opening a case with multiple questions or a complex question. Simplify your approach and breakdown your questions into separate cases to avoid confusion and to hopefully get a resolution faster.
2. Stand Your Ground
Being firm with what you want accomplished is key as long as what you want aligns with the policies of Amazon. We have heard from thousands of prospects and clients that an Amazon representative told them they could not do something. If you feel that it is in the best interest of your business and it’s within Amazon’s policies, then don’t give up. Be your own advocate. Be assertive but remain polite when communicating what you want accomplished.
3. Politeness Pays Off
Politeness goes a long way when you communicate with Amazon, or anyone in your life. If a phone conversation, or support case situation turns negative, the support representatives will likely disengage from the conversation and not want to help you as much.
If you decide to type a message in ALL CAPS people feel attacked or like they are being yelled at. Remember that it is harder to hear someone's tone in a typed message, but putting it in all caps will automatically put a wall up as the receiving person will most likely feel attacked.
Being rude in your communication will only make your situation worse and your goal is to resolve the issue. We have seen a number of issues turn around just by changing the attitude of how we help our clients approach Amazon.
4. Don’t Give Up
Persistence is another virtue that has a huge impact on the positive outcome of Amazon support cases. We have seen cases resolved in as little as two days, or as long as six months. Amazon is big and unfortunately many times you will find that they will take a very long time to respond back, or the response you receive will have an unsatisfactory answer or no resolution. In any event, being persistent, while still being firm and polite.
There are unfortunate cases where months go by without an answer. One case left the client’s inventory stranded. Every other day we’d follow up with Amazon and finally received notice that the product was available for sale.
If you are persistent with follow-up on a case for multiple months with no response, it may be time to recalibrate your situation. Open a new case with additional information, or possibly even less information (see our tip “Keep It Simple” above) depending on how the first case unfolded.
5. Hold the Phone and Get it in Writing
In our experience, communicating with Amazon through the support case system as opposed to over the phone is much more effective in achieving a successful resolution. You have the added benefit of having your entire correspondence documented. Typically multiple people will handle your support issue, although this may seem problematic, this can actually work to your advantage as you continue to correspond in writing. Use what prior support representatives have conceded in your favor in future responses on the same support case, this will help move you to a higher level representative that will hopefully be able to resolve your case in less time.
Although we don’t recommend using phone support, if you do choose to call in, you can quickly gauge how knowledgeable the representative on the other end of the line is just by their behavior. Usually, it takes no longer than a minute or two to tell if the person that you are talking to has the experience that you need for your particular issue. Confidence is key. If they sound like a confident, experienced representative, stay on the phone. If they sound like they are struggling or fumbling with what question to ask you next, or don’t seem to understand what you’re asking, hang up and call back.
6. In Case of Emergency...
There is nothing worse than encountering the dreaded case of the disappearing Vendor Central case. Sometimes cases disappear unexpectedly, so it is wise to keep track of your correspondence outside of Amazon’s Seller or Vendor platforms, and record every interaction for back-up purposes.
At Awesome Dynamic, we make sure to always record the case number, the desired outcome, as well as all correspondence, along with date and time stamps in our project management system. This ensures that we cover all our bases for our clients. By keeping a back-up copy of the documentation, we have been able to successfully troubleshoot issues by opening a new case and request the disappearing case be added back to the client’s account.
7. Do Daily Check-ins Until Resolution is Reached
Do daily check-ins to stay on top of your cases to ensure that they stay open and active until the issue has been resolved. If Amazon responds with information that is irrelevant or dismissive of your issue, do not close the case. They may even circumvent the standard five day timeline for you to reopen the case by having it close within 24 hours. If for some reason you were not able to keep a case open, we recommend opening a new case immediately and referencing the case that was closed. This is not an ideal situation as it can cause confusion for the support representative, but if a solution was not achieved, then this step is necessary so you can continue to sell on Amazon.
8. Just Breathe
We can only control our response to the situation, so balancing a healthy dose of patience with unrelenting persistence is the key to achieving your goals - not just in terms of dealing with Amazon seller support, but also in life. At the end of the day, it is important to just take a deep breath and remember that successful case resolution is the goal of everyone involved.
Evaluate if Vendor Central is Right for Your Business
In the end, if you feel that it’s far more hassle to sell via Vendor Central then you may want to explore another possibility - the Hybrid Model.
First let’s review the advantages to both vendors and sellers. As a vendor (1P or first-party seller), you sell your products directly to Amazon, who then sells them to customers through Amazon retail under the platforms brand name.
Vendor Central Advantages
- Access to additional marketing opportunities that are not available to sellers. Vendors have unique access to Product Display Ads, Vine Voice reviews and certain invite-only programs.
- There are no monthly fees.
- Have the possibility to have greater sales because products fall under the ‘sold by Amazon’ endorsement. People have high regard and respect when products come directly from Amazon.
- Amazon handles order fulfillment and customer support, include fraud.
Seller Central Advantages
- Businesses have greater control over their product inventory. When your a seller if you choose to fulfill by merchant or Amazon, you have the power to determine how much inventory to stock.
- Sellers also have more control over their prices.
- For sellers the costs of doing business are more clear-cut. They don’t have to face the same restrictions as vendors, allowing them to calculate profitability easier.
- Sellers have the ability to reach out to customers at their own discretion.
Sellers who utilize the Amazon Marketplace sell directly to customers and are considered a third-party seller (3P).
Know that you know some of the advantages of each it’s important to explore further and tackle some major questions and circumstances that businesses face when considering the hybrid model - utilizing both Vendor Central and Seller Central.
One big challenge for vendors is being forced to abide by the inventory levels set by Amazon. They run the risk of product order lag, stockouts or Amazon not ordering enough product to meet demand. It’s a different story for 3P sellers, who get to control inventory as they see fit.
If you are a vendor and you have fairly streamlined and predictable sales, this may not be an issue. But if you are a seller launching a new product, dealing with increased holiday demand or simply want more consistent control, the hybrid model may be a good choice.
Amazon recognizes that its demand forecasting is less than foolproof, and has taken steps to help Vendors protect themselves from running out of inventory. The Amazon Direct Fulfillment Program, available through Vendor Central, helps vendors cover their inventory with drop shipping.
Essentially, the vendor’s own inventory acts as a backup if Amazon’s stock ever runs out. If a customer orders a product that Amazon does not have in stock, Amazon will relay the order to the vendor who then hands off the product from their own inventory to their carrier for delivery. For vendors who are solely concerned with stockouts and are okay with relinquishing control of the rest of their inventory management, this may be a good alternative to the hybrid model.
New Product Launches
If you are getting ready to launch a new product, it is the perfect time to consider the Amazon hybrid model. As we touched on briefly above, new product launches can be tricky for vendors because Amazon has no product history from which to calculate demand. Therefore, the platform has no idea how much inventory to stock.
Seller Central gives sellers much more control over most aspects of their brand, inventory included, making it a great place to test out new products. Vendor Central is much more rigid and is better suited for more established products. Consider testing your new products out on Seller Central and moving it over the Vendor Central once you have a solid foundation and steady sales.
Pricing Control Issues
Vendors have just about as much control over their prices as they do their inventory. Constant re-pricing and pressure from Amazon to lower the cost of goods sold, and therefore selling prices, can be a constant headache for vendors. Amazon sellers, on the other hand, have full authority to re-price whenever and however they see fit.
But with this freedom comes great responsibility. It is up to the sellers themselves to constantly monitor the market and adjust prices as necessary. Controlling your own prices may sound like a no-brainer, but if you have MAP or MSRP pricing that you need to sustain, a hybrid model might be best to ensure you are meeting these requirements.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when trying to figure out the best approach for your business and products.