* Intended to be used and must be used for informational purposes only. Fees may be changed by Amazon at any time.
Pulling from Amazon’s Seller Board forums and Reddit, our expert panel answers 5 questions from Amazon sellers on subjects ranging from the importance of protecting your payments with strong passwords, to lessons in the credibility of Amazon CS reps, to product variation on Amazon and labeling for FBA. These free webinars are live each week on Thursdays at 12:30pm CST and viewers are invited to register to join us live and submit questions.
Question 1, General Selling: Seller Account Compromised, Payment from Amazon Diverted
A hacker broke into a seller’s account, entered a different bank account to the seller profile, and diverted an Amazon payment of over $140,000 to the fraudulent account. The seller claims that no email notification or warning was sent to alert them or seek verification of the account change.
Our response: Amazon is usually pretty good about sending warnings for unusual activity, so that part of the issue would seem to be an anomaly. Make sure you are set up to receive them. As to our advice:
- First of all, start by keeping a “heavy eye” on all bank accounts, especially those associated with online accounts.
- Also, Amazon has implemented an optional 2-step verification process for sellers who choose to enroll in it. Keep tabs on the payments you receive from Amazon every 2 weeks.
- Above all, get into a routine of creating strong passwords and change them often. A strong password is a long string of characters that includes letters (both small and large cap), numbers and special characters. Nothing in it should reflect a pattern, such as a word. There are several password generator/manager software programs on the market to make that more manageable.
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Question 2, Suspensions: Seller Privileges Removed Due to Complaints of Inauthenticity
In February, the FBA seller was notified that his product had been removed due to complaints that it was not authentic. The seller went through the proper steps to prove his was one of only a few businesses authorized to sell the product. Amazon reviewed his case and moved quickly to reinstate the seller’s ability to list and sell the item on Amazon.
In March, the same thing happened again. The seller again took steps to prove he was authorized to sell the product, going a bit further by backing up his claim with documentation that included the invoices they receive from the company that handles North American distribution for the product. Seller noted that this had happened the month prior as well.
So, to clear the record so that it did not happen yet again, Amazon suggested the seller close the listing and create a new one. The seller did so but in the middle of that process, a question arose which he forwarded to Amazon: how to move his existing inventory over to the new listing. After several days, the seller had not heard back. When the seller finally did hear back from Amazon, they were informing him that his account had been suspended due to his relisting of the product on Amazon. Obviously, the seller is frustrated since the actions he took, which resulted in account suspension, where exactly what the Amazon customer service rep told him to do. He is able to appeal the case, but wants to make absolutely sure he does everything in the appeal 100% correctly.
Our response: we’ve heard different forms of this complaint. Until Amazon upgrades the training and knowledge base for its first line of CS seller responders, don’t take a verbal recommendation from first tier Amazon seller support as permission to skirt an Amazon policy. You’ll find variation on Amazon concerning their own interpretations of their policy. It’s unfortunate that you cannot accept the recommendation of CS support as an iron clad guarantee, but you may be risking suspension of your account in so doing and setting yourself up for a frustrating quagmire of appeal letters, delays, and lost sales and market opportunities.
So if you are unsure whether the advice you received from Amazon support is correct, ask us.
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Question 3, FBA Prep, Pack & Labeling: Can FNSKU Labels Be Created Before Shipment to FBA
This question concerns variation on Amazon. The seller created a listing with 3 variations and is awaiting FNSKU bar codes for the products from Amazon so that he can relay those to his manufacturer to print on the product boxes. In the process of filling out the online form to arrange his sending of replenishment of inventory for those three items, he was alerted that those items are under HAZMAT review and this could take a few days. While he was awaiting review (he also claims his products are NOT HAZMAT), he thought he would save time by giving the go-ahead to his manufacturer this time, and would arrange for the printing the FNSKU bar code labels via the printing option presented on Amazon’s “manage inventory” pages. He found, however, that while this method enabled FNSKU label print outs for all his other inventory, it only printed ASIN numbers for the 3 items currently under review as HAZMAT. One of his questions: if the HAZMAT review should end up taking weeks instead of days, can he retrieve the FNSKU bar codes in the mean time?
Our response: Amazon’s HAZMAT review is taking longer than usual lately, in some cases up to 2 months.
Also, understand that there are 2 points during the FBA process wherein your item may be flagged for HAZMAT before being successfully transferred over to FBA:
- when you first try to convert a SKU over to FBA, and
- once you clear that first hurdle and you begin the shipping process, it may be flagged again as still be under HAZMAT review
Certainly, this is frustrating. But there is one little side gem of a take-away in all of this… we want to highlight that the seller who posted these questions indicated that while he was awaiting review he would print “the FNSKU bar code labels via the printing option presented on Amazon’s ‘manage inventory’ pages.” Many sellers aren’t aware of the printing options available to them at different points in the FBA prep process. In fact, many of our clients who don’t have their SKUs imprinted on their packaging pre-print 30 packs certain FNSKU labels. We recommend using a thermal printer for this and we cover all of this extensively in another webinar specifically on printing FBA labels.
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Question 4, FBA Fees: Has Anyone Integrated Shopify with FBA? If So, Do the Fee Amounts Remain the Same?
Our response: there are differences, and some may be cost saving. The method the seller describes is a way to have Amazon ship and fulfill the order to every customer. It is not the same structure as FBA, but it can be cost effective. Amazon will, however, ship in Amazon-branded packaging. Here is the fee structure.
As this chart reflects, the fees in this method may be higher than what you will pay in FBA fees, but you’re not paying that 15% commission (Amazon referral fee).
So, depending on the cost of your items, you may find it cost effective to fulfill your orders yourself, or hire a third party fulfillment service if you are not resourced to do it in house.
Question 5, General Selling: When Offering a New Flavor Variation on Amazon of the Same Product, is it best to Add to an Exiting Listing or Make a New Listing?
A seller of chocolate-flavored protein powder is seeking advice on whether to indicate in the listing for that product that a vanilla version is now also available, or should they make an entirely separate listing for the vanilla product, essentially should they create a product variation on Amazon?
Our response: set up a parent-child relationship between the listings of your varied products (basically an empty copy of your existing listing with the name left off of it) and link the children listings (in this case the flavors of chocolate and vanilla) off of the parent. This method for product variation on Amazon enables you to keep your current listing. Your new listing will get all of the rankings and feedback from the first one (think of it as a type of cross promotion) for every product variation on Amazon you create. Although Amazon provides a web interface (uploading form), we recommend using a flat file for better precision. Contact us with any questions.