Avoiding Conflicts with Amazon with Chris McCabe, eCommerceChris

April 3, 2018

Let’s say you receive a message from Amazon. They’re getting some complaints about a product you sell. Maybe it’s bedding and customers are complaining that the quality doesn’t match the description in your listing. As a seller, you have an obligation to respond to Amazon. This isn’t a formal complaint, you certainly won’t lose the listing, but depending on how you respond will determine whether or not the situation escalates to a point where the listing is in jeopardy.

That’s what we’re going to talk about in this episode, avoiding conflicts with Amazon, plus we’re going to dive into ways to watch your account to avoid getting that first initial complaint from Amazon.

“People depend on selling on Amazon, the issue of becomes I might lose my business if I don’t handle this right,” says former Amazonian, Chris McCabe.

Chris’ job at Amazon was to suspend accounts. Now he works on the other side helping sellers get reinstated, through his company eCommerceChris. He’s going through another transition right now, he’s shifting to teach sellers to avoid conflicts. Chris wants sellers to reach out to him long before suspension hits. He’s even started a new course to help sellers learn how to deal with the problems themselves.

“Overall how to communicate to my former teams effectively so even if you just lose a listing versus your account you get it back faster in a means of developing an overall better strategy for performance and policy teams,” Chris said.

In Chris’ approach, there are two things sellers need to learn how to do. First, how to review your own account and second, how to look at problem ASINs.

“An account review is not just service running a bunch of reports,” Chris says.

We’re going to come back to protecting your own account in a moment. The most important thing sellers need to learn is how to communicate with Amazon. That’s a skill that needs to be learned in order to prevent issues from Amazon in the first place.

If Amazon sends you a complaint, you have to respond but, you have to respond the right way.

If you respond with bad information or take the investigator on some tangent you won’t be communicating effectively a solution to Amazon and more than likely, you’re not communicating any kind of solution.

“So a lot of sellers are sort of churning through correspondence. Lots of back and forth not getting anywhere, just getting busy spinning themselves in circles so I’m trying to get them to the point where it’s really a couple of emails and before you write anything you understand exactly what’s happening on the other side,” Chris says.

A good way to respond to Amazon includes having the person on your team that has the most knowledge about the complaint be the one to respond or at least have them draft an initial response. Also, create a bulleted or numbered list to organize the information.

Amazon investigators have very limited time and resources. You want them to be able to read through your response quickly. From the response the investigator can either determine if the complaint is resolved, needs some more follow up or maybe the situation needs some time to solve itself. You absolutely do not want to create more work for the investigators. You will get thrown into a pile that could take you closer to losing a listing or a suspended account.

It’s not always clear what information Amazon is looking for in their first initial message. That can be tricky because you kind of need to read between the lines to figure out what the right solution is. Amazon won’t always tell you and they won’t tell you how they want it resolved.

“If buyers think the quality isn’t quite matching their expectation or its a condition issue, maybe the items aren’t being handled properly before they go into FBA, maybe the items aren’t secured effectively in the packaging so that when FBA handles the items they become damaged,” Chris says.

If you have quality complaints, you need to check your inventory. In this situation, in your response to Amazon, first, thank them for bringing the issue to your attention, second, you need to let them know that you are recalling products from FBA and checking on the quality. Then after you check the quality, you can respond and let Amazon know what you’ve found. If you’ve discovered an issue that needs to be addressed, solve that. Maybe you need to adjust your listing description or maybe you do have a bad batch of products.

This can be a lengthy and involved process but it’s better to do it when you’ve received your first warning from Amazon then after the listing has been shut down.

“You’re going to need to do that level of quality control to avoid these kinds of complaints from the Product Quality Team, these warnings anyway,” Chris says.

When it comes to responding to Amazon, the absolute last thing you want to do is go into self-defense.

“I just encourage everybody to just resist that urge and just focus on what could be improved, in any part of the process around our sourcing and selling this product,” Chris says.

What if there was a way to catch issues yourself and resolve them before Amazon sends any messages? There’s a way to do that if you keep an in-depth focus on your business. It will require checking in weekly or at least bi-weekly. This might seem like a lot of work but once you have the processes set up, it’s just a matter of maintaining and adding steps as your business grows.

One thing you need to keep an eye on is return reasons. You can find that report in Seller Central.

“You’re selling this product really well buts there’s an uptick in returns you go in and look at some of those comments and realize that buyers aren’t understanding what is included with the product or how the product should be used,” Chris says.  

In that situation, you can take that customer feedback, update your listing. You’ll be able to add information to help educate your customers.

“Creating lists of ASINs we need to look better at some content quality there, we need to look at why people are returning it, if we’re getting negative feedback of course or very specific commentary of liking or disliking a product,” Chris says.

This can be a lot of work, but once the processes are set up, it’s just a matter of maintaining them. You’re really training yourself to be a risk assessment manager. Again, this is something you can hire Chris to do but it’s also something you can set up on your own. Chris is creating training courses to teach sellers how to do them. You can find him at ecommercechris.com.

Chris also has an upcoming conference, the Seller Velocity Conference. It’s in New York City on April 26. You’ll have an opportunity to meet one on one with experts that will be there and it will cover a variety of topics –

If you decide to go to the conference, use the promo code “amazoninsider” for $50 off admission.

Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment: