The Top 10 Worst Amazon Mistakes & How To Avoid Them
1: Only Answering Customer Service Emails On Weekdays
Amazon prides to itself on communication with its customers and its customer service, you are already aware of this, however, if you set your auto responder to answer emails at weekends you are going to have some very poor performance issues and possibly some negative feedback within your performance metrics.
Amazon’s sophisticated systems can spot an auto responder message and will deem that message is being unanswered so be aware that you need to have physical replies made to ensure that you remain within the communication percentages which you can see by clicking into your account health tab.
The weekend represents approximately 30% of the trading time over a year, emails are really busy during the weekends so actively answering emails over the weekend will help your performance metrics to remain good and will allow you to have more chance of competing for that all-important buy box.
So to fix this, staff for the weekend accordingly, even if it is somebody working from home dealing with emails. This will at least allow you to manage your customer’s expectations in dealing with their query. Keep in mind that enquiries that do not require a response may be flagged for removal from response-time calculations by checking ‘No Response Needed’ box within the Reply area.
2: Assuming All Seller Feedback is ‘Set in Stone’
Sometimes products can fall short of the buyers’ expectations. The product is not as sturdy as they had hoped, the picture frame isn’t quite the right match for the existing living room décor or the shoe size is slightly too big or small.
Amazon merchants take misdirected blows in the form of product-focused Seller Reviews. Shoppers post negative product reviews within Seller Feedback, an area intended for customers to review their purchase experience with the merchant – not the product. This negative feedback, although misplaced, still affects your rating and can have a negative effect on the customers trust in purchasing from you the seller.
Never be afraid to challenge feedback, Amazon will remove feedback upon request in specific cases, which are outlined below, however please see Amazon’s help guidelines for more detailed information. Some scenarios in which feedback is eligible for removal include:
To challenge feedback submit feedback for removal, use a TAM support ticket, easily found on links on the feedback page, identifying the offending feedback, clearly stating that you accurately conveyed product information and that the customer has introduced bias in their feedback. It may also be beneficial to reference Amazon’s guidelines in these submissions.
3: Keeping a Tight Fist Around Product Data
Amazon’s Shared Listing Pages gather the best data from multiple sellers to create the ideal listing to be shared by all merchants selling an item. For example, where three merchants sell an identical brand-name watch.
Amazon sources the best data to create the listing, meaning that the third merchant reaps the benefits of work. Therefore, you may be Frustrated that costly content will be shared, so you refuse to release data to Amazon for these listings, send malnourished data and keep the “good stuff” for other channels, withhold attribute values or don’t bother creating quality data to begin with. Major mistake
Being tight-fisted with your data, as frustrating as it may appear, has minimal effects on your competition but is detrimental to you as a seller. Data for the shared listing will be provided, regardless of your decision. Withholding affects only your likelihood of gaining shopper attention through search results.
You should acknowledge the reality and remember the bigger picture. You’re in a common listing platform and competition is inevitable. Set out to win the customer within the search by providing data as if you were the only merchant selling your product. Do you provide keywords and attributes to guide the buyer as they refine results? Give shoppers what they need to find your product and convert, and let your seller rating, reviews and customer service distinguish you against your competition.
4: Not Paying Attention to Lead-Time-to-Ship
Lead-time-to-ship, or handling time, is the time it takes to receive an order, process and pack it, and get it into the Courier distribution network for delivery. The default value is two days on Amazon. There are two common areas for mistakes:
- You state a dispatch time that is more than actual: All products are set to the default of two days. When asked if you ship faster, you respond ‘yes, with the exception of select items being dispatched and arriving quicker.’
- You state a time that is less than actual: You oversell yourself, stating you will have the dispatch quicker, say one or two days, when asked if you are always able to deliver on this lead time, you admit that you cannot.
In both scenarios, time indicated is not completely accurate and can attract for feedback and missed deadlines.
By not understating how long it takes you to dispatch the items to your Courier service, you disqualify yourself from gaining a competitive edge. By overstating, you’re at risk for reoccurrences of late shipments which will show as a percentage in your seller performance ratings reducing your performance health.
Set correct expectations for each SKU listed. Accuracy trumps low value, if you’re confident you can dispatch within narrower timeframes, indicate this. Always dispatch based on the lead-time-to-ship you have configured. Where you can always offer expedited delivery options and ensure they receive priority.
5: Adjusting Prices Manually
Pricing at a point where items attract buyers and you remain profitable can be a challenge. Proactively adjusting prices on Amazon as the competition dictates is crucial to winning sales. You need to be looking at your inventory folder and checking the price and your competition on a regular basis.
If you have an item where you have a lot of competition add up your time spent adjusting prices and the long- term value of that product to your business. Time can be of the essence in online selling, whilst being devoted to business growth strategy and less to laborious tasks.
So instead of manually adjusting each listing use one of the price adjustment templates that you can download from Amazon in order for you to upload price changes in bulk. This will cut the time dramatically and allow you to keep on top of growing your business.
There are also a couple of automated tools within Amazon that you can use to ensure your product is the lowest price at any given time against your competition, however be aware of your competition and if they select the same checkbox you could be in a downward spiral if they keep dropping their price below yours, so watch your margins.
If you are using a third party stock management and listing tools some of these have sophisticated pricing precepts that you can use to control how your price changes in real time against your competition. Only look at these options if you are a high turnover and profitable business and check their fees in great detail before you sign up.
6: Assuming Policy Violations Are Inconsequential
Policy violations happen – it is easy to violate a rule without knowing it existed, no merchant is perfect and no merchants can know every single policy that Amazon dictates or changes on a regular basis. But when Amazon slaps your wrist, you take it as a warning to understand any significant consequences that may be imposed on your account if you continue to violate the policy.
Policy violations do have repercussions although sometimes not immediate. Sellers who choose not to take early issues seriously may have their account suspended for repeat violations, without warning, in the worst-case their account may be closed or you may find your cash flow is restricted by Amazon placing money in a reserve fund to meet any customer complaint or refund issues.
Nurture your Amazon relationship, pick up the telephone and talk to them if necessary. Quality retailers make accidental stumbles with major effects on Amazon customers, but where these retailers have invested in caring for their Amazon relationship, Amazon may not suspend or close their accounts that may assist them to deal with the issues.
7: Never Getting in the Customers’ Shoes
Successful sellers never lose sight of the customer. There are always two rules to remember, rule number one the customer is always right. Rule number two, if ever the customer is wrong re-read rule number one. At the end of the day you are in the business of providing a service/need to a real person, your customer.
The evaluation of whether or not you have met that service/need on Amazon involves thorough quality assurance testing of your listings.
If you have item misrepresentations, unclear imagery or description typos that can easily slip through. These mistakes affect your visibility in searches, and misrepresented products can backfire down the road, negatively impacting your seller performance metrics.
Get in the customers’ shoes Look through your products to see how they’re matched to an ASIN, priced, positioned, categorised and searched. Develop a process check list for periodic quality assurance testing. The list of details can get long so here’s a few to get you started:
Variation Format Listings Spot check to guarantee that variations appear within the correct parent/child structure.
Multiple Case Packs Check all of these listings. This is crucial when the same item may be associated with a single-pack item. Categories in which pack listings are popular include Office Products, Health and Beauty.
Single Pack Items that Others Sell in Multi-Pack Single Pack Item listings cause pain when matched improperly because sellers end up fulfilling orders at a loss, or risk negative feedback and Order Defect Rate issues from cancelled orders from confused buyers.
New Categories When branching into a new category, research similar listings use the quality assurance formula against your own listings when they go live.
Listings Created by New Staff The learning curve for managing Amazon listings is steep. Provide adequate training and review new hires’ listings thoroughly.
8: Not Keeping Up with Amazon Category and Template Updates
You initially pay close attention to listings and inventory you may have saved a number of template documents for use, but if you haven’t taken notice of Amazon’s Category or Listing Template updates in months you may lose search ranking or the buy box.
Where they may have new attribute fields and data options your listings may appear lower down the search results to that of a competitor who has downloaded the latest templates and may have even updated their existing listings to incorporate the information the new template may allow. Therefore, other sellers out there will be taking advantage of the enhanced visibility and selling opportunities, leaving you behind and getting further back.
Stay up to speed; download new Inventory File Templates for each of your categories on a regular basis. Make it a habit to evaluate what’s new and to assess which data points you should add. If you use a third-party listing platform, review what attributes and categories are available in your Amazon Listing Template in tandem with Amazon’s updates.
9: Making Peace with the Customer, but Leaving Feedback Muddied
Where a customer has left legitimate negative feedback about you in the seller feedback area and you have worked hard to resolve the issue with the end buyer, do not just wipe your hands clean of the matter and return to business as usual.
The negative comment will remain in your seller feedback area even after the issue has been resolved even if you have put notes on the comment to say that you have resolved the issue. This then becomes a stain on your reputation. Buyers trust buyers they review ratings to determine whether to purchase from you. These negative ratings, in high volume, will deter potential customers from buying.
Go the extra mile, request that the end buyer withdraws the negative feedback, the buyer has 60 days to remove it from the time of posting. Remember that they do not need to remove the feedback so this is down to your best negotiating skills.
Task your best customer service employees with such requests and consider incentivizing employees for successfully reversing negative feedback. As best practice, be sure to review Amazon’s full details about using the Feedback Manager system.
10: Not Considering Fulfilment by Amazon
You’re up and running with a warehouse in place, stocked with inventory, you’ve got your shipping process perfected. You’re comfortable with your traditional warehouse model and you haven’t thought about a new approach to fulfilment.
While a review of your current fulfilment model along with a pressing need to keep your business afloat, you could be missing out on the opportunity to save time and grow profits if you haven’t considered Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA). FBA touts a strong list of benefits to third- party sellers, including spikes in sales velocity, enhanced product visibility in search, access to Amazon Prime members and discounts, complete customer service coverage, nearly turnkey access to international audiences and streamlined fulfilment to other sales channels.
Consider whether FBA is a strategic initiative for your business. If you’re hesitant, pick several items from your inventory for which you know there is market potential but have not been converting as expected. Test them in FBA, and see whether the added appeal to the Amazon Prime audience, promotions and Amazon-branded fulfilment positively impacts your sales.