With 2 billion monthly site visitors, Amazon strictly regulates sellers to preserve the high quality of its marketplace. Most sellers have no problem following these policies since they’re eager to access Amazon’s 2 billion site visitors shopping for products each month.
Having said that, Amazon’s rules are quite strict. Even the best of sellers have had their accounts suspended.
Luckily, suspension is not the end of the world. Sellers can have their privileges restored by submitting an appeal.
For a successful appeal, sellers have to show Amazon that they clearly understand why they were suspended, and that they have a plan for resolving the issue and improving their selling practices.
Why have my selling privileges been removed?
You won’t be able to resolve your issue if you can’t identify it, so the first step in getting your privileges reinstated is fully understanding why you were suspended. Amazon will state the reason for your suspension in their notice email to you, but you’ll want to know in detail how Amazon defines these reasons to form a well-informed appeal.
Sellers on Amazon can be suspended for failing to meet Amazon’s performance targets, which are measured with 3 metrics:
- Order defect rate (ODR): This metric indicates the percentage of a seller’s orders that have received negative feedback (one and two star ratings), an A-to-Z Guarantee claim (a buyer reporting an issue with their order), or a service credit card chargeback (when a buyer disputes your order as a credit card purchase).
Amazon recommends that sellers maintain an ODR that’s less than 1% to avoid suspension.
- Pre-fulfillment cancellation rate: This metric indicates the number of order cancellations initiated by the seller before the shipment is confirmed divided by the total number of orders in that time period of interest. High pre-fulfillment cancellation rates are often a result of poor inventory management.
Amazon recommends that sellers maintain a pre-fulfillment cancellation rate that’s less than 2.5% to avoid suspension.
- Late shipment rate: This metric indicates the number of orders that are confirmed for shipment after the ship date divided by the total number of orders in that time period of interest. A high number of late shipment rates often lead to customer dissatisfaction since shipments that aren’t confirmed by their ship date can’t be tracked.
Amazon recommends that sellers maintain a late shipment rate that’s less than 4%.
Violations of Amazon selling policies
Amazon believes in maintaining a safe and enjoyable experience for buyers with clear rules, so the company will suspend sellers if you violate any of their five community rules:
- Honor your commitment to buy or sell.
- Maintain current account information.
- Do not open a new selling account if your selling privileges have been removed.
- Leave thoughtful feedback about your transaction partners.
- Do not misrepresent yourself.
Amazon keeps these guidelines broad to encompass a lot of situations sellers could encounter. Some of these rules are pretty obvious though, such as not faking your identity or selling counterfeit goods, and should be easy for most sellers to follow.
Violations of Amazon restricted product rules
Rather than one set of product rules, Amazon has specific product restrictions for each of their product categories.
Supplying restricted products is grounds for account suspension, so sellers must check the Restricted Product pages to make sure that their supply is appropriate and whether their supply categories require additional action, like getting pre-approval from Amazon.
What can I do to keep selling on Amazon?
To continue selling on Amazon, you’re going to need to submit an appeal to Amazon Seller Performance.
Amazon gives sellers 17 days to submit an appeal, which can be sent through the link provided in the suspension notice email. Submitting an appeal doesn’t guarantee that your seller privileges will be restored, though Amazon does promise to review each appeal carefully.
Amazon asks that sellers appeal with a “Plan of Action” that details how they expect to improve the issues that led to their suspension. It’s very important for sellers to put a lot of time and effort into their initial submission because there’s no guarantee that Amazon will give you the opportunity to submit a second revised plan. Some sellers report being given a chance to provide further explanation after a rejected Plan of Action, but others have not been given another opportunity to appeal, leaving their accounts permanently banned.
Don’t take this chance. Increase your chances of having your selling privileges restored on your first try with a stellar Plan of Action.
Writing a successful appeal
To regain Amazon’s trust after your account has been suspended, you have to clearly state in your Plan of Action the issue(s) in your selling and/or inventory management practices and what actions you will take to resolve that issue.
Identifying your reason for suspension
The best place to start in writing your Plan of Action is to revisit the notice that Amazon sent to inform you of your suspension. This email should note whether your selling privileges were removed because of a performance issue or because you violated a seller policy or product rule.
- Performance issues:
If Amazon’s notice indicated that you were suspended because of poor performance, check your Account Health Dashboard under the “Performance” tab of your seller account to determine which metrics are not meeting Amazon’s targets.
The suspension notice should indicate whether the performance issue is a high order defect rate, a high late shipment rate, or a high pre-fulfillment cancel rate, but it’s a good idea to check the Account Health Dashboard so that you can note the exact metric amounts to include in your appeal.
- Seller policy violations:
If Amazon’s notice indicated that you were suspended because of a seller policy violation, you’ll need to consider whether your selling practices are consistent with Amazon’s community rules.
Their rules are somewhat broad, so you’ll need to consider how your individual selling practices might fall under each guideline.
At the same time, there are some rules, like whether your account information is updated, that can be easily checked on your seller account.
- Product rule violations:
If Amazon’s notice indicated that you were suspended because of a product rule violation, you’ll need to check your inventory and inventory intake process to determine which parts of your supply are prohibited and need to be removed. Amazon may specifically note the prohibited item type in their notice, in which case you won’t need to review your entire inventory.
What you’ll do to resolve the issue
There’s no set formula for explaining how you will resolve your issue since the actions you list will depend on your unique seller problem. Having said that, there are a few general tips to keep in mind when listing your action points in your appeal:
- Be specific. Amazon states that they value precision in Plans of Action, so be as detailed as possible when explaining your solution points. Beyond impressing Amazon, writing specific action points with clear steps will set you up for success if your account is reinstated.
- Keep it brief You want your action points to be detailed, but that doesn’t mean each has to be an essay. Amazon receives tons of seller suspension appeals, so they’ll be thankful if you can convey your points with brevity. As a guideline, try to keep each point to less than a paragraph, and at most two.
- Don’t get emotional. You made a mistake as a seller, but that doesn’t mean your appeal should be a heartfelt apology. All Amazon needs to know in order to feel comfortable reinstating your privileges are the actionable steps you plan to take, so keep your points objective and logistical.
- Don’t be defensive. If you make a statement in your Plan of Action about how you think your suspension is unfair or why this issue isn’t your fault, you’re failing to identify your issue as an Amazon seller, a key part of the Plan of Action. Amazon has already determined that you made a mistake as a seller, so you’re better off accepting this as truth in your Plan of Action instead of trying to prove why you’ve been falsely accused.
Confused about how these tips all come together? To help you start your action point writing, here are a few examples of action points based on different seller issues.
- A seller is suspended because of his high pre-fulfillment order cancel rate, so he reviews his inventory management practices and finds that his cancellations are due to listed items being out of stock. His Plan of Action could detail how he reviewed his practices to form this conclusion, and how he plans to schedule a daily inventory check to make sure all listed items are in-stock and available to ship immediately.
- A seller is suspended because her supply of lightbulbs don’t meet energy efficiency standards, a violation of Amazon’s product rules. Her Plan of Action could detail how she has switched to a supplier that provides energy efficient lightbulbs, and how she has scheduled time to regularly check whether her inventory meets Amazon’s standards.
- A seller is suspended because he has received too much negative feedback, so he reviews his buyer’s comments to determine that they are dissatisfied with his slow response time. His Plan of Action might include information about how he reviewed and responded to the buyer’s comments and identified that the common issue was his slow response time. Additionally, he could explain how he will avoid the issue in the future by scheduling a daily time to respond to buyer comments and by downloading the Amazon seller app, which will allow him to respond promptly.
- A seller is suspended because of her high late shipment rate, so she reviews her shipments and order fulfillment details to conclude that she has been sending orders out late because her order volume has dramatically increased in recent weeks. Her Plan of Action might include how she reviewed her shipment and order history to reach this conclusion and how she has revised her management strategy to accommodate her higher volume of orders.
Plan of action template
Need help with framing your identified issues and action points? We’ve provided a general format below for writing your appeal. The language you use in your plan of action will be unique to your seller issue, but this framework will help with the organization of your ideas.
Dear Amazon Seller Performance Team,
Thank you for providing me the opportunity to appeal my selling suspension from Amazon. Please find my Plan of Action below for resolving[state the issue identified in your suspension notice].
A) The issues in my [selling and/or inventory management practices]
- [identified issue]
- [identified issue]
B) What actions I have taken to resolve the issue
- [action step]
- [action step]
Thank you for taking the time to review my appeal. I look forward to hearing your response.
[insert seller name]
This template should serve as a reference point, not a definitive format, for your Plan of Action. Having said that, be wary of including information beyond your identified issues and action points in your appeal. Adding too many extraneous details about your situation will dilute your main points about resolving your issue, which could decrease your chances of being unsuspended.
After you submit, you should be prepared to wait for your response. Amazon reports that they will notify the seller of their decision within 48 hours, but many sellers report that it can take as much as 60 days or more to receive a response.
Below is a full timeline of the suspension and appeal process for Amazon sellers.
[Made with Gliffy]
The suspension period is inconvenient — you’re not allowed to sell, plus your Amazon funds are held in your account — but it’s best to not pester Amazon while you’re waiting. You’re already on their bad side as a suspended seller, so don’t risk annoying them with a barrage of emails.
General practices for avoiding suspension
If your appeal is successful and your Amazon seller privileges are reinstated, you’ll want to do everything you can to avoid suspension in the future. Here are a few habits that will help you track whether you’re meeting Amazon’s standards for sellers or need to improve your practices.
- Check your Amazon reports on a regular basis. The data in your Return, Imperfect Orders, and Feedback reports will provide a clear sense of whether you’re consistently meeting Amazon’s performance targets.
- Keep an eye on your order shipping. Unless you’re an FBA seller and Amazon handles your shipping and delivery, you’ll want to make sure that customers are reporting on-time shipments and properly packaged goods to avoid negative feedback or a high late-shipment rate.
- Double check your listing descriptions. Misrepresenting your supply is a seller policy violation, so make sure you are accurately describing your items in your listings.
- Download the Amazon seller app for quick communication. The earlier a problem is addressed the easier it is to solve. Respond to seller account notifications and buyer messages instantly with the Amazon Seller App.
- Review Amazon’s product rules before adding new items. Check the restricted product rules for the items you want to add to make sure that they are not in violation of Amazon’s policies.
- Have an inventory management system in place. If you’re constantly running out of inventory and cancelling orders, you may want to consider getting an inventory management software like Sellbrite that will help keep your pre-fulfillment cancellation rate low and minimize negative feedback.
Learn from the experience
Amazon knows that its success counts on great sellers, so they won’t keep you suspended if your Plan of Action is convincing and shows them that you won’t make the same mistakes. That said, there are no guarantees here — Amazon has permanently banned sellers before, so increase your chances of suspension removal by taking the time to craft the best appeal you can submit.
If your appeal is accepted and your selling privileges are reinstated, take measures to avoid suspension in the future. Amazon sets up their seller standards to ensure the satisfaction of buyers, so following their rules won’t just allow you to keep selling— it will also help you create positive customer experiences, which in turn spur your company’s growth.
Amazon is a thriving, but strict marketplace. Maintain a clear understanding of their policies, and you’ll be able to steer clear of suspension by consistently checking whether you’re following the rules.