Let’s talk about customers. Before the advent of social media, a happy customer, on average, was likely to tell 2-3 people about your business whereas an unhappy customer would relate their experience to around 8-10 people. That response rate for satisfied customers has stayed relatively the same, but it’s now much higher for dissatisfied customers because it’s so easy for them to vent on their social platforms.
Amazon customers are no different. In fact, they are probably more influenced by your previous customers’ feedback and reviews than you will find in any of your other selling channels. Your product reviews strongly influence your products’ conversion rates, and your seller feedback and performance metrics heavily contribute to your proportion of buy box share.
Your communication and customer service has the potential to reverse an unhappy customer’s opinion of your company and, ultimately, win you positive feedback or it can be stale and lack the processes needed to engage customers so that you remain an average seller with a decent amount of negative feedback. With that in mind, in this chapter, we’ll discuss communicating with customers, customer feedback, and resolving customer issues.
Formerly known as the Communication Manager, Amazon’s Buyer-Seller Messaging Service was launched in March of 2010 to handle all written communication between buyers and sellers. Amazon’s message service was designed to increase security (by masking private email addresses), reduce the number of disputes and A-Z claims, and make claims investigations and dispute resolutions more efficient.
Amazon also uses this Messaging Service to monitor your communication with your customers. Amazon automatically monitors your response times and checks for hyperlinks, email addresses, and other prohibited communications.
What is Amazon’s message policy?
The company’s policies are found on a number of pages, including Prohibited Seller Activities and Actions, Buyer-Seller Messaging Service and Improving Your Feedback Rating pages.
Amazon has specified three categories of customer messages:
Let’s discuss each of these categories in more detail:
We’ll examine each of these in further detail:
In certain instances, Amazon requires that you, the seller, communicate with the customer. We will highlight the four main situations:
Phone Vs Email
A quick note on phone calls: We recommend written communication. It may seem easier sometimes to pick up the phone especially when there’s a lot of back and forth, but written communication provides you with the documentation you need and it’s required for the first three situations we highlighted.
And if you do find yourself needing to place a call to the customer, we encourage you afterwards to document the conversation in a summary email back to the customer – that will help Amazon follow the conversation through your paper trail.
Now that we’ve covered your must-send messages let’s go over what types of communication are forbidden by Amazon:
Some sellers include delivery information as part of a feedback request, but it doesn’t make much sense to us. Feedback requests are usually best sent 2-5 days after the order arrives so the customer doesn’t need this information.
In Seller Central, Amazon provides a detailed list labeled “Prohibited Seller Activities and Actions”
Amazon’s seller policy allows for what we call extra-curricular communication. In other words, you may message about certain topics that are above and beyond your mandated responses.
Here are three good examples:
You may request that a customer leave positive or remove negative feedback, but you may not offer any incentive to a buyer for either providing or removing feedback. You can manually solicit feedback in the following ways:
Manual or Automated?
We don’t suggest soliciting feedback manually. It’s time intensive and unnecessary.
If you’re a small seller, you can actually utilize the basic service-level for free from a few feedback soliciting platforms, like feedbackfive.com, feedbackgenius.com or bqool.com.
You’ll get up to 100 requests per month without any cost. Think about the time it would take to manually request feedback from those 100 customers.
if you’re a larger seller, think about the time it takes you or one of your employees to request feedback from a thousand, ten thousand, or fifty thousand customers every month.
The cost is marginal to employ an automated solution that will replace any time-consuming and error-prone manual processes.
The customization of your emails and the inclusion of links to product and seller reviews also can lead to greater positive feedback and make it easier to manage and reduce negative feedback.
Sellers using Feed Solicitation Software typically find themselves reaching more of the silent (but satisfied) majority. Many of the sellers we’ve worked with increase their feedback by more than 300% without increasing their negatives.
Some preferred practices to use with automated feedback tools include:
Don’t just copy a template. Adjust a template or write from scratch so that your email communicates in your language the message you want to send and uses the tone that properly reflects your business.
Feedback solicitors can not only help you automatically solicit feedback from customers, but many of them also allow you to review negative and neutral feedbacks received, monitor trends, and even request removal of negative feedbacks.
There are two types of customer feedback on Amazon:
You want to get A LOT of BOTH types.
They each help you sell more product and gain greater success on the channel.
Let’s begin with seller-related feedback:
A positive feedback score is either four-star or five-star feedback. A neutral score is three-star feedback, while negative feedback is either one-star or two-star.
A high quantity of positive seller-related feedback can help your seller account in a number of ways:
We often see customers get confused and leave positive product-related reviews as seller feedback and vice versa. We also have seen customers leave negative product-related reviews as seller feedback and vice versa.
if a customer is going to leave negative product review as a piece of seller feedback, we can usually get that removed through a ticket to Seller Support because product review in a piece of seller feedback violates Amazon’s review guidelines.
Positive Product-related feedback, including detailed customer reviews, serve as a virtual word of mouth recommendation.
An Amazon customer’s buying decision is largely influenced by the number of product-related reviews, their overall average star rating, and the quality of detailed reviews.
A high quantity of positive product reviews can help your products in a number of ways:
In other words, product reviews can have a healthy impact on your business through improved customer service, increased visibility, tighter reputation management, and even increased sales. Also, keep a close eye on the product reviews that are coming in.
“It doesn’t matter where an item was purchased, or if it was a gift, or if the reviewer just borrowed it for a weekend. If someone feels moved to write a review of an item, and they are a registered Amazon.com customer, they are welcome.” -Amazon
There is no expiration date on customer reviews. This is an important consideration – if you have product with negative reviews from years before, those reviews will continue to affect your product unless you find a way to get those reviews removed.
Keep in mind that Seller Support will accept tickets requesting removal of feedback going back many years, so be aggressive in tracking down inappropriate product reviews or seller feedback.
The default display for customer reviews is in order from newest to oldest. On most detail pages, however, you will see one or two “Spotlight Reviews” at the beginning of the customer reviews section.
One can also sort customer reviews by different criteria. Spotlight Reviews and sorting criteria are covered in the next two sections.
Spotlight Reviews are based on how well the review was written and how helpful it was deemed by our customers. Amazon surfaces them on the site so customers get relevant information quickly. Spotlight Reviews are calculated on a daily basis for most items in the catalog.
After the first few customer reviews on a product detail page, you will find a link like this:
This link will take you to a new page where you’ll be able to sort reviews by Most Helpful or Newest First and view all reviews with a certain star rating.
In order to increase the volume and percentage of positive feedback you receive consider the following:
Target Specific Products
Some products are more naturally suited for reviews than others. Products with passionate users, books and media, or unique or self-manufactured products typically receive higher review rates.
As a general rule, the more commoditized a product, the less likely it is to generate a written review.
Some sellers suggest reaching out to likely reviewers. Amazon guidelines prohibit compensation for customer reviews, but sellers are allowed to offer a free product in exchange for an honest review, provided the reviewer “clearly and conspicuously” discloses that fact.
Amazon’s Vine Program follows this structure. Top reviewers are solicited and offered free products in exchange for an honest, detailed review. The review may not be positive, but it is honest, and that’s what is important here.
This program is only available to Amazon Retail vendors, and Reviews from the Amazon Vine program are already labeled, so additional disclosure is not necessary. Some sellers have had success emulating Amazon’s strategy by scouting out reviews of similar or competitive products to find prospective reviewers.
Target FBA Products
Products fulfilled by Amazon. In our testing we’ve found that products fulfilled by Amazon receive a much higher percentage of positive reviews.
We haven’t uncovered precisely why this is, but it makes sense that receiving your product, on time, within 2-days, in a package whose brand name you know and trust, and for no additional cost would give you better experience even if the product itself isn’t excellent.
So, the trick to employ here, if you don’t have the most reliable in-house fulfillment, is soliciting only customers who ordered your product via FBA. This can increase your average star rating you receive from those reviews for your products.
It also leads to a star rating by customers for you as a seller. They’re actually reviewing Amazon’s fulfillment in this case, but we’re okay with you taking credit for it!
Give your Buyers the Option to Review
Finding potential writers, soliciting reviews and tracking requests takes time. You also have to pay for any product that you offer for free.
An alternative or complement, is to solicit Amazon product reviews from customers at the same time you are requesting feedback.
Some Feedback solicitation software allows you to selecting the option to “include product review link” adds a customized link to the email.
The link makes it easy for a buyer to submit a review of the purchased product. It also helps the buyer to distinguish a product review from seller feedback. We recommend electing to have only FBA items reviewed.
Negative product-related or seller-related feedback can be a challenge for Amazon sellers. As an Amazon seller, it’s important for you understand that your customers have never met you. So, consider that their only experience with you is:
Understanding things a little from the customer’s perspective helps us to understand why it’s so easy for buyers to give negative feedback under the cloak of anonymity. They’ve never met you and probably never will meet you, so it’s up to you make a positive impression that will establish a small relationship in order to reduce the chance of negative feedback.
When you do receive negative feedback, its arrival should be an occasion for problem solving, not frustration or panic.
There’s little value in thinking of their feedback as unfair. Instead, looking at this type of feedback as a symptom of flaws and friction within your business provides you with an opportunity to fine-tune your business so you begin correcting those flaws and removing any friction from your selling process, making it easier for others to purchase and re-purchase.
So how do you find out about these flaws?
Receiving intensely negative feedback, whether dramatic or scathing can be a pain to deal with. An even worse predicament ensues when a single feedback pushes your metrics into the danger zone.
This should never happen if you’re running your ship right and receiving adequate amounts of positive reviews. But when a low volume seller’s feedback score falls too low, they lose buy box eligibility and may receive an account suspension.
We’ve never seen a seller reach that predicament overnight. Poor feedback arrives one unhappy customer at a time, and if you’re running a legitimate seller business with the right processes in place there is more than adequate time to correct any underlying problems and reverse the trend.
Whether you have a superior, average, or poor rating you can implement processes to improve and streamline how you handle feedback. How you will hand each type customer may vary somewhat but should majorly follow a standard process for responding to and removing negative feedback. By creating a checklist of steps for your team to follow you can make negative feedback removal a regular part of your operations.
From the date a customer leaves feedback, Amazon has a 60-day window within which feedback can be removed. They’ve provided this small window so you can find out why the customer is upset and correct the problem. Although, upon request, we have seen Amazon will remove negative feedback on FBA orders stretching back several months or years; technically, once that 60-day period is over, your feedback should become permanent. And they may enforce the rule strictly at any moment. Therefore, it is critical to monitor your account and deal with negative feedback as soon as possible.
Let’s review the steps you can take to get rid of negative feedback:
The FIRST and EASIEST removal method, if the situation allows for it, is Removal by Amazon. We should note that Removal by Amazon is a misnomer. Although we follow suit with industry lingo in saying that Amazon removes feedback, negative feedback won’t get removed. Instead it will get stricken, and the star rating will not be included in your average seller feedback score, but customers will see stricken feedback still.
Additionally, Amazon will remove feedback only if it meets certain criteria. If your negative seller-related feedback falls under these categories submit a ticket to Amazon. To do this manually, Grab the order ID of the feedback in question, and then go to Contact Seller Support. Within the Customers and Orders Tab, click on Customer Feedback and enter the order ID number, then click on Search. Now you need to select from the list of available reasons which include:
Note that: Amazon may also remove negative feedback if it complains about pricing – this is a relatively new policy, which appears to be related to the exemption for product-only reviews.
Make sure you clearly cite one of the reasons and provide any additional details in the Additional Information box which will help Amazon in their evaluation. Upon deciding whether or to remove the feedback, Amazon will notify the email you have listed. We should also mention that many Feedback solicitation tools help to semi-automate this process for you.
For efficiency’s sake, we recommend to first see if Amazon will remove the feedback. If it is ineligible, then work directly with your customer.
The second and harder method is to ask the customer to remove their feedback. You can do this by messaging the customer directly through Buyer-Seller messaging service. First find the order ID for the feedback in question, then navigate to Order Management and bring up that particular order. Click on the Customer’s Name which will be hyperlinked (in blue and underlined).
Maintain a professional attitude in all communications and stay focused on addressing the customer’s concerns. It’s okay to apologize, more than once, if necessary. Consider offering an order adjustment or a refund. You may contact the customer more than once, but you do not want to be accused of harassment, quid-pro-quo agreements, or attempted feedback manipulation – all of which are violations of Amazon’s policies. You can’t nag customers about negative feedback. That said, it helps to be resourceful, and some sellers have developed distinctive ways to make amends.
Many sellers ask “what’s the difference between offering money to the customer to change their review and giving them a refund in order to get their negative feedback removed? Aren’t these the same thing – an attempt to manipulate the customer to alter feedback in exchange for an incentive?” The difference in Amazon’s eyes and the reason this method works for so many sellers is how you go about it. Your goal is to make the customer happy. If providing a partial or full refund makes them happy, Amazon is happy.
Then, AFTER having made the customer happy, it’s acceptable to ask him or her to remove their negative feedback. This may seem a nuance in your approach, but it definitely makes a difference to the seller performance team. Offering the customer a refund IN EXCHANGE for changing feedback is an easy way to get in trouble.
Just as it’s important to maintain a professional attitude and stay focused on addressing the customer’s concerns for negative feedback, it’s also important to be professional, concerned, prompt, and courteous in ALL of your communications with customers. In this video, we’ll go over some basics for customer service.
Responding to positive/neutral messages
As we mentioned earlier when a customer sends you a message, Amazon requires you to either provide a response, or to mark the message as “no response needed.” Again, be sure to only mark messages that really don’t require a response with that option. Although you are not required to respond to a customer thank you note, customers appreciate a simple, “you’re welcome, or my pleasure.” Remember that these customers are human beings and they respond well to positive reinforcement from you.
You will probably run into all of these customers through the course of your business:
The Mean And Nasty Or Even Fraudulent Customer
It’s best to do what you can to please them within reason or if you feel that you are getting played, cut your losses and move on.
We’ve heard many sellers rant and rave about a buyer who defrauded them of a product by returning a used, defective, or older version of the item the seller had sent to customer.
While this is wrong and illegal, don’t get bent out of shape like some sellers we’ve seen. We’ve heard of:
There are collection agencies who would be glad to go after the buyer for you if you feel the need to. However, that would be an empty victory if you end up permanently suspended from Amazon. How much are you willing to risk over one transaction?
Sellers are not allowed to post a buyer’s information publicly. “Failure to remove the information may result in immediate suspension or removal of your selling privileges.”
If you want to sue the buyer in small claims court, you’ll need to travel to the jurisdiction in which the buyer lives and file there. You would probably end up in a he said/she said battle with buyer claiming that your advertised product is not what you sent him. Good luck winning that, and even if you did, what a waste of time, resources, and emotion you could have poured into building your business.
Calling the customer a liar over the phone or in a documented message? That alone should cost you a suspension.
You are supposed to behave like a professional seller. Calling your customer a liar doesn’t qualify.
The best thing to do is write off the loss and implement strategic tactics so you are less likely to run into this situation again or if you do, then you’ll be more likely to get reimbursed from Amazon. We’ll cover these in the fraud section.
The Honest Customer Who Deserves To Be Heard And May Be Reasonable In Return
If a customer claims your product is defective and asks to be able to return, allow him to do so.
Or if a customer claims that the package didn’t arrive, help him try to track it down before jumping to conclusions that she stole it and is asking for another one.
The Confused Customer, Who Could Use Some Help With The Rating System
Some buyers mistakenly leave a star rating even though they leave an exceptional rating in their written comment. Be professional, polite, and patient in getting these situations resolved. You don’t want to turn a happy customer into an unhappy customer by your nagging.
As a reseller you may receive messages from brands claiming that you do not have authority to sell their product.
We cover how to deal with this in detail in the Identifying Suppliers Chapter, but remember that you must at least mark these messages as no response needed.
If these messages are sent frequently enough that they become a nuisance or if you receive messages that you suspect are from competitors or are in any way inappropriate it is recommended that you label them as suspicious so Amazon can look into them for you.
Let’s discuss Amazon’s policy toward item returns. Amazon states that “returns are a normal part of doing business online and we expect our sellers to accept most returns.
For more information regarding returns, please review the Handling Returns and Refunds Help page on Amazon’s website.
Please note that you are expected to accept returns if they fall within the guidelines specified on this page.
While there are instances in which a return may be refused, we ask you to accept returned items whenever possible in the interest of customer service.
That seems like you have some discretion to accept or reject returns but that you should accept MOST return requests.
Well, as a 3rd Party seller, you are actually expected to have a return policy equal to or more favorable than that of Amazon.
You are not to make a determination of whether to approve or not if the request is made within 30 days of the buyer receiving the item.
Even though it’s not actually documented, Amazon Seller Support insists that sellers accept any return for any reason within 30 days or provide a refund if they are unable to physical accept returned product.
Here’s the official language:
“Amazon.com, and many sellers on Amazon.com, offer returns for most items within 30 days of receipt of shipment.” and “While most sellers offer a returns policy equivalent to Amazon.com’s, some seller returns policies may vary. Some sellers, such as wineries, won’t accept returns. However, they may provide refunds. You can view each seller’s return policy in the Online Returns Center.”
In certain categories, like electronics, you are allowed to keep up to 50% of the purchase price as a fee when the new product is returned to you “significantly different” then what you shipped out. But use discretion even with electronics.
When sellers fail to approve return requests customers have the option to file and A-to-Z guarantee claim. Buyers are expected to work with sellers to make return arrangements for merchandise before filing a claim. If the buyer has received an item that is materially different and have not received a response from you with return instructions, he or she may file an A-to-z Guarantee claim for the purchase.
Should a claim be filed, and found in the buyers favor, a return is not required. In Amazon’s words, “Once a customer is reimbursed for an order via the A-to-z Guarantee, Amazon.com does not obligate that customer to return the item they received. However, you are welcome to contact your customer directly to arrange for a return of the item.”
For merchant fulfilled orders you MUST:
When you don’t meet or exceed the customer’s expectations for fulfillment, you run the risk of the product getting returned. Many customers order just in-time for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays or other time-sensitive events.
Utilize FBA for some or all of your products
FBA helps you to meet your fulfillment obligations and to do it exceptionally well. Sellers must still prepare product properly as failure to comply with FBA requirements can result in a range of sanctions, including disposal of inventory or blocking of future shipments. When the right product arrives on-time and in good condition, customer are less likely to return it.
Choose the right Carriers
In addition to selecting the right shipping method (ground, 2-day, etc.) it’s important to note that some carriers are less reliable than others. And some private carriers have partnered have shipping options which work in tandem with the U.S. Postal Service helping to reduce cost but also increasing deliver times. Make sure your carrier provides shipping confirmation numbers that you can insert into Seller Central.
Fill out as much product detail information as possible – most customers are motivated to leave bad feedback and return product when they feel misled about a product. Make sure that you provide precise information about the product that leaves no space for confusion.
Detailed Product Descriptions
Product descriptions should help consumers imagine the feeling of owning the product. Try to think as a consumer when describing your product – what would you like to know before you purchase it? Think about how a particular product can improve your customer’s life.
Don’t be stingy with words when describing your product. State all the essential features in a very compelling way. You can list the key product features in bullet points to make it easier for people to compare your product with others. However, the overall product description should consist of many relevant details.
And remember, while you may put amazing product description content into Amazon, if another seller’s content is showing up on the product detail page, it’s up to you to keep an eye on the description content showing up – if it’s wrong or incomplete, challenge that with a ticket to Seller Support.
Having clear and quality product images is another crucial aspect of presenting your product. Images help consumers imagine the experience of owning the product. A quality image should offer a focused photo of the product on a simple background, matching with the product description in terms of color and size.
Additional information that will eliminate customer surprises and potentially reduce returns includes:
Shipping information is one of the most crucial aspects that consumers take into consideration when making online purchasing decisions. Therefore, you should clearly state your shipping policy regarding the costs and delivery time. If the customer expects your product to arrive sooner than it did, they may return it.
Minimize Price Changes
A point to consider about actively repricing your products. If you frequently change your price in significant amounts, customers may have buyer remorse and return the product. You will have to weigh the benefit of buy box share versus return rate in this consideration.
Feedback Solicitation: If proactively ask customers for feedback and give them a way to contact you. They may just need an explanation about the product or require a partial refund for minimal damage than returning the item to you or to Amazon.
Sell High-Quality Product
Higher quality products result in higher customer satisfaction and lower return rates.
Maintain Excellent Customer Service
Building and maintaining effective communication with customers and will help establish a meaningful relationship with customer. If the customer cares about you in the least, that decreases the chance that they will return a product.
Sell Lower-Priced Items
Customers are less likely to return a low-priced widget than an expensive item they didn’t perfectly like. Also, customer are less likely to defraud you of inexpensive items. Except for sellers specializing in this business, selling rare, high-value collectables on are prime targets for scams. We aren’t suggesting that you sell lower priced items, though, as you will have to weigh all the factors associated with the type of product you sell. Many sellers thrive selling higher ticketed items even though they, on average, have higher return rates.
It should be noted that all the preceding return prevention methods are sound business practices that help ensure customer satisfaction long-term driving repeat business and sales. They also double as effective methods to increase the percentage of positive feedback from your customers.
Part of the normal lifecycle of being a reseller of products is that you have to handle customer returns.
Among Amazon sellers, there is a wide disparity around the established processes used to recover as much as possible from the returned items.
We strongly believe in regularly processing returns so that the returned items don’t end up piling up as an end-of-quarter project that doesn’t overwhelm your time or interest.
Let’s separate out what happens with returned FBA orders and returned merchant-fulfilled orders:
Returned FBA Orders
As an FBA seller, your returned orders are first sent to an Amazon fulfillment center, where Amazon does a superficial review of the items – if they appear to be re-sellable as new, Amazon puts the items back into your active FBA inventory.
Otherwise, the items are put into unfulfillable inventory, where they await direction from you on what to do next with the items. If you want the items sent on to you, then you can pay to have the items sent to an address of your preference. The cost of getting an item returned to you by Amazon is $0.50 per standard size unit, and $0.60 per oversized unit.
Alternatively, if you want Amazon to dispose of the items, the cost is $0.15 per standard sized unit, and $0.30 per oversized unit. And if you do nothing and let the unfulfillable items sit in the fulfillment center, they will accumulate short-term and long-term storage fees just like any other FBA inventory you have with Amazon. But keep in mind that for any returned order – FBA or merchant-fulfilled, Amazon will reimburse you only 80% of the referral fee (commission fee) that it collected on the original sale, up to $5 per unit – Amazon retains 20% of the referral fee as a fee for handing the return.
And if you ask for the unfulfillable returned orders to be sent back to you, you should expect to be sent a collection of poorly packaged items sent to you in a box by Amazon. While there should be a packing slip in the box of returned items, it’s usually challenging to match up the returned items with the customer orders from which they came.
This raises the question about how often you get returned FBA order items sent to you. Amazon offers an automated unfulfillable product removal process – you can search for the specific steps in Seller Central under “Automated Unfulfillable Removals”. While the automated options include twice a month, monthly and quarterly, you can also pull back unfulfillable inventory any time you want over and above what you may be doing with automated removals.
Depending on the levels of returned units you are getting, and the time of year (which can impact the level of returns), you may want to add a manual step each week of removing unfulfillable items so you don’t get overwhelmed with too much unfulfillable inventory arriving at your facility all at once).
Returned Merchant-fulfilled Orders
if you are fulfilling your orders, we already mentioned that you have more flexibility about what kind of return policy you allow for Amazon orders.
You can set your return preferences in the “Return Settings” section of the “Settings” drop-down menu on the main Seller Central page. Nonetheless, even with whatever return policy you implement, you will likely have a bunch of returned items coming your way that you will need to process.
So let’s look at what to do with those returned items, whether you got them through FBA orders or merchant-fulfilled orders. It now becomes your job to go through each item and figure out what to do with the items. It’s best to have someone on your team who is specifically responsible with processing returns on a regular basis. They will likely grade returned or unfulfillable items as:
If you believe you can try to resell any item in new or used form on Amazon, you will likely need to patch up the packaging with stickers – most returned FBA orders get a sticker put on the box by Amazon – a sticker which unfortunately is difficult to remove without further damaging the packaging. So you should have some blank white stickers available that you can use to cover up these Amazon stickers, such that Amazon customers of these resold items won’t get too upset that the product is a resurrected product rather than a pristine new product.
We should add that if there are too many stickers or scuffs on the packaging, and you are able to provide new packaging to the item, that’s a better idea that covering it in multiple white stickers.
In several Amazon categories, there is no used condition offer on Amazon, so you will have to:
Please note that, just as we encourage sellers to get extra packaging, instruction manuals, warranty cards, and any other informational materials from suppliers, we also encourage sellers to strip all unresellable items for all of their usable parts and paperwork, so that they might be repurposed down the road to help upgrade any future returns that could be resold as new, pending slight modifications.
While no one wants to have a sizeable portion of written off product, it is worth tracking how often each product has to be written off on account of customer returns. It is also worth tracking what is your recovery rate on each returned item – can you get 80% on the dollar when you resell a returned item, or is it only 30% on the dollar? Some items might have to be more often sold in used form rather than new, simply because of the wear and tear an item takes from the initial customer experience. Collecting such data over time will give you a much better sense of the all-in cost involved in selling each SKU in your catalog on the Amazon marketplace.
Inventory: Avoid putting yourself in a position of being out of stock without that information updated in Seller Central. Running out of stock in warehouse and listing the item as available on Amazon may lead to sales where you can’t fulfill the order. In these situations, if you are a reseller you will should quickly purchase the product from another supplier, have it drop-shipped from a competitor if necessary, or purchase it at a store (full retail) just so you can fulfill the order.
Do everything you can to avoid pre-cancellations as they will hurt your seller performance metrics and can cause negative feedback. If you are a manufacturer and you can’t get additional stock in rapidly, you may be out-of-luck and you’ll have to cancel the order. If you can’t fulfill an order, you should cancel it as soon as you aware of this and definitely within 48 hours. Email the customer and apologize. Some sellers have even persuaded customers to go with an alternate product, but don’t push too hard. Be professional, apologetic, and decisive.
When an Amazon customer purchases from a third-party seller on Amazon, the condition of the item and its timely delivery are guaranteed under the A-to-z Guarantee.
Customers can file a claim when all of the following applies:
Note: If the customer refuses the package and the return does not have tracking information, the customer’s claim may not be covered
The following items and situations are not covered by the Amazon A-to-z Guarantee:
For details on the A-to-z coverage restrictions for wine purchased on Amazon Wine, go to About Amazon Wine Claims.
Watches, Jewelry, Collectibles, and Fine Art items must be returned according to the guidelines on About Our Return Policies to be eligible for the A-to-z Guarantee.
A chargeback occurs when a cardholder contacts their bank to dispute the charge for an order placed on Amazon.com.
Chargebacks are also known as “charge disputes” and they can be filed for a variety of reasons, including unauthorized use of the credit card.
As outlined in Amazon’s agreement with you:
Responding To A Chargeback Claim
When a buyer contacts their credit card company to request a chargeback, the credit card company will contact Amazon.com to request details about the transaction.
In turn, Amazon Payments will contact you via an email notification to request transaction information.
You can respond to a chargeback notification in one of two ways:
Note: You must respond to any chargeback notification within 7 calendar days of the email notification date. If you do not respond to our notification, you may be debited for the transaction. You will also need to reply to any additional requests for information within the time-frame stated in the request.
The final outcome of a chargeback can take up to 90 days from the date the charge was represented to the issuing bank. In rare cases, it can take even longer. We will inform you, via email notification, of the outcome only if you are held financially responsible for the chargeback. The notification will outline why you have been debited.
If you feel that you were debited for a chargeback in error, reply to the notification. We will review your dispute. However, in the majority of cases, the issuing bank’s decision is final and there is no recourse to appeal that decision.
If you have questions about a decision on a prior chargeback, reply to the email notification or write to [email protected]. Please Amazon’s Help section for chargeback for more information.
Let’s talk about Fraud. For many sellers this has become a more prevalent issue. One of our clients was scammed by the same individual/group over the course of 3 months for $15,000 of goods.
The seller investigated the huge amount of returns and then notified Amazon. Amazon responded by shutting down the customer’s account, while the customer tried several more times under similar aliases and PO Box addresses to repeat their attempts to purchase from the seller.
Amazon also shut down many of these accounts. It’s unfortunate that this seller took so long to identify the fraud, but it is reassuring that in this case Amazon actually helped the seller.
However, don’t expect Amazon to takes any responsibility for losses like these – they may have helped discourage additional fraud but they didn’t reimburse the seller.
The two most common types of fraud we have encountered are:
We’ll address both types of fraud and some protective measures you can take, but keep in mind that you should be in this business for the long haul and one bad transaction is just a drop in the bucket.
If you don’t have good systems in place and you’ve lost money due to fraud, it’s time to establish some appropriate measures.
And, even after you’ve done everything you can both proactively and retroactively, if you can’t prove it’s fraud, move on to the next order.
The False Return
One method is to monitor which items are high-risk and eliminate those from your inventory. This is what most sellers have relegated themselves to doing. Other savvy sellers have come up with an interesting solution.
Some sellers affix warranty labels to all of their products. The stickers are about 15 cents each and they cannot be peeled off without the word “VOID” showing up. Each of the labels also contains a serial number that you can use for date tracking if you desire. When a buyer removes the label to try to switch the item it also destroys the serial number.
The great thing is that the labels do not damage the item and can be removed from the item without damaging that item. However, the label is destroyed once someone attempts to remove it. Most of these sellers offer a 60-90 day warranty on all of their products as long as the warranty label has not been tampered with.
Interestingly enough, the use of these labels, has decreased warranty claims for each of these sellers. Perhaps that means the problem was bigger than they had originally thought.
Amazon has shown a strong propensity to back up the seller when these serial numbers have been removed.
The No-show Package
If you are fulfilling product from your own warehouse, the best protective measures are to get signature confirmation, Direct Signature (via FedEx), and/or insurance on your items.
Utilizing FBA is a preventative measure, as it becomes Amazon’s responsibility if the package is lost.
Let’s go over an example: If a customer messages the seller and claims that the package never arrived, here is what most experienced sellers do.
They apologize to the buyer and ensure them product was shipped with the confirmation number provided. They tell the customer where it could be found (neighbor’s house, with friends or family) and ask that the customer to double check for the item.
The seller then states that they will wait for customer’s response on the status of the missing item and should it not be found, they will refund in full.
Next, if the product is not found, they file a claim for the theft, and they also file a claim on the insurance if it was purchased.
This way, the buyer is happy, and the seller recoups the loss from the insurance on the package. Should the buyer be attempting fraud, the scare of the claim of theft might just find the missing item.