Last updated on July 28th, 2023
Written by Mohamed Aden
Amazon's ambition to be the Earth's most customer-centric company knows no bounds. Its policies almost always favor its buyers. The anti-counterfeiting policy, customer product review policy, customer returns policy—the list goes on.
Hence, you must at least know how to write an Amazon Suspension Plan of Action (POA), especially when you've missed out on “surprise” changes and updates regarding their policies.
One of these sudden policy changes affected Amazon sellers and their FBA inventory and shipment in late 2020. What aspects are included in Amazon shipment plans in the first place, and what shipment issues must every seller avoid to prevent their account from being suspended?
Let’s revisit the Amazon FBA shipment fiasco in 2020 and learn how Amazon sellers like you can deal with suspension scares without breaking a sweat.
The FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) model allows sellers to ship their products to Amazon’s fulfillment centers and let the ecommerce giant manage inventory, handle packaging and customer shipping, and even process item returns on their behalf.
Besides setting up the FBA account and creating product listings, all Amazon asks from interested sellers is to prepare and ship the products to their fulfillment centers on time.
You must package your items securely, print the necessary shipping labels, and create a sound Amazon FBA shipment plan to ensure your products arrive at fulfillment centers without a hitch.
A shipment plan is a set of instructions detailing how you will ship your products to fulfillment centers. In it, you must specify your product details, quantity, packing type, and the shipping service (freight forwarder or courier) you will use for shipping.
After selecting which items are needed, you must define how much each product will go through shipping.
Place your desired amount in the Units box. You might have to perform actions in other sections of the page, such as the Information Required tab (asking for details about your product) and the Removal Required tab (asking you to remove the items listed in this section).
The next step is to prepare the product for shipment. You can pack your products yourself or let Amazon pack them by signing up for the FBA prep service. Like inventory placement service fees, the FBA prep service works with a per-item fee.
Note that Amazon can only prepare products with a single UPC or EAN corresponding to an ASIN in their catalog. Ensure that the items are securely packed and follow Amazon’s packaging requirements even if you avail of their prep service.
Shipping inventory can’t go smoothly without the proper labels. Barcode labels allow sellers to track the product throughout the shipping process. Hence, every item must have a label.
Like product shipment prep, you can print box labels yourself or let Amazon handle the product labeling on your behalf with FBA Label Service. Ensure that these labels are uncovered and scannable.
Once their products are packed and labeled in the shipping box, sellers must review the shipment plan’s information on the Review Shipments page and ensure the details are correct.
The page will display a list of shipment names, their respective shipment IDs, and their fulfillment center destinations. Once satisfied, sellers can click on the Approve shipment button to approve the shipment plan.
After reviewing your shipment details, you can input your shipping method and mode, specify your carrier, identify the number of total shipping boxes, and schedule and pay for the shipment next.
You can send a small parcel delivery (SPD) or a less-than-truckload (LTL) shipment for the shipping method. Meanwhile, you can choose air, ocean, or land transportation for your shipping mode.
While it may seem simple enough, encountering several issues related to FBA shipment is inevitable. Here are some FBA shipping mistakes that you may commit, unintentionally or otherwise. Some of these can be harmless, but others can cause an account suspension.
On September 2, 2020, Amazon released a policy wherein they will suspend the selling privileges of a seller account if they fail to go through with exact scheduling details on their Amazon FBA shipping plan.
Unfortunately, the policy was effective on August 25, 2020, which makes the notice nine days late. This scenario shows you can be caught off-guard, which results in an untimely Amazon account suspension.
Here is the complete statement from Amazon Seller Central forums:
Several sellers complained that they couldn't meet this requirement since some don't communicate directly with their shipping company. Worse, the courier doesn't update them about their shipments' status.
One argued that it is illogical that sellers should be responsible for this since they don't have control over the entire shipping process, something a designated shipping company does. Another Amazon seller suggested penalizing carriers instead of them.
In situations like these, you can't adapt and adjust quickly because several factors are involved.
The entire supply chain was shaken because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay-at-home and social distancing policies were enforced to prevent the spread of the virus. Some carriers needed to limit their staff to avoid crowding their workplace, thus, slowing their operations.
Also, earlier in 2020, sellers had to cope with other recent changes in Amazon's policies connected with the coronavirus outbreak, like the suspension of inbound shipment to the Amazon fulfillment center for non-essential products in March 2020.
And, in July 2020, the quantity limit rule they imposed on all categories was decreased to make more room inside their FBA warehouses for the holiday rush orders.
Because of these sudden policy changes, it’s no surprise that many Amazon sellers got in a pickle and had their accounts suspended during that brief period.
If you experience something similar, you must send an Amazon appeal letter to reinstate your suspended Amazon seller central account. You need to compose an Amazon POA that has three sections:
Should you act right away the moment you receive the dreaded suspension notification? We suggest not acting in haste but taking a moment to pause and reflect to analyze the issue. Also, Amazon will give you 14-17 days to send an appeal, so don't rush things.
This is why sometimes it is better to seek an Amazon suspension appeal service offered by a third-party company. Emotions will not drive them; they can look at the situation objectively. They also have years of experience deciphering Amazon's vague responses in their suspension emails.
Here is a sample template of a POA:
Ensure your POA is short, concise, and in an easy-to-read format. Don't be too detailed and too wordy. Use bullet points, not numbers. More importantly, never blame your customers and take responsibility for the mistake, even if it wasn't your fault to begin with.
As we read the replies in the Seller Central forum, one seller commented that perhaps this is Amazon's way of urging a third-party seller account to use Amazon-partnered carriers and only applies to LTL and FTL shipments.
These are only assumptions, though, and need clarification from Amazon first.
But if you are keen to opt for Amazon-partnered carriers and think it benefits your business, you might consider including this in your Amazon Suspension Plan of Action.
Amazon’s detailed FBA shipment plan creation can help sellers go through the entire shipping process smoothly. However, your account may face suspension scares due to unavoidable or unexpected events, like human error or sudden policy changes.
In that case, writing a solid suspension POA is a must. However, don't hesitate to ask for help if you doubt your writing skills. Remember that you have a steep chance of getting reinstated, so there is no room for mistakes. You can use an Amazon appeal service to help you get back your Amazon seller account.
Do you have a hard time writing an Amazon suspension plan of action? Seller Interactive has a team of Amazon suspension experts willing to help you get your Amazon account reinstated in no time.
Book a call today, and let us help you get your account back!
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