How Poor Seller Performance Can Lead To An Amazon Suspension Appeal and What You Can Do About it

August 14, 2021
Written by Nicasio Co III
amazon suspension appeal

Amazon sellers previously scrambled on how they can fulfill orders amidst the holiday season and COVID-19 restrictions. Added to their worries was the Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage that happened on November 25, 2020, two days before Black Friday sales. This affected many sellers and their sales and shipments. That left them asking if they need to prepare an Amazon suspension appeal in advance or file a complaint immediately.

With that, sellers expressed their frustrations on Amazon Seller Central Forums, with their primary concern with their Seller Performance metrics, such as the late shipment rate and cancellation rate. 

This is understandable, mostly if selling on Amazon is your only source of living, plus the fact that writing an Amazon suspension appeal is no fun. So what is the deal with low Seller Performance metrics and its connection with Amazon seller account suspension?

Why monitor your seller performance metrics?

The Account Health page in your Amazon Seller Central account is like a report card in school. It consists of Seller Performance metrics. Each metric has its passing "grade" that every seller must comply with. 

Monitor your Seller Performance metrics from time to time, regardless of an outage or not. Even though it's not your fault, neglecting performance metrics could result in Amazon seller account suspension.

What are the metrics you should monitor?

Practice tracking your metrics daily. This is because Amazon updates Seller Performance metrics in real-time. The following are the performance metrics you must keep an eye on:

Order defect rate (ODR)

The ODR measures how good you are in terms of customer experience. Amazon wants sellers to retain an ODR below 1%. It has three types:

  • The negative feedback rate is the orders with negative reviews divided by the number of orders in a certain time. You must retain a lower percentage for this rating.
  • A-to-z guarantee claim rate estimates the orders with an appropriate claim divided by the number of orders in 60 days. 
  • The credit card chargeback rate is the orders with a credit card chargeback divided by the orders in a time.

Cancellation rate (CR)

CR is a cancellation order request made by the seller. It only applies to seller-fulfilled orders or those who don't use Amazon FBA. Amazon updates your CR every week. It requires its sellers to maintain a CR under 2.5%.

Seller-canceled orders happen when the item is out of stock or something happened while shipping the order. Either way, you’ll be impacted if there are high CRs on your record and may result in an Amazon suspension appeal.

Late shipment rate (LSR)

As the name suggests, LSR calculates late seller-fulfilled orders during a 10-day or a 30-day duration. Per Amazon's policy, you should keep your LSR under 4%.

See to it that your orders are mailed on time. Otherwise, it could cause an increase in customer claims and negative feedback. This is more difficult to handle during the holidays, so always have a backup plan or ship your items as early as possible.

On-time delivery rate (OTDR)

OTDR is a score of the estimated percentage of seller-fulfilled packages that buyers received by the approximated delivery date. You must retain an OTDR of more than 97%. Although Amazon doesn't impose sanctions yet when you don't meet your OTDR, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Valid tracking rate (VTR)

Since customers use tracking numbers to monitor the status of their orders, Amazon expects sellers to maintain a VTR greater than 95%. It includes all shipments with a valid tracking number over 30 days.

Currently, Amazon supports the tracking information from UPS, UPSMI, USPS, DHL, DHL Global Mail, FedEx, FedEx Smartpost, On Trac, Newgistics, Canada Post, Lasership, China Post, SF Express, 4PX, Yanwen, and Yun Express. If the carrier isn’t integrated with Amazon, it isn’t included in the VTR calculation.

But how does Amazon verify if the tracking information is valid? It’s valid only if the tracking number has at least one physical carrier scan recorded. Amazon advises sellers to provide tracking numbers. It reduces the cost of A-to-z guarantee claims, lost shipments, and customer contacts. In other words, Amazon encourages sellers to ship using their supported carriers.

How to improve your performance metrics

What if you're not hitting the target of each Seller Performance metric? You can improve it by trying the following tips:

Avoid claims and chargebacks by:

  • Answering all e-mails from your buyers within 24 hours.
  • Responding quickly to return requests.
  • Refunding buyers if appropriate.
  • Creating accurate content for your product detail pages.
  • Updating and monitoring your inventory regularly.
  • Notifying customers immediately of any delay.

Mitigate negative reviews by:

  • Maintaining a minimal inventory level.
  • Providing updated and accurate e-mail address and service contact number in your online Amazon Help pages.
  • Maintaining a courteous, professional, and relevant tone when communicating with your customers.

How to respond to buyer messages:

  • Reply to them within 24 hours.
  • Unblock buyers' messages that are included in your e-mail program's spam filter, if there are any.
  • If you can't provide a solution to a buyer's concern immediately, give them a definite date of when you will get back to them. 
  • Even if it doesn't require a response, message them a simple "thank you" out of courtesy.

Avoid late shipments by:

  • Confirming a shipment immediately to notify the buyer and Amazon.
  • Reviewing and monitoring your order fulfillment processes regularly.
  • Resolving any shipment problems proactively.
  • Adjusting your handling times to give customers real and attainable delivery times.
  • Being proactive during significant sales periods and holidays to manage an increase in order volume.

How to minimize canceled orders:

  • Regularly update your Amazon stock levels to prevent receiving orders that you can't ship by the expected date.
  • Double-checking price submissions. Errors in pricing can result in order cancellations.
  • Always ensure that you have enough inventory on hand.

How to write an Amazon suspension appeal

An account suspension or deactivation is considered every seller's nightmare. But just in case, here are the necessary steps you should do to get your Amazon suspended account reinstated:

Step 1

Don't do the following:

  • Rant in Amazon's forums and social media accounts.
  • Blame Amazon and the buyer who complained.
  • Be stuck in the fight or flight mode.
  • Ignore the suspension notification from Amazon.
  • Submit a half-baked Amazon suspension appeal.
  • Act in haste and lose your cool over the matter.

Now, your next step is reading the Amazon seller account suspension notification thoroughly.

Step 2

Find out the root cause of the suspension by reading the notification between the lines. You only have 17 days to get your account back. You may search through your recent warnings and older notifications, records of returned items, and buyer-seller communications to determine the root cause.

Step 3

While you're investigating the cause of your suspension, resolve all issues you see on your Account Health page and try to bring back the metrics to "green." Do this before sending an Amazon suspension appeal to show Amazon how serious you are about getting your account back.

Step 4

Create a clear, factual, direct, and concise Plan of Action (POA). Avoid verbose terms and emotive language. Instead, your tone must be apologetic but firm. Write corrective and preventive measures with proof that you did it (corrective) or will be doing it (preventive). As much as possible, attach supporting evidence to support your POA.

Step 5

Proofread your POA before submitting it. Look for loopholes, grammar mistakes, or misspellings. Ensure it is formatted correctly to make it easier to read. Use bullets or numbers. Don't attach fabricated or edited documents or invoices. Attach it as it is. Once you’re confident with your Amazon suspension appeal, you can submit it.

Step 6

Lastly, wait for Amazon's reply patiently. Don't ask for status updates, or else your chances of being reinstated will be delayed.

Key takeaways

Amazon is a customer-centric company with rigid rules and policies in their marketplace. As a seller, you must follow each policy to a tee and ensure that your Seller Performance metrics meet Amazon's standards. Be proactive to avoid the time-consuming and headache-inducing Amazon suspension appeal process. If you get a suspension, don't fret and follow the steps above. Can't decipher Amazon's vague suspension notification? Get an Amazon reinstatement service to help you with your appeal.

Seller Interactive has a team of experienced Amazon consultants willing to help you write a winning Amazon suspension appeal. E-mail us at [email protected] today.

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