Avoid costly Amazon mistakes

We’re only human – and occasionally we make mistakes. What’s important, especially on a marketplace the size of Amazon, is preparing for these mistakes. And if they can’t be avoided, then we can at least find a solution as quickly as possible.

Amazon can become a hub for many retailers’ online presence, playing a huge role in their overall e-commerce success. Accordingly, sellers on Amazon can’t afford to be slowed down by errors. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 11 costly Amazon mistakes, what they mean for sellers and – best of all – how to fix them.

Costly mistakes and how to avoid them

1. Not Responding to Customers over the Weekend

Mistake: You respond to customers throughout the work week but don’t look at your customer service emails over the weekend. If a customer submits a question or complaint on a Friday night, for example, they won’t receive a response until Monday morning.
Consequence: Weekends make up nearly 30% of the year, a significant amount of time to be neglecting customer service. And don’t think Amazon doesn’t notice: Amazon’s Contact Response Time (CRT) measures how long it takes you to respond to each customer. Failing to reply to customers within a reasonable timeframe results in a low CRT score, decreases your chance of winning the Buy Box and puts you at risk of negative feedback. Note: Auto responses don’t count toward CRT.
Solution: Make sure that your customer service emails are being monitored during the weekend. You can assign team members days or half days, to ensure that someone is keeping an eye on incoming messages. It shouldn’t require a lot of effort or manpower but can have a significant impact on your performance as an Amazon seller.

2. Not Removing Unwarranted Seller Feedback

Mistake: What buyers sometimes don’t realize is that Seller Feedback isn’t intended for product reviews. It’s an area designed for customers to review their purchase experience with the merchant. The mistake is letting these product-focused reviews remain in your Seller Feedback area.
Consequence: Though product-focused negative feedback is misplaced in the Seller Feedback section, it still affects your rating. Potential buyers may not realize that this feedback is misplaced, which could lead to missed revenue.
Solution: To have misplaced feedback removed, you’ll need to contact Amazon’s support team, identify the offending feedback and explain why it’s unwarranted and should be removed. Amazon will pull down feedback in specific cases, including if the entire comment is a product review, if obscene or profane language is used or if the comment focuses on customer service or fulfillment for an item fulfilled by Amazon.

3. Not Monitoring Your Order Defect Rate

Mistake: Your Order Defect Rate (ODR) is a metric Amazon uses to measure your performance on the marketplace, calculating the percentage of orders that have received negative feedback, a service credit card chargeback or an A-to-z Guarantee Claim. After Amazon customers purchase a product from you, they’re able to leave a rating between one and five stars. Any customer reviews, positive or negative, could affect your future sales. You should aim for an ODR of 1% or less. If you don’t monitor this metric regularly, there’s a greater chance that your ODR will go over the 1% mark.
Consequence: The consequences of an ODR greater than 1% can severely damage your Amazon seller presence. Amazon can suspend or terminate your account, holding payments in order to refund customers. You also automatically lose the Buy Box for all your products (except for Fulfillment by Amazon products). Because the Buy Box is available to only one seller per product listing, this is one of the most sought-after positions for Amazon sellers.
Solution: If you’re a ChannelAdvisor customer, you can use the Amazon Seller Dashboard to review your marketplace performance easily, including your ODR. You’re able to monitor your performance over the last 12 months, by both percentage and value.

Along with monitoring your ODR, you’ll also need to improve it and keep it below 1%. Make sure to examine every claim or comment you receive and keep a lookout for any recurring issues. If you discover a recurring problem, take action right away and prevent it from occurring again.

4. Underestimating Your Handling Time

Mistake: The handling time – or lead-time-to-ship – is the time it takes to receive an order, process it, pack it and hand it over to the shipping carrier. Amazon expects you to perform all these tasks within two days. Your mistake is telling the consumer you can fulfill the delivery within that timeframe and then falling behind schedule.
Consequence: Delivering orders late can negatively affect your Amazon seller rating. You can also lose a competitive edge over other Amazon sellers that are providing efficient and fast shipping.
Solution: Be realistic with what service you can provide. If you’re confident you can deliver within narrower timeframes, great. But if you’re struggling, be realistic and honest with the consumer and promise a lead-time-to-ship that you know you can achieve.

5. Adjusting Your Prices Manually

Mistake: You adjust your prices on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, but you do it manually.
Consequence: Operating on a marketplace such as Amazon can prove time-consuming, and you probably find yourself wishing you had extra hours in the day – especially if you sell on other marketplaces as well. You should be devoting more time to your business growth strategy and less to laborious tasks, including manually adjusting your prices.
Solution: The solution is simple – automate. ChannelAdvisor’s Repricer with Pricewatch tool automatically updates your prices to stay on track with your goals and keep in line with your competitors. The Repricer tool compares all prices on the ASINs of your products and, based on the parameters you set, can adjust your prices automatically. It then outputs results to a product attribute, which can then be mapped to your Amazon feed template for use on Amazon.

6. Not Considering Fulfillment by Amazon

Mistake: Instead of considering using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) or other fulfillment partners, you’ve been sticking with your own fulfillment strategy and traditional warehouse model.
Consequence: Even if you’re more than happy with the way your fulfillment service is going, you could be missing out by ignoring FBA or any other number of fulfillment partners, potentially squandering the opportunity to save time and increase profits.
Solution: You need to decide what works best for you as an Amazon seller. Even if you’re happy with your own fulfillment strategy, you should at least consider FBA or another fulfillment partner. Put in the time and research to see what fulfillment strategy is best suited for you, examining whether a new strategy could improve your shipping and overall status as an Amazon seller.

7. Not Optimizing Your Search Terms

Mistake: You have a high-margin product that’s receiving below-par page views. There’s a good chance it’s because you’re not using the most relevant and optimized search terms – and consumers are failing to find your product page.

It can be frustrating to have a product that you know is in high demand yet isn’t attracting many Amazon page views. Fewer buyers heading to your product page can only lead to a decrease in sales for that particular product.

Solution: Spend more time researching your potential search terms, finding the most relevant words for each product listing and enhancing your products’ visibility. Get into the mind of consumers and think of the words they’d most likely use when searching for your products. Perhaps it’s time to refresh and rethink your search terms, making sure they’re relevant to your product and are what consumers are searching for.

8. Ignoring Amazon Category and Template Updates

Mistake: Amazon is continually making updates to categories and listing templates, but you don’t take notice of these changes within a practical timeframe.
Consequence: Though you might not be taking notice of these updates and changes, your competitors will be. Know that other retailers will be taking advantage of the enhanced visibility and selling opportunities offered through updated attributes and categories, which enable buyers to narrow their search when looking for a particular product, such as apparel or electronics. Meanwhile, you’re left behind and struggle to catch up with your competitors.
Solution: Stay alert and be aware of any new updates or changes from Amazon. Keep an eye on new Inventory File Templates for each of your categories on a regular basis. If Amazon offers any new product attributes or categories, you need to be ready to pounce on this opportunity and update your product listings as fast as possible. And to save time, try using ChannelAdvisor’s Amazon Categorizer feature to automatically recommend an appropriate Item Type Keyword (ITK) for each of your products.

9. Not Analyzing Your Amazon Performance

Mistake: You get caught up in day-to-day selling and don’t take the time to analyze your performance or seek data-based insights that will help you make better business decisions.
Consequence: With so many moving pieces to keep track of, you’re bound to miss out on opportunities if you don’t have a system to track and analyze your performance. And whether or not you have a system, there’s a pretty good chance your competitors do.
Solution: Use ChannelAdvisor’s Product Performance and Pricing Insights to gain access to data on top-selling products, Buy Box winners (and how far away you are from being one) and visibility into SKU-level performance.

10. Getting Your Account Suspended by Amazon

Mistake: The tenth mistake is the most significant and potentially dire. As one of the largest online marketplaces, Amazon prides itself on great customer service. If Amazon doesn’t think you’re providing a service that positively reflects the marketplace, you could have your account suspended. Your performance is measured through a variety of metrics, including your Order Defect Rate, the percentage of cancellations and percentage of late shipments.
Consequence: The negative impact of an account suspension is pretty clear. If your Amazon account is suspended, you’re not able to operate on the marketplace and sell your products to Amazon buyers.
Solution: Though an account suspension is a scenario that no seller wants to find themselves in, all is not lost. You still have the opportunity for reinstatement . To be eligible for reinstatement, however, you must first prove to Amazon that you’ve solved all your previous issues and that the same mistakes won’t happen again. Your first step is to write an appeal to Amazon’s Seller Performance team. This appeal must communicate the reasons why you should rejoin Amazon as a seller. Points to emphasize include explaining the cause of the problem, highlighting your plan of action and asking if there’s anything else that would prevent your reinstatement. Remember that you only get one chance after having your account reinstated, so make it count.

11. Not Considering Amazon As a Digital Marketing Channel

Mistake: You list on Amazon’s marketplace and might be seeing great sales. But Amazon offers plenty of additional opportunities for savvy retailers to be seen on the site beyond just product listings.
Consequence: In an e-commerce landscape where 39% of shoppers start their product searches on Amazon1, you need to be thinking of all the places on the site where you can boost visibility. And with competition among marketplace sellers being as fierce as it is, adding your products to different parts of the site can help you gain visibility even if you don’t appear first in the search results.
Solution: Do some research on Amazon Sponsored Products to see if it makes sense for your products and brand.

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