With the holidays approaching rapidly, this might be a good time to do a review of your business on Amazon.com to be sure you know how to manage to the performance metrics. Falling short on these can lead to suspension of sales, and it is much easier to stay ahead of that than to dig out later. For more information about the basics, see Putting it All Together
he number one customer metric is, of course, feedback. Keep your business on Amazon.com active and vital by ensuring that the Amazon.com buyers experience the same great customer service no matter who is selling. That means the product is as advertised, it arrives on time and in great shape, and if there are any questions about the transaction the service is fast, fair and friendly. The path to trouble is when part of that fails. Feedback is the ultimate measure of the experience for each individual buyer, but our systems also measure other aspects of your business practices on Amazon that are indicators of problems along the sale-order-fulfillment-adjustment lifecycle.
To avoid performance actions – warning, suspension and block – manage your business in a way that includes “reading” the cues from the Customer Metrics in Seller Central. Go to that report page as often as you do the inventory and orders page, which should be often. You’ll be maintaining current inventory, updating product details, managing orders, shipping, responding to buyers, confirming fulfillment and making adjustments when necessary – a daily minimum check is advised. Add to this reading feedback, responding to claims and chargebacks, reviewing stats for other customer metrics, and checking for performance notifications to monitor the health of your business; this will better prepare you to make fast business adjustments as needed.
Do not wait for those warnings from Amazon Seller Performance. For example, our audit might find that you have a high rate of refunds occurring on your orders. Reading feedback regularly can help you fine-tune your business practices. Although we encourage buyers to do product reviews separately, repeated comments in buyer feedback about the quality of the product and having to return it for a refund may be about the product, but they also reflect poorly on your business choices. Perhaps you want to find a different supplier for that product. Or if you find that you are making too many refunds because the product wasn’t what was expected, check to make sure you’ve listed your product correctly.
For late shipping, the same type of process applies. Don’t wait for a warning or suspension that says you have too many orders shipping late. Check for orders daily, be aware of the service level requested (standard or expedited), ship to those service levels, and confirm your fulfillment quickly. Late shipping and high pre-fulfillment cancellation rates indicate that your company is not providing the customer service Amazon.com buyers expect. It may be due to problems in your shipping systems, running out of inventory, or problems with your fulfillment upload. Notice these before buyers and Amazon systems do to avoid problems.
Beyond the measures on the Customer Metrics page, understand the policies for doing business on Amazon.com found in your seller Help Pages. Even if you’ve been selling a while, take a moment for a refresher. More importantly, make sure everyone on your team knows the policies. You don’t want someone on your customer service team saying that a buyer can only refund 10 days after the sale when you’ve agreed to take refunds up to 30 days. And you don’t want someone in the marketing group sending emails about your website when such diverting of customers is prohibited.
tuff happens. You’re a great seller, but something has happened that has triggered a performance notice. Don’t Panic! Read the notification with the Customer Metrics and policies in mind. Be proactive, not defensive. The point of the warnings is to alert you to needed corrections and first suspensions are a “time out” so your company can get back to green.
Always respond to the notifications professionally and with information related to the business at hand. This helps the investigator at the other end of that email queue evaluate the situation. They do not know everything about every business, so the more precise you can be, the more smoothly the process works. Got a suspension and didn’t see warnings? Check your settings in Seller Central and your email processes at your end to be sure there is nothing interrupting the flow of communication.
If a Plan of Action is required, fairly evaluate your business on Amazon and determine where you can improve to avoid the same issue in the future. Not just a band-aid, but a real change that means it won’t happen again. This will improve your chances of staying active and being successful in the future.
Remember: the goal is a great buying experience. We all need buyers to trust buying online to increase business for everyone. Look at this as a way to improve your business or find process gaps you may not have noticed before. Staying on top of ALL the business metrics, including customer metrics, knowing the policies, and handling issues proactively are the keys to staying active on Amazon.com – whether at the holidays or all year round. Be prepared!