• Holly Sloan

Five tips for making your Amazon FBA account a success and avoiding suspension

If you’re thinking that Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) is the best way to grow your online business, you will be keen to understand as much as possible about the programme.

FBA sees Amazon handle the shipping part of your business, storing goods in their warehouses and then ensuring they reach your customers, which can have a number of benefits. This is how Amazon itself describes the scheme:

“You sell it, we ship it. Amazon has one of the most advanced fulfilment networks in the world. With Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), you store your products in Amazon's fulfilment centres, and we pick, pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. FBA can help you scale your business and reach more customers.” For Amazon’s full details, visit: https://services.amazon.co.uk/fba.

All of which sounds great, but obviously comes at a cost, and also with terms and conditions that you need to stay within to avoid suspension and your Amazon account being taken offline. Holly Sloan, Senior Case Handler at Thompson and Holt, has extensive experience of Amazon suspensions and here provides five key tips to making the most out of your FBA account.

1. Understand the sign-up process

“Amazon is pretty good at explaining the FBA sign-up process on its own website, whether you’re already selling or are new to the platform,” Sloan explains. “There are videos and other resources to talk you through it, along with an entire learning section to help Sellers get to know the service and then how to make your online project successful. But we would also advise doing your research elsewhere before joining up - there’s a wealth of information now available online about both the initial set-up process and then the pros and cons of FBA generally. The more opinions you’ve take in, the better position you will be in to make a decision over whether it’s the best move for you.”

2. Regularly keep up-to-date with Amazon’s policies

“In terms of avoiding suspension, this really is a key issue,” Sloan continues. “At Thompson and Holt we are dealing with Amazon suspensions all of the time, and still come across many instances of Sellers who weren’t aware that they were breaching the site’s terms and conditions. It can be a laborious process to go through them all, but it’s definitely a time investment that pays off - and it’s also useful to make sure you’re up-to-date with them, because they can be changed frequently by Amazon. Knowing where you stand will help avoid those instances where your account is suspended and you’re offline for a period of time.”

3. Develop a marketing strategy

“In online sales, and especially on Amazon, marketing is king,” Sloan stresses. “It’s your way of standing out in a crowded market place and making your business more attractive to consumers than your competitors. On Amazon you will almost always be competing with a host of similar people and products, and knowing how to get an edge over them is likely to be the key to your success on FBA. Again, Amazon has its own useful tool on advising Sellers about marketing, which can be found at https://advertising.amazon.com/. But as with signing up to FBA, there are also many other detailed resources online about the key strategies involved in marketing. Collate as much information as possible and then apply it to your own individual circumstances.”

4. Understand the key points of reviews and listings

“If we’re saying that marketing is king on Amazon, then reviews cannot be far behind in the pecking order,” Sloan says. “Understanding how they work and how to get positive reviews is a crucial skill on Amazon. Back in March colleague Craig Gedey wrote about how to secure organic and ethical reviews: https://www.thompsonandholt.com/post/how-to-gain-organic-and-ethical-amazon-reviews.

“How listings work goes hand in hand with reviews, and is also vital for avoiding suspensions, as failing to adhere to Amazon’s terms and conditions can lead to exclusion. We have also previously written a Thompson and Holt blog on exactly this, which can be found at https://www.thompsonandholt.com/post/the-four-golden-rules-for-writing-effective-amazon-product-listings.”

5. Establish the cost of your fees

“This is the bit that many people jump to, because ultimately it could decide whether or not FBA is going to work for you,” Thompson and Holt’s Sloan concludes. “The way Amazon works out its fees means that it is going to be different for every single Seller, depending on the products you are offering. In storage, items are charged based on size and weight, not cost. That means selling low-price items through FBA could cost more than it’s worth, so again research is crucial, and understanding exactly how much your items will cost. Amazon also has a system where your costs go up for items that are stored for longer than 180 days, encouraging people to get and keep products moving. Constantly checking your inventory and removing items that aren’t selling will help keep costs down. Storage fees are also higher during holiday seasons. Knowing as many of these details as possible will help you gain the clearest picture of whether FBA is for you. Again, Amazon has very useful information on costs and how they work - inducing a calculator that can give you a very clear idea - but further background research is advised before you make the move.”

Worried about an Amazon suspension?

If you have found yourself suspended while selling on Amazon, contact Thompson and Holt for a free LiveChat to get your Seller business back online as quickly as possible.

Thompson and Holt are also offering a free month’s trial of their Monitor and Protect service to help sellers prevent a suspension of ASINs or an their account during the COVID pandemic, more information on how to protect your Amazon seller account from a suspension can be found here.

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