In my 10 years selling on Amazon and consulting with other sellers, I have encountered several circumstances of sellers with good intentions getting shut down.  Detailed below are the different circumstances that led to their store getting shut down and what the implications were.

  1. Operating multiple stores. You must have approval to own multiple stores.  They associate stores by the EIN on file, by credit card on file, and by bank information on file.  If you have multiple companies selling on amazon, make sure they truly operate as separate entities.
  2. Pricing Error. I had an employee shift the rows on a pricing spreadsheet and we uploaded the wrong prices for thousands of items. Amazon detected an anomalous change in sell rate and closed the store for my protection.  It saved me from thousands of orders I need to cancel (only got about 180 orders in 5 min before they shut off the account) but it still took 4 weeks to get it reopened.
  3. Fake Reviews. Amazon has taken a zero-tolerance stance on artificial reviews.  They probably deem it artificial if you left the review, a family member left the review, an account with the same credit card as you left the review, a lot of people who leave reviews get refunded afterwards, a lot of people leave reviews after using a discount code, a review is left by a person that is known to leave fake reviews, you send review requests and encourage 5 star reviews.  Amazon is VERY quiet about how they police review violations.  They will shut you down abruptly and they will not consider your appeal or give any kind of explanation.  If you cannot afford to have your store permanently shut down, don’t even think about manipulating reviews.  There are plenty of legitimate ways to generate momentum on amazon.
  4. Counterfeit/Trademark Claims. Complaints happen even if you only sell 100% legitimate products. If you get too many un-addressed claims your store will get shut down and will need to prove that you bought original product.  Best thing to do is keep receipts so that you can prove it is legitimate product and address them quickly.  It typically takes 3 to 6 weeks to get a store reopened so don’t ignore unaddressed claims.
  5. Have listings for restricted product. Years ago, we listed a bunch of drop ship products in a store I helped setup, but never actually added inventory to the listings or send them live.  There were gun holsters in this long list of drop ship products and amazon deemed the holsters a restricted product and closed the listings for this product.  The inactive listings stayed in the account for a couple of years and then one day amazon shut down the account without notice for selling restricted products.  Weapons and Health/Beauty are the categories where amazon is constantly shutting down restricted products.  We have found the best course of action is to delete a listing every time you get a removal of restricted product notice.  Make sure you delete the sku each time you see one of these notices and you are probably ok.  You also need to put in place a mechanism to ensure you don’t relist.
  6. High Order Cancellation rate. This is a very common reason for getting shut down along with a high rate of late shipping.  If you can’t ship on time and don’t have good inventory control, you should plan on developing a fulfilled by amazon (FBA) program.  You can appeal this type of closure with a good plan of action but if you get shut down multiple times it will be permanent.
  7. Poor seller review rating. This is probably the most common way to get shut down and new sellers are the most vulnerable. You may not feel that the negative reviews are justified but Amazon does not care.  The best way to keep your review rating high is to use the FBA program.  When an order is FBA, amazon takes responsibility for order fulfillment and consequently you can have most negative feedback struck.  You should also regularly monitor feedback to see what it is about.  A lot of negative seller feedback is about the product itself which you can request be struck.  Plan to check your feedback on a regular schedule and submit requests to remove negative feedback.  What remains cannot be removed and the best way to prevent these is good old fashion customer service.  That means the customer is ALWAYS right and you need to communicate well.  You are busy, but don’t be abrupt with customers and give them exactly what they request and consider it the cost of doing business.  For example, I sell shoes on amazon in my store and I can’t be profitable selling shoes on amazon if I offered free return shipping, but it is my policy that 100% of those that contact me about return shipping get it.

Marketplaces are the future of commerce.  Every independent retailer can and should be selling on Amazon; don’t let inexperience get you shut down before you get the chance to experience the full potential of Amazon.

This article was originally written for Independent Retailer Magazine.  You can read the full article at https://independentretailer.com/