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Avoiding Suspension on Amazon

As a merchant, Amazon has long held itself as a customer-centric company. Meeting consumer needs in the best possible ways, Amazon prides itself on honesty, transparency, and customer service. These goals don't stop with the company itself, of course; independent sellers are held to the same sky high standards.

Amazon's seller capabilities are quite enticing, offering a way for virtually anyone to sell anything. At least, for a time to anyone. As a part of an ongoing effort to focus on quality and adherence to best practices, Amazon tracks eight metrics that influence a seller's ranking; those that can meet their high expectations are favored, while those that are providing a poor customer experience are penalized, suspended for a time, or banned entirely. Sound harsh? Perhaps, but Amazon has a reputation to uphold.

Currently, Amazon has six metrics that can affect your seller account, and two in beta. Meeting these benchmarks can elevate your account, while ignoring them can hurt you permanently. These metrics, which are automatically calculated and tracked on your seller dashboard, should be at the core of your selling endeavors. By reviewing what they are, what they mean, and how they can affect you, it's easier to understand how the performance that drives your seller metrics can make or break your success on Amazon.

Perfect Order Percentage

If you are able to prepare, pack, and ship every order every time, your perfect order percentage will be on point. This metric looks at a seller's ability to handle the entire fulfillment process appropriately and in a timely manner; sellers that cannot may be looking at a percentage lower than 100, which raises red flags for many shoppers.

Order Defect Rate

One of Amazon's service-related metrics, order defect rate pertains to the number of orders that have received negative feedback, an A-to-Z guarantee claim, or a credit card chargebacks. Amazon's internal target for this metric is less than 1%; sellers with more bad reviews may have less visible orders, or may be flagged from selling completely.

Late Shipment Rate

Timely shipping is one of Amazon's biggest endeavors; with Prime same day, one day, and two day free shipping for members, customers have come to expect a certain level of punctuality, even for those purchases that aren't Prime-eligible. When sellers make sales, Amazon provides a required ship date, and anything outside of this window is considered late. In an effort to enforce timeliness, the late shipment rate determines how many seller-fulfilled shipments have not gone out on time. If you are struggling to get shipments out the door and to a customer, it may be time to refine your fulfillment and logistics practices.

On-Time Delivery

Timely shipping is a driving factor in Amazon's success, but so is on time delivery. As a way to guarantee prompt turnaround times and truthful tracking information, Amazon also tracks whether your shipments are being delivered on time. If packages are routinely late, this raises red flags about a seller's ability to ship properly and by the right methods.

Seller Cancellation Rate

If there's nothing to sell, why are you trying? The cancellation rate metric measures how often sellers cancel orders before shipping. In most cases, this occurs when a seller realizes that there isn't enough inventory to fulfill an order. This metric, which should always be green, is indicative of inventory management; if you are consistently finding yourself with too many orders and not enough inventory, an inventory management software or other tracking device may be a necessity.

Contact Response Time

As a part of the Amazon platform, sellers are expected to respond to all messages or requests within 24 hours. When message times start lagging, seller ratings start dropping. All messages should be handled promptly and politely. When you receive a message that does not require an answer, like a general thanks or spam from another business, the "mark as no reply needed" button at the bottom of the message screen can keep your lack of response from counting against you.

Return Dissatisfaction Rate

Even the best sellers in the world face returned merchandise from time to time, but how you manage this process is up to you. The return dissatisfaction rate applies to how you handle the return process, how you communicate with customers about returns, and how you process returned inventory. Overall, it devises a percentage based on a failure to respond to return requests within 48 hours, negative feedback related to your return, rejection of returns that are eligible for return, and a failure to refund a customer.

Thus far, this metric is still in beta, and is not currently not being used to penalize sellers. This doesn't mean this metric will never be used, however; sellers should go the extra mile to provide peerless support in returns as this metric could become effective at any point.

Customer Service Dissatisfaction

Another newer metric, this metric seeks to explore whether or not sellers properly addressed buyer issues, questions, and complaints. At the bottom of each message, there is a box that asks customers to evaluate their experience interacting with you. Customers then have the option to select positive or negative responses related to how well you solved their problems. The No answers will then affect your customer service dissatisfaction rating.

As this metric is still in beta, it will not currently affect your account. However, this doesn't mean you should ignore it. Amazon uses this metric for their own sales processes, which means it may become a requirement for independent sellers as well. To Amazon, customers are always right. Put thought into your responses to customers, and aways stay professional. Should this metric go live, your inadequate answers may come back to haunt you.

Customer service is important in every industry, and selling on Amazon is no exception. The seller metrics Amazon provides can be extremely influential, governing the standing of your account and how customers see you on their platform. Accidents happen to everyone, but it should be your mission to approach every sale with the utmost respect for the customer, the process, and the transaction as a whole. After all, your legacy on Amazon could depend on it.

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