May eGrowth Amazon Seller News Roundup

In this Amazon news roundup for sellers and brands, we look at the latest dirty seller tricks, toxic school supplies, Amazon’s small business enterprise report puff piece, and new pesticide takedowns affecting thousands of products.

Dirty seller tricks just keep popping up on Amazon. In this latest
instance, two Chinese sellers appear to have highjacked and altered thousands
of 5-star listings.

What a mess.  eGrowth Partners is
trying to unwind this for our clients.

But if you are a seller without someone to help you, check your
inventory right now. Look for these names: Xawy or Plochy. If either one is on
your inventory, then most likely you have problems.

These two brands, which may or may not be owned by the same people, have
gotten into Brand Registry and somehow claimed thousands of listings that they
then revised. Perhaps they have switched your listings to read, Shiny Rose Gold White Marble Design Phone
Case
. Or maybe to Power Bank Portable Charger Huge Capacity Charge External Battery Pack
Compatible with Smart Phones, Tablet and More.
These particular product substitutions have been reported in
Amazon seller forums.

When the real sellers try to set their listings right, they get a
message from Amazon Seller Support saying that the listing was created by the
rights owner:

“Our
specialized Team has looked into this case and I have to hesitantly inform you
that, we are unable to change the title of the ASIN, since the ASIN is
registered with a Brand Owner.

The ASIN
has the Brand Name registered as “Xawy “. Any changes to this page,
including title, description, images, and any other product-related information
must be approved by the brand owner.

Further,
I would like to inform you that since the brand owner “Xawy” has
contributions for this brand, you can directly get in touch with the brand
owner, by going to the brand owner’s store front, and asking the brand owner a
question.” 

What an absurd response!  Xawy
isn’t going to respond.  If you have had
a product taken down recently for infringement or a listing problem, check to
see if either one of these names is suddenly on your listing.  Some of our clients are reporting 75 or more
listing takedowns and we are estimating thousands of listings were affected.

Amazon is not being consistent in its decisions. Some people are getting
their listings back, others aren’t:

  • Submit to Brand Registry support (even if your brand
    isn’t registered). Seller Support is not helpful.
  • Include a picture of the product with FNSKU label
  • UPC
  • Screenshots of other listings the seller hijacked
  • Link to product website (if possible) showing what it
    is supposed to say and who the actual brand owner is.

If it has happened to you, keep letting Amazon know until it fixes the
issue itself. I am confident Amazon will ultimately act.

Sellers Must Prove Kids Product
Safety

If
you were part of the takedown earlier this year, you already know about this
issue. The state of Washington found toxic levels of lead and cadmium in 50+
products meant for children on the platform, and it took them down.

As
a result of that state’s action and to avoid a lawsuit, Amazon agreed to require
third-party testing of these products by a certified lab to prove that they don’t
have toxic levels of cadmium or lead. The kids’ products that were contaminated also
included pencil pouches, backpacks, lunch boxes, book covers, and jewelry – not
items typically associated with heavy metals.

Amazon identified roughly 18,000 sellers offering about 900,000 individual children’s school supplies and jewelry on its platform. As of the date of this news announcement, those who want to sell in the category of school supplies will have to provide that certification or third-party test before they’re allowed to sell these products. Sellers taken down earlier this year had to provide that information in order to continue selling them.

If
you sell products that children might use, whether it’s fabric or a hard
surface, or jewelry for kids, then be prepared to test these items before
sending them in to Amazon.  Obviously, if
Amazon finds over-the-limit levels of toxic metals in your products, you will
be taken down and probably not allowed to sell in that category anymore. This
is especially costly for smaller brands and private label products, because
you’ll need to have all of your individual products tested.

It’s
not like getting into a category where you just provide invoices and testing
for one product. You will need certification for every single product that you
want to sell. This is also going to apply to resellers. If you can’t get
independent third-party tests from the supplier or brand, you will have to test
yourself if you want to sell that product.

Be
aware that Amazon will be doing its own ongoing testing, just like it does in
the jewelry category. It randomly pulls out products and tests them and has
state-of-the-art testing capabilities. It’s up to you to make sure to test
first before sending products to Amazon.

Today
it’s school supplies and children’s jewelry but expect to see these new
requirements expand to cover a wide range of products. This rule is effective
across the entire platform and probably will end up on some other platforms as
well.

Amazon’s Annual Puff Piece

Amazon’s  2019 SMB Impact Report is an answer to critics like Democratic senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who advocate breaking Amazon up. Hey, Amazon is saying. We’re not mom-and-pop business killers. We’re small-to-medium business creators.

There’s
definitely some interesting information in it, but it’s not very
contextual.  There’s no background behind
these numbers, so it’s a
little hard to interpret what’s really
going on.

What
Amazon says about Alexa should be of particular interest to sellers. There are
hundreds of thousands of third-party
developers creating applications for Alexa. That tells me that this is
going to be a huge selling tool for Amazon, much like the Kindle was for its
books.  Sellers need to know that Amazon gives precedence to
Alexa orders in terms of ranking and special badges. If many people are ordering
your product through Alexa, then Amazon is going to give that product organic search
precedence over
competing brands on the desktop and mobile apps.

Sellers
who are new brands
or are launching new products, this is something you have to think about. How can you
get your customers to order your product by name through Alexa and become Amazon’s
choice? The
advantages could be huge.
It’s got a lot of potential for selling, and this may be a way that you
can differentiate your product from all competitors.

I think we’re going to see a lot of more
Alexa-oriented strategies by brands and other sellers. I’ll be really curious to see
how they play out.  Also, I have to say,
I expect this to be the next area of abuse. As soon as Amazon launches
something really cool that gives people a selling
advantage, expect the black hats to show up and spoil the party.

For some reason, Amazon didn’t want to talk about bad
actors in its brightly colored spin report.

In
other news of interest to sellers, in 2018 nearly 200,000 SMBs brought in more
than $100,000 in revenue on Amazon. More than 50,000 SMBs posted sales higher
than $500,000 in 2018. And last year, more than 25,000 SMBs posted revenues of
$1 million or more vs. slightly over 20,000 SMBs hitting $1 million in sales
through Amazon in 2017. If you are in one of these groups, pat
yourself on the back for being an elite seller.

Another
interesting fact?
Amazon issued $1 billion in loans to third-party sellers last year.  That’s staggering. I think almost any bank would be
thrilled to have $1
billion in loans under management. 
It
just boggles the mind how quickly Amazon became one of the major players in
banking.

Because
Amazon so rarely gives out any kind of information about its sales
beyond gross numbers, it
is fascinating to learn that the top product sales categories were health and personal
care, home, and beauty. That correlates with the suspensions that we see too.

Always
keep in mind the purpose of this piece. Amazon is trying
to show it
actually helps grow small businesses. Like so many
things that Amazon says, there’s truth to that. We’re all here because we’re making
money on the platform.
But there
are also some things Amazon
does not talk about:
 like how hard it makes it for sellers -or how many
sellers leave each year because they can’t hack it -or how they’ve just
gotten suspended for the last time, and they’re not going to take it
anymore.

As I’ve mentioned
before, lawmakers and people
in power don’t
understand Amazon.
Amazon clearly is
concerned about being regulated by those who do not understand what
it is or does. Look for more PR pieces like this. I expect a fairly
aggressive campaign from
Amazon to portray itself as a small business champion.

Weird Pesticide Takedowns

Amazon just got real about pesticides. Amazon voluntarily agreed to
self-regulate pesticides sold on its platform in order to avoid regulation and
possible penalties.  One of its rules is
that sellers must be US-based.

That’s been a problem for some of our clients based in Canada, Mexico or
somewhere else outside the United States. Suddenly they can’t sell pesticide
products on Amazon and there’s nothing we can do about it. In addition, the
algorithm is taking down a wide range of products that aren’t normally
considered pesticides like fabric doorstops that stop drafts.

The reason the algorithm is taking these products down is because they
have trigger words:

All
Natural

Antibacterial

Anti-bacterial

Anti-fungal

Anti-microbial

Antiseptic

Germ

Harmless

Insect

Insecticide

Mold

Non-injurious

Non-poisonous

Non-toxic

Pest

Pesticide

Repel

Repellent

Repelling

Safe

Sanitize

Everything from head lice treatment to soap to touch-screen cleaners is getting caught and taken down. The fastest solution is to go ahead and take the pesticide test.  (You need to be logged in to Seller Central for the link to work. If it doesn’t, log in to Seller Central and search for “Required Training for Sellers of Pesticides”). You can generally complete it in hour or less, and it will fix your problem, provided you are based in the United States. If your product is not a pesticide, you’ll have to appeal to Amazon and prove that it should not be covered by the same rule.

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU TODAY?

We are known for helping suspended sellers get
reinstated, but our goal is to keep sellers from being suspended in the first
place.  We have more than 25 team members passionately working 7 days a
week to protect Amazon sellers like you.  

Contact us for specific advice on your situation:

Email:  hello@egrowthpartners.com

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Phone:  1-972-432-6398

JOIN US!

NEWS NUGGETS

  • Starting
    on June 10th, inventory that is stranded for an extended period will
    be classified as unsellable and MUST be removed from Amazon fulfillment
    centers.  Keep an eye on your stranded
    inventory!
  • Sellers
    can’t get away with “tricking” the shipping queue anymore in order to
    consolidate orders and reduce shipping costs. “You will not be permitted to
    ignore, delete, or abandon units in any shipping plan.”  As of June 1st, we are assuming
    this will become a policy violation and Amazon will make examples of sellers in
    the beginning.  Don’t be one of them.
  • Attn:
    apparel brands!  This month Amazon is
    removing its generic size charts from all listings and making each brand create
    their own. This is designed to reduce size-related returns so take this
    seriously.

Our new Facebook Group Amazon Seller Advocatesjust passed 300 members!  Join us for discussions of all things affecting Amazon sellers.  Understand the context behind news announcements, changes to TOS and more!  JOIN US!


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The post May eGrowth Amazon Seller News Roundup appeared first on eGrowth Partners.

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