Mar 7, 2022
This week, I’m joined by our resident Amazon policy and compliance consultant, Lesley Hensell. Lesley is co-founder and co-owner of Riverbend Consulting, an organization that helps people with suspensions, policy issues, and account management. She’s an Amazon expert and has also been a seller for almost a decade. She’s here today for her regular update on what’s going on with Amazon, what’s new, what’s changing, and what’s going to affect you and your business. The first part of her update is on the rampant suspensions of linked accounts that Amazon’s going in for right now. Lesley tells us that Amazon is using AI to crack down on people who have more than one account without good reason, and we discuss how to follow the rules and avoid suspension. Another big issue happening with Amazon recently is a surge in bogus IP complaints, and Lesley explains the importance of protecting yourself with brand registration and making sure your paperwork is organized and accessible. Related to this, I talk about some problems I’ve had recently with bad players selling counterfeit versions of our products, and Lesley provides some reassurance that Amazon has started really enforcing its brand registry rules and suspending people who abuse them.
Next, Lesley has some good news about getting suspended ASINs reinstated—it seems that Amazon is now giving the option (in some cases) to get your ASIN put back up in exchange for taking a training course. This is a faster option than the usual process and has the added benefit that you can learn something important to help you with your Amazon business. Lesley and I then spend some time discussing the bad things that can happen in the Amazon warehouse, including expired or used products being put back into rotation, and Lesley has a tip for managing your SKUs to avoid that nightmare scenario. I also ask about Amazon’s PPC rules, and Lesley tells us about how some sellers are using meta-tags and back-end information to get past those rules, another bit of rule-breaking that Amazon is really cracking down on. Then I ask Lesley to describe the services Riverbend provides and how they can help you with your Amazon problems and guide you in making more money before we close out the episode with some details about SURGE Summit, the conference that Riverbend is sponsoring. It’s taking place in Tampa Bay, Florida, over September 6-8 and features power sellers and experts from all over the industry, including a keynote from the CFO of Pharmapacks, one of the biggest sellers on Amazon (plus a cruise and a retro 80’s arcade!).
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This week on the Amazon Files:
“At the end of the day, you are playing on their playground, and it’s best to play by their rules because they will very swiftly boot you out if you don’t do it right.”
- Kristin Ostrander
“You can have more than one seller account if there’s a really good reason to. So, if you have two private label brands, if you use one account that you’re selling lawnmowers and the other one you’re selling greeting cards, you want to have different accounts. So if you have a good business read on it, you can have more than one account.”
“Amazon uses a lot of artificial intelligence, and AI, as you know, what makes it kind of creepy but effective is that it learns over time. And so they programmed it early on to match things like who has two accounts that have the same bank account.”
“It can be very useful, if you are legitimately running more than one account, if you use a VPN, so they don’t think you’re on the same IP address and think for some reason you’re doing something you’re not supposed to.”
“If you have two companies selling the same ASIN on the same listing, you’re competing with yourself, and then you’re pricing against yourself. So arguments can be made that there’s price-fixing.”
“Amazon has done a really bad job in its new brand registry. We were all so hopeful that Amazon brand registry 2.0 is gonna solve all of our problems! And really, it’s just like everything else, they built it for Amazon, they didn’t build it for sellers.”
“You do need to be brand-registered because you at least have a shot. But it is by no means a panacea and the answer to all of your problems.”
“Here’s the problem, the law requires Amazon to act on these complaints. They don’t have a choice. They can’t say, ‘Oh, I think that looks bogus’ and just ignore it. Because once someone files an IP complaint, they have to do something about it. Even if these are garbage, and even if they don’t make any sense.”
“Get brand registry, get trademarks, get your own custom packaging. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s just doing business legitimately. And then that protects you.”
“People respect their Amazon account enough to watch the training, maybe answer some relevant questions. And then, now at least you’re educated. So next time, you can’t say I didn’t know any better because then you have a record that you did the training.”
“You cannot assume that they will do any work for you, ever. They won’t.”
“If you’re making thousands of dollars a month on an ASIN that gets suspended, you’re screwed for that amount of time until you can fight with them to get back, which we know takes weeks, if not months for them to even, you know, give you an answer.”
“Bad things happen in the Amazon warehouse.”
“Amazon’s not going to hand it back to you just for fun. The struggle is real.”
“When you’re trusting someone else with your inventory and your money, there’s going to need to be accountability, some way or another, whether it’s on your end or their end. And we all knew it ain’t on their end. So we might as well take care of it.”
“Most of the time, they’re not just picking on random people. You’ve done something wrong, knowingly or unknowingly, and they’re not just randomly scooping up a bunch of people, there’s not some mean dude that’s having a bad day going, ‘Let’s pick on Lesley today and let’s see if her account’s doing anything wrong!” No, it’s automated, it’s artificial intelligence. It’s all bots.”
“We have people who did do the wrong thing all the time, and we help them, you know, get right. We have our little 'come to Jesus' meeting and ask you why it happened and say this is how we fix it, and we help them fix it.”
“Honest to goodness, that’s just the reality of this all, you guys, it’s just, like, doing business with integrity. Stop trying to circumvent the rules, stop trying to get around them.”
“We just did our final year-end taxes or whatever, and I wanted to give you the number that Riverbend has gotten back for us, for our company for reimbursements, damages, irreconcilable issues that we have on Amazon, and it was, like, over $3,000 last year.”
“What we are shooting for is to have the best content of any Amazon conference because we’ve all been to conferences where people sell from the stage. I don’t like that. That’s not my style, it makes me uncomfortable. I want to hear from people who are real sellers.”
Grow Your Amazon Business!
Thanks for tuning into this week’s episode of The Amazon Files, the show to help Amazon sellers along their business journey one step at a time with Amazon expert and your host, Kristin Ostrander. If you enjoyed this episode, head over to Apple Podcasts, subscribe to the show, and leave us your honest review. Don’t forget to share your favorite episodes with your friends on social media! Use the codeword RIVERBEND to join us on Facebook. Each week, Kristin hosts a live discussion on how to grow your Amazon business. Don’t forget to check out our website and subscribe to our mailing list for even more resources.