I’m seeing recommendations on FB tonight that the way to “fly under the radar” with Amazon brand restrictions is to list the restricted products in bundles with your own UPC.
DON’T do this!!!
1) Do NOT list restricted brands in a bundle, thinking that will “hide” those branded products from Amazon.
A brand is STILL restricted whether it’s being sold individually or in a bundle.
2) Amazon has software that does nothing but scan listings looking for restricted brands.
And if you don’t list the brand names in your title and Feature Bullets your page won’t get ranked, so there’s no point trying to sell a name brand bundle without the brand name.
3) “Flying under the radar” is not within Amazon’s TOS.
DON’T try and “fly under the radar.” for anything!
Sourcing, pages, reviews, ANYTHING.
If a brand you are selling has been restricted by Amazon, follow their process for getting approved or stop selling that product.
Yes, it’s going to be an expensive proposition in some cases, especially if you have depth of inventory.
But violating TOS is not worth losing your Amazon account over.
You don’t need to cheat to compete. -Lisa Suttora
I’ve had a lot of people ask about the Inventory Health Report and how it plays a part in identifying rejected ASINs.
Below is a complete explanation of what this report DOES and DOESN’T do, and how it plays into the rejected ASIN issue.
Amazon has added a new field in the Inventory Health Report called “ASIN Limit” (you’ll find this report under the Reports Tab in Seller Central).
Amazon states that the ASIN Limit field will give you “Your inventory limit for ASINs where we apply an inventory capacity limit.”
What This Report Does/Doesn’t Do
To date, I’ve talked to 35+ merchants who have had ASINs rejected this week (and looked at my own report) and here’s the deal:
1. Currently Rejected ASINs: So far, in not one case, has the ASIN Limit report listed an ASIN that was rejected in a merchant’s shipment this week.
NOTE: If you’ve had an ASIN rejected that WAS on the ASIN Limit list, please post below.
2. Blank ASIN Reports. 99% of the merchants I’ve talked to have BLANK ASIN Limit reports (including me). Is your ASIN Limit report blank? If so, please let me know in the comments below! read more…
In what has been a shocking experience for many sellers, this week Amazon began randomly refusing to allow shipments of certain ASINs to FBA.
Late this week, merchants began receiving this error message while trying to process their FBA shipments:
“You are already at the maximum inventory allowed for this product, due to capacity or other restrictions. This product must be removed from this shipment.”
A quick call to Seller Support confirmed that this is not a system glitch.
Seller Support confirmed that Amazon is now restricting shipments of specific ASINs into FBA due to low sales thresholds:
Our FBA Business Team has classified this as a product that does not meet our sales threshold to be sent to the Fulfillment Center. Due to this, a restriction has been placed on the product that will not allow it to be sent to the Fulfillment Center until it meets the sales threshold.
We offer the option to sell the product as merchant-fulfilled until the sales threshold is met. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer exceptions to this policy at this time.”
However, many sellers are reporting that fast moving items with with Amazon Best Seller Ranks of 5000, 3000, even 1500, and with very little/no inventory in FBA are also randomly being rejected for FBA shipment.
In some cases, sellers aren’t able to read more…
It’s a top 5 issue for Amazon merchants.
You’re happily and profitably selling a wholesale product on Amazon.
Then, one day it happens…
Amazon comes in on your page and starts selling your product at a lower price.
Even worse, they won’t share the Buy Box.
Your sales come to a grinding halt. And you still have 150 units of product sitting in FBA.
Without a plan in place this scenario can turn into a brutal and financially devastating experience.
That’s why it’s important to take action, and not wait around, hoping it will change.
These 7 Steps Will Help You to Counteract a Product Sales Hijacking
And while there is no magic button you can push to wrangle your sales back from Amazon, there are steps you can take to determine your next best course of action.
1. Consider the source. If you purchased your inventory from a wholesale supplier and now Amazon is buying from them, selling this product is pretty much a done deal.
But before you give up on this product completely, call your supplier and talk to them about the situation.
Ask them if they plan to sell to Amazon long term? And whether or not they are planning to keep selling to 3rd party merchants.
Don’t be defensive or take your frustration out on the supplier. They most likely had no idea they were putting an end to your sales when they sold to Amazon.
2. Check to see how many units Amazon has in stock? 10? 100? 1000? Use the “Add to Cart” method to give you an idea of what you’re dealing with.
Of course, 25 units in stock doesn’t mean that Amazon doesn’t have another 500 on the way. But knowing what Amazon has in stock can be helpful when talking to your supplier.
It can also help you determine what you want to do with your remaining inventory.
3. Check your wholesale supplier’s website for their return policy. Some wholesale vendors may allow you to return a small quantity of unsold, in-season inventory.
Or at the very least, cancel a pending replenishment order.
This is completely up to the supplier’s discretion though.
Don’t be demanding or blame the supplier for this situation. Most vendors don’t understand the Amazon – 3rd party merchant competitive dynamic.
4. Evaluate longer-term bundling opportunities. Would this product be a good candidate long-term for bundling? If your research suggests that it might be, create some test bundles and new product page and test the bundle out. Be sure to optimize your product page and use Amazon Sponsored Product Ads to get your bundle ranked on the first page of Amazon search and get your sales off to a great start.
5. Create a short term bundle. Bundle the product with something low dollar, but compelling, quick and easy that will allow you to create a page and move this inventory out.
6. Call (not email) your supplier today and calmly explain the situation. Give them the specifics but don’t vent your frustration.
If Amazon is breaking MAP pricing, let the vendor know.
If Amazon won’t give up the Buy Box, explain to the supplier that without the ability to get the Buy Box on Amazon, you are unable to sell their products and will no longer be able to buy from them.
If you love their product, have been marketing the heck out of it, want to keep selling their product, let them know!
Things don’t always work out between Amazon and wholesale suppliers, and if the vendor decides they don’t want to sell to Amazon, you don’t want to have burned your bridges.
7. Sell it on Ebay. If there’s a market there, sell it there.
8. Wait it out for 30 days or less. If Amazon only has a small number of units in stock, you can try waiting for them to have an out-of-stock situation that will allow you to then sell out.
In order to do this, you need to have the financial wearwithal to wait them out.
Don’t wait them out for more than 30 days. You don’t want to tie up your inventory capital for too long.
And ONLY wait them out if they have a small quantity of inventory in stock OR the vendor tells you that they only sold 50 units or so to Amazon, and based on the current sales volume, that 50 units won’t last long.
If they have a lot of units in-stock or inbound (based on your conversation with the supplier) don’t wait them out.
How to Prevent Future Amazon Sales Hijackings
The only way you can prevent Amazon from hijacking your listings is to sell something they don’t sell.
Whether this is a private label product or a Wholesale/private label bundle (WPLB).
If you sell wholesale products or retail arbitrage, you have to go into it knowing that:
- At some point Amazon may come on the page
- At some point another 3rd party merchant will come on the page
I’ll take another 3rd party merchant on my page any day because I can generally out-market them, and grab the sales.
(UNLESS it’s a high-volume 3rd party merchant who is breaking MAP or undercutting MSRP and the supplier won’t/can’t do anything about it.)
If that’s the case, I’m getting out of that product.
The unfortunate truth of the wholesale game is that you are vulnerable to losing your product sales due to Amazon or other 3rd party merchant competition.
However, if you’re first to market, you can go in knowing that you’ll make money on the product for as long as you can until the competition moves in.
That can be 4 months, 8 months, and in some situations, longer.
The key is to be as proactive as possible to hedge against this Amazon hijacking situation.
And the best way to do that is through differentiation.
The differentiation model is what we teach in AMP.
Whether you’re sourcing or marketing, you need to differentiate in what you do on Amazon.
Otherwise you’ll spend all your time reacting to other sellers’ moves.
We are down to 53 seats available for AMP at a 32% discount.
Amazon is a business acceleration program.
If you’re ready to pull it all together and build a real business asset on Amazon this year, AMP will help you do that.
You’ve listed your product on Amazon and it’s not selling.
Or it’s not selling enough to make it a profitable venture.
This 5 question test will help you isolate exactly where the problem is, and show you how to fix it.
5 Point Product Slump Test
Is Your Product Ranked on Page 1 of Amazon Search for At Least 3-5 Top Searched Keyword Phrases?
In order for your product to sell, it must be ranked on page 1 of Amazon search for at least 3-5 top searched keywords or keyword phrases.
When buyers search for products on Amazon, if they don’t see the product they want on page, one…
- There’s only a 20% chance they’ll continue their search to page 2.
- A 13% chance they’ll continue to page 3
- And only 2% will ever see a product ranked on Page 10 of Amazon search
Test Point #1: Have someone who normally doesn’t search for your products on Amazon, do a search for the top keyword phrases you want your product to be found for.
Does your product come up on the first page?
If not, it’s time to run Amazon Sponsored Product Ads to buy a page 1 rank.
It’s also time to improve your page SEO so that it ranks organically on Page 1.
NOTE: Why can’t you do the rank search? Well you can, at least initially. But after searching for your product multiple times and clicking on your product page, Amazon will start to elevate your product’s rank position in your search results, giving you a false high rank.
Is Your Product Page Optimized for Buyer Conversion?
Your product page must be optimized for both search (SEO) and buyer conversion.
If the product page you’re listing on has any of these issues:
- A title that doesn’t doesn’t get buyers to click on it
- Only one image
- Bad images
- Skimpy bullets without features and benefits
- No compelling value communicated
- No product reviews
- Untested or wrong pricing
Buyers will visit your page but likely won’t purchase..
Are You Running Amazon Sponsored Product Ads?
If your product isn’t selling, (or to get a new product selling) you need to run Amazon Sponsored Product Ads.
In Q4, Amazon 3rd Party Merchants who used Amazon Sponsored Product Ads, saw a 100%+ increase in sales.
My own clients and students of my AMP Coaching Program, saw a 1200%+ increase in sales.
Amazon Sponsored Ads are hands down the most effective way to get visibility and sales for your products on Amazon.
(In February 2016 Amazon made some changes that caused a momentary hiccup with ASPAs, which have since been reverted).
Now, here’s an insider tip we’ve found from testing hundreds of ads.
Even if you have a page 1 organic rank for your product, running Amazon Sponsored Ads and getting a page 1 ad rank for your product will increase your sales.
The more of a “footprint” your product has on the first page of Amazon’s search results, the more you will sell.
Is this a Seasonal Sales Slump?
It’s important to be aware of the seasonality of your products. If your product is out of season, it’s time to replace that income with some fresh inventory.
Each year, one of my AMP students had great sales from January – April. In June their sales dropped like a box of rocks.
After putting their product line through our full “Identifying the Cause of a Sales Dip” assessment (found exclusively in AMP) she realized that the product line she’d thought was evergreen (and would sell all year long) wasn’t.
Once she identified the problem, she immediately knew that she needed to expand her product line with products to fill in her gap time from June-August.
Your Product is Saturated
The law of supply and demand is alive and well on Amazon.
Holding on to inventory that doesn’t have enough demand, or is over saturated with competitors – is an all too common practice.
If there are too many sellers on your product page or too many sellers of the same/similar products in your category, you need to take action now.
While in some cases you may be able to wait things out and let the other sellers sell out first, this is rarely the case. (In fact, most sellers make this mistake and tie up valuable cash in unsold inventory.)
If you have price flexibility in your product, test a different pricepoint and to jumpstart sales and find the product price sweet spot.
(If it’s a situation of the product being in a downward spiral in the race to the bottom, don’t enter that race! You won’t win.)
The next step is to decide whether or not your product is a candidate for product bundling – but be forewarned! You can’t just put a non-selling product together with any product and expect it to sell! Your product bundle must offer compelling value to the buyer.
If the supply of your product on Amazon exceeds demand, Sometimes, no matter how much you work to improve your product visibility and conversion, a product just won’t sell.
It’s at this point, it’s better for your business to cut your losses, get your cash out of the product and move on.
Do you need help increasing your sales?
If you’re struggling to hit your sales goals and grow your Amazon business, my Amazon acceleration program, AMP is now open for enrollment.
We have a limited number of spots for motivated Amazon merchants who are committed to reaching their sales goals this year.
And through March 6th you can save 32% on your AMP enrollment.
On the heels of announcing that Amazon Sponsored Ads were responsible for a 100% increase in sales for 3rd party merchants during Q4, Amazon just threw sellers a curveball.
On both February 2 and 11, 2016, Amazon made changes to Sponsored Ad Phrase Match & Exact Match relevancy that significantly reduced ad performance and sales.
This change caused ad impressions to all but disappear for many sellers running campaigns set up with phrase and exact match types.
These effects seemed to roll out in stages however, as not all out students and clients (many whom have seen a 2000+ % increase in sales with Amazon Sponsored Product Ads in the past year) immediately experienced a drop in impressions or sales.
However, the effect of this change has been widespread.
To make matters worse, Amazon didn’t notify 3rd party merchants of these changes. The first “notification” sellers received was a drastic drop in ad impresesions and sales.
And while Ad changes are without notification are nothing new, one has to wonder why Amazon would take a wildly successful program that’s generated millions of dollars in sales and revenue for both Amazon and their 3rd party merchants, and muck it up?
While only Amazon knows the answer to that question…
As 3rd party merchants we need to turn our focus to how to handle these changes.
After the changes were made, On Feb 11, Amazon responded with this email to their advertisers:
On February 2nd, Sponsored Products made changes to exact and phrase match type functionality. As a result of this change, advertisers using phrase and exact match may have seen a decline in traffic starting on February 2nd.
Because some advertisers experienced a larger than expected change in traffic, we are actively evaluating the results of this change and taking the necessary steps to remedy the situation.
Thank you for your patience as we continue to address this issue.
The Sponsored Products Team”
Amazon Seller Support Released then following statement:
” We acknowledge the fact that the change in Match Type has impacted our sellers campaigns (both auto and manual).
Because some advertisers experienced a larger than expected change in traffic, we are actively evaluating the results of this change and taking the necessary steps to remedy the situation. There is no action required to be taken from your end for this issue.
The impact has been more than what was expected and as a result the change is being rolled back.
Once complete, exact and phrase match will operate as they did before and we expect traffic to increase again for our advertisers using phrase and exact. The process of rolling back is going to take few days, but we will inform you all when the change has been been rolled back through an official mail to all the sellers.
We endeavor to provide the best service and aim to contribute in the best way to fulfill all the needs of our valued sellers. If there is anything else we can do to make things easier for you and to salvage what has up to now been a valued relationship, please let us know.”
The upshot of this is that it appears that Amazon is going to revert the changes and all will be back to normal.
But will it?
Until the dust settles and the changes are reverted, you won’t know for sure if everything is back to “normal
That’s why now is not the time to overhaul your Sponsored Ads strategy.
However, there are some best practices that you should be using with your Sponsored Product Ads both now and moving forward.
Here are 5 Best Practices to Maintain Your Ad Performance (and sales) During This Transition (and Moving Forward)
1. Make this simple tweak to boost impressions while Amazon transitions back to Phrase Match and Exact Match relevance.
If you aren’t using Broad Match in your Ad campaigns, assigning Broad Match to your keyword phrases will help to give your products more visibility right now.
But keep in mind that Broad Match is more likely to show your ads to buyers who are not interested in your specific product (as it casts a much wider net), so while your impressions will likely go up, your clicks and sales may not be high.
You’ll know whether or not assigning Broad Match Keywords to your campaign is working by reviewing your ad reports…
2. Review your Amazon Sponsored Product Ads reports. Sponsored Ads are not a “set it and forget it” ad program (no ad program is). You have to pay very close attention to your ad reports on a weekly basis!
This is the most dangerous mistake that I see sellers make when running Sponsored Ads. They set up a campaign and let it roll open ended without ever looking at the ad performance reports!
That’s a great way to waste hundreds or thousands of dollars on ads that bring you no results!
Schedule time for you (or your team) to review your ad performance weekly and make adjustments based on those results.
3. Remove non-performing keywords from your ads. Amazon Sponsored Ads charges you every time a customer clicks on your ad. You’re not charged for impressions (an impression is each time the ad is shown). So if you have a lot of clicks on your ad but no sales, you’re losing money!
Each week based on your ad reports, remove the keywords/keyword phrases that are racking up a high click-spend but aren’t getting any sales.
But before you do that, make sure you do Step 4!
4. Optimize your Amazon product page for SALES. If buyers are clicking on your ad, but NOT buying there is likely a problem with your page that is causing them not to buy.
Review your page for these issues:
- A misleading product title
- Poor product images
- Not enough product images
- Skimpy Feature Bullets that don’t do the job of selling your product
- The product is priced wrong
If your page is not optimized for sales, you won’t turn those ad clicks into sales!
5. Know your keywords. Knowing what keywords buyers are searching for to find your products and what ad keywords are converting sales for your product is critical to your selling success on Amazon.
Mastering your keyword skills and knowledge is not a “nice to have” it’s a must have to keep your business ahead of the competitive curve.
While this is time-consuming and does present a a learning curve for most sellers, it’s time well invested.
- Use Amazon’s suggested search to identify multiple top searched keyword phrases that buyers are using to search for your products.
- Optimize your product page with the keywords that perform in your ads
And finally, continue to run Amazon Sponsored Product Ads. I expect that Amazon will get these issues fixed.
Hands down, Amazon Sponsored Product Ads is the #1 most effective tool for increasing your sales on Amazon.
You do have to know how to use this powerful tool however. And unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t provide any in-depth, strategic training on how to use the Sponsored Ads program.
That’s why, I recently put together the most in-depth, step-by-step training on the marketplace on how to effectively use Amazon Sponsored Product Ads..
While this recent hiccup to the ads program is not good, pay-for-play advertising is here to stay, and needs to become a mainstay of your Amazon selling strategy.
If you have questions about the Sponsored Ads program or need help with your current campaigns, pop your question in the comments below and let’s get your Sponsored Ads on track!