We created a temporary account, found a product selling very well on Amazon, and found a supplier for it. We bought the same product with two intentional differences from the Amazon listing: it had a different logo, and one ingredient was different. We piggybacked on the listing that was selling well and started selling. Time to see what Amazon would really do.
After a week and a half, we got a message from Amazon saying, “We’re concerned you may be selling counterfeit products. Please send us invoices and proof that you’re qualified to sell this product.” We sent invoices, included a polite response, to see how Amazon would handle it. A bit of time passed and I closed the listing because I didn’t want to damage the other seller too much. Four or five days later, we got a message from Amazon saying, “Your account has been suspended and your selling privileges removed.”
This is not the first time I’ve had an account suspended. It happened to me back when I first started selling on Amazon. I was selling security products, very new to the game, and ignorant. I didn’t realize there were certain items Amazon prohibited you from selling. I was able to get my account reinstated back then.
It only took a change in a logo and one ingredient to get suspended from Amazon in two weeks.
What does this mean for sellers?
This is awesome news. If you're selling your own private label product, your opportunity to be protected by Amazon is very strong.
Here’s what happens that gets hijackers suspended: The other sellers order the product, take a picture of it, send it to Amazon to prove it was illegitimate and counterfeit, and that results in the hijacker getting suspended. But the crazy part is that if they have ten different hijackers, they have to repeat this process over and over again.
How do you protect against this?
Amazon’s Brand Registry. They have reopened it and it requires a trademark to apply. When you have your own trademark, Amazon will respect your brand. Your chance of getting brand gated is much higher. You can eliminate the issue this way.
If you do find someone hijacking your listing, if you do the hard work and prove to Amazon it’s not legit, they will protect you and your product. I think that’s awesome.
When Amazon removed the selling privileges, here’s what came up:
“You currently may not sell on amazon.com because we received complaints about the authenticity of the items listed at the end of this email. Funds will not be transferred to you, but will stay in your account while we work with you to address the issue.”
When a hijacker receives this message, it will make them very angry. For legitimate sellers, this is awesome news. The person who private labels will win, because they did the hard work, and now they’re making money. So if someone hijacks your listing, take courage.
I also want to explain to you how you can get your account reinstated. We were able to successfully get our temporary account no longer suspended. Some of you guys are going to run into this even if you do nothing wrong, so I want to show you how to handle it.
Do what Amazon requests. Don’t make it personal, don’t make it about other sellers. Do exactly as they request. They’re going to ask for three things: invoices, a plan of action, and what you’ve done to correct the problem.
If you have invoices from an international supplier, I recommend you don’t use those. Some people have made them work successfully, but the rate of success is very low. I recommend going to an invoice generator and creating your own invoice. I go and find a company that produces the item I’m selling, so I can search “health products distributors contact info” for example, grab their information, and stick it onto the invoice. This uses their logo, name, address, website, and then the bill for the inventory.
This information lines up quite accurately to the product we ordered: the only difference is that the supplier is not the one we used in China. If we send that one, my chances are much slimmer. Using this modified invoice, the result was very positive.
Here’s what I wrote:
“My plan of action with steps I will take to correct the problems identified:
For all future inventory purchases, I will only source from a supplier where the accuracy of the product matches perfectly with the listing.
I will personally vet the product and test its accuracy and quality before it enters a UPS truck on its way to the Amazon warehouse. We now have a team of testers who will try samples of the product from each batch immediately after manufacture.
We have also rented out a warehouse where we can sort our products and test them before they ship to Amazon’s warehouse.
I was careless to source from a supplier without first quality checking every piece and this is 100% on me. This resulted in customers being upset because the product did not accurately reflect the listing. This was unfair not only to me but to other sellers on this listing.
I will no longer sell on listings already in the Amazon catalog. I know this is not against policy if the product is generic and accurate to the listing, but in the past, the majority of my products have been my own listings and private label with very few exceptions and this created a fantastic customer experience for Amazon shoppers.
I will trademark our company name so that we’re developing a unique brand and desired presence on the Amazon platform. This investment will help us to focus on the quality of our products versus transactions on Amazon.
Before my account was suspended, I had already closed the listing and ordered back all the inventory so that this would no longer be an issue. A few more returns came in since then, so we did a removal order on those as well.
I’m not here to sell stuff on Amazon, I’m here to develop a brand of products that wow Amazon customers. If you will give me a chance to prove this, I will be forever grateful.
To demonstrate that these are more than words, we applied for US trademark application serial number [XXXXX]. You can go here to see the application on USPTO Gov’s website: [XXXXX]
Our purpose is to build a brand presence that provides organic and natural fashion, health and beauty products for women from mid-20s to late-30s. Here’s our website (XXXXX) which showcases 100% custom design products for women. We will work night and day to create products Amazon customers love.
Thank you for reading our appeal and thank you for the privilege of selling on the Amazon platform.”
Be humble: if you made a mistake, own it, and give them everything they need. Go above and beyond. Show them how far you are going to make this experience the best possible. Explain to them everything they could possibly want to show you care.
When you are dealing with any kind of suspension, treat it like you’re writing a freaking resume! Do everything you can to go above and beyond. We got reinstated within 48 hours. We provided two invoices, created this plan and letter, and then in response we got a message that said “Your amazon.com selling privileges have been reinstated.” We even went to the other seller we were testing against and sent him a gift card as a way of apologizing for selling his listing, just for my own conscience’s sake.
There are two things you need to remember.
One: Amazon will protect you if you do due diligence. If you really are building a brand, trademark, and company, they will see that. You’ll win if you’re in it for the long run. If you’re trying to make a quick buck, this won’t work for you.
There was a day when you could make fast money on Amazon. That day is gone. The people who are here are here to build a legitimate business over a period of time. They will not just survive, but become rich doing it. Most people will give up and won’t have a business mindset. If you want to win, you need that mindset.
Two: If you do get suspended, it’s not the end of the world. There is a strong chance chance you can get it undone. Do what Amazon requests. Send them invoices. Use a legitimate warehouse company. I’ve found that in the past, if I just create my invoices off of a legitimate wholesaler out there instead of using a Chinese supplier, it works really well. Give them your plan. What is it? They even give you a link to show you ideas on how to create a plan based on what your account was suspended for. Show them specifically what you’re going to do. They want to know you’re building a brand, not just selling stuff. Then finally, what have you done to fix the problem? Are you owning it? Don’t make a bunch of excuses. They can see right through it. Tell them the truth, be honest with them, and you’ll have your account back and up again. Have an awesome day.