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Amazon Seller News

Amazon Seller News

Amazon Seller News: Seller Facts, Blackout Dates, New COO Requirements, Banned HTML, and More…

In this Amazon Seller News update, we’ll be covering:

  1. Amazon to Hold Prime Early Access Sale on October 11-12
  2. Non-Amazon Sellers Are Now Stealing Your Ad Space
  3. Clash of the Titans: Walmart and Amazon Battle for Dominance Intensifies
  4. Amazon To Increase UK Multi-Channel Fulfillment Fees By November 12th
  5. Amazon Now Allowing Email Marketing Campaigns to Repeat Customers
  6. Financial Win for FBA Sellers in PA Court
  7. Boost Conversions with Amazon’s New A/B Testing Features
  8. EU Advised by NGOs to Refuse Amazon’s Flawed Proposal for Antitrust Settlement
  9. Amazon FBA Deadlines for Sending In Q4 Inventory
  10. Software Updates For September 2022
  11. Gloves Off: Shopify Warns Sellers Against Amazon Buy With Prime
  12. Amazon Brings Back Restock Limits to Prepare for the Holiday Rush
  13. Amazon Enters the 3PL Space with New Amazon Warehousing & Distribution Program
  14. New Amazon Badges Increase Discoverability and Allow for Values-Based Buying
  15. Royal Mail Strikes to Disrupt Mail and Deliveries Across UK
  16. Amazon’s New Holiday Surcharge Takes Another Bite Out of Seller Profits
  17. Amazon Attribution Update Makes for a More Effective Sales Tool
  18. Software Updates For August 2022
  19. Amazon Releases Inventory Ledger to Streamline Inventory Data Reports
  20. Updated: Amazon Suspension Risk For The Uninsured
  21. Amazon Plans to Hold 2nd Prime Day in October
  22. UPS Shipping Limits for Amazon Threaten to Delay Holiday Deliveries
  23. Shopify Shares Down By 14% After Laying Off 10% of Their Employees
  24. SoStocked Joins the Carbon6 Family Shortening the Timeline to Future Innovations
  25. Shopify Introduces YouTube Shopping Integration to Compete in Live Commerce
  26. Amazon Continues to Dominate B2B While Shopify Plays Catch-Up
  27. Freight Disruption at Port of Oakland as California Truckers Protest AB5
  28. Amazon Reduces Their Private Label Catalog Amid Mounting Regulatory Pressure
  29. Discounts on EU/UK Amazon Partner Carrier Fees
  30. Shopify Acquires Deliverr and Takes Aim at Amazon’s Buy with Prime
  31. Are You Prepared for the Updated Amazon Returns and Refunds Policy?
  32. Amazon Intros New Hack to Find High-Demand, No-Competition B2B Products
  33. Software Updates For July 2022
  34. Amazon’s Recent Ban on Mylar Bags and Other Potentially At Risk Products
  35. Reduce Losses Due to INR Scams with Amazon’s Signature Confirmation
  36. Amazon Implements Size Normalization to Ensure Consistency Across Detail Pages
  37. Why Amazon Wants You to Lobby Congress: What Is S.2992?
  38. New EPR Compliance Obligations for Amazon Germany Begin July 1st
  39. Software Updates For June 2022
  40. Amazon Adjusts Fees For Remote Fulfillment With FBA
  41. Amazon Removal Order Fees Get More Expensive
  42. Amazon Makes Play Toward Offering Prime for Non-Amazon Orders
  43. Amazon Implements Surcharge on Aged Inventory Starting May 15th
  44. Software Updates For May 2022
  45. Amazon Updates Their Age-Restricted Bladed Products List
  46. New Product Dimension Attributes for 255 Product Types
  47. New Shipping and Storage Changes Coming to Amazon
  48. Amazon Hits US & EU Sellers With Fuel And Inflation Surcharge
  49. Software Updates For April 2022
  50. Emerging Amazon Marketplaces: UAE and Saudi Arabia
  51. Amazon Automatic Aging Inventory Removal Starts April 15
  52. Free Amazon Master Carton Calculator Tool To Optimize Your Packaging
  53. Amazon and EIT Climate-KIC Offer Financial Boost to Sustainable Startups
  54. Qualify for Rebates and Free Liquidations with the Updated FBA New Selection Program
  55. New Dimensional Weight Fees Placing Further Strain on Profit Margins
  56. Amazon Closing Shipping Loopholes May Wreak Chaos for Some Sellers
  57. Amazon Removes “Tons” of Supplement Offers Due to Non-Compliance with New Product Requirements
  58. Claim Reimbursement for Losses Caused by Amazon CSBA Reps
  59. UK Launches Export Support Service to Help Businesses Sell Goods Abroad
  60. Three SoStocked Software Deals For New Years (Now Thru January 7, 2021)
  61. Important Update To Restock Limits And IPI Threshold
  62. Use Amazon’s Delivery Promise Tool To Monitor Your FBM Performance
  63. Amazon Storage Limit Updates
  64. New And Improved Amazon HTML Editor + HTML Converter Tool
  65. Send Holiday-Themed Emails To Amazon Followers Through December
  66. Borrow Up To 100K With The Amazon Community Lending Pilot Program
  67. Amazon Has Worked To Smooth Out Climate Pledge Certification
  68. Updated: Amazon Compliance Reference Tool To Ensure Products Meet Requirements
  69. Distribute Your Inventory Across Multiple FCs At No Extra Cost
  70. Beta Amazon Upstream Storage Program Eliminates Restock Limits
  71. Amazon Hikes Referral And FBA Fees For 2022
  72. Amazon Updates Program Policies
  73. Amazon Increases FBA Capacity and Restock Limits
  74. Amazon Launches New Dashboard for Returns Performance
  75. The End Of Rebates, Two-Steps URLs, & Other Search Rank Manipulation
  76. New Carrier Tracking Requirements & Improving OOS Listing Discoverability
  77. Amazon Releases Free Product Research Tool Named ‘Product Opportunity Explorer’
  78. New Documentation for Supplements Required to Avoid Listing Removal
  79. Amazon Inventory Deadlines For Q4
  80. Delivery Time Accuracy With New Amazon Shipping Settings Automation Tool
  81. China’s Widespread Power Cuts Further Strain Global Supply Chain
  82. New Changes To Removal Of Aged Inventory
  83. Amazon Egypt Now Open For Business
  84. Why Have Amazon Sellers Suffered a Significant Drop in Restock Limits?
  85. SoStocked Prices Increasing After Friday, September 17th, 2021
  86. Amazon Search Shadowban For Products That Violate Title Guidelines
  87. Your Amazon Posts Can Now Appear On Your Product Detail Pages
  88. Amazon Grade And Resell Program Rolled Out To Reduce FBA Waste
  89. Amazon Overhauls Its A-to-z Guarantee Policies To Streamline Damages Claims
  90. Now Factor Restock Limits Into Forecasts
  91. Streamline Shipments With “Send To Amazon”
  92. Changes To Amazon Professional Selling Plan Fees
  93. Automated Amazon Stranded Inventory Removal
  94. Typhoon Wreaks Supply Chain Havoc On China’s Eastern Coast
  95. Country Of Origin Now Required For Amazon Products
  96. Prevent Customer Complaints By Putting Seals On Consumables
  97. New Amazon Brand Referral Bonus Program For Amazon Sellers
  98. Four New Certifications Could Qualify You For Climate Pledge Friendly Badge
  99. Amazon IPI (Inventory Performance Index) Update
  100. Potentially Lower Fulfillment Fees Spells Good News For Amazon Sellers
  101. Big News: Sellers Can (Again) Contact Customers About Bad Reviews
  102. Amazon’s APRL Scheme Leaves Sour Taste In Sellers’ Mouths
  103. Blackout Dates: China’s Dragon Boat Festival
  104. Amazon Global Program: Sell Worldwide With No Added Fees
  105. Set a Faster Default Handling Time
  106. Amazon Product Description HTML
  107. Amazon Prime Day 2021 Check-In Dates
  108. Amazon 2021 MCF Fees and Features
  109. 2021 Amazon Restock Limits Update
  110. CBP Announces New Customs Requirements For Low-Value Shipments
  111. Five Seller Facts from Bezos’ Final Shareholder Letter as Amazon CEO
  112. All ASINs Now Require Melting Temperature Attribute
  113. RIP Early Review Program
  114. VAT Services Even When Outside EU
  115. Unsuitable Inventory Policy
  116. Amazon’s New Automated Pricing Tool
  117. A/B Testing Product Images Available
  118. New Shipping Data Requirements
  119. Amazon “Review Commenting” Updates

Amazon to Hold Prime Early Access Sale on October 11-12

Amazon to Hold Prime Early Access Sale on October 11-12

🛍️ Holiday shopping at Amazon is starting early this year, allowing customers to reduce the cost of their BFCM and Christmas purchases by taking advantage of the 2nd Prime Day sales event!

What We Know So Far

Amazon announced that its 2nd Prime Day event, dubbed as the “Prime Early Access Sale”, will take place from October 11 to 12, in a move that mimics that of its rivals Walmart and Target.

The new two-day sales event is exclusive to Amazon’s more than 200 million Prime members, and will grant them access to huge discounts on the most popular brands as early as fall, giving them a head start to find and shop the best holiday deals.

The sales extravaganza will also showcase Amazon’s Top 100 list which includes best-selling gift items and amazing deals in electronics, fashion, home, and kitchen products, among other top categories.

The announcement confirms Business Insider’s report just three months prior, when it said that the eCommerce giant was planning to hold another Prime Day event in October.

Why is Amazon Holding a 2nd Prime Day Event?

  • Protect its Q4 market share. The competition for sales during the upcoming holiday season is heating up as other retailers announced sale events scheduled earlier than Amazon’s. Walmart’s holiday sale will start on October 1 and will feature thousands of discounts in toys, tech, home, and beauty product categories.

    On the other hand, Target will kick off its own two-day Deals Day event from October 6 to 8, offering shoppers “hundreds of thousands” of deals in different product categories plus a price-match guarantee until Christmas eve

    According to Texas A&M marketing professor Venkatesh Shankar, Prime Early Access Sale represents Amazon’s attempt to “cover its bases” and grab the largest share of consumers’ holiday shopping.
  • Offload excess inventory. The fact that there is an oversupply of consumer goods from fashion, electronics, toys, home and other popular categories also fuels the competition between these rival retailers. Due to supply chain challenges, these products, which the retailers ordered to meet their projected customer demand, arrived late and are now stuck on store shelves and in warehouses. These retailers must be feeling the pressure to sell these products fast and replace them with new products for the holiday season and the new year.
  • Fill up unused warehouses. Another possible reason is that Amazon is seeking to fill up its empty warehouse space for the coming quarter and so is hoping to invite more sellers to send in inventory. 

    Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky admitted to reporters last April that the company has way too much warehouse space, infrastructure, and staff than the required demand. Amazon has made significant investments in logistics and human resources given the surge in eCommerce during the onset of the pandemic. 

    But now, given the record-breaking inflation that consumers are grappling with and the decreasing eCommerce purchases, retailers like Amazon need to be creative in increasing their revenue. Holding these big sale events will allow them to attract more sellers to stock up on their products, which will occupy more space in their warehouse, and increase their fulfillment revenue. 

It is also possible that Amazon is trying to recreate the success of its first Prime Day of 2022 held last July 12 to 13, which saw the company earning $12.09B

Related: Walmart and Amazon Battle for Dominance Intensifies

What’s in it for Amazon Sellers?

Sellers may want to take advantage of Prime Early Access Sale to increase their restock limits, which can come in handy for the upcoming Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) event. 🚀

Just last month, Amazon announced that they are bringing back restock limits in preparation for the Q4 holiday rush. Sellers have been given up to four (4) months’ worth of inventory in FBA fulfillment centers. 

⚠️ However, I wouldn’t recommend maxing out your restock limits for the October Prime event, as it means increased difficulty in restocking until you free up enough storage space for products as limits fluctuate. In turn, this may translate to missed selling opportunities during BFCM and through the rest of the holiday season. 

If you have excess inventory, try getting rid of it faster by offering deep discounts during this 2nd Prime Day. Increasing sales results in a higher sell-through rate, which is a very important metric used by Amazon in determining seller restock limits. 

And remember, the Prime Early Access Sale is expected to be a “high velocity” sales event, so make sure your business and inventory are ready for it! 💪

Related: 3PL Logistics Backup for Amazon, Master Carton Calculator, How to Ship to Amazon FBA (And Speed Up Check-in Times)

Non-Amazon Sellers Are Now Stealing Your Ad Space

Non-Amazon Sellers Are Now Stealing Your Ad Space

Amazon continues to beef up its Buy with Prime business with more marketing capabilities to help non-Amazon sellers drive traffic and increase sales on their own stores. 📈

Buy Ads to Drive More Shoppers to Off-Amazon Stores

The tech giant launched Buy with Prime in April 2022 to allow direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands off Amazon.com to offer free 1 to 2-day shipping, an easy checkout process, and free returns to customers. They do this by becoming these brands’ fulfillment centers. FBA essentially becomes available to non-AMZ sellers. 

That’s right. While you get saddled with restock limits and reduced FBA warehouse space, Mr. Shopify Only seller snuggles up in your spot. 🤔

Participating brands feature a Buy with Prime button on their sites to provide shoppers with a seamless buying experience via Amazon payments and fulfillment.

Buy With Prime Button

As Prime benefits are some of the main reasons why customers pick Amazon over other online retail platforms, offering Prime on an eCommerce site can be an effective way to increase conversion.

However, conversion is only half the battle. The other half is expanding your reach and driving new customers to your own DTC site, which many participating sellers are reportedly struggling with. 

To help address this pain point, Amazon is introducing three (3) new marketing solutions that will enable DTC brands to attract and direct more shoppers to their own brand offerings. 

So now, not only are non-AMZ sellers stealing your warehousing space, they’re also stealing your ad space. 

However, it’s not all bad news. This actually could present some interesting opportunities for Amazon sellers to take Amazon traffic into their own websites and finally collect some of that customer information in a way that is TOS-compliant. Read on.

  1. Buy with Prime Pages and Sponsored Brands Ads

Amazon invites DTC sellers to showcase their products on Amazon with a Buy with Prime page within an Amazon brand storefront.

Amazon Buy With Prime Page

They would then create and launch Sponsored Brands ads to attract and drive Amazon shoppers to their products.

Sponsored Brands ads are customizable cost-per-click (CPC) ads that highlight a brand’s logo, headline, and products. They also appear in relevant parts within the Amazon search result pages to help shoppers discover your brand.

When a customer clicks on a Sponsored Brand ad, it directs them to a seller’s Buy with Prime page on Amazon.

Buy With Prime Product Preview Page

From there, the customer can preview the product offerings and decide whether to buy on Amazon or directly from the brand’s website via Buy with Prime.

However, as you can see, this process takes several clicks that may increase checkout friction in the customer’s path to purchase, which could then lead to cart abandonment.

But the good news is that both these DTC Sponsored Brands Ads and Buy with Prime pages are currently in beta. So, expect to see some changes to these features as they go through this testing period.

In a blog post, Marketplace Pulse Founder Juozas Kaziukėnas speculates that non-Amazon sellers might be able to advertise directly in Amazon search results in the future.

We could imagine a world where, when a customer types in “filtered water bottles,” and clicks on the first Sponsored Ad they see, for example, it would take them directly to the brand’s website instead of its Buy with Prime page on Amazon. Amazon would pocket the ad spend and the fulfillment fees and it is possible that they’d throw in an additional referral fee on top of the ad spend, knowing Amazon.

Removing as many steps as possible is key to improving customer experience and ecommerce sales.

2. Amazon-Funded Social Media Ads

With the advent of omnicommerce, people are no longer following a linear customer journey path. Many shoppers now go back and forth between your own website, social media ads, emails, and Amazon storefront to search for and buy products.

For this reason, Amazon is launching a co-branded Buy with Prime social media page and ads on Facebook and Instagram to help Buy with Prime sellers reach more customers at no extra cost. The ads from the Buy with Prime page will also feature specific sellers. This is a smart value add that Amazon is using to attract sellers to the program. 

Suppose a customer sees a Buy with Prime ad featuring your brand on Facebook and clicks on that ad. In that case, they will be redirected to a Buy with Prime page where they can place an order.

3. Buy with Prime Marketing Toolkit

This toolkit provides you with a Buy with Prime badge that you can feature in your media assets, including product pages. It also allows you to market to Prime members on your own website.

Buy With Prime Marketing Toolkit Sample

In Amazon’s official press statement, Patrick Sean Briseno, eCommerce and marketing manager at Great Circle Machinery shared:

“It’s tough to gain shoppers’ trust to make a purchase on our own website, but the Buy with Prime badge gives them peace of mind knowing their orders are fulfilled by Amazon with the Prime delivery promise.”

Related: Amazon Now Allowing Email Marketing Campaigns to Repeat Customers

Effective Way to Embrace Omnichannel Strategy

Many consumers rely on Amazon through all stages of their shopping journey. So, while you could come up with compelling offers to entice people to shop directly on your website, you could still face an uphill battle when competing with the retail giant.

But with Buy with Prime, along with borrowing trust, you can also use Amazon as an additional marketing and distribution channel to massively expand your reach and fulfill orders for Amazon shoppers, especially the company’s over 200 million Prime members. 🚀

But if you didn’t already consider it, this could also be a backdoor into Amazon getting all those non-Amazon, DTC sellers actually going toe-to-toe with you selling on Amazon itself. I’m sure, for Amazon, it’s just a waiting game. It’s all a bunch of these tiny yeses til Amazon’s got them going all in.

A word of caution for Shopify sellers: Shopify warns its merchants against Buy with Prime as using it violates the company’s Terms of Service. If you’re on Shopify, make sure you understand the risks of participating in the Buy with Program before getting involved. Read this article to learn more. 

Related: Shopify Acquires Deliverr and Takes Aim at Amazon’s Buy with Prime

Clash of the Titans: Walmart and Amazon Battle for Dominance Intensifies

Clash of the Titans: Walmart and Amazon Battle for Dominance Intensifies

🆚 For years, Amazon and Walmart have been pulling out all the stops to win customers and sellers. Both retail giants are offering a wide range of products at low prices and ramping up free, 1- to 2-day shipping and return services to maintain dominance.

While Amazon leads US eCommerce, Walmart rules over brick-and-mortar stores. But the battle for dominance intensifies as Walmart encroaches more deeply into eCommerce territory after:

With Walmart going after Amazon’s market share, it’s not surprising to see Amazon unveil new marketing capabilities for sellers during the recently concluded Accelerate event in an attempt to stay dominant.

On September 14, 2022, Amazon announced a new lineup of marketing tools to attract more e-commerce businesses to its marketplace. These include:

Interestingly, shortly after Amazon made these announcements, Walmart responded by introducing the updates to its display ad services, Search Brand Amplifier. 🔥

In a press release, Mike Greenberg, Head of Marketplace Walmart Connect, reveals that SBA is coming to sellers in October to help them reach more customers, especially this holiday season. 

New sellers or brands with new products that may not yet have high organic search rankings will benefit greatly from SBA, as it offers them the opportunity to showcase their products in prominent places within search results similar to Amazon’s Sponsored Brand ads.

Brand-registered sellers are eligible for the ad program. You can also take advantage of the following features to help scale your business:

  • Faster enrollment with automated onboarding at the Walmart Ad Center
  • Additional application programming interface (API) partners to support sellers in China, Canada, UK, India and other countries
  • New resources to help sellers optimize Sponsored Search campaigns 

Walmart’s Booming Ad Business

The move to open SBA to marketplace sellers also came after Walmart made $2.1 billion in ad revenue in 2021, which represents an important growth area for the company.

According to Doug McMillon, Walmart’s president and CEO, the ad business played a crucial role in elevating customer experience on the site by highlighting better deals and the right products.

Therefore, “the relationship between digital growth, marketplace growth and advertising is something that we’re trying to take advantage of,” said McMillon.

Aside from generating revenue, the ad business will also provide Walmart with valuable insights into the way customers shop on the site.

In fact, Walmart has recently added Innovation Partners to its ad network to connect advertisers with potential customers on TikTok, Snapchat, and Roku. Through this new program, you can:

  • Serve ads on popular social media platforms, including TV streaming site Roku
  • Create engaging shoppable videos via Firework and TalkShopLive
  • Measure your advertising campaign’s impact on your sales

Innovation Partners seeks to help sellers connect with Gen Z shoppers. But for Walmart, it allows them to take a crack at the elusive US live commerce market, which no other retail company, even Amazon, has figured out yet. For instance, Shopify’s attempt found them partnering with YouTube while Amazon released Amazon Live. 

If Walmart succeeds, it would give them a huge competitive advantage over their rivals. 
Amazon’s $31 billion ad business may be far up there with behemoths like Google and Meta, but with Walmart’s growing ad network, the competition will only get tougher in the future, especially as the lines continue to blur between in-store and online shopping. 💪

Amazon To Increase UK Multi-Channel Fulfillment Fees By November 12th

Amazon To Increase UK Multi-Channel Fulfillment Fees By November 12th

Amazon just announced another fee increase that may whittle away at your profits just in time for the holidays. 💸 

Amazon said that they will be increasing the multi-channel fulfillment (MCF) single-unit-order fulfillment fees beginning 12th of November this year. The price hike will apply to all parcel size tiers and already includes the additional fuel and inflation costs. 

The retail giant explained the increase mirrors the surge in order fulfillment and logistical costs, and will allow them to keep on providing the same high-speed delivery and high-quality service their customers expect. 

This is the latest in the seemingly never-ending fee increases Amazon imposes on its independent sellers.

If you have been following our posts for some time, you may remember the Amazon Fee Stack, the term we’ve assigned to the incremental but regular fee increases that Amazon has been making at the expense of the sellers’ profit margins

⚠️ Constant price hikes, even if they are only small in amount, can have a negative effect on your bottom line.

When you add them all up, you may be surprised at just how much they amount to. And when you add these higher fees on top of all the other increasing operating costs of your business, you may be shocked to see how little is left for your business to operate sustainably.

UK MCF Fees Before November 2022

Amazon actually reduced their MCF fees for specific size categories beginning on April 26, 2021.

For the large envelope 960g size tier, for example, the MCF fees for Standard and Expedited Delivery dropped from £3.93 and £4.95 to £3.39 and £4.10, respectively.  

But starting from May 12, 2022, Amazon added a 4.3% fuel and inflation fee to the existing FBA fulfillment fee per-unit rates in the UK and other European countries and territories. MCF, in case you’ve forgotten, is a division under the FBA Program.

UK MCF Fees After November 2022

Have a look at the table below to see the difference between the old and new MCF rates per unit for local and international deliveries. Keep in mind that these rates apply to standard shipping, not expedited shipping.

Local shipping Cross-border shipping
Domestic, Multi-Country Inventory, Pan-European European Fulfillment Network
Size tier Before November 12 After November 12 Before November 12 After November 12
Small envelope to 80g £3.15 £3.31 £4.59 £4.96
Standard envelope to 210g £3.30 £3.45 £4.74 £5.12
Large envelope to 960g £3.39 £3.48 £5.10 £5.51
Standard parcel to 1.4kg £3.65 £3.91 £7.75 £8.37
Standard parcel to 6.9kg £4.95 £5.90 £11.73 £13.07
Standard parcel to 11.9kg £6.38 £7.34 £12.75 £15.41
Standard oversize to 2.7kg £6.48 £7.13 £13.82 £14.93
Standard oversize to 29.76kg £9.28 £9.45 £19.53 £21.09
Large oversize to 31.5kg £13.77 £14.50 £28.66 £30.95

For local shipment, sellers will have to pay an extra £0.09 to £0.96 per unit – depending on the size of the product – after the MCF fee adjustment takes effect on November 12. 

Following our large envelope 960 g size tier example, Amazon increased the MCF rate per unit by 2.69% from £3.39 to  £3.48, or an additional £0.09. If your item falls under the standard parcel to 6.9 kg size tier, expect to fork out an extra £0.95 per unit as the rate jumped by 17.51% from £4.95 to £5.90.

On the other hand, cross-border shipping will incur higher rates – between £0.37 to £2.66 more per unit. From £5.10, the new rate for an item under the large envelope 960 g size tier will be £5.51 – an increase of £0.40 or 8.03%.

If your product is categorized under the standard parcel to 6.9 kg size tier, you’ll see an increase of £1.34 or 11.42% as the old rate of £11.73 rose to £13.07.

These small increases, while seemingly negligible at first, can be significant enough to shrink your profits and test your business’ level of resilience.

Multi-Unit Order Discounts

The good news is Amazon still seems to be listening to sellers when it announced the launch of multi-unit order discounts, as suggested by the sellers themselves.

Sellers who ship multi-unit orders will enjoy lower per-unit costs, resulting in savings averaging to 25.2%. If you want to save more and/or offset the higher MCF fees, you may want to consider taking advantage of this new offer by creating multi-unit or cross-selling offers on your UK marketplace listings. 

Check out the table below to see the difference between the local shipment fees for single-unit orders and multi-unit orders.

Aside from this new discount, Amazon also shared three developments geared towards boosting their sellers’ business growth:  

  • Launch of unbranded packaging for UK sellers, available for free
  • Reached over 99% on-schedule delivery rate
  • Allocated for the expansion of fulfillment center capacity

Read more on these in the updated MCF rates announcement under the section “What am I getting for these higher rates?” (Yes, that really is the name of the section.)

Keep your head up and your margins down.

Amazon Now Allowing Email Marketing Campaigns to Repeat Customers

Amazon Now Allowing Email Marketing Campaigns to Repeat Customers

Amazon makes huge strides in its Manage Your Customer Engagement (MYCE) tool to help brand-registered sellers expand their email marketing reach. 🔥

Amazon Tailored Audiences

On September 14th, at its annual seller conference, Accelerate, the eComm giant unveiled Amazon Tailored Audiences, a free email marketing tool within MYCE, which allows sellers to set up email promotional campaigns for three new audience types.

Aside from brand followers, you will now be able to send email marketing messages to your:

  • Repeat customers. Customers who have ordered your products more than once in the last 12 months.
  • Recent customers. The most recent 20% of shoppers who have bought from your registered brand.
  • Biggest spenders. The highest spending 25% of your customers in the last 12 months.

Other features include:

  • Option to select a specific audience type
  • Enhanced email templates
  • Custom HTML content
  • Monitoring tools to track your campaign’s key performance metrics like emails delivered, open rate, click-through rate, opt-out rate, sales, and conversion

With expanded email marketing capabilities, you will have more control over how you engage your customers, build brand loyalty, or increase product visibility and sales – for example, remarketing to recent buyers, allowing for more specific messaging and upselling. 🥳

Amazon is Breaking its Own Rules

As you know, Amazon has strict guidelines for communicating with buyers to prevent fraud and unethical competitor actions.

For example, you may only send Permitted Messages to previous customers and those who have contacted you about buying a product. Or, as mentioned earlier, send marketing emails to your brand followers, making it difficult for you to build and maintain long-lasting relationships with other types of audiences.

But with the launch of Tailored Audiences, the rules have changed. Amazon may have decided to make this move to:

There’s one drawback, however. Directly sending promotional emails to more customers could lead to a lot of spam. If you send too many emails, people may get overwhelmed and decide to unsubscribe. A high opt-out rate may result in Amazon reducing your campaign reach or suspending your campaign. ⚠️

Be sure to follow customer engagement best practices to minimize your opt-out rate and to stay compliant with Amazon’s communication guidelines.

Amazon Tailored Audiences is currently in beta and is expected to roll out more broadly in 2023. Check out Customer Engagement Tailored Audiences for more information.

Financial Win for FBA Sellers in PA Court

Financial Win for FBA Sellers in PA Court

On September 9, 2022, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania released an order prohibiting the state’s Department of Revenue (DOR) from pursuing Amazon FBA sellers for sales tax nexus owed from previous years. 🎉☝️

This means less financial burden to bear especially amid the mounting Amazon fee stack moving into the fourth quarter! 

What is Sales Tax Nexus?

In tax law, nexus describes the level of connection between a business and a taxing authority such as Pennsylvania’s DOR. Nexus specifically applies to businesses with little to no physical presence in a state, aka out-of-state online sellers, who meet certain criteria such as having physical inventory in the state – as is the case with FBA warehousing – or who exceed a set level of sales or number of transactions within the state.

Until a nexus is established, a state cannot impose its sales tax on a remote seller.

The US Constitution provides two clauses to determine a nexus:

  • The Due Process Clause which requires a definite or minimal connection between a state and the business it seeks to subject to sales tax
  • The Commerce Clause which requires substantial presence 

Nexus determination may vary by state, but it generally requires that an entity such as your Amazon business must meet the following conditions to be considered to have a connection or presence in a particular state.

  • You maintain a place of business
  • You employ workers or salespeople
  • You store merchandise in a warehouse
  • You engage in an activity related to leasing or servicing of property

The third bullet point puts FBA sellers in a very tricky situation because Amazon distributes their inventory across multiple states.

Suppose Amazon stores a portion of your inventory in a state where nexus laws are enforced. In that case, the retail giant may be authorized to collect taxes on your sales in that state and remit them to the revenue department on your behalf. Or, depending on the nexus provisions of the state, the tax man may require you to pay directly.

For years, Amazon has resisted calls from state governments to charge sales tax to keep the prices of goods on their platform more affordable than brick-and-mortar stores. Both parties have engaged in a long, arduous debate over whether online sellers having a physical presence in a particular state through FBA (i.e., storage and distribution centers) causes them to have a nexus. 🤔

In a 2017 New York Times post, Amazon reportedly found a loophole that allowed them to collect sales tax only when the order came from their own inventory, e.g., customers buying from AmazonBasics, not from third-party sellers who account for 60% of Amazon’s total sales. This action basically left sellers to charge and remit taxes on their own. 🤦‍♀️

Many sellers found this action unfair and self-serving, claiming that they don’t have control over which warehouse location(s) Amazon selects to store their goods. Besides, Amazon is the owner of these warehouses, which establishes their connection with the state.

Therefore, out-of-state sellers, whose only connection to an Amazon warehouse is their inventory, should be exempted from sales tax. 

Unfortunately, the loophole has resulted in millions of dollars in uncollected sales tax revenue and states aggressively pursuing sellers (instead of Amazon) for back taxes they presumably owe. 😓

Paul Rafelson, Director of Online Merchants Guild (OMG), said he believed that some states were chasing after sellers for back taxes to prevent a clash with Amazon. 

States Started Taking Action

To close any loophole and protect their budget, several states have passed nexus laws, aka Amazon laws. These laws seek to remove the burden and cost on out-of-state FBA sellers to charge and remit sales and income taxes.

Some states have also used different approaches, such as increased reporting requirements on retail companies and implementing certain mechanisms (e.g., concessions or state agreements) to collect back taxes that sellers owe.

As of this writing, Amazon now collects and remits for many states, but not all of them. Florida, for example, still requires third-party sellers to pay directly. Either way, this puts an end to tax-free online shopping on Amazon and places more strain on sellers and consumers.

👌 This is why getting the Pennsylvania (PA) court to side with FBA sellers is a pivotal moment, as groups like OMG could leverage this win as precedent to challenge other similar Amazon laws. It could also pave the way for more states to stop pushing for more e-commerce taxation.

Dispute Over Obligations to Pay PA Sales Tax

In OMG (a group of Amazon sellers) vs. Hassell (Secretary of Revenue), the PA court found that:

“The Revenue has failed to provide sufficient evidence that non-Pennsylvania businesses selling merchandise through the FBA Program, and whose connections to the Commonwealth were only shown to be limited to the storage of merchandise by Amazon in one of Amazon’s Pennsylvania warehouses, have sufficient contacts with the Commonwealth such that Revenue can mandate they collect and remit sales tax pursuant to the Tax Code.”

Simply put, any attempt to collect sales tax from out-of-state FBA sellers is considered illegal in Pennsylvania. 🚨

This legal battle within the Keystone State has been going on since 2012, when non-PA online retailers, including Amazon, agreed to voluntarily collect and remit sales tax on their internet, catalog, and telephone sales. However, this state agreement did not apply to FBA sellers.

In 2018, Amazon entered into a new agreement with the state to collect and remit sales tax for FBA sellers. The remittance also included taxes the retail giant failed to collect before 2018. 

Furthermore, representatives from the DOR handed out Business Activities Questionnaire Requests to members of the Online Merchant Guild. These forms indicated that they may have a physical presence in PA that would subject them to sales tax and personal income tax. In addition, the DOR provided voluntary compliance services to assist the Guild members in paying back the taxes owed.

In 2021, OMG filed a lawsuit with the Pennsylvania Court to stop DOR’s attempt to request payment from its members, stating that it violated their civil rights.

When asked about the impact of the PA’s ruling on nexus with other states, OMG Director Rafelson told EcommeceBytes that “Basically all of that tax nonsense for the last five years, and even going forward was bogus and unconstitutional. Of course, this is one state ruling, but it is a first state ruling.” 🔥

Boost Conversions with Amazon’s New A/B Testing Features

Boost Conversions with Amazon’s New A/B Testing Features

Amazon continues to roll out new tools to help you manage and optimize your content more efficiently! 🚀

Unveiled at the Accelerate event on September 15, you can now use these new A/B Testing features to update your product listings with winning content. 🤩

  • Title and image notifications. Run A/B tests on your titles and main images to see which version performs best. You will also receive an alert for content that’s too similar to your existing content so you can make the necessary adjustments to ensure maximum conversion. 
  • Recommendation system for images and titles. Review Amazon’s best recommendations for product images and titles to increase your conversion rate.
  • Auto-publish winning content. Amazon will automatically publish title and image experiments that are at least 66% better than the other versions, thereby reducing the time spent updating your product listing. 

With these new Manage Your Experiments features, it’s now easier to test more content and convert traffic from hundreds of millions of Amazon shoppers.

Go to Manage Experiments to get started.

EU Advised by NGOs to Refuse Amazon’s Flawed Proposal for Antitrust Settlement

EU Advised by NGOs to Refuse Amazon’s Flawed Proposal for Antitrust Settlement

🇪🇺 Twelve civil groups called for the European Commission to reject “outright and in full” Amazon’s proposed changes to its business practices in Europe in order to resolve the two antitrust investigations formally opened by the Commission against the eCommerce giant.

The commitments that Amazon offered including their use of third-party seller data and non-discriminatory access to Buy Box and Prime have been criticized as “weak, vague and full of loopholes” by a dozen civil and digital rights associations, non-governmental organizations and labor unions.

These organizations include:

  • Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour (AK Europa)
  • Balanced Economy Project
  • Digitale Gesellschaft e.V.
  • European Public Services Union (EPSU)
  • Foxglove
  • Goliathwatch
  • FairVote UK
  • LobbyControl
  • Simply Secure
  • Center for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO)
  • UNI Europa
  • WEED (Weltwiommitmertschaft, Ökologie & Entwicklung e.V.)

How it All Began

In a press release dated 17 July 2019, the Commission announced its first antitrust investigation against Amazon to examine if its use of data from the independent sellers on their platform have violated the bloc’s competition rules.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who handles competition policy, said she will closely examine the company’s business practices and its “dual role as a marketplace and retailer”, to guarantee healthy retail competition levels, diverse product choices, and competitive prices for consumers in the European market. 

Sixteen months later, the Commission announced in another press release that it has sent a Statement of Objections to Amazon after its initial findings revealed the company had violated the EU’s competition rules by using the private business data of its marketplace sellers to drive Amazon’s own business decisions, resulting in unhealthy, distorted competition. 

Vestager said Amazon utilized big data to “illegally distort” competition in eCommerce markets and take advantage of its market position in France and Germany, its two biggest EU markets. 

The Commission also announced it is opening a second investigation into the company’s potentially biased practices regarding their own product offers and those of sellers who choose Amazon’s shipping services.

The first antitrust investigation stemmed from a sectoral eCommerce review conducted by the EU’s competition division way back in 2015. The Commission itself started probing on whether Amazon sellers were being placed in an unfavorable position by the company in 2018 – given its ability to access their business data. 

Amazon’s Response

Amazon came up with a list of voluntary commitments to adjust its business practices in the EU and address the Commission’s antitrust concerns.

These commitments show Amazon’s determination to end the ongoing antitrust investigations by the European Commission while it is facing increasing criticism and pressure from different law-making bodies all over the world, mostly about the misuse of its independent sellers’ business data for its own profit. 

Should the Commission accept Amazon’s offer, the proposed commitments will be effective for a five-year period and enacted across the bloc except for Italy, which has already fined Amazon over $1 billion for exploiting its position in the market.

Any breach of the commitments will result in the eCommerce giant paying up to 10% of its worldwide revenue as penalty. 

Dated July 7, 2022, the commitment proposal includes changes to:

  • Amazon’s use of marketplace seller data. Amazon will not use the data linked to, or sourced from, the business operations of the sellers on its marketplace for Amazon’s own retail business that is in competition with said sellers. 
  • Amazon’s Buy Box winner selection and competition. Amazon will be fair to all sellers in evaluating their Buy Box offers; the company will also put a second competing offer to the Buy Box winner that is significantly different from the winner in terms of cost and/or shipping.
  • Amazon’s Prime qualifications and shipping. Amazon will establish fair requirements for sellers and products to qualify for the program. Prime sellers will also have the freedom to choose their own courier and discuss matters directly with their chosen logistics provider. The company will also not use any data regarding external logistics providers’ terms and activities derived from Prime.

The Commission sought feedback from the public regarding these commitments from July 14 to September 8.

Reasons for Rejection

In a statement, the twelve organizations pointed out that the commitments Amazon offered are susceptible to avoidance and abuse by the company. 

They argued that most of the commitments Amazon offered will be included in the Digital Markets Act (DMA), an upcoming pan-European legislation, that will change the EU’s strategy related to ensuring competition in Big Tech.

DMA will impose certain regulations for “gatekeepers” who are oftentimes accused of misusing data and showing preferential treatment.

Comparing the DMA and Amazon’s offer, the group said the new law – which is expected to take effect next year – is more comprehensive and will be imposed by the Commission instead of Amazon itself. The signatories do not agree that a private company should propose voluntary commitments that resemble the stipulations from an upcoming European law. 

Amazon’s suggested five-year validity period or any time period at all is also deemed “unjustifiable.”

The fact that it is Amazon itself defining the terms of their proposed commitments ultimately undermines the European Commission’s authority, which, clearly, the civil groups have picked up on and are rallying against. 

The group collectively urged the Commission to persist in pursuing its antitrust investigations against the company and enforce the necessary resolutions and sanctions on its own terms. They also requested the Commision to demand from Amazon a separation of its marketplace, retail, and delivery operations to tackle issues relating to its superior position and influence in interconnected services.

Impact on Amazon’s Future Operations

The ongoing EU probe, not to mention the impending US antitrust law called the American Innovation and Choice Online (AICO) Act (S.2992), could have significant repercussions on Amazon’s operations worldwide. ⚠️

These issues could force Amazon to rethink their use and level of access to the private data of their marketplace sellers in the bloc, US, and other regions that may follow suit. 

Should US lawmakers pass the AICO, for example, Amazon could be penalized by the US government and antitrust bodies if found to have used their marketplace seller’s data to produce a similar product to intentionally compete with their third-party sellers. 

Amazon already previously announced the reduction of their private label (PL) catalog items earlier this year due to low sales and possibly to avoid penalties under AICO.

Since its launch in 2009, Amazon’s PL business has been criticized for giving the company an opportunity to compete and highlight their own products over the independent sellers’ on their platform through a manipulation of their own search algorithms.

As a data-driven company, these laws will compel Amazon to rethink its current business model if it wishes to remain a trusted, relevant leader in the eCommerce environment.

Amazon FBA Deadlines for Sending In Q4 Inventory

Amazon FBA Deadlines for Sending In Q4 Inventory

📢 Amazon just dropped the deadlines for checking in your Q4 2022 inventory! It’s time to get into gear if you want to stay in stock during the holiday season.

Make sure your inventory arrives at FBA ahead of the following dates:

  • November 2nd for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • December 1st for Christmas

☝️ Also, keep these public holidays in mind when creating your shipping plans or securing delivery appointments with FBA to avoid receiving delays.

  • October 10th: Canadian Thanksgiving Day
  • November 24th: US Thanksgiving Day
  • December 24th: Christmas Eve
  • December 25th: Christmas
  • December 26th: Boxing Day – Canada
  • December 31st: New Year’s Eve

Be Mindful of Your Restock Limits

As previously reported, Amazon recently brought back restock limits to prepare for this year’s holiday selling period. 

All sellers will be allowed to store at least four months of inventory in FBA fulfillment centers. However, those who already have a high utilization rate might not be able to restock additional units, unless they make more space for their inventory

Before sending in your shipments, be sure to check your Restock Inventory report to avoid maxing out your restock limits overnight, which can lead to stockouts on best sellers. ☠️

But if you’re currently facing restock restrictions with no clear way around them and want a quick solution, consider enrolling in Amazon Warehousing & Distribution program to leverage its no restock limits benefit.

Alternatively, follow my in-depth guide to improving restock limits or join my live webinar to learn what you should do right now to prepare for Q4. 🔥

Related: How to Ship to Amazon FBA (And Speed Up Check-In Times), Amazon Freight Forwarding Tips to Avoid Stockouts, 14 Mistakes Sellers Make When Shipping to Amazon FBA

Software Updates For September 2022

Software Updates For September 2022

Here’s what’s new this month!

🥳
NEW RELEASE

Now Connect To All Amazon Marketplaces! 
Including Australia, UAE, India, Singapore, Japan, and More!

SoStocked Amazon Additional Marketplaces are Live

Thank you for your patience! We are happy to announce that we have opened up SoStocked worldwide with the new Amazon SP-API!

You can turn on new marketplaces and start tracking your inventory across all your stores. Some of the newer marketplace additions include Australia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, India, Japan, and Singapore.

To turn on a new marketplace, simply go to the Settings page, Connected Stores, Connected Amazon Stores. From there, you can connect to a new region of your choosing. Follow our how-to video for more details. 

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at [email protected]

🔥
ICYMI: FEATURE SPOTLIGHT

Contact Us or Get the Help You Need Faster With the New Guided Tours and Resource Center. On the bottom right corner of SoStocked there is a new Guided Tour option. This is great for setting up your new account and learning how to use SoStocked, onboarding new VAs, or accessing our helpdesk any time of day or night when you need help.

SoStocked Get the Help You Need Faster With the New Guided Tours
SoStocked Get the Help You Need Faster With the New Guided Tours and Resource Center

When you first connect your account, you walk through the Guided Tour Get Setup steps. For most of you, this has already been completed. But from this same menu, you can access our comprehensive collection of tutorial videos or set up a 1-on-1 onboarding call with our SoStocked team. Even if you have had SoStocked for a long time, you can always schedule a call with our onboarding specialists to get one-on-one tips on how to best set up your account for your business model or specific needs. We hope to keep providing you with the best hands-on customer service within the Amazon software space.

Need more information?

  1. Send Message: We typically reply within 2 hours during office hours.
  2. Schedule Demo: Dive deeper into the nuances of our software with Chelsea.
  3. Join Live Upcoming Webinar: New to Amazon inventory management? Learn three inventory techniques you can implement right away.

Gloves Off: Shopify Warns Sellers Against Amazon Buy With Prime

Gloves Off: Shopify Warns Sellers Against Amazon Buy With Prime

🥊 Shopify’s fight to maintain and increase their eComm market share continues, as the Canadian company recently issued warnings that are bound to cause sellers to reconsider Buy with Prime, Amazon’s new service offering fulfillment and checkout to Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) businesses that don’t even sell on Amazon. 

Protect Your Shopify Store Against Fraud

According to Marketplace Pulse (MP), Buy with Prime badges started to appear on a few Shopify stores back in June.

This new service offers a way for non-Amazon sellers to attract new customers to their stores by offering 1-2 day shipping and secure, trusted payment processing through Amazon Pay.

Shopify Store Showing Buy With Prime Button

How do sellers enable Buy with Prime on their sites?

First, you need to receive an invitation from Amazon to sign up. Once signed up, Amazon will send you a few lines of code that you need to embed in your product template to display the Buy with Prime button.

Sounds harmless, right? Shopify thinks otherwise. 🤔
In an article posted by MP on September 1st, Shopify has reportedly sounded the alarm about the potential security issues that you could face when installing the Buy with Prime button code in your store. 🚨

Shopify Warns Sellers Against Using Buy With Prime

The code includes an “Unsupported external checkout script” that violates the platform’s Terms of Service (ToS). It takes the checkout process outside of Shopify, thereby disabling Shopify Fraud Protection against fake orders, which can result in chargebacks, which can then lead to financial loss.

Shopify’s ToS states:

Shopify Terms of Service

These are the account terms that Amazon’s service supposedly violates.

Shopify also warns that Buy with Prime could steal your customers’ data and cause incorrect charges – for example, discounts not applied correctly due to a technical glitch or Amazon themselves incorrectly charging your customers.

While you may still opt to install the unsupported script, you must agree that Shopify will not be liable for any fake orders, illegal valuable data extraction, or incorrect charges conducted through Buy with Prime. 

My prediction however, if they’re smart, is that Shopify will update its ToS to ban Buy with Prime altogether, following the example set by Walmart.com. We may see that they even develop a script that removes the Buy with Prime code snippet from even appearing on your product pages. I’d put money on it eventually going this way.

Amazon’s Response to Shopify’s Claims 

In response to the accusations, Amazon reps said that they developed the new fulfillment service to serve Prime members no matter where they shop online. And while they do collect data via Buy with Prime, they use the information to improve the service for sellers and customers. Uh huh… Makes sense. 🤔

As for providing a safe and secure payment processing platform, Amazon Pay is equipped with the same fraud protection technology used on Amazon.com. In addition, sellers also have full control over how much they charge their customers.

But those statements don’t exactly excuse them from other anti-competitive allegations like data grabbing, which I believe is the clandestine intent of Buy with Prime to Amazon. ⚠️ More on this in the next section. 

Amazon’s Data Grabbing History

As we’ve reported on in the past, Amazon is no stranger to data grabbing, which involves harvesting valuable information about web users which can then be used for a variety of purposes.

The data collected from customers and competitors, including third-party sellers, could then be used to create unfair competitive advantages. 

Here are just a couple of the data grabbing opportunities available to Amazon:

✊ In a move to protect their data and market share, Shopify acquired Deliverr, a fulfillment operation with the capacity to offer 1-2 day fulfillment for merchants across multiple sales channels, including Amazon, Walmart, Etsy and social commerce sites like Facebook, Tiktok, and Google.

Therefore, with Shopify’s revamped fulfillment network, merchants will be less likely to need to use Buy with Prime and risk exposing their sensitive data to Amazon.

Shopify is certainly holding its own against Amazon’s advances and has really been making some impressive moves in defense of their own market share. But the battle rages on and I for one am busting out the popcorn. 🍿

Amazon Brings Back Restock Limits to Prepare for the Holiday Rush

Amazon Brings Back Restock Limits to Prepare for the Holiday Rush

LIVE WEBINAR: The Return of Restock Limits 🙁. Learn what you should do RIGHT NOW to Prepare for Q4 2022. Register Here

🚨 After not having capacity restrictions for the better part of 2022, on August 29th, sellers woke up to just that with an announcement from Amazon that they are, in fact, bringing back restock limits to prepare for Q4!

With this update, all sellers will be allowed at least four (4) months of inventory in FBA, which completely contradicts recent moves they’ve been making to entice eCommerce sellers that are not even selling on the Amazon platform to use FBA Prime fulfillment services. 

With all signs pointing to Amazon not being worried about running out of space after nearly doubling their fulfillment network during the pandemic. 😓

The announcement also came after the launch of Amazon Warehousing & Distribution (AWD), a low-cost upstream storage and distribution program that could rival independent 3PLs. 

One of the selling points of this new service is that you can send inventory to an AWD facility without any storage limits. Interesting timing… 🤔

They also boast lower storage and transportation costs, making it an attractive logistics option for sellers who may want to bypass the current inventory restrictions without leaving the Amazon fulfillment network, and possibly to keep costs down amid rising FBA fees.

So, coinciding the return of restock limits with the launch of AWD seems like a deliberate move by Amazon to:

  • Make sellers more reliant on their storage, distribution and fulfillment network. Otherwise, if sticking with your 3PL, you’ll be dealing with low restock limits leading to stockouts. You may have to run flash sales to sell through your slow-moving inventory that’s clogging your storage limits, pay hefty removal fees to get rid of extremely slow sellers, or cancel your FBA shipping plans to make room for products within your restock limits.

But if everything works out in Amazon’s favor, they will be able to generate more revenue for their fulfillment business arm, which recently grappled with excess capacity and massive financial obligations associated with maintaining facilities they no longer need as economies reopen.

It’s unfortunate (but not surprising) that the cost of Amazon’s over-expansion is, more and more, trickling down to sellers. While AWD can be a good way to avoid restock limits, it is still in its early stages and may not be as seamless as one could hope. We saw how Amazon handled their logistics last year!

Handing over months’ worth of inventory to Amazon may be risky given that they’re not exactly immune to shipping delays and mistakes, especially during congestion times.

So, proceed with caution, weigh your options carefully, and don’t ever let anyone have all your stuff! Especially not Amazon. Be sure to check out Amazon Restock Limits Tips and Updates for more information and sign up to get notified when new restock updates drop!

Amazon Enters the 3PL Space with New Amazon Warehousing & Distribution Program

Amazon Enters the 3PL Space with New Amazon Warehousing & Distribution Program

Amazon may be a formidable player in the logistics space, but for years, they’ve also been one of the more expensive out there, especially during the holiday season when rates nearly triple for standard-size products.

For that reason, many sellers opt to outsource their bulk storage and distribution needs to  third-party logistics companies (3PLs) that are typically more affordable than Amazon FBA.

🔥 Well, the game is about to get a little more interesting with the launch of a new low-cost logistics service called Amazon Warehousing & Distribution (AWD).

But looks can be deceiving, especially when you’re not comparing apples to apples. Is AWD really more cost-effective than your 3PL? It depends on your rates. Read on and then weigh your options. 

What is AWD?

It is a storage and distribution solution that gives sellers access to state-of-the-art logistics facilities and services without the hefty price tag that comes with Amazon FBA. Participation is currently by invitation only, so keep an eye out for Amazon updates.

Top features and benefits include:

  • Auto-replenishment feature. To avoid stockouts, Amazon will automatically send additional units from AWD to their fulfillment centers (FCs). 
  • No restock limits. This is huge because Amazon has just brought back restock limits! With AWD, however, you can circumvent this restriction and not worry about having to jump through a lot of hoops to stay in stock this Q4.
  • Integrated supply chain. No need for 3PLs when you have a service provider that will take care of everything for you, from receiving your inventory to storage to distribution to fulfillment.
  • Transfer inventory to Amazon and non-Amazon destinations. In 2023, the AWD program won’t just search Amazon warehouses, but can also replenish to other non-Amazon locations, including to fulfill brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Pay As You Go Pricing. No hidden costs like early termination fees and only pay for services you use.
  • Lower storage and processing fees. This is welcome news for sellers who have been cutting back on spending this year due to rising costs and increasing inflation. According to Amazon, they’ve made changes to their rate card to offer more competitive pricing. For example, based on the updated card rate below, it would only cost you around $24 (non-peak) to store one pallet of standard-size goods per month in AWD (versus FBA’s $47). A standard 40” x 48” pallet (plus 50” overall pallet shipment height) can hold 56 cubic ft, so multiply cubic ft by current AMZ rate to get your monthly AWD storage fee.

Amazon Warehousing & Distribution Fees

Versus FBA Fulfillment Centers (February 2022 and after)

Storage MonthStandard SizeOversize
January – September$0.83 per cubic ft$0.53 per cubic ft
October – December$2.40 per cubic ft$1.20 per cubic ft

Cons of AWD

  • You have less control over your inventory. Using AWD basically means turning over a boatload of products to Amazon and hoping that they don’t mess up, e.g., skip over your trailer, swap two trailers with different destination addresses, or lose your shipments. This is why it’s still best practice to have a backup 3PL for emergencies, especially during peak season.
  • May not be cheaper than your local 3PL. While $24/pallet may be a savings for some sellers if paying over $20/pallet, that pricing is only between the months of January through September.

    Peak holiday storage, however, is where it could become more expensive than your average 3PL warehouse, with a standard 50” stackable pallet clocking in at close to $45 per month.

    Of course, that’s still much cheaper than the $133 per pallet equivalent that you’d be doling out at FBA from October to December.

You should also look at Processing and Transportation Fees when estimating the difference between using your current 3PL and AWD. If you’re paying $3.60 per carton/case in processing with your 3PL but AWD is offering $2.00 per case, that savings may be enough to offset the additional per pallet storage in peak season.

Of course, Amazon is also sweetening the pot with a waiving of restock limits for any of the inventory held within the AWD network. All these factors will have to be considered when determining whether AWD is right for you. 

Related: How to Ship to Amazon FBA (And Speed Up Check-In Times)

Is AWD Different from Amazon Upstream Storage?

In 2021, the eComm giant rolled out a low-cost bulk storage and distribution program for full container load (FCL) shipments called Amazon Upstream Storage (AUS). 

AWD and AUS share a lot of similar features like auto-replenishment, no restock limits, integrated supply chain, and lower storage costs, but the difference is that you don’t need full containers to use AWD. 

Amazon Continues to Add More Mega Warehouses

Despite posting a $3.8B loss due to excess storage and transportation capacity in Q1 2022, Amazon is still reportedly looking to add:

If these plans push through, these 3 multi million-square-foot warehouses would top among the biggest in Amazon’s entire network of 1,200 facilities in the US. 

As of this writing, the largest is a 3.6 million sq ft distribution facility in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.

⚠️ Amazon doubling down on its warehouse expansion plans is a strong sign that AWD is here to stay. 3PLs that are too small to beat Amazon may see themselves joining its vast distribution empire as a partner in the future, while others may struggle to keep their customers if they don’t offer more competitive rates. 

New Amazon Badges Increase Discoverability and Allow for Values-Based Buying

New Amazon Badges Increase Discoverability and Allow for Values-Based Buying

Amazon continues to usher in a more values-based shopper experience by spotlighting small business and minority-owned brands through new Amazon badges. 🙌

US-based small businesses and artisans may qualify for and apply to this certification program by registering with Brand Registry or Amazon Handmade. It is currently being tested and allows for clearer identification and transparency as to the brands behind the listings.

New Badges to Highlight Small Businesses

Amazon-Badges-For-Small-Businesses
  • Black-Owned Business Badge. In celebration of the Black Business Month and the 1st year anniversary of Black Business Accelerator, Amazon launched a new badge that will make it easy for shoppers to find Black-owned businesses on the retail platform. This badge tells people when a product offer they’re looking at is sold by a Black-owned business. Aside from search, the badge will also be visible to customers when they’re on a Black-owned product detail page.
  • Small Business Badge. You’ve probably heard of the Small Business Badge, but it’s worth repeating here in case you missed it.

Amazon introduced the small business badge earlier this year, announcing, “We’re starting first by testing the Small Business badge on a subset of eligible product detail pages in the U.S., and plan to scale further as we learn how the badge can best help customers discover small business products they love.”

Making good on the promise, it is now possible to apply for one of several of these new badges on the Add a Certification page. 👌

Other certifications that may be of interest to you include:

  • National Diversity Certifications for Women-Owned Businesses, Veteran-Owned Businesses, Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Business, LGBT Business Enterprise, and more.
  • State Diversity CertificationsState Diversity Certifications
  • Climate Pledge Friendly Badges

♻️ We previously featured the Climate Pledge Friendly Badges in another post, specifically highlighting Amazon’s own Compact by Design program.

In this competitive landscape, it’s important to take any advantage you can and these badges are beginning to allow us “little guys” to start differentiating ourselves from the big brands that are sometimes harder to compete with. 💪

As buyers increasingly become socially conscious and begin to realize they can reinforce their values through their buying habits, Amazon seems to be attempting to humanize the shopping experience and community sellers may reap the benefits. 🔥

Royal Mail Strikes to Disrupt Mail and Deliveries Across UK

Royal Mail Strikes to Disrupt Mail and Deliveries Across UK

UPDATE 08/23/2022: Amazon just announced that they will extend delivery date promises to Amazon customers for seller-fulfilled orders during the Royal Mail strikes. The planned 4-day protest is expected to cause UK-wide postal disruptions, prompting the retail giant to create a contingency plan to minimize customer dissatisfaction that may impact seller account health.

⚠️ In one week, over 115,000 Royal Mail workers will go on strike over pay, which could jeopardize deliveries and collections across the UK. If you haven’t done so already, it’d be wise to find an alternative carrier ASAP to avoid delays or lost parcels in the coming weeks.

When is the Mass Walkout Happening?

The Communication Workers Union (CWU), a group that represents British postal workers, recently announced that they will stage four days of industrial action, a protest against low pay and poor working conditions, on the following dates:

  • August 26, Friday
  • August 31, Wednesday
  • September 8, Thursday
  • September 9, Friday

The August Royal Mail strikes are also set to coincide with:

  • Crown Post Office protest on the 27th. Employees who work in 114 Crown Post branches will stop work again in an escalating fight over pay. The staff rejected and took industrial action against the 3% pay offer and £500 lump sum by the Post Office last month because it wasn’t enough to improve their living standards, especially at a time when inflation is at 10.1%.
  • Strike at Port of Felixstowe from August 21st to 29th. Around 2,000 dockers at UK’s largest container port will protest for 8 days over poor pay. Transport economists at MDS Transmodal estimate that this week-long industrial action could put $4.7B in trade on hold, potentially delaying the arrival of goods expected to go on sale this holiday season. Companies that rely on the port like Amazon, Mars Foods, GSK, and General Mills will all be impacted.
  • Bank Holiday in England and Wales on the 29th. This is a public holiday that gives workers a long weekend to make the most of the summer season.
  • Supply Chain & Admin action on the 30th. Union members whose jobs are related to supply chain and administration will also walk out at the end of this month in hopes of getting a fair pay increase for their hard work and dedication.

These additional walkouts could lead to an even bigger postal disruption. 😩 And if the planned protests go ahead, collectively it would be the largest summer strike ever held by postal workers in the UK, according to CWU.

Postmen walking out of their jobs on the 26th of August means you’ll have to make sure customer orders or any additional inventory must get picked up before the 25th. It’s also best to notify your customers of expected delays due to the protests. Because even if collected, they won’t be delivered right away, which could create a massive backlog of undelivered items.

Additionally, Post Office walkouts and the Bank Holiday coinciding with the Royal Mail strikes may also exacerbate the situation. So, experiencing shipping delays even after the industrial action in September is highly likely.

Certain items are at even bigger risk of being delayed during the strikes because Royal Mail will prioritize special deliveries, medical prescriptions, COVID testing kits, and tracked shipments over letters and normal parcels to minimize the impact of the upcoming disruption.

Main Reasons Behind the Postal Strikes

Postal workers are threatening to walk out of their jobs in a dispute over pay amid soaring inflation.

According to CWU, the Royal Mail leadership has presented an offer worth up to 5.5% for their workers, which they have broken down to:

Therefore, for the union, there was never a 5.5% pay increase put on the table, resulting in approximately 97.6% of postal employees voting in favor of industrial action. 💪

Scottish Regional Secretary of CWU, Craig Anderson, told BBC that “a fair offer from our perspective would be for them [Royal Mail] to sit back round the table with us and actually look at where or what comes out at the moment with a cost-of-living crisis, where the company’s been with the profits that they’ve made, and actually start negotiating on a percentage pay raise that reflects that.”

In 2021, Royal Mail raked in £758M in profit and handed over £400M to shareholders, and £2M in bonuses to 2 CEOs and finance executives, while many employees overwhelmed by the rising costs were forced to rely on food banks to feed their families. 😓

In a report from Bloomberg, Royal Mail argued that it will suffer a full-year loss in the event of mass walkouts by their workers over several days. The negative impact of the strikes on the company will only make pay increases less affordable and therefore, could lead to layoffs.

But CWU General Secretary, Dave Ward, said, “Nobody takes the decision to strike lightly, but postal workers are being pushed to the brink. There can be no doubt that postal workers are completely united in their determination to secure the dignified, proper pay rise they deserve. The CWU’s message to Royal Mail’s leadership is simple – there will be serious disruption until you get real on pay.

Royal Mail said it remains open to negotiate with the union to “try and avert damaging industrial action.”

Prepare Your Business for the Upcoming Disruption

With one week left before the protest, both Royal Mail and CWU only have a small window of opportunity for negotiations. So, it would be best to put some contingency plans in place now to minimize shipping and delivery delays in the event of strikes.

Here are some tips:

  • Keep some buffer stock in your 3PL or supplier’s warehouse and transfer only when needed.
  • Consider sending additional units via small parcel delivery for faster FBA check-in times.
  • Ship parcels with alternative couriers, such as DHL, FedEx, DTDC, and UPS. While typically more expensive than Royal Mail, they will try to get your items picked up and delivered to customers on time. Plus, deliveries will not be limited to health essentials like what UK’s postal office is planning to do. For letters, consider UK Mail, Citipost Mail, The Direct Mail Company, or Whistl as alternatives.
  • If shipping costs are too expensive, try to reduce your packaging to achieve smaller dimensions and pack as many units per carton as possible. Consider using a Master Carton Calculator to find your ideal carton configurations.

Related: Amazon FBA Freight Forwarder Tips to Avoid Stockouts and Reduce Costs

Amazon’s New Holiday Surcharge Takes Another Bite Out of Seller Profits

Amazon’s New Holiday Surcharge Takes Another Bite Out of Seller Profits

🚨 Fulfillment costs continue to climb as Amazon has just announced a new holiday surcharge that will be applied to core FBA, apparel, and dangerous goods from October 15, 2022 to January 14, 2023.

Sellers will now pay an average of $0.35 per unit sold via US and Canada FBA on top of all other applicable charges plus peak holiday storage surcharge of $2.40 per cubic foot. 😩

This is the first time the eComm giant has raised fulfillment fees for Q4 in order to deal with soaring inflation. Though on January 15, 2023, the fees will revert back to current levels according to Amazon. 🤞

The Mounting Amazon Fee Stack

We’ve recently been “lovingly” referring to Amazon’s extensive fee increases as the Amazon Fee Stack. What we’re referring to is the series of seemingly small fee hikes that yet are leading to significant increases when all added up. Also known as “death by papercuts”.

Unfortunately, when costs are greater than your total sales, your profit can turn negative, so it’s crucial to learn how much you’re actually paying in fees in order to protect your margins.

According to Marketplace Pulse, Amazon has raised their fulfillment fees by more than 30% since 2020.

It is true that the past two years have seriously challenged the eComm giant, rirst with supply chain disruptions, followed by record-breaking inflation rates. The company also sunk a lot of money into its warehouse expansion efforts to keep up with the surge in eCommerce demand.

“At a certain point, you can’t keep absorbing all those costs and run a business that’s economic,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy told CNBC in an interview in April.

Dealing with these macroeconomic factors, however, has led Amazon to apply:

Below is a table showing the historical increases for standard size and oversize items. You can easily see how the various fee changes over the years (2019 – 2022) impact your margins.

Standard Size

Small
6 oz or under
Small
12 oz
Large
1lb
Large
3lbs
Large
3lbs to 20lbs
2019$2.41$2.48$3.28$5.26$5.26 + $0.38 above the first 3lbs
2020$2.50$2.63$3.48$5.42$5.42 + $0.38 above the first 3lbs
2021$2.70$2.84$4.25$5.68$5.68 + $0.30 above the first 3lbs
2022$2.92$3.07$4.52$5.79$6.13 + $0.30/lb above first 3 lb
April 2022 (base rate + 5%Fuel and Inflation surcharge)$3.07$3.22$4.75$6.08$6.44 + $0.32/lb above first 3 lb
2022 Holiday Peak, including fuel and inflation surcharge$3.28$3.43$5.06$6.60$6.96 + $0.32/lb above first 3 lb

Oversize

SmallMediumLarge
2019$8.26 + $0.38/lb above the first 2 lbs$9.79 + $0.39/lb above the first 2 lbs$75.78 + $0.79lb above the first 90lbs
2020$8.26 + $0.38/lb above the first 2 lbs$11.37 + $0.39/lb above the first 2 lbs$75.78 + $0.79lb above the first 90lbs
2021$8.66 + $0.38/lb above the first 2 lbs$12.20 + $0.39/lb above the first 2 lbs$76.57 + $0.79lb above the first 90lbs
2022$8.94 + $0.38/lb above the first 2 lbs$12.73 + $0.44/lb above first lb$82.58 + $0.79/lb above first 90 lb
April 2022 (base rate + 5%Fuel and Inflation surcharge)$9.39 + $0.40/lb above first lb$13.37 + $0.46/lb above first lb$86.71 + $0.83/lb above first 90 lb
2022 Holiday Peak, including fuel and inflation surcharge$10.44 + $0.40/lb above first lb$15.99 + $0.46/lb above first lb$89.33 + $0.83/lb above first 90 lb

Clearly, there has been a steady increase in Amazon fulfillment fees since 2019. The pandemic and its aftermath have presented certain economic conditions that induce the online retail giant to introduce multiple surcharges in 2022, making fulfillment cost per item significantly more expensive in August than in January.

While inflation and holiday surcharges are only temporary, the latter, we are predicting, is most likely going to be a yearly fee similar to what major carriers have been doing. In fact, the US Postal Service has already requested a temporary price hike for Q4 to help cover additional handling costs, while the UPS and FedEx are expected to follow suit shortly.

Like the online retail giant, you can’t keep absorbing these increasing fees. Therefore, at some point, you might also have to raise your prices to stay profitable. Or even better, learn some strategies for recovering more of your profit to stay resilient throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

Amazon Attribution Update Makes for a More Effective Sales Tool

Amazon Attribution Update Makes for a More Effective Sales Tool

Great news for sellers using Amazon Attribution to drive external traffic to Amazon! 🥳

The tech giant has reportedly rolled out a new Amazon Attribution feature that will replace the previously featured competitor ads placed at the top of your listing with other popular products from your own store. 🔥 This means an increase in brand awareness and new cross-selling opportunities within your catalog, which may help boost conversion and minimize Advertising Cost of Sales (ACOS) for off-Amazon traffic.

Currently in beta, the new feature is available to sellers utilizing Amazon Attribution with Google Ads through January 2023.

What Prompted This Update From Amazon?

Brand-registered sellers use Amazon Attribution (AA), a free advertising tool, to track and measure the performance of their off-Amazon efforts, giving them insights into which channels are best for their business. They also utilize the Brand Referral Bonus (BRB) program in conjunction with AA to earn, on average, a 10% discount on referral fees associated with the sales generated from off-Amazon ads.

🤔 It makes sense for Amazon to incentivize sellers willing to drive external traffic using AA because they are more likely to continue driving that traffic if they can see that it is working for them. Without that visibility to measure against, they might abandon external traffic campaigns that are actually working for them. Attribution helps to prevent this from happening.

⚠️ However, there was a major flaw in the program.

Prior to the update, when a customer is directed to a listing from Google Ads, the first thing they see at the top of the screen are ads from competitors. This essentially resulted in sellers paying for Google ads that simply drove traffic to their competitors. 🤦

To prevent this from happening, some sellers started sending traffic to their brand Storefront instead of driving it to a specific product page. However, the former doesn’t convert nearly as well as the latter, as the shoppable content customers see may not be related to what is being advertised on Google. Some may get confused and leave the store, while, less often, others may end up browsing through and buying more than one of the seller’s products.

💪 The bottom line is sellers did not want to be twice-burned by wasting ad dollars and sending their potential customers into the arms of their competitors.

Amazon Has Finally Listened

“Now in beta, when brands use Amazon Attribution to direct their non-Amazon marketing to their product detail page via Google Ads, customers will see a new section at the top of the page labeled ‘Other popular products from this brand.’ This new feature is meant to help increase brand awareness and promote new selling opportunities by showcasing three additional products from the brand.” Amazon said in an email sent out to its brand partners on August 9.

Amazon Attribution New Feature

Making this change also shows Amazon’s desire to strengthen its partnership with sellers conducting off-Amazon marketing campaigns. Now, they can bring more customers to their target listing when utilizing Amazon Attribution with zero competitors at the top section of the page, which should help increase sales through conversions and cross-sells while decreasing Amazon fees. 💰

However, note that your BRB rate may vary by product category and marketplace. As of August 2022, Amazon US is the only marketplace that rewards sellers with a 10% bonus, whereas Canada, Mexico, EU, among others simply have the tracking capability.

It’s possible that Amazon would lower the BRB rate for the US marketplace from 10% to 5%, or to 0% eventually. But the opposite scenario could occur too, in which Amazon offers BRB to sellers from other marketplaces in the future.

Overall, Amazon Attribution can be beneficial to your business. Not only does it help increase conversion and potentially lower referral fees through BRB, it also improves your on-Amazon organic ranking, leading to more sales.

So, sellers who adopt this program early could gain a huge competitive advantage over those who don’t. And the good news is that Amazon Attribution has only just begun and as the eCommerce landscape continues to change, sellers and SaaS companies alike, in conjunction with Amazon Attribution, will continue to find new ways to make external traffic more measurable and impactful within the Amazon seller toolbelt. 🚀

Related: Amazon Budgeting & Advertising Tips with the Customer Journey Principle

Software Updates For August 2022

Software Updates For August 2022

We are excited to fill you in on all of the new changes in SoStocked, so let’s get right to it…

🥳
NEW RELEASE

SoStocked Joins the Carbon6 Family

SoStocked_900x350_Gif

We are excited to announce that SoStocked has recently become a part of the Carbon6 family! This is very good news for you, our SoStocked users!

Our roadmap and vision for SoStocked haven’t and won’t change. This will only help us to get there faster. Now with Carbon6, we have many more resources at our disposal to catch up on some backlogged development. You can look forward to a smarter, more integrated, efficient, and profitable way to run your eCommerce business, something that we’ve needed for a long time now. Carbon6 was brought together by entrepreneurs who want to empower entrepreneurs. The group of like-minded eComm advisors and industry-leading software tools who have come on board is what made it a great fit for us.

The SoStocked team and leadership aren’t going anywhere. The team that you have come to know and love will still be here for you. In fact, several SoStocked execs are even stepping into advisory roles within Carbon6 to help bring more value across the entirety of the Amazon seller journey. We truly believe in Carbon6 and what we can accomplish together. Our mission has always been to change the face of operations and profitability within the eCommerce industry. With Carbon6 we can do that. They truly stand behind and support our vision and can provide the team and resources to help us go further.
This is a pivotal success for SoStocked. We are very grateful to all of our users who have helped us along the way and we can’t wait to see all sellers benefit from our coming together!


COMING SOON

API Access to Amazon AU, Far East, and Middle East

Migrating from the old Amazon MWS programming Interface (API) to the new Selling Partners API that is required in order to add these additional selling regions has been a huge undertaking and we appreciate your patience. Our development team has worked hard to do an entire overhaul of the SoStocked system to make this process not only possible but fast and reliable, and the best inventory management tool worldwide. We are in the quality assurance phase and we are set to release the new regions later this month.


COMING SOON

Shopify

Shopify is on track for Q3! Yes, we thought this would have happened much sooner, too. We have been testing Shopify in beta for a while now, with distractions like Amazon restock limits and new API out of the way we are almost set to roll out this new marketplace. With the help of the Carbon6 additional resources, the focus is on training a larger software development crew and getting Shopify out of beta and released quickly.

⚡️
MICRO UPDATES

Subtle Improvements to Make Your
Forecasting Easier

SoStocked - MICRO UPDATES

Faster Recalculations on the Forecast Page
Making changes and updating information from Amazon now takes half the time so you can complete your work faster.

📩 Set a Default cc Email Address for Purchase Orders and Work Orders
Always cc another contact on POs and WOs? Now you can add a default cc email for orders and save time. From the Settings page, click Company Info to set the default cc email.

🔥
ICYMI: FEATURE SPOTLIGHT

Vote For or Add New Suggestions

Flat File for Amazon’s New Shipment Workflow
Amazon Seller accounts are using a new shipping plan interface. This interface still accepts flat files, but sometimes asks for an additional flat file in the workflow. This new file is called the “Manifest Shipment Workflow”. These templates are now included in the SoStocked download. See full tutorial here.

Warehouse Location Now on the Bulk Export/Import File
You can find this new column under the Warehouse Inventory Levels tab. This feature is especially useful for tracking items with a short shelf life like perishable goods. Or wholesale sellers with many different kinds of items in storage. Now you can use the Bulk Export/Import file to keep up-to-date with your warehouse locations. Let us know if you have any questions!

Need more information?

  1. Send Message: We typically reply within 2 hours during office hours.
  2. Schedule Demo: Dive deeper into the nuances of our software with Chelsea.
  3. Join Live Upcoming Webinar: New to Amazon inventory management? Learn three inventory techniques you can implement right away.

Amazon Releases Inventory Ledger to Streamline Inventory Data Reports

Amazon Releases Inventory Ledger to Streamline Inventory Data Reports

Simplify the way you view all your inventory movements! 🚀

Amazon UK announced the roll out of their new Inventory Ledger report that will help you check your Amazon-fulfilled inventory more efficiently.

This all-in-one report offers you:

  • A comprehensive and full view of your FBA stock and its movements. You can now see your beginning inventory balance, shipments to Amazon fulfillment centers (FCs), purchase orders, returned items, settlements, reconciliations, removed products, and closing balance – all from one place.
  • Historical movements of your FBA inventory during the last 18 months, including event type, product name, quantity, unique product codes, FC transfer updates, location (country or name of warehouse), and disposition (products sold, returned, removed, disposed of, damaged, lost, and found).
  • A list of your reimbursements. However, reimbursements for lost or damaged products may take up to 45 days to show up on your account.

You can use the new Inventory Ledger to also spot any discrepancies in your inventory balances that could have occurred in the previous months, thereby affecting the accuracy of your data in the report window.

For instance, discrepancies could occur due to human error or warehouse theft. If it goes undetected for months, it could lead to significant profit loss.

  • Keep an eye on your available (and unfulfillable) stock by expanding the dates of your ledger to get a detailed view of your inventory movements in Amazon FCs and to reconcile inventory balances.

The Inventory Ledger receives updates every 24 hours and essentially replaces these six older inventory reports:

  1. Daily History
  2. Monthly History
  3. Inventory Adjustments
  4. Event Detail
  5. Inventory Reconciliation
  6. Received Inventory

Amazon said that the six reports will no longer be used beginning the 30th of September 2022.

Related: Types of Inventory that Amazon Sellers Should Know About

Updated: Amazon Suspension Risk For The Uninsured

Updated: Amazon Suspension Risk For The Uninsured

UPDATE 08/02/22: A win for sellers! Amazon has reversed its recent policy change requiring sellers earning under $1M in sales to obtain a $0 deductible insurance plan citing the challenges they face in procuring zero-deductible policies as the primary reason for the reversal.

Less than 2 months ago, we told you about changes to the A-to-Z Guarantee. Well, a lot has changed in that short time.

This is important, so pay close attention. Amazon may restrict you from certain selling categories or even suspend your account for non-compliance of this policy.

You can read the full policy on Seller Central, but the cliff’s notes are this: if you’ve sold $10,000 or more in any one month, you need business insurance of at least $1 million in aggregate. Previously this was set as any seller who hit $10,000 for any 3 consecutive months.

Further, it is not enough just to have it. (I’ve had this insurance since I started selling in 2014.) You now need to ensure Amazon is named as an additional insured by way of a certificate of insurance.

I’m not done yet. You also need to provide Amazon with proof of this insurance by uploading the certificate into your Seller Central account.

Do this by going to Settings > Account Info > Business Insurance and then following the steps to submit your proof of insurance.

Now, if you’ve already had a certificate of insurance created for Amazon in the past, that likely will not be valid as Amazon has changed it’s requirements for what may be listed on the additional insured certificate. If you do not have the name listed correctly, your proof of insurance will be rejected.

The name to be listed on the certificate is:

“Amazon.com Services LLC., and its affiliates and assignees”

Anything else will be rejected. You also need to meet the minimum requirements for coverage. For full details on exactly what you need, check out Amazon’s insurance requirements page.

You can usually just send this list of requirements to your insurance provider and they can provide you with what you need. But move quickly as, since this policy took effect on September 1st, 2021, so you technically have until September 30th to submit your insurance before your account or selling privileges are at risk.

For most sellers who already have this insurance, getting a certificate is usually quite easy, taking only a matter of hours to receive from your provider via email.

But for those who need a new policy, this may prove challenging, especially as all other sellers on Amazon are likely attempting the same just now.

You may, however, try using the new Amazon Insurance Accelerator program where Amazon has teamed up with insurance providers to make the process of acquiring insurance smooth and easy for sellers.

It has always been good business for any company to be properly insured, now Amazon makes it a verifiable requirement. For more on what types of insurances might be valuable to eCommerce sellers, check out our blog post on Amazon Seller Insurance Tips.

Amazon Plans to Hold 2nd Prime Day in October

Amazon Plans to Hold 2nd Prime Day in October

Leaked files seen by the Business Insider (BI) show that Amazon may be planning a second Prime Day in the fall to boost growth.

Amazon Is Looking to Replicate Prime Day 2022 Success

Prime Day 2022 results are out, and Digital Commerce 360 estimates that the eComm giant made $12.09B globally during the 2-day extravaganza that ran from July 12 through 13.

That’s up 8.1% from last year’s $11.19B, and is considered as the “biggest” in history. Based on Numerator Prime Day 2022 Insights, most purchases were basic must-haves, such as household items, consumer electronics, and health and beauty.

Rising costs did impact customers’ buying decisions, though. The report shows that 58% of products sold for under $20, while only 5% sold for over $100, as many tried to beat inflation by prioritizing their needs over wants.

Moreover, 34% of Prime Day 2022 customers said they waited for the event to buy a specific product at a discounted price, while 28% ignored a good deal because it wasn’t a necessity. Inflation also forced 22% of customers to compare prices with stores outside of Amazon before placing an order.

This spending habit may continue through to Q3/Q4, as the Fed continues to raise interest rates and inflation is likely to remain above target until 2024. Therefore, people may be looking to use Amazon to stock up on essentials or buy holiday items at discounted prices before they get even more expensive by Q4.

Prime Early Access Sale

The next 2-day sale event that will be held in October is reportedly being named the Prime Early Access Sale. The exact date is yet to be determined.

“This event is one of the best deals events of the year and Prime members would be crazy to miss it,” one document said.

The BI report also says that the eComm giant has already started asking sellers to send their special promotion deals for the event, which is expected to feature promotions for sneakers, TVs, and other basic items. Prime members may also be given early access to such deals, specifically Prime-eligible Lightning Deals on Amazon.

Prime Early Access Sale may be Amazon’s way to preserve its growth through economic uncertainty and regulatory pressure.

Q2 2022 earnings results show that while the company exceeded Wall Street expectations for the second quarter with a reported revenue of $121.2B, up 7% from last year and well above the $119B projection, it did suffer a loss once again, this time for $2B in Q2.

By holding another mega sales event in October, Amazon could drive more sales. It may also help them to attract more subscribers to its Prime program.

What Does this Event Mean for Sellers this Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM)?

A Prime Day-like event in October may throw a wrench into your BFCM plans. It means bracing yourself for:

  • Added competition. Competitors may use this Prime Early Access Sale to launch their products into top ranking positions before the holidays.
  • Potential shipping delays. More packages will keep fulfillment centers and carriers extremely busy as early as October, making the supply chain situation worse.

It would be best to have a plan that will help you to stay flexible on the days leading up to and during BFCM. Consider monitoring Prime Early Access deals and see if you can make adjustments to your own BFCM deals to capitalize on lessons learned during that preview. You might also want to start launching your BFCM promos earlier than your target date (e.g., first week of November) to benefit from the sudden shopping rush that Prime Early Access Sale may create.

Related: Amazon FBA Freight Forwarder Tips to Avoid Stockouts and Reduce Costs

UPS Shipping Limits for Amazon Threaten to Delay Holiday Deliveries

UPS Shipping Limits for Amazon Threaten to Delay Holiday Deliveries

⚠️ Brace for potential delivery delays in Q4 as UPS places shipping limits on Amazon to pursue more profitable shipments, such as B2B.

Sudden Drop in eCommerce Parcel Volume

After experiencing a surge in revenue and parcel deliveries in 2020 and 2021, the average US daily volume for UPS dropped 4% during the second quarter of 2022. The unexpected drop was greater than expected as eComm delivery growth has finally slowed.

“The fear is that, after a strong 2-year period, UPS could see revenue growth waver thanks to high inflation. We can expect parcel volumes to decrease in line with consumer spending,” said Senior Analyst at Third Bridge, Patrick Donnelly.

The company’s decision to put limits on Amazon’s package volume also contributed to the decline, according to CEO Carol Tome. The eComm giant is UPS’s largest customer, accounting for 13.3% of its total revenue in 2020 and 11.7% in 2021. However, by throttling Amazon’s delivery volume, it will now only make up 11% of UPS revenue by Q4.

“We’ve contractually agreed on what makes sense for us versus what makes sense for them. That means that the volume and revenue for Amazon is coming down,” said Tome.

The shipping restrictions also came after Amazon launched Buy with Prime, which allows non-Amazon sellers to leverage 1- and 2-day shipping through its own fulfillment empire. Although Amazon’s logistics service is expanding rapidly and could potentially surpass UPS, the eComm giant still relies on the legacy carrier to carry out millions of last-mile deliveries for them.

In addition, with fewer parcels coming in, UPS has more Q4 capacity it can use to “go out and win’’ new customers.

Therefore, entering into a mutually beneficial agreement on what Amazon parcels UPS delivers versus what is fulfilled in-house definitely makes a lot of sense.

Putting More Focus on B2B Deliveries

Despite the decline in its core domestic unit, UPS’ per-package revenue grew 11.9%, thanks to price hikes and putting limits on discounts usually given to bulk customers.

UPS also plans to focus on B2B shipments to make up for the eCommerce slowdown. In 2019, the carrier’s B2B delivery volume grew 3.4%, representing an important growth area for the company. However, in 2020, its growth stalled when stay-at-home orders were implemented across the country to mitigate Coronavirus transmission. Since most office buildings were unoccupied, and thus a reduced need for essential business items and shipping services, buyers had to cut back on spending.

But as COVID restrictions ease up across the globe, UPS expects more and more B2B buyers will revert back toward spending on services.

Effects of UPS Shipping Restrictions on Sellers

  • Shipping delays. With limited UPS services available to Amazon sellers, we might see shipping delays during the Prime Early Access Sale in October, Black Friday/Cyber Monday in November, and the holiday season.
  • Sellers might have to seek alternative options or backup carriers such as 3PLs or Shopify’s Shop Promise to continue offering speedy shipping to customers. While Amazon has sunk a lot of dough into its warehouse and transportation this past year to keep up with demand, it still depends on UPS to deliver millions of packages to homes. So, without UPS in their back pocket, Amazon might find it difficult to handle shipping during the holiday rush.
  • Amazon might bring back restock limits even if mildly. Amazon does have a lot of storage space that they invested in, but congestion may become an issue in Q4 due to these shipping concerns. Hence why, placing inventory restrictions on sellers before the holiday rush may be utilized as a means to control the influx of inventory into their fulfillment centers. This is a long shot based on what we know about their new, bolstered warehousing network but something not to be ruled out based on their faltering shipping infrastructure.

💡 To prepare for potential shipping delays, consider keeping some buffer stock in your 3PL warehouse or with your supplier and sending additional stock into FBA as needed. You could also switch over to FBM in order to fulfill orders yourself or use Amazon Upstream Storage to circumvent restock limits if imposed. Securing early delivery appointments with FBA is also crucial to avoid check-in delays, so be sure to discuss your options with your 3PL or preferred carrier.

Shopify Shares Down By 14% After Laying Off 10% of Their Employees

Shopify Shares Down By 14% After Laying Off 10% of Their Employees

Shopify suffered a major blow as shares of the company dipped by 14% on Tuesday. 📉

Earlier that day, Shopify founder and CEO Tobi Lütke sent a heartfelt memo to the company about the immediate changes regarding their personnel.

“Shopify has to go through a reduction in workforce that will see about 10% leave by the end of the day,” Lutke wrote.

⚠️ The company’s global workforce of more than 10,000 will now be downsized to around 9,000, as most of their staff with hiring, support, and sales functions will be let go. Those found to have redundant and extremely specialized roles and teams that had functions not closely related to product development but were still previously helpful for the company – will also be laid off.

A Costly Miscalculation

Lütke admitted that he made the wrong bet regarding Shopify’s manpower expansion.

In the same memo, he explained that based on the available data before the pandemic started, they made a bet that the ecommerce boom would persist and the money going to e-commerce than traditional retail stores would surely shoot up by 5 or 10 years.

To match their forecasted exponential growth, they expanded and hired more employees. But now, the data shows otherwise.

US Ecommerce Adoption Growth Rate

The line graph on his memo shows the growth of e-commerce adoption descending to “where pre-Covid data would have suggested it should be at this point.”

“Ultimately, placing this bet was my call to make and I got this wrong,” he wrote.

The New Reality

The Canadian ecommerce company joins the 140+ American tech companies who have collectively laid off more than 30,000 of their employees so far this year.

Tech – which is one of the industries that emerged as a winner during the pandemic – is now one of the hardest hit sectors of 2022.

The continuous lockdowns during the first two years of the pandemic plus the health scare caused by a novel virus forced consumers to conduct their day-to-day activities within the confines of their own homes.

The demand for tech products like laptops and tablets used for online schooling and remote work, and services like live streaming and online shopping skyrocketed, prompting the tech companies to rapidly expand to cope up with their anticipated, long-lasting growth. As a result, the stock prices of these tech companies also ballooned.

That explosive growth is now showing signs of decline as the world is transitioning back to face-to-face classes and work. Travel restrictions are being lifted and consumers are allowed to shop in malls again.

LinkedIn’s principal economist Guy Berger shared his observation with Yahoo Finance last week.

“Tech just kept hiring and rising and rising at least through the end of last year. Now [tech] is coming down much faster. It’s almost like a boomerang in that it went up faster and is coming down more sharply.”

As Infrastructure Capital Management CEO Jay Hatfield points out, “It’s a liquidity and pandemic-driven bubble.”

The layoffs happening across the sector seem to show that the companies that enjoyed initial success early on in the pandemic (and quickly expanded as a response to that) may have overestimated the duration of that success, not to mention their ability to sustain their growth.

Now, there is a need for them to recalibrate as the new reality continues to evolve.

Reasons for the Layoffs

The spike in layoffs during the mid-year may have something to do with the tech companies wanting to sort out their plans and resources before Q3 ends. 🤔

The high-risk stocks of these tech giants have also been battered by significant macroeconomic factors such as the incessant lockdowns in China, Russian invasion of Ukraine, Federal Reserve’s doubling of interest rates, record-high inflation, and fears of a recession.

In addition, some tech companies also cited the current macroeconomic environment and their goal to prudently manage their expenses are the reasons why they are trimming down their workforce.

In the case of Shopify, their recent $2.1B acquisition of Deliverr – an eCommerce fulfillment company – may be another reason behind the layoff. It is likely that the company is downsizing to reshuffle their resources towards their fulfillment network so they can compete better with Amazon’s Buy With Prime.

In all fairness to Shopify, they are not the only company to miscalculate and overestimate their projections regarding the e-commerce boom during the pandemic.

eCommerce giant Amazon made the same bet (and mistake) when it increased its employees to 1.7 million, only to lower it to 1.6 million in the next quarter.

Amazon stock prices also dropped by 10% after the company reported a $3.8 billion net loss – its first loss since 2015 – in April this year. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy shared the loss is attributed to the pandemic and ongoing war in Ukraine, though how that latter could be is unclear.

There’s no way to fully predict what will happen next in the tech sector, but one thing’s for sure: these companies need to remain agile and strategic if they want to withstand and overcome these inflationary economic shifts. 💪

SoStocked Joins the Carbon6 Family Shortening the Timeline to Future Innovations

SoStocked Joins the Carbon6 Family Shortening the Timeline to Future Innovations

It’s been a challenge keeping this under wraps but we’re finally ready to announce that SoStocked has recently become a part of the Carbon6 familyThe SoStocked team and leadership aren’t going anywhere. In fact, several SoStocked execs and I are even stepping into advisory roles within Carbon6 to help to bring more value across the entirety of the Amazon seller journey.

Our roadmap and vision for SoStocked haven’t and won’t change. This will only help us to get there faster. I have always held fast to the mission to change the face of operations and profitability within the eCommerce industry. With Carbon6 we can do that. They truly stand behind and support our vision and can provide the team and resources to help us go further. Big things are coming!

I can’t divulge much quite yet, though I have hinted at such things in the past, but know that our focus on profit optimization and recovering margins won’t stop at reducing stockouts and holding costs.

Helping sellers to succeed by staying in stock and keeping more of the money you make is a major goal shared by both SoStocked and Carbon6.

Our new partnership also comes with a new look:

SoStocked_900x350_Gif

We truly believe in Carbon6 and what we can accomplish together. I’ve personally developed a strong relationship with their core executives, especially their CEO, and have had deep insight into their mission, road map, and team.

At the heart of Carbon6 are entrepreneurs who believe in empowering entrepreneurs. The mentality of being seller-first and team-oriented, coupled with the eComm advisors, industry-leading software tools, and passionate SaaS founders who have come on board are really what made it a great fit for us.

Believe me, there are many SaaS tools, major thought leaders, and top sellers that you know and respect joining this mission; several that have not even been announced yet. I’m excited for what’s coming. They truly have assembled a dream team.

You can look forward to a smarter, more integrated, efficient and profitable way to run your ecommerce business, something that we’ve needed for a long time now.

Much more will be revealed soon. It’s going to be a game-changer, and I’m eager to see all sellers benefit from our coming together.

Exciting times ahead,

Chelsea Cohen
CEO & Co-Founder, SoStocked

Shopify Introduces YouTube Shopping Integration to Compete in Live Commerce

Shopify Introduces YouTube Shopping Integration to Compete in Live Commerce

Canadian tech giant Shopify continues to challenge Amazon’s dominance over the US eCommerce market, from acquiring Deliverr to offer 1- to 2-day shipping to recently teaming up with YouTube to allow merchants to directly link their stores and sell products on the video platform.

Shopify Gets on the Live Commerce Trend

On July 19, Shopify launched YouTube Shopping to make it easy for sellers to manage and sell merchandise across their YouTube channels. 💪

Key features include:

  • Connect your Shopify store to Youtube.
  • Display your merchandise on YouTube in three different ways: livestreams, on-demand videos to show products in the end screens or in a product shelf below your videos, and a dedicated store tab to feature all your shoppable content.
  • Access to live shopping tools that will allow you to tag and pin products at key points during a livestream.
  • YouTube Shopping API automatically syncs your inventory data with Shopify so that shoppers can see whether a product is in-stock or out of stock in real time.
  • If eligible, you may opt to enable on-site checkout so that shoppers can buy items directly from your YouTube channel. Read Buy on Google to learn more.
  • Manage YouTube Shopping orders, returns, and payments, as well as monitor your key performance metrics for your live streams directly from your Shopify account.

As of July 2022, YouTube Shopping is available to Shopify sellers worldwide. However, they will need a minimum of 1,000 subscribers to use it.

👉 Check out the full list of requirements to see if you’re eligible.

A Move to Compete With Amazon

Shopify has been steadily merging live shopping elements into its platform over the last few months.

Back in March, the company launched Linkpop, a link-in bio tool for influencers. This tool allows people to promote links to their own website, YouTube channel, and other pages and simultaneously advertise their Shopify products that their followers can buy without leaving the link-in bio page instead of clicking on a separate URL that directs them to a different website.

One month later, Shopify acquired Dovetale, an influencer marketing tool that helps sellers recruit and manage their own brand ambassadors and influencers. The eCommerce giant had also recently hired Yeezy General Manager, Jon Wexler, to lead its Creator and Influencer Program.

These recent moves suggest that Shopify wants to position itself as the main live commerce platform for both sellers and content creators, rivaling Amazon Live, which potentially is now the biggest competitor after TikTok canceled its live commerce expansion plans in the US and Europe due to poor sales.

Live commerce is booming in China with sales expected to reach $423B by 2022, but only $11B in the US in 2021 and $25B by 2023. Nevertheless, these surveys show that there’s a growing interest in live shopping among US consumers. 🤔

And so, the two eComm giants are fighting to grab a share of the growing market that’s seen as the future of retail by Facebook, Twitter, among other social media sites.

However, Amazon is reportedly struggling to be the first to make live commerce happen in the US due to its lackluster content (not entertaining enough) and poor online presence (little or no interest from shoppers), according to Marketplace Pulse Founder and CEO, Juozas Kaziukėnas.

Perhaps Shopify could succeed where Amazon failed by using a live commerce-focused platform like YouTube Shopping coupled with robust influencer marketing efforts that include Dovetale and Linkpop. Sellers would be able to easily find and manage their influencers on Dovetale, offer an easy checkout process via Linkpop or YouTube’s on-site checkout, and host livestreams on YouTube, for example.

YouTube already has a captive video-viewing audience, whereas Amazon is trying to retrain their customers to consume video content that is somewhat hidden on their site. It’s been an uphill battle for AMZ to try to shift the platform to being more social whereas Shopify is going straight for the jugular with YouTube and link-in bio plays.

That said, it’s a very exciting time for consumers, but challenging for sellers, as they attempt to spend a lot of resources trying to create an attractive product selection, provide a seamless live shopping experience, and produce engaging content with influencers. Luckily, Shopify could potentially make all of that easier with their suite of live commerce apps and partnership with YouTube. 🔥

Amazon Continues to Dominate B2B While Shopify Plays Catch-Up

Amazon Continues to Dominate B2B While Shopify Plays Catch-Up

Seven years after its launch in 2015, Amazon Business has grown to be the leading B2B online marketplace for business buyers, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. 🚀

In its first year, the eComm giant made $1B from selling office supplies. In year three, the annual sales reached $10B, which drew the attention of Bank of America securities analyst Justin Post.

“While Amazon Business is just beginning to establish itself, Bank of America projects there is a total addressable market for e-commerce B2B of $1.4 trillion by 2021, which is nearly double the firm’s estimated $761 billion market for consumer e-commerce. Essentially, the market potential for Amazon Business is about twice the potential for its core retail business,” Post said in a statement to CNBC in 2019.

This massive growth estimate represents a great opportunity for Amazon. Bank of America projects that the company will hit $41.B in 2022 and potentially double that with around $83.1B by 2025. 🤯

If Amazon stays on track, it would singlehandedly account for the rapid growth of online B2B marketplace sales, essentially cementing its claim to be the go-to B2B channel for corporate buyers, resellers, schools, hospitals, governments, and institutional markets (e.g., non-profit organizations).

Amazon’s Plans for B2B eCommerce Success

In a blog post published by the US Chamber, Rob Green, Director and GM for AMZ Business, shares how Amazon plans to dominate the US B2B procurement market:

Recent Efforts to Attract More Business Buyers

On July 18, Amazon launched a marketing campaign “Buy smarter. Dream bigger.” demonstrating its capabilities to track essential business items for corporate buyers who rely on these goods to keep their businesses (and workforce) up and running, whether it’s paper products, pens, printers, ink cartridges, face masks, disinfecting wipes, or pantry goods.

While essential, procurement of these items has been difficult over the past few months due to the impacts of the pandemic on the supply chain.

With Amazon’s improved B2B arm, however, it would provide a platform where buyers can efficiently manage the complexities of procuring and shipping by tracking spending, purchase orders, and inventory levels all in one place. This essentially makes Amazon Business a one-stop-shop for a company’s needs for office supplies from multiple merchants.

But long-time rival Shopify wants to challenge that with its new B2B eCommerce tools and features.

Shopify Enters B2B to Grab a Piece of the Pie

Shopify announced on June 22 that it will be focusing on B2B commerce, primarily to compete with Amazon and increase revenue after losing $1.5B in the first quarter of 2022.

The Canadian eComm giant will introduce new tools designed to make it easier for wholesalers to sell in bulk and manage procurement in one place. These tools will also allow them to easily integrate with their own enterprise resource planning software.

In a statement told to Financial Times, Shopify President, Harley Finkelstein, sees this move as an opportunity to fight for a bigger market share and to not just “go after Direct-to-Consumer businesses, big and small, but to now go after wholesale business, which is a huge untapped market.”

With this move, Shopify stands toe-to-toe with Amazon Business, which takes the competitive rivalry between the two tech giants to a new level. As previously reported, Amazon launched Buy with Prime to open its fulfillment services to non-Amazon sellers, taking aim at Shopify’s customer base.

In response, Shopify acquired Deliverr to be able to offer 1- to 2-day shipping to merchants. The Canadian company also recently rolled out YouTube Shopping to enable sellers to upload their stores onto YouTube and set up live shopping videos, allowing them to compete with Amazon Live.

🤔 Curious to see how all of this will unfold! Amazon may already be too big to fail at this point, but it would be great if Shopify could shake things up a bit to make the market more competitive for sellers and consumers.

Freight Disruption at Port of Oakland as California Truckers Protest AB5

Freight Disruption at Port of Oakland as California Truckers Protest AB5

Watch out, folks! 📢

More shipment delays may be expected as more than a hundred protesters – composed of truck drivers who own and operate their own rigs – descended upon the Port of Oakland on Monday to challenge the California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5).

The protests prevented other trucks from entering the port, resulting in port congestion and halting operations for one of the busiest ports in the US. And disruptions may continue until the U.S. Supreme Court grants judicial review of the controversial state law.

What Is AB5?

The California Assembly Bill 5, also known as the gig worker law, is a law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last September 2019 affecting independent contractors doing business in California. The law took effect four months later, resulting in countless independent contractors or workers belonging to the gig economy to be reclassified as employees.

The law aims to prevent companies from exploiting workers who categorize their staff as independent contractors instead of employees, and thus, withhold from them their mandated rights and benefits such as receiving minimum wage and paid sick leaves, among others.

The law intends to regulate companies that employ independent workers in huge numbers such as app-based delivery and ride-hailing service providers like DoorDash, Lyft and Uber. These companies opposed AB5 from the start, and with the support of more than half of California voters, succeeded in overriding it with Proposition 22, which designates their drivers and workers as independent contractors and not employees.

Why Are The Independent Truck Owner-Operators Against It?

Under AB5, trucking companies must reclassify and treat all their drivers as their employees. This is problematic for the independent truckers who value the flexibility of the current set-up: trucking companies deal with the port and all the paperwork and the independent drivers just procure and deliver the goods.

As independent service providers, the only way they can still make use of their rigs is for them to establish their own trucking company and deal with all of the legalities, paperwork, and headaches of running a trucking business.

Given this unfavorable situation they are in, the strike may be their last-ditch effort to express their disagreement over the new law. On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to listen to the challenge raised by the California truck drivers regarding AB5.

How Will The Strike Affect Sellers?

The Port of Oakland ranks among the top ten busiest container ports in the United States, where over 99% of the container goods headed for Northern California are loaded and shipped out. The protesters account for 90% of the port’s business, highlighting the scale of the disruption their strike has on the economy of the state.

As a result of the port being extremely congested – authorities were able to negotiate with the protesters to let ten trucks enter the port every half hour – the supply chain of affected businesses suffered greatly.

For the countless business owners who rely on the trucks to deliver their stock, the strike is very bad news for their operations and ultimately, their bottom line.

Delayed arrival of goods translates to delayed shipping of orders, poor customer experience, negative seller reputation, and potentially lower sales – not to mention capital tied up for a longer period of time. Marketplace sellers are also facing an increased risk of stockout as the strike hinders the usually smooth passage of goods and quick replenishment of supplies.

As every business owner knows, a delay in one part of the supply chain will have a domino effect along the rest of the line. It will take a significant amount of time before the port gets decongested and its operations resume as normal.

Related: How to Ship To Amazon FBA (And Speed Up Check-In Times)

What Can Be Done To Alleviate These Supply Chain Challenges?

While waiting for the authorities and the independent truck owner-operators to arrive at a resolution, you may want to go into solution mode and research ways to minimize your risk for these shipping delays.

Choosing a reputable 3rd-party logistics (3PL) provider could offer you more flexible and cost-effective delivery methods.

Preparing air freight, while more costly, could help you to avoid stockouts that could hurt your rankings.

What Else Can We Expect?

While AB5 applies only to the state of California, companies and business owners from other states who hire independent contractors may want to keep themselves updated about any legislative developments concerning the gig economy and gig workers. For example, the states of Illinois, New Jersey, and New York may enact similar laws in the near future so there certainly is a risk that this problem could spread if things go that way.

Amazon Reduces Their Private Label Catalog Amid Mounting Regulatory Pressure

Amazon Reduces Their Private Label Catalog Amid Mounting Regulatory Pressure

Amazon is reportedly reducing the number of items and categories under its private label (PL) business by more than half due to poor sales, and as we assume, the impending antitrust bill. 🤔

Inflation Takes its Toll on Amazon and Consumers

The decision to scale back Amazon’s PL selection came after a profitability review by Dave Clark, former head of Consumer Business for Amazon. While the PL segment offers a wide range of products to customers at affordable prices, it only accounts for 1% of the company’s total retail sales, a stark contrast to the 10% target set by former CEO, Jeff Bezos, a few years ago.

Clark also wanted the PL team to focus on better-selling essential items instead of products that didn’t meet the profit threshold. And this proved to be a good strategy, as Prime Day 2022 customers kept much of their purchases to basic goods, such as household items, health and beauty, and consumer electronics.

⚠️ In fact, Numerator found that 5% of Prime Day products sold for over $100, while 58% sold for below $20. Additionally, a little over a third of customers waited for Prime Day specifically to buy a certain product at a much lower price, while 28% passed on a great deal because it wasn’t essential, indicating that people would rather prioritize their needs than wants, a shopping behavior that may continue through to Q4.

Amazon’s reported $3.8 billion net loss in the first quarter of 2022 (their first loss since 2015) may have also been one of the deciding factors. Amazon CEO, Andy Jassy, has attributed part of the company’s shortfall to reduced online consumer spending, Rivian’s shrinking valuation, and added costs in the form of excess fulfillment and transportation capacity.

Increasing Pressure from Antitrust Regulators

According to Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the eComm giant may also exit the private label business altogether to address regulatory pressure and possibly to avoid potential hefty fines ahead of the impending US antitrust bill targeting Big Tech.

Although Amazon has denied this in a statement to WSJ, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for them to close their PL business or at least make a concession (e.g., end data grabbing), considering they recently offered to stop anti-competitive practices in Europe in an attempt to halt two investigations.

In the US, Amazon’s private label business has been under scrutiny from lawmakers (and third-party sellers) since its launch in 2009.

Amazon has flooded the marketplace with 243,000 products across 45 different PL brands, allowing them to directly compete and even prioritize their own offerings over third-party sellers’ by manipulating the search algorithms to drive customers toward AmazonBasics and other in-house brands.

In one of its investigative reports, WSJ also revealed that some PL employees spied on sellers and collected their sensitive data to develop their own brands that resembled original items, thereby undercutting sellers on Amazon.

Under the proposed antitrust law, S.2992, these practices would be considered anti-competitive, and therefore subject to injunctions and penalties.

As sellers, perhaps we could take Amazon’s move to reassess their PL business to reduce regulatory pressure as a win and a step toward leveling the playing field. 💪

Related: Why Amazon Wants You To Lobby Congress: What is S.2992?

Discounts on EU/UK Amazon Partner Carrier Fees

Discounts on EU/UK Amazon Partner Carrier Fees

Possibly some good news for UK/EU sellers… 🇬🇧🇪🇺

From July 2022 to April 12, 2023, you can take advantage of the following fee reductions:

  • Average 20% decrease on partner carrier fees for Small Parcel Delivery (SPD) and pallet shipments in the UK. For instance, shipping parcels with a partner carrier like UPS from a local address in the UK to a UK fulfillment center.
  • Average 50% discount on partner carrier fees for pallet shipments and SPDs sent to FBA in France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.

The fee reductions sure sound attractive, especially with the recent increases in shipping and FBA fulfillment costs.

🤔 Why the sudden generosity? This move might be Amazon’s attempt to:

  • Encourage sellers to use partner carriers versus non-partner carriers to recover the money they sunk into infrastructure following the logistics dumpster fire that was 2020. Amazon reportedly suffered a massive US$3.8 billion loss in Q1, which was partially driven by US$6 billion in added warehouses and transportation costs. This is the first down quarter Amazon has reported since 2015.
  • In addition, based on the discounts more sellers who were fulfilling by FBM may be enticed to sign up for the partner carrier program due to the savings discounts, which may also help Amazon to fill underused warehouse space in Q3 and Q4.
  • It could also help soften the impact of fee hikes on sellers, and in return, prevent them from raising their product prices too quickly, something that Amazon may be mindful of based on the slower sales growth in 2022.

All this aside, however, UK sellers who have done mock shipments tell a different story. Instead of getting a lower shipping fee, they saw a considerable price increase due to the high fuel surcharge.

To cover their bases, Amazon did mention that the final fee may vary depending on the shipment quantity, packaging weight and dimensions, and other applicable rates, and that rates are subject to change. So, I guess the sellers complaining about increased prices fall under the “subject to change” category then. 🤷‍♀️ Essentially, the conclusion becomes that your shipping fee could still stay the same as before, could go down, or unfortunately, go up substantially from the last time you used the program. 🤦‍♀️

Read the Amazon Partnered Carrier Program Overview to learn more.

💡 If you need to reduce shipping costs to stay profitable, try to keep your packaging compact by removing excess air from your products, minimizing their cubic dimensions, using lighter materials, avoiding excessive amounts of internal packaging materials, and more.

Lastly, use our Master Carton and Pallet Calculator to determine your optimal carton/pallet load capacity and reduce your total cartons and pallets per order.

Shopify Acquires Deliverr and Takes Aim at Amazon’s Buy with Prime

Shopify Acquires Deliverr and Takes Aim at Amazon’s Buy with Prime

As we know, Shopify and Amazon have been sparring in the ring for some time, but with Shopify’s recent acquisition of Deliverr, now the gloves are off. 🥊

Deliverr Acquisition Heats Up Competition Between Shopify and Amazon

Amazon has been going after Shopify’s customers and customer data for some time with their Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) program. They even incentivized sellers last year into the program by handing out restock limit increases.

In case you missed it, we reported back in July 2021 that while Amazon was slashing restock limits for sellers due to capacity constraints, they were at the same time doubling restock limits for sellers who fulfilled their non-Amazon sales through Amazon.

You would think that they would implement more restrictions to further limit the influx of inventory into their already-strained warehouses, but they didn’t. 🤔

What could be the reason behind this?

Data grab

Amazon counts your MCF sales toward your sales velocity, which has a direct impact on your restock limits, something that was hugely important to leverage last year. The added benefit to Amazon is that each time you fulfill orders from Shopify and other channels through MCF, they gain access to velocity and customer data from other platforms, which allows them to size up their competition and to remarket to their customer base. Amazon could also acquire more valuable insights into what products are trending on other marketplaces and use them as additional sources to develop and improve their own private label brands.

Boost fulfillment revenue

Amazon most likely took a profit hit and more importantly, lost access to significant amounts of competitor data when sellers opted out of their fulfillment network due to inventory restrictions. Perhaps, they tried to soften the blow by incentivizing MCF sellers with higher restock limits so that they would keep using Amazon to fulfill and thus increase storage and fulfillment revenue.

Fast forward to April 2022, Amazon announced that they were making moves to go after even non-Amazon sellers, offering to fulfill for Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) merchants via Buy with Prime.

Shots fired. And now, Shopify is shooting back. 🔥

Shopify’s acquisition of Deliverr and plans toward 1- and 2-day delivery hit at the heart of Amazon’s Buy with Prime program.

With Deliverr, “Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) will allow all merchants to better align the supply of their inventory with buyer demand as we remove complexity for merchants in one of the most challenging areas they face today: logistics. And soon, we will roll out another powerful feature of SFN called Shop Promise, which will offer reliable two- and next-day delivery options across the US,” said Shopify Logistics Group CEO, Aaron Brown, in a press statement.

💯 Smart move toward Shopify working at offering alternative fast and easy fulfillment for sellers and protecting their data!

I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually went the way of Walmart and stopped allowing Amazon to fulfill Shopify orders, or, at the very least, pulled API connections to such services.

But will these be enough to loosen Amazon’s grip on the eComm industry? 🤔

As of October 2021, Amazon leads US eCommerce with 41% market share, followed by Shopify at 10.3%, Walmart at 6.6%, and eBay at 4.2%.

Looks like it’s going to be a steep climb for Shopify! But with the addition of Deliverr into their fulfillment network, hopefully it will be enough to spark a change and even the playing field a bit.

Are You Prepared for the Updated Amazon Returns and Refunds Policy?

Are You Prepared for the Updated Amazon Returns and Refunds Policy?

Seller-Fulfilled Orders Must Now Conform to Amazon’s Returns and Refunds Policy.

We all know that returns for seller-fulfilled orders work quite differently from those sold and shipped by Amazon.

So, to streamline and make the returns experience consistent for all customers, Amazon is updating their Returns and Refunds Policy for third-party sellers who manage their own shipments.

Starting August 1, 2022, seller-fulfilled orders (shipped from and sold by seller), including those not eligible for Prime, will be subject to the same returns policies as Amazon.com.

That means Amazon will automatically approve return requests and issue refunds that fall within their policy. ⚖️ On the one hand, it takes some of the autonomy away from sellers. On the other though, it reduces the work required to process their returns and helps to keep Return Dissatisfaction Rate (RDR) low.

What Has Changed?

Prior to this update, seller-fulfilled merchants could create and implement their own returns policies as long as they are in line with Amazon’s current guidelines:

  • Must accept returns within the 30-day return window.
  • Seller-fulfilled returns must be returned to the address listed in the merchant’s seller account, not to an Amazon warehouse. That also means merchants might have to shoulder the cost of sending an item back to their address, unless they offer “Returnless Refunds,” which allows them to refund a customer without getting the product back if it costs more to ship than its actual worth, e.g., low-cost items. See Refund Options for more information.
  • Must refund the customer within two days of receiving the returned item or offer a replacement.

Having your own returns policy also gives you the opportunity to communicate with the customer to try to fix the issue before resorting to the last step – a refund. However, the Amazon returns and refunds policy update will take that away from you in exchange for what the retail giant believes would be a more streamlined customer-centric buying and returns experience. 🤔

Studies have shown that excellent returns policies can influence new salesincrease customer retentionbuild brand loyalty, and help retailers gain competitive advantage.

It’s not uncommon for some online shoppers to make multiple purchases to ensure they get the item they want in the correct size–for example, buying 2-3 different sizes of the same t-shirt to ensure proper fit of one while returning the other items that didn’t fit.

Therefore, for these customers, it makes more sense to buy from a retailer like Amazon that can make it easier for them to return items that didn’t work out and receive refunds (partial or full) at no extra cost.

Unfortunately, some third-party sellers with return and refund policies are more restrictive than Amazon, which could be why the eComm giant thought the update was needed. However, rather than Amazon enforcing their policies only on those who violated them, they opted to hit all sellers with this blanket change.

What Happens If You Don’t Conform?

Any returns policies that don’t adhere to Amazon’s will be removed from your Returns Information & Policies page.

You need to be ready to behave accordingly – for example, using good packaging to ensure products don’t arrive in damaged condition, leading to a return request. Otherwise, you may receive penalties that can affect your performance metrics in many different ways.

If you keep getting return, refund, or replacement requests, it increases your risk for A-to-Z guarantee claims and negative feedback, which could impact your Order Defect Rate (ODR)A high ODR (more than 1%) may result in a restriction of your selling privileges, including suspension of seller-fulfilled offers. ☠️

To stay in Amazon’s good graces, you may need to look at your current processes and systems and make sure your staff, including 3PLs and returns service providers, are up to date in preparation for this change, because August 1st is right around the corner. 💪

Related: 6 Causes of Amazon Unfulfillable Inventory and How To Fix Them

Amazon Intros New Hack to Find High-Demand, No-Competition B2B Products

Amazon Intros New Hack to Find High-Demand, No-Competition B2B Products

Want to expand your catalog with new B2B products? 💰

Amazon just launched a new ASINs Recommendations Page for its selling partners in the UK. Designed to help you find your next best seller, the page offers a list of products that many business customers are looking for but aren’t currently available on Amazon.

It also provides you with recommendations that are specific to your store’s product category, allowing you to add new versions of existing products or simply add new items that align with your brand. Not all categories will be represented, of course, as it is B2B-focused.

😩 From there, you’d of course have to find suppliers for your target B2B products and may even have some Amazon-imposed restrictions to overcome, such as compliance requirements and brand approval, especially items that belong to certain gated categories.

As this is a new feature that hasn’t yet been mainstreamed into the seller community, and if the tool does what Amazon claims it does, you could become the first (and for a time only) seller to spot a gap in the market and come up with an offer to fill that gap, which is a step toward market domination. 🏆

Go to ASINs Recommendations to get started.

Software Updates For July 2022

Software Updates For July 2022

We hope everyone is having a fantastic and profitable summer so far and getting ready for Prime Day! We have some big, exciting changes coming to SoStocked very soon so be sure to follow along with our updates. Here’s what we have this month…

🥳
NEW RELEASE

Merge Shipments

SoStocked logistics

With this new feature you can merge multiple shipments together into one. Logistics and shipping plans can change fast, so we’ve got you covered. It used to be that if you had separate shipments that needed to be merged you would have to delete them and rewrite a new order.

Now you simply select a PO, Edit Order, go to Merge Shipment and you can select which shipments (or POs) you would like to merge.
You can even choose to merge all products from the PO or select which specific products you wish to merge!

🥳
NEW RELEASE

Improved Automation of Seasonal Sales Spikes

For those who haven’t used the new automated seasonal spikes feature, this allows you to set automatic seasonal ups and downs month to month, bi-weekly, or even weekly, based on past sales curves. SoStocked will find the annual average daily sales for the product, indicate which time periods extend above or below that average, and then allow you to input trend settings above or below those projections.

SoStocked Improved Automation of Seasonal Sales Spikes

This algorithm is always looking for a “new normal” or an average velocity to compare your seasonal ups and down to. However, there was an anomaly occurring where if you turned this feature on when your product was having an abnormally slow month (or for example, you have a new product you just launched) then it was presenting a crazy high velocity as your future seasonality projection. So our dev team solved the problem by creating an exception in that first month. There’s a bit of math involved, so get more details on this exception see this video here.

To learn more about the seasonality feature see this tutorial.


COMING SOON

SP-API – Amazon Far East Marketplace Integration

SoStocked AU

You might have heard about this new API around the Amazon community. Just in case you don’t already know what it is, here is a brief explanation.

First, API stands for Application Programming Interface. In layman’s terms, this allows 2 applications or softwares – like SoStocked and Amazon – to talk to each other.

SP-API is a new type of API for Amazon. The SP part stands for Selling Partner. SP-API is the next generation or new version of API for Amazon. They have been using MWS (Marketplace Web Service) for years and now they are launching SP-API as an evolution of MWS. The new SP-API is needed for SoStocked to connect with the newer marketplaces such as Australia, India, Japan and Dubai.

Here at SoStocked, we are ready for the new global API. Our international currency and exchange rate options (find out more here) along with this new SP-API, will create a streamlined SoStocked experience for selling across the globe.

We have been patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for Amazon to do what they need to do to allow us to integrate with the new SP-API system. We heard positive confirmation that they have a deadline to get this done by July 31st. So get ready folks, it’s almost here!


MICRO UPDATES

Subtle Improvements to Make Your
Forecasting Easier

SoStocked - MICRO UPDATES

🛠 Improved warehouse and 3PL filters added to the Inventory page
We improved the filtering on our Inventory page, specifically for warehouses.

This means you can now filter out warehouses that you want to exclude from bulk actions, such as transferring inventory, adjusting inventory levels, and more.

SoStocked 3PL filters

 Improved bulk upload speeds
Now when uploading a spreadsheet back into the system it will be faster and easier.

🔥
ICYMI: FEATURE SPOTLIGHT

Vote For or Add New Suggestions

Archive an Old Vendor With Products Assigned To It

Sostocked Archive an Old Vendor With Products Assigned To It
SoStocked vendor with products

If you have a vendor with products assigned to it, you can now archive the vendor without having to jump through the extra hoops of unassigning all products. Just click on the hamburger menu next to the vendor name and click “Archive”. A window will then open up giving you the option to bulk unassign the products from the vendor.

Change a Vendors Lead Time Without Affecting Your Custom Lead Times

If you change a vendor’s lead time, SoStocked gives you the choice between changing the lead times for the products or leaving the products with their current custom lead times.

SoStocked Change a Vendors Lead Time Without Affecting Your Custom Lead Times

Need more information?

  1. Send Message: We typically reply within 2 hours during office hours.
  2. Schedule Demo: Dive deeper into the nuances of our software with Chelsea.
  3. Join Live Upcoming Webinar: New to Amazon inventory management? Learn three inventory techniques you can implement right away.

Amazon’s Recent Ban on Mylar Bags and Other Potentially At Risk Products

Amazon’s Recent Ban on Mylar Bags and Other Potentially At Risk Products

Amazon just announced that multicolored and non-transparent Mylar bags must be pulled out from their store effective August 5, 2022. 😲

Affected FBA sellers with leftover stock of these bags in Amazon warehouses are advised to file a request for removal no more than 30 days after the announcement was made in order to have their unsold Mylar bags returned to them.

Mylar Bags Affected By the Ban

Mylar bags – resealable foil pouches commonly used for food storage – come in clear, single color, and multicolor options.

⚠️ The ban only applies to Mylar bags that are non-transparent or multicolored, as these items fall under Amazon’s list of “Products associated with drugs and controlled substances.”

Transparent and single-color Mylar bags are still allowed to be sold in the store.

This can be a big blow to affected sellers as they will also have to shoulder the new (and much higher) removal fees issued by Amazon earlier this year on top of dealing with unsold inventory. 😟

Amazon didn’t share any details on how these types of Mylar bags ended up on their list of prohibited drug-related products, but it probably has to do with the 2017 case of Stashlogix.

These multi-compartment storage bags with odor-proof features and UV-proof jar containers were seized by the federal government after classifying it as drug paraphernalia. Mylar bags are also smell-proof, which make them suitable containers for marijuana and other illegal substances. 🤔

Mixed Reactions From Sellers

The general sentiment among sellers regarding this vague policy is confusion. Amazon didn’t even specify whose “regulatory requirements” they are following in implementing this ban and why. Some sellers believe Amazon is simply looking out for itself and lessening its risk for legal issues arising from the misuse of the product.

Other sellers think the government is to blame for this sudden ban, while some sellers see this policy as illogical, asserting that banning these bags is not the solution to drug abuse and that how people choose to use these bags is completely up to them.

A few sellers have also expressed their concern as to which product will be targeted next by Amazon. 🚨

In 2018, seemingly innocuous products like Safe Cans (for hiding small items like keys), Stash Car Key Safe (with a secret pill box), and boxer shorts (with secret pockets) were removed from Amazon UK, because some buyers reportedly used these items to smuggle illegal drugs into festivals. 😓

With that in mind, if you’re selling products cleverly designed to store small valuables, you may want to evaluate your catalog and perhaps hold off sending too much inventory to FBA to protect yourself from paying hefty removal fees should Amazon suddenly decide to ban them in the future.

Related: Amazon Compliance Reference Tool to Ensure Products Meet Requirements

Reduce Losses Due to INR Scams with Amazon’s Signature Confirmation

Reduce Losses Due to INR Scams with Amazon’s Signature Confirmation

Have you ever issued a refund to a false Item Not Received (INR) claim? 🤔

INR scam, or Lost Parcel scam, is when an abuser submits false claims for a refund or replacement order – for example, claiming that the product they bought online did not arrive (although it did), which gives them a reason to ask for a refund.

Unfortunately, sellers bear the cost of refunds and/or replacements. And to add insult to injury, abusers may also leave a negative review, which can put a ding on their Order Defect Rate report.

So, to help reduce lost parcel claims, Amazon launched a new service called Signature Confirmation.

Starting June 23, 2022, you can pay for this service in Buy Shipping when you choose shipping for items at risk of being reported as “lost” or “not received”.

Signature Confirmation Core Capabilities

  • Amazon spots orders that qualify for signature confirmation by assessing the value of the item ordered, delivery issues, and delivery address.
  • Orders that are likely to be reported as lost will show up on your account’s Manage Orders page > Order Status > Signature Confirmation Recommended. This recommendation feature comes free of charge.
  • Should you decide to follow Amazon’s recommendation, an additional fee, between $3 and $6 per order, will be applied to your shipping cost to cover the implementation of the service.
  • Signature-confirmed orders reported as INR or lost parcel will undergo additional checks by Amazon. If the buyer can’t prove otherwise, he or she won’t get a full refund or replacement order. However, if a refund is granted without your involvement and you disagree with Amazon’s decision, you may file an appeal to resolve the issue.

Downsides of Signature Confirmation

While Signature Confirmation serves as an extra layer of protection from abusive claims, some sellers think that Amazon’s current shipping services already provide the coverage they need for delivery issues.

With rising shipping costs and Amazon fees, it is perfectly understandable why some would be reluctant to pay for another service. Unless, of course, the buyers themselves feel the risk of loss justifies the cost of the additional signature confirmation fees.

However, a few sellers are worried about receiving complaints or negative feedback from customers who don’t want signature confirmation on their orders, either because it is inconvenient (delivery point might be too far from home or they weren’t at home) or it prevented those with malicious intent from carrying out their INR abuse scheme, so they might retaliate by leaving a 1-star rating. Although you can do something about the negative feedback, Amazon may still refuse to delete it.

What the eComm giant could do to deal with this fairly is to:

  • Give sellers the option to cancel orders identified as high risk without it affecting their account health.
  • Set a specific minimum dollar amount for orders that must have signature confirmation to ensure seller INR protection so as not to require signature confirmation on lower value items.
  • If a buyer is identified as a high risk, obligate them to pay for signature confirmation.
  • Automatically notify high-risk buyers of their signature confirmation requirements. This way, sellers won’t have to message them directly and risk sending/receiving messages too late, causing an upset buyer and ultimately negative feedback.
  • Protect sellers from INR claims and negative feedback without the need for appeal.

There’s no denying that the new service could benefit third-party sellers, in that it would help reduce INR claims by identifying high-risk orders and allowing them to add signature confirmation to those orders. 👏

However, it is not cheap and it doesn’t 100% protect you from customers who might blackmail you with negative feedback if you refuse to remove signature confirmation. Your metrics might even take a hit if you cancel orders. 😓

Until these concerns are addressed, it would be best to limit the use of signature confirmation to extremely high-value items for added protection.

Amazon Implements Size Normalization to Ensure Consistency Across Detail Pages

Amazon Implements Size Normalization to Ensure Consistency Across Detail Pages

In yet another move to provide customers with a more consistent shopping experience, Amazon has standardized the size and quantity information format for several product types.

Size Normalization

What is Size Normalization?

It is about making sure that data types like the size and quantity information of a particular product sold by different sellers are organized to appear similar across all search and detail pages, i.e., each data type has the same content and format.

As a result, it reduces inconsistencies and buyer confusion that usually lead to cart abandonment. After all, there’s a saying that goes, “the confused person never buys.” 👌

So, the thought process behind this is that size normalization may help to increase sales, and would create a more positive customer experience.

It could, however, have the opposite effect on your sales if you are priced high within your market. I personally know that I often use the price per quantity, i.e. price per ounce, etc, to help inform my own buying decisions, so as a consumer, I do see this as a good thing but can see, as a seller, how it might cut both ways.

How Size Normalization Works

Amazon applies normalization rules to your products to reformat “Size” details whenever possible.

Suppose there are two sellers who have listings for the same quantity of soda. However, each seller uses a different value on “Size” – one offer being 24 Count and the other 24 Count (1 Pack).

In that case, Amazon’s Size normalization rules will instead identify (and display) the more accurate information based on this formula:

’unit_count’/’number_of_items’ + < unit_count.type >
+
(“Pack of” + number_of_items)

Therefore, if Unit Count = 24 Count and Number of Items = 1, Amazon will determine the size value as “24 Count (Pack of 1).” This standardized version of the ‘Size’ for this product will be visible to buyers.

Make sure to update the quantity information for all of your products to prevent Amazon from removing “Sizes” that don’t conform to the new format or appear inaccurate.

👉 Go to Size Normalization FAQ Page to learn how to update your products with the required attributes.

Why Amazon Wants You to Lobby Congress: What Is S.2992?

Why Amazon Wants You to Lobby Congress: What Is S.2992?

When corporate tech giants like Amazon come directly to the sellers to try to get them to lobby Congress for or against something, it’s time to take a closer look at their ulterior motives.

With every piece of news that comes from Amazon, I always like to ask, “What’s in it for them?”

Well, this one had my alarm bells blaring! 🚨

I had to dig into all the dirty details of this news announcement, so here’s what’s happening and what I think is really going on… 🕵️‍♂️

What is The American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S.2992)?

Passed by the Judiciary Committee on January 20, 2022, The American Innovation and Choice Online Act is the newest antitrust legislation with bipartisan support (Republicans and Democrats sponsor a bill together for the common good). It targets Big Tech firms, such as Amazon, Meta (formerly Facebook), Apple, and Alphabet (parent company of Google) for potential antitrust and consumer choice violations.

The bill is sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Antitrust Subcommittee Chair, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and full committee Ranking Member, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

It is also co-sponsored by Senators:

  • Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
  • Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
  • Josh Hawley (R-MO)
  • Steve Daines (R-MT)
  • John Kennedy (R-LA)
  • Cory Booker (D-NJ)
  • Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
  • Mark Warner (D-VA)
  • Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  • Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

The fact that S.2992 is a bipartisan effort co-sponsored by an ideologically diverse group of Senators is a sign that there’s a growing momentum in Congress for antitrust violations to be punishable under federal law (if enacted).

The bill poses a challenge to the ecosystem business model of Big Tech firms that encourages users to utilize an interlocking suite of products or tools owned by the same company. In a report released by the Judiciary Committee, it showed that these tech giants regularly conduct anti-competitive practices to maintain monopoly or control over their respective industries.

A good example would be Amazon accessing and exploiting your seller data to create and launch competing products for their own brand. 😓

To Whom Does the Bill Apply To?

S.2992 applies to any “website, online or mobile application, operating system, digital assistant, or online service” that:

  • Allows a user to generate or interact with content on the website
  • Facilitates online selling among third-party sellers or customers, e.g., Amazon
  • Or, one that enables user searches that show huge amounts of information, e.g., Google

But as of June 2022, the current draft is only limited to the biggest online platforms, also known as covered platforms, with:

  • At least 50 million US-based monthly active users (or 100,000 US-based business users)
  • Annual US net sales greater than $550 billion
  • Tech platforms that serve as a “critical trading partner” for its business users

Therefore, this bill would certainly apply to Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, and Meta.

What Happens When it’s Passed into Law?

If enacted, federal antitrust agencies, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ), would have the authority to enforce the violations below and issue injunctions and penalties against the guilty party.

Under the bill, it would be unlawful to give “preference to the products, services, or lines of business of the covered platform operator over those of another business user on the covered platform in a manner that would materially harm competition,” the Justice Department explained.

For instance, Amazon could be found in violation of this law if they had algorithmically placed their branded products in more prominent places in the platform or if Amazon was found guilty of stealing your supplier information to create a knock-off version of your product.

The bill could also prohibit Amazon from exploiting the Buy Box feature, which they could use to promote their own products and directly compete with resellers. Many of us have been affected by the online retail giant essentially breaking its own rules to maintain dominance in the marketplace that they currently share with us.

Clearly, both wholesale and private label sellers feel the hurt of Amazon’s anti-competitive behavior. But if the bill is passed into law, it would potentially squash that. This could be one of the biggest reasons why Amazon would want to call out for sellers to lobby against it – though, it may be against sellers’ best interest and in Amazon’s interest more than not. ⚠️

Under Section 3: Unlawful Conduct, the bill would also create the following violations:

  1. Limiting another business’s products or services to compete against the covered platform’s. This means Amazon cannot apply their policies unfairly against sellers that rely on the platform to do business with customers. For example, if a new private label brand was eating into Amazon’s market share, the bill would prohibit them from selectively implementing some policy to ban it from the marketplace.
  2. Carrying out the covered platform’s Terms of Service (ToS) in a discriminatory way among similarly situated business users. We had a competitor “review stacking,” which means they were adding (completely unrelated) reviews from “dead products” to their own product listing. For a kitchen product, there were reviews about dog leashes, DVDs, books, and even exercise equipment that were added to the listing. Not only did this increase the total number of reviews on the listing, it also changed the total star rating from 4 to 4.5 stars!

    The seller was essentially stealing sales from us by lying about his review status. 🤦

    We reported this violation numerous times and each time the seller would get the reviews stripped and then a few days later, his listing would be “stacked” all over again. He would never get shut down for violating ToS, and it was a vicious cycle. And yet other sellers’ listings were suspended for much less inflammatory violations.
  3. Restricting the capacity of business users to utilize different platforms’ hardware, software features, or operating systems. This provision most likely applies to Google and Apple with their suite of interoperable devices. For example, Apple AirPods are fully interoperable with iPhones through a chip that supports Siri, a communication feature that’s exclusive to the Apple ecosystem, and Bluetooth. Via Bluetooth connection, Samsung, Sony, and other smartphone brands are fully interoperable with AirPods. However, according to tech expert Aurelien Portuese, 1st-party devices (AirPods to iPhone) will always be more interoperatable than 3rd-party devices with operating systems. Therefore, under this bill, other smartphone manufacturers could use interoperability issues with Apple and Apple refusing to open up their platform to make 3rd-party devices more interoperable, as potential grounds for litigation. Unless perhaps, the restriction is absolutely necessary (see #6), e.g., to protect Apple’s trade secrets and patented technology.
  4. Conditioning access to the platform or preferred status or placement on the platform on the purchase/use of other products or services offered by the covered platform that isn’t exclusive to the covered platform itself. This violation could impact Amazon’s Prime shipping, a service that makes FBA products eligible for free 1-2 day shipping. The bill would mandate the eComm giant to allow other carriers to fulfill Prime orders. Amazon says such a mandate would make delivering on their 1-2 day shipping promise “difficult” and “potentially impossible in practice,” possibly because they wouldn’t have full control over carriers outside of their own shipping network.

    But then again, Seller-Fulfilled Prime already exists for those who are not using FBA, so Amazon is full of it if they are trying to claim opening up Prime to other carriers would be a tragedy.

    Last time I checked, the Seller-Fulfilled Prime program was still operable and has not been canceled. If it had been canceled due to lack of success, then, there might be an argument to be had there. The sheer fact that Seller-Fulfilled Prime is still in operation is essentially an admission that this point can actually be adhered to. In my view, this is a disingenuous play from AMZ to try to gain support from sellers. 🙄
  5. Using internal data obtained from the activities of a business user, including interactions with customers, to boost the sales of the covered platform’s own products. According to the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, Amazon gathers vast amounts of competitively sensitive data from third-party sellers, including product details and transaction data around product prices and customer information. The eComm giant then exploits this sensitive data to launch their own competing products to undercut sellers on the platform.
  6. Restricting or prohibiting users from uninstalling applications that have been pre-installed on the covered platform or changing default settings on the website that geared customers or users towards products offered by the covered platform, unless necessary.
  7. Retaliation against business users or customers who raise concerns with antitrust authorities about any potential violations.

If found guilty, the violator could face a financial penalty of up to 15% of its US revenue. 😲 No wonder Amazon and other Big Tech CEOs themselves have descended on Washington recently to influence the members of Congress to oppose the bill, CNN reports.

Supporters of the Bill

Bill sponsors, industry groups, and other supporters of S.2992 argue that the antitrust legislation would address many long-held problems with tech companies allegedly committing restrictive, self-preferencing practices online.

It would also ensure:

  • Entrepreneurs and small businesses still have the opportunity to succeed in digital markets (Sen. Klobuchar)
  • Large online platforms and other tech companies will be held accountable if they behave in a discriminatory manner (Sen. Grassley)
  • Help level the playing field for small business owners, i.e., prohibiting Big Tech from using the intel data they collect from users on their websites, apps, or platforms to create unfair competitive advantages. (Sen. Lummis)

By combating these anti-competitive practices, covered platforms and their business users would be able to provide customers with better user experience and more product offerings with competitive prices.

Groups and Critics Who Oppose the Bill

Amazon, Apple, and other pro-tech groups such as the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Chamber of Progress, TechNet and the Computer & Communications Industry Association oppose the bill – as expected, so no surprise there!

The opponents of the bill argue that it is:

Vague and overly broad with multiple ill-defined legal terms
For example, covered platforms are allowed to take “narrowly tailored” actions as an affirmative defense, which means the restriction committed was reasonably necessary for legal reasons, to protect user privacy and data security, or to maintain or improve the “core functionality” of the platform. However, the term “core functionality” isn’t well-defined in the bill. This could lead to disputes as covered platforms develop or already have existing products and services that they may claim are “core” to their business model.

Rushed
Industry groups have argued that S.2992 has not received the traditional hearing process that other antitrust-related bills have in the past (e.g., giving the members and the public an opportunity to debate the impacts of the bill before advancing it to the floor for the Senate to vote for its rejection or approval).

Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice said that “rather than opening the floor to public input, the bill’s sponsors rushed through legislation. Lawmakers should stop this backroom wheeling-and-dealing and instead take the input of economists, experts, and businesses to better understand the impact of this rushed legislation.”

This is something that I personally can’t disagree with. It is unfortunate that if the bill passes, it may embroil Amazon in a world of unnecessary legal battles that we may see the financial brunt of. But if it fails, I wonder when we might ever find another chance to advance some of these pro-seller actions.

Still, both majority and minority floor leaders took advantage of the bipartisan support (thus getting a 16-6 vote) for the bill to pass it during the committee markup, the final step a committee takes to push the bill to the Senate chamber.

It will hurt American consumers
The Chamber of Progress recently said that the bill would “break popular consumer products,” specifically Amazon Prime, as it could become illegal due to the bill prohibiting Amazon from giving preference to those sellers who use their services–for example, displaying a Prime badge on certain products could create an unfair advantage over non-Prime items. (But, again, Seller-Fulfilled Prime should be able to combat this argument.)

To influence the public and lawmakers, the industry group has also been running an online ad saying “Senator Klobuchar wants to erase Amazon Basics,” according to Reuters. However, if Amazon was not worried about Amazon Basics not “playing fair” they wouldn’t be running these ads. This is a sure sign that we have Amazon’s number when it comes to their true motives toward lobbying sellers against this bill. 😏

A representative from Amazon wrote that the bill also threatens to destroy two of the things consumers love the most about Amazon:

  1. The wide selection of products with low prices made possible by opening the eComm platform to third-party sellers. However, this argument does not hold water, as the bill doesn’t seem to aim at the heart of the 3P sellers, but rather Amazon’s own offerings. As previously discussed, the bill would prohibit Amazon to prioritize their own store branded products that they typically offer at cheaper prices. Unless, of course, this is a veiled hint that Amazon would rather become the sole seller on the platform.

    If that was the case, I’m sure this could create one hell of a vacuum that would splinter Amazon’s business to (1) another buying platform that included 3P sellers and (2) Amazon would become nothing more than a giant Amazon brand website. It is an empty threat by the online retail giant, but an interesting road to hypothesize down.
  2. The promise of fast, free shipping through Amazon Prime. Again, FBA isn’t the only way to offer Prime shipping. Seller-Fulfilled Prime also offers 1-2 day shipping, unless Amazon suddenly stops offering this program to force sellers to go back to using FBA. But wouldn’t that be considered an anti-competitive behavior under the S.2992 bill?

Amazon reps also claim that putting these restrictions on only the biggest covered platforms gives “preferential treatment to other large retailers that engage in the same practices.”

They argue that the bill targets only one retailer, Amazon, by requiring an annual US net sales of at least $550 billion to qualify for regulation. Therefore, it would not cover Walmart and Target. But perhaps, that’s likely the point. I personally haven’t heard of Walmart and Target doing what Amazon has been doing. Perhaps when they get closer to the $550B mark, they’ll start thinking about taking the dark turns that Amazon’s been winding down. However, IMO, it would be good to lower that threshold to rope them in as well.

Many Sellers Refuse to Rally Behind Amazon’s Call to Oppose the Antitrust Bill

Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s Vice President of Worldwide Selling Partner Services, took to Seller Forums to encourage everyone to reject the antitrust legislation that could “harm small businesses, American consumers, and Amazon.”

However, the lobbying didn’t appear to go as intended. Many sellers replied to the announcement saying they support the bill. 👏

Third-party sellers account for 60% of Amazon’s total retail sales. But in the last few years, they’ve expressed frustration over the fees they pay to sell on the platform, fear of being suspended for little or no reason, and the platform’s inability to eliminate returns scams and bad actors (e.g., fake reviews and listing theft).

No wonder many sellers felt the need to take back control by supporting a bill that could shake up Amazon. 💪

  • “Yes, I’m going to oppose that Amazon will be prohibited from undercutting, manipulating the buy box, and instituting restrictions on certain listings that unfairly bar me from selling an item. Yup, writing to my senator right now.”
  • “Any informed seller is going to support massive action taken against Amazon in the antitrust arena. I am personally sick of the condescending posts by Amazon management directed at us. We are not morons and know how to read and think for ourselves.”
  • “This bill is 100% pro seller. I am definitely going to call my representatives and ask them to please pass the bill! It is not going to jeopardize our ability to sell on Amazon. It’s going to give us sellers a fair shake and restrict Amazon from purposely prioritizing their products over ours. Amazon is trying to do to us what they did to those who wanted to unionize.” 👌
  • “If Amazon wants my support, it will have to level the playing field, be fair, be honest and most of all be good to its workers and sellers. I oppose this email because it urges sellers to go against the creation of laws that will help level the playing field. I support better laws for Amazon, Amazon Workers Unions and Sellers.”
  • “As much as we love Amazon, there must be regulation and oversight at some point. If this is passed it doesn’t mean 3P sellers will be hurt, but that Amazon and big tech cannot favor themselves 100% of the time. Small businesses struggle to keep up with low costs offered by big box stores so anyone agreeing S. 2992 is a good thing is looking out for small business and their fellow sellers. Big tech should not be favored 100% of the time.”

But obviously, not every seller expressed support for the bill. Two commenters said that the proposed legislation could hurt them just by jeopardizing the marketplace.

  • “I can’t predict the future, and so neither can the gang in Washington. I can tell you that this bill is bad news for Amazon, bad news for Amazon customers, and if you think that doesn’t mean bad news for Sellers, then you must not be a third-party Seller.”
  • “I understand the sentiment, but being permanently put out of business would probably hurt you more. There is a time and place to air our grievances with Amazon. They deserve it plenty. But this is not that time. Let’s not cut off our nose to spite our face.”

Another seller believes that Amazon isn’t really against S.2992.

  • “Read the post and read it again. Bottom line is Amazon wants the law to also cover its physical competition – WalMart. That may be a fair criticism, but stop the hysterical nonsense. Ironic to see Amazon whining about a law intended to prevent it from unfairly taking small seller data to create competing products to wipe out the small seller is bad because it doesn’t prevent WalMart from doing the same.”

You can read the entire discussion here.

Playing the Waiting Game

There are faults with the proposed law and it’s not black and white but there are serious reasons for AMZ to be concerned and they absolutely aren’t altruistic. This law could be a major shake-up and none of us can say whether that would be in a good or bad way. 🤔

But the idea that Amazon would shatter their cash cow – third-party business – is a naive one. While they are threatening it, they know that to do so would destroy them, too.

It could mean more fees funneled down to us sellers to try to squeeze some of us out, though. Anyone who understands economics even a little bit knows that costs trickle down and any costs Amazon incurred would likely find its way down to us and to consumers, but would the benefits outweigh the risks? Who knows. 🤷

In closing, the bill is fundamentally good for 3P sellers, but there’s not going to be a clean line on this thing.

We’ll have to take the good with the bad if this ends up passing and, maybe only one thing is for certain, it’s going to make for an interesting time if it does.

If that’s the case, I suggest we all buckle up!

New EPR Compliance Obligations for Amazon Germany Begin July 1st

New EPR Compliance Obligations for Amazon Germany Begin July 1st

This announcement is for UK/EU sellers with listings on Amazon.de (Germany). 🇩🇪

In a move to comply with the upcoming changes to the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Packaging Law in Germany, Amazon has started checking seller compliance with this environmental policy. 👀

Effective July 1, 2022, all packaged goods distributed in Germany, including those available for purchase on Amazon.de and other eComm marketplaces, must be registered in the LUCID Packaging Register. This process enables you to put your product packaging (see infographic below) into circulation and share the costs of recycling them.

Previously, this registration requirement only applied to sellers subject to system participation, a process that requires them to enter into an agreement with a Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) who will collect their packaging from customers and take care of its sorting and recycling for a fee.

⚠️ IMPORTANT: If you fail to register, your listing will be blocked on Amazon.

Note: As of June 15, 2022, the eComm giant has already started blocking non-compliant listings to ensure it doesn’t violate the amended EPR Law that comes into force on July 1st. You can view your listing status on your account’s Manage Inventory page>Inactive (Blocked). Read on to learn how to become EPR-compliant.

What is EPR?

EPR is an environmental protection strategy to reduce waste from a product and its packaging by making all producers, including online sellers or importers, responsible for the entire life cycle of the packaged goods they sell, from introduction to the market through to disposal, including waste collection and recycling of cartons, bubble wraps, foam fillers, among other packaging materials.

How to Comply with the EPR Packaging Law?

EPR guidelines differ by product category: (1) packaging and (2) Electrical and Electronic Equipment such as batteries. This article focuses on your compliance requirements for packaging, which under Germany’s updated EPR law, you must:

Register in the LUCID Packaging Register

Register as a “producer” and enter the requested information to get a LUCID number. You can do this process yourself through this link (free of charge) or sign up for a paid service called Amazon Solutions for EPR Compliance.

After completing registration, you will receive a LUCID number that you’ll need to submit to Amazon (see Step #2). You’ll also need this registration number to enter into a system participation contract with a PRO in Germany, if necessary (see Step #3).

Again, a PRO is a company who will act on your behalf to administer an EPR-compliant waste recycling program, including calculating the costs incurred for the collection, sorting, and recycling of your product packaging.

Send Your LUCID Number to Amazon

Once registered, make sure to submit your LUCID number to Seller Central.

Amazon may also contact you for further verification or additional information. For instance, if your packaging is subject to system participation, a representative may reach out to validate your LUCID registration details.

If Required, Enter into a System Participation Agreement

In Germany, packaged products that accumulate as waste with consumers after use are subject to system participation.

If you’re responsible for items that are subject to system participation, you need to pay a fee for the recycling of your waste materials. The rates depend on the type of packaging material (typically a few cents per kilogram).

Work closely with your packaging suppliers, FBA representatives (if fulfilling via FBA), and PRO to accurately identify your packaging volumes. Consider using this Packaging Volume Calculator to determine your fees.

⚠️ IMPORTANT: If system participation is required, packaging volume and fee calculations may take a few of weeks (up to 20 days for some sellers). Amazon also needs 5 business days to verify your LUCID registration details during this process. So, if you haven’t registered yet, act now to prevent getting your listings blocked.

Conversely, if your packaged goods are not subject to system participation, you don’t need a system participation contract. However, you’ll still need to register in LUCID.

Read this checklist to learn more.

Report Your Packaging Volumes

Send your packaging data reports and pay fees to your designated PRO regularly.

Go to EPR Requirements: Packaging in Germany for more details.

Final Thoughts

♻️ Compliance with the EPR Packaging Law is a move toward more sustainability in eCommerce. It is going to be an added expense that your business will have to absorb or offset elsewhere. I suggest checking out our master carton calculator to see if there are ways you can optimize efficiencies elsewhere to help to recover profit in other parts of your business to make up for the added costs of EPR.

It may also be a good time to see if reducing your product packaging can help to reduce your potential PRO fees.

On the brighter side, the EPR law helps to lessen your environmental impact, and can also offer good business opportunities. Marketing your product as eco-friendly can help you to stand out among your competitors, thereby attracting new (eco-minded) customers and potentially driving more sales.

Related: Is Amazon Climate Pledge Worth it For Sellers?

Software Updates For June 2022

Software Updates For June 2022

Continuing to be the best inventory management software is our passion! We’re always open to your suggestions and to making our tools more useful for you. With that being said, here is what is new and improved this month. Let’s dive in!

🥳
NEW RELEASE

Granular Automation of Seasonal Sales Spikes

SoStocked new automated seasonal spikes feature

The new automated seasonal spikes feature is officially up and running, available to all accounts. You find it in your Forecast page under the forecasting settings.

With this feature, you can set automatic seasonal ups and downs month to month, bi-weekly, or even weekly, based on past sales curves. SoStocked will find the annual average daily sales for the product, indicate which time periods extend above or below that average, and then you can input trend settings above or below those projections.

Did you launch a new product and you have no month to month sales pattern data on which to base your sales projections? No problem! Select historical seasonal trends for other products within your catalog and use those same trends for your new product. Group together multiple seasonal product trends for more intricate forecasting. Our new seasonality feature will find an average of that grouping to apply to your new SKU.

You can also set different seasonality for each marketplace separately, US, EU, etc. to create the most accurate forecasting for every product in every marketplace.


COMING SOON

SP-API – Amazon Far East Marketplace Integration

SoStocked AU

You might have heard about this new API around the Amazon community. Just in case you don’t already know what it is, here is a brief explanation.

First, API stands for Application Programming Interface. In layman’s terms, this allows 2 applications or softwares – like SoStocked and Amazon – to talk to each other.

SP-API is a new type of API for Amazon. The SP part stands for Selling Partner. SP-API is the next generation or new version of API for Amazon. They have been using MWS (Marketplace Web Service) for years and now they are launching SP-API as an evolution of MWS. The new SP-API is needed for SoStocked to connect with the newer marketplaces such as Australia, India, Japan and Dubai.

Here at SoStocked, we are ready for the new global API. Our international currency and exchange rate options (find out more here) along with this new SP-API, will create a streamlined SoStocked experience for selling across the globe.

We have been patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for Amazon to do what they need to do to allow us to integrate with the new SP-API system. We heard positive confirmation that they have a deadline to get this done by July 31st. So get ready folks, it’s almost here!


COMING SOON

Shopify Integration

It has been a lot of work getting all of the details aligned to integrate Shopify into our system. But the SoStocked development team has continued to work with our beta testers to get this platform into action. There have been some major changes to the software on the back end that will support the new SP-API coming up as well as integration with Shopify and other stores, so you will be able to track sales, shipments and inventory levels for your off-Amazon forecasts too! So stay tuned!

⚡️
MICRO UPDATES

Subtle Improvements to Make Your
Forecasting Easier

SoStocked - MICRO UPDATES

🛠 Tool Tip Definitions For All Columns On The Inventory Page.
Tool Tips are the little grey boxes that pop up and tell you what each feature means. Now on the Inventory Page, every column has a Tool Tip so you can take any guesswork out of your reporting. Simply hover your mouse over the column title and the Tip will pop up and tell you what the column means.

Tool Tip Definitions For All Columns On The Inventory Page

💵 We Added Cost Per Unit and Shipping Costs Columns and Filters to Work Orders Page
On the Work Orders page you can turn on columns for Shipping Cost and Cost Per Unit. You can also sort through your Work Orders quickly by using newly added filters to find any items with a specific cost per unit or Shipping Cost.

SoStocked Cost Per Unit and Shipping Costs Columns and Filters to Work Orders Page
SoStocked Work Orders page

☝️ Upgraded Entire System Framework To Improve Performance
This is like saying that we just released the new iPhone 15 pro. This new system framework will help the SoStocked system to more seamlessly integrate the next exciting improvements coming down the pipeline.

💨 Improved Document Export Speed For Reports
Get all of the reports you need in a hurry without unnecessary export time. Because ain’t nobody got time for that!

🔥
ICYMI: FEATURE SPOTLIGHT

Vote For or Add New Suggestions

SoStocked Vote For or Add New Suggestions

Vote For or Add New Suggestions For Our Future Updates Using Upvoty
We have a new tool for future development using an app called Upvoty. It allows you, the user, to vote for, add or expand upon new suggestions for our future updates.

This is vital for our development because as we grow, we get a ton of suggestions. We have to be systematic and democratic about what we assign our developers to, otherwise, they will be “chasing squirrels” and we could miss vital updates and features.

One of our most important resources is you, the seller, and your feedback is extremely valuable to us. Having an organized approach to feature updates by gathering your insights into what is most important to you and exactly how you’d like the features to work means we can build it right the first time and you can more quickly improve your inventory, logistics and profitability processes.

To participate in the future development of SoStocked:

  1. Log into your SoStocked account
  2. Using the account menu button on the lower, left, go to “Development Roadmap” and click.
  3. This will open a new tab where you can vote for your favorite new features, or create a new request.

WATCH THIS HOW-TO VIDEO

We have combined Warehouses and Prep Centers functionally as the same type of vendor for simplicity
For ease of use we combined warehouses & prep centers into one vendor type. This will make your lead times and tracking much more simple. It takes away unnecessary additional columns and any eliminates guesswork out of creating lead times.

SoStocked combined Warehouses and Prep Centers

Need more information?

  1. Send Message: We typically reply within 2 hours during office hours.
  2. Schedule Demo: Dive deeper into the nuances of our software with Chelsea.
  3. Join Live Upcoming Webinar: New to Amazon inventory management? Learn three inventory techniques you can implement right away.

Amazon Adjusts Fees For Remote Fulfillment With FBA

Amazon Adjusts Fees For Remote Fulfillment With FBA

US NARF sellers, brace yourselves for another fee adjustment! 😁

Those who participate in Remote Fulfillment with FBA, also known as North America Remote Fulfillment (NARF), will see a rate increase starting June 30, 2022. This move is in response to the rising costs of storage, fulfillment, transportation, and customer service across the US, Canada, and Mexico.

😤 The new fee adjustment will also include dimensional weight (DIM weight) to reflect the latest FBA fee structure. This means the greater of the unit weight (aka actual weight) or DIM weight will be utilized to determine your shipping weight and fees for all product size tiers.

Updates to the Remote Fulfillment with FBA Fees

The Table of Fees below shows the latest fee changes:

Canada

Based on the new fee structure, here’s how DIM weight pricing will impact your margins.

Let’s assume your large standard size product only weighs 3 lbs, but the dimensional weight is 9 lbs. In that case, you are going to be charged CAD $13.90 + $0.80/lb above first 3 lbs (x6) or CAD $18.70/unit. Before the update, you would only have paid CAD $12.79/unit.

So, with DIM weight pricing, you’re paying Amazon CAD $5.91 (approx. $4.70 USD) more than you’d paid previously. 😦

Mexico

Using the previous example, shipping a large standard size unit that weighs 3lbs, but the DIM weight is 9lbs is now going to cost you MXN $224.07/unit versus the previous rate of MXN $159.70 (based on unit weight), a MXN $64.37 increase – or approximately $3.30 USD.

Although Amazon says that these rate adjustments are not above industry-average increases for fulfillment services, we all know that being charged based on DIM weight is quite a big deal for sellers with thin margins. 🤔

And as we’ve previously reported, some sellers within our SoStocked community have reported seeing their FBA fulfillment fees climb by $1 per unit. One seller even saw a 94% increase in fulfillment fees. So, if you’re already dealing with slim margins, increases like these can quickly make your products unprofitable.

Related: How to Increase Your Profit Margins

Beware of Automatic Enrollment in Remote Fulfillment With FBA

Amazon may start automatically enrolling sellers into its Remote Fulfillment program. 😦

On the news announcement page, some sellers reported receiving a notification about “Automatic Enrollment in Remote Fulfillment” on the Seller Central home page with the option to opt out before the service goes live.

If you don’t opt out before the start date, your products will most likely become available for sale on Amazon.ca (Canada) and Amazon.com.mx (Mexico), which means added fees!

This auto-enrollment might be a gradual roll out, but it’s crucial to be aware of these things as early as now. Forgetting to opt out of a paid service you don’t need or want could result in Amazon eating into your profits, which is pretty similar to what’s happening with their aging inventory removal services.

In case you’re not aware, Amazon has recently increased their removal/disposal fees, and in April, they said that they will automatically dispose of aging inventory to make room for Prime Day. What’s suspicious about this is that around the same time Amazon raised their removal order fees, they also applied stricter automatic removals, including adding an additional surcharge on aged inventory. 🤔

Overall, Amazon FBA fees continue to climb despite many sellers reacting strongly against the price hikes. I recommend implementing some profit recovery strategies to protect your margins, if passing those fee increases on to your customers isn’t an option right now. 💪

Make sure to also read our blog posts that mention these profit recovery strategies to learn more.

Related: Master Carton Calculator to Optimize Packaging and Reduce Shipping CostsFBA Fee Calculator to Calculate ProfitabilityInventory-Minded Marketing for Amazon SellersHow to Reduce Excess Inventory

Amazon Removal Order Fees Get More Expensive

Amazon Removal Order Fees Get More Expensive

In case you missed it, Amazon recently adjusted its Removal and Disposal Order Fee Structure in response to the rising costs. 😩 The price increase took effect on January 18, 2022, but it kind of slipped through the crack for some, as sellers were all up in arms over the impacts of the new FBA dimensional weight fulfillment fees on profit margins. So, that gave a really good distraction to the removal and disposal order fee adjustment.

💡 Let’s shed some light on the significant changes we’ve seen in the new removal order fee structure, which actually go hand-in-hand with the new FBA fulfillment fees changes.

First, let’s take a quick look at this side-by-side comparison of the old and new removal order fees.

As you can see, the updated fee structure is fairly straightforward. There’s a column for size tier, shipping weight, and the corresponding rates – the same details we’ve had years before, except prices have obviously increased at the rate of between 44%-61%. Still, you can come into the page and easily understand the costs associated with removing your inventory from FBA, right? Not so fast!

We wanted to take a closer look because we had a suspicion all wasn’t as it seemed, and, sadly, we were right.

According to the FBA Removal Order Fees page, Amazon uses your product’s Size Tier to calculate your removal or disposal fee per unit.

For removal orders, there are only two product size tiers – Standard Size and Oversize/Special Handling Items.

Here’s where it gets a bit sneaky. Each tier is based on unit weight, product dimensions, and, you guessed it, the dimensional weight of your packaged item. Amazon now factors dimensional weight (DIM weight) into its product measurement categories, a change that directly impacts your removal order fees, which is quite a big deal. And unfortunately, disposal fees are also charged in the same way.

DIM weight pricing is applied when the product’s DIM weight is greater than the unit weight. Packaged items with larger dimensions occupy more trailer space, which carriers could use to fit in more boxes, so they wanted to be compensated for that. That means you’re essentially paying for the amount of space your package takes up when the DIM weight is greater than the actual unit weight.

Suppose your standard-size product weighs 3 lbs, but the DIM weight is 6 lbs. In that case, you’re going to be charged $1.51 + $0.63 per lb above 2 lbs (x4) based on the new fee structure. 😦

Here’s a quick calculation:

$1.51 + ($0.63 per lb x 4) = $4.03 per unit removed

With dimensional weight in this example, you’re paying $1.89/unit more than you would pay just using unit weight.

Indeed, removal fees are getting much more expensive!

Before the price increase, it would have only cost you $0.67 + $0.35 per lb or $1.02 to remove a standard-size item based on unit weight. That is an almost 300% increase in removal fee costs! 

The fact that they rolled this out at the same time as releasing the new DIM weight fulfillment fee structure that made so many products unprofitable and then made it so painful to remove that inventory is pretty mind-boggling!

Another thought is that they may be pushing sellers to use liquidation versus removal as the fee structure certainly incentivized that course of action. More on that below.

This is also another reason for sellers not to send all of your new product inventory to FBA immediately. If you are not confident that you will be able to sell through that inventory, holding the bulk of it at a 3PL may be the best move for you. Perhaps that’s exactly what Amazon had in mind with this policy change, making it unbelievably uncomfortable for you to hold dud inventory at FBA. Restructuring your inventory strategy just got that much more vital.

Bottom line is, being charged based on DIM weight could lead to a considerable cost increase for some sellers.

Within the SoStocked community, for instance, some sellers have reported seeing their FBA fulfillment fees increase by $1 per unit. One seller even reported a 94% increase in fulfillment fees. These types of increases are quite substantial for sellers with slim margins.

Think Twice Before Removing Your Inventory

If you have enabled automatic removal of your aging inventory, you might not be aware of the new rates that Amazon is charging you. Interesting that around the same time Amazon increases the removal order fees structure, they also implement more stringent automatic removals. 🤔

Amazon is just whittling away at our profit every way they can. First, these dimensional weight changes. Then, they hit sellers with a 5% fuel and inflation surcharge in April. A few weeks later, they implemented a surcharge on aged inventory. ⚠️

These fee increases are getting out of control. Unfortunately, it’s these tiny little things that will end up really taking a bite out of your profits and making some products unprofitable.

So, before going through removal orders or automating your inventory removals, make sure you’re aware of these new fees so you can run some numbers first. Sometimes, it makes more business sense to try to recover some profit by liquidating your dead stock rather than just shipping it back to you.

Profit Recovery Strategies

If your excess units or slow sellers are still in sellable condition, consider the following profit recovery options:

  • Running a flash sale such as Amazon Lightning Deals or Amazon Outlet Deals
  • Liquidating slow sellers through the FBA Liquidations Program, which only charges $0.25 to $1.90 (+ $0.20 per lb above first 2 lbs) processing fee per unit, plus 15% referral fee.

However, if none of these options are worth the effort, then your next best move is to create a removal or disposal order for your excess inventory.

Other Ways to Keep Costs Low 💰

If you need to cut costs to offset the added Amazon fees, try to rethink your packaging and shipping practices. It would be best to keep your product packaging compact by downsizing your jar sizes, vacuum sealing to size-down bulky items or in other ways reducing packaging size in order to achieve the smallest dimensions possible.

Then, use our Master Carton Calculator to find your optimal carton and pallet load capacity per order to reduce shipping costs across several different facets of your supply chain.

And if you’re planning to replace your slow sellers with new, more lucrative products, use our FBA Calculator to determine their profit potential. This calculator includes the 2022 Amazon Fulfillment Fees Policy to calculate DIM weight and select the greater of unit weight or dimensional weight, thereby ensuring the accuracy of your fee calculations based on the latest Amazon policies.

Related: Inventory-Minded Marketing for Amazon SellersAmazon Restock Limits Tips and Updates6 Causes of Amazon Unfulfillable Inventory and How to Fix Them

Amazon Makes Play Toward Offering Prime for Non-Amazon Orders

Amazon Makes Play Toward Offering Prime for Non-Amazon Orders

In the past two years, Amazon has ramped up its fulfillment capacity to meet high customer demand. Reports show that the eComm giant’s global fulfillment network and data centers grew from 272 million square feet in 2019 to 532 million square feet in 2022. Most of these facilities are located near metropolitan areas so that Amazon can deliver customer orders in one day or less, allowing them to compete with UPS and FedEx.

This unprecedented growth is much in response to what happened in 2020 and 2021. In the last two years, sellers had been subject to strict restock limits due to capacity constraints at Amazon (tough times!). Now, the pendulum is swinging the other direction and this kind of paints a picture of what we’ve been hoping for–that restock limits really may have eased up for a lot of people.

On an earnings call with analysts in November 2021, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavksy stated that Amazon hasn’t had capacity restrictions for the first time in a while. But the commitment to build out a larger network of facilities to store, sort and ship products at breakneck speed came at a cost.

Amazon Grapples With Excess Capacity

Amazon ended up with excess labor, storage space, and transportation capacity amid rising costs and eCommerce growth decelerating after a huge spike in 2020. This has resulted in $2 billion in incremental costs, according to Amazon Q1 Earnings Report for 2022.

To mitigate these costs, the online retail giant is expected to spend less on fulfillment centers this year than last.

Amazon will also try to generate more money from its vast fulfillment network by offering Buy with Prime to non-Amazon sellers, aka direct-to-consumer (DTC) merchants. This new service allows merchants to use Prime’s free two-day and next-day shipping and returns.

So, we went from Amazon turning away huge amounts of our inventory because it only had room for essential goods, which forced us to outsource storage to 3PLs, to now using its empire to fulfill orders for other retail sites.

While these are good profit-recovery measures for Amazon, could there be other reasons they’re doing this? What’s in it for them?

Data Grab

Not only is Amazon using Buy with Prime to potentially boost their revenue and offset some of their expenses, but we might as well say the quiet part out loud here, that this initiative has the added benefit of grabbing customer data, such as consumer names and addresses and potentially even phone numbers and emails as a requirement of shipment handling.

This information would be everything that Amazon would need to launch massive remarketing and retargeting campaigns to your non-Amazon customers if they chose to do so.

Beyond this, Amazon could also gain more insights into what products are successfully selling on other platforms which could act as an additional R&D source beyond the extensive Amazon data that is currently available to it. This scenario would not be out of the realm of possibility based on past history.

Were they to go this route with Buy with Prime, it wouldn’t be Amazon’s first attempt at (allegedly) violating user data privacy. In 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon employees used third-party sellers’ data to launch competing products for their own Private Label (PL) business to boost their sales. Although an Amazon spokesperson denied this, and even launched an internal investigation of its PL division, the retail giant failed to provide a copy of its report. This has prompted the House Judiciary Committee to ask the Justice Department to conduct another investigation into Amazon over a possible criminal obstruction.

With that in mind, could this be an under the sleeve motivation for Amazon to attract DTC merchants who otherwise would have no Amazon relationship outside of Buy with Prime? If so, this would allow Amazon to surveil their data, such as sales velocity per SKU and customer details, and possibly use those to their advantage, i.e., fight for more market share.

Related: How a Seller Doubled Their Amazon Restock Limits

Potential Fulfillment Issues

Since Amazon didn’t have enough capacity to fulfill FBA orders for Amazon sellers and now they’re trying to fulfill for others, what headaches are we going to deal with?

On the one hand, it could be a welcome sign that restock limits are gone for good. On the other though, it could not. In July 2021, we discovered that, while Amazon was slashing restock limits for sellers, they were at the same time doubling restock limits for sellers who fulfilled their non-Amazon sales through Amazon.

At the same time they were telling us there was no space for our FBA-fulfilled inventory, they were incentivizing sellers to use their fulfillment network for other sales channels. The only sense it made was from a data grab perspective. Perhaps this was the initial testing ground for Buy with Prime and why so much focus was put into it in a time when FBA warehouse space was supposed to be at a minimum.

With that in mind, it could go either way but it’s worth posing the question:
Is this actually going to backfire and make it more difficult for Amazon to fulfill deliveries to our customers? 🤔

Buy with Prime could be beneficial to multi-channel sellers fulfilling Shopify orders through Amazon, as it might help them maintain or improve their restock limits if that remains relevant in coming months. Sales from multi-channel orders actually contribute to your Amazon sales velocity. So, the more you use multi-channel fulfillment (MCF) for your off-Amazon business needs, the higher your restock limits will be.

However, Buy with Prime is currently invite-only. Amazon could be reaching out to sellers who are currently selling on their retail site as well as selling on Amazon, or they could be focused only on sellers who are not selling on Amazon at all, including people interested in starting to sell on the platform who just haven’t made the move yet. So, again, all of this may partially be a play to try to get them into Amazon itself.

Expect a slow roll out from Amazon, as they’re still trying to see how it goes.

Participating merchants will be able to display the Prime logo and expected delivery date for eligible products on their online retail sites.

Other benefits include:

  • No fixed subscription fee
  • All fees except storage fees are charged only after you make a sale
  • Pricing includes service fee, payment processing fee, and fulfillment and storage fees per unit

The payment processing fee likely means that Amazon’s going to be running payment processes through Amazon Pay, a service that gives your customers the ability to pay with Amazon payment methods rather than entering their credit card on your website.

Upside to Buy with Prime

Not to be a complete doomsday predictor, there are also many benefits to consider with Buy with Prime. Amazon’s Prime shipping program has set up an expectation in the mind of the online shopper that few other businesses can even hope to meet. Buyers expect free, fast shipping and 25% of cart abandonment is due unexpected shipping costs, while lack of express shipping option is another one at the top of the list.

For this reason, Amazon making their fast, free shipping network available is kind of a big deal. A note of caution is that, as opposed to your standard inventory on hand in your single outside fulfillment center, you’ll likely want to have much more inventory on hand in order to meet one or two-day shipping demands as Amazon meets these targets based on the spread of their inventory across the selling region.

The other benefit is borrowing the trust that Amazon has built around its shipping and payment processing. Your buyer does not need to enter his credit card information on your website because it is processed directly from Amazon’s site. This helps to safeguard against another cart abandonment issue which is concerns about payment security.

All of these factors, both the above warnings and benefits, should be weighed so an eyes-wide-open decision can be made on what you feel is best for your business if you are interested in exploring the Buy with Prime service for your off-Amazon fulfillment.

Final Thoughts

Now that its infrastructure has been built out to such a massive degree, Amazon is definitely looking to try to make Prime more of a concrete revenue generation system. While they have been previously focused on the “investment in the future” side of the operation by capturing buyer market share and adjusting consumer expectations regarding shipping cost and time, they seem now to be pivoting towards making it work for them on both the financial and data side of things.

And with the recent additions of dimensional weight calculations and 5% fuel and inflation surcharge, fulfillment fees just got a heck of a lot more profitable for them, all while sellers’ wallets unfortunately take the hit.

It seems like they’re flipping a switch and figuring out a way to make Prime an even more lucrative program for them. Amazon done a great job over the years in focusing on getting those delivery timetables right so that potential merchants and customers change their perspective on what is expected in the market, such as free shipping and fast handling and delivery times – from 2 days to same day, while keeping any other intention behind the strategy a bit more ambiguous.

Amazon Implements Surcharge on Aged Inventory Starting May 15th

Amazon Implements Surcharge on Aged Inventory Starting May 15th

⏰ Time to move your slow sellers out of Amazon FBA!

Effective May 15, Amazon will impose an additional storage fee on inventory that has been sitting in its warehouses for 271-365 days. This surcharge will be applied on top of your regular monthly storage fees. Previously, aged inventory fees were charged after 365 days, so this 271-365 day fee window is a new, unwelcome addition for sellers.

Here’s how the aged inventory surcharge will bring about more fees (and burden):

The fee increase may seem small, but when combined with the recent fulfillment fee changes and 5% fuel surcharge, the total costs could be large enough to put an uncomfortable dent in your profits.

With less than 2 weeks until the new surcharge hits sellers, it’s probably best to either put your excess units on sale or use Amazon’s FBA Liquidations Program to recover 5%-10% of its average retail price.

Although you won’t be able to recoup all of your money, liquidation is better than having your excess inventory disposed of or returned to you at an extra cost if you have no means to sell them on other eCommerce platforms.

Most importantly, adopting a system we call Inventory-Minded Marketing can help you to ensure you do not have overstock emergencies at day 271.

Moving forward, try to minimize your storage costs by keeping an eye on all your SKUs in Amazon, specifically slow sellers. Consider using the new Manage Inventory Health report (formerly known as the Inventory Age Report) or your SoStocked dashboards to efficiently manage your FBA inventory. They all provide more up-to-date information than Amazon’s previous reporting systems, namely the Inventory Health, Inventory Age, and Excess Inventory reports, all of which had up to a 10-day data delay.

The Manage Inventory Health report offers a consolidated view of your:

  • Sales in the last 7, 30, 60, and 90 days
  • Shipment statuses (Working, Received, and Shipped)
  • Storage volume and type
  • Estimated monthly storage and long-term storage fees
  • Aged and excess units

Go to the Manage Inventory Health overview to learn more.

Pro tip: If you’re using SoStocked, you can also create your own Amazon Liquidation Dashboard, Overstock Dashboard and Amazon Slow Sellers Dashboard within the software to identify old products that are costing you in storage fees so that you can liquidate or boost sales into a viable range.

Software Updates For May 2022

Software Updates For May 2022

It’s been a busy second quarter so far and there’s no slowing down here at SoStocked! See what new features have been released this month and what we have in store for you coming soon. Let’s dive in!

🥳
NEW RELEASE

View Your Total Lost Sales Due to Stockouts

The truth hurts, but it will also set you free and help you make more money! SoStocked now has a dashboard where you can view the total lost sales due to stockouts in the past 365 days. You can also see the total lost sales by region or marketplace to find where exactly there may be logistic issues that need to be resolved.

It works by taking the product’s current Adjusted Velocity and the Stockouts in the last 365 days and multiplying it by the retail price you have listed under the product details page.

🥳
NEW RELEASE

Consolidated Activity Logs with Dashboards

With this new feature you are able to see a chronological log of changes made to your products, orders and warehouse inventory levels in one easy-to-use dashboard.

In the image below you’ll see the consolidated logs complete with adjustable columns and filters. Go to the Settings page and find the setting entitled “Logs”.

Activity logs have been available in SoStocked however you had to go to different places to view the activity logs for that specific area, for example, to see inventory changes for a warehouse you had to go to the vendor, open the vendor detail page and click “View Activity Logs” these same logs are still available now and you can find the details laid out here.

In this activity log you have access to all activity logs throughout the site in one place, rather than having to click around the account you can leverage the filters to see the specific data you want to track.

🥳
NEW RELEASE

See Your Future Predicted Sales Graph As Part Of Your Forecasting

Now you can view what your predicted future sales will look like in a graph format on the Forecast page. This graph takes your current Adjusted Velocity and adds in all Lightning Deals and Seasonal Spikes. With this view you can be proactive and make adjustments in advance with your inventory-minded marketing team to keep your graph on an upward trend.

🥳
NEW RELEASE

In Beta, You Can Try It Now!
Granular Automation of Seasonal Sales Spikes

If you are interested, you can try the new Automatic Seasonal Spike using coefficients, meaning your historical seasonality will be represented and you can then adjust each time period against that historical data.

You’ll be able to control seasonal ups and downs month to month, bi-weekly, or even weekly. SoStocked will find the annual average daily sales for the product, indicate which time periods extend above or below that average, and then you can input trend settings above or below those projections.

Did you launch a new product and you have no month to month sales pattern data on which to base your sales projections? No problem! Select historical seasonal trends for other products within your catalog and use those same trends for your new product. Group multiple product seasonal trends for more intricate forecasting. Our new seasonality feature will find an average of that group to apply to your new SKU.

You will also be able to set different seasonality for each marketplace separately, US, EU, etc. to create the most accurate forecasting for every product in every marketplace.

If you want to test out the beta seasonality tool just email us at [email protected] to request entry into beta.


COMING SOON

Australia API

We have had our software ready for Amazon’s new API system allowing for the Australia API for a while now, we’ve just been waiting on Amazon to allow us to integrate with that system. The good news is that Amazon now has a deadline to get this completed and we will have full integration with Australia, Saudi Arabia and The United Arab Emirates by July.


MICRO UPDATES

Subtle Improvements to Make Your
Forecasting Easier

SoStocked - MICRO UPDATES

New and improved inventory snapshot has more data available for filing taxes and the ability to filter by warehouse and region for a cleaner, more user-friendly look.

For those selling in multiple marketplaces, you can now filter by each marketplace so that all data is fully separated by corresponding marketplace.

You can now sort the column Days Left (FBA + Inbound) on the Inventory page by ascending or descending order. Get to those emergencies faster!

SoStocked - sort the column Days Left (FBA + Inbound)

If you deal with bundled products, you are aware that SoStocked used to automatically choose a supplier, making things cumbersome when sorting by supplier. Now you can choose the primary supplier for bundled products. Go to the Product Detail Page of the bundled item and find “Primary Supplier” under the “Supplier Pricing” section.

⚡️⚡️⚡️ Improved Order Tracker Load Speed & Resolved Receiving Bugs ⚡️⚡️⚡️

Our team has been working hard to handle the slow load speeds on the order tracker and has resolved bugs to improve the functionality of unit receiving when orders have arrived and are closed.

🔥
ICYMI: FEATURE SPOTLIGHT

Some Updates and Features
You Might Have Missed

New-MCC-Metric-Imperial-Feature

NEW Free Carton/Pallet Calculator Tool: Optimizing your carton dimensions and pallet configuration to reduce your total cartons and pallets per order and increase profitability. Dive into this free tool here.

Edit HTML copy and improve Amazon description formatting and compliance with our easy-to-use Amazon HTML converter. Start converting here.

Amazon FBA Calculator with NEW Dimensional Weight Calculated: Factor FBA fees (including dimensional weight), Cost of Goods, PPC and freight costs to calculate profitability. Got a new product idea but not sure if it will make 💵 💵 💵 ? Stop guessing and use this tool instead.

Find missing FBA shipments with the new Fetch and Update tool. Practically overnight, Amazon created a new shipment status called “Ready to Ship” that does not correspond with current webcode. So our developers conquered the challenge and created a new tool for you to be able to pull any missing “Ready to Ship” shipments. You simply input the missing FBA shipment ID that you are looking for, the tool searches within your Seller Central, finds the shipment and loads it into your FBA Shipments page within SoStocked in seconds. See how it works.

Need more information?

  1. Send Message: We typically reply within 2 hours during office hours.
  2. Schedule Demo: Dive deeper into the nuances of our software with Chelsea.
  3. Join Live Upcoming Webinar: New to Amazon inventory management? Learn three inventory techniques you can implement right away.

Amazon Updates Their Age-Restricted Bladed Products List

Amazon Updates Their Age-Restricted Bladed Products List

Heads up, UK sellers! More bladed products may no longer be sold through FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant) starting May 19th. ⚠️

Amazon recently announced that bladed items needing age verification listed within the updated Offensive Weapons Act 2019, such as chef’s knives and kitchen knives, and sold through the merchant-fulfilled channel will be banned from their listings effective May 19.

Part 3 section 41 of the Act defines a bladed product as an item that is or contains a blade, and that can cause grave physical harm to a person, including cutting a person’s skin. The Act also prohibits the sale and delivery of knives to persons under 18, which means an ID and a signature on delivery may be requested if the recipient appears to be a minor.

A concern has been raised regarding the issue of Amazon erroneously flagging fake bladed products like plastic toy swords as restrictive blade products. There is a fear that additional listings of plastic bladed items may also be suspended based on this policy update.

Banning age-restricted knives from being sold through FBM may be Amazon’s way of being extra cautious (and forcing you to switch to FBA), knowing that they can’t fully rely on a seller’s ability to execute age checks on delivery. However, FBA itself isn’t exactly following proper delivery protocol. 🤔

Another issue that was raised is Amazon already seems to be violating their age verification on delivery policy by leaving bladed products ordered via FBA at a buyer’s door. With this new shift in their requirements, we can only hope the eComm giant will be more careful in carrying out their own policy moving forward. 🤞

In closing, if you are currently selling bladed products through FBM, make sure you check out the listing guidelines for bladed products to view the complete list of age-restricted bladed items.

New Product Dimension Attributes for 255 Product Types

New Product Dimension Attributes for 255 Product Types

Heads up! 👋

Amazon recently notified sellers via email that it has updated the dimension attributes for 255 product types.

The eComm giant relayed that starting April 26, we have 30 days to update our old product dimension attributes to the new attributes. These updated attributes are also specific to product types.

For instance, sellers of baking pans must now provide the following information:

  • Depth (front to back)
  • Width (side to side)
  • Height (base to top)

Another example is vehicle tires. But as you can see below, this type of product has a different set of required attributes from the previous example:

  • Diameter (measured across the center of the tire from one end to the other)
  • Section width (tire’s width from sidewall to sidewall)
  • Aspect ratio (the height of the sidewall measured from wheel rim to top of the tread, typically expressed as a percentage)

What Happens After the Grace Period?

The old attributes will be removed and we’ll be required to input the new attributes when we update or create ASINs.

We will also be required to add any missing values or details that may not have been updated due to issues with formatting.

Thankfully, package dimensions and fees are not affected by this update.

What’s In It for Us?

It’s common for Amazon to periodically change its information about a unit’s dimensions to reflect updated measurement systems. But more importantly, it allows them to provide customers with more accurate data to find and compare multiple items based on their own size requirements.

So, keeping your items’ dimensions up to date can make them more discoverable on Amazon and can help with the buyer’s decision process, which means more sales. Additionally, it can also help reduce customer returns.

Go to the Updated Product Dimension Attributes FAQ page for more information and the full list of product types.

Related: Amazon Launches New Dashboard for Returns Performance

New Shipping and Storage Changes Coming to Amazon

New Shipping and Storage Changes Coming to Amazon

Amazon just made two announcements recently regarding shipments and storage. While the announcements are region-specific for now, we often see rollouts to other selling regions soon after.

1. Shipment Performance Dashboard

The first announcement is for US sellers. The eComm giant rolled out a new dashboard called Shipment Performance to help you:

  • Compare your shipping Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Amazon performance targets.
  • Use the insights from your KPI analysis to fix shipment issues.
  • Track overall logistics performance.
  • Manage your FBA shipments more easily.

Click here to access the dashboard.

This should add a new layer of analysis to spot and correct issues along the supply chain which is something we love. Being able to, for example, identify mislabeling, unscannable barcodes, or unplanned prep, could be signs that your supplier or prep center should have more attention to detail to avoid these issues.

With more monitoring of issues like these, though, it does open up the possibility of more Performance alerts and penalties. The dashboard indicates suspensions could be triggered due to shipping issues, though we hope this mostly refers to improperly labeled products. It is just another thing to be aware of.

While the dashboard is not without its early bugs and leaves us with unanswered questions for now, we hope this dashboard proves insightful for your inventory team.

2. New Storage Type: Extra-Large

This announcement is for sellers in the UK.

Beginning April 18, a new storage type will be available to UK sellers: Extra-Large (XL), which is in addition to the Oversize storage type.

According to Amazon, it will automatically reclassify your FBA products that qualify for the XL storage type. A separate FBA quantity limit for XL and Oversize inventory will also be determined based on:

  • Sales history
  • Sales forecasts
  • Amazon fulfillment center capacity

The Extra Large inventory category will be for items larger than Oversize.

Oversize items become items with the longest side at or over 45cm, median 34cm or above, and the shortest at 26cm or more. Weight is 11.90kg or more.

Extra Large will be either longest side at 175cm or more or unit weight 23kg or higher OR longest side 120cm or above and weight 15kg or more. Confusing to wrap your head around and the devil is in the conjunctions.

Understanding what category your products fall in will likely make a difference in fulfillment fees, but that is yet to be defined because Amazon did not say how the new storage type will impact the current FBA fulfillment fees.

Initial thoughts though, we can’t help but grit our teeth imagining it will bring about more fees, not less as it has in recent developments we’ve experienced with dimensional weight and the fuel surcharge. Watch for any future announcements on this. We will be sure to keep eyes peeled as well.

Read the news announcement for more information.

Amazon Hits US & EU Sellers With Fuel And Inflation Surcharge

Amazon Hits US & EU Sellers With Fuel And Inflation Surcharge

Starting April 28, US sellers who use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) will see a (hopefully) temporary 5% fuel and inflation surcharge amidst surging prices. 😫 EU & UK sellers will also get hit with a similar 4.3% fee increase beginning May 12, 2022.

The additional fee will apply to apparel, non-apparel, dangerous goods, and Small & Light items, squeezing sellers and further eating into the profits. 🤦‍♀️

Amazon mentioned that the current FBA costs, inclusive of the 5% fuel and inflation surcharge, remain significantly less than alternatives. The surcharge is also subject to change, which could mean lower fees in the future. 🤞

However, some sellers believe that even if prices go down, the surcharge will not go away, and we tend to agree with them. History tells us that a tax (or surcharge), once implemented, can be difficult to revert.

So, Amazon should just call it for what it is: a price hike. 🤔

This is not the first Amazon gut-punch of 2022. The new dimensional weight factor saw fees increase overnight for many sellers, some as much as 94% or more! Couple that with this 5% fuel increase and sellers are really getting hit hard.

In addition, even if you’re not affected by dimensional weight fees, when you factor in the current FBA fulfillment fee, which is roughly 5.2% higher than last year’s rate, and other expenses, the overall cost increase per unit could be potentially huge for many sellers, specifically those with already-slim margins.

Sellers will either have to remove unprofitable products from Amazon or pass the cost increases to their customers to compensate. It would also be wise to run some numbers using our Master Carton Calculator Tool to see if restructuring your shipping practices can increase your profit margins.

Read the news announcement for more information.

Related: New Dimensional Weight Fees Placing Further Strain on Profit Margins

Software Updates For April 2022

Software Updates For April 2022

It’s our goal to build the best inventory software out there. Nearly every week, SoStocked is rolling out new features that you have been asking for.

With that in mind, I’m excited to introduce you to the new SoStocked newsletter, where you can find out what’s new, what’s improved, and what’s up next. Let’s dive in!

🥳
NEW RELEASE

SoStocked Can Now AutoGenerate Purchase Order and Work Order Number Settings

Set up naming conventions to indicate how you would like your PO or WO numbers to generate with options like time, date, and vendor name, and SoStocked will automatically generate a custom number for each Work Order or Purchase Order you make.

In the Inventory Settings, turn on the “Auto-Populate PO Numbers” option and “Auto-Populate Work Order Numbers” option and build out your naming conventions to improve PO/WO efficiency and consistency. Learn how it works here. More ➜

🥳
NEW RELEASE

New Multi-Dashboard Reports (All Accounts)

Now you can download multiple inventory, PO, or Work Order dashboards for ALL of your connected accounts simultaneously!

If you have multiple SoStocked accounts, or simply need to download multiple reports at once, you can now save time by downloading your dashboards in one swift action through the new Agency Report – Multiple Dashboard export within the Bulk Export/Import page.

Select inventory dashboards from all of your accounts to quickly and easily do analyses or send reports to other departments, such as sending Inventory-Minded Marketing reports to your marketing team.

With this feature you can select dashboards like Inventory – Warehouse Levels, Inventory – Slow Sellers, PO – Drafts, WO – FBA Shipping plans, and pull the dashboards for your multiple accounts in one single download. See how it works here. More ➜


COMING SOON

Granular Automation of Seasonal Sales Spikes

You’ll soon have the option to turn on an Automatic Seasonal Spike using coefficients, meaning your historical seasonality will be represented and you can then adjust each time period against that historical data.

You’ll be able to control seasonal ups and downs month to month, bi-weekly, or even weekly. SoStocked will find the annual average daily sale for the product and you can put in trend settings above or below that average.

Did you launch a new product and you’re not sure what to put in month to month? No problem! Find historical seasonal trends for other products within your catalog and set that same trend for your new product. Group multiple product seasonal trends. It will find an average of that group and you can apply that.

You will also be able to set different seasonality for each marketplace separately, US, EU, etc. To get the most accurate forecasting for every product in every marketplace.


MICRO UPDATES

Subtle Improvements to Make Your
Forecasting Easier

SoStocked - MICRO UPDATES
The Days Until Stock Out field was updated

The Days Until Stock Out field was updated – This metric on the Forecast page has been updated to make things more clear for you. The small grey number is the number of days you will remain in stock based on your average daily sales, not including any inbound shipments and the large emboldened number is the number of days you will remain in stock at FBA based on current FBA inventory on hand and on order direct to FBA.

New filter! Filter for products with a specific Days Until Stock Out number.

Filter for products with a specific Days Until Stock Out number

Seasonality can be repeated annually.

Seasonality can be repeated annually

⚡️⚡️⚡️ Website Speed and Loading Speed ⚡️⚡️⚡️ We’ve worked long and hard implementing several different measures to increase the speed of SoStocked so you can save even more time on your weekly inventory tasks.

🔥
ICYMI: FEATURE SPOTLIGHT

Some Updates and Features
You Might Have Missed

Edit Currency in Purchase Orders or Change Global Default Accounting Currency. SoStocked is used across the globe so we made it possible to accommodate all currencies used for your accounting with the new default currency feature. You can change the default currency for your entire account from your Inventory Settings. And for your Purchase Orders going to suppliers worldwide, you can edit the currency per vendor or per PO! See here ->

Improved Stockout Calculation Algorithm on the Forecast Page
We just made your Adjusted Velocity even more accurate by giving you the option to turn on a new stockout tool. The tool has always been able to adjust your daily sales velocity to compensate for zero sales days or partial sales days during stockouts and partial stock-outs. However, what happens when an entire PERIOD is a stockout? For example, let’s say you are out of stock for a full 7 days? The updated stockout algorithm will AUTOMATICALLY disable that period and recalculate your adjusted velocity based on the in-stock periods. Then, once you have been in stock again for that period, it will AUTOMATICALLY turn back on.

This makes it much easier to assign the stockout tool to many products across your entire catalog, without having to remember to find those products or forecasts with stock-out periods and turn them off. SoStocked will do that for you! Read here to find out more ->

Pull Updated Product Details on the Inventory Page.
Have you changed or added a product image since you first uploaded SoStocked? Or maybe it’s in a new category? Now SoStocked can pull the updated product details onto your inventory page. Always keep your SoStocked catalog up-to-date and easy to navigate with this new feature.

Need more information?

  1. Send Message: We typically reply within 2 hours during office hours.
  2. Schedule Demo: Dive deeper into the nuances of our software with Chelsea.
  3. Join Live Upcoming Webinar: New to Amazon inventory management? Learn three inventory techniques you can implement right away.

Emerging Amazon Marketplaces: UAE and Saudi Arabia

Emerging Amazon Marketplaces: UAE and Saudi Arabia

US sellers can now expand into the Middle East through Amazon United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). 🚀

Amazon has released a video selling guide that presents the cliff’s notes on the logistics, language and payment structure of selling products on Amazon within the Gulf region. It also explains the opportunity that awaits sellers who would take up Amazon’s offer to join these marketplaces.

Both UAE and KSA are becoming a magnet for eCommerce businesses.

According to Boston Consulting Group and Meta Platforms, Saudi Arabia’s eCommerce market is set to reach $13.3 billion by 2025 as an increasing number of customers shop online more often now than they did pre-pandemic and as more products become accessible to large audiences, with apparel, electronics, and appliances as top sellers.

UAE’s eCommerce market is also expected to balloon to $8 billion in 2025, mainly due to customers and businesses turning to online marketplaces for their needs, according to Gulf News. Online shoppers will also keep purchasing from international eCommerce platforms (specifically Amazon’s non-UAE sites), which presents another business opportunity for US-based sellers.

Overall, being an early adopter of these emerging marketplaces can have an upside advantage as far as capturing the market early, although we know there are some barriers to entry that must be dealt with.

Luckily, the eComm giant offers the following benefits to make your launch in KSA or UAE fast and easy.

Selling on Amazon.ae (UAE) Benefits

  • Amazon.ae, including all listings and communications with customers, is available in English, with the option to also have an Arabic page.
  • Sell online without the need to secure a UAE eCommerce license, which means less paperwork and fees.
  • Receive payments in US dollars directly to your US bank account.
  • Logistics solutions include FBA.
  • Gateway to five other countries: Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and Jordan

Pro tip: While the language is 100% English, the option to also auto-translate your listings into Arabic is a nice feature. However, auto translating to another language doesn’t usually do the trick very well, as it doesn’t catch the right usage of words, best keywords, or colloquialisms. For this reason, I recommend hiring a translator that does custom translations for sellers using locals like Jana Krekic’s team at YLT Translations.

Selling on Amazon.sa (KSA) Benefits

  • Language is 100% English, but you can auto-translate the pages into Arabic.
  • FBA is available.
  • No eCommerce license to set up an online store in KSA is required.
  • Payments are processed in USD.

Selling on Amazon.sa (KSA) Benefits

While FBA is available in both countries, it seems that sellers would have to send inventory to FBA in Saudi Arabia and UAE separately.

Deciding Between KSA and UAE

If you can’t decide between KSA and UAE as your next market, Jana Krekic, founder of YLT Translations, who has been translating for sellers in the UAE for some time now, says Saudi Arabia doesn’t seem to be as popular a marketplace for Amazon sellers to adopt but that UAE is becoming quite popular.

This is probably because of UAE’s openness to international business. Gulf News reported that Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, had implemented strategies to accelerate eCommerce growth by minimizing the overall cost to operate online businesses by 20%, including the costs of storage, returned products, VAT on transportation, and customs duties.

Another reason to expand in UAE is its strategic location. According to the International Trade Administration, the country serves as a gateway to other hubs in the Gulf region, which creates lucrative opportunities and makes it an attractive market for exporters. This also explains why Amazon.ae serves as a better springboard for 5 other Arab states than Saudi Arabia.

All this into consideration, UAE is shaping up to be a pretty good marketplace opportunity for sellers.

Visit Amazon Global Selling to learn more.

Amazon Automatic Aging Inventory Removal Starts April 15

Amazon Automatic Aging Inventory Removal Starts April 15

Starting April 15, Amazon will automatically dispose of old and slow-moving products to make room for Prime Day.

Amazon has yet to announce the 2022 Prime Day check-in date for US sellers, but if we go by last year’s schedule, it might be held around the third week of June. Prime Day 2021 also raked in $11.19 billion in sales, a good indication that this year’s 2-day deal extravaganza will be another mega-sale.

So, to make room for top sellers, Amazon has enabled automatic removal of the following inventory starting April 15th:

  • Inventory that has been in Amazon fulfillment centers (FCs) for over 12 months and is subject to long-term storage fees.
  • Inventory that has remained unsold for six consecutive months and has been in FCs for over half a year.

You can, of course, disable automatic removals for your inventory on the Settings menu of your Seller Account. However, carrying a lot of slow sellers is not ideal.

A high excess inventory percentage and a low sell-through rate can negatively impact your Inventory Performance Index (IPI) score. As of this writing, scoring below 400 could mean Amazon placing limits on your FBA storage capacity. Plus, letting inventory sit for more than six months can also lead to additional storage fees.

Pro tip: Regularly check your Manage Inventory Health report to identify and get rid of slow sellers before they start impacting your IPI score and incurring holding costs.

Recover Value from Your Aging Inventory

Once you’ve enabled automatic removal for your old inventory, you can select any of the following value-recovery options:

Arrange a flash sale
As the April 15th deadline approaches, review your excess inventory that falls into this category and try to move as much of your inventory before this date by having a flash sale. Promote the sale via your email list or social media, drop prices or provide a deep coupon discount. Flash sales may make more sense than a straight return or disposal of inventory which can lead to financial losses.

Include a Return Address to have your inventory sent back to your warehouse
Make sure to provide a valid return address to avoid getting your units disposed of automatically at FBA. If you need to change your return address, do so now to ensure all changes are saved before the disposal start date.

Liquidate to have your inventory liquidated
This option will help you to recover 5% to 10% of your product’s selling price.

Go to Automated Fulfillable Inventory Removal for more information.

Free Amazon Master Carton Calculator Tool To Optimize Your Packaging

New Amazon Master Carton Calculator Tool

We’re proud to introduce our new free Amazon Master Carton Calculator tool to optimize your packaging, reduce shipping/handling, and storage costs for increased profitability.🚀

We call it profit optimization across the supply chain. It means maximizing your units per carton and per pallet to disburse carton and pallet fees across as many units as possible. 

By shipping and storing fewer total cartons and pallets, you can find yourself saving a ton on freight & storage costs, and other expenses. 

Take our free Master Carton Calculator Tool for a test drive to find out how much of your profit you can recover with simple carton and pallet reconfiguration.

  • Calculate how many units you can fit per carton and pallet
  • Determine your potential per carton and per pallet savings
  • Print a Comprehensive Packaging Blueprint and Savings Report
  • Provide the blueprint to your supplier to start saving on your next order

Learn moreMaster Carton Calculator Tool 

In these crazy times, when it is getting harder to make a profit, let alone have the cash flow to scale quickly, packaging optimization is a game-changer for your company’s profitability. 💪

Amazon and EIT Climate-KIC Offer Financial Boost to Sustainable Startups

Amazon and EIT Climate-KIC Offer Financial Boost to Sustainable Startups

This announcement is for UK and EU startups who are building physical products with ecological impact in mind.

Amazon has recently reported that sales of Climate Pledge Friendly items in the UK and EU have doubled in January 2022 (versus the same month last year), a strong indication of growing demand for sustainable products. And if this trend continues, it can only mean one thing: more and more buyers seeking out goods with eco-friendly packaging and reduced carbon footprints.

So, to provide customers with more sustainable products, Amazon has teamed up with EIT Climate-KIC (the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community) to help eco-minded startups scale fast by offering them a short-term growth program and £30,000 in grants and credits.

Amazon Launchpad Sustainability Accelerator

This startup accelerator offers 12 weeks of expert-led training and mentorship along with a bespoke curriculum to help early-stage companies face the challenges of starting and growing a sustainable business.

Selected startups will also use the Climate Impact Forecast tool to measure and improve their environmental impact. Additionally, they will be given an opportunity to network with other like-minded founders, as well as access to office space in Amazon’s headquarters in London.

Financial Boost

Aside from the 12-week growth program, selected startups will also receive:

  • $25,000 worth of AWS business support credits
  • £10,000/€12,000 equity-free grant
  • £5,000/€6,000 sponsored advertising credits to help boost revenue
  • Free account management for 12 months

They may also benefit from their products being featured on the Amazon Launchpad storefront.

How to Apply

Sustainable startups who meet the following key eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply:

  • Stage: Early-stage companies
  • Product: Eco-friendly physical products that are beyond the prototyping stage
  • Location: UK, Switzerland, or Economic European Area (European countries, including Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein)
  • Themes: Amazon is looking to work with startups who can help make it easier for customers to find and purchase sustainable products. Examples include reusable everyday items, environmentally-friendly gadgets, sustainable apparel, recycled and upcycled materials/products, and more.

Click here to start your application.

Why Is Amazon Adamant in Pushing Climate Pledge Initiatives?

The move to launch a 12-week sustainable startup growth program with EIT Climate-KIC may be Amazon’s attempt to improve their climate change strategy to continue positioning themselves as a climate leader. During the launch of The Climate Pledge in 2019, founder Jeff Bezos said: “​​We want to use our scale and our scope to lead the way,”, framing Amazon as a role model for sustainable development.

However, a 2022 study by the New Climate Institute, a group that evaluates the integrity and transparency of companies’ climate pledges, showed that Amazon’s climate initiatives lack transparency and many of their reports of climate progress have been unsubstantiated. Reveal News’s Center for Investigative Reporting also reported that the company is undercounting their carbon footprint.

If that’s the case, the eComm giant is likely failing to meet its own targets on reducing carbon emissions – they hope to reach net-zero carbon (achieving the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emitted and the amount eliminated from the atmosphere) by 2040.

So, perhaps, one way to improve their environmental impact is by enticing more sustainable startups to join Amazon through growth programs and monetary grants. This move will allow them to expand their catalog of Climate Pledge Friendly items and attract more eco-minded consumers while trying to reduce their carbon footprint.

Why Should You Apply for Amazon’s Sustainability Accelerator?

1.  Receive Expert-Led Training and £30,000 in Grants and Credits

It’s no secret that it can be costly for small businesses to build new green products or switch to green. This is why Amazon and EIT Climate-KIC have included financial incentives and expert guidance.

When measuring your company’s carbon footprint, you have to look at the carbon that goes into making your products (using a lot of energy, water, or petroleum generates considerable amounts of greenhouse gasses) and the emissions that will end up in the planet’s atmosphere when people use and throw them away (e.g., products that consume a lot of power to run and are non-recyclable are less sustainable).

So, in most cases, big investments in green technology (e.g., developing recyclable and renewable raw materials for your inventory) are needed to minimize overall environmental damage. This is also why green products are usually more expensive, but the good news is that…

2.  Consumers Will Pay Premium for Eco-Friendly Products 

More than a third of consumers from around the world are willing to pay more for sustainable products and services, according to a recent study. People are starting to actively seek out these kinds of products because they’ve become more aware of the state of the environment through social media and video blogs.

For instance, #climateemergency, a stream of content that educates people about the devastating impacts of global warming and frames the environment’s poor condition as a global issue that affects all of us, has got many American adults spending more time thinking about the climate crisis than they did before the pandemic. This also motivates them to buy from stores that are actively minimizing their environmental impact.

Simply put, a growing awareness about climate change combined with a desire to take action on environmental issues is heavily influencing consumers’ buying decisions.

If you’re thinking about building a new sustainable product or switching your business to green, now is the time to do it.

But if you’re concerned about the costs, and you’re just planning to sell on Amazon anyway, you can start by simply reducing your product packaging.

Amazon’s Compact by Design

Compact by Design is Amazon’s own Climate Pledge Friendly certification program. It aims to identify (or badge up) products with less packaging. For example, reducing excess air from snack pouches can create smaller unit dimensions, making them more efficient to ship. Resizing your product packaging can help reduce product size and weight, resulting in more efficient shipments and, thus, lower carbon emissions.

Note: Those that qualify for Compact by Design will receive a “Climate Pledge Friendly” badge and will appear in Amazon’s dedicated sustainable products page, making it easy for customers to shop sustainably. Read Is Amazon Climate Pledge Certification Worth It For Sellers to learn more.

Smaller Unit Weight and Dimensions Can Lead to Lower FBA Fulfillment Fees

Effective March 31, 2022, Amazon FBA fee changes will apply to UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, and Poland stores.

Part of this fee change involves subjecting small oversize, standard oversize, and large oversize products to dimensional weight pricing, aka DIM weight pricing. Amazon will use the greater of the unit weight or DIM weight of your oversize product to determine your fulfillment costs. If the dimensional weight is greater than the unit weight of the item, then the DIM weight is utilized to calculate the price.

The downside of that is being charged based on DIM weight can lead to a significant price increase for some sellers. A few sellers in our community have reported an increase in fees by over $1 per unit.

Check out the table below to see the upcoming size and weight tier changes. Also, scroll down this page to see the updated fees.

To reduce or avoid DIM weight fees, shrink your product packaging and boxes as much as possible. Talk with your supplier and 3PL to figure out a way to optimize your packages, including carton and pallet load capacity. Optimizing your carton and pallet efficiency can help to cut per unit costs to help offset any added fees you may now be paying due to DIM weight fees.

With dimensional weight pricing, the bulkier your packaging, the more you end up paying in shipping and storage fees. Therefore, it’s crucial to reduce your package sizes and cost per unit wherever possible.

Related: New FBA Fee Calculator With Dimensional Weight Factor

Final Thoughts

Overall, going green creates both opportunities and challenges for businesses. But as consumers start to change their lifestyles to fight climate change, and as Amazon stays committed to going net-zero carbon by 2040, companies who’ll answer the people’s call for sustainability transformation will be able to protect their long-term success and profitability.

Related: Is Amazon Climate Pledge Certification Worth It For SellersMaster Carton Calculator to Optimize Packaging and Reduce CostsNew Dimensional Weight Fees Placing Further Strain on Profit Margins

Qualify for Rebates and Free Liquidations with the Updated FBA New Selection Program

Qualify for Rebates and Free Liquidations with the Updated FBA New Selection Program

Here’s another opportunity for US sellers to save a little bit of money.

In April 2020, Amazon started to offer free monthly storage, removals, and returns as part of their FBA New Selection Program.

A year later, they updated the program to add oversized items to their list of qualifying products, extend the free monthly storage benefit from 90 days to 120 days (apparel and shoes category only), offer $200 in sponsored advertising credits, and allow eligible sellers to use fee waivers for an unlimited number of new-to-FBA ASINs.

Many sellers seem to benefit from the FBA New Selection Program. So, Amazon has included even more benefits this 2022!

Pro tip: If you haven’t heard of this program, read Amazon FBA New Selection Program 2021 to learn more.

Let’s take a closer look at the updated program details.

1. 5% Rebate on Sales

This incentive applies to eligible new ASINs enrolled in the Brand Registry. Yes, you must be listed as a brand owner on Amazon’s Brand Benefit Eligibility page to qualify for a rebate.

You could use the rebate to reduce the fulfillment fees for the following:

  • Oversize products. Enjoy a 5% rebate on sales of up to 30 units per new product for up to three months.
  • Standard-size products. Get a 5% rebate for the sale of up to 50 units per new product for up to three months.
  • Apparel and Shoes. Earn 5% rebate on sales of up to 100 units per new product for up to four months.

2. Global Enrollment

No separate registration required for each of the Amazon stores you’re selling in. Just sign up for the program once and the benefits will be applied automatically across your stores. Amazon will determine this based on your merchant ID and the FBA warehouses you’ve shipped your new ASINs to.

3. Free Liquidations

Need to remove aging inventory? Take advantage of Amazon’s free liquidations offer to be able to recoup up to 10% of your eligible ASIN’s selling price. Free liquidations will be available for:

  • Oversize items. Liquidate the first 30 units of each new-to-FBA oversize ASIN within 6 months after the first inventory was received by Amazon.
  • Standard-size items. Use free liquidations to remove the first 50 units of each new-to-FBA ASIN within 6 months after the first inventory was received by Amazon.
  • Apparel and Shoes: Liquidate the first 100 units of each new-to-FBA ASIN within 6 months after the first inventory was received.

Amazon will also automatically liquidate eligible ASINs that made no single unit sale in the first 180 days, at no extra cost.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for the program, you:

  • Must have a Professional selling plan
  • If you’ve been assigned an Amazon Inventory Performance Index score, your score must be 400 or higher

New professional sellers will be registered automatically in the FBA New Selection Program and entitled to the program benefits.

In addition, both new and existing professional sellers must make sure their new products are eligible for the program. Used items and media products are not accepted.

If you’re not sure if your product is new to FBA across Amazon stores, use the FBA product search tool.

Click here to enroll in the FBA New Selection Program.

Pro tip: Discover other ways to save money by reading Amazon FBA Calculator ToolMaster Carton Calculator to Reduce CostsHow an Amazon Seller Saved $150K or by joining my free Inventory Management and Logistics live webinar.

New Dimensional Weight Fees Placing Further Strain on Profit Margins

New Dimensional Weight Fees Placing Further Strain on Profit Margins

We knew that an increase in FBA fulfillment fees was coming since Amazon does this yearly. However, we didn’t expect to see dimensional weight fees on the list because the eComm giant was so quiet about it. Apparently, dimensional weight pricing will now apply to Large Standard-Size products if dimensional weight is greater than unit weight. 🤔

When reading through the 2022 US FBA Fulfillment Fee Changes page, Amazon seems to be attempting to bury the lead with dimensional weight being tucked away in the footnotes as something that doesn’t exactly stand out, even though we believe it’s the most important change to the new fee structure.

Being charged based on dimensional weight could potentially be a huge cost increase for some sellers. In fact, some within our own SoStocked community have already seen their fees increase by over $1 per unit, which is quite significant.

Read on to learn more about the impact of Amazon’s dimensional weight pricing on sellers’ profit margins.

Dimensional Weight Now Used for Large Standard-Size Items

According to Amazon, the greater of unit weight or dimensional weight will now be utilized to determine the shipping weight for all Large Standard-Size units, apparel not included.

Unit weight is the actual weight of an item, including its packaging. Dimensional weight (or DIM weight) is the amount of space a package takes up relative to its actual weight. DIM weight is calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height of your unit, then dividing that by a standard DIM divisor.

A DIM divisor is a number set by FedEx, UPS, and other carriers that represents the volume of a package allowed per unit of weight. For dimensions in inches, Amazon uses a DIM divisor of 139 for units subject to DIM weight pricing.

Amazon DIM Weight Pricing Sample Calculation

Let’s say you’re shipping an iron to FBA with the following measurements, packaging included:

  • L (in) = 12.6
  • W (in) = 6.6
  • H (in) = 5.5
  • DIM Divisor: 139

(12.6” x 6.6” x 5.5”) ÷ 139 = 3.29lbs or 4lbs (rounded up) DIM weight

Now, let’s find out how much it would cost you to ship an item that weighs 4lbs (assuming that your item’s DIM weight is greater than its actual weight).

Before January 18, 2022January 18, 2022 onwards
Size tierShipping weightFulfillment Fee per unitSize tierShipping weightFulfillment Fee per unit
Large standard6 oz or less$3.47Large standard6 oz or less$3.54
6+ to 12 oz$3.646+ to 12 oz$3.77
12+ to 16 oz$4.2512+ to 16 oz$4.52
1+ to 2 lb$4.951+ to 2 lb$5.14
2+ to 3 lb$5.682+ to 3 lb$5.79
3+ lb to 20 lb$5.68 + $0.30/lb above first 3 lb3+ lb to 20 lb$6.13 + $0.30/lb above first 3 lb

Based on the new table of fees above, you would be charged $6.43 per unit ($6.13 + $0.30/lb above first 3lbs), approximately a $0.45 increase from last year’s rates.

If you’re selling that product for $15 apiece, that leaves you with a $8.57 profit before other costs, such as production costs, shipping cost from China to US, and advertising. This change could eat significantly into your profit margins, especially if you’re selling a low-priced product.

This could also make it difficult for you to stay competitive in the market, as you would be forced to increase your selling price in order to recoup your investments. Unfortunately, doing this might turn some customers away.

It’s also important to note how Amazon classifies Large Standard-Size:

  • Any product that is 16oz. with its longest side 15 inches, shortest side 0.75 inches, and its median side 12 inches is considered Small Standard-Size.

Beyond that any unit that does not fall within the Small Standard-Size category and is 20 lbs or less with its longest side 18 inches, shortest side 8 inches, and its median side 14 inches is considered a Large Standard-Size. So, anything with a side that exceeds the given dimensions might get bumped into oversize classification, which means even higher shipping costs.

What You Can Do

With DIM weight being one of the main factors that influence today’s fulfillment fees, now’s the time to reassess your packaging.

Achieve the smallest dimensional weight possible by:

  • Keeping your packaging compact
  • Removing extra inner packaging materials that can make boxes unnecessarily large, such as excessive amounts of foam or bubble wrap

Keeping your packaging compact will allow you to fit more units into your cartons. And if your shipments take up less space and weigh less, that also means carriers will be able to load more cartons into their trucks and planes, leading to lower shipping costs.

Additionally, reducing or eliminating excess packaging materials is also an excellent way to introduce more sustainability to your products, as less waste will end up in the ocean or landfills.

This DIM weight pricing, in fact, is in lock step with some of Amazon’s other initiatives and policies that point towards encouraging sellers to reduce their packaging. This is further supported by the fact that they launched the size-conscious Compact by Design initiative within the Climate Pledge Certification program, which aims to certify products that meet their sustainability standards. These policies encourage or even force sellers to get more creative with keeping their packaging compact.

Another way to keep your costs down is by checking your fees and running some profit calculations to make sure your products are still profitable. We’re currently building a tool to help you with this. We will let you know once this tool comes out, so stay tuned!

What Else to Expect

Amazon will hit every product size tier and category with a fulfillment fee increase, specifically the following:

Core FBA fulfillment fees (apparel excluded).
Calculating the shipping weight for all Large Standard-Size items will be based on whichever is greater between the unit weight and dimensional weight. Small Standard-Size units will use unit weight.

FBA fees for apparel.
Amazon implements up to 10% increase for apparel items in the Clothing & Accessories category.

FBA fees for dangerous goods.
Amazon has separate fulfillment fees for dangerous goods that need special handling and storage. Visit the FBA Dangerous Goods (Hazmat) Program or Dangerous Goods Identification Guide for more details.

Dimensional weight pricing will also apply to all Small Oversize, Medium Oversize, and Large Oversize units when DIM weight is greater than unit weight. This is a bit tricky as it doesn’t seem to be the case toward the top of the post, but when you scroll down to the Calculate the Shipping Weight section, you’ll find more information listing this.

The recent fulfillment update also includes some changes to the maximum weight limit for products in the Small and Light (SnL) program. Amazon will now allow eligible products priced at $8 or less weighing up to 3lbs (used to be 12 oz max) into the program. The per-unit FBA fulfillment fees start as low as $2.35 (Small standard) to as high as $4.94 (Large standard).

New US FBA Fulfillment Fees Break Down

Based on the fee changes listed on this page, the percentage increases for all standard and oversize categories range from 2% to 12%, not factoring dimensional weight into the equation.

Items in the small standard category will see an increase of 8%. For example, smaller items will see a $0.22 increase and larger items will see a $0.27 increase.

Overall, expect to see the following percentage increases:

  • Approximately 4.8% average increase for standard size items
  • Up to 7.5% increase for small standard size items
  • Up to 2.8% increase for small oversize items
  • Up to 10% increase for apparel items
  • Approximately 8% and 12% increase for medium and large oversize items, respectively

The fulfillment fee increases may seem small, but these changes could be pretty steep for some sellers with slim profit margins. This could put them in a difficult situation where they may have to either drop their less profitable products or increase their prices, thereby risking a significant decline in sales. Sellers will weather this storm as they do any other, but it’s definitely time to reassess your catalog for bulky and lower margin items.

Go to the 2022 US FBA Fulfillment Fee Changes page to see the complete list of updated fees.

Related: Amazon FBA Calculator: Factor FBA Fees to Calculate ProfitabilityAmazon Climate Pledge Certification and Freight Forwarder Fees Checklist

Amazon Closing Shipping Loopholes May Wreak Chaos for Some Sellers

Amazon Closing Shipping Loopholes May Wreak Chaos for Some Sellers

In what could be seen as another classic play to close loopholes, Amazon has announced another change to their shipping policies.

Effective April 1st, 2022, if you are found to be sending shipments into FBA that were already canceled or deleted, those shipments could be rejected at Amazon and your FBA shipping privileges could be suspended.

This policy update seems to specifically target dubious sellers who may be trying to skirt restock limits guidelines by using canceled or deleted shipments to send more inventory than the limits allow, knowing full well that Amazon will still accept them. 

But with this update, it would, in effect, prohibit that from happening.

However, it potentially opens up a bigger issue in that sellers with valid reasons to cancel or delete shipments may also get suspended, albeit through no fault of their own. For example, they may need to change their approved shipping plan because of errors in quantity, content, or other information.

Luckily, according to Amazon, sellers may make small changes to their shipping plans, such as adjusting their shipment quantity by up to 5% above or below the original amount. Otherwise, incomplete shipments or incorrect information in your shipping plans could lead to additional processing times, which could cause delays in your inventory’s availability on Amazon.

Also, keep in mind that Amazon automatically closes shipments after 90 days, which could be a big problem for some sellers (not just the sneaky ones) as getting inventory from overseas into Amazon these days can sometimes take 45-60 days or longer due to slowdowns in the supply chain.

Other Actions To Avoid to Stay Compliant with the Updated Shipping Policy

  • Removing some of the shipments from your approved multi-destination shipping plan.
  • Sending shipments along a different route.
  • Using illegible FBA box ID labels.
  • Failure to ensure all shipments in your multi-destination shipping plan are delivered to Amazon within 30 days of receipt of the first shipment. This means if you have a shipment plan with three destinations shipping from overseas directly into FBA, Amazon requires that within 30 days of receiving the first shipment, the other two should arrive at their fulfillment centers as well.

Note: While one or more shipments may arrive late due to your carrier losing them and finding them later or other mishandling issues, these are rather exceptions and not the norm. Communicate with your carrier to ensure your shipments are delivered on time and in the correct quantity.

If you’re unable to send additional shipments due to non-compliance, connect with an Amazon representative and provide a solid plan of action to reinstate your shipping privileges.  

Read “Deleted, Misrouted, and Incomplete Shipments” for more information.

Amazon Removes “Tons” of Supplement Offers Due to Non-Compliance with New Product Requirements

Amazon Removes “Tons” of Supplement Offers Due to Non-Compliance with New Product Requirements

📢 Heads up, dietary supplement sellers!

Amazon has reportedly removed many dietary supplements offers due to product compliance issues. 🤯

On Amazon’s forum page, one seller said that Amazon just pulled a ton of their products from the site, including their best seller. They also didn’t receive any notification that they needed to provide required documentation for the affected products.

According to the forum moderator, Amazon announced on November 2021 that they had implemented additional compliance documentation requirements for weight loss and sexual enhancement products. According to Amazon, these goods may contain potentially dangerous substances that might cause serious health issues if not tested properly. Sellers were given approximately two months to comply.

Affected sellers who wish to continue selling these products will need to meet Amazon’s additional compliance requirements.

It is important to note that sellers who find themselves in the unfortunate position of having their supplements listings or offers removed must work fast to get compliance and to be reinstated. Amazon is not pulling any punches. Those who have products in suspension must get reinstated or create a removal order to recover their inventory or it will be automatically disposed of within 30 days, which could mean significant losses for some sellers.

Product Compliance Reference Tool

Effective January 10, 2022, Amazon is no longer accepting products that do not meet their documentation requirements.

You can use the Compliance Reference Tool to help you understand your import and/or export compliance obligations in the country you want to ship from or sell in.

Simply search your product by keyword or product type to find the compliance content associated with it. Then, connect with service providers who can assist you with meeting your compliance requirements.

Click here for more information.

Related: New Documentation for Supplements Required to Avoid Listing Removal and Amazon Product Compliance Reference Tool

Claim Reimbursement for Losses Caused by Amazon CSBA Reps

Claim Reimbursement for Losses Caused by Amazon CSBA Reps

This announcement is for US sellers who participate and pay for Customer Service By Amazon (CSBA), a service where Amazon handles customer service on the seller’s behalf for their seller-fulfilled orders.

Sellers who use the CSBA program are now eligible for Sellers Assurance for eCommerce Transactions (SAFE-T) claims. This allows sellers to appeal unjustified refunds that Amazon reps issued to customers.

Here’s a list of scenarios where you may be eligible for reimbursement:

  • The customer said they did not receive the item, but you have proof.
  • The customer sent back an item in poor condition or an item with parts missing.
  • The customer returned an item that was not what you sent.
  • The customer requested a free replacement via the Online Return Center. You shipped a replacement unit, but the customer sent back an incorrect item or the original item was not in sellable condition.
  • Amazon issued a return for an item that was already outside of the return window when the customer asked to return it.
  • The return reason is marked as “Customer Fault” in Return reason codes for prepaid returns.
  • Amazon determines that the customer repeatedly abused Amazon’s return or refund policy and the seller was not at fault. File a reimbursement request with evidence of how the customer abused Amazon’s refund or return policy.
  • Amazon determines that a refund to a customer was due to an Amazon error and you were not at fault. File a reimbursement claim with evidence of Amazon’s error.

Once submitted, Amazon will review your reimbursement request. A decision will be made based on Amazon’s CSBA refund reimbursement policy.

Sellers Fight Tooth and Nail to Get Reimbursed

It’s no secret that Amazon’s top priority is to provide buyers with the best customer service possible. When buyers return items to sellers, Amazon ensures they get an automated refund.

The problem is that some scammers can take advantage of refunds. These dishonest customers can collect refunds before sellers know what they returned. Some scammers have even bought expensive items from Amazon and request refunds while returning items that are far cheaper or not what the seller sent. Some have also returned products in used or damaged condition.

Of course, the above scenarios are eligible for reimbursement, but Amazon does not make it easy for sellers to get reimbursed. Many appeals are denied, no matter how much proof sellers provide, based on the comments posted to the news announcement page.

Even if sellers do get reimbursed, they may not get full reimbursements but may get some lesser amount that is sometimes not enough to even cover the return shipping cost that they are obligated to pay. One seller reported also that when they filed 3 claims for new books that were returned in “torn and creased” condition, Amazon only reimbursed them 15% of the total price.

No wonder some sellers resorted to billing fraudulent customers directly and referring them to collections if they don’t pay. However, others wouldn’t suggest this, as suing customers over disputes is against Amazon’s Terms of Service.

Bottom line is, sellers may have to fight tooth and nail to get reimbursed for Amazon-initiated returns. And in order to ensure they recover a larger amount of money for a single order (over $5,000) Amazon recommends they buy third-party insurance, which means another expense that will eat further into profits.

Check out Customer Service by Amazon Refund Reimbursement Policy to learn more.

Related: Amazon Overhauls Its A-to-Z Guarantee Policies To Streamline Damages Claims

UK Launches Export Support Service to Help Businesses Sell Goods Abroad

UK Launches Export Support Service to Help Businesses Sell Goods Abroad

Good news for Amazon sellers in the UK! 👏

The UK government recently formed its own Export Support Service team to better guide businesses on exporting post-Brexit.

With this service, you can now call or send inquiries to the government online about any of the following:

  • Selling goods into new markets
  • Necessary export documentation
  • Export rules and restrictions for a specific country where you want to sell your goods or services

But… They Might Not Have All the Answers

There are certain exporting issues that are unique to eComm businesses in general, mainly depending on the:

  • Business model (e.g., business-to-business, business-to-consumer, or business-to-business-to-consumer.)
  • Export methods used (e.g.,when selling goods abroad, the exporter may export the product directly to a foreign market without using a middleman to make arrangements for them. This is called direct importing. In contrast, they may also appoint agents or distributors to represent their company and products abroad, aka indirect exporting.)

And when you throw Amazon’s FBA system into the mix, things can quickly become more complicated. Some sellers speculate that the UK government doesn’t know how FBA really works. So proceed with caution as you may not be able to get sound advice from representatives who don’t truly understand your business model.

On Amazon’s news announcement page, one commenter pointed out some FBA-related issues that the export service team might have a difficult time answering:

  • Required paperwork for selling abroad – There are so many factors that impact the amount of required paperwork for selling goods abroad through Amazon, such as the documents necessary for sending inventory from the UK into fulfillment centers in EU, Value-Added Tax (VAT) accounts in new countries, product compliance, and so on.
  • Rules for a specific country where you want to sell goods/services – The UK government will only advise people on what applies to the UK. Unfortunately, they cannot solve problems in the destination country.

In addition, even if sellers do comply with all the new procedures, it’s still inevitable for customs and receivers (the party responsible for accepting export goods into the EU) to make errors, leading to overcharges, loss of goods, product returns, and bad customer reviews–problems that the government’s new service probably no longer cover.

That said, manage your expectations when contacting the export support team for your cross-border selling concerns. Be sure to still do your own research or reach out to Amazon for more information. You may also consider reaching out to other service providers, such as HelloTax that specialize in UK/EU VAT compliance.

Ask a Question by Phone

The UK export support team will try to answer your questions right away. If they don’t know the answer, they’ll reach out to you within three (3) working days.

  • Telephone: 0300 303 8955
  • Textphone: 18001 0300 303 8955
  • Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (excluding public holidays)

Ask a Question Online

The export support team will respond within three (3) working days. They might also ask for more information.

Click here to get help selling goods or services abroad.

Related: Brexit Inventory Management

Three SoStocked Software Deals For New Years (Now Thru January 7, 2021)

Three SoStocked Software Deals For New Years (Now Thru January 7, 2021)

Grab one of these New Year’s deals through January 7th to help streamline your inventory management in 2022…

🔥  DEAL #1: Get 2 accounts for the price of 1. This is only for new customers and must be used by the same customer for their own additional seller account and can’t be transferred to friends. Email [email protected] if you’re interested.

🔥  DEAL #2: Save 20% when you upgrade from a monthly plan to an annual plan. This could be a nice tax write off before the end of the year 😉 Email [email protected] if you’re interested. If you’re a new customer, automatically claim your deal here.

🔥  DEAL #3: Get a 30-day free trial to try SoStocked. We don’t offer free trials so this is kind of a BIG deal! It’s hard to offer trials because we meet 1-on-1 with new customers to make sure they’re set up correctly. Claim your free trial deal here.

Important Update To Restock Limits And IPI Threshold

Important Update To Restock Limits And IPI Threshold

Some good news on the Amazon restock limits and storage volume front.

On December 21, 2021, Amazon made an important announcement regarding recent increases they made to restock limits for some sellers, with a promise for more increases in the new year.

They have also lowered the IPI threshold from 450 to 400 which they say means that less than 10% of sellers will now have storage volume limits. Read More

Use Amazon’s Delivery Promise Tool To Monitor Your FBM Performance

Use Amazon’s Delivery Promise Tool To Monitor Your FBM Performance

Recently, Amazon highlighted their Fulfillment Insights dashboard with its feature for monitoring your Delivery Promise to customers versus your actual delivery times.

Why is this important? As more and more sellers are venturing into Fulfillment by Merchant for the first time due to the storage restrictions imposed by Amazon, monitoring delivery performance becomes increasingly important, especially as it can have a negative impact on your Account Health and certain privileges can be revoked or suspended due to poor performance in this area.

This tool will not only allow you to ensure your account’s good health, but will also be a way of reviewing the ongoing performance metrics of your third party fulfillment center(s).

It is a great way to see whether your fulfillment centers are doing their job and hitting the mark and will allow you to identify and correct problems before they become damaging. Whether correcting those problems means adjusting your Delivery Promise (range of days for delivery) or finding a new fulfillment partner, a keen eye on this metric should be worked into your normal routine.

Read more about how this feature works along with other delivery suggestions from Amazon on the Amazon Seller Forum.

Amazon Storage Limit Updates

Amazon Storage Limit Updates

You may have recently received an email similar to the one I did stating that if your score is 450 or above, you will no longer be subject to storage limitations. This means you won’t have storage limitations for standard-sized products, oversized, clothing, or footwear starting January 1st, 2021. Restock quantity limits are still going to be restricted.

In my opinion, not much is changing for most sellers. Sellers with oversized products could experience considerable relief but most other sellers won’t notice much. That said, we do have to pay attention to what is happening. We are starting to see restrictive quantity limits go up incrementally.

In the fall of 2020, we all had relatively decent limitations and could send in 3+ months’ worth of inventory. In December, we saw that cut-down, at times as low as five weeks or lower. I’ve already seen it start to climb back up in my account to over 60 days of stock, so it is beginning to move in the right direction, but you still might encounter these limitations.

If you’re interested in finding out whether you have an IPI score of 450 or above, you can find it on your Seller Central dashboard under the Inventory Performance Dashboard. You can also review your storage limitations there at the bottom of the page. Just click “Storage Volume” to expand it upward and see how much you’re using in each of the different storage segments.

If you have storage restrictions, this may significantly affect you, especially if you have oversized items. However, if you have standard-sized products, it may not be that substantial of a change. We are starting to see the quantity restrictions move back up in a positive direction.

Hopefully, we’ll see that continue to improve and become less restrictive. Even so, I don’t think it’s going to go back to the way it was before. I think Amazon is more interested in being a distribution center than a storage center and wants Amazon sellers to improve their inventory management and take more responsibility for that side of their business.

If you want to improve inventory management, join me on a live webinar, I host twice a month discussing things like Restock Limits, NARF, Brexit, inventory planning, etc. Whether you’re using SoStocked or a spreadsheet, the techniques we discuss are essentially the same.

New And Improved Amazon HTML Editor + HTML Converter Tool

New And Improved Amazon HTML Editor + HTML Converter Tool

Bookmark the NEW and IMPROVED Amazon HTML Editor and HTML Converter tool for the next time you update product descriptions.

As someone who has owned an Amazon copywriting agency since 2018 and has struggled for years with sub-par HTML editors, this is a tool that has been a labor of love, created to make our jobs as listing builders much, much easier, and faster.

Three main ways to use the tool:

  • CONVERT Amazon HTML you paste from Seller Central
  • CLEAN messy Word Doc HTML into clean Amazon HTML
  • CREATE descriptions from scratch with a no-code editor

Then… apply RULES to transform the text into Amazon-friendly HTML with the click of a button.

For example…

  • Turn bullet list HTML into Amazon friendly dashed or asterisk lists
  • Convert bold HTML tags to all UPPERCASE letters
  • Replace paragraph HTML tags <p> with AMZ-friendly line break tags <br>
  • And more

👉 Watch the quick video tutorial and give it a try!

Send Holiday-Themed Emails To Amazon Followers Through December

Send Holiday-Themed Emails To Amazon Followers Through December

As you probably know, Brand Owners registered in Brand Registry can email their Amazon followers using the Customer Engagement tool.

What you might not know is that the Customer Engagement tool allows you to create holiday email campaigns now through December 31.

Shoppers don’t always know what to get their loved ones so use the holiday-themed templates as an opportunity to assist customers in preparing for the holidays. Like suggesting creative, corny, cool, heartfelt, or funny gift ideas.

Create a themed campaign by selecting the theme from the Email subject drop-down menu, then creating your campaign, as usual, using the Customer Engagement tool.

Step-by-step instructions can be found here:
https://sellercentral.amazon.com/help/hub/reference/GF85G8KLPFJZZV5K

And keep an eye out for more themed campaigns as Amazon continues to release templates for other special occasions.

Borrow Up To 100K With The Amazon Community Lending Pilot Program

Borrow Up To 100K With The Amazon Community Lending Pilot Program

Amazon has teamed up with Lendistry, a minority-led Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), to launch the Amazon Community Lending Pilot Program.

Together, the goal is to support the growth of minority-owned small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) from low-to-moderate income areas by making funding options more accessible through non-traditional methods (i.e., online lending).

Business owners from the Hispanic-Latino and African American communities in the US are highly encouraged to apply. Funding is also available to individuals from investment areas designated by the CDFI.

Features of the Community Lending Program

The financing program gives SMBs selling on Amazon access to loans of up to $100,000, which borrowers can use for various business purposes (see below). Monthly repayments can be spread out over two years with 8% to 9.9% Annual Percentage Rates (APRs).

Benefits of the Community Lending Program

  • Access working capital to fuel business growth
  • Cover costs associated with staffing and operations
  • Buy or replenish inventory
  • Invest in product research and development
  • Boost marketing efforts
  • Leverage Lendistry’s one-on-one consulting, webinars, and on-demand educational classes

How to apply?

Check your eligibility here. Or, visit Amazon Lending for more information.

Amazon Has Worked To Smooth Out Climate Pledge Certification

Amazon Climate Pledge Certification Badge

In July of 2021, when we initially reported on The Climate Pledge Friendly Certification, the application process was challenging. For example, there wasn’t a form for applicants to fill out to receive a Climate Pledge Friendly badge.

Since then, Amazon has worked to smooth things out. According to Amazon’s new Climate Pledge Friendly Certification Guide, you can apply for certification in three different ways depending on the type of product you’re selling.

Learn how to apply and see if the program makes sense for you by reading our Amazon Climate Pledge certification article.

Updated: Amazon Compliance Reference Tool To Ensure Products Meet Requirements

Updated: Amazon Compliance Reference Tool To Ensure Products Meet Requirements

12/06/2021 UPDATE : In their latest news announcement, Amazon says that at this point, the Compliance Reference Tool doesn’t include dangerous goods, food products, or chemical products. That explains the zero results for chemical substances-related keywords I’ve mentioned in the article below. Though, Amazon says they will add more products or new categories in the next six months, they didn’t say what exactly, so we’ll keep our eye out for future updates.

Amazon has recently released a new Compliance Reference Tool to aid sellers in understanding their import or export compliance obligations in the country they want to ship from or sell in.

It also provides information on whether a product (e.g., baby products, toys, or those that contain lithium batteries) is subject to certain Product Assurance requirements. This tool will also keep them in the loop about any changes in the requirements associated with their products.

This should be a welcome addition to many sellers who have, in the past, felt blindsided by out-of-compliance issues and suspensions. The new Compliance Tool may help them to better navigate the complexities of selling within certain categories.

How It Works

  1. Look up compliance content that’s relevant to your product using a keyword or product type. Then, read the associated help content to gain a better understanding of your compliance obligations.
  2. Connect with service providers who can assist you with meeting your compliance requirements.

The Caveat

A fair warning, though; while this tool aims to be useful, what happens when it doesn’t return results for certain keywords?

Some sellers have reported receiving zero results when they used keywords related to pesticides (e.g., microbial and anti-bacterial), hazardous materials, arsenic, and lead. Although on the tool’s help page, it says you should try a new keyword from the dropdown list if you receive a “no related product type found” error message. But that would make things quite difficult for sellers who don’t know what other keywords or product types they should use to get to the compliance content they need?

This limitation also makes some sellers wonder if the tool is actually working or is still under beta testing to help Amazon see how many users will use it, and maybe from the searches made by those users, build out a list of products or materials they should include in their database.

Feel free to test it yourself here: Compliance Reference Tool.

Related: Mistakes to Avoid When Shipping to Amazon FBA

Distribute Your Inventory Across Multiple FCs At No Extra Cost

Distribute Your Inventory Across Multiple FCs At No Extra Cost

This announcement is for the US marketplace, however, we have been able to find that there is a in the UK so this program seems to be rolling out in UK/EU as well.

In an attempt to speed up fulfillment without raising shipping prices, Amazon has rolled out its Box-Level Inventory Placement Program to help sellers (and partner carriers) streamline the shipping of their SPD shipments across multiple FCs at no extra cost.

What is Box-Level Inventory Placement?

Box-Level Inventory Placement is a method for splitting eligible products into multiple box groups, with each group sharing the same destination address. Eligibility for this program is based on the box content information that you provide. In addition, box-level placement only applies to shipments shipped through Amazon-partnered carriers.

How Does it Work?

This may sound like the same thing we are all used to with the usual 3-location shipments, and Amazon’s own announcement of this program was very vague and even the seller comments noted a lack of clarity and downright confusion with what the announcement actually means, but read on for what we believe this new program entails based on Amazon’s own descriptions.

If your inventory is eligible, “Multiple Destinations” will show up under the “Ship To” tab in your FBA shipping plan. You can then create and track your shipments as you normally would.

This is where it gets a little muddy and time will prove the accuracy of this. When you make your eligible shipment under Box-Level Inventory Placement and Amazon-Partnered Carrier Program, instead of, for example, sending your inventory to a CA receiving center, then waiting for FC transfer to send some of that inventory on to Nevada, then New Mexico, it would just go to these locations directly from your 3PL warehouse at no additional cost. Although, again, be aware that Amazon’s news announcement doesn’t explicitly say this! 🤦

Also, on Box-Level Inventory Placement’s info page, it says that Amazon works with their partner carriers to essentially handle your shipments essentially for no extra cost. It is hard to say for sure, but from what we can interpret, instead of waiting for inventory to check-in at the receiving center, only to be then shipped again to other parts of the country, they may instead have you ship your inventory directly to more fulfillment center locations at no additional cost.

What this means about the FBA Inventory Placement Service–a service that FBA charges a per-item service fee for and which allows you to send inventory to 1 FC instead of three. Whether this program will continue to operate in light of the new Box-Level Inventory Program is unclear.

Another Way to Reduce Shipping Costs?

What I believe that this Box-Level Inventory Placement is saying is that even though you will pay for SPD shipments as if they are going to one single destination, they will actually be split into multiple, let’s say six destinations for example.

The idea is that your costs would be reduced as you’d be paying for one shipment but getting five, in this example. And because your inventory is initially being split up to more FCs than just the normal 3 or, in some cases 1, that shortens the amount of time before all inventory officially becomes for sale, as it would reduce or cut out the FC Transfer delay. It makes much more sense for everyone involved so long as the costs make sense. Instead of sending inventory to California and get checked in, only to have some of it go to Nevada and then get checked in there again, it would simply go directly to Nevada in the first place.

Also, this process would allow more transparency as you will be able track each of the shipments to each of the locations, adding more visibility than what we currently have with the FC Transfer process.

While the program seems promising, there are still a lot of questions around how it really works. But it is something to test out and to be aware of as an option.

Visit Box-Level Inventory Placement for more details.

Related: How to Ship to Amazon FBA (And Speed Up Check-In Times)

Beta Amazon Upstream Storage Program Eliminates Restock Limits

Beta Amazon Upstream Storage Program Eliminates Restock Limits

Amazon Upstream is a new Amazon program currently in beta for some sellers and should be rolling out more broadly in the new year.

It is a low-cost bulk storage solution for shipping and storing FCL (full container) shipments to an upstream storage facility and then automatically moves units to Prime-ready FCs for replenishment as needed.

Currently, this program is only available for Standard Ocean shipments from China to the U.S.

Learn about the benefits and drawbacks (and there are drawbacks!) of the Amazon Upstream Storage Program.

Amazon Hikes Referral And FBA Fees For 2022

Amazon Hikes Referral And FBA Fees For 2022

This week, Amazon announced that starting January 18, 2022, it would be adjusting FBA fulfillment fees to help offset its now-increased operating costs. Although Amazon pointed out that these fees are still an average of 30% less costly than if sellers attempted to fulfill their own orders, the fee increase is still extremely high, at around $0.22 per unit.

To soften the blow, Amazon padded its announcement with a long preamble highlighting that, despite the hardships of COVID, it has more than doubled its U.S. fulfillment capacity, increased its employee starting wage, and is building new services such as the Brand Referral Bonus, Search Analytics Dashboard, and Product Opportunity Explorer. In addition, it announced that it would be increasing the FBA New Selection program’s benefits, and launching the New Seller Starter Pack in Q1 2022 to help sellers “kick start early sales.”

Amazon also pointed out that U.S. sellers sold over 3.8 billion products in Amazon stores alone this year, with a growth of more than 200,000 new third-party sellers in the U.S. store – 45% more than last year.

However, Amazon will get no empathy from sellers who have in the past 18 months been quite scarred by Amazon’s restock limits and made to outsource much of their storage to third-party warehouses, further increasing costs to sellers in the process. It’s rather more salt in the wound.

If these fee increases see restock limits done away with as Amazon mentioned at their Amazon Accelerate online event back in October 2021, that will help to offset these fee hikes. If not, it just means less margins for sellers, making it more important than ever to find other ways to save on costs across the supply chain through diligent inventory management and smart shipping optimization.

For more information on the fee changes, visit www.amazon.com/selling-fee-changes.

Amazon Updates Program Policies

Amazon Updates Program Policies

Heads up! On 15th November 2021, Amazon announced that it plans to change its program policies concerning all European Amazon sellers using features or services covered by said policies. While the current information about these updates is fairly vague, they have gone on record to say that these updates will constitute significant alterations to Amazon’s policies, so you should make yourself aware of the changes accordingly.

The following updates will come into effect starting on 30th November 2021:

Amazon will be updating policies relating to its Multi-Channel Fulfilment (MCF) program, including clarifications pertaining to specific operational characteristics of the MCF program.

Amazon will also be clarifying program policies for Account Health Monitoring; Category, Product and Content Restrictions; and Order Defect Rate so that they align with the Amazon Services Europe Business Solutions Agreement (BSA).

Additionally, the following updates will come into effect starting on 15th December 2021:

Amazon will add its current FBA required removals page to the list of program policies and update the policy to establish a shorter seven-day period (instead of the previous policy of 30 days) for sellers to remove FBA inventory that is unfulfillable due to its expiration date from Amazon’s fulfillment centers as soon as Amazon notifies sellers.

Amazon notes that it is shortening the period of notice for expiration-dated products to stop products from expiring while sitting in its fulfillment centers, allowing Amazon to donate more inventory should sellers decide they do not wish to have it removed. Sellers should adjust their preferences for the automated removal of their unfulfillable inventory in their FBA settings accordingly.

Finally, the following updates will come into effect starting on 10th January 2022:

Amazon is updating its Amazon Renewed Programme Terms so that it reflects new mandates in the EU and UK relating to mobile phones, which require diagnostic tests that ensure all devices’ data sanitization (erasing data from the previous owner) and functionality standards are up to par. Moreover, Amazon Renewed sellers must produce official mobile phone test records when necessary to be submitted for periodic inventory audits.

With these new policy changes coming into effect, you should familiarize yourself with the updates as Amazon begins rolling them out in the next month and a half.

Amazon Increases FBA Capacity and Restock Limits

Amazon Increases FBA Capacity and Restock Limits

On November 8th, Amazon announced that additional FBA storage capacity for UK and EU sellers has now gone live.

In 2020, Amazon increased the square footage of its fulfillment and logistics network. This year, it has opened 10 new UK and EU fulfillment centers, with 7 centers starting operations in September.

With this increase in FBA capacity, Amazon says, sellers can expect to see an increase in their restock limits as well. Amazon encouraged its seller network to review and streamline inventory and optimize product selection in preparation for the upcoming peak demand season – including eliminating any inventory that hasn’t been selling well.

Responses from FBA sellers on Amazon forums were a mixed bag. Some had indeed seen an increase in their restock limits, while others had seen no change yet. Many commented that while their restock limits had increased, their storage volume had remained the same, rendering the restock limit increase useless. Of course, those challenges would only face sellers whose IPI scores are below 450.

Other UK sellers mentioned that they had already been blessed with unlimited storage prior to the update, but have their fingers crossed that Amazon won’t retract its new increased restock limits in the coming weeks or months. In its announcement, Amazon itself warned sellers that new waves of COVID restrictions and other unexpected events could force them to “adjust” their plan.

On the U.S. side of things, sellers in the States saw a sudden decrease in their restock limits in September, with reductions ranging from 6% to 70%. However, since Amazon often launches policy updates in the EU and UK before introducing them in the U.S., stateside sellers may hope for an increase in their restock limits there as well in the near future. They even mentioned at their recent Amazon Accelerate event in October that the plan to get rid of restock limits altogether, though we aren’t holding our breath on the promise just yet.

Pro Tip: View our Amazon Restock Limits guide for quick wins to improving your limits.

Amazon Launches New Dashboard for Returns Performance

Amazon Launches New Dashboard for Returns Performance

Amazon has recently launched an up-to-date dashboard displaying Returns Performance to help sellers monitor their returns statistics as well as to proactively address problems for manually managed returns.

The dashboard provides sellers more insight into their returns while focusing on three vital metrics for returns performance. These include:

  • Return requests that were approved over 24 hours ago: This refers to the number of requests manually approved over 24 hours from when the first request for return was received.
  • Return requests that are declined: Essentially, this is the number of requests declined by you, the seller.
  • Return-related customer contact rate: This metric will count one contact for each unique buyer requesting a return, irrespective of how many messages are sent by the buyer.

All of these performance metrics contain details of the metric performance, metric definition, target threshold for each metric, policy information, plus an explanation of the importance of each metric.

Amazon has simultaneously launched a Returns Analysis page, helping sellers to isolate and act on any listings that suffer from return issues. Additionally, by clicking Review Returns Performance, sellers can open a pop-up window inside the Manage Returns page, giving a summary of the metrics for returns performance.

The End Of Rebates, Two-Steps URLs, & Other Search Rank Manipulation

The End Of Rebates, Two-Steps URLs, & Other Search Rank Manipulation

Amazon has just made an unconventional announcement via one of its Forum Moderators (which we’ll circle back to in just a minute) to clarify the rules of its Seller Code of Conduct, which aims to combat the reportedly increasing amount of sales rank manipulation. Recently, Amazon noted that it had received many inquiries about its incentive policies, especially those related to driving buyer discovery and conversion through off-Amazon coupons and rebates made to drive purchases on its platform.

Amazon continues to allow sales promotions that are offered directly upon the Amazon platform, such as deals, discounts, and coupons. However, the use of rankings boosting practices such as super URLs, two-step URLs, funnels, search-find-buy, rebates, or similar off-Amazon marketing incentives is in violation of the Seller Code of Conduct. As you probably know, the issue Amazon has with these types of promotions is that they falsely inflate rankings in Amazon search. Amazon’s claim as a reason for the enforcement is that it can be an abusive practice toward customers and other sellers, assumingly by creating a false sense of the popularity of the product and providing an unfair advantage over sellers not using these practices.

Yet, what’s most interesting about this announcement from Amazon is how they decided to broadcast the message, which, as we mentioned above, was through a Moderator named ‘SEAmod’ on the official Amazon Forum, rather than its typical channel for seller announcements, which is called Amazon News. This has led to speculation from Amazon sellers that the company is gearing up for a major update to its Seller Code of Conduct policies, with rumors coming from those in Amazon’s inner circles that the company might announce the changes as early as next month to curb these types of infringements.

New Carrier Tracking Requirements & Improving OOS Listing Discoverability

New Carrier Tracking Requirements & Improving OOS Listing Discoverability

As of November 1, 2021, all FBA sellers who create non-partnered carrier shipments will need to supply the name of their chosen carrier and a tracking ID should the carrier provide it, thanks to new requirements from Amazon, which it claims will help to improve the receiving process.

This recent change is something that was announced for the European Amazon marketplace but US sellers should be prepared to see it roll out in their region soon after as Amazon often seems to launch policy updates in EU/UK before pushing them stateside.

So, if you’re an FBA seller using a non-Amazon-partnered carrier for your shipments, you will need to provide carrier information and a tracking code prior to the shipment arriving at the fulfillment center. On the other hand, if you make use of Amazon’s Partnered Carrier program or Amazon Global Logistics, these changes will not apply since Amazon will generate the tracking code for you.

Concerns from FBA sellers on Amazon forums have noted that providing such information could be a very time-consuming task with large inventory lists. Parcel shipments will require a tracking ID for every box, while full-truckload and less-than-truckload shipments require a freight progressive number (PRO, or progressive rotating order number) for every shipment.

A PRO number is a 7-10 digit number used to track shipments as they progress through the delivery process. Without getting in the weeds on how tracking numbers work, the PRO is a part of the actual tracking number. It will be generated by and you can get it from your carrier. It will appear on the shipping labels. For clarity’s sake, have your carrier indicate to you your PRO number to submit to Amazon.

Find more information on these tracking obligations at Track your shipment (Shipping Queue).

Amongst all the headaches of having to provide tracking information are one or two shiny, bright spots. Amazon asserts that these new tracking policies will allow it to avoid delays on the receiving end, thus making the inventory available to customers faster. The way we can foresee this to be possible is that it could help with workload and workflow planning if they know what is scheduled to arrive when.

Additionally, when you supply your tracking numbers, your inventory may qualify for In-Stock Head Start. If this is the case, your product will show as Active on the Manage Inventory page and, even though your items that are not currently in stock, if your shipment is close enough to arriving its listing may be live and listed for sale on Amazon since the platform will have access to tracking information for your in-transit shipments.

This feature has long been available for Amazon Partner Carrier and Amazon Global Logistics users but has not been a feature for those opting for other shipping solutions until now.

You can submit the tracking information via the Track Shipment tab on the Summary page found in the shipment workflow. Alternatively, you can provide the details through Amazon Marketplace Web Services. For the fastest receiving times, ensure you have mapped the tracking codes for parcel shipments to the correct FBA box ID label on each box.

It’s important to note that Amazon will monitor the defect rate of your missing tracking info for every shipment, which could affect your Amazon business should you not fulfill these new obligations.

Just another hurdle to climb on the jungle gym that is Amazon.

Amazon Releases Free Product Research Tool Named ‘Product Opportunity Explorer’

Amazon Releases Free Product Research Tool Named ‘Product Opportunity Explorer’

To satisfy unmet customer needs, Amazon has recently introduced “Product Opportunity Explorer,” a new product research tool that helps third-party sellers identify innovative new items to launch and sell on its website.

It is hinted at but not fully clear whether sellers will be provided with more detailed data on product niches that Amazon does not have current offerings for. Access to more of Amazon’s internal search data might provide knowledge as to which areas are being underserved on Amazon and this very well could be a means for Amazon to provide third-party sellers the opportunity to launch products within that space quickly. This would be a smart move on Amazon’s part as it would help third-party sellers to develop and launch products that buyers are not finding on the marketplace currently.

Empowering Sellers with Advanced Capabilities

The Product Opportunity Explorer is an excellent addition to any seller’s marketing arsenal. While it seems, at face value, to be an Amazon version of the tools that many AMZ software marketing suites have been offering for years, our hope is that it will provide more actual internal data that has not been wholly available to us previously.

This new tool intends to help sellers discover new market opportunities by providing valuable insights into what shoppers are truly searching for, visiting, and purchasing (and not purchasing) on Amazon itself.

It also provides rich information on a product’s search volume, pricing trends, past sales, and growth potential. This way, sellers can efficiently gauge and assess its potential on Amazon, i.e., whether or not it will gain customer traction.

Once a new product is ready for launch, sellers may opt to join Amazon’s FBA New Selection program to qualify for free product removals, return processing, and monthly storage for all new-to-FBA parent ASINS for a limited time. Keeping costs low while launching a new product will help sellers improve their margins during the early sales period.

Eliminate Guesses from Growth Strategy

Product Opportunity Explorer gets its data straight from the source (Amazon). So, the insights it provides are based on what customers actually want and need rather than making educated guesses, which many third-party tools do.

Therefore, Amazon’s product research tool helps take the guesswork out of discovering which new products to sell. And since all the data sellers need for their research comes from a single location, it makes the job less time-consuming, allowing them to come up with new offerings more efficiently.

Of course, we take everything with a grain of salt as it is an Amazon tool and we’ve found often that non-Amazon tools have been much more accurate, workable, and user-friendly. At the same time, this is a search data-driven tool and the source of the data being Amazon means that this tool has a higher likelihood of being a valuable resource.

Time will tell, but it is certainly an intriguing and interesting new development that we hope will benefit the seller community well.

Rollout Plan

Available for free in Seller Central, Amazon’s product research tool is currently in testing mode, with plans to make it accessible to all sellers in 2022.

New Documentation for Supplements Required to Avoid Listing Removal

New Documentation for Supplements Required to Avoid Listing Removal

As more and more questionable food supplements come onto the market with claims that they can support weight loss, improve memory and attention span, or enhance sexual performance, Amazon further reins in the supplements niche. As if automatic listing suspensions when you use mysterious restricted terms weren’t bad enough, get ready to submit to more rigorous compliance.

In late September 2021, Amazon began requesting that sellers in the UK and EU who list certain high-risk food supplements submit compliance and safety documentation for products that fall within these sub-categories. Primary focus seems to be within the sexual enhancement and weight loss segments but, in true Amazon fashion, we do not have a complete list of those under fire so all sellers in food supplements should be prepared and should also skim their listings for anything that might push them unnecessarily into being flagged for those categories.

It has always been the case that products sold on Amazon’s platform must comply with national and international laws and its own policies for compliance and safety. But it seems Amazon is increasing the regulation, verification and enforcement of these products. This could be a good thing for some sellers in that it could help to thin the competition and make it more difficult for bad actors to enter the space. On the other hand, we can be certain that some good sellers will fall within the crosshairs and suffer from these updated policies.

Amazon’s new legislation dictates that sellers who wish to continue trading these kinds of supplements will now need to provide documentation that they have been manufactured according to national healthcare standards, which differ from county to country. To find out more about which requirements are necessary for each county, Amazon suggests reading these guidelines. In addition, you can visit Seller Central and Vendor Central to view the compliance status of listings and to upload new documentation.

While these policy changes only affect sellers of food supplements in certain categories, Amazon has reminded all sellers of food supplements and grocery category products to ensure that their listings comply with its latest food and food supplement regulations.

Amazon will provide sellers with a 60-day grace period to get up to speed with the new rules, but any food supplements product listings that fall into the high-risk categories that are not accompanied with the required documentation are subject to removal as early as November 2021. Supplements usually tend to have a big boost in January due to New Year’s Resolutions so make sure you are prepared to avoid such disasters.

Amazon Inventory Deadlines For Q4

Amazon Inventory Deadlines For Q4

UPDATE: Amazon just moved up their Christmas inventory deadline to December 2nd instead of the December 11th deadline they had initially mentioned in an earlier announcement. The dates quoted below have been updated accordingly.

Make sure that you don’t run out of stock this holiday season by preparing your inventory for Q4 well before Amazon’s deadlines.

To avoid missing any opportunities and to offer your customers the best discounts and deals without interruption, be sure that all your inventory reaches Amazon’s fulfillment centers before the following dates:

  • November 15th for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, meaning your inventory should be ready to send by mid-October.
  • December 2nd for Christmas, meaning your inventory should be ready to send by early November.

One way to prepare for the holidays is with an inventory and logistics checklist. With factors like the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic causing worldwide labor shortages in production and logistics sectors, plus the recent typhoons, floods and ongoing power cuts in China, the global supply chain is fraught with delays, so making sure you are on the ball with your delivery timelines is crucial.

Another thing you can do to get ready for Q4 is to create a calendar with FBA holiday selling dates. Your calendar should include all the US national holidays, and you should add blackout dates that might affect your Amazon business. Alternatively, you can simply download our Blackout Days Calendar and use this information to add supplier blackout dates to your SoStocked account.

If you need any further information on getting ready for holidays or selling dates, you can also read Amazon’s guidelines here, or if you want to learn more about what Amazon’s deals your products qualify for, head over to their deals page.

Delivery Time Accuracy With New Amazon Shipping Settings Automation Tool

Delivery Time Accuracy With New Amazon Shipping Settings Automation Tool

Amazon has released a powerful new tool for sellers that it calls Shipping Settings Automation (SSA). This tool is specifically geared toward Merchant-Fulfilled and Seller-Fulfilled Prime shipments. It lets you create shipping templates quickly to provide your buyers with more accurate delivery estimates per region.
Plus, thanks to this new feature, you won’t need to calculate shipping times for each region manually anymore because SSA will do it for you automatically. It does this by using your warehouse(s) location, the buyer’s location, and up-to-the-minute information from the carrier(s) you use. Essentially, this saves you time as it eliminates the need to update your shipping templates with accurate details. Read on to find out more about how it works, how you can use it to your advantage, and what to watch out for when using the settings.

Who can use SSA, and what are the benefits?

As of now, SSA supports automated delivery times for domestic self-fulfilled standard shipping, including expedited one and two-day deliveries, as well as Seller-Fulfilled Prime. It comes as no surprise that buyers want fast delivery times, so having a tool that allows you to provide customers with the most accurate information is something you should seriously consider adding to your seller arsenal. Even if your delivery times are a little longer, giving your customers precise transit times will go a long way to improving buyer satisfaction by setting expectations, and in the long term, this should improve customer relations and potentially show up in more positive reviews for your Amazon business.

As mentioned, SSA supports shipping region automation for domestic Seller-Fulfilled Prime one and two-day deliveries as well. This is especially significant as you must hit Amazon’s delivery speed targets to remain in the Seller-Fulfilled Prime program.

One more benefit SSA offers is that it can reduce the occurrence of over-estimation for delivery times. So often, sellers err on the side of caution and relay to their customers longer delivery times than what it will actually take for the product(s) to arrive. With SSA’s automation settings, the delivery times you promise your buyers will be much closer to the actual speed of delivery. Accurately predicting faster delivery times could mean the difference between the customer adding to cart or bouncing.

Are there any requirements to use SSA?

If you want to take advantage of SSA, you have to use the carrier selected in your settings, so make sure you’re happy with your shipping service provider before you set things up. Alternatively, you can opt for “Buy Shipping” to choose through Amazon any carrier that meets customers’ expectations.

Bear in mind that Amazon will be monitoring your delivery performance, and if it notices that you are not meeting the requirements, Amazon might add time to the delivery promise your customer sees.

To get started with SSA, go to the Shipping Settings and edit your current shipping template, or start from scratch by creating a new shipping template.

This feature could be a great competitive edge over those not quick enough to implement as we move into the holiday season especially as FBM becomes more necessary with restock limits.

China’s Widespread Power Cuts Further Strain Global Supply Chain

China’s Widespread Power Cuts Further Strain Global Supply Chain

If there isn’t already enough going on to disrupt the global supply chain, you can now add power cuts and forced electricity rationing throughout China to the list.

It seems like one supply issue after another, and we’re still dealing with backlogs thanks to the past typhoons and flooding that swept across the nation and forced port, terminal, and warehouse closures, not to mention the still present disruptions thanks to COVID.

All of these factors have put further strain on production and logistics, and as Amazon sellers work to get their last Q4 shipments out of the country, these electricity supply issues couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Due to the significant increase in lead times that will be created by this problem, suppliers are even beginning to encourage sellers to get their Q1 inventory orders sent in as soon as possible so it can ship before Chinese New Year.

The power restrictions and supply issues result from government orders aimed at reducing energy consumption, part of China’s greater plan to enforce tighter environmental regulations, coupled with the fact that coal prices have reached record levels, making it impossible for many power plants to run a profitable business.

Government Push For Energy Targets

Word has it from state-run newspapers that many local governments have ordered the curbs on electricity use so as not to miss the targets laid out by the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing regarding emissions intensity and energy reduction. These rules imposed by the CCP are an attempt to make China fully carbon-neutral by 2060.

These recent curtailments come after the nation’s chief economic planner identified nine provinces last month that had increased energy intensity over the first six months of 2021, amid a rapid economic recovery witnessed in China after the peak of the pandemic.

So far, the cuts have been felt in over ten provinces, with commercial powerhouses like Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu being some of the worst affected. Many of China’s major production companies are based in these regions, and news sources in China reported that several of these businesses had gone as far as to declare the impacts of the power shortages in filings with stock exchanges.

It is advisable for sellers to reach out to their own suppliers for updates on lead times and whether their production has been affected. Some of our personal sources in China share that this may become more widespread across the country in coming months so all sellers should be prepared. We have also learned that some factories have had to supplement their power sources with generators. Judging by these hardships, plan for not just lead time increases but possibly cost increases as well due to the economic shifts all this will likely create.

Coal Prices Hit Record High

Meanwhile, as electricity demand has risen, so has the price of coal, and with the government austerely regulating electricity prices, coal-fired power plants are unwilling to operate at a loss. In fact, coal prices are now at an all-time high, making business unprofitable for several of the country’s largest power plants, with many drastically reducing their power output, leading to supply issues in many provinces.

Since China still relies heavily on coal, with more than half of the country’s power coming from the combustible energy source, we should prepare for a rough time on the supply chain ahead if these gaps do become more prevalent and expand into more areas. If that does occur, the effects of supply issues could be more severe than even the previous power limitations that hit many parts of China over the summer. Developing more flexibility along your supply chain and finding backup suppliers may become more important now than ever.

New Changes To Removal Of Aged Inventory

New Changes To Removal Of Aged Inventory

In preparation for the holiday rush, Amazon has recently updated its Automated Removal of Aged Inventory.

The update broadens the scope of said service and introduces a value-recovery option. You can now enable automatic removals for the following types of inventory and opt to liquidate them at the same time:

  • Inventory that’s left sitting in Amazon warehouses for over 12 months and likely to incur long-term storage fees.
  • Inventory that has remained unsold for 6 consecutive months and has been in Amazon for over half a year.

Prior to the update, Amazon only accepted automatic removal of unsellable inventory (products returned by customers in bad condition) and inventory that was subject to long-term storage fees.

The recent move is most likely an attempt to allow more room for popular products this Q4 to brace for another eCommerce-driven holiday sale period and to create a more streamlined way of sellers clearing out old inventory systematically. Adopting this feature could help improve your IPI score and minimize holding costs.

Meanwhile, the newly added value-recovery option allows you to liquidate aging inventory through Amazon’s FBA Liquidations Program. You could recoup 5% to 10% of your product’s selling price by liquidating inventory while avoiding long-term storage fees. The net value recovered should appear in your account 60 to 90 days after the liquidation order is submitted. You’re not going to make a lot of money for sure, but it’s still a better option than simply disposing of your products.

However, if liquidation is not the right option for you, consider creating a Removal Order to have your items sent back to you instead. Simply adjust your Automated Fulfillable Inventory settings and input your return address.

Regularly check your Manage Inventory Health page to identify aging inventory or slow sellers before they start incurring additional storage costs and affecting your IPI score. For more tips, check out this article: Excess Inventory: Why It’s Bad and How to Reduce It?

Amazon Egypt Now Open For Business

Amazon Egypt Now Open For Business

With its launch on September 1, Amazon Egypt became the e-commerce giant’s 20th global marketplace, while its new Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) logistics center in the country is the first of its kind in Africa.

Until now, the leading online shopping platform in Egypt was Souq.com, which Amazon had acquired for $580 million back in 2017. However, as witnessed with Souq stores in the United Arab Emirates in May 2019 and Saudi Arabia in June 2020, Amazon has completely rebranded the localized platform to fall in line with its internationally recognized user interface now operating as Amazon.eg.

Egypt is an emerging e-commerce market with approximately US$4 billion in annual trade, and trends over the last decade indicate that the market is expanding rapidly. Thus, Amazon sees now as the right time to establish a foothold in the country by putting down roots and growing its brand.

As part of the rebranding, Amazon has migrated all existing Souq accounts to its new platform, meaning its users will still have the same login details and information like payment credentials and delivery addresses; even their wish lists have been moved across. In addition, all the familiar product categories will be available on the new site, meaning Eqyptian shoppers will enjoy the same conveniences as those in other countries.

“Today marks a proud day for Souq.com and Amazon, a day we have been working toward since the two companies came together,” commented Omar Elsahy, Country Manager of Amazon Egypt. “Amazon.eg brings together Souq.com’s local know-how and Amazon’s global expertise, something we believe will be of significant value to customers across Egypt. We’re only getting started, and we will keep innovating in ways that are meaningful to our customers, as we remain laser-focused on providing them with exceptional service, fast delivery, and great prices and selection on millions of items.”

Amazon Egypt’s local competitors include Nigeria’s Jumia and the UAE’s Noon, and compared to other countries where Amazon operates, the Egyptian market is relatively small. However, when combined with the above-mentioned Amazon stores in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the region becomes rather lucrative. Plus, as is often the case, the early bird gets the worm, and sellers who get their foot in the door first will find considerably less competition than they are used to in markets like the U.S. and Europe, so you may want to brush up on your Arabic!

As of now, Prime isn’t available in Egypt, but all orders on Amazon.eg directly from Amazon or sellers using FBA over 350 EGP ($22), will qualify for free shipping. Nationwide delivery is said to take no more than 1-2 business days, while deliveries within the Cairo – Giza – Qalyubia metropolitan area only take 1 day.

Why Have Amazon Sellers Suffered a Significant Drop in Restock Limits?

Why Have Amazon Sellers Suffered a Significant Drop in Restock Limits?

Many sellers have seen sudden restock limit decreases of up to 70% despite strong sales!

What’s going on?

There’s been chatter among sellers and influencers about Amazon revising restock limits in the US marketplace. The restock limit reductions reportedly range from 6% to 70%, putting affected sellers at risk of going over the limit earlier than expected – or suddenly being pushed over limit with this new drop.

For instance, one seller saw a 10% decrease on Monday, August 30th, and another 25% decrease a few days later. Others weren’t so lucky and suffered a huge blow with a 70% restock limit reduction overnight!

Why is this happening?

There could be many reasons why this is happening. Many speculate that Amazon is simply overwhelmed right now, so they resorted to pulling the “Oh, shit!” lever on FBA sellers.

As we all know, Amazon’s algorithm calculates inventory limits using various factors. But every so often, they will lower sellers’ max inventory capacity considerably without warning.

One particular time that they did it was in May. And the reason behind that move was to help speed up check-in times before Prime Day.

If Amazon tends to reduce restock limits before key selling dates, we have good reason to think that the decreases we see today are part of their plan to:

  • Restrict the volume of shipments coming in this month to accelerate check-in times before Q4.
  • Conserve warehouse space to accommodate the expected inventory influx of certain products and categories to meet customer demand this holiday season. If your restock limits have been dropping despite good sales, look into your utilization percentage and quickly move excess inventory to free up storage space where possible.

It seems the recent decreases are not based solely on sales performance metrics, which explains why some top-performing sellers are also affected.

Underlying Causes

If we dig deeper into why Amazon’s pulling the lever again, we’ll find that continuing pandemic repercussions may be a culprit: current global supply chain problems, warehouse labor shortages, and skirmishes, and possibly even Hurricane Ida may all be factors at the root of our restock limit issues.

It is likely that Amazon is still dealing with the backlogs left by recent slowdowns at China’s terminals and labor disruptions due to typhoons and COVID. And let us not forget the ripple effects of past supply chain disruptions (Suez Canal, driver shortages, etc…) that are still being felt. Therefore, Amazon is, perhaps, trying to avoid overwhelming their warehouses further with too many shipments before Q4.

None of them are within our control as sellers, which is frustrating. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do something about it.

Here’s a couple of tips to overcome lower restock limits:

1. The Golden Rule in avoiding stockouts: Don’t let anyone have all your stuff! 

In more familiar terms: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, from sudden restock limit decreases and port shutdowns to warehouse labor disruptions. Having a backup plan – or several – is more critical now than ever.

If Amazon rejects your inbound shipment because you’re suddenly over the limit, but you don’t have a backup warehouse or fulfillment center, you’ll stock out and lose sales. Having a third-party fulfillment center allows you to switch to FBM quickly and continue fulfilling orders from there. This also helps to maintain your restock limits while stocked out at FBA, as we’ve covered in our comprehensive Amazon restock limits article.

You also need a backup plan for your import/export and warehouse to FBA logistics. If you put all of your newly manufactured inventory on one boat and that boat gets stuck at port for 3 weeks, your stockout risk is high. But if you have held back an inventory reserve with your supplier that you can air freight in case of such an emergency, you can avoid stocking out while avoiding expensive air freight if your ocean shipping goes to plan. This is also known as CYA: Cover Your Ass.

Similarly and commonly, if you are used to sending all of your inventory LTL from warehouse to FBA and Amazon neglects to check it in for 4 weeks (it’s been known to happen), what do you do? In that case, if you reserve some inventory at your 3PL, send a smaller amount or inventory Small Parcel Delivery (SPD) as loose cartons get checked in faster than LTL.

Making contingency plans like this provides you the flexibility you need within the chaotic conditions under which we’re selling.

2. Run flash sales

As mentioned earlier, Amazon wants to relieve its overcrowded warehouses. So, they’re likely using excess inventory and utilization percentage as influencing factors for calculating restock limits and really forcing sellers to trim the fat in every way possible before the Q4 crush.

If you suffered a significant restock limit decrease due to overutilization, use excess inventory to run flash sales. This tactic will help you clear up needed storage space and improve your sales velocity and sell-through. Alternatively, consider liquidating your excess inventory if you’re in an emergency situation and don’t have the time to run a flash sale.

The bottom line is: there are things you can do to be more prepared for situations like these the next time they come around.

The thing you should not do is abandon your focus on sell-through and proper inventory management practices that improve your IPI score and restock limits just because every now and then Amazon itself throws those rules out the window.

That would be like giving up on successful PPC and ranking strategies because every now and then Amazon suspends a best seller.

Keep doing the things that work, follow successful inventory management practices on Amazon, and prepare for those times when Amazon breaks its own rules. The game is always changing on Amazon. That is the only constant we can be sure of. Our job as entrepreneurs is to roll with those punches better than our competitors do.

Have a backup plan, don’t let Amazon be your only distribution channel, and, finally, have a backup plan to your backup plan.

SoStocked Prices Increasing After Friday, September 17th, 2021

UPDATE: We had so many people reaching out that we extended the price increase through Midnight on Monday, September 20th, 2021.

But that’s it! After that, prices are going WAY up and the Unlimited Plan (Unlimited Orders, Unlimited SKUs etc…) and locking in grandfathered lifetime pricing is going away foreverGet The Unlimited Plan Here ➜

If you’re still on the fence about signing up, attend our last minute group demo.

SoStocked Prices Increasing After Friday, September 17th, 2021

ANNOUNCEMENT: SoStocked’s Amazon inventory management software UNLIMITED PLAN and locking-in LIFETIME PRICING is going away. 👋

If you’ve been on the fence and haven’t yet signed up for SoStocked, NOW IS THE TIME. Seriously, prices are going WAY up, and I don’t want you to miss out when we flip the switch.

This does NOT affect existing accounts. You will NOT see a price increase. HOWEVER, you might want to consider purchasing an ADDITIONAL account if you think you’ll need it in the future.

All newly created accounts will be subject to the new pricing structure, whether registering an additional account, or a brand new account.

Since our launch back in 2019, you’ve seen our prices steadily increase as we’ve released new features ⚡️ and beefed up our team 💪 of coders, customer support, and server infrastructure.

Until now, we’ve had ONE unlimited plan 🔥 and have grandfathered customers into receiving new software features we released for the sweet deal of $79 per month.

But that’s ENDING Friday, September 17th, 2021 at midnight.

We’ve got BIG plans for Q4 and 2022. And with big plans come big expenses 💰💰💰.

So we’ll be raising our prices and switching to a tiered pricing model based on the number of orders, SKUs, and feature upgrades.

There will NO LONGER be an unlimited plan with unlimited orders, unlimited SKUs, and no getting grandfathered into big future feature releases. 🤯

So if you (or your friends) are interested in creating new OR additional accounts, we’d be happy to honor our current pricing of $79/month for UNLIMITED orders, SKUs, and features thru Friday, SEPTEMBER 17TH.

Jump on over and create an account

Share this with a friend who might not forgive you if you don’t let them in on this sweet deal.

Amazon Search Shadowban For Products That Violate Title Guidelines

Amazon Search Shadowban For Products That Violate Title Guidelines

While most Amazon sellers are familiar with suppressed listings, which hide listings from shoppers that do not meet Amazon’s product information standards, many may not be aware of the search suppression Amazon imposes on listings with titles that do not meet its guidelines.

What is Search Suppression?

Think along the lines of what we see happening on social media platforms like Instagram, where posts are shadowbanned if a user’s content violates community guidelines or is deemed inappropriate in any way. Then, Instagram will hide or restrict that content without any warning or notification, and it means that the post won’t show up on other users’ Instagram news feeds, while the person who posted the content will be none the wiser.

The suppressed searches on Amazon work in a very similar manner, and Amazon has gone so far as to state that it will hide any items sold under high-risk categories (those where Amazon is more likely to suffer from liability issues) with titles containing restricted keywords from searches.

What is restricted remains somewhat ambiguous as Amazon tends to add new restricted keywords often without warning and only has a shortlist of restricted keywords on their official list, yet suspends accounts for many terms far outside that list.

However, we do know that titles containing promotional keywords and phrases like “free shipping” or “100% quality guaranteed” are prime candidates for search suppression. So are those with non-readable characters, including emojis and titles exceeding more than the allowable character length, usually 200 but can vary per category or sub-category. Of course, titles not containing any product identifying information are equally likely to face the same fate.

The tricky part with all of this is that Amazon, it seems, will likely never notify you when they have enforced search suppression on one of your listings, just as Instagram shadowban posts without a word.

Product Types that May Be Suppressed from Search

The complete list of sensitive categories on Amazon includes Alcoholic Beverage, Baby Product, Beauty, Cleaning Product, Consumer Electronics, Food And Beverage, Gifts And Occasions, Health Personal Care, Home, Kitchen, Luggage, Paper Product, Party Supplies, Pet Supplies, Prescription Eyewear, and Tobacco And Cannabis Products.

If you have any listing that falls under these categories, you should be extra careful to ensure you have followed all of Amazon’s title guidelines for its US and EU marketplaces. 

Why is Amazon Suppressing Searches Rather than Just Listing Suspensions?

From our assessment, it seems that Amazon wants to remove accountability by hiding listings that shoppers are searching for if they deem a listing to violate its terms. Another part of their focus on Amazon customer experience being of the utmost importance.

However, the product remains available to buy on Amazon, and sellers can continue to drive external traffic to their listing via other off-Amazon marketing strategies. Amazon would not want to miss out on a new customer and the traffic you may be sending to Amazon. They may allow you to make sales using your own traffic efforts to your own potential customers, but they don’t want you giving their current customers a potentially negative experience through misrepresentation of products or non-compliant titling.

Search suppression is an interesting and potentially hard to identify, an issue that could make figuring out why you are not making more sales quite difficult. So knowing and adhering to this policy is important.

If you want to find out more about search suppression and which of your ASINs may be affected, log in to your Seller Central account and open Inventory > Manage Inventory > Listing Quality Dashboard. 

Your Amazon Posts Can Now Appear On Your Product Detail Pages

Your Amazon Posts Can Now Appear On Your Product Detail Pages

Posts is Amazon’s new advertising tool that helps drive your brand awareness and increase the likelihood of product discovery and consideration by providing shoppers with a curated selection of lifestyle imagery via a shoppable news feed.

While Posts is currently undergoing beta testing, when launched, the new platform aims to allow sellers to attract shoppers that have a genuine interest in their products. What’s more, Posts streamlines the shopping process by letting users click through from a brand’s feed directly to its product pages, all within Amazon’s mobile shopping app.

Speculation from sellers currently using the beta version suggests that Amazon will roll out the full version of Posts in the next few weeks. Not only will it provide you with a new way of showcasing your products, but it will also help to increase your reach and develop a stronger brand identity by sharing your content with the right customers.

Amazon has also begun testing new placement for these posts within your actual product detail pages, which they should be releasing more widely within the next few weeks. So not only will shoppers be able to discover your brand and products via Posts, but they would also be able to discover your content once they have found your product through traditional Amazon shopping methods. These Posts on your sales page could improve conversions significantly if intelligently used, as sellers can create content that shows the many benefits, features, and uses of their products, increasing appeal, and purchasing.

By tailoring content for shoppers with specific interests, Posts lets you engage with the people who want to learn more about what you have to offer, affording you the opportunity to bring your brand to life. Whether you want to drive discovery or educate shoppers about your products, Posts gives you the chance to post as much content as you want for free, so you may as well take advantage of what it has to offer!

Amazon Grade And Resell Program Rolled Out To Reduce FBA Waste

Amazon Grade And Resell Program Rolled Out To Reduce FBA Waste

In a bid to reduce the negative environmental impacts of its e-commerce business model and stop perfectly good, returned items from unnecessarily becoming trash, Amazon has recently launched Grade and Resell.

The new initiative, which is now live in the UK, makes it possible for third-party sellers to sell items that have been returned through Amazon’s network as “used.” In an effort to cut down on e-waste, the new program comes after independent investigations into Amazon’s FBA warehouses, which reported that Amazon had labeled millions of returned and unsold items for destruction.

In an interview, an ex-employee from Amazon told ITV News, “From a Friday to a Friday, our target was to generally destroy 130,000 items a week. I used to gasp. There’s no rhyme or reason to what gets destroyed: Dyson fans, Hoovers, the occasional MacBook, and iPad; the other day, 20,000 Covid (face) masks still in their wrappers.”

Meanwhile, the new program is still undergoing beta testing in the US and is running on an invite-only basis, but Amazon claims the service will be fully operational there by the end of the year, along with France, Germany, Spain, and Italy following in early 2022.

So what does it mean for Amazon sellers? Previous to the launch of the Amazon Grade and Resell program, third-party sellers had the choice to donate the unsold items, or they would remain sitting on warehouse shelves until their eventual destruction. Either way, sellers would absorb the financial losses.

But now, when a buyer returns an item, sellers can automatically funnel these items through Grade and Resell, after which Amazon will give the “used” item one of the following familiar ratings:

  • Used-Like New
  • Used-Very Good
  • Used-Good
  • Used-Acceptable

Then, since everything works through Amazon’s existing warehouse infrastructure, third-party sellers can set pricing for the item based on Amazon’s rating and sell it just like they would a new item.

While the program clearly benefits the environment as fewer items needlessly end up in landfills, some Amazon sellers remain cautious of the accuracy of Amazon’s grading system, which may result in negative customer feedback should the grading be incorrect or should Amazon resell items that are truly unsellable. However, the chance to profit from previously squandered stock means that some third-party sellers will likely be happy to see the changes implemented.

Sellers interested in the Amazon Grade and Resell program can discover more about how it works, product eligibility, and fees here and should familiarize themselves with the terms and conditions of the program before enrolling.

Amazon Overhauls Its A-to-z Guarantee Policies To Streamline Damages Claims

Amazon Overhauls Its A-to-z Guarantee Policies To Streamline Damages Claims

Starting September 1st, Amazon will begin paying out up to $1,000 in damages should a customer suffer harm from any products or items sold on its platform, no matter who the Seller is. Amazon says it will work with Sellers and keep them informed every step of the way when a damages dispute is initiated, but no further details have been made public about the move at this time.

Defective products can cause a lot of harm, and that harm can range from these $1,000 claims to amounts reaching into the hundreds of thousands. Nevertheless, when a product is sold on Amazon, Amazon is responsible for that product, and over time courts have been progressively deciding that Amazon should cough up the damages when a faulty item causes injury.
Amazon claims that 80% of damages claims usually amount to $1,000 or less. However, the remaining 20% is at risk of being a much more considerable sum, so while for years Amazon has been susceptible to huge liability exposure, these moves are a likely sign that the company is trying to streamline its claims process and figure out a way to limit its threat to exposure.

So, who is accountable for defective products? Regarding liability in terms of the supply chain of distribution, since every supplier, manufacturer, distributor, and retailer is on the hook for defective products, Amazon is by definition liable for the products sold on its platform. So, the $1,000 coverage could be a means of swaying consumers away from legal battles when the product in question falls into the 20% higher risk category.

On the other hand, Amazon says not only will it pay this $1,000 regardless of who the original seller is, and if they step up or not, but it is also announcing plans to start Amazon Insurance Accelerator, an initiative to help smaller sellers get product liability insurance. This new scheme likely stems from the fact that Amazon deals with many third-party vendors that it doesn’t have complete control over. Therefore, it is encouraging any vendor to get that liability insurance if that seller sells at least $10,000 per month for 3 consecutive months on Amazon, meaning that while Amazon still remains legally accountable, it has the means to deflect that liability.

Another noteworthy point worth covering under this overhaul is commingled inventory stored at Amazon warehouses. When numerous Sellers sell identical products from one location, the question of liability becomes somewhat ambiguous. But from a legal standpoint, Amazon is the distributor of these products, whether under the guise of Amazon or a third party, and remains liable.

Looking at what we know so far about the updates to Amazon’s A-to-z Guarantee, it sounds like a move intended to keep the company out of court and to swing the narrative in its favor by offering shoppers an upfront settlement, when in fact, a legal claim might be worth far more than that.

Now Factor Restock Limits Into Forecasts

Now Factor Restock Limits Into Forecasts

The new SoStocked software feature for factoring Amazon Restock Limits By Storage Type into forecasts is NOW LIVE!

See how it works and how to turn it on in your SoStocked account, or click “Contact Us” in the bottom right corner to ask us a question.

Not a customer yet? Book a live demo or sign-up for SoStocked and work with your onboarding specialist to get your inventory forecasting dialed in.

Streamline Shipments With “Send To Amazon”

Streamline Shipments With “Send To Amazon”

Send To Amazon is a new streamlined shipment creation workflow for FBA sellers that saves you time by simplifying FBA shipment creation. Amazon claims that Send To Amazon improves upon its older Send/Replenish Inventory workflow with new technology and a refreshed user interface, but does the new experience really make life easier for FBA sellers?

With the new system, you’re guided through a series of steps based on your decisions when creating shipments, but it’s important to note that the steps you see may vary based on your choices. To find out how beneficial the new shipment creation workflow is, let’s take a look at how it works.

Box Content Information

The first step in the workflow is providing box content information. Knowing the contents of each box allows Amazon to move your inventory rapidly through its network with minimal manual touches. Providing Amazon with accurate box content information also reduces the chances of boxes getting sidelined due to inconsistent shipment information, making your inventory available for sale faster.

You provide box content information through reusable case-pack templates for inventory shipped in boxes containing multiple units of the same SKU (single-SKU boxes). These templates contain information on how your SKUs are prepped, labeled, and packed and are ideal for SKUs shipped with the same box configuration shipment to shipment. Each time you create a shipment in Send To Amazon, the box content information is automatically identified from your case-pack template. You can simply enter the number of boxes to add them to the workflow and avoid entering other specific details from shipment to shipment when you always pack, prep, and label an SKU the same way.

If you’re packing more than one SKU in a box (mixed-SKU boxes), you’ll be prompted to enter the number of units of each SKU that you’re shipping. Once you have confirmed the inventory you want to send in mixed-SKU boxes, Amazon will determine which SKU can be packed together based on whether they require special handling at Amazon’s fulfilment centers. For example, SKUs considered to be hazardous materials (hazmat) cannot be packed with other SKUs since hazmat SKUs are shipped to special fulfilment centers that can safely receive them. You’re then prompted to provide box content information for each SKU group that can be packed together. You can directly enter the box weight and dimensions if you’re consolidating your mixed SKUs into one box. If you pack your inventory in multiple boxes, you’ll be prompted to upload your box packing details as a spreadsheet.

Finally, you can ship both single-SKU boxes and mixed-SKU boxes simultaneously using Send To Amazon. As an example, if you normally sell fast-selling products on FBA and want to test customer interest with a few new products, you can create shipments with single-SKU boxes using the case-pack template for your fast-selling products, and create mixed-SKU boxes for your new products in the same workflow.

Confirm Shipping

The next step in the workflow is to confirm shipping. Once you’ve provided box content information, Amazon will determine where each box has to be shipped, ensuring that inventory is placed close to customers. Amazon then estimates carrier fees to ship your inventory as individual boxes using small parcel delivery (SPD) or as pallets using less than truckload (LTL) options based on shipping destinations and boxes. This enables you to make a well-informed decision regarding the shipping mode that works best for you.

Whatever your shipping mode, you can choose to use an Amazon-partnered carrier and purchase your shipping labels from directly within Send To Amazon taking advantage of discounted shipping rates. However, you’re welcome to use any carrier you like to deliver your inventory to Amazon fulfillment centers.

After confirming your shipping, you’re ready to label your boxes and pallets. Let’s first consider the small parcel delivery shipping mode. Each box that you send to Amazon’s fulfillment centers requires an FBA box ID label, identifying the box’s contents. If you’re using an
Amazon-partnered carrier, a shipping label will be generated for each box in addition to the FBA box ID label. Make sure that the correct label is applied to the correct box. If you’re shipping pallets, an FBA box ID label will have to be placed on each box before you load it onto a pallet. Once the boxes are palletized, you’ll be prompted to choose your carrier and provide pallet details for each shipment in the workflow. After confirming pallet information, you’ll get four pallet labels for each pallet (one for each side of the pallet).

When you’re done labeling your boxes and/or pallets, you’re ready to hand them off to your carrier and start tracking when your inventory is received at Amazon’s fulfillment centers. If you’re using a non-partnered carrier, make sure you provide a tracking ID for your shipments so that Amazon can prepare for their arrival.

Out With The Old

As to whether or not the new system will make your daily workflow any smoother, only time will tell, but it’s likely that Send To Amazon is here to stay, and the older system will eventually be phased out. For now, you can try using the new Send To Amazon shipment creation workflow and send your feedback to Amazon about your experiences at [email protected]. Alternatively, you can learn more about Send To Amazon here.

Changes To Amazon Professional Selling Plan Fees

Changes To Amazon Professional Selling Plan Fees

Amazon has announced changes to the fees for its subscription-based Professional Selling Plan, which came into effect on August 1, 2021. The update affects sellers who have active listings across multiple countries and regions and use merged accounts.

According to Amazon, Sellers with merged worldwide accounts will no longer be billed for their subscription in one lump sum but instead will have their Selling on Amazon Fee divided across whatever accounts they use globally. Furthermore, Amazon will now charge the fees in the corresponding currency of whatever country Sellers have Amazon stores, but the subscription fee charges will only be billed for months when Sellers have active listings.

The good news is that no matter how many Amazon stores you have, the total amount for your combined monthly subscription fees remains capped at US $39.99/month per account (or the equivalent amount in other currencies). However, this amount is exclusive of any taxes, except in Brazil and Mexico, plus any fees for foreign transactions which may be charged by either your credit card issuer or bank, and it’s also worth noting that you might see these charges billed to accounts differently.

As an example, if you have multiple Amazon stores across different countries in the Americas region, such as one store in the United States, one store in Canada, one store in Mexico, and another store in Brazil, you will now be billed for your Professional Selling Plan subscription in US Dollars (USD), Canadian Dollars (CAD), Mexican Pesos (MXN), and Brazilian Real (BRL) individually. Still, even with the updated subscription fee calculation method, the total amount charged each month will not go up, but rather it will help you monitor how much you are spending in each country specifically.

Additionally, subscription fees for each store will no longer be billed on their registration’s “mensiversary” (a monthly recurring date of a past event). Instead, all of your subscription fees for your global stores will be aligned, meaning they will all be charged on the same day. In order to align Seller’s billing days, Amazon has said it will give a one-time-only extension on subscriptions at no extra cost where necessary.

Automated Amazon Stranded Inventory Removal

Automated Amazon Stranded Inventory Removal

This announcement is for sellers with stranded inventory in Amazon’s UK and EU fulfillment centers. The eCommerce giant has recently released new automated removal settings to make it easier to fix stranded inventory post-Brexit.

These new settings will allow you to:

  • Return your stranded products in the United Kingdom to a local address. The same rule applies to any inventory stranded in European countries. You can use a valid EU address that’s local to where you’re keeping your inventory.
  • Send your UK-stranded products to a local address AND discard any inventory stuck in a country in Europe where you don’t have a local address and vice versa.
  • Eliminate (dispose of) products stuck in both UK and EU fulfillment centers.

If you have any stranded inventory that needs to be returned or disposed of, update your existing automated settings by following these steps:

  1. Sign in to your Seller Central account and open the “Manage Inventory” tab.
  2. Go to the “Fix Stranded Inventory” page.
  3. Select “Edit Automatic Action Settings.”

Selecting “Edit Automatic Action Settings” will open another window on your screen where you can choose between “Return” and “Disposal.” You can also set the number of days (1 to 30) you’d like for Amazon to remove your stranded units automatically.

What if your account doesn’t have a local return address saved? 🤔 In that case, Amazon will automatically choose “Disposal” as the default setting.

But Amazon can’t just dispose of your stranded products without your consent. So you’ll need to log into your “Fix Stranded Inventory” page to change “Disposal” to “Seller Returns” or simply update your settings to your liking. And you have until the 15th of August 2021 to do so. ⚠️

Suppose you still can’t secure a UK or EU return address. In that case, Amazon recommends joining its network of service providers to get in touch with someone who can assist you with shipping or storing your stranded inventory. Once you’ve connected with a reliable local provider, it’s up to you to negotiate rates, secure contracts, and finalize shipping schedules.

Want to learn why products get stranded and how to fix them? Read about more “Amazon Stranded Inventory tips.” 👈

Typhoon Wreaks Supply Chain Havoc On China’s Eastern Coast

Typhoon Wreaks Supply Chain Havoc On China’s Eastern Coast

China is now battling the devastation of its second drenching as typhoon In-Fa made landfall this past Sunday, lashing major cities along its Eastern seaboard, including Shanghai, Zhoushan, and Ningbo, with torrential rain and gale-force winds.

The news comes only days after reports of record-breaking rainfall in the nearby landlocked province of Henan, which caused destructive flooding in several parts of the region and disrupted logistics operations at a central air cargo hub in Zhengzhou.

The latest effects of the typhoon caused further freight delays to distributors in China, as the downpour forced Shanghai’s two international airports, rail hub, and container port to close over the weekend.

According to the city’s municipal Meteorological Bureau, Shanghai received over four inches of rain from Sunday to Monday, and the wind speed topped 72 mph. Typically, Shanghai gets around 4.7 inches of precipitation for the entire month of July.

The storm prompted the closure of the seaport and airport in Ningbo, which, together with Shanghai, make up some of the largest distribution hubs in the world. With the clean-up well underway along China’s East Coast, most carriers expect normal operations to resume by Wednesday, 28 July.

However, with a backlog of cargo waiting at several ports in the area, vessel berthing delays of four-to-six days are expected at Shanghai and Ningbo seaports, and shipping rates are expected to increase for the next couple of weeks as freight forwarders scurry to find limited outbound availability.

Additionally, supply chains have been disrupted for the region’s many factories, including a complex in Zhengzhou where almost half of Apple’s iPhones sold worldwide are produced; hence its moniker “iPhone City.”

While China has suffered from annual summer flooding and typhoons for millennia, the record rainfall in Henan coupled with the nation’s latest storm surge has provoked questions from meteorological experts about how cities in China could prepare themselves better for freak weather events, which they say are occurring more frequently and with increased intensity due to climate change.

Country Of Origin Now Required For Amazon Products

Country Of Origin Now Required For Amazon Products

This announcement is for the UK, and we are not sure yet if the US marketplace and other marketplaces will soon follow. My guess is this might be specific to the UK right now as Amazon has pushed back on the COOL bill (Country Of Origin Labeling) in the past, which would mandate prominent disclosure of where a product is produced for all online retailers.

The new Country Of Original requirement seems to be more of a response to BREXIT. In the wake of the BREXIT fiasco since the UK exited the EU in January 2020, which has led to complex trade issues along the Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland open border, Amazon has responded by introducing a new County of Origin (COO) regulation for Amazon Sellers.

This regulation update takes advantage of a largely unknown geographical and legal loophole, whereby Great Britain (GB) only constitutes England, Scotland, and Wales, whereas the United Kingdom (UK) also comprises Northern Ireland. However, while the root cause of the amendment stems from the debacle on the Irish border, Amazon has not openly admitted this to be the cause of the update. As such, the new rule acts as a blanket policy to all product listings regardless of where they are sold.

From 22 August onward, Amazon Sellers will need to give the appropriate COO data for every listing in their shop. Amazon states that the new regulation aims to improve the quality of product listings and ensure that FBA Export orders transiting the UK-EU, which now includes the Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland border, are not held up by customs or face other taxation issues, which it says will hopefully smoothen out deliveries and improve customer satisfaction. But, of course, the new rule does come at one significant expense. Namely, the time Sellers will need to spend going through every listing in their shops to add Country Of Origin info. Those with extensive inventories could find themselves spending countless hours sifting through several thousand listings to make sure they are all compliant.

You might be asking, “What changes will the new requirement bring?” The update will have two direct impacts on listings and the Add a Product tool.

First, Sellers must provide COO information for all new listings, or else the system will not allow the listing to be created. In order to choose the COO, there is a drop-down menu that provides a list of countries to select. Second, Sellers cannot make any edits to existing listings until COO information has been provided.

What constitutes the COO may not always be clear when products are manufactured in different nations at different parts of the production process. According to the Rules of Origin outlined by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Article 27, “Goods whose production involved more than one country shall be deemed to originate in the country where they underwent their last, substantial, economically justified processing or working in an undertaking equipped for that purpose and resulting in the manufacture of a new product or representing an important stage of manufacture.”

In any case, when you are unsure of what data to provide for the COO, you can find further information at Amazon’s Providing Country of Origin help page.

Prevent Customer Complaints By Putting Seals On Consumables

Prevent Customer Complaints By Putting Seals On Consumables

One thing all Amazon Sellers can probably agree on is that there’s nothing worse than receiving a customer complaint that could’ve been easily avoided.

So, in a bid to cut down on unnecessary grievances, Amazon recently analyzed a broad selection of complaints from buyers, taking note of what left customers feeling dissatisfied, and found that many buyers mistakenly identify items as “used” if they are not sealed.

This discovery suggests that even though Amazon Sellers supply customers with brand new, unused items, the lack of seals on certain products leads customers to believe that the products are not new.

As a result, Amazon has recommended that sellers (especially those selling consumable products) make themselves fully aware of preventing product condition issues, paying particular attention to the information on broken or missing seals.

Additionally, Amazon offers further help to understand complaints relating to product condition issues through this video which details how to avoid different product complaints linked to the condition.

It should be added that #2 on that list is “Items that are dirty, soiled, or have hair, stains, odors, or other substances”. This has actually been a not uncommon issue as Amazon will, at times resell your returned products without sufficient inspection and products have been resold to customers with food stuck in it or even as wild as diaper products that have been soiled.

This should not happen but it does. Thus it is important to note that, even if you are complying with the above, Amazon themselves may be causing these issues internally which you may have to deal with. This is something else to keep in mind if you are having problems with customer complaints.

New Amazon Brand Referral Bonus Program For Amazon Sellers

New Amazon Brand Referral Bonus Program For Amazon Sellers

Amazon announced a new program that incentivizes sellers to advertise their Amazon product listings rather than their own websites through non-Amazon marketing channels.

For example, Amazon would instead have you pay Instagram influencers to send traffic back to your product on Amazon–not to rival platforms where your product is listed.

This move by Amazon is likely a response to the momentum Shopify has been gaining by partnering with the Google marketing ecosystem to extend sellers’ reach and Shopify’s expansion of its one-click checkout to ALL merchants on Google and Facebook. So what is the new program? Well, it’s NOT the “Amazon Associate” program for affiliate marketers. The new program is called the Amazon Brand Referral Bonus program, and it’s designed specifically for Amazon sellers.

How does the program work? When you drive traffic that results in a sale on the Amazon platform for your brand, you will receive a referral bonus, which Amazon says averages about 10%. That referral bonus acts as a credit to your Amazon referral fees. Also, if customers buy anything else from your brand, you’ll receive credit if it falls within the 14-day click window. 

You’ll have to decide if the Amazon Brand Referral Bonus program is suitable for your business model. For some, it might be a win-win because you won’t have to deal with the merchant fees, hosting headaches, and other operational headaches experienced in multi-channel e-commerce. 

It doesn’t make much sense for other sellers who want to own their customer’s journey and expand customer lifetime value through upsells and future sales. You can learn more about the Amazon Brand Referral Bonus program here.

Four New Certifications Could Qualify You For Climate Pledge Friendly Badge

Amazon Climate Pledge Certification Badge

These new certifications aim to provide badges for items across the beauty, household, and grocery sectors.

Amazon continues to expand its Climate Pledge Friendly badge system with the addition of four new third-party certifications.

Learn about the new certifications, plus the advantages and challenges of the Amazon Climate Pledge certification.

Amazon IPI (Inventory Performance Index) Update

Amazon July 2021 IPI News Update

Amazon hints that they’ll soon be in a better spot with storage capacity and are set to provide an update to Amazon sellers regarding IPI (Inventory Performance Index) sometime this December. Read IPI Update: July 2021

Potentially Lower Fulfillment Fees Spells Good News For Amazon Sellers

Potentially Lower Fulfillment Fees Spells Good News For Amazon Sellers

In an encouraging move, Amazon has announced that sellers who create new offers then simultaneously store their FBA inventory across a broad selection of countries using Pan-European FBA could save up to 53% on their fulfillment fees. Sounds great, but how does it work?

To learn more about how much in savings you can potentially make, Amazon suggests heading over to its FBA potential savings page in Seller Central, which details the methods applied to make the hypothetical savings. According to the information cited by Amazon, your maximum would-be savings can be calculated by making a comparison between the European Fulfilment Network fees and your local (current) FBA fulfillment fees.

By applying the formula to your last 12 months of FBA sales, you’ll be able to differentiate the costs involved with each type of fulfilment to establish your capacity for savings precisely. However, it’s important to remember that, as noted above, savings only apply to new offers enrolled in the Pan-European FBA program.

Big News: Sellers Can (Again) Contact Customers About Bad Reviews

Big News: Sellers Can (Again) Contact Customers About Bad Reviews

Amazon updated its Customer Reviews tool! Brand-registered Amazon sellers can now send direct messages to customers who left a 1-3 star review.

It is under the BRANDS > CUSTOMER REVIEWS tab in Seller Central:

Amazon Sellers Customer Reviews Tool Under Brands Tab In Seller Central

If you do not have access to this feature, you have not been identified as a brand owner. Visit the Brand Benefit Eligibility page to identify as brand owner and gain access to Customer Reviews and your other brand-exclusive benefits.

Sellers can reply to any product review with a rating of 3 and below:

Contact Buyer About Negative Amazon Review Amazon News Update

You can contact the buyer only when you are the seller for that order. If you’re not, you’ll see a message like this:

Must Be Seller to Contact Buyer About Negative Review

The message that you are able to send to the unhappy customer is a templated email that cannot be edited and can only be sent to the customer as-is. Example:

Amazon Sellers News Customer Reviews Direct Message Template

You are also able to send an email about issuing the buyer a refund or replacement. This email is also an email template that can’t be changed.

Here is the official announcement from Amazon:

Amazon Customer Review Tool Update News

Amazon’s APRL Scheme Leaves Sour Taste In Sellers’ Mouths

Amazon’s APRL Scheme Leaves Sour Taste In Sellers’ Mouths

In a highly-debated move, Amazon UK has announced that as of 5 July 2021, all Amazon Sellers must offer customers a Prepaid Return Label or Returnless Refunds for items that fall under Amazon’s Return Policy. In other words, Amazon Sellers will have to cough up the fees to return items at the whim of customer demands for almost all of the items found on Amazon, with only a handful of exceptions that are exempt from the update. While Amazon claims this change of policy has come about as a result of listening to feedback from its customers, the backlash from Amazon Sellers has been significant.

Dubbed Amazon Prepaid Return Label (APRL), almost as if a nod to April Fool’s Day, the new policy allows customers to initiate returns via Amazon’s Online Return Centre (ORC), which Amazon will automatically authorize. Customers will then receive a tracked Prepaid Return Label through APRL, while the postage fees will be immediately deducted from the Seller’s account as soon as a courier receives the item and scans the Prepaid Return Label. Customers will have the option of selecting Royal Mail or Hermes to ship the items back, but Sellers can at least breathe a sigh of relief that this feature is only (currently?) for domestic sales.

Tracked Returns or No Returns

Adding insult to injury for Amazon Sellers, the new rules also indicate that all Prepaid Return Labels must include a tracked shipment method, regardless of whether the customer ordered the item with tracked shipping in the first place. Amazon also went so far as to note that Prepaid Return Label may not be suitable for low-priced items, so Sellers have the option of selecting Returnless Refunds, allowing customers to keep the item and receive a refund without the need to return it. It looks like a win-win for customers, but these new regulations will surely hit many Amazon Sellers hard. And all this on the heels of the new restock limits policies pushing a lot more warehousing holding and handling fees back onto sellers.

One shred of hope for Amazon Sellers is that they can apply for exemptions for items deemed as high-value, large-size, or those that require unique delivery methods, but the final decision still rests with Amazon as to whether or not it will be exempt.

Amazon also noted that if Sellers wish to continue trading on its platform, their acceptance of this new program is obligatory, and as such, they should familiarize themselves with all of the policy’s terms and conditions as well as Amazon Buy Shipping Services.

Blackout Dates: China’s Dragon Boat Festival

Blackout Dates: China’s Dragon Boat Festival

China’s Dragon Boat Festival will take place June 12th-June 14th, 2021.

I recommend taking care of any China-related business beforehand because there will be potential delays due to factories closing for this holiday, also sometimes referred to as blackout days. Blackout days refer to periods where no production and shipping can happen, such as the Chinese New Year or China’s National Day.

I also recommend adding blackout dates to your inventory forecasting calendars for these dates and other essential blackout dates so that you avoid any logistical headaches.

You can anticipate blackout dates like the Dragon Boat Festival by talking to your vendors or looking at a Chinese calendar.

China’s National Day takes place from the 1st through the 7th of October. You can also refer to the Chinese calendar for other holidays to ask your suppliers about and which may affect production and shipping so that you can set those dates well ahead of time.

The SoStocked Blackouts feature allows you to easily factor blackout periods into your inventory calculations and tells you to either order more inventory or order earlier to account for the days when the supplier is unavailable to produce inventory.

Amazon Global Program: Sell Worldwide With No Added Fees

Amazon Global Program: Sell Worldwide With No Added Fees

Amazon Global Program: Sell Worldwide With No New VAT Accounts or Added Fees: Things have just gotten a whole lot easier for Amazon sellers when it comes to selling products internationally. By taking advantage of Amazon’s new global operation, products that are fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) can now be sold anywhere in the world without any extra charges.

Sellers can now allow Amazon to purchase FBA items at the price the seller names, and Amazon will sell these products to international customers from the customer’s local Amazon marketplace. This means that the sale is registered as a regular domestic transaction for Amazon sellers and their customers. Meanwhile, Amazon takes care of all the logistics costs and handles all of the cross-border legwork.

By enrolling in the program, sellers permit Amazon to add their products to other Amazon marketplaces around the globe, which translates the item information into the local target language and converts its price into the local currency, making it easier for customers to find and buy the products they want.

Once sellers have enlisted, Amazon will sell products bought by international customers through the customer’s local Amazon marketplace, which is also used for returns. They will purchase the product from your current marketplace and arrange for delivery to the customer. For customers, it will be as if they bought the product locally.

Yet, while the customer pays for the product in their local currency, sellers are still paid the set product price in their own currency, making it a win-win, with the added bonus of no cross-border transportation fees or new VAT accounts or VAT filings needed.

It’s as if Amazon is acting as the cross-border drop shipper, listing your products in marketplaces where you don’t currently list or have VAT accounts and then buying them from you and selling them through these listings. Amazon takes care of the logistics and any VAT requirements within the new country of sale. You, of course, would need to handle any required VAT to your local country on your end for your sale to Amazon for this transaction.

Amazon will only purchase products from the Amazon marketplaces where sellers have provided a VAT number in Seller Central. Then, when sellers receive an order through the global program, it will appear as a domestic order on the Manage Orders page within Seller Central, while the name of the customer will show as Amazon.

There is no need for sellers to sign up as an Amazon supplier or vendor in order to join the program, and their account status will remain unchanged.

Opting in is very straightforward and simply requires sellers to go to their Fulfillment by Amazon settings and click Enable where it says “Allow Amazon to buy my products to sell globally” for each Amazon marketplace they want to allow to sell their products.

Sellers who decide to enable this feature should familiarize themselves with all the terms and conditions of the program.

Set a Faster Default Handling Time

Set a Faster Default Handling Time

 📢 Amazon has recently announced its new customizable default handling time settings for Seller-Fulfilled Prime orders!

Effective May 25, 2021, sellers with professional selling plans can now set one-business-day lead times for their products—one day faster than the previous two-day handling times!

With quicker estimated shipping times, you will be able to serve your customers better, and you’ll be more likely to be highlighted as the “Featured Offer” on Amazon’s product details pages. Therefore, leveraging this update could lead to increased customer satisfaction and sales. 💰

But for sellers who don’t have the operational capabilities to pack and ship orders within one day or who can ship only a portion of their catalog within one day and need to adjust settings on a SKU by SKU basis, Amazon recommended selecting a longer handling time using:

  • Amazon Seller Central’s Inventory page for updating each single product on by one
  • Upload of Inventory Excel files for bulk catalog updates

To change your product’s default handling time from two business days to one business day, follow Amazon’s step-by-step guide in this post.

Amazon Product Description HTML

Amazon Product HTML Banned

Amazon announced that it would no longer display HTML tags on product detail pages after June 8th, 2021 in the UK and July 30th, 2021 in the US. Get the details plus a free tool to convert things to the new format for Amazon Product Description HTML.

Amazon Prime Day 2021 Check-In Dates

Amazon Prime Day 2021 Check-In Dates

Christmas arrives early for some Amazon sellers! Yes, s-o-m-e. Because unfortunately not all countries will be having a Prime Day next month, and with valid reasoning.

Typically held every July, the annual two-day discount event has been scheduled to take place in June. If you plan on selling internationally on Prime Day and have enough storage capacity to accommodate your incoming inventory (see Amazon restock limits update), be sure to send your inventory to your target countries by the dates below.👌

Target Inventory Arrival Dates for Prime Day:

  • June 1: Australia
  • June 6: United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Turkey
  • June 7: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia
  • June 13: Japan
  • June 21: United States

In other news, India and Canada will see no Prime Day action in June due to a high uptick in COVID-19 cases over the past few months, CNBC reports. 😟

No rescheduled date for India and Canada has been offered yet. So watch for any future announcements.

Check out the registration links below to start selling and shipping items globally on Prime Day 2021.

Amazon 2021 MCF Fees and Features

Amazon 2021 MCF Fees and Features

In response to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and what was undoubtedly a challenging year for most, Amazon decided to lend its sellers a hand in December 2020 by postponing its annual fee adjustments. Additionally, Amazon absorbed certain costs to support sellers through a challenging winter and help them get back on their feet after a few tricky and uncertain quarters.

At long last, it seems like there is a glimmer of light at the end of the COVID tunnel. With what looks like a path to normality now set before us, Amazon has concluded that the time is right to announce its next US Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) fee adjustment, due to take place on June 1, 2021.

What are the Key Changes for 2021?

The 2021 US Multi-Channel Fulfillment fee changes include measured increases in fulfillment fees, in line with the industry average of about 3%, to reflect changing fulfillment, transportation, and storage costs.

Furthermore, Amazon has given sellers the option to block orders from being shipped by Amazon Logistics for a 5% surcharge. This change results from the fact that sales channels like eBay and Walmart prohibit Amazon Logistics, so sellers will be able to block this shipping method at the account level within the FBA settings or on individual orders.

Starting in June, most MCF product size tiers will be aligned to the Fulfillment by Amazon tiers, and there will be a new Small standard size for products weighing 2 oz or less. Also, Amazon plans to remove expedited and priority shipping speeds on large oversize and special oversize products.

Amazon to add Sellers’ Top-Requested MCF Features

Firstly, Amazon claims to have improved on-time shipping for customer orders, although shouldn’t they have already done that? The company says standard-speed orders for in-stock inventory are now shipped out within two business days of order creation and expedited. Priority-speed orders are shipped out within one business day, so hopefully, this will improve MCF shipping overall.

Secondly, sellers will have the ability to track through AfterShip, to ensure Amazon Logistics shipments are trackable on popular channels such as Etsy and Wish. Any MCF tracking number can be used to search on Swiship.com as well. These tracking numbers can be accessed via the Seller Central order details pages or Amazon’s tracking API. Moreover, sellers will have the choice to have the number sent to the customer automatically, so long as an email address is provided when the order is submitted.

Thirdly, Amazon will use sellers’ MCF volume when calculating their Inventory Performance Index (IPI) score, which may help qualify for unlimited storage. If you don’t know your current IPI score, then head over to the Inventory Performance dashboard.

The final significant update for sellers is the ability to sign up to be put on the waiting list for the beta test of the unbranded packaging and international shipping features.

Do you think these updates are beneficial to your selling abilities? You can always let Amazon know what you think by dropping them some feedback at [email protected], and if you need any further information about the 2021 MCF updates, check out the MCF help page.

2021 Amazon Restock Limits Update

Amazon Restock Limits ASIN Level Limits Replaced With Storage Limits

In the official news bulletin, Amazon announced: “Effective April 22, 2021, FBA products will no longer be subject to ASIN-level quantity limits. Instead, restock limits will be set at the storage-type level, offering you more flexibility in managing your shipments.”

Learn some pro tips on how to handle this update in-depth article Amazon Restock Limits.

CBP Announces New Customs Requirements For Low-Value Shipments

CBP Announces New Customs Requirements For Low-Value Shipments

In what seems to be a bid to curb Importer of Record (IOR) risks, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced new guidelines for correctly shipping your inventory to Amazon fulfillment centers in the US. It has also been speculated by Amazon forum members that the new measures aim at reducing the number of counterfeit goods on Amazon, most of which originate in China.

An IOR is a standard requirement for shipments of inventory that enter the United States from another country. However, Amazon, including its fulfillment centers, will not act as an IOR for any shipment of FBA inventory. This rule applies to all shipments of any size or value, regardless of origin and product. It’s essential not to leave this field blank on the customs entry form, as doing so may result in the shipment being refused and returned.

Since the IOR is the entity or person in the destination country responsible for ensuring compliance requirements are completed and met, they become liable for any goods that pass through CBP. The IOR is accountable for customs clearance, product classification, and the payment of duties and taxes. They are also the entity liable for all risk associated with clearing the goods.

Giving the correct information in the appropriate format ensures that goods imported to the US have a smooth transition through CBP. Additionally, merchandise owners who wish to take advantage of duty-free (Section 321 21) entry into the US need to supply information about their identity, such as their first and last name, or their company name, to CBP through the shipping manifest or customs entry form.

To assist sellers, Amazon suggests that you use this format on all import documentation:

  • [Seller legal name] c/o FBA
  • Fulfillment center address

If you’d like to learn more about how to properly format information about the merchandise owner in your customs documentation, we recommend reviewing CBP’s rules. Amazon has also stated that you should consult with your carrier or customs broker for further guidance about your shipments if you are in any doubt.

There’s also a lot of helpful information to be found over at Amazon’s Guide to Delivering Imports.

Five Seller Facts from Bezos’ Final Shareholder Letter as Amazon CEO

Five Seller Facts from Bezos’ Final Shareholder Letter as Amazon CEO

Since 1997 Bezos has delivered an annual letter to shareholders. As of April 15, 2021, Bezos delivered his last as Amazon CEO. Here are some key stats Bezos disclosed that Amazon sellers might find interesting:

  • Estimated third-party seller profits in 2020 were between $25-39 billion
  • 2 million businesses sell on Amazon and account for 60% of Amazon’s sales
  • Amazon has 200 million Prime members, up 50 million in just 15 months
  • Shoppers complete 28% of purchases on Amazon in less than 3 minutes, and 50% of all purchases are completed within 15 minutes
  • Shoppers have more than 100 million Alexa devices

Beyond the facts, Bezos also mentioned “Create more than you consume” to be successful in life. I love that. But, I think we’d all go broke as sellers if shoppers embraced that mindset. 😉

All in all, it should be interesting to see what comes next with Bezos no longer being at the helm as of Q3. I know we’ll be curious to see and of course, we’ll keep you posted with any news that transpires.

All ASINs Now Require Melting Temperature Attribute

All ASINs Now Require Melting Temperature Attribute
image1

Yep, you heard that right. ALL products now require this. 🤦

Amazon announced on April 13th that ASINs require a melting temperature attribute regardless of whether they are sold via FBA or MFN.

I’m sure the last thing any of us want to do is manually update every one of our ASINs. It’s not like we all sell candles, chocolate, and lip balm.

It seems laughable to add melting points to things like shoes. What a Croc, eh? 😉

Especially when customers could care less about melting points.

I’m assuming Amazon must have a good logistical or storage reason for this. 

The good news sellers only have to do this for NEW ASINs and any ASINs that they update moving forward.

If your product isn’t heat-sensitive, you can select “No” from the drop-down. 🤷

If you’re the unlucky few who have to select “YES”… get those Googling fingers ready. Hopefully, Wikipedia or the periodic table has the quick answer you’re looking for. 🤞

RIP Early Review Program

RIP Early Review Program

Next up, it’s time to say “rest in peace” to the Early Review Program. The enrollment for this program has been closed, and the program has been canceled.

Amazon believes that it has come up with other, more successful ways of getting reviews such as the “One Tap” reviews system. Using One Tap reviews, a buyer can only leave a star rating without actually writing a review. This system allows for more star ratings to occur without buyers having to fill out additional details like the review title and review text that was previously required.

Then we also have Global Review Sharing. If you’ve got reviews in the UK, you’ll be able to share those reviews across multiple platforms so that all of the reviews across all Amazon platforms will benefit all of your marketplaces.

One of the downsides of the Early Review Program’s cancellation is for those sellers launching new products. It may be more challenging to get those first reviews. If you find yourself in this position, I recommend still keeping your current review policies and systems in place, especially things like using the Request Review button. This will help to increase those reviews and the sales-to-reviews conversion ratio.

Some seller tools have a Chrome Bulk Request Review extension. I would try this if you’ve got a lot of products or a lot of sales, and it’s going to take you a long time to work your way through all of those reviews. As long as they’re not giving you any trouble, keep any email follow-up sequences that you have in place to request reviews per terms of service.

VAT Services Even When Outside EU

VAT Services Even When Outside EU

Amazon wants more sellers in the European Union (EU). To help support this goal, Amazon has launched a new program for Value Added Tax services (VAT – similar to sales tax in the US). If you are a business outside of the EU, you can now tap into the VAT services available for partners on Amazon.

“Value Added Tax” is a tax on any goods that you’re selling on Amazon. VAT filings can be confusing if you’re unsure which countries you should be filing and paying taxes to.
Because it can be so difficult to navigate these legalities and so expensive to move into new markets like the EU, many sellers haven’t made the leap from the US to the EU. Amazon is trying to bridge that gap by launching this free program with many perks to lessen the financial blow. This new program is free for the first year; I imagine it’s going to be a paid service after that.

If you’re interested, move quickly because this free offer is only available through April 30th, 2021. If you’re considering getting into the EU, it would be a good idea to take action now before that window closes. This free program includes:

  • Free VAT registration
  • Free VAT filing for a whole year
  • Access to representatives who can answer questions as to where you should register.

Within this program, you will also get a free European Union “EORI”, which is an “Economic Operations, Registration, and Identification number.” The EORI is the number assigned to your specific VAT situation. You can for the program register here.

This VAT service might save you some money! Also, check out our FBA new selection program blog post to learn more about another program that incentivizes sellers by saving on fees.

Unsuitable Inventory Policy

Unsuitable Inventory Policy

The unsuitable inventory investigations policy is a brand-new policy that allows Amazon to request information from sellers to determine whether goods are counterfeit or illegal. Amazon will be asking for documentation from sellers on these products. If they find the documentation to be unsuitable or not presented at all, they could dispose of that inventory. In some circumstances, they could simply make it available for you to remove yourself.

I can see some good and some bad in this. It’s a good thing that Amazon is cleaning up the marketplace and making it more trustworthy. Amazon buyers should feel more comfortable and safe, knowing that they’re not going to be buying a counterfeit product. It will also potentially protect us as sellers from the fraudulent hijackers that come onto our listings and say that they’re selling our product when they are not.

The only potential downside I see to this is that Amazon has been prone to shoot first, ask questions never, and has also tended to get it wrong sometimes (i.e., the pesticide policy).
Just a heads up, if you have a suspension that occurs for no good reason and Amazon is requesting documentation, this might be why. You can learn more here.

Amazon’s New Automated Pricing Tool

Amazon’s New Automated Pricing Tool

Amazon is now instituting automated pricing. If you are a retail arbitrage or wholesale seller, this could potentially be excellent news for you.

Some sellers use external repricing tools, which raise or lower your price based on the prices of others selling the same product, usually someone you’re sharing the BuyBox with, as well as other parameters you’ve pre-set. A repricer are a beneficial tool and can help to:

  • Increase your sales by increasing your price competitiveness
  • Earn you the BuyBox more often
  • Increase your conversion rates

Amazon has now built its own tool, potentially allowing you to stop using and paying for your current Repricers, canceling some of those software fees. I recommend testing it out first. You want to make sure that it works the way you think it’s going to work before you cancel those services.

For those who don’t know, here’s a little primer on how reprices generally work: you will start by building out “rules” around how high or low you are willing to go with your pricing and what your sales objective is, such as whether you want to focus on higher profit, for example, or more sales with lower profit, etc. If you’re using pricing tools, you’re familiar with pricing rules.

One of the benefits of this tool is that if you’re using the Build International Listing tool, it will allow you to create pricing rules across multiple marketplaces. For example, if you sell in Mexico, Canada, and the US, and your pricing needs to be different for each country based on your profitability, you can create rules for each individual marketplace.

Again, test it out. Amazon’s tools have tended to show bugs or faulty logic in the past, especially during early stages, so I’ll emphasize again that you want to make sure that Amazon’s automated pricing tool is working the way that you think it should work before you convert over. I would recommend doing a test to compare Amazon’s repricer tool to your current repricer tool and see if it’s working to your standards.

A/B Testing Product Images Available

A/B Testing Product Images Available

The next thing I want to bring up is the new A/B testing tool within Amazon. Under the Manage Experiments section in the New Brands tab in Seller Central, you can do split testing or A/B testing of certain elements of your listings. You can test titles, product images, and A+ content to discover what changes will earn you more conversion and sales.

For sellers who have done this testing in the past, it has been crucial to test over one full week for accurate results because sales on a Tuesday can’t compare very well to sales on a Sunday, for example. Typically you’ll have higher sales one day of the week than another.

For this new tool, however, that could be a thing of the past. Amazon has built their A/B tester by sending traffic to both tests equally within the same timeframe. What it is doing is sending 50% of the traffic to one side of the test and 50% to the other side, Amazon can then internally see what gets more conversion and better results.

This way you can take a Tuesday and split the sales on a Tuesday, around the same time. Given this, you could potentially do split tests a lot more quickly because you’re splitting that traffic equally on the day of the same week and time of day so that you have more accuracy in regards to comparisons and you don’t have to do such long split tests to get accurate data. That’s pretty cool!

In running successful split tests, start by changing just one thing. If you change a whole bunch of things at once, you won’t be able to tell what actually contributed to the increase or decrease that you get. For example, if you change the title and change the images at the same time, you won’t know which one produced the impact.

Always change one thing before moving on, decide which one is the winner, and stick with it. Then move on to testing something else, and in this way, streamline your process as you identify which elements are going to be most successful for your brand.

New Shipping Data Requirements

New Shipping Data Requirements

The last thing I want to talk about is shipping. There is a new requirement that when you ship seller-fulfilled inventory that you now have to provide the carrier name. For instance, UPS, FedEx, USPS, or any other provider that you’re using for shipping out your seller-fulfilled inventory. Amazon will also soon be validating your tracking details.

When you’re fulfilling an order, Amazon will look at the tracking information and make sure it’s valid and will show a warning if it gets an invalid tracking detail.

There has previously been a loophole allowing you to put in tracking information that was not valid. Sellers might have done this if they weren’t getting their orders out within the timeframe Amazon requires. If you put some sort of tracking information in, you could trick Amazon into thinking you were sending orders faster than you were, which would allow you to avoid the bad marks you might get from Amazon for slow delivery. That loophole seems to now be being closed with this new requirement.

Amazon, more times than not, eventually closes the loopholes. We want to take advantage of the good loopholes when we can, but a loophole like this is dangerous territory as it also affects the end buyer.

Amazon “Review Commenting” Updates

Amazon “Review Commenting” Updates

As of December 16th, 2020, review comments have been removed. This means that when customers write reviews, sellers and other Amazon buyers cannot comment on these reviews. I think this is a disservice to customers and sellers alike.

This new rule makes it difficult for us to contact our customers to address various issues if something goes wrong. Sometimes the only place we’re able to find unhappy customers is in the negative reviews. We can then contact them, apologize for the problem and offer to send a replacement or make things right somehow. It’s no longer possible to handle those issues through the comments section of your products.

This is very unfortunate. It is worth a try for us to contact Amazon Seller Central with our opinion. We need to let them know that, at the very least, they should allow sellers to comment on these reviews. I can understand why Amazon wouldn’t want random customers commenting, but we need to show that we are taking care of our customers through our comments and interactions. Other customers will see those comments and be able to understand that there is someone there for them if anything goes wrong.

Viral Launch published a brief article on this topic and gave some excellent tips about using your copywriting to either avoid a bad review or mitigate those types of damages. For example, there might be something in your copy that you have not adequately explained. If you’re not sufficiently explaining the product, customers may have a misconception about your product’s capability. Therefore, you may be giving them a wrong impression and be causing those negative reviews.

Action Steps

Get Amazon Seller News Updates

I hope this report has been helpful to you! Let me know if there are other things that you would like for me to keep you informed about. I send out a weekly email on Fridays with five relevant news pieces that are going around the Amazon and eCommerce space. To get this email, sign up below:

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In addition to getting weekly Amazon news, here are other action items to consider:

  1. Sign up for my webinar. I do a webinar on a weekly or bi-weekly basis in which I talk about inventory management best practices. You can learn what I like to call Inventory-Minded Marketing techniques. These techniques will help you to: avoid storage fees, avoid stockout costs, and make your money work better for you.
  2. Sign up for SoStocked, our Amazon inventory management software that helps you minimize stock-outs and maximize profits. It makes inventory management so much easier by organizing and streamlining your data.

If I can help you in any way in reaching your 2021 Amazon goals, please reach out to me. I can help you decide which inventory, forecasting, and tracking settings you need to use in our software and the techniques you should have for your specific business to get things streamlined.

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