Amazon Seller News: Seller Facts, Blackout Dates, New COO Requirements, Banned HTML, and More...
- Amazon Makes Play Toward Offering Prime for Non-Amazon Orders
- Amazon Implements Surcharge on Aged Inventory Starting May 15th
- Amazon Updates Their Age-Restricted Bladed Products List
- Software Updates For May 2022
- New Product Dimension Attributes for 255 Product Types
- New Shipping and Storage Changes Coming to Amazon
- Amazon Hits US & EU Sellers With Fuel And Inflation Surcharge
- Software Updates For April 2022
- Emerging Amazon Marketplaces: UAE and Saudi Arabia
- Amazon Automatic Aging Inventory Removal Starts April 15
- New Free Amazon Master Carton Calculator Tool To Optimize Your Packaging
- Amazon and EIT Climate-KIC Offer Financial Boost to Sustainable Startups
- Qualify for Rebates and Free Liquidations with the Updated FBA New Selection Program
- Amazon’s New Dimensional Weight Fees Placing Further Strain on Profit Margins
- Amazon Closing Shipping Loopholes May Wreak Chaos for Some Sellers
- Amazon Removes “Tons” of Supplement Offers Due to Non-Compliance with New Product Requirements
- Claim Reimbursement for Losses Caused by Amazon CSBA Reps
- UK Launches Export Support Service to Help Businesses Sell Goods Abroad
- Three SoStocked Software New Year's Deals
- Important Update To Restock Limits And IPI Threshold
- Use Amazon’s Delivery Promise Tool To Monitor Your FBM Performance
- New And Improved Amazon HTML Editor + HTML Converter Tool
- Send Holiday-Themed Emails To Amazon Followers Through December 31st
- Borrow Up To 100K With The Amazon Community Lending Pilot Program
- Amazon Has Worked To Smooth Out The Climate Pledge Certification
- Updated: Amazon Compliance Reference Tool For Product Requirements
- Distribute Your Inventory Across Multiple FCs At No Extra Cost
- Beta Amazon Upstream Storage Program Eliminates Restock Limits
- Amazon Hikes Referral And FBA Fees For 2022
- Amazon Updates Program Policies
- Amazon Increases FBA Capacity and Restock Limits
- Amazon Launches New Dashboard for Returns Performance
- The End Of Rebates, Two-Steps URLs, & Other Search Rank Manipulation
- New Carrier Tracking Requirements & Improving OOS Listing Discoverability
- Amazon Releases Free Product Research Tool Named ‘Product Opportunity Explorer’
- New Documentation for Supplements Required to Avoid Listing Removal
- Updated Amazon Inventory Deadlines For Q4
- Delivery Time Accuracy With New Amazon Shipping Settings Automation Tool
- China’s Widespread Power Cuts Further Strain Global Supply Chain
- New Changes To Removal Of Aged Inventory
- Amazon Suspension Risk For The Uninsured
- Amazon Egypt Now Open For Business
- Why Have Amazon Sellers Suffered a Significant Drop in Restock Limits?
- SoStocked Prices Increasing After Friday, September 17th, 2021
- Amazon Search Shadowban For Products That Violate Title Guidelines
- Your Amazon Posts Can Now Appear On Your Product Detail Pages
- Amazon Grade And Resell Program Rolled Out To Reduce FBA Waste
- Amazon Overhauls Its A-to-z Guarantee Policies To Streamline Damages Claims
- Now Factor Restock Limits Into Forecasts
- Streamline Shipments With “Send To Amazon”
- Changes To Amazon Professional Selling Plan Fees
- Automated Amazon Stranded Inventory Removal
- Typhoon Wreaks Supply Chain Havoc On China's Eastern Coast
- Country Of Origin Now Required For Amazon Products
- Prevent Customer Complaints By Putting Seals On Consumables
- New Amazon Brand Referral Bonus Program For Amazon Sellers
- Four New Certifications Could Qualify You For Climate Pledge Friendly Badge
- Amazon IPI (Inventory Performance Index) Update
- Potentially Lower Fulfillment Fees Spells Good News For Amazon Sellers
- Big News: Sellers Can (Again) Contact Customers About Bad Reviews
- Amazon’s APRL Scheme Leaves Sour Taste In Sellers’ Mouths
- Blackout Dates: China’s Dragon Boat Festival
- Amazon Global Program: Sell Worldwide With No Added Fees
- Set a Faster Default Handling Time
- Amazon Product Description HTML
- Amazon Prime Day 2021 Check-In Dates
- Amazon 2021 MCF Fees and Features
- 2021 Amazon Restock Limits Update
- CBP Announces New Customs Requirements For Low-Value Shipments
- Five Seller Facts from Bezos’ Final Shareholder Letter as Amazon CEO
- All ASINs Now Require Melting Temperature Attribute
- RIP Early Review Program
- VAT Services Even When Outside EU
- Unsuitable Inventory Policy
- Amazon’s New Automated Pricing Tool
- A/B Testing Product Images Available
- New Shipping Data Requirements
- Amazon Storage Limit Updates
- Amazon “Review Commenting” Updates
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 the world round had 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?
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.
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:
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.
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
⏰ 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):
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:
Go to the Manage Inventory Health overview to learn more.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Subtle Improvements to Make Your
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.
You can now sort the column Days Left (FBA + Inbound) on the Inventory page by ascending or descending order. Get to those emergencies faster!
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 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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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
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.
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!
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 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 ➜
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.
Subtle Improvements to Make Your
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.
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.
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
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
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:
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.
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
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.
Learn more: Master 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
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.
Aside from the 12-week growth program, selected startups will also receive:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
Let’s take a closer look at the updated program details.
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:
Amazon will also automatically liquidate eligible ASINs that made no single unit sale in the first 180 days, at no extra cost.
To qualify for the program, you:
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.
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:
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, 2022||January 18, 2022 onwards|
|Size tier||Shipping weight||Fulfillment Fee per unit||Size tier||Shipping weight||Fulfillment Fee per unit|
6 oz or less
6 oz or less
6+ to 12 oz
6+ to 12 oz
12+ to 16 oz
12+ to 16 oz
1+ to 2 lb
1+ to 2 lb
2+ to 3 lb
2+ to 3 lb
3+ lb to 20 lb
$5.68 + $0.30/lb above first 3 lb
3+ 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:
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 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:
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.
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
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
📢 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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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:
Then… apply RULES to transform the text into Amazon-friendly HTML with the click of a button.
👉 Watch the quick video tutorial and give it a try!
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:
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
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
How to apply?
Amazon Has Worked To Smooth Out Climate Pledge Certification
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
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
- 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.
- Connect with service providers who can assist you with meeting your compliance requirements.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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:
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
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
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’
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.
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
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
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:
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
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
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
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:
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 Suspension Risk For The Uninsured
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 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?
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:
It seems the recent decreases are not based solely on sales performance metrics, which explains why some top-performing sellers are also affected.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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:
If you have any stranded inventory that needs to be returned or disposed of, update your existing automated settings by following these steps:
- Sign in to your Seller Central account and open the “Manage Inventory” tab.
- Go to the “Fix Stranded Inventory” page.
- 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
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
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
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
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 continues to expand its Climate Pledge Friendly badge system with the addition of four new third-party certifications.
These new certifications aim to provide badges for items across the beauty, household, and grocery sectors.
Learn about the new certifications, plus the advantages and challenges of the Amazon Climate Pledge certification.
Amazon IPI (Inventory Performance Index) 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
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
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:
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:
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: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: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’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
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 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
📢 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:
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 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:
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
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
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
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:
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.
All ASINs Now Require Melting Temperature Attribute
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
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
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:
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
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 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:
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
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
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 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.
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.