What are the most common mistakes for first-time Amazon sellers?

By Published On: February 14, 20230 Comments

It’s worked. You just passed Amazon’s identity verification process, and you’re well on your way to growing a thriving Amazon business. Congrats!

Then your heart hits the ground. Just two weeks into your new endeavor, the hammer falls. Amazon has suspended your ASIN or perhaps even your account.  Now what? It’s time to act, not panic. I’ve identified the top four mistakes first-time Amazon sellers make so you can avoid these pitfalls and prepare for success.

Sign letting amazon sellers know that there are pitfalls ahead, so that they can be avoided


Mistake #1: You can’t verify your product sources

Proof is power in Amazon’s world. It’s not what you know but what you can prove, and Amazon’s burden of proof boils down to one item: invoices. In accordance with its anti-counterfeiting policy, Amazon stipulates sellers must have invoices for every product they sell.  If your ASIN is suspended, Amazon often asks you to submit invoices. Without them, ASIN reinstatement is unlikely.

Worse, suppose your inventory is Fulfilled by Amazon and in an Amazon fulfillment center. In that case, Amazon may not release your inventory if they can’t verify the authenticity of your products or your supplier. It’s smart to confirm that your supplier’s details are on the invoice before submitting them for Amazon’s scrutiny: company name, address, telephone number, and website.  Be sure you, the purchasing party, are correctly represented, and the buyer information on the invoice aligns with your account information within Seller Central.

FBA will give you 30-plus days to provide verifiable invoices. If not done, that inventory becomes Amazon’s, goes into disposal, and is often sold and re-sold by Amazon. That reality adds another level of “burn” for sellers. Simply put, have genuine, detailed invoices.

Another caveat: You have invoices, but do they come from what Amazon considers a “valid” source? Amazon must be able to establish that its source exists within the brand’s authorized supply chain and is selling legitimate goods. If you find a great deal at a liquidation store, thrift store, or even certain retail arbitrage stores that do not provide itemized receipts, Seller Performance will reject your invoices with the simple verbiage “We cannot verify your supplier.”  You may know a dozen other sellers who have been sourcing this way for years (I hear this all the time), but this is extremely risky. Lastly, I recommend investing in software so your invoices are easily accessible.  That shoebox full of paper receipts is so “yesterday.”

Mistake #2: Listing products incorrectly

To locate your product within Amazon’s catalog, use the unique product Identifier registered with GS1, not simply the brand or title. After you locate what you believe to be the correct listing, physically compare the title, images, brand, version, size, color, etc., to your product. If anything does not match, you should not list it against this ASIN.

To bypass gating requirements (a restriction for brands or categories that requires invoice submission and approval before you can sell that product, aka a selling application), some ASIN creators will intentionally misspell the brand name so the bots won’t identify that ASIN as one requiring a selling application. After that ASIN with the misspelled brand name is created, sellers whose invoices won’t pass muster (or unsuspecting sellers who failed to proofread the brand name) can list against that gated ASIN. This could result in a policy violation, including intellectual property infringement. Trust me; you do not want to be in a position to defend yourself against a valid IP complaint.

Even after you find the correct listing, it’s not a bad idea to check the entirety of your listings every quarter (or so) to make sure your product is still accurately represented. Hijackers usually start with changing a product’s brand before taking over the detail page. These are just good housekeeping rules.

Mistake #3: Drop shipping the wrong way

Many new sellers believe drop shipping is an easy and hassle-free way to make money. Sellers that drop ship will place an order from another supplier, which ships the product directly to the Amazon buyer. If you are retail drop shipping, perhaps through Walmart, Sam’s Club, or Home Depot, you are violating Amazon’s drop shipping policy. Amazon doesn’t expressly prohibit all drop shipping and DOES ALLOW sellers to drop ship when:
1. You are the seller of record.
2. The invoices and outer packaging do NOT identify another store (Amazon does not want a buyer’s order to arrive in a Walmart box).
3. All returns are sent back to you, the seller, not the drop shipper.

Lastly, beware of all the experts and pundits proclaiming the Good News of drop shipping, many of whom give errant, non-compliant, and even unethical advice. Amazon is showing no mercy to non-compliant drop shippers.

Mistake #4: Hiring untested and unreliable service providers

There’s no shortage of experts willing to “manage your account.” Buyer beware. Choosing to outsource who accesses and manages your account is a do-or-die decision. Don’t go cheap, and don’t be cavalier with your service providers. Vet them with intensity. Check their credentials and research everything they recommend (sourcing, fulfillment, SOPs, etc.) to ensure they align with Amazon’s policy.

One misstep, one wrong permission set-up, innocent mistakes, or nefarious ones, Amazon doesn’t care. Amazon will suspend the account and rarely gives grace, even when you explain, “I didn’t know any better, my service provider suggested XYZ, and that’s why my account was suspended.” Amazon expects every seller to operate precisely, set up the accounts properly, and have solid account management and oversight. One option to improve account management is to use a tested and reliable service provider. We know just the one.

Being a first-time Amazon seller can be an adventure. It’s exhilarating, exhausting, magical, maddening, profitable, and painful. By avoiding these four mistakes, you have a leg up to build and grow your Amazon business with ease and care.

We’re ready to help you. Contact us for more.


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