Why you should vet Amazon Service Providers
You’re busy bustling away in the day-to-day of your Amazon FBA business when you suddenly get the notice of death from Amazon seller support. Sounds scary, right? Just saying the words Amazon Account Suspension aloud can cause internal panic.
Your Amazon seller account is the entirety of your FBA business, and therefore the most critical asset.
As your business expands, the need to outsource some of your tasks becomes evident. If you don’t know what to look out for in terms of hiring competent service providers and bestowing access to the keys to your amazon kingdom, your business could be in jeopardy.
This article will walk you through the dos and don’ts for onboarding service providers in your Amazon FBA business, what to look out for, and how to ensure your account health safety is the number one priority.
What is an Amazon FBA Account Suspension?
Understanding an account suspension can help you steer clear of account-related issues so that you can maintain profits and scale your business.
An Amazon account suspension happens when an account is prevented from selling on the platform or prevented from selling a particular product. When you receive a suspension notice, Amazon provides a list of plausible reasons for the suspension. If you fail to respond to this notice, your account is suspended without question.
Often, sellers don’t realize that an Amazon suspension appeal may or may not be considered by Amazon- there are no guarantees to Amazon account reinstatement once you’ve been suspended.
There are typically three main reasons for an Amazon account suspension:
- Selling a product that is deemed restricted by Amazon.
- Violation of Amazon’s Terms of Service and policies.
- A decline in performance.
Amazon TOS can cover a wide ray of instances and compliances. That’s why you must vet every Amazon service provider to whom you allow access to your account. Even the most reputable Amazon seller consultant can cause irreversible harm if not careful.
Below you’ll find three examples that can force an Amazon account suspension:
Example 1: A private label brand hired a full-service agency to manage their account. The agency submitted forged invoices to Amazon, resulting in Amazon account suspension.
Example 2: An FBA business hired an untrained independent virtual assistant to file Amazon FBA reimbursements on the business’s behalf. The VA filed duplicate reimbursement requests forcing an account suspension.
Example 3: A business used an untrained VA to answer customer service messages. The VA became frustrated and wrote abusive messages to customers, forcing buyer-seller messaging to be turned off by Amazon.
It’s not just the infractions of a seller or brand that can force account suspension. If you don’t take the time to carefully vet the service providers you onboard within your FBA business, your account can be in jeopardy without your knowledge.
What are common types of Amazon FBA Service Providers?
When your FBA business reaches full-scale mode, you may be bombarded by different Amazon service providers vying for you to outsource some of your mounting tasks to their solutions.
Here are some of the standard types of Amazon FBA service providers:
Amazon FBA Reimbursement Services – These providers work on your behalf to manage and file FBA reimbursements claims within your business. To file claims on your behalf and manage case files, you may have to provide account-level access.
Brand management with virtual assistants – Brand management providers manage the entirety of your selling experience on Amazon, but did you know that many of these companies often outsource tasks to virtual assistants with little to no Amazon experience?
Ad specialists or PPC management companies – Amazon Ad managers manage entire ad campaigns on behalf of large businesses or small sellers. These ad managers require extensive access to your Amazon account.
Each service provider may require different account access. The more you know about the service provider you choose to work with the better you’ll be able to monitor the health and safety of your account.
What to look out for before hiring an Amazon Service Provider
You’ve decided to outsource some of the tasks in your FBA business. It’s a momentous occasion because it’s a sign of growth, but it can also be daunting, especially if you aren’t sure what to look out for.
To hire the best service provider, it’s essential first and foremost, to understand the business model of that service provider. Review these five criteria before hiring.
- USA-based supervisors – Everything in your account boils down to trust, communication, and experience. Does the service provider have USA-based team members with experience in Amazon?
- SOPs – A reputable provider should have a standardized method of doing business. This is not only so you receive the best, most consistent service, but also so that if things go wrong, there are procedures in place to follow.
- Non-Disclosure agreements – Are NDA’s standard for the service provider? Confidentiality is everything to your Amazon business, NDAs are a must not a maybe.
- Amazon TOS – While you have a responsibility to uphold Amazon’s terms of service independently, so does your service provider. Your service provider should be able to discuss TOS compliance with you before onboarding.
5 Questions to ask before you hire
Whether you hire a large brand management company, a PPC software provider, a virtual assistant, or an Amazon FBA consultant, it’s essential to ask questions to understand the service provider’s experience level and trust factor.
Here are the most crucial questions to ask:
#1 Experience level – How long have they been in business, and how many clients have they helped?
#2 Transparency and TOS compliance – What are the service provider’s safeguards within their team, and how do they enforce compliance? Can you see different stages of work being completed at any time during your business together?
#3 Supervision model – Who is the last point of contact before large account-level decisions are made? What are the safeguards of the supervising team? Who do the supervisors report to?
#4 Review case studies – A professional case study isn’t clouded in fancy numbers. Professional case studies accurately depict the situation, the challenge, and the goals of particular businesses. Avoid fluffy content, as this can be a sign of a red flag.
#5 SOPs and communication – The only way to know if an Amazon service provider operates with stringent SOPs is to ask. Ask about SOPs and policies, and get a sense of the growth trajectory within the business. An Amazon service provider with a clear understanding of their own growth path is more likely to operate a successful business model.
You may not be comfortable asking service providers these questions but think about it this way: Professional businesses will accept these questions as a normal part of doing business with you, especially because they understand the associated risks operating within your account.
How to check-in and ensure standards are being met and upheld
Clear communication will be your best friend in terms of working with various eCommerce consulting services. Ask for a clear, consistent communication path based on your needs.
Good communication examples are weekly Zoom meetings, quarterly reports that detail advancements and challenges in your business, and instant communication channels such as Slack.
You’ll want to dedicate time and focus to attending these meetings and reviewing each report.
As much as a service provider should be responsible to provide transparent information, it’s crucial that you are an active participant in your business. Keep up to date on the inner workings of your business with any service provider to keep your account safeguarded at all times.
Sadly, we see too many Amazon seller accounts suspended for inadequate safeguards in working with service providers. Often the service provider’s workforce is working with little to no SOPs resulting in unnecessary account suspensions.
It’s important to ask questions with any service provider that you onboard from virtual assistants to consultants, to large-scale reimbursement companies and other service providers. If a service provider shows hesitation in answering your questions, this may be the right time to take pause and re-think your direction.
Is your Amazon account suspended? Riverbend Consulting can help. Contact Us for a quote and drop your questions below.
Lesley is co-founder and co-owner of Riverbend Consulting, where she oversees the firm’s client services team. She has personally helped hundreds of third-party sellers get their accounts and ASINs back up and running. Lesley leverages two decades as a small business consultant to advise clients on profitability and operational performance. She has been an Amazon seller for almost a decade, thanks to her boys (21 and 15) who do most of the heavy lifting.
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