It's hardly news to state that communication between buyers and third party sellers can be one of the key points of the entire customer experience.
That's true for non-Amazon channels, as well. But Amazon's difference has always been one of maintaining a customer centric focus, often to the dismay of many new sellers who are accustomed to using buyer seller messages as a direct forum for promotional and marketing outreach.
Amazon's attitude towards their buyer seller messaging service has always been one of "just the facts." This doesn't mean that email marketing isn't valid—in fact, quite the contrary. But there's a time and a place for advertising on Amazon.
And that place is almost never during messages using buyer and customer services.
Communication Guidelines on Amazon for Buyers and Sellers
For many sellers on Amazon, making sense of changes in protocol and customer communication guidelines, can be frustrating.
For one, they're constantly changing. Even as Amazon continues to streamline interactions between sellers and buyers, they can still be confusing—with sellers frequently left in the lurch.
Amazon's customer-centric approach may be one of its greatest strengths for shoppers, but it can be a bane for sellers.
That's because their insistence on transparency in communication means that many of the traditional marketing methods in eCommerce simply don't apply to Amazon's official policies. In fact, they can frequently violate them.
Amazon recently announced new changes to their communication guidelines which they promise will result in a stronger marketplace. What this means for sellers is that they're slightly more relaxed.
But what this also means is that they're slightly more complex.
Direct Communication with Customers on Amazon
Order Status Messages
If a product isn't available for shipping, sellers need to let customers know as soon as possible through the following methods:
Using either the Manage Orders feature in your Amazon Seller Central account or your Order Adjustment feed, select NoInventory or CouldNotShip as reason codes.
To communicate with customers, select the Problem with Order option. In the Order Details column, click the name of the buyer to open the Contact Buyer page. On the following page, select the specific reason from the drop down list and submit your unfulfilled order to the customer. Note that you cannot edit the subject line of orders from Seller Central.
Sellers can process any refunds through the Manage Orders feature in Seller Central or their Order Adjustment feed. Note that you cannot communicate with customers unless you need additional information to complete a return. To do so, select the “Follow-up on return request” option.
Amazon Buyer-Seller Messaging
Amazon defines any necessary permitted messages as “those communications necessary to complete an order or to respond to a customer service inquiry.”
For the most part, Amazon buyer seller messages are going to be relatively straightforward. Unsolicited messages from sellers aren't just discouraged. They're outright prohibited.
Amazon's buyer seller messaging service is not the place to address a customer complaint which isn't related to order fulfillment, damaged or incorrect orders or refunds. Nor is it the place to answer queries from potential customers (ideally, you would have already clarified questions in your product description or FAQ page.)
Messages can only be sent to customers who have contacted you about purchasing a product or have already completed a purchase from your store.
Proactive permitted messages
Proactive permitted messages are direct responses you initiate to customers to resolve an issue with their order, request additional information, shipping or order confirmations, send an invoice, schedule delivery of a bulky item or any other reason needed to complete an order. However, they can also be used to send messages to request a review or seller feedback after a customer order has been received.
Proactive messages must be completed within 30 days of a customer's purchase and include the 17 digit order ID. Messages can be sent via email, using templates via the Contact Buyer or Request a Review pages in Seller Central, third-party applications in the application store, or Amazon API.
Typically, Amazon will automate messages confirming an order.
Note that permitted messages cannot contain any of the following:
Promotional and marketing messages
External links unless they are secure working links (https, not http) necessary for order completion
Links to opt-out of messaging
Sensitive content in images or text
Egregious spelling errors, offensive language or grammar issues
Attachments except for those needed to resolve a buyer's issue (e.g. shipping labels, invoices, custom designs)
Logos, if they contain or display a link to your website
Tracking pixels or images
Telephone numbers except those related to warranties, shipping providers, or manufacturers
Images of purchased products
Images that do not relate to your brand or company
Accessibility issues from links without explanatory text or images without alt-text.
Emojis (including emoticons) and animated GIFs
Message margins over 20 percent max width
Image or graphic sizes larger than 80 percent max width
Overrides of Amazon's default line height, font family, or font color and fonts with more than three standard choices in size
Message bodies that are centered or that otherwise override default text alignment settings
More than two line-breaks between paragraphs in a row
Unsecure images and links (e.g., http:// instead of https://).
Note that Amazon reserves the right to limit permitted messages and ultimately suspend selling privileges for Amazon sellers for repeatedly failing to comply by buyer seller messaging guidelines.
Any questions regarding communication guidelines can be addressed directly through your seller account by contacting Amazon Seller Central partner support.
Indirect Communication with Customers on Amazon
Amazon automatically confirms orders with buyers both through email and updates, including shipping confirmations, shipment information with a tracking number, estimated dates of arrival and processing updates.
Unfortunately, not every customer actually reads their confirmation emails. To ensure customers know their order status and completion, they've enabled two feeds which sellers will also want to access in their Seller Central account.
Shipping confirmation feed
Amazon's shipping confirmation feed indicates that you've shipped an order and provides tracking information for your customers. It's one of the more integral buyer shipping feeds, allowing Amazon buyers to know exactly when they can expect their order.
Order adjustments feed
Your order adjustments feed lets both buyers as well as Amazon know that you've issued buyer refunds. Refunds and returns are an unpleasant but necessary part of being an Amazon seller, and should be processed as soon as possible. If a buyer is demanding a refund, sellers can easily issue it by using the manage returns feature in Seller Central.
Note: All Amazon sellers are required to promptly confirm shipment of all orders within 24 hours, either by using the Manage Orders feature or by uploading a Shipping Confirmation status in Seller Central. After shipment is confirmed, Amazon automatically notifies customers by email. to the buyer. Failure to comply may result in Amazon limiting or outright suspending seller privileges on their marketplace
Seller communication with buyers is just one small part of the customer experience on Amazon. We can guide you through the rest, and grow your sales in the process. Find out more atColor More Lines