For many sellers on Amazon, making sense of changes in protocol and 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 effective November 6th, 2020 which they promise will result in a stronger marketplace. What does this mean for sellers? It means they’re slightly more relaxed—but also slightly more complex.
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 Seller Central 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.
Buyer Seller Messages
Amazon defines Permitted Messages as “those communications necessary to complete an order or to respond to a customer service inquiry.” Permitted 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 are direct responses you initiate to customers to resolve an issue with their order, request additional information, send an invoice, schedule delivery of a bulky item or any other reason needed to complete an order; however, it can also be used to Request a Review or Feedback. Proactive Permitted Messages must be completed within 30 days of a customer’s purchase and include the 17 digit order ID. They can be sent via email, using Amazon’s templates via the Contact Buyer or Request a Review page in Seller Central, third-party applications in the Application Store, or Application Programmer Interface (API). Typically, Amazon will automate messages confirming an order.
Note that Permitted Messages cannot contain any of the following:
External links unless they are secure working links (https, not http) necessary for order completion.
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.
Link to opt-out of messaging.
Sensitive content in images or text.
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 (e.g. Click here for warranty information) or images without alt-text.
Emojis, including emoticons.
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.
Fonts in more than three sizes.
Message bodies that are centered or that otherwise override default text alignment settings.
More than two line-breaks (spacing between paragraphs) in a row.
Unsecure images (http instead of https.)
Egregious spelling errors or grammar issues.
Note that Amazon reserves the right to limit Permitted Messages and even suspend selling privileges for sellers failing to comply by these new guidelines. Any questions regarding communication guidelines can be addressed by contacting Selling Partner Support.
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