If you’re already selling on Amazon, you’re probably aware that Seller Central guidelines can be more than a little inconvenient for most merchants—particularly FBA sellers.
After all, you’re already selling directly to customers. Given the relatively high price of Amazon FBA's monthly subscription fee, that should mean service and communication are ideally your responsibility.
And they are. If you're an FBA seller account, it's likely you have neither the time nor the resources for order fulfillment. We don’t blame you. Along with the vast majority of other online sellers operating an Amazon business, you're in good company.
Customer communication is fundamental to any business. But how do guidelines on Amazon Seller Central improve buyer seller messaging?
Amazon Seller Central and Communication
Managing your Amazon accounts can be one of the more tedious and time-consuming processes in ecommerce. So it’s no surprise that more and more sellers are turning to auto-response when fielding product questions and order updates.
Auto-response is hardly the most effective way to operate your online store. The buyer seller messaging service on Amazon Seller Central isn’t always the easiest platform to adopt, but it's a necessary one. Just keep in mind that its rules and guidelines can change constantly.
Buyer Seller Messaging on Amazon Seller Central
Buyer seller messaging on Amazon Seller Central allows third party sellers a fairly convenient way to respond to buyer questions and address any issues with order fulfillment or returns. It's a fairly easy process to set up.
Log in to your Amazon Seller Central account
On the Settings menu of your dashboard, select Notification Preferences
Under the Messaging tab, select Edit
Select the Buyer Messages check box, and enter the email address associated with your seller account.
There may be times when you need to send attachments to a buyer in order to complete a purchase. From the Automated Messages tab under Communications in Seller Central, you should see an Attachment section in the Message Body editor. Simply click on the + Add Attachment button or drag and drop your attachment.
While Seller Central supports file types including plain text (.txt), PDF, images (.jpg, .gif, and .png), and Word documents in .doc and .docx formats, you should keep in mind that your message cannot exceed 10 MB (including attachments.)
Permitted Buyer Seller Messaging on Amazon Seller Central
Amazon defines permitted buyer seller 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 initiated 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. Neither of which can include incentivization of any sort. But you might find that even a subtle nudge requesting honest feedback can help identify areas for your improvement as a new seller, as well as convince new customers to become returning customers.
Proactive permitted messages must be completed within 30 days of a 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, or Amazon's Application Programmer Interface (API.)
Order Status Messaging
Sellers should customers know as soon as possible when the status of an order when it isn't available, using the following methods:
Using the Manage Orders feature in your Amazon Seller Central account or your Order Adjustment feed, select No Inventory or Could Not Ship 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. Select the specific reason from the drop down list and submit the unfulfilled order to the customer.
You can process any refunds through the Manage Orders feature in your Amazon Seller Central dashboard or your Order Adjustment feed. However, 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.
Changes in Messaging Guidelines
Amazon sellers are no longer permitted to do the following when contacting a buyer:
Using tags such as “[Important]” in subject lines unless related to a specific order
Use messaging for marketing and promotional purposes
Use messaging containing language that incentivizes or solicits biased seller feedback and reviews, including requesting the removal or update of previously published reviews
Send messages containing images, flash animation or any hyperlinks that do not specifically contain relevant information to an order
Send a reminder to leave seller feedback more than once per customer
Include links and attachments unless they relate specifically to the order
Include a link allowing buyers to opt-out of messaging
Include any logos displaying or linking to your website
Auto-response and Seller Central
Guidelines for sellers using autoresponders on Amazon Seller Central don’t just affect how they communicate. Failing to adopt them can result in the suspension of their account altogether.
Amazon tends to frown on the use of auto-response, particularly when a customer has an order-specific question. But they don't outright prohibit it.
Customers, on the other hand, generally don't like receiving automatically generated replies. Especially promotions. It's been estimated that up to 80 percent of online shoppers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that offers a personalized experience.
Personalizing order confirmations is a time consuming task, and an unnecessary one. And order confirmations, including the estimated date of delivery, are the only times you might want to
consider using an auto-responder to reply to a buyer.
You can't set up an automatic response through Seller Central. You have to manually set an auto-responder up through the email associated with your seller account. But you can use a generic template to craft an automatic reply. To do so, simply go to the Messaging Service desk in your Amazon Seller Central dashboard and click on Manage Email Templates.
You can cut and paste your reply in the automatic response setting of your email account. Try to include only pertinent information pertaining to order fulfillment and confirmation in your reply, along with a simple request to leave a review or feedback.
While Amazon seller messaging templates do allow the use of placeholders and tags, the body of your reply should be no more than 4000 characters.
Clarification of Marketing on Amazon Seller Central
Amazon prohibits the use of your Seller Central account for the purposes of unsolicited marketing and promotions, including email, messaging, phone and even personal mail. This also includes solicitation for positive reviews and testimonials, even if prompted by the buyer.
Amazon has always been aggressive about policing sellers who offer to incentivize reviews, including money or gift cards, free or discounted products, refunds and reimbursements. But Amazon sellers have seen a new trend of buyers who use Seller Central to request compensation for their reviews—even at the threat of leaving a bad one.
It's extortion. Forward any suspicious messages to Amazon's seller services, along with a screenshot of the request. If in doubt, only field direct inquiries about a product or order through the Seller Central platform.
One of Amazon’s greatest strengths has always been the ability to provide a relatively neutral and objective platform for honest customer testimonials. Trying to manipulate that objectivity for your own end isn’t just unethical. It’s insecure.
Both your product and your customers deserve more.
Managing your Seller Central account messaging shouldn't get in the way of your Amazon business. We can help. Find out more at Color More Lines.