Originally published on September 8, 2020, updated September 16, 2020
As an Amazon seller, it is your responsibility to understand and follow Amazon policies. However, sometimes it can be tough to keep up with changes, so we're here to help!
Amazon announced today that updated Communication Guidelines will go into effect on November 3, 2020. These updates were made in response to third-party seller and software developer feedback that the policies related to communications with buyers were confusing.
The Amazon Communication Guidelines are meant to provide protection for buyers, sellers, and Amazon. Read on for an overview of what you should know about these guidelines for both direct communication and indirect communication.
Amazon defines two types of Buyer-Seller Messages. Both are considered direct communication with buyers.
Permitted Messages: Communications necessary to complete an order or respond to a customer service inquiry.
You can only send Permitted Messages to customers who contact you about purchasing a product or who have already purchased an item from you on Amazon. These messages are specific to an order and must be sent from your seller account.
Proactive Permitted Message: Communications initiated by sellers that are not responses to a buyer’s question.
Proactive Permitted Messages can be sent via email. There are a few different ways to send these messages:
Proactive Permitted Messages must be sent within 30 days of order completion. You can send these communications for the following reasons:
These messages may also be sent for any other reason where the contact is needed for the buyer to receive their purchase. Proactive Permitted Messages must include the 17-digit order ID and be in the buyer’s preferred language.
What’s great about this update is Amazon is reaffirming that sellers can send proactive messages requesting reviews and feedback. If you’re sending requests through Buyer-Seller Messaging, it’s a good idea to review the content and timing of your messages to make sure you’re in compliance with the updated guidelines.Louis Mizzell
It’s also a good time to consider switching to the new Amazon Request a Review feature in FeedbackFive. Sellers are seeing great results with these messages, and since they come directly from Amazon, you’ll never have to worry about whether you’re breaking any of Amazon’s Communication Guidelines.
The following message types are not permitted:
Amazon already sends order and shipping confirmation messages. In many cases, Amazon also provides customer support. And while it may be tempting to send a coupon to encourage a repeat purchase, it is against Amazon policy.
As stated above, you can use Buyer-Seller Messaging to request product reviews and/or seller feedback from buyers. However, it is important to make sure that all language in these requests is neutral. Do not ask for positive ratings or incentivize positive ratings in any way, including offering: compensation, gift cards, money, free/discounted products, refunds, rebates, reimbursements, or future benefits.
You cannot ask a buyer to change an existing product review, even if you know that you were able to turn a negative experience around. The good news is that if the negative review was a fluke experience, your other reviews will show future buyers that your product is worth considering.
You can only ask for a product review or seller feedback once per order. Avoid sending buyers repeat messages.
Permitted Messages should not include:
Amazon also shared guidelines for styling Permitted Messages. These messages should not contain:
Order Status messages are another form of direct communication with buyers. Amazon provides the following guidelines:
Problem with Order Messages: Sellers should communicate with buyers if the product that was ordered is not available to be shipped. First, adjust the full order amount using Manage Orders in Seller Central or an Order Adjustment feed. Use NoInventory or CouldNotShip as the reason codes for the adjustment as needed. Then select the “Problem with Order” option to message the buyer.
Your message must include a confirmation that the order amount was adjusted with the appropriate reason for the unavailability. If you believe you can fulfill the order but the shipment will be delayed beyond advertised availability, notify the buyer. If the buyer wants to cancel the order, you should start the refund process. Don’t contact the buyer to request a cancellation request.
Return-related Messages: Use Manage Orders in Seller Central or an Order Adjustment feed to process refunds for the order amount minus any charges. You can communicate with the buyer about the return only if you need additional information to complete the return or if you are offering a partial refund.
Amazon shares order-related information with buyers through “Your Account” updates. These updates include shipping information and refunds processing. They are based on shipping confirmations and refunds initiated with Manage Orders or Manage Returns.
Buyers expect timely communication of order status as well as refund information. You are required to promptly confirm shipment of all orders and manage refunds quickly.
It’s important to keep up with Amazon policy changes, particularly if you plan to send messages via Buyer-Seller Messaging. Whether you use Seller Central or a third-party software like FeedbackFive to send feedback/review requests, it’s up to you as a seller to make sure that you are following the rules.
These policy clarifications were long overdue, and they're a welcome addition to Amazon's Buyer-Seller Messaging pages. Many sellers were previously interpreting these policies as they saw fit, and getting into serious trouble, up to and including account suspensions."Chris McCabe
If you fail to comply with Amazon Communication Guidelines, your ability to send proactive Permitted Messages may be limited. Your selling privileges may be suspended. Amazon can block any message at its discretion and may modify subject lines to protect the buyer experience.
It’s (obviously) best to avoid any Amazon messaging restrictions, so if you’re concerned about complying with Amazon policies, consider using the Request a Review button. It triggers a message from Amazon on your behalf to request a product review and seller feedback.
You can automate scheduling for this messaging system with FeedbackFive. In fact, a random sample of FeedbackFive users who activated this feature saw a 41% increase in the rate of new product reviews.
Amazon’s updated Communication Guidelines do provide some clarity for sellers, yet the list of do’s and dont’s is a lot to manage. FeedbackFive gives sellers the choice to use customizable templates or the Amazon Request a Review feature.Suzanne Smith
FeedbackFive pioneered Request a Review automated sending using Amazon’s latest API. We want to make getting more reviews and feedback as easy as possible for sellers.
Request a Review messages are automatically translated into the buyer’s preferred language. They can be sent 5-30 days after the order delivery date. Best of all, these messages ensure that you never violate Amazon Communication Guidelines because they are created by Amazon!
Understanding and following Amazon policies will protect you as a seller and help you to provide the best possible experience for buyers. If you have any questions about product reviews or seller feedback related to these updates or other policies, contact us.
eComEngine is a founding member of the Amazon Developer Council. You can find our software, including FeedbackFive, in the Amazon Appstore.
Originally published on September 8, 2020, updated September 16, 2020
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.