Originally published on April 13, 2020, updated May 26, 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has already made an enormous impact on Amazon sellers. Those who sell household items and medical supplies may be struggling to stay in stock. On the other side, some sellers have found themselves making a rapid shift to Fulfilled by Merchant due to temporary shipment prioritization at FBA fulfillment centers.
Already a bustling marketplace, Amazon has seen demand skyrocket for medical supplies, household staples, groceries, and other items. As fulfillment centers struggle to keep employees healthy and safe while fulfilling orders, many consumers are seeing shipping delays, even for Prime products that would typically be delivered within 24-48 hours.
What does this mean for sellers, who are given feedback based on their ability to fulfill orders quickly?
Buyers who are accustomed to receiving their orders within two days may not react well to shipping delays. Amazon’s website makes it clear that delays are possible during this time, but some shoppers may feel that their essential orders have been delayed for too long or might forget about this change. As a result, Amazon sellers may begin to see an uptick in negative feedback ratings.
After all, as we’ve pointed out previously, an unhappy buyer is more likely to share their opinion without prompting than a happy buyer. However, despite significant spikes in late shipments, we did not see a major increase in negative feedbacks in April 2020. In late May 2020, Marketplace Pulse reported an increase in negative ratings, noting that overall sales volume has also increased.
In any case, it's good to be prepared for managing negative feedback. Read on to learn more about what you can do to protect your Amazon seller health.
When it comes to avoiding negative feedback in the first place, communication is key. Wherever possible, notify buyers of any potential shipping delays. If applicable, consider making a temporary update to your listing to communicate that your product may not be delivered within the usual two-day Prime window.
If you are fulfilling your own orders through Fulfilled by Merchant or Seller Fulfilled Prime, take extra care to ensure that your shipping details are as accurate as possible. Most buyers understand that there are circumstances beyond your control in the current pandemic, but some may still not realize that they aren’t purchasing items from a third-party seller. Make your communication as clear as you can and be sure to communicate directly through Amazon Buyer-Seller Messaging, as this may positively impact your Amazon account in the months ahead.
Amazon is updating buyers of shipping delays related to FBA orders. Here is an example of a shipping delay message from Amazon:
These proactive measures can help prevent negative experiences for buyers. Clear communication and general understanding that delays are common due to the current crisis can go a long way toward preserving a positive customer experience.
Amazon does not send alerts or notifications when you receive new seller feedback. You can use FeedbackFive to monitor feedback. FeedbackFive can send negative feedback alerts to you and/or your employees via email or SMS message. These notifications let you know when it is time to take action to protect your seller reputation.
If you do receive a negative feedback, take time to respond to the buyer. Concisely and courteously explain any COVID-19 complications that may have impacted your order. This will show future shoppers that you are responsive and professional.
Amazon recommends that sellers work with buyers to resolve negative feedback. However, you cannot ask a buyer to change or remove their feedback. If a buyer contacts you about removing feedback, follow these steps. Amazon typically doesn’t remove feedback even if the issue has been resolved or the negative rating was unwarranted.
Getting more positive feedback with the help of the automated email requests is only half of the work in keeping an excellent seller feedback rating. As a seller, you also need to be on the lookout for negative feedback to attempt to resolve it. FeedbackFive can send you email and text alerts so that you can take action as quickly as possible."Franz Valmonte
Amazon only removes feedback that includes obscene language or personally identifiable information about the seller. Amazon may also consider removing feedback if the entire feedback is actually a product review. Amazon will strike-through feedback that is about fulfillment or customer service for an order that was fulfilled by Amazon. Amazon will also strike-through feedback if the entire comment is related to delays or packages that are not received for orders that were shipped on time by the seller using Buy Shipping. If you would like to manage or request feedback removal, you can do so with Feedback Manager in Seller Central.
Negative feedback, along with A-z Guarantee Claim Rate and Credit Card Chargeback Rate, are part of your Order Defect Rate (ODR). This is a metric that Amazon takes seriously, with a policy that sellers need to maintain an ODR under 1% in order to sell on Amazon. If your ODR rises above 1%, it could result in account deactivation. In other words, it's very important to pay attention to your account metrics, especially if you are currently experiencing a dip in order volume.
The best way to handle negative feedback is to respond as soon as possible to address your buyer's issue, but unfortunately Seller Central doesn't provide real-time feedback notifications. That's why setting up text or email feedback alerts is critical to staying on top of your reputation on Amazon."Louis Mizzell
Related to coronavirus, Amazon is relaxing policies for shipping-related Performance metrics. Late shipping or the need to cancel orders due to factors outside your control related to COVID-19 will be considered. If you are currently unable to fulfill orders due to the impact of COVID-19, you can place your account in vacation status.
If you are unable to fulfill an order, communicate this information to the buyer with Amazon Buyer-Seller Messaging. Explain why you cannot fill the order and ask the buyer to submit an official cancellation request. If the buyer is willing to do so, follow the process in the Standard cancellation process that will not count against your metrics section of the Order cancellations page. If the buyer doesn’t submit an official request, cancel the order and notify the buyer. This may impact your performance metrics, but if Amazon is able to confirm that you notified the buyer with Buyer-Seller Messaging it will be factored in when your account’s recent performance is evaluated. Prevent other orders from impacting your metrics by reviewing the delivery time and updating it as needed.
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself receiving the occasional negative feedback. However, that doesn’t mean that you should stop requesting seller feedback altogether. FeedbackFive makes it easy to exclude orders that shipped late from feedback and review requests. Cancelled orders are automatically excluded for the Pro and Enterprise plans.
You can use the flexibility of the campaign rules in FeedbackFive to ensure that you are not requesting feedback from buyers who did not receive the level of customer service you typically strive to provide. Continuing to request feedback in general is a smart way to keep your Amazon seller reputation healthy, which can help your listings stand out from competitors and may even impact your ability to win the Buy Box. Also, since many individuals find themselves with extra time on their hands while sheltering in place, your feedback request success rate may actually increase in the weeks to come.
Originally published on April 13, 2020, updated May 26, 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.