How to Please Amazon: A Perfect Plan of Action in Only 4 Steps!
The suspension of the Seller Account is the worst nightmare for every Amazon seller. Best-case scenario: the platform just generated some extra income to your main business. Worst-case scenario: that seller account is your main business. But even if this happens to be the case, don’t worry, there is still a silver lining to be found. The suspension does not have to be permanent. However, if you want Amazon to reinstate the Seller Account, Amazon often demands that you show a plan of action to demonstrate your willingness to cooperate in the future.
The plan of action is a well known tool in the field of quality management but often proves to be quite the hurdle for Amazon sellers. As is tradition for Amazon, the e-commerce giant remains silent regarding precise content and preferred design of the action plan. It is therefore not surprising that there are now a number of providers who offer their help in creating said plan. After all, in extreme cases, entire existences depend on the success or failure of the plan of action’s quality and content.
The question you are asking yourself – we know this because you wouldn’t be here if it were otherwise – is:
Are these external service providers are even necessary?
Honestly, they are big help, but not a necessity. In this blog post, we will show you how to create an action plan for Amazon correctly and highlight which different possibilities marketplace sellers have. In a first step, however, let’s take a quick a look at the reasons why Amazon sellers may have to create such a plan.
Just starting out on Amazon? Check out our best tips on selling on Amazon for beginners!
What Is a Plan of Action for Amazon?
Amazon, being the e-commerce authority it is, strives to establish and maintain a certain standard for the marketplaces. And that standard is quite high. In fact, there is a whole series of guidelines, agreements, and restrictions, also known as Terms of Service (TOS), that every seller must agree to before starting to sell on the Amazon platform. Amazon does not accept any violation of these rules and will enforce them if necessary – for example by blocking an affected product or even the seller account.
On Amazon, a detailed plan of action is used to decide whether to reactivate the account and/or withdraw other sanctions. A plan of action should therefore include:
- What the causes led to the problem.
- What measures you have taken to rectify the problem.
- What internal processes you have changed to prevent such problems from happening in the future.
Once the account has been blocked on Amazon, a plan of action is often the only way for sellers to unblock it. There are many reasons that can lead to a suspension, but usually it’s one of these three issues:
Poor seller performance: If the performance of a seller does not meet the requirements at all, this might result in an Amazon account suspension, requiring an Amazon plan of action. One late shipment will usually not lead to a suspension. It is much rather a matter of frequency and severity.
Violation of sales policies or code of conduct: A plan of action, for example, is often required when people don’t play by the rules and violate Amazon sales policies or the Amazon code of conduct. A popular reason is that sellers have sent marketing-related emails to customers with the aim of diverting the sales process away from Amazon and towards their own online shop. Other common reasons are the illegal purchase of comment reviews and you will certainly need an Amazon plan of action if used items are sold as new on your product page
Insufficient seller information: Missing or incorrect information about the seller can also lead to an Amazon plan of action.
Once the account has been suspended, the seller no longer has access to the internal communication channels. This means that sellers can no longer communicate with Amazon via Seller Central. Naturally, this minders the chances of success for our Amazon seller action plan and is also one of the reasons why everything necessary should be transmitted in a summarised form. After all, your email is not the only one the employee on the other end of the line will read on that day.
How to Write an Action Plan for Amazon
Let’s cut to the chase, the e-commerce giant does not want to hear your excuses and an inauthentic complaint won’t bring your Amazon plan of action any further either. Problems arise all time, but they can often be solved by customizing relevant internal processes. This is what sellers should focus on instead of talking the matter down, naming a guilty party, or justifying themselves. In the plan of action, the company expects clear and precise formulation. Objectivity is the magic word here. Excessive introductions to the seller’s company, the affected product, or emotional expressions have no place and will not be helpful here at all.
Instead, sellers should focus on the cause of the error and the solution to the problem at hand. If the deactivation has occurred due to several problems, each problem should be addressed individually. Sometimes Amazon also requests proof of some sort, be it products or email correspondence. We don’t have to tell you that you should always submit these in full. The online giant recommends highlighting important information such as ASINs, contact details of suppliers or clauses in the terms and conditions.
The specific design of the plan of action is up to you. On the one hand, this is problematic because it has created a lot of mystery and discussion revolving around the topic of what Amazon would like the plan of action to look like. The result of these discussion have achieved the exact opposite of what they aimed to achieve: sellers don’t know where to start. On the other hand, this requires that every action plan has to be written individually by the seller. There is no standard solution! No specific sample of a plan of action can be given.
Nevertheless, sellers can still use the methods of quality management for orientation: the 4-dimensional (4D) and the 8-dimensional (8D) report. This is because both reports provide a clear structure: Amazon likes the plan of action in a format that is strict and goal-oriented.
The 4D Report
The 4-Dimensions report is suitable on Amazon as a plan of action for most violations, especially for smaller, less severe ones like the suspension of one single product. That is why we will discuss it here in more detail. It is divided into four different dimensions:
- D1: Problem description
- D2: Cause analysis and immediate measures
- D3: Long-term measures
- D4: Proof of effectiveness
D1: Problem description
The first dimension is mainly of a descriptive nature. It is about describing briefly but precisely which problem was responsible for the sanctioning. Approaches to solutions are not yet needed here.
D2: Root cause analysis
In this dimension, sellers already delve deeper into the matter and shed light on why a problem has arisen in the first place. It is also a matter of analyzing one’s own mistakes. However, it is not helpful to look for the errors in others. Even if there is a guilty party, there is no need to mention it in your Amazon plan of action. It’s not what they want to hear.
It is also important to explain the measures taken to solve the problem. This is not a matter of declarations of intent or promises, but of action. For example, if the suspension was imposed because of a high rate of late shipment, do not express the intention to change the delivery service – that change should already have taken place!
D3: Long-term measures
The third dimension builds on the second. Here, the measures just discussed should be explained in detail. Which changes were established in which processes and why do these changes lead to the solution of the problem? Were some processes newly introduced, e.g. as a supervisory body, were there any employee training or was there organizational restructuring? All these things should be included in this dimension to ensure that Amazon accepts the plan of action.
D4: Proof of effectiveness
What was already important in the previous dimensions is especially true in this one: In this part of the plan of action, Amazon does not want to read that the measures solve the problem, but how the measures solve the problem.
The proof that has to be provided is very individual and depends on the problem and the approach to the solution. If, for example, the supplier was changed, copies of the purchase contracts could serve as proof. In other cases, photo reports or customer evaluations can be used. In any case, it is a good idea to back up the claims with facts and figures.
The 8D Report
Compared to the 4D report, the 8D report is more detailed and describes the problem and the approach to the solution as well as the solution for it. For Amazon, this plan of action is designed for serious violations in which not only individual products but entire seller accounts were suspended.
The different dimensions are defined as followed:
- D1: Who is working on solving the problem? Has a separate team or an external service provider been commissioned? Who are the contact persons for these external service providers?
- D2: What is the problem? This point essentially corresponds to the first dimension of the 4D report.
- D3: What immediate measures were taken? This is only a brief summary of the most important measures to solve the problem.
- D4: What was the cause of the error? This should be described as objectively as possible. How the error was found e.g. through tests, analyses, etc. also belongs here.
- D5: What are the possible solutions? At this point, the plan of action should tell Amazon which different approaches have been discussed and why they are fit to solve the problem. It should also explain which criteria were decisive if one solution was chosen over the other.
- D6: How were the measures from D5 implemented? The aim here is to document the implementation of the measures from D5.
- D7: How do the measures prevent the problem from recurring? This dimension shows how the solutions introduced contribute to error prevention.
- D8: What has the team learned from the error analysis? In the last part, a summary should be drawn and should also show how and why such problems can be avoided in the future.
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Do You Need Help with Your Plan of Action as an Amazon Seller?
Especially the 8D-Report, but also the 4D-Report requires a high degree of reflection and initiative. It is not always immediately clear which mistakes have actually led to the point of a plan of action for an Amazon seller. If the e-commerce platform has merely blocked a product, sellers may be able to take their time to search. If the account is locked, the existence of the seller may depend on the quality of the Amazon plan of action.
However, drafting a plan of action can get very expensive. Providers often charge three to four-figure sums. In return, they offer one thing above all: experience and knowledge, especially in communication with Amazon. Just as every plan of action must be created individually, the decision for or against a service provider is an individual decision and depends on many factors.
One thing that is important to know: You might have to follow up on this process. The plan of action does not necessarily have to be approved the first time. It is possible that you will receive further inquiries about missing aspects and will have to get back to drafting.
Conclusion: An Amazon Plan of Action is No Easy Task!
One thing is certain: When Amazon has suspended an account and a plan of action is required, this is a major hurdle for marketplace sellers and can even threaten their very existence. Moreover, the information provided by the e-commerce giant does not necessarily help in the process. Orientation can be provided by a 4D report for small violations and an 8D report for serious problems. But even then, the creation of such reports requires a high degree of self-reflection.
But in terms of the Amazon plan of action, an inauthentic template could compromise the account recovery. The cases in which this quality assurance tool is used are too diverse for that. External service providers can be an alternative, especially in the case of account deactivations that threaten the existence of the company. However, costs in the three to the four-digit range must be taken into consideration.
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