When it comes to Amazon and their policies, things are always changing. Whether they are adding in a new policy or updating fee structures, things rarely stay the same for long. If you are someone who relies on Amazon to sell products, in any shape or form, it’s crucial to keep tabs on all the new changes.
We know that it can be hard to keep up with everything so we wanted to create a living and breathing document that keeps track of everything for you. This resource will be constantly updated to reflect new changes and keep sellers up to date on what’s going on.
|Free Return Program||Time to Respond to A-to-Z Claims|
|Manual Process Fee||Subscribe and Save Program|
|FBA Fees||Incentivized Reviews|
|Customer Reviews||Brand Gating|
|UPC Requirements||High Volume Listing Fee|
Free Return Program – Currently a Pilot Program
Note: This is not something that has been released to all sellers and is only for a select number of sellers. We will keep you updated on the progress of this.
There have been rumors that Amazon is rolling out a new program that will force sellers to pay for all return labels if a customer wants a refund. Effectively, Amazon is making sellers cover all refund shipping costs.
If this program gets a full rollout, it’ll be more important than ever to ensure your products are properly described in your listing and only sell high quality products to reduce the number of returns.
Time to Respond to A-to-z Claims Has Changed – Effective Nov 14th, 2016
The time that you must respond to a A-to-z claims has been reduced from 7 days to 3 days. This is a minor change, but it’s important to know as a seller because if you fail to respond to a claim within 3 days your account will automatically be debited to issue the seller their refund.
New Manual Process Fee for FBA Sellers – Effective Nov 1st, 2016
A new fee has been added for sellers that do not provide box content information on their new shipments after November 1st, 2016. You will be able to avoid this fee by providing this needed information to Amazon for all future shipments.
The information you’ll need to provide Amazon about your box content includes:
- Number of each SKU per box
- Weight and dimensions of the box
- Expiration date when applicable
This information should be readily available for most FBA sellers and shouldn’t be too hard to avoid this fee.
If you don’t provide this information, then you’ll be looking at a $.10 to $.15 fee per unit depending on the month of your shipment. The fee will be $.10 during the months of January to October and $.15 during the months of November and December. You’ll be charged these fees 14 days after your shipment has arrived at an Amazon warehouse.
Per Amazon, sellers who comply with this new rule will have a few advantages over those who don’t. A couple of those perks include having their shipments processed through their fulfillment network quicker and their inventory will be ready for sale sooner.
FBA Sellers are now Eligible to Sell Through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save Program – Effective Oct 31st, 2016
A new opportunity for FBA sellers has been announced that will allow them to reach more customers by being a part of Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program.
What is the Subscribe and Save program?
According to Amazon, “With Subscribe & Save, you may receive a discount off the Amazon and Amazon Marketplace everyday low price on eligible products. You always enjoy free standard shipping, and the convenience of regularly scheduled deliveries when you receive your subscriptions on your monthly Subscribe & Save delivery day.”
One huge reason why FBA sellers should be interested in this is because of the regularly schedule delivery of products. This could be a great new way to make consistent sales, especially if your product is one that needs replenishing every few weeks or months. Sellers who sell things such as dog food, vitamins or other products that need frequent replenishments should consider looking into this.
This is a cool new way to make sales, however, not everyone is going to eligible to join. Your eligibility will be determined by your sales history and your performance metrics as a seller. There are also certain FBA account requirements you must meet as an Amazon seller to be a part of this. Those requirements are as follows:
- Account must be in good standing
- Must have a feedback rating of 4.7 or higher
- Account must be active for at least 3 months
- Products must be sold through FBA
- Must maintain an in-stock percentage of 85% or more
Incentivized Review Policy – Effective Oct 3rd, 2016 (Updated as of Oct 24th, 2016)
Amazon has updated their policies regarding reviews and this time, FBA sellers are taking notice. No longer are sellers allowed to provide a free or discounted product in exchange for a review. For most FBA sellers, giving away products for free, or deeply discounted, is one of the most common ways to jumpstart a new product or brand.
This new policy change doesn’t mean that you can no longer use discounts and coupons as a means of promotion. What it does mean though is that you can longer give a discount if you’re incentivizing the buyer to leave a review in exchange for the discount. That is where you’ll run into problems with Amazon. If the discounted (or free) product has any influence over the buyer leaving a review, then you are technically violating their terms of service.
Below is a list of examples that Amazon states is against their TOS:
- You provide a free or discounted product, gift card, rebate, cash payment, or other compensation in exchange for the review.
- You provide or withhold free or discounted products or other benefits in the future based on whether the customer writes a review.
- You use a review service where reviewers’ continued membership depends on writing reviews.
- You use a review service where you can rate customers based on their reviews.
- You use a review service where customers register their Amazon public profile so that you can monitor their reviews of your products.
Amazon also listed some examples of using discounts and free products that DO comply with their TOS:
- You may offer discounts that are generally available to all Amazon customers, such as Lightning Deals.
- You may give out free products at trade shows, conventions, or other similar venues where you are unable to monitor whether the recipients write a review or provide or withhold any benefits based on whether a review is written or the content of the review.
This goes to prove that Amazon is still allowing the use of discounts and free products as a way of marketing your products, but you need to do so in a way that doesn’t “incentivize” the buyer to leave a biased review.
What about 3rd party review services?
In Amazon’s new TOS, they explicitly touch on using 3rd party services and state they are not allowed. This is going to drastically change how FBA sellers get reviews and it looks like new strategies are going to need to be developed to launch new products. Most of these 3rd party review services will probably update their own terms of service to be complaint with Amazon, however, you should be very cautious using them moving forward.
New FBA Fee Changes – Effective Oct 1st, 2016
To reduce warehouse overload and from storing products that don’t sell, Amazon has modified their current fees for sellers. These fee changes are going to affect two different areas, one of them being the monthly inventory storage fee and the other being weight handling fees.
Let’s look at the changes occurring in the monthly inventory storage fees first. The table below does a good job of explaining the changes:
Monthly Inventory Storage Fee Changes
As the table shows, these changes are mostly geared towards the holiday months where they are expecting a large volume of shipments and products to arrive. The bulk of the months, January to September, there are no fee changes.
The fees in October dropped for both standard size and oversized products. The biggest fee change comes in November and December where they are dramatically increased. Standard-size products increased by $1.53 per cubic foot and oversized products increased by $0.58 per cubic foot.
This is Amazon doing its best to try and limit the amount of excess inventory shipped to its warehouses during the holiday months. It’s also important to note that these fee changes affect standard-size and oversize products only.
Next, let’s look at the fee changes for weight handling. You’ll be surprised to find that Amazon has decreased the fees for both standard-size and oversize products. Check out the table below for more detailed info (image source – https://sellercentral.amazon.com/gp/help/201411300?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0&):
Weight Handling Fee Changes (standard-size)
Weight Handling Fee Changes (oversize)
Keep in mind, these fee changes are only going to be in effect for November and December and will return to their normal rate starting January 1st, 2017. Amazon has said that they are lowering these fees to offset the fee increase for monthly storage space.
New Customer Review Requirements – Effective Sep 2016
New requirements have been added for customers to be eligible to leave a product review. These new requirements include:
- Have $50 or more in total purchases on your Amazon account (prime subscriptions and items purchased at a discount do not go towards this $50 minimum)
- Purchases must be paid with a valid credit or debit card
If your account does not meet those new requirements, then you will be unable to leave a review for a product that you purchased.
Please note, this new $50 minimum is not for the purchase itself, but instead for total account purchases. This means that if you have $50+ in total account purchases but buy an item for $3 you can still leave a review.
The $50 minimum seems to be Amazon’s way of battling against people leaving reviews in exchange for a free or discounted product. Doing this will prevent people who only leave reviews after they have received a product for free by making them spend a decent chunk of money before they can do so.
The valid debit or credit card requirement is also a new way for Amazon to prevent incentivized reviews. A common way for reviewers to get a product for free was to buy it at full price, but with a prepaid gift card provided by the seller of the product.
Brand Gating Policy Update – Effective Aug 29th, 2016
Amazon has implemented a new way to prevent the sale of counterfeit items by creating a new fee and application process for resellers.
Sellers wanting to sell a product that is owned by a brand must pay a $1,000+ fee, send in an application to the owner of the brand and be accepted by them to sell their products. This new change is mainly going to impact resellers and retail arbitrage sellers.
On the other hand, this is good news for private label sellers who create their own brand and have been approved by Amazon’s brand registry. This now prevents resellers from selling your branded product, unless otherwise approved by you. Now more than ever, it’s important for private label sellers to apply for brand registry and make sure your brand is recognized by Amazon.
However, this won’t stop people from creating replica products, removing your brand and then selling it as their own. This is especially true for products that are very similar in nature and the brand name is the only differentiating factor.
New UPC Requirements – Effective Aug 2016
There has been a policy change when it comes to the UPC (Universal Product Code) criteria Amazon that requires for all products. This new change states that Amazon will be checking all UPC codes with the GS1 database and all the information must match. If it doesn’t the product will be considered invalid and will result in your product being removed. You’ll also run the possibility of your account being suspended.
Previously, there wasn’t any language that directly stated the UPC requirements or that Amazon was going to check each UPC with the GS1 database. It looks like Amazon is tightening up and trying to ensure only legitimate products are being sold, which is a good.
Although this new policy change will make Amazon’s marketplace better, it’s not the best of news for a lot of private label sellers. The reason being that many sellers are using UPC codes that they have purchased from resellers, meaning they didn’t buy directly from GS1. This means there might be a chance that the UPC codes purchased from these resellers will not match the information that GS1 has on those UPC codes. You can check GS1’s database and quickly determine if the UPC codes you’re using are valid or not.
Any products that are currently selling on Amazon are not able to change UPC codes. However, there is a workaround. If you have been approved for brand registry, then you can use a Global Catalog Identifier (GCID) as a replacement for using UPC codes. You’ll need to create a seller support case to update active products from UPC to GCID.
Moving forward, you should either only buy your UPC barcodes from GS1 or use GCID in place of UPC codes if you have been accepted into brand registry. This will ensure you stay within Amazon’s new UPC policy.
High Volume Listing Fee Change – Effective Aug 1st, 2016
A new fee change has been announced by Amazon, however, this won’t have an impact on many private label sellers. This is more geared towards the Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) sellers who use Amazon’s marketplace to dropship items. These types of sellers often have hundreds of thousands of ASINs while most of them never even make one sale.
Let’s take a closer look at the details of this new fee change.
Amazon will be charging a monthly fee $0.005 per ASIN that meets the following criteria:
- Is non-media
- Is an active offer
- Has not made sale by any seller in the last 12 months
- Has been listed on Amazon for at least 12 months
This fee will only be charged after you surpass 100,000 ASINs that meet the above criteria. As you can see, you have quite a bit of ASINs to work with before you must begin worrying about this fee. Most private label sellers will never even come close to reaching 100,000 ASINs.