Hoping to sell on Amazon in 2020? Understanding how to comply with Amazon rules, policies, and guidelines will make your life easier. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an experienced Amazon seller trying to refresh your memory, here’s a 5-minute crash course on Amazon selling rules.
The recent health crisis sheds light on the importance of having tough rules in place. And that’s something Amazon excels at. Everywhere you turn, there are Amazon rules to keep sellers in check. And with over 2.5 million sellers handling 53% of sales, who can blame them?
The official Program Policies page neatly lists all these rules. But before you peruse the list, you should know that Amazon has one overarching policy: customer centricity. As Jeff Bezos himself puts it, the customer centric approach is the “secret sauce” to his success recipe.
The idea that customers must always be happy is Amazon’s core strategy. But creating these positive experiences for customers isn’t just Amazon’s job. It’s the seller’s duty as well. Here are the most important rules for anyone wanting to sell on Amazon in 2020:
First things first – sign your seller agreement. You do this when you set up your Amazon account. It’s a simple contract with straightforward terms. But pay special attention to the sections that mention these caveats:
- Amazon can withhold your funds if your performance is poor.
- If you owe Amazon money, they can collect by any lawful means.
- Amazon can impose transaction limits (the norm with novice sellers).
- You can terminate the contract any time by contacting Amazon’s representatives.
- Amazon must give you 30 days’ notice before terminating the contract.
- If you’re warned and you don’t ‘cure’ in 7 days, you resort to illegal activity, or your actions harm customers or Amazon, they can terminate the agreement on the spot.
A. General Policies
Once you become an Amazon seller, you’re bound to a series of Amazon rules. Some are general policies, and others apply to specific selling programs (e.g. FBA Small and Light, Amazon Handmade, etc.). Let’s look at universal selling Amazon rules and how to avoid breaking them:
a. Selling Policies and Seller Code of Conduct
Sellers often break the Code of Conduct. When they do, they get suspended in a heartbeat. But these suspensions are completely avoidable. Simply read the rulebook before you start selling. If you want to sell on Amazon in 2020, here are 9 basic Amazon rules to remember:
b. Customer Product Reviews Policies
Aside from points 4 to 7 above, there are a few other Amazon rules to do with product reviews. Amazon has a zero-tolerance policy toward sellers who break these rules. To avoid suspension, lawsuits, deleted reviews and listings, remember this:
- Don’t use review clubs or closed social media groups (e.g. Facebook groups) to solicit reviews.
- Don’t pay reviewers in private (e.g. via Paypal) after they write a review.
- Don’t divert negative A performance rating on a scale of 1 to … More while sending only positive feedback to Amazon.
- Don’t create variations of the same product to accumulate product reviews.
c. Monitor Your Account Health is an Amazon page which c… More
Amazon monitors seller performance constantly. But it’s not unusual for seller accounts to be suspended in droves before the holidays. To make sure you don’t fall short of Amazon’s standards, check the Account Health section in your Amazon Seller Central is a portal or a h… More account, as shown below.
B. A collection of ideas, concepts, … More Policies
Intellectual Property infringement is a big deal. So big that you can get suspended with no prior warning if there’s even the slightest chance that you broke these basic Amazon selling rules. And to make your case, you need ironclad arguments. ‘I didn’t know’ won’t cut it.
We talked about IP infringement before on our blog. Our advice is for you to read our post titled How to Handle IP infringement Issues. It can help you get a grasp on concepts like trademark, patent, and copyright. After you go over some of this material, make sure you understand that you must sell:
- Authentic items only, in line with the Amazon Anti-Counterfeiting Policy.
- Items that don’t violate IP rights, as per Amazon Intellectual Property Policy.
- Items with the Amazon badge only when you comply with Trademark Usage Guidelines.
C. Product and Listing Requirements
To sell on Amazon in 2020, you must comply with the policies we mentioned above, stay on top of your metrics, and be extra careful about I.P. claims. But besides all that, there are a few pricing rules and listing restrictions you should go over before you start selling.
This is Amazon’s main rule against price gouging. It applies to all situations where a seller’s pricing “harms customer trust”.
The Fair Price policy ties in with the Code of Conduct, Amazon Policy on Reference Prices, and Minimum and Maximum Price Validation rules. We discussed all these rules and how Sellery can help in our recent post, Decoding the Amazon Fair Price Policy. Here is a list of price gouging rules for every third-party seller on Amazon.
There are undisclosed limits to the number of new listings a seller can make. Amazon will go over them every week. And it will also check to see that you don’t create duplicate listings. Make sure you don’t sell multipacks instead of legitimate bundles too. And check that your product variations are accurate and consistent.
Product restrictions include but are not limited to, legal requirements. Expired products, testers, age-inappropriate or offensive products are just a few examples of products you can’t sell on Amazon in 2020.
But there are also products that can only be sold in new condition or only through seller fulfillment. A tool like Profit Bandit can warn you about product restrictions before you buy an item, so that you’re not stuck with inventory you can’t sell.
When it comes to product categories, some are ‘gated’. That’s seller jargon for “requires approval”. The list of restricted categories includes Video, DVD, & Blu-Ray and Toys & Games (over the holidays only). Storefronts like Made in Italy and restricted brands like Nike are also gated. So too are warranties like the Watch Protection Plan.
Aside from restricting products, Amazon can also ban them. For example, products without valid FDA approval (e.g. dietary supplement) can’t be listed on any of its venues. These items usually come with unfounded claims like ‘FDA-approved’ or ‘healing’. But the FDA does not approve dietary supplements or any other product that only claims to cure, prevent, or treat something.
The Quick Start Guide to listing on Amazon covers the basics. These rules apply to all the sections of a product listing that a buyer can see. For instance, titles should be under 200 characters long, with capitalized initials only. There should be no special characters or references to promotions or product popularity.
Watermarks, borders, drawings, animation, and text on images are also not permitted. Nor should you use anything other than a white background for your images. Items sold separately must be pictured on their respective listing. For more guidance on product image best practice, read these 7 Tips on Product Images.
Some categories have special requirements. Check your Inventory Templates for special fields. Also, product categories should be classified correctly during the listing process. To make sure you do so, it’s best to use the Product Classifier or the Browse Tree Guide.
Some guidelines only refer to specific products. Software can only be sold if it’s the full retail version, for instance (i.e. not promotional version, Beta version). Textbooks can’t be sold if their ISBN or cover type (e.g. paperback) doesn’t match the one listed on Amazon.
Promotional samples, bundles, and advance book copies are also not allowed. Expired or soon-to-expire products are not allowed either. Nor are items deemed unsellable or earmarked for disposal by the supplier or manufacturer.
Some of these Amazon rules are category specific. As mentioned in a previous post, cameras can only be sold in their original packaging. Unless the title says otherwise, that is. And computers without the original packaging are only ‘Acceptable’ on Amazon.
But whatever the category, the item must be original, clean, and easy to use. It shouldn’t need any repairs or servicing. And it shouldn’t have any stains, corrosion, or mold, or missing parts (usually). As you choose the condition and write the description, you should always follow these 7 Condition Guidelines:
That’s everything you need to know before you start to sell on Amazon in 2020. Why bother reading up on all these Amazon selling rules? It’s very simple: buyers don’t always read descriptions, policies, or A storefront is the page Amazon u… More information. And their expectations are very high.
To protect yourself from unfounded claims, help your business last, and make customers happy, keep up with these policies. And be prepared to politely remind your buyers often of just what the latest Amazon rules have to say.
Meanwhile, as you grow your business, make sure to sign up to our newsletter and follow our blog for all the latest news. And don’t forget; we’re here to help with expert advice from our Services team and clever repricing software like Sellery.
Melanie takes an active interest in all things Amazon. She keeps an eye on the latest developments and keeps Amazon sellers up to speed.