How to Avoid Amazon Marketplace Private Label ASIN Suspensions
A private label product is an item that is manufactured by one or more third parties to be sold by another company under a private label brand. On Amazon, there are two types of private labels: private labels that are owned by Amazon, and private labels that are owned by Amazon sellers. Private labels give sellers more control over branding, production, pricing, and profitability. Once private labels are trademarked and registered with Amazon’s Brand Registry, they are less susceptible to trademark, counterfeit, and copyright infringement complaints. Additionally, no other seller may sell or edit the ASIN (a 10-character unique product identifier assigned by Amazon), without prior approval from the private label owner.
When an ASIN violates Amazon policy, Amazon will respond in one of two ways: suspend the ASIN and leave the account active or suspend the entire account. ASIN suspensions require sellers to formally respond by submitting an appeal. If sellers neglect an ASIN suspension notice, if they receive an additional complaint, or if their appeal is denied, it may lead to their entire account being suspended. It’s critical that sellers understand the violations that may lead to private label ASIN suspensions. The following list outlines some of the violations that may result in private label ASIN suspensions, their causes, and offers insight on how to prevent them.
When a seller omits a required field or includes prohibited content in the title for their private label product, it may result in a title violation. Depending on private label Amazon Brand Registry status, different actions may lead to title violations.
Registered with Amazon Brand Registry
When a private label brand is registered with Amazon Brand Registry, every ASIN listed is required to include both the product name as well as the brand name in the title. Prior to the ASIN suspension (when Amazon hasn’t yet noticed the violation), sellers may edit the title. Once the ASIN is suspended, Amazon typically disables the editing option and requires an appeal in order to reinstate the ASIN. If the editing option has been disabled, once the ASIN is reinstated, Amazon re-enables the editing option allowing sellers to bring the title into compliance.
Unregistered with Amazon Brand Registry
When a private label brand isn’t registered with Amazon Brand Registry, sellers are prohibited from editing ASIN titles that have been listed in the Amazon catalog, as it materially changes the listing. If the seller decides to add the brand name at a later time, the ASIN may get suspended for product detail page tampering. The seller will then need to submit an appeal to get the ASIN reinstated.
- During the initial product detail page creation, always include the brand name in the title for private label listings, regardless of Amazon Brand registration or trademarking status.
- When a private label brand isn’t registered with Amazon Brand Registry, and the ASIN is suspended for product detail page tampering, the seller will need to register their brand with Amazon Brand Registry in order to create a new ASIN. All product reviews for the original ASIN will be lost as reviews are non-transferable to the new listing.
- When a private label brand isn’t registered with Amazon Brand Registry, other sellers are able to edit the listing, e.g., remove the brand name from the title. We recommend monitoring the listing for edits made by other sellers.
When a seller adds unapproved information within the description, it may result in a description violation. Amazon has their own list of prohibited actions for descriptions which may result in description violations. Some of these actions include using all CAPS, including spoilers if the item is a book or a movie, using more than 200 characters, etc.
Sellers encounter issues when they violate standards which aren’t explicitly stated in Amazon Guidelines. The following actions may result in description violations.
Comparisons to competitors
Any type of promotional wording which elevates the product above others, e.g, “easiest,” “best,” “top,” “strongest,” “newest,” “the best in the class,” “unlike others,” “top quality,” “easiest to use,” “best design,” “best choice,” etc.
Cross-merchandising is the practice of referring to another product within a listing to promote the other product. Only one ASIN may be referenced in each listing.
Using wording like “works best with” and “comes with” in reference to a different product.
Attempting to circumvent Amazon
As of August 2020, Amazon has included seller information (name, address, phone number, website, etc.), on the seller feedback page. Despite the inclusion of this new information, the current Amazon policy still prohibits the addition of seller information within the description.
Unmerited medicinal claims
- Medicinal claims that are unapproved by the FDA.
- Alleging the product cures, mitigates, treats, or prevents a disease in humans.
- Don’t compare products to competitors.
- Only reference the product being listed.
- Don’t describe any accessories that go with the product unless they are included in the listing.
- Don’t include any outside links to websites, email addresses, or phone numbers, etc.
- Ensure the product isn’t making a medicinal claim unless FDA approved.
When a seller includes unapproved content in the image for their private label product, it may result in an image violation. Amazon has a list of prohibited content which, when included in a picture, may result in an image violation, e.g., anything deemed obscene, details of availability, price, condition, etc.
Not every potential violation is expressly addressed by Amazon. Therefore, many sellers run into unforeseen issues resulting in image violations. Below are some additional reasons why this may occur.
Foreign products marketed to US consumers
If the product is manufactured in another country, the label must include English translations.
Using stock images of models or other products without obtaining authorization from the copyright owner.
- Review each image carefully against Amazon Image Guidelines prior to adding the image to the listing.
- Only list foreign items that have English label translations.
- If using stock photos, verify they’re public domain. Otherwise, create your own image or acquire the rights to use someone else’s image.
- The promotional wording and unmerited medicinal claims outlined under the description violation section are also prohibited for images.
When a seller adds non-compliant keywords to their flat file (the spreadsheet used to upload listing details), it may result in a keyword violation. Sellers are allowed to add keywords to their listings which are used for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes. When keywords are used correctly, sellers may direct more traffic to their listings. Below are a few examples that may cause keyword violations.
Piggy-backing off another brand
This occurs when sellers intentionally include a competitor’s brand name within their keywords in an effort to redirect potential customers to their own product.
Entering incorrect keywords
Sellers may enter a keyword that inaccurately describes their product. For example, a seller may enter “CBD” for a product that doesn’t contain CBD.
If the item is suspended due to an incorrect keyword, rather than allowing the seller to simply remove the incorrect keyword, Amazon usually insists that the seller provide documentation supporting the initial claim. If the seller is unable to do so, it’s very difficult to reinstate the item.
Hiring inexperienced VA’s (virtual assistants) to manage listings
Sellers commonly hire VA’s to edit and manage their listings. It’s very important that the VA is competent in Amazon’s Guidelines.
Amazon wants sellers to accept responsibility for their violations. If an ASIN is suspended and sellers deflect responsibility to a VA, rather than assuming it themselves, it makes reinstating the ASIN more difficult.
- Never reference another brand.
- Don’t add keywords for ingredients unless absolutely certain that they apply to the product.
- Ensure that any VA that has access to listings is proficient in Amazon policies.
Since sellers are eager to make their private label brand popular on Amazon, they sometimes hire companies or individuals to assist with product reviews. Amazon has very strict review guidelines and methods deemed acceptable in obtaining them. Below are violations that may result in review manipulation ASIN suspensions.
Asking family/friends for reviews
Sellers commonly ask their friends and family to purchase their products and leave reviews. While this seems like a harmless practice, it is prohibited by Amazon because Amazon assumes the reviews are biased. If Amazon connects reviews to friends or family, they’ll suspend the listing.
Hiring a company to solicit reviews through email
Many companies offer services that assist with review solicitation. Amazon has very specific wording that is allowed when soliciting reviews. If a company sends out emails which violate Amazon guidelines, the ASIN will get suspended.
Requesting positive reviews
Amazon expects all reviews to be truthful and unbiased. If a seller offers a free gift or a discount in exchange for a review, Amazon sees this as a tactic to gain a positive review that isn’t solely based on the product itself. No discounts, gifts, or offers are allowed.
No flyers, offers, or gifts are allowed to be included with the order, e.g, contained within the packaging.
- Ensure that if family or friends are purchasing products, they don’t leave reviews.
- If hiring a third party company, ensure they are proficient in Amazon Guidelines prior to granting access for review solicitation.
- Never offer discounts or gifts in exchange for a review.
- If soliciting a review, don’t explicitly request that it be positive. Simply ask the customer to rate their experience with the product.
Duplicate Listing Violations
Amazon requires one listing to exist for each unique product in the marketplace. Duplicate listing violations occur when sellers create additional detail pages for products already in the marketplace.
If the ASIN gets suspended, and the seller’s appeal is denied, the seller may be burdened with dead-stock inventory. In an attempt to bypass the suspension, some sellers opt to create a duplicate listing. This is a temporary solution as Amazon generally quickly identifies duplicate listings. Furthermore, in addition to suspending the duplicate listing, which also results in the loss of any reviews obtained through that listing, Amazon will likely proceed in suspending the entire account.
- Check Amazon Guidelines before adding the listing to the Amazon catalog.
- If an ASIN has been suspended, don’t create a new ASIN for the same product. While this may be a short-term fix, the entire account could potentially get suspended for this ASIN violation.
Start Reviewing Inventory Today
Apply the aforementioned prevention tips. Rule-of-thumb is that it’s best to remove products until compliance with Amazon Terms of Service is verified.
If you have any questions related to private label ASIN violations, or any other performance or suspension related matters, contact Sellercare.
It is best to consult a professional such as Sellercare once your account is suspended. In most cases, significant changes need to be made to seller account logistics, inventory, and business practices before the appeal is prepared.
For more on what to do (and not to do) if your Amazon account is suspended, check out this post on 10 Things to Never do After an Amazon Seller Account Suspension.
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