Category Archives: Seller Metrics

How To Keep a 100% Feedback Rating (even if you get negative feedbacks)

feedbackA few months ago, I was out sourcing retail and thrift stores with my wife. It was lunch time, so we took a break and went to one of our favorite local Mexican food restaurants. While we were waiting for our lunch to come, I received a text about a negative feedback that was just posted to my Amazon seller account. By the time lunch was done, the negative feedback had been removed, and we enjoyed the rest of the day. How was this situation fixed so quickly? More on that in a minute…

Many Amazon sellers know that winning the Buy Box is vital to their success on Amazon. If you are wanting to win the Buy Box more often, one really great way is to improve your feedback score. When Amazon sees that you are a quality seller with an amazing reputation, their Buy Box algorithm is more likely to include your inventory. About 70-80% of all Amazon sales come through the Buy Box, so it’s really important to have all your ducks in a row in order to get the Buy Box a higher percentage of time. 

Here are the methods I use to to keep a 100% feedback rating:

1. When choosing the condition of a product, round down, not up. 

Select-ConditionIf you have a book and you think its condition is somewhere between very good and good condition, round down and list the book as good. Buyers can be very picky and if they think they are ordering a book in very good condition but get a book they believe is only in good condition, you might get a negative feedback for the order. Remember, people grade items differently, so it’s best to play it safe. Plus, if someone orders an item in good condition, but then gets it and thinks it’s in very good condition, then it is much more likely you’ll get a positive feedback rating. 

2. Think twice about selling an item in acceptable condition. 

cannibalbookI almost never sell an item that I think is in acceptable condition. Just like I wrote above, different people grade items differently, and what I think might be acceptable, someone else might see as completely unacceptable. Even if you provide the buyer with the most detailed condition notes describing exactly what the item’s faults are, they probably won’t remember when they get the item days later and are more likely to post negative feedback on your account. 

3. When you get an unfair negative feedback (and you will), act quickly.  

Most of the negative feedbacks I get are product reviews, price complaints, or other unfair negative feedbacks. It’s against Amazon’s feedback policy for a buyer to leave feedback for a seller that is related to a product review or price. As soon as you get an unfair negative feedback, open up a ticket with Seller Support and ask them to remove the feedback as it violates the feedback guidelines.

When you describe your reasons to Amazon, limit the number of words you use. The longer the explanation, the more likely the Seller Support staff will ignore the bulk of your message and just deny your feedback removal request.

When communicating with Amazon, it’s always best to be concise and to the point. Most of the time, the Seller Support staff member will see your point of view and remove the unfair negative feedback. If they deny your request, your goal of feedback removal is not over. Simply open up a new ticket with Seller Support and hopefully the next Amazon staff member will understand your reasoning and remove the feedback. Feedback Removal

4. When you get a legitimate negative feedback (and you will), act quickly, apologetically, and generously. 

Maybe you forgot to put in the condition notes that the book you are selling has a lot of highlights and underlines on most of its pages… and now your customer is upset that they didn’t get a clean copy of the book. Perhaps you sent in a used music CD without testing it first, and your customer complains that the CD you sold them skips every 10 seconds. Sometimes when a buyer leaves you negative feedback, it’s deserved… but that doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with it for life.

While Seller Support probably won’t remove the feedback for you, the buyer can. When you get a negative feedback and you are in the wrong, reach out to the buyer with a friendly email. In the email, tell them that you are very sorry for the mistake you have made. Communicate to them that you have learned from your errors and you appreciate them pointing out where you went wrong. Ask them if there is anything you can do to make things up to them. Tell them that customer satisfaction is very important to you and that you want to do anything you can to make things up to them. Even go so far as to offer them a $10 Amazon gift card to make up for their inconvenience. In this email, DO NOT request that they remove the feedback; this will come later. Most likely, the buyer will accept the $10 gift card and your apology.

A few days after you send them the gift card, send them another email that communicates, once again, that customer satisfaction is very important to you. Ask them again if there is anything else you can do for them. Then, remind them that your feedback score is very important to you as a small seller on Amazon. Ask them, very politely, if they would consider removing the negative feedback only if they feel like you have made up for your error. Provide the buyer with a link or instructions to how they can easily remove (or update) your feedback score. Most of the time, the seller will remove the feedback. 

NEVER (EVER!) connect the gift card with the removal of the negative feedback. Never even talk about them in the same sentence. It is against Amazon’s policy to offer gift cards in exchange for a feedback removal, so don’t even come close to making that connection in your email communications with the buyer. 

Note: I got this Gift Card tip from Peter Valley in his book, Feedback Mastery: The Amazon Annihilation Feedback Repair SystemIf you get the book you’ll get even more details on this tip, as well as how to repair almost any other negative feedback situation. To learn more, read my Feedback Mastery book review

5. Use Feedback Genius. 

The methods that Feedback Genius uses are truly… well… genius! When I signed up for Feedback Genius, not only did my positive feedback more than double, but I was also able to more easily stop negative feedback from happening. 

fbgenius-logo-350x501Feedback Genius easily integrates with your Amazon account and automatically sends your customer an email letting them know that their order will be delivered that day (they look at the package tracking information to know this for sure). Feedback Genius then asks the customer, if they are happy with their order, to leave a five-star review on Amazon for you, the seller. Feedback Genius also tells the customer, if they have any negative issues with their order, to contact you so that you can address and fix these issues. I can’t tell you how many times I was able to avoid negative feedback since the customer knew to come to me with the problem before they left negative feedback for me on Amazon. 

A few days after the customer gets the package, if they have still not left feedback on Amazon, Feedback Genius sends a friendly reminder for the customer to leave positive feedback or to contact you if there was an issue. Again, my feedback score has more than doubled since signing up with Feedback Genius, and I’ve been able to keep a 100% feedback rating. 

My favorite feature of Feedback Genius is their text updates. Any time I get a feedback score of 3 or lower, Feedback Genius will text me and email me to notify me of the neutral/negative feedback. I can then act quickly to either ask Amazon to remove an unfair negative feedback, or I can email the buyer to start the feedback repair process. 

IMG_2383Ok, so back to the Mexican food restaurant with my wife. We were taking a lunch break from working, and while we were waiting for our food to come, I received a text from Feedback Genius about a negative feedback that was just posted to my Amazon seller account.

Since I was out to eat with my wife, I asked her if I could take a couple of minutes to deal with this situation (I wanted her to know she was my priority, not work). She said it was fine, so I spent about 90 seconds on my phone in an attempt to fix the situation.

IMG_2797

I first noticed that the feedback in question was actually a product feedback. This particular feedback was for 2-stars and the review stated, “This item is not what I intended. Do not like it.” Seeing as this feedback was in violation of Amazon’s feedback policies, I opened up a ticket with Seller Support five minutes after the feedback was posted. I simply asked them to review and remove the feedback. I told them it was a product review and would they please remove it. About an hour later, I got the notification that the negative feedback had been removed. Soon after that, lunch was over, and we enjoyed the rest of the day sourcing. 

Without the Feedback Genius text, I probably would not have seen the negative feedback until the following morning. Who knows, I may not have seen the negative feedback for a few days. This delay would have potentially cost me sales while my feedback score was lower than it was supposed to be. 

Special Offer From Feedback Genius

FB-GeniusI spoke with Jeff from Seller Labs (creator of Feedback Genius) and he is offering my Full-Time FBA blog readers a special offer of 500 free messages for signing up for Feedback Genius. That’s 500 free messages to your buyers asking for them to leave you 5-star reviews or to contact you if there is a problem. That’s a lot of free messages, and you get them for free when you sign up for Feedback Genius. You’ll also get a 60 day free trial (that’s twice as long as their normal 30-day trial period). There is really no reason why you shouldn’t give Feedback Genius a try today. 

 

How to Make the Most of Amazon FBA Split Shipments

Split ShipmentsLast month, we talked about Amazon Split Shipments and the options you have between Distributed Inventory Placement (DIP) or Inventory Placement Service (ISP). Today, we’re going to take the conversation to the next level and talk about how to make the most of whatever placement decision you make. For most of us, this decision should not be a one time decision where we set things up and forget about it. A lot of time and money can be wasted if you don’t have a strategy in how you choose to react to Amazon split shipments.

The following are different shipping situations I have found myself in. I’ll do my best to explain how I have dealt with Amazon split shipments and why I felt it was the best decision to make.

Note: When I mention BNA3, PHX6, RIC2, etc, I am referring to the code names of individual Amazon fulfillment centers that are spread throughout the country.

A. Shipment contains 250 items.

138 → BNA3
  70 → PHX6
  42 → RIC2

I leave this shipment with Distributed Inventory Placement (the default). There are more than enough items in each individual shipment to warrant the shipping costs. It’s not worth it to pay $0.30 per item to send them all to the same FBA warehouse.

B. Shipment contains 30 items.

26 → BNA3
 2 → PHX6
 1 → RIC2
 1 → ABE2

You have four options with this situation:

1. You can send the items in under Distributed Inventory Placement, but you’ll overpay in shipping costs to send only two items to PHX6, one to RIC2, and one to ABE2. This option might cost you about $15-$20 more than it needs to cost.

2. You can turn on Inventory Placement Service and pay around $0.30 per item. This will make sure (most of the time) that they will all go to the same fulfillment warehouse. In this example, you will be charged a fee of $9.00 ($0.30 x 30) for all 30 items to be sent to the same FBA warehouse.

3. You can send in your shipment of 26 items to BNA3, and then delete the other shipments. Maybe next time you enter them in, they’ll all go to the same fulfillment center. Important: I do not recommend deleting shipments on a regular basis. This will hurt your seller metrics in the long run, and should only be used in rare circumstances.

4. You can go ahead and send in your shipment of 26 items to BNA3, but leave PHX6, RIC2, and ABE2 open. While leaving these shipments open, you can add more items on a future date. Once you have enough items (maybe 8-10 items or 8-10 pounds worth of items), then you can proceed with sending them in.

The tricky thing about Inventory Placement Services, is that you need to turn it on before you even start a shipment. If you want to use ISP, then the most likely situations when you would need it would be: 1) if you had a small amount of inventory to ship and/or 2) if you had a smaller shipment with multiples of the same SKU. When you have multiples of the same item, Amazon likes to spread those out at different fulfillment centers. Most likely, these two circumstances would be the times that you would consider using ISP. Just don’t forget to turn IPS off when you’re about to start a new, large shipment.

cardboard-box-open-lgPersonally, I don’t think it’s a wise financial decision to pay $0.30 – $0.40 per item to send them all to the same warehouse. If I have a shipment of 50 items where Amazon wants to send 48 items to Indiana and 2 items to Arizona, I am not going to pay $15 just so that I’ll avoid paying an extra $10 to ship those two items to a Arizona. To me, it’s just not worth it. Most of the time, I’ll simply leave the smaller shipment open and wait until I have enough items to make a full box which, overall, makes the shipping cost lower.

On the other hand, just because it’s not worth it to me, doesn’t mean that Inventory Placement Service isn’t a good decision for you. You may not be able to wait for a larger shipment to send your inventory in. You might not have the storage space to hold even a few items at your house, or the item you just bought might be a super hot toy item that needs to get to FBA ASAP. In that case, do the math and see if Inventory Placement Service is right for you. If you decide that inventory placement is a long term solution for you, then be sure you include that in your costs when you are out sourcing an item for resale.

So what do you think about using inventory placement service? Is it worth it to you? What other split shipment situations have you been in? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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Seller Central Tip #3 – How to Handle FBA Inbound Shipment Problems

Does this look familiar?

Hello (AMAZON USER NAME),
      We discovered a problem while we were receiving your inbound shipment (SHIPMENT ID). We are taking the necessary steps to remedy the situation and receive your inventory.
      Please note that select problems may result in an unplanned service fee.
The problem was discovered for the shipment named “(SHIPMENT NAME)” on February 14th, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 4.26.48 PMFor some reason, many FBA sellers have been getting an influx of emails from Seller Central concerning “problems” that a FBA warehouse worker has found with our inbound shipments. In my 3+ years of selling on Amazon, I have never had this many emails notifying me of errors I have made. To make things more frustrating, 99% of the “problem” notifications are completely inaccurate.

Here are the “problems” that I’ve been flagged on (so far):

  • I’ve been told that I didn’t polybag an item that needed polybagging (Except that I did).
  • I was told that one of my labels was not readable. (Ok, I’ll accept that one. Maybe I smudged it by accident).
  • I was told that a shrink-wrapped item required taping (It’s shrink-wrapped, it doesn’t need tape).
  • I’ve been told that a toy needed to be polybagged (It was in a box that had no holes. No bag needed).
  • I was told a boxed set of drinking glasses needed bubble-wrapping (Except that I did bubble wrap them).
  • I was told that a board game required a suffocation warning label (Is the box going to suffocate someone?)
  • I’ve been told that a plastic bottle required bubble wrapping (This is getting ridiculous).

ResolveWhen these alerts first started showing up in my inbox, I just rolled my eyes, clicked the “resolve” button, and moved on with life. WARNING: DO NOT CLICK THE “RESOLVE” BUTTON unless the inbound shipping problem notification is accurate. If you indeed made a mistake, then you need to own it, learn from it, and move on. But if you are positive that you did nothing wrong, then I strongly advise you to open up a case with Seller Central and inform them of their mistake. If you take responsibility for an error that you did not make, it will hurt your bottom line (you’ll be charged fees for Amazon “fixing” those problems), and possibly it will hurt your seller metrics.

bubblewrapIf you don’t fight these false accusations, then you are only admitting to Amazon that you don’t care to follow their rules. If, in the eyes of Amazon, you continue to make shipping mistakes, then they will stop allowing you to send in certain items, and they could eventually close your FBA selling account. Again, do not click the “resolve” button unless you have, indeed, committed the offense they are notifying you of.

This is what I do to fix these problems:

1. Log-in to Seller Central and click on the Help link.

2. Click on Contact Seller Support.

3. Under “What is the problem?” I click Fulfillment by Amazon.

4. Next, I click “Other Fulfillment by Amazon issues.”

5. I use the subject line “FBA Inbound Shipment Problem.”

6. I fill in the necessary information (Shipment ID, ASINs, etc)

7. Then, I address the false accusation. Example: “I was told that this item required polybagging, but it was already polybagged when the item arrived at Amazon,” or “I was told this item required polybagging, but it does not require polybagging per Amazon rules.” I also like to include a statement saying, “Please research and remove this flag” — just so the Help desk is clear that my purpose in writing them is to have the flag removed!

8. Submit your request.

A few seconds after you submit your request, you’ll get an email from Amazon about your new case. Within about 6-12 hours you will get a response from Amazon. 99% of the time I get a response like this:

Greetings from Amazon Seller Support, 
     We have received confirmation from our fulfillment center and removed the inbound problem defect rate for your Shipment: (SHIPMENT NAME).    Thank you for selling with Amazon,
(SUPPORT STAFF NAME)
 

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 3.46.31 PMAnd sometimes they really go at great lengths to apologize, as the image to the right shows.

While 99% of the time, Amazon removes the flag and corrects its mistake, the other 1% of the time I’ll get a response stating that the original accusation was indeed true and that I am still going to be penalized for my error. When this happens, I always reply, state that my question was not properly answered, and request they investigate again. 100% of the time they follow up agreeing that I was indeed correct and that they are removing the flag, along with any fees associated with the issue.

The important thing here is to protect your metrics. If you make a mistake, accept responsibility, learn from it, and move on. But if Amazon incorrectly accuses you of making a mistake, stand up for yourself, and politely correct Amazon.

Have you had these “problem” emails showing up in your inbox lately? How have you best responded? I’d love to hear what you have tried to correct these issues.