Last week, Amazon announced that new communication guidelines for buyer-seller messaging will go into effect on 6 November, 2020. As part of selling on Amazon marketplace, sellers communicate with buyers both directly and indirectly. Amazon requires that sellers follow the guidelines below for any communication with buyers. This protects customers from fraud, and helps sellers maintain fairness and avoid unethical tactics. Failing to follow these guidelines can result in account suspension. The latest update goes into effect soon, and effects all sellers. The updated information and specific details are available in US Seller Central and in UK Seller Central as a PDF for sellers. This article will summarise the changes and ensure buyers are aware of the latest guidelines.
Buyer-seller messaging guidelines
There are two types of communication between Amazon sellers and Amazon customers, these all fall under the umbrella of “buyer-seller messages.”
Permitted messages refer to communication with customers who have contacted you about purchasing a product, or who have already purchased a product from you. Amazon defines Permitted Messages as “those communications necessary to complete an order or respond to a customer service inquiry.” These must be sent directly from your Seller Central account.
Proactive permitted messages
Proactive permitted messages refer to communication initiated by sellers that are not a response to buyers’ direct questions. These can be sent via email in a few different ways. Including through templates or the Request a Review button in your Seller Central account, or through a third-party application that sends on your behalf, or with the Amazon Application Interface (API). These messages must be sent within 30 days of order completion. These types of messages include:
- Resolving an issue with order fulfillment.
- Requesting additional information required to complete the order.
- Asking a return-related question
- Sending an invoice.
- Requesting product review and/or seller feedback.
- Scheduling the delivery of a heavy or bulky item or a Home Services appointment.
- Verifying a custom design.
- Any other reason where the contact is required for the buyer to receive their purchase.
Style and content guidelines for all permitted messages
When sending any type of permitted messages outlined above, Amazon policy dictates a number of guidelines for the content and style of your messages. Amazon also may modify subject lines to protect the buyer experience. These messages should not include:
- Attachments (unless necessary for resolving a specific issue, such as sending a new shipping label).
- External links (unless they are secure, working Amazon links), or opt-out links.
- Sensitive content (gore, bare skin, offensive language).
- Email addresses or phone numbers (unless legally required).
- Product images (Amazon inserts these on your behalf).
- Tracking pixels or images.
- Emojis or GIFs.
- Overrides of Amazon default styles (font family/colour/alignment).
- Fonts in more than three sizes.
- Spelling or grammar issues.
- Accessibility issues specific to Amazon’s Web Accessibility Initiative.
Amazon provides a list of message types that are not permitted between sellers and customers. Many of these violate Amazon policy, but in many cases, Amazon already sends certain communications on your behalf, such as order confirmations. Sellers are not allowed to send the following message types:
- Order confirmations or shipping/dispatch notifications (indirect communication that is taken care of by Amazon on the seller’s behalf).
- Emails to say “thank you” to the buyer or to offer unsolicited assistance.
- Language that incentivises or persuades a buyer to leave positive reviews or seller feedback. This includes offering coupons/vouchers, gifts, money, refunds, rebates, discounts, or future benefits.
- Language that requests a product review only if the buyer had a positive experience.
- Emails to request a removal or update to an existing product review.
- Repeat requests for feedback.
Failure to comply with these updated guidelines may result in Amazon limiting access to communication features or even account suspension. At eCommerce Nurse, we recommend always using the templates when dealing with messaging. It is also a good idea to only use the official Amazon Request a Review button. There are a number of third-party platforms that make buyer-seller messaging easier and help ensure you meet the guidelines. Many of our clients use FeedbackFive or Feedback Whiz.
When it comes to updates, you can also see a running list of changes to program policies with pertinent information, located in Seller Central. For any assistance or questions with overall account management specifics, please contact us.