Here's How To Stay ToS Compliant And Have Listings That Sell Better
November 18, 2022
Whether it's just newbie sellers starting out or already seasoned ones with big businesses booming, going a little out of the way to stay on Amazon's good side (or, in formal words, "maintaining ToS compliance") is a strategy wise sellers adopt for keeping their businesses safe and profitable in the long-run.
This post will provide the info you need about Amazon's ToS policing for listings, and look into the dos and don'ts of selling practices and product pages, so you can have listings that sell better and stay protected from any out-of-the-blue crackdowns on rule breakers.
Why Should You Care About Policy Compliance?
When selling over your listings, it's critical to understand what to avoid and what to adopt. Many factors lead to listing compliance suspensions and other sticky Amazon worries - out of which listing errors contribute a major chunk.
It has never been more crucial for sellers to clearly understand the right way to navigate their selling practices on Amazon & not just assume that if other sellers have adopted a practice, it's okay to do it.
You need to forget what "others" are doing.
They just haven't come under Amazon's radar yet, and if your listing does come under the radar before (or even after) theirs, this excuse won't work.
The resulting consequences?
Starting from search suppression, it can move towards product delisting to payments withheld and even a strike on your account from the ban hammer.
And it's not only about the consequences.
There is obviously no sense in missing out on the benefits of having your listings sharp and policy-compliant. Good listing pages boost organic rankings, build greater customer trust, and get fewer negative reviews & returns. The more you work on listing and account health, the more your selling experience improves.
Avoiding The Pitfalls Of Amazon ToS Violations
Listing Policy Violations are more often than not just unnecessary headaches for sellers that can be usually avoided easily with the right information at hand.
Let's have a step-by-step look at the mistakes to avoid so you can dodge the pitfalls before they affect your business.
1 - Failing to Understand The Right Seller Code Of Conduct
Amazon binds sellers through the seller agreement to keep their fingers at the pulse of the platform's latest policy updates.
Given how the exhaustive list of rules of conduct is, we are summarizing the ABCs here for your ease.
Act fairly: Amazon is very strict about maintaining a high level of consumer trust in its platform; therefore, they require100% accuracy in the information provided by the sellers. Any attempts to act unfairly, misuse or abuse Amazon's systems for personal gains, or damage other competing sellers are punished.
Do not manipulate or redirect sales outside of Amazon: Amazon is in for the business and wants its shoppers to stay in the marketplace. Sellers are heavily penalized for attempting to divert traffic outside of Amazon, including unsolicited communications with customers outside the buyer-seller messaging feature, external links, promotional messages, and prompts to visit external sites.
Again, it's important to remember that you should never replicate your competitors mindlessly. If you want to sell more effectively in the safest ways possible, blind replication will only confuse you. Always refer to experts (we have a fantastic team here at Mr. Jeff) and credible sources of information to get the best results.
2- Making False Claims and Misleading Promises You Would Not Keep
Never provide misleading or inappropriate information to Amazon or your customers. This includes giving inauthentic invoices or supplier information, using names of other brands, or making untrue or unjustified claims about your products on product listing pages. Amazon also has a list of forbidden vocabulary that you cannot use unless you are authorized to. For example, you cannot claim your product to be "organic" unless you have proper certifications. Always check category-related policies to stay updated on what is allowed to list and what isn't.
Do not exaggerate or falsify your descriptions & listing content. Whatever is written in the description is considered a warranty of your product, and you are liable to ensure that your product delivers. Not delivering what you have promised is a severe ToS violation and will result in the suspension of your account when discovered.
Amazon does not allow you to promote multiple products from your catalog on a single product page or communicate with your customers for promotional purposes. You cannot use customers' personal information for promotions, message your customers outside of the buyer-seller messaging feature, or attempt to redirect traffic outside of Amazon. Using leftover space in listing titles, descriptions and bullet points to advertise anything else you're selling violates Amazon rules.
This makes cross-marketing prohibited. However, you can creatively find your way out while staying within the ToS compliance boundary. Make sure you fully use your A+ content and are creative with your secondary images to display your additional product range. Brand stores and good advertising techniques can also generate good results without causing any violations.
4 - Manipulating Feedbacks and Reviews
Amazon has fine-tuned its systems over the years to detect any (or at the least most) fraudulent or misleading activity regarding reviews. Nobody knows how their algorithm exactly works, but for sellers looking to employ black hat tactics such as pooling in reviews from friends and family, purchasing good reviews, offering incentives, etc... Please stop. These tactics aren't working anymore and bringing in piles of complicated suspension cases to us every day. Here is what you must never do when it comes to building a solid review profile on Amazon
You cannot ask customers directly for a "positive" review or attempt to influence their review or feedback in any way. Asking for reviews neutrally is allowed.
Do not try to get the negative reviews deleted in exchange for a benefit provided to buyers.
If Amazon discovers any incentive offered in exchange for good reviews (coupons, free products, etc.), it usually results in a direct suspension or ban.
Do not solicit reviews only from customers who had a positive experience.
Do not review your product or a competitor's, or try getting your family and friends to review your product.
5 - Duplicate Listings And Variation Errors
Duplicate listings and variation creation errors are similar and confusing issues that get sellers into trouble. Regardless of whether they are a genuine mistake or a deliberate black hat tactic, they can get your listings deactivated.
Duplicate listings happen when you create a new listing for the SAME product with exactly the SAME attributes that are already listed on the marketplace. It messes up the catalog and usually gets a direct deletion by Amazon. While listing your product, always check by UPC to ensure it is not already listed. If it is, you will need to sell it on the original listing page if you have permission.
Variation creation errors happen when sellers list different versions or models of a product as a variation. Products are only counted as a variation when they are the SAME product with slightly varying features like color, size, flavor, etc. You cannot list different designs or models of a product as a variation. Answer a few questions that can help you determine if you are listing correct variations or not
Are the parent and child products fundamentally the same?
IS 90% of listing description applicable to both parent and child listing?
Do the listings vary over a single minor attribute only?
Is the varying attribute available to be listed in Amazon's variation option?
Is it reasonable to find them together on a single product page?
6 - Employing Wrong Listing Practices
Last but not least come the seller's malpractices concerning listing optimization.
Amazon has very clear guidelineson the subject, and a lot has been written. However, the marketplace is still fraught with sellers not using the best practices and having a compromised selling experience as a result.
Here is what to avoid and what to apply for best listing practices
Do not use all caps, promotional phrases, personal and price information, or special characters ("#", "$", "@" etc.) in your title
Do not keyword stuff your listing content in a way that obscures readability
Do not use HTML tags or email/web addresses in listing content
Do not disregard site standards for Main and Secondary Product Images
Do not add any time-sensitive information
Creating compliant listings that do well, both with Amazon and your shoppers, is a science-based art you can learn with time and effort. Learn as many best practices in your category as possible on and off Amazon.
Ensure you stay updated with the style guidelines, product detail page rules, selling policies, and seller code of conduct on Amazon to keep compliant with terms of service while creating a listing that sells. If you need help, Mr. Jeff is always here to your rescue!
Ready to wave goodbye to Amazon issues once and for all?
I get out of bed in the morning to help you run a successful Amazon business - and deal with all the potential issues that come with it! So, if you’ve got something on your mind, just let me know and I’ll get back to you before you can say ‘Jeff!’
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What does ToS mean in Amazon?
Amazon Seller Terms of Service - Amazon binds sellers to certain terms and conditions for selling over its platform that the sellers must comply with. There are general policies for selling over the platform and additional policies for certain categories.
Why is ToS Compliance necessary?
Lack of ToS Compliance has a direct effect over your account health that leads to Amazon problems if the matter is not taken care of effectively.
How do I stay ToS Compliant?
Update yourself with the latest information on the topic. You can always avail Mr.Jeff’s monthly subscription for Concierge Service to keep your account health under your radar and identify any potential issues with your listings before they give you a problem :)