A Guide to Amazon Seller Messages for FBA Businesses 

As an Amazon FBA seller, you know that customer communication is an essential part of growing your business. Especially if you're hoping to sell your Amazon FBA business in the future. Whether you’re looking to receive feedback, troubleshoot, or assist with returns, brands can leverage a two-way communication channel to provide quality customer service and foster brand trust. 

But, Amazon places strict limitations on what you can message, when, and to whom. Amazon prioritizes the privacy of customers’ sensitive information by encouraging privacy policies. While they’re not always legally required, if you learn how to write a privacy policy it can be proactively integrated into your customer's shopping experience. The purpose of this is to promote site-wide quality. Per Amazon, such strict protocols are meant to “protect buyers from fraud and abuse, and to protect you from unscrupulous actions from your competitors.”

With that in mind, this guide will show you how to properly conduct Amazon buyer-seller messages. 

The Communications Update

On September 8, 2020, Amazon introduced an update to its Amazon seller messages guidelines. This document sought to clearly define what types of direct communication between the Amazon FBA seller and buyer were permitted. It also closed loopholes that some unscrupulous sellers were abusing to the consumer’s detriment. 

To make the rules easier to follow, Amazon characterized “allowable communication” into three categories:

  1. Direct Communication
  2. Buyer-Seller Messages
  3. Indirect Messages 

#1 Direct Communication

Order status messages are the first type of allowable communication per Amazon guidelines. These types of messages can only be sent to a customer who has already purchased an item from you via Amazon. 

With direct communications, there’s proper etiquette that FBAs must follow. First, the customers need to send the initial message—specifically, about an order—before you can respond directly. Even then, there are only two allowable topics you can discuss:

  • Problem with the order
  • Returns

Problem with the Order

If the product an Amazon customer ordered is out of stock or hasn’t shipped yet, you must notify the recipient. In that case, you’ll need to take the following actions:

  • Adjust the complete order total in Seller Central via Manage Orders
  • Select “Could Not Ship” or “No Inventory” as the reason
  • Click “Problem with Order”

Following these steps will allow you to inform an Amazon customer that you are unable to process and fulfill the order. The contents of the message should include:

  • The reason for the item’s unavailability
  • Confirmation that the total order price was adjusted
  • An estimate on the expected delay

If the buyer opts to cancel the order, you must then begin to refund them.  

Returns

After a return has been triggered, you may only communicate with the buyer if you need additional information to satisfy the return or to communicate that they will only be receiving a partial refund. 

#2 Amazon Buyer-Seller Messages

Technically this could be a sub-category of direct communication, but it deserves its own category. 

Buyer-seller messages are limited to customers who either have already purchased a product or contacted you about potentially purchasing a product. Known as permitted messages, these are the messages necessary to provide customer service or fulfill an order. 

Proactive Permitted Messages

There are some instances not directly related to a buyer’s question where a seller may initiate communication via email. These may only be sent within a 30-day window following order completion. Allowable cases include messages to retrieve information for:

  • Issues involving order fulfillment
  • Requests for missing information to fulfill an order
  • Questions regardings returns
  • Supplying an invoices 
  • Customer reviews and feedback
  • Delivering heavy and large items
  • Appointment scheduling for home service
  • Customizations for design related orders 

Restrictions on Permitted Messages

A permitted message may not contain any of the following information:

  • Messaging types: 
  • Surface level messages that express gratitude for their purchase or tell buyers you can help with any issues
  • Confirmations for shipping and order updates
  • Advertising, marketing, and promo messages
  • Language that encourages or incentivizes buyers to leave positive feedback
  • Language that asks the buyer to change their product review
  • Messaging content:
  • External links, unless they’re needed to complete the order 
  • Attachments unrelated to resolving a buyer’s issue
  • Logos that link to your website
  • Sensitive content, either image or text
  • Contact information unrelated to warranties, shipping providers, or manufacturers
  • Images of purchased products
  • Images that are unrelated to your brand
  • Messaging styling:
  • GIFs of Emojis 
  • Message margins that are over 20% maximum width
  • Graphic designs and images that are larger than 80% maximum width
  • Three varying sizes of the same font
  • Message content that contradict default text alignment 
  • Unsecure images
  • Multiple line breaks
  • Poor grammar and spelling  

#3 Indirect Communication

Finally, there are some instances where Amazon will provide order-related updates, such as refunds processing, order adjustments, or shipping details. These are technically sent from your account after you have updated the feeds of managed orders, shipping confirmations, or order adjustments. 

Customer Messaging

Amazon seeks to uphold its status as the eCommerce hub, and setting strict protocols on messaging is one of the many ways to contain quality control. 

For sellers, failure to comply with the rules could result in restrictions on permitted messages, suspension of selling privileges, or permanent removal from the site. Adhering to the guidelines above and staying educated on GDPR requirements will help you ensure the continued success of your business. 

But what do you do if you’re ready to walk away?  

That’s where Forum Brands come in. If our interests are aligned, we can purchase your successful FBA business and build it into a global brand.

What would such a partnership look like? Let’s chat.  

Sources: 

EU. Regulations.https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32016R0679

GDPR. Fines.https://gdpr.eu/fines/

I-Scoop. GDPR: Legal Grounds for Lawful Processing of Personal Data. https://www.i-scoop.eu/gdpr/legal-grounds-lawful-processing-personal-data/

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