We entered the month of July on a high note. As I mentioned in June’s income report, we made a rather large liquidation purchase and we were able to get it out the door and into Amazon’s warehouse right around the 2nd of the month. By July 3rd we were back to having $1k+ sales days after our slump in sales in June and on July 7th we experienced our highest post-Q4 sales day which was $195 shy of a $4k sales day. Things were going great for us up until July 16th when we received a “suspended” notification from Amazon…
As I usually preface in most of my income reports, the figures that I report below are from part-time re-selling. The hours that I put in fluctuate from 2 to 15 hours per week. My first and full-time job is my family and my home. I occasionally have the help of my husband and that equates to approximately 1 to 6 hours per week. No week looks the same for us. Re-selling is something that we both do on the side and unless our circumstances change, it will remain a part-time venture. With that in mind, if you can dedicate full-time hours to re-selling, your numbers will in all likelihood be higher than those that I report on this blog.
With that out of the way, let’s jump into the numbers and more details about our suspension…
Unfortunately, our eBay sales took a backseat once again this month. This was mainly due to processing the 8 pallets worth of goods that we liquidated in June and then dealing with an Amazon suspension. I only managed to list only a few items for the month. Here are the numbers:
These numbers are the result of 20 sold listings. Our average sales price was $31.00 / item and once again, 100% of our sales consisted of liquidation merchandise. Truth be told, I don’t remember the last time I’ve sourced from a thrift store.
As mentioned earlier, we had really high hopes for this month’s Amazon sales. At one point, we were convinced that we would beat our December sales. We were well on our way to meeting that goal, but being suspended for seven (7) days completely ruined that goal.
With that being said, here are the numbers:
Despite the suspension, we were able to crack $30k in sales again but we didn’t beat any records like we anticipated and the suspension was a rude awakening for us in many ways.
Our Amazon Suspension Experience
Hubby and I have speculated our brains out about what triggered our suspension. I’ve come to the conclusion that our suspension was triggered primarily by an “authenticity” notification that we had received 2 days prior to our actual suspension. On July 14th I received a notification from Amazon that a product I had been selling since February 2015 was accused of being “inauthentic.” I promptly responded to the notification and spent that evening scanning and submitting purchase orders as proof that we were selling a product that was continuously sourced from a legitimate supplier.
Unfortunately, 2 days later we received a “your selling privileges have been removed” email from Amazon. Well actually, Hubby was the first to see the notification come through on his Amazon seller app and then he called me. Sure enough, when I checked my email, were suspended and we were given a brief run down of the “complaints” against our seller account.
One of the complaints in the email was regarding the “inauthentic” product that I appealed and provided invoices for two days prior. Another two complaints were for “Incorrect” and “Incomplete” items. In both all 3 cases, Amazon provided specific ASINs for each item in question.
In the case of the “incorrect” item, this was for a particular shoe that we had actually sourced from Amazon (or rather an AZ-to-AZ flip). We had purchased and sold over 30 pairs before another seller completely changed the listing and pictures. As a result, buyers were purchasing our shoes and returning them the second they arrived. They were expecting one color but were receiving another due to changes made to the listing.
While I was able to submit removal orders for most of the unsold shoes, because I’m enrolled in Amazon’s repackaging service, many of the shoes that were returned and deemed to still be in new condition were re-packaged and placed back into my inventory where they once again were ordered by another customer. The shoe was ranked under 400 so it was selling pretty fast.
Unfortunately, this cycle of “buy and return” resulted in several of those shoe SKUs producing return rates well over 50%. I did manage to re-call all of the shoes, but not before the damage had been done to my metrics. (Also, for the record, I did contest the ASIN changes that were made to the listing that rendered it inaccurate, but nothing ever came of it.)
The next complaint that Amazon listed in the email was for a product that was considered “Incomplete.” Back in February we sold a used item that was missing a piece (unbeknowst to us). In my appeal I took complete responsibility for that buyer’s experience and at the time, I communicated with buyer and expressed by apologies and I also provided a full refund and a gift certificate to compensate for our mistake. I didn’t think twice about any ramifications down the road, but apparently that was still a strike against our account.
Recovering from An Amazon Suspension
Getting our selling privileges reinstated was not a quick process. It took an entire week and two revisions to our action plan before our account was re-instated.
What I’ve learned during this process is the following:
- Take full responsibility for everything and admit that you’re wrong from the start! Don’t place the blame on anyone else. In the case of our “inauthentic” complaint, I had every reason to believe that someone reported us to get us off the listing but I refrained from pointing any fingers. I simply responded with proof of authenticity and refrained from pointing the finger at someone else.
- Write a detailed plan and have another pair of eyes critique it. In my case, I asked Hubby to correct the action plan and he took a red pen to the entire thing. He was able to reword my action plan so that it wasn’t dripping with emotion and so that it was straight to the point.
- Remember that Amazon keeps a record of everything related to your account! This means that you need to keep a handle on your metrics and respond to customer concerns and complaints immediately and with the same level of customer service that Amazon would provide.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! I appreciate the opportunity to sell via Amazon FBA, but I also realize that our entire income stream can be removed from us for any reason at any time. There is absolutely no security in Amazon or eBay — or any other platform you don’t own for that matter.
Losing seven days worth of sales when we were averaging $2k/day was enough for me to realize that I should not put all of my efforts into only selling on Amazon. Thankfully, we were not in a position where we had several employees on payroll, a warehouse, and inventory purchased on credit. That would have been a recipe for disaster because even after the suspension, it was hard for us to gain that momentum again.
As you can see from the graph above, right after our suspension, we were barely able to hit $1k days again. In fact, our sales actually began to taper off instead of bouncing back to their pre-suspension levels even though we had the same amount of inventory.
Being suspended helped me realize how much effort I should be putting into my own ventures outside of Amazon. While I will continue to sell on Amazon and enjoy the privilege of being a 3rd party seller, I have long since discovered that we have the ability to make money by becoming liquidation “brokers” so to speak and it has been an avenue that I have thought about pursuing further but one that I kept putting on the back burner in order to focus on getting more “stuff” into Amazon’s warehouse.
We finished the final steps of hiring our first employee in July. We obtained Worker’s Compensation insurance, business insurance, and we hired someone to handle our payroll. Our employee is scheduled to begin working the first week in August and I fully intend to spend at least the first two weeks of August knee deep in training.
My main goal for August is to continue tackling our mountain of eBay backlog. With a new employee on the way, her primary duties will also be eBay related. In the meantime, Hubby and I will also re-evaluate our business model. As a result of our suspension, we are now cautious about how much inventory we keep on-hand and/or in Amazon’s warehouse. This mindset will certainly spill over into how we plan for Q4 which is right around the corner.
Until next time,