The Amazon Language
As excited as I am about Google’s language translation technology, unfortunately it will not translate any language into Amazonian. Fortunately for all of us, there is no need to learn a different language. By remembering just a few key points, you will be able to master the Amazonian language very quickly. Having been an Amazon employee, it was very apparent that my success or failure was hinged onto my communication and fortunately I thrived.
Often when you are communicating with Amazon, whether verbally or in writing, there are typically two common reasons. One is just a simple, or maybe not so simple question while the other, which more often is the case, is because Amazon did something like deactivate an ASIN, possibly removed product ratings or something else that has impacted your business. Either way, when you speak Amazonian, you will have a much better chance of achieving the desired outcome. It is also important to remember that Amazon is a very data driven company, so stick to the facts and back up your points with data.
Two Lessons For You
If your reason for communicating with Amazon is the latter of the two, take a few minutes to prepare before you get into Amazon’s system to file a ticket or have them call you. The first thing I have learned when filing a trouble ticket, writing a business proposal or even a simple email is to “take out all of the emotion”, especially any frustration that you might have. The second lesson is to have the Amazon Leadership Principles guide every decision you make.In this case, there are two of them that are key to learning Amazonian. First and foremost is Customer Obsession and specifically, “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards”. Following that, the second is Insist on High Standards.
When obsessing about a customer, you are ultimately considering the customer experience and how you can make it better. Amazon’s thinking is not “how can we sell this item or any other item to a customer”. It is “how can we make the customer experience so good and gain their trust that they want to come back again and again?”
Insisting on high standards should be self-evident and needs to start at the top. If the top level’s standards are only at 80% by the time the “plan” makes its way to group or person who will execute the plan, those standards are probably at 60% because those people have the attitude of “it’s good enough”. If the top levels have standards of 120% by the time they reach execution, they should at least be at 100%. If you are insistent, then they will still be at 120%.
So… what does all this have to do with speaking Amazonian? Again, there are two things to remember. You are playing in Amazon’s sandbox. No matter if something is right or wrong or if something is good or bad, it’s their rules. They have the biggest hammer. Secondly, all you should care about is your company’s bottom line and how you can make more sales, more profit, and grow the business. Now is the time to accept the rules and swallow your pride.
As an example, let’s say Amazon deactivates one of your ASINs because you did not adhere to their requirements for the main image, which essentially says that it needs to be an image of the product only on a white background. It can’t typically be an “in use” or lifestyle image nor can it have any wording on it commonly called an infographic. Here are two examples of letters I have seen written.I will let you decide which one is written in Amazonian.
My ASIN B001234ABC was deactivated because of an image problem, but we chose this image because it really shows how the product works, why it’s better than all the competition and the sales will be much higher. There really is not a better way to show this product other than using this image first, mostly because a customer just seeing the product won’t get it nor will they buy it. Can you please reactivate the ASIN with the main image we uploaded?”
ASIN B001234ABC was deactivated because the image shows the product in use rather than just showing the product on white background, which we understand it not the normal Amazon requirement. In this product category, often there is confusion about products. We did an extensive consumer study using “product only” images and “in-use” images. Not only did we find consumers liked the in-use image more, but more importantly, it led to virtually no product confusion making the purchasing experience that much better. There are products on the market, including some of our own that look similar, but have different functionality and having an “in-use” image first drove the return rate down considerably. The second image is of the product only and the resolution is higher than your requirements so consumers can easily magnify it to see important details.”
I am not saying that using the letter written in Amazonian will guarantee the outcome you want, but put yourself in the seat of the person reading the trouble ticket. If they are “Customer Obsessed”, thinking of the customer experience and having high standards, you have a much better chance receiving the desired outcome.
Let’s look at another example of an ASIN being deactivated. However, this time it’s because of a quality issue and a consumer has accused you of selling a used product when it is listed as new. This is a good example of where it is easy to be frustrated and because you know the product is new, you also know it was packaged in such a way that it could not have been damaged in shipping. You are just confused on how this could happen. I have had clients who immediately assume that it’s a competitor trying to mess with their Seller Rating, which could be the case, however your first response to Amazon will often dictate the outcome, even before you propose a full solution.
Amazon’s ninth Leadership Principle, which I believe should be the second, is Bias For Action. Anytime a mission-critical issue arises and Amazon is the one to notify you, be sure to acknowledge it as soon as possible, even if you don’t have a full solution. Any good Seller is in their Seller Central account multiple times a day and should be aware of this kind of situation. Using the example above this would be my first response to Amazon, or how I would speak Amazonian.
ASIN B009876ZYX was deactivated within the last few hours due to a condition issue and although we know we only ship new goods, package them well and have the highest standards, we take this situation very seriously. As such we are immediately launching a full investigation and will return to you a Plan of Action (POA) in the next ## days (or hours if it is 48 or less).”
Those two sentences alone address six Leadership Principles: Customer Obsession, Ownership, Insist on High Standards, Bias for Action, Dive Deep and Deliver Results. Just make sure you are realistic in what you promise and deliver it in the time frame you set.
The Next Step
The next step will be writing the POA, which I won’t do in this blog, but it is an artform to be able to take responsibility for something without saying you did something wrong. However, this is significant only if you truly did not. If you find that you do have some kind of issue, such as using inadequate packaging material, then admit to the mistake and detail out how you have fixed the issue.
Finally, as I have already stated but want to reiterate, this is Amazon’s playground and they make the rules. Even if you don’t agree with them and can even prove them wrong, it’s important to treat Amazon as if they are still right. The Amazon employee you are working with to solve your issue may be able to bend them a bit, but he or she can’t change them. Speaking Amazonian may give them the backup they need (and can document) to rule in your favor.
If you have questions about selling on Amazon, optimizing your listings and advertising campaigns to peak performance, please contact Prime Guidance for a free account consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author | Robert Baron, Senior Consultant