On September 8, 2020, Amazon updated its communication guidelines. You can see the full details here, and we’ve posted key documentation below (along with previous updates announced in November, 2019) :
Amazon Communication Guidelines
Key takeaways from the September 2020 updates
You may only send Permitted Messages to customers who have contacted you about purchasing a product or who have already purchased a product from you on the Amazon store. Amazon defines Permitted Messages as communications necessary to complete an order or to respond to a customer service inquiry.
Permitted Messages may NOT include any of the following:
1. Permitted Message styling may not contain spelling errors or grammar issues.
2. Sellers are not permitted to include email addresses or telephone numbers in buyer messages.
3. Sellers may only send Permitted Messages to customers who have contacted them about purchasing a product or who have already purchased a product from you on the Amazon store.
4. You can only contact the buyer to submit a cancellation request if it does not meet the buyers standards (slow shipping time, etc.). If an order was placed and the seller does not have the inventory to ship, the seller must cancel. The seller cannot ask the buyer to cancel in that case.
5. Though a buyer may ask you for additional pictures (for instance, someone may ask for an image of a used book), graphics of purchased products are not allowed as Amazon includes those on your behalf.
6. You cannot send an email to your customer stating that their order has shipped. Amazon does that automatically.
7. Messages that say only “Thank you” or that you are here to help if buyers have any problems is not permitted.
However, sellers ARE permitted to send proactive Permitted Messages for the following reasons and must be sent within 30 days of order completion:
1. Resolving an issue with order fulfillment.
2. Requesting additional information required to complete the order
3. Asking a return-related question
4. Sending an invoice
5. Requesting product review and/or seller feedback
6. Scheduling the delivery of a heavy or bulky item
7. Scheduling a Home Services appointment
8. Verifying a custom design, or any other reason where the contact is required for the buyer to receive their purchase.
November 2019 updates
In general, you may contact a buyer who has purchased from you on Amazon only to complete an order or to respond to a customer service inquiry. You may not contact buyers in any way for marketing or promotional purposes, including via email, physical mail, telephone, or otherwise.
If you send a permitted message to a buyer, your message may NOT include any of the following:
1. “[Important]” in subject line when it is not necessary to complete an order.
2. Marketing or promotional messaging.
3. Language that either incentivizes or manipulates product reviews or seller feedback.
4. Language that requests removal or update of an existing product review.
5. More than one request for a product review or seller feedback.
6. Links or attachments that are not necessary to complete the order.
7. A link to opt-out of messaging.
8. Logos, if they display or link to your website.
9. Any content that differs from the contact reason you chose on the Contact Buyer page.
NOTE: In any communication you have with buyers (including shipping box inserts), you cannot ask them to leave a positive customer review for your product, or to leave a review only if they had a positive experience with your product. Similarly, you cannot ask only customers who had a positive experience with your product to leave a review. It is also prohibited to offer them any compensation for a review, including money or gift cards, free or discounted products, refunds or reimbursements, or any other future benefits.
What does this mean for Amazon sellers?
Let’s break down some of the information provided here.
“No manipulative language”
There are a few instances in which Amazon tells sellers not to use manipulative language, such as in email subject lines (ie. writing “Important!” when it’s not), or when requesting reviews in product inserts.
Earlier this year, we discussed with Amazon suspension expert Chris McCabe that Amazon is targeting those who use such language for suspensions. You can learn a little more about what that means in our article on the topic.
“No marketing or promotional messaging”
Amazon does not want its sellers using the messaging system as an opportunity to resell a customer, even if it’s to another listing on Amazon.
“No spamming customers”
Amazon is now limiting the number of messages that FBA sellers can send to their customers following a sale. According to the guidelines above, a seller can only send one request for a review or product feedback.
Note, too, that this can be done through Amazon’s new “Request a Review” program.
“No off-Amazon links”
Links and attachments not needed to make a sale are forbidden, as are links in your brand’s logo (although the brand logo itself is fine).
“No asking for review removals/changes”
If a customer leaves a negative review, you can’t ask for them to change it, even if you address the issue.
What happens if you break the rules?
According to e-Growth Partners’ Cynthia Stine, Amazon has been restricting the use of their internal email system for 30 days to sellers who have broken these rules.
She notes, “So far, we have been unable to lift the restriction for anyone even after fixing their emails, but we did learn that if you DON’T fix your emails, they’ll extend the restriction to even longer.”
What should Amazon sellers expect going forward?
Since late 2016, Amazon has made major moves to prevent sellers from manipulating its system, especially in regards to product reviews.
By limiting the number of messages that sellers can send and prohibiting certain communication practices, it would appear that Amazon isn’t done. This may even eventually lead to Amazon completely disbanding the seller messaging system altogether; the introduction of such tools as the Request a Review button seems to be pointing that way.
What do you think? Let us know down in the comments below. And for more details on Amazon reviews, be sure to read our in-depth article on the subject.