Suppressed listings are quite common amongst sellers on Amazon, especially for those who are relatively new, facing operational challenges, or operating in categories that require strict quality control. Suppressed listings on Amazon can hamper your inventory planning, and lead to revenue loss. For market leaders, it may even mean loss of Best Seller/Amazon Choice tags that can lead to a loss in market share to other competitors. Monitoring and fixing suppressed listings becomes even more important for fast-moving/repeat purchase categories such as grocery and personal care, where competition is fierce and compliance standards are more stringent. In this article, we examine why listings get suppressed by Amazon, and how you can avoid or fix them.
What is a suppressed listing?
Suppression or deactivation of a listing happens when your listings do not meet the rigorous standards set by Amazon. For a seller, this is bad news as the listing loses visibility and cannot be browsed by customers until the issues or the policy breaches are resolved. This, in turn, results in loss of sales, plus a negative shopping experience for users.
So, why does Amazon suppress a listing?
- Outright promotions and/or claims in listings: Amazon is known to suspend listings that make claims such as top-rated, best, cheapest, etc. along with efforts to cross-promote their personal websites. Even making claims such as ‘organic’, ‘pesticide-free’ without providing valid certifications to the Amazon team results in the suppression of listings.
2. Price gouging: Amazon’s algorithm scans various e-commerce websites. If it identifies a price disparity between the pricing on Amazon and another website, it can blacklist your product for gouging prices. Suppression can also take place if there is a drastic change in prices. A client of ours who operates in the essential oil category faced suppression post increasing their prices by just $2. The algorithm was quick to identify this disparity, and the suppression was revoked only after the pricing was restored to the original level and on par with prices on other websites.
3. Providing inaccurate or misleading information: Your listing can get suppressed if Amazon believes you are trying to sell an expired product or a used product as new. Sellers operating under restricted categories must get ahead of the compliance standards by providing accurate information about the shelf life, ingredients, etc. beforehand. This will also set the right expectations from a consumer perspective and avoid any poor interaction with the brand.
4. Suspiciously high review rate or indulging in malpractice: If Amazon determines that your reviews are rapidly increasing either through one user or a certain IP address, your listing will get deactivated. Amazon will suppress your listing if it receives safety-related complaints and believes that you are attempting to sell counterfeit products or you are not the rightful owner of the product.
5. Utilizing more/less than the permitted length for titles or bullet points: As e-commerce consultants, we have come across various instances where our clients faced suppression for titles and bulletin features exceeding the limit by as low as 5 characters. The character length varies across categories, and so it becomes crucial for brands to check and adhere to category mandates.
6. Products listed with an incorrect or a missing main image: Amazon can suppress a listing if the product images are not as per Amazon’s guidelines or if the listing does not contain a primary image. Make sure you don’t clutter the primary image with any element (flags, icons, etc.) apart from the main product. In addition to this, check category-specific guidelines for images. For instance, the back of the pack must be added for edible products.
7. Missing key information in product descriptions: Barring a few exceptions such as books, product pages must have a detailed description adhering to the standards set by Amazon. Providing information in the description that influences purchase decisions are crucial. For instance, in the grocery category, including allergen disclaimers along with a detailed list of ingredients would be important to avoid any negative reviews and subsequent suppression.
Due to the prevailing market conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon has enforced stricter regulations. The marketplace also resorts to blocking or permanent removal of a listing if it finds a seller in severe violation of the above guidelines.
How to fix a suppressed listing?
Amazon does not always notify you regarding a listing suppression. For this reason, it is important to keep a tab on suppressed listings that appear in the ‘Manage Inventory Section’ of Seller Central. For price specific suspensions, the ‘Price Alert’ tab would help you with the violations. In case of multiple suppression, you can use the ‘Listing Quality and Suppressed Listing Report’ and tackle all of them together.
How to prevent listing suppression?
Between efforts for pricing, marketing, logistics and inventory, there is a good chance that sellers might skip consistent monitoring of the ever-evolving Amazon guidelines. While it may not seem as important, listing suppression leads to zero visibility during the duration of deactivation. Below are few tips to keep in mind to ensure smooth operations:
- Taking precautionary measures during the pre-launch stage and adhere to category-specific standards
- Stay updated on the statutory guidelines and ensuring compliance in your listings
- Set up quality control measures during inventory planning, fulfillment (if self-fulfilled) and customer complaint resolution
- Conduct periodic checks on pricing to avoid disparity and getting flagged by Amazon
At Growisto, we undertake a streamlined audit of all of your listings with the latest guidelines and policies as mandated by Amazon. Our team of consultants proactively track and enforce new guideline changes to ensure our clients do not face suspensions on any of their listings.