We recently discussed how operational excellence is one of our key factors to B2B selling success on Amazon. Not only is operational excellence essential to boosting sales, but it also plays a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy seller account on Amazon, another crucial element needed for long-term success. Neglecting this aspect of your account can not only jeopardize your standing on the platform, but can also lead to account suspension or even expulsion.
Clearly, that’s a fate you want to avoid.
One of the cornerstones for achieving and sustaining high seller health is providing high quality support to both customers or prospects. Amazon has established standard metrics applicable to sellers across the board, regardless of whether they operate in a B2B or B2C capacity. These metrics revolve around customer response times, fulfillment times, and overall communication with customers. They also take into account seller ratings, order defect rates, and compliance with a host of Amazon policies that address product safety and intellectual property.
These requirements vary depending on if you’re using Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) or Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM). They can also vary based on if you’re selling using Amazon Vendor Central, or 1P, or Amazon Seller Center, or 3P. (Side note: if you’re interested in learning the differences between 1P and 3P selling, check out our blog post on this topic.)
Here’s a basic breakdown of the differences in requirements between FBA and FBM:
There are a number of other requirements for each fulfillment method. We highly recommend you familiarize yourself with each before making any decisions on which method you choose.
The bottom line is that providing exceptional customer service to B2B Amazon buyers will lead to a high seller account rating, which will lead to more sales. That’s often easier said than done, though.
For many sellers, Amazon's Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) service makes it far easier to meet Amazon’s account health prerequisites because it shifts the responsibility of first-level customer service and fulfillment requirements onto Amazon itself. (Side note: If you’re new to selling on Amazon and need to learn more about fulfillment, check out our blog post on using FBA.)
FBA uses Amazon’s own best-in-class fulfillment infrastructure to efficiently deliver products into the hands of customers, streamlining the seller's operational responsibilities. They also handle all the front-line customer service inquiries, such as managing returns. Additionally, products enrolled in FBA also benefit from becoming Prime eligible, which can significantly boost conversion rates and overall sales.
That said, there might be reasons a B2B seller wants to opt for the Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) route, where they handle the fulfillment and customer service aspects in-house (or at least through a third-party). It is crucial for sellers to recognize that if they opt for FBM, the onus of meeting these requirements falls directly on them. It is therefore imperative for companies to be realistic about their ability to fulfill these obligations in order to maintain a high seller account health rating.
For B2B sellers, there are also other support capabilities and opportunities within Amazon Business. In addition to fulfillment requirements, firms enrolled in Amazon Business are expected to leverage Amazon’s B2B features and offer elevated levels of support for larger and more complex orders. For example, Amazon Business’ "Request for Quote” functionality allows customers to seek quotes for products often used in a business setting. This calls for a different approach to customer support, wherein sellers are often required to provide additional technical details, bulk fulfillment options, and reasonable expectations for the timeframes associated with fulfilling larger bulk orders.
While FBA is often the go-to solution for many sellers, B2B orders, especially those involving large quantities, may not fit seamlessly into this fulfillment model. Sellers may find themselves handling individual orders consisting of thousands of units, introducing a host of complexities related to fulfillment and service that FBA is simply not designed to handle.
Whatever method you choose, effective customer support is linked to clear communication on product details, technical specifications, and compatibility on Amazon’s product listing pages. It is imperative for sellers to ensure that their product content is up to date and accurate, recognizing that this information is crucial for business buyers who may be making substantial investments. The better your content, the easier it will be for B2B buyers to make purchasing decisions.
Additionally, it’s important to recognize that B2B transactions tend to generate more technical queries due to the inherently complex nature of the products involved. Sellers need to be well-prepared with resources to address these questions. Utilizing Amazon’s Q&A function on product pages is essential, as it fosters a greater level of direct interaction with potential buyers, allowing sellers to provide detailed responses to technical inquiries.
Ultimately, achieving and maintaining a high level of seller account health on Amazon is a complex endeavor. Understanding and meeting the platform's standard metrics is non-negotiable. For B2B sellers in particular, the added challenge of managing larger and more complicated orders necessitates a strategic approach to customer support, often leveraging the tools Amazon provides. By embracing best practices and following Amazon’s own guidelines, sellers can not only safeguard their accounts but also thrive in the largest marketplace in the world.