Amazon is one website that truly takes the "customer is king" motto to heart. For example, putting customers first and providing excellent customer service can up your odds of scoring a higher Amazon seller feedback rating. Plus, Amazon recommends that you respond to customers within 24 hours, and it even gives sellers customer service ratings.
Thus, knowing the ins and outs of the Amazon Buyer-Seller Messaging Service can only help your business on the company's marketplace. Read on to learn how you can make the most of Amazon Buyer-Seller Messages.
Know What Amazon Buyer-Seller Messages Are
Amazon's Buyer-Seller Messaging Service is a way for Amazon Marketplace sellers to communicate with buyers, either via email or Seller Central. In fact, "Buyer-Seller Messaging is the only approved method for communicating with buyers on Amazon," according to the company.
The service keeps a record of all your correspondence with buyers, and it uses encrypted email addresses for both parties. "For example, when a buyer contacts you, Amazon assigns them an encrypted alias like firstname.lastname@example.org," the company states. "Amazon then routes the emails to you via the encrypted alias."
Note that you can utilize Buyer-Seller Messages to get more info to complete an order, or to respond to customer service inquiries. To read Amazon's how-to on contacting buyers, click here.
Follow Amazon Communication Guidelines
Besides knowing how to use Buyer-Seller Messages, it's important to learn what is and isn't allowed in your communications with buyers, as transgressions could lead to suspension of your account. Here are some examples of what shouldn't go in your emails:
- Requests for buyers to leave a positive customer review for your item, or to leave a review only if they've had a good experience with the product
- Offers of compensation for a review, such as gift cards, money, or free products
- Links to any websites, unless they're needed to fulfill an order
- Logos that contain or display a link to your website
- Promotional or marketing messaging
- Links to opt out of unsolicited seller messages
- Promotions for additional products
- Referrals to third-party items or promotions
For more information on buyer-seller communications, check out Amazon's guidelines on the topic.
Be Aware of FBA vs. FBM Differences
Are you a Fulfillment by Merchant seller who handles all of the packaging and shipping of your products? Then you should already have Buyer-Seller Messaging enabled by default.
If you're a Fulfillment by Amazon seller, on the other hand, you can switch on the messaging service to respond to product questions and help improve the experiences of FBA buyers. Just know that "FBA Buyer-Seller Messaging is for product inquiries only," according to Amazon. "You can only respond to (and can't initiate) messages about returns containing an FBA product designated as a gift."
Send Critical Messages If You Really Need To
Not all Amazon buyers are interested in communicating with Marketplace sellers, and customers can actually opt out of unsolicited messages from sellers via their email settings. Critical messages are an exception, though.
Basically, Amazon won't block messages that are needed to complete an order. It deems which contact reasons fit that "critical" status, and these can include product customization questions, issues with a shipping address, and delivery scheduling. Also, if you're sending a message about an order from your email client, you'll need to make sure the word "[Important]" — including the brackets! — is in the subject line. And be careful: Amazon states that "Use of [Important] for non-critical messages may result in the suspension of your selling privileges."
You may find yourself responding to the same questions over and over, or sending the same type of email over and over — and that can be a real time suck. To help speed up the process, Amazon lets you use templates for Buyer-Seller Messages. It states that "you can create templates for the most common replies that you send to buyers or use Amazon's templates for sending new messages."
You can find info here on creating and using response templates, as well as on editing or deleting them.
Consider Third-Party Tools
While templates can be handy tools for Marketplace sellers, they may not save enough time for sellers inundated with orders and questions. If you're feeling overwhelmed with your Amazon email responsibilities, it may be time to consider third-party communication software. Here's a sampling of the tools available:
Expect to pay at least $20 to $45 a month for this software, unless you use a lite or free version with a low email maximum. And know that while automation tools can save you time, you may need to tread lightly with them; Amazon doesn't encourage sellers to send automated reply emails.