Entrepreneurs are always pressed for time, and Amazon sellers are especially time poor. You have to source quality products with a real market need, continually optimize your listings and watch out for blackhat moves made by your competition.
When you add in the nitty-gritty details of managing your Amazon e-commerce channel, such as monitoring your inventory and improving your conversion rate, you can quickly get overwhelmed with all of the necessary tasks.
Today, we’re showing you one way that you can save a lot of time in your business (as much as 5 hours per month, or 5 hours per week depending on your sales volume). So, let’s dive in!
Why Amazon FBA makes mistakes with your inventory and seller account
Ask any experienced Amazon seller what issues FBA reimburses them for most often and they’ll likely answer “damaged inventory, lost inventory, and customer return issues.”
The reason for this is volume. Other FBA issues are rarer (such as when Amazon charges sellers the wrong category commission fee or the wrong shipping weight fee).
But inventory damages and issues with customer returns happen every hour—who knows, maybe even every minute? In the US alone, Amazon sold $232 billion worth of revenue in 2018. Customer return errors or inventory damages happening every minute isn’t unreasonable, given the mass amount of transactions moving through Amazon warehouses across the US.
What you can do to get money back from Amazon
Amazon’s terms of service state that they will automatically reimburse you for any errors that their system or employees discover. Depending on the case type, this is typically done within 10 – 30 days.
While some sellers feel comfortable relying on Amazon to catch the issue, most agree that you need to have your account monitored, and still, others think that Amazon claims to catch errors so that sellers will be more trusting and not request reimbursement.
Conspiracy theories aside, you don’t have to take Amazon’s word for it. There is a lot you can protect your account.
- File reimbursement claims yourself (learn more about the process here)
- Train an assistant to do it for you, which will raise your operating expenses regardless of the result
- Work with a third party service to handle claims–especially one that charges a commission so there is no money paid upfront
Because option #1 is the only one that doesn’t cost money, many sellers are tempted to go that route, but it can get very time-consuming. Let’s explore why.
Why handling FBA reimbursements by yourself isn’t feasible in the long term
If you choose to handle reimbursement claims yourself or train an assistant, you need to be competent in where to look for the errors, how to verify them, and how to submit claims that “speak Amazon’s language,” as we like to say.
You can hunt for issues with your account inside Seller Central reports such as Manage Orders, Inventory Adjustments, Inventory Event Detail, Received Inventory and Daily Inventory.
The process can quickly become complicated.
You’ll need to…
- reconcile these reports weekly or monthly
- make note of any issues
- wait for Amazon to fix those issues according to their TOS
- file a claim if Amazon doesn’t resolve the issue themselves
- follow up with Amazon support until the claim is resolved
Some errors are simpler than others. “I handle the shipment reimbursements because it is easy,” says Alan Cook. “Once I started looking into what would be involved in finding other money Amazon owes me, I saw it would take up too much of my time that I would rather use finding new inventory sources.”
You might be able to quickly verify any problems with inbound shipments to Amazon, but most other errors are too time-consuming. Sellers (or their staff) will spend anywhere from a day a week to a day a month, hunting for issues and following up with Amazon support.
How to select a trustworthy partner to manage the process for you
Unless they have a large support staff, most sellers find that working with a company to handle reimbursements is the most economical choice.
This way, they can rest assured that they’re getting money back from Amazon, without having to spend too much precious time finding and reporting on errors.
If you decide to sign up for such a service, make sure that it has these key features.
- Doesn’t charge you for a case that you file yourself. For example, if you make time to hunt for certain claims that are simpler to find, your company shouldn’t charge a commission for a successful reimbursement if you filed that claim first.
- Only files
claimsmanually. This is really important! Unfortunately, there are some companies who are using software not only to crawl your account for errors (a must, to find more errors than the human eye), but they are also using software to submit the claims. This is a big no-no,because it leads to low quality and duplicate claims.
- No money upfront. A big benefit of commission based FBA reimbursements is that you don’t have to pay a company or an assistant before you get any result.
- Coverage for multiple case types, including lost and damaged inventory. Make sure that the company you work with has coverage for common cases like damaged inventory, and the less common issues like fee misappropriation.
- Has great reviews. Reading reviews is always wise. Check that the company has established results with other Amazon sellers.
What to expect when requesting FBA reimbursements
Regardless of whether you submit claims yourself or use a commission-based company to handle FBA reimbursements for you, there is definitely some waiting involved.
So long as you (or your service provider) has waited the appropriate amount of time to submit the claim and vetted the claim’s accuracy, it can take anywhere from a couple days to a few weeks to get the money reimbursed to you.
If you’re using a service to handle it for you, you can remain hands-off and simply wait. If handling claims yourself, you’ll want to set up an Excel spreadsheet for your claim submittals so you can remember when to follow up and track the status of every claim.
Services like Refunds Manager help you protect your FBA profits and save time. Learn more at RefundsManager.com.
This post is brought to you by our friends at RefundsManager.
Also published on Medium.