Amazon updated its Buyer-Seller Messaging system on March 28, 2017, to allow shoppers to opt out of unsolicited emails sent from third-party sellers.
Up until the announcement, shoppers were not able to opt out of unsolicited seller emails.
Amazon is still allowing sellers to send critical emails even if a shopper has opted out. Amazon deems a critical email to be:
- Product customization questions
- Delivery scheduling
- Issues with a shipping address
Amazon deems a non-critical email to be:
- Requests for seller feedback or customer reviews
- Order, shipment, or delivery confirmations
- Proactive customer service (i.e. product manuals, product tips, FAQs, suggestions, etc.)
- Out-of-stock or delay notifications and offers of alternate products
Third-party sellers can send critical messages through Seller Central by going to Manual Orders, then clicking the buyer’s name, which will send them to Buyer-Seller Messaging. From here, they can click on Additional Information Required as the subject. Then they just need to write their email and click Send.
If a shopper has opted out of a seller’s unsolicited emails, Amazon strongly recommends not sending non-critical emails. Violations to this update may result in enforcement actions or the loss of selling privileges.
Our Take on the Update
This Is Good News for Sellers
This is actually great news for Amazon sellers and solution providers like us. For years there has been a small percentage of buyers that have been very vocal to Amazon about letting them opt out of emails from sellers. There have been articles published and forums filled with people who do not care to receive unsolicited messages. The majority of shoppers appreciate a good follow-up email, but some would rather not receive any messages—no matter how helpful they may be. With this update, Amazon has solved a problem for both buyers and sellers. Sellers can still offer great customer service through follow-up emails and encourage feedback/reviews, and shoppers who would rather not be contacted can opt out.
Can you still send messages to buyers asking for Feedback and Reviews?
Yes. You can still send messages to buyers who have not opted out. Jason from Amazon’s MWS team posted this in the Seller Central forum:
I just wanted to give everybody an update on this issue.
No accounts will be suspended for this, as we recognize that there is no way for you to gain access to this information. While the original response was strongly worded, this will be changing in the very near future, and the aspect of suspension will be removed from future messages.
For now, our suggestion is keeping a list of the buyers for whom you receive these notifications, and add them to a blacklist for future communications. We are looking into ways to make this information available so that this workaround doesn’t have to be the primary way of tracking this data.
We thank you all for your patience and bringing this to our attention.
You can read more here.
Additionally, Amazon’s other terms of service pages clearly state sellers can send emails to buyers.
What if I send an email to a shopper who has opted out?
If you email a shopper who has opted out, the message will not go through; Amazon will send you an email telling you it has been blocked. If you have to message a shopper with critical, order-related information, you will need to go through Seller Central and choose Additional Information Required as the subject. Make sure you only do this for critical messages. Sellers who email buyers who have opted out are not at risk unless they go through Seller Central attempting to bypass the block and send non-critical messages to shoppers who have opted out.
If you are using an automated messaging service like Feedback Genius, and you want to make sure you don’t email a buyer who has opted out again, you can add the opted out email address into your blacklist within Feedback Genius. To automate this, you can forward these messages to Feedback Genius’s blacklist and we will automatically add these shoppers to the blacklist. You can set this up at https://feedbackgenius.sellerlabs.com/blacklist. Then click on the question mark icon to grab your personalized blacklist forwarding email.
Currently, Amazon does not give any information to determine if a shopper has opted out of receiving messages. Taking advantage of Feedback Genius’s blacklist is the best way to avoid sending messages to opted out shoppers. Feedback Genius has the largest reach of any messaging system for Amazon third-party sellers. We’re currently working to identify shoppers who have opted out of unsolicited emails to ensure you are not wasting messages on opted out shoppers.
The Big Picture
This change is positive for Amazon sellers and shoppers. Sellers can continue to offer top-notch service and receive important feedback on their products and service while some shoppers can opt out of unsolicited emails. Everyone is happy.
The important thing for sellers to remember is to not over-message shoppers. Every email should be helpful and not pushy. Emails should add value to the buying experience. Remember to focus on excellent customer service before asking for reviews and feedback.