Using Amazon’s Buyer-Seller Messaging service for marketing or promotional purposes is against Terms of Service—especially coupons—and half of sellers don’t know this.
Emailing a coupon code to make a future sale to a customer who recently purchased your product before sounds like a great marketing tactic. That’s because it is. If someone has purchased from you once, they are more than likely to purchase from you again. That’s why sending a coupon code makes so much sense.
But this isn’t the case for people who sell on Amazon. And half of Amazon sellers don’t realize that sending a coupon code to a buyer through Buyer-Seller Messaging is against the Terms of Service. As lucrative and easy as it is to sell on Amazon, there are particular nuances of the channel that sellers new and old need to be aware of when considering different marketing and promotion tactics.
What does Amazon’s Terms of Service say?
To view the Terms of Service, you must be logged in to Seller Central. Alternatively, you can locate this section of the ToS via the breadcrumb menu at the top of Seller Central: Help / Manage orders / Reference / Communicate with buyers using the Buyer-Seller Messaging Service.
In the second paragraph, highlighted in yellow, you’ll find the section that references not using Buyer-Seller Messaging for marketing and promotional purposes. It says:
Important: In general, you can contact buyers only to complete orders or to respond to customer service questions. You cannot contact buyers for marketing or promotional purposes (including via email, physical mail, telephone, or otherwise). For more information, see the “Guidelines for contacting buyers” section in Buyer-Seller Messaging Service overview. Buyer-Seller Messaging is the only approved method for communicating with buyers on Amazon.
Although the ToS doesn’t explicitly mention coupons, it’s common knowledge that coupons are used for promotional purposes. As clear as the ToS is, sellers are either confused, unaware or unconcerned with what it says.
Half of Amazon Sellers Believe It Is OK to Send Buyers Coupons for a Future Purchase
We conducted a survey in October 2018, where we surveyed 326 random Amazon sellers. The survey was designed to represent an assumed number of Amazon sellers totaling 500,000.
We needed a mandatory confidence interval of 95% with a 5% margin of error in order to be statistically significant. With that being said, we needed a sample size of at least 269 Amazon sellers to give as an accurate representation of the selling population. With 328 survey respondents, we’re confident that our data represents the selling population.
Here’s one of the seven questions we asked:
It is acceptable to email buyers with a coupon code for a future purchase.
Of the 326 who answered, 160 (49.08%) sellers answered with true, which means they believe it is OK to email a buyer with a coupon code. While 166 (50.92%) sellers answered false, which means they know it is not OK to email buyers with a coupon code for a future purchase.
The results from this question are particularly alarming because nearly half of all Amazon sellers believe it is OK to email buyers with a coupon for a future purchase.
So what are we doing about it?
We understand that Amazon’s Terms of Service can be confusing. The ToS is not static. But Amazon is not ambiguous with how it phrases the ToS. You’ll find that Amazon is quite clear with regards to what sellers can and can’t do on the platform. The confusing part is knowing where to look.
We at Seller Labs feel it is our duty to keep our customers—and the community at large—aware of what’s going on with Amazon’s Terms of Service. However, we are not Terms of Service police, nor can we enforce sanctions against violators. Feedback Genius and Ignite will change features and options based on ToS updates, and we will notify our customer of changes.
We can only comply with Amazon through continued education and updating our software tools whenever a change affects us.
Actions you can take to remain compliant with Amazon’s Terms of Service
Remember, it is your responsibility to maintain ToS compliance. We can’t force sellers to change what they’re doing—we can only make suggestions. With that being said, we recommend that you check your buyer-seller messages immediately to check for any marketing or promotional content—especially coupon code.
If you find any marketing or promotional material, just rewrite it or remove your message altogether.
Buyer-Seller Messaging is a tool that is designed for customer service communication. Just because you can’t use it for marketing or promotional purposes doesn’t mean you can’t build and improve your brand. Buyer-Seller Messaging is still one of the best ways to get seller feedback and product reviews. You can, and should, ask everyone who purchases from you for a product review or seller feedback rating.
Make sure you’re following Amazon Terms of Service with this easy-to-follow ToS checklist: