FAQs: Amazon Changes Due to COVID-19

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As an Amazon seller, you may be facing the challenges derived from the COVID-19 outbreak. Although it is pretty hard to predict the future in the light of the circumstances, we’ve compiled a series of FAQs to help you track the changes Amazon has made to its operations recently.

What changes have been made by Amazon due to COVID-19?

Under The Amazon Blog: Day One, the company continuously updates everyone regarding several changes to the platform and their extended support towards their employees, sellers, patrons, and community. Here’s what they’ve been up to in the past few weeks:

  • Amazon Relief Fund. A relief fund with a $25 million initial contribution was organized to assist Amazon’s delivery service partners and their drivers, seasonal employees and Amazon Flex participants experiencing financial distress during the pandemic.
  • Sick Leave. Employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive up to two weeks of paid time off. 
  • Products with false coronavirus claims. Amazon prevented over 1 million products with inaccurate claims of curing or preventing COVID-19 from being sold on the platform.
  • Restriction of health and sanitation products. Virus related items such as disposable face masks, hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes and sprays, isopropyl alcohol, and other related products are now gated, and any applications under these categories will not be accepted anymore.
  • Reimbursement for removal orders. Sellers with remaining inventory of the aforementioned products in its fulfillment centers are allowed to create a removal order until May 31, 2020, and Amazon will refund any return or disposal fees.
  • Mass hiring. To address the increasing demand of customers during the crisis, Amazon has successfully hired a total of 175,000 employees with additional hourly pay and an extended double overtime pay in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Turning down FBA shipments from China. There have been claims by sellers that Amazon stopped accepting FBA shipments delivered straight from China as a preventive measure. 
  • Collaboration with other tech companies. White House is seeking the assistance of tech giants to track the progress of COVID-19 and use their platforms to avoid misinformation.
  • Consideration for sellers’ performance metrics. Amazon asked its sellers to include a brief description of the outbreak’s effect on their business to their response to the relevant performance notification in Seller Central, which will be considered during the evaluation of their account’s performance.

Which items are currently on Amazon’s priority list?

Amazon temporarily prioritizes medical supplies and household essentials due to an increasing customer demand. To find out which products are allowed for shipping, US and EU sellers may refer to their Restock Inventory page and Restock report in Seller Central.

What should I do about my sponsored ad campaigns if my inventory levels are low?

Seller Central PPC

As long as promoted items in sponsored ads campaigns are still available for purchase, the ads will continue to appear.

Once said items go out of stock, the ads will automatically pause. The same goes for Sponsored Brands campaigns if shoppers are directed to a product list page with less than two available products. 

Stores users need to be reminded that their campaigns will keep showing up regardless of their current inventory levels. They may manually customize their page, sections and tiles to hide out-of-stock products from their store.

How does a low inventory affect my display, video, custom ads, or Amazon DSP campaigns?

Sellers are recommended to seek advice from an Amazon representative regarding inventory levels and campaign strategies.

What should I do if products in my Store are no longer available?

The automated option will hide the seller’s out-of-stock products and remove them from the Featured deals, best sellers, and recommended products tiles. 

The manual option will keep displaying these products, but certain information like price and Prime eligibility will be omitted.

Sellers can manually remove these products from being featured by selecting this option when they are customizing particular sections or pages of their Store.

Is there an alternative to fulfill my products on my own?

Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN) is an alternative to Amazon’s FBA model. This allows sellers to take charge of the product from packaging to shipment. Vendors can ask their vendor managers regarding Direct Fulfillment for more information.

Should I adjust my campaigns if my product delivery is taking longer than usual?

Campaign performance can be optimized by following these tips:

  • Sponsored Products: Choose ‘dynamic bids – down only’ or ‘dynamic bids – up and down’. These bidding strategies will consider real-time changes in conversion rate and increase or decrease bids accordingly. Choosing Fixed Bids may provide sellers more ad impressions, but leaves them with fewer conversions for their ad spend.
  • Sponsored Display: By utilizing Dynamic bidding, bids are adjusted automatically according to the probability of conversion. Sellers may reallocate their budget towards items with the most sales.
  • Sponsored Brands: Sellers can take advantage of keyword and/or product targeting strategies that lead customers to their business. Knowing the right targeting strategy will help their ads to appear in relevant customer searches and prompt prospective shoppers to discover their product when searching on Amazon.

Add ASINs for digital products such as e-books, music, or downloadable software and apps. This helps inform shoppers about items that are readily available.

Are there any restricted keywords that I should avoid using in my sponsored ads campaigns?

Advertisement restrictions apply to keywords referring to COVID-19 supplies like face masks, hand sanitizers, and surgical gloves. Sellers are advised to continue using appropriate keywords for their products.

Is there a way to monitor my advertising cost of sales (ACOS) for my sponsored ads campaigns?

Keep track of your ACOS by following these strategies that can help control your spend:

  • For Sponsored Products campaigns, choose ‘dynamic bids – down only’ or ‘dynamic bids – up and down’ to let Amazon adjust your bid according to changes in conversion rate.
  • For Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands campaigns, take advantage of keyword and/or product targeting strategies that lead customers to your business. Learn more about targeting strategies for your campaigns and find out the best campaign strategy to generate more sales.
  • With Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands, negative targeting can be used to withdraw products that are not generating any clicks or sales.

Is there a way to monitor my return on ad spend (ROAS) for my DSP campaigns?

Take note of the following when monitoring DSP ROAS:

  • Automatic optimization depends on real-time changes in conversion rates and previously set KPIs when regulating your bids, budget allocations and pacing.
  • Check the audience segmentation report and find out which audience to add or remove based on their performance on driving conversions.
  • The custom report template can be used to assess performance across different campaign and line item specifications such as inventory. Consider these when adjusting your targeting settings if needed.

How can Amazon Advertising assist my business at a time like this?

Vendors or sellers who are registered in Amazon Brand Registry can use the following free self-service products to connect with potential customers and promote your brand:

  • Stores allows you to create a personalized, multi-page store to promote your brand and products on the platform. Prior knowledge on coding is not a requirement. Stores are user-friendly and accessible to both desktop and mobile. Sponsored Brands ads and DSP ads can also be linked to prompt shoppers to visit your Store homepage or other particular sub-pages.
  • Posts (US only beta) is an image-based browsing experience which allows shoppers to explore brand-specific feeds or product categories and discover new items from these brands. Each post is shoppable, and category tags are placed to let the shoppers continue browsing posts in similar categories.
  • Amazon Live provides real time interaction with shoppers via livestreams. US vendors and sellers enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry can livestream directly on Amazon.

Learn more by joining Amazon’s webinar series from basic to advanced advertising topics.

Does Amazon offer any advice on budget management for my sponsored ads campaigns?

Amazon offers several tips on budget management that you can follow:

  • Come up with a daily budget for your campaigns and adjust your budget anytime. 
  • Utilize portfolios in organizing your campaigns to meet your advertising needs. Choose a periodic monthly budget cap or arrange a budget cap according to date range.
  • Choose ‘dynamic bids – down only’ or ‘dynamic bids – up and down’ on your Sponsored Products campaigns. 
  • When setting bids for your Sponsored Brands campaigns, refer to the suggested bid and bid range feature.
  • For Sponsored Brands campaigns, use the suggested bid and bid range feature as a reference when setting your bids.

What steps should I take if my campaign metrics fluctuate due to Amazon’s changes?

Campaign metrics may change because of Amazon prioritizing in-demand products in their fulfillment centers. Here’s what you can do to regulate your campaigns:

Ad products

Keep track of your seven-day performance and make use of recent trends to enhance your campaigns.

Sponsored Products Campaigns

Choose ‘dynamic bids – down only’ or ‘dynamic bids – up and down.’ 

Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands Campaigns

Take advantage of keyword and/or product targeting strategies that lead customers to your business.

Sponsored Display Bids

They are adjusted automatically according to the probability of conversion.

What alternatives can I offer to shoppers if some of my products are no longer available or deliveries are taking longer than usual?

Try using Sponsored Brands, which allows you to feature various items from your inventory and provide extra or alternative purchase options to prospective shoppers.

You can also add links to your Store to help shoppers explore your inventory.

Keep in mind that once products featured in Sponsored Brands campaigns become unavailable or have less than two in-stock products, the campaign will pause on its own.

On the other hand, campaigns directing to a Store will keep appearing regardless of your current inventory levels.

Recommended: Amazon Summer Sale 2020: Overcoming Adversity

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