Running an Amazon business is a tough job–from managing inventory to customer service, it often feels like there are a million things you must handle simultaneously.
So when Amazon throws curveballs like marking your product as a Dangerous Good or Amazon Hazmat (even when they’re not), the process can become even more frustrating. And as an entrepreneur, there are probably other things you’d rather focus on instead.
Unfortunately, the Amazon Hazmat review process can quickly feel like a nightmare if you’re not ready. Without proper preparation, your product could get stuck for weeks and require what feels like endless paperwork to get your product listing back on the platform. But let’s go back to the basics.
According to Amazon on Seller Central, Hazmat products are substances that pose a risk to health, safety, property, or the environment at any point through the distribution process.
Screenshot from Amazon Seller Central Help Center
Hazmat products will only concern Amazon sellers selling their items via FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), since Amazon will be in charge of storing and transporting those products. Because of this, Amazon wants to ensure that each product you’re selling–and they are handling–is safe for delivery to and from their warehouses.
Working knowledge of the Amazon Hazmat review process is essential for stores that sell products in categories that experience frequent reviews. Examples include health and dietary supplements, essential oils, electronics, liquids, gases, batteries, etc. Different types of hazmat products may include:
No FBA business is exempt from Amazon’s hazmat review, and the platform runs strict inspection. As a result, all FBA sellers have to submit an ingredients list from the manufacturer that Amazon then reviews. If any of the ingredients sets off any of Amazon’s red flags then the seller will need to submit additional documentation on the product to clear the review.
However, these red flags don’t always mean that your product is dangerous. Sometimes, something as minor as having sodium as an ingredient can get you a hazmat review. This can be a big headache for FBA sellers where Amazon frequently flags products that don’t actually represent any harm.
Running Hazmat reviews on FBA products hasn’t always been part of Amazon’s operations. The platform first introduced the procedure back in 2014 after having to pay a fine of $350,000 due to harming UPS employees with leaking packages.
Since then, Amazon has the right to inspect any item it receives to its warehouses and determine whether it contains dangerous ingredients. It’s a way of protecting themselves and their employees and ensuring nothing goes wrong during transportation.
Amazon classifying your product as a Dangerous Good can have highly negative consequences on your listing conversion rate. Often, it means you’ll have to stop selling your product for a while until you fix the issue. It’s also going to distract you from other tasks (such as marketing or improving your products) that you could be doing to take your business to the next level.
Here’s what happens when Amazon flags one of your products as Hazmat in four different stages:
Amazon may pause your product listings, and the FBA team will not make your product listing available until they complete a hazmat review of your product data. Amazon may also give you a notice with a short time frame (usually a couple days) to supply the hazmat review information before they take any action, such as pausing the listing.
You’ll have to supply Amazon with an SDS request from the manufacturer or an MSDS Exemption (Material Safety Data Sheet), which is an exemption form to fill out for non-dangerous products. The requirements include:
If the documentation is not submitted within four business days, Amazon will block the listing. This is the point of no return, and if not submitted in time you’ll have to re-upload your product listing to go through the process all over again.
Amazon reviews the product documentation (Amazon says to allow up to 4 business days for this review) and designates the product as one of three classifications:
One important thing to note is that any product that goes through a Hazmat Review will also undergo additional dangerous goods reviews. Here’s what Pattern’s Senior Brand Manager Jordan Mower has to say about it:
“After a product is classified, this designation is not permanent. The FBA team will initiate a new review if they receive any conflicting ingredient information from any other seller—and possibly for additional reasons that we do not have visibility into,” says Mower. “We sell several products that are constantly going through additional Dangerous Goods reviews. A product will be reviewed and classified and then a few weeks later that classification will get changed again and we'll have to pivot
on that. So you have to be pretty dynamic with certain products.”
Thankfully, Amazon marking your products as hazmat doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Here’s what you can do ahead of time to better manage Hazmat reviews when they arise:
If a product is marked as Hazmat, you can create an alternate SKU with Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) to keep selling your product. You’ll gain complete control over your inventory management and shipping instead of letting Amazon fulfill your orders themselves.
An advantage of fulfilling your orders themselves is that you won’t be paying any service fees to Amazon. However, you’ll also have to deal with more responsibilities than you would have with Amazon FBA.
FBA sellers have a limit for Hazmat storage. It this may affect your Hazmat fulfillment options if many or all of your products are Hazmat.
What they don’t know, however, is that it’s possible to ask for more through Amazon’s Seller Central Support. Keep in mind that often only larger sellers will get their request accepted.
Solving Amazon Hazmat Reviews all comes down to using the proper documentation. However, Pattern Senior Brand Manager Jordan Mower works with a few supplements brands and has often experienced this frustration.
In the end, it’s important to have a savvy inventory management person in place who can keep up with the dynamic changes that come with FBA and Hazmat reviews.
Hiring a team of experts to to handle the twists and turns of hazmat products–keeping up with dynamic changes from Hazmat reviews, managing your brand’s inventory responsibilities, and compliance–can save you a lot of time and even more headaches.
Plus, you’ll gain peace of mind that your inventory and hazmat issues are in good hands, so you can focus on other areas of improving your Amazon store.
As an ecommerce marketplace management company, we have vast experience submitting SDS and MSDS Exemption sheets through the Amazon upload portal. We also make sure to apply correct formatting and follow-up with Amazon to make sure the platform accepts your product listing.
Our clients benefit from Pattern’s positive track record of fulfillment and sales experience with the Amazon hazmat dangerous goods program. We also offer an extensive inventory storage threshold.
Contact us today to see how a Brand Manager’s expertise could help your Amazon listings take off. Our team of experts will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about ensuring your products are compliant with Amazon’s strict hazmat policy.
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Walmart.com has announced important changes regarding the “Was Price” and promotions on the digital marketplace. These updates make it more important than ever to optimize your price through implementing proper strategies, controlling your distribution channels, and being intentional about your pricing strategy.
And, as with all digital marketplaces, succeeding on Walmart.com requires performing well in all areas of The Ecommerce Equation. Which means as you optimize your listings’ pricing, as well as traffic, conversions, and availability, your revenue increases.
Pattern has the resources ecommerce brands need to optimize on marketplaces for each factor in the ecommerce equation. We have the technology and strategists to help you improve your traffic, the brand dedication and passion to help you achieve greater conversions, connections to econtrol specialists who help brands regain marketplace control, and the data you need to be able to make smart forecasting decisions for better product availability.
Below, we’ll cover how Walmart.com’s recent platform changes impact ecommerce brands’ ability to drive traffic and conversions for their products and how to strategize around them to work best in your brand’s favor. But first, let’s go over the changes themselves.
Walmart.com’s newest changes reflect their mission to be the leader in low, everyday pricing. Therefore, Walmart’s customers come to the platform and expect low prices no matter what. Overall, these updates give consumers more visibility into the value they’re experiencing and hold brands more accountable in the pricing information they display.
Due to Walmart’s updates, in order for your products to qualify for a strikethrough and show “Reduced Price” or “Clearance” flags on Walmart.com, your product’s promotion must be at least 10% off the “Was Price.” (Note: “Reduced Price” is the most common type of badging. Your teams can request this badge when filling out promotion upload files.)
To specifically qualify for “Clearance,” the product needs to be discontinued and no longer replenished after selling through the remaining inventory.
Although “Rollback” is sometimes seen on site, it is a form of 1P-only badging.
Walmart now prohibits promotions lasting longer than 365 days.
Walmart’s “Was Price” was previously loosely defined and manually inputted on Walmart.com as an MSRP. Now, stricter rules are in place with regulations in the broader market to encourage enforcement and protect consumers.
The “Was Price” is now defined by these terms on Walmart:
Either the 90-day median price paid by customers for the item on Walmart.com (excluding special promotions like holiday campaigns, limited time deals, rollbacks, and clearance);
Or the median price offered by Walmart or Marketplace sellers for the item on Walmart.com for at least 28 out of the last 90 days (excluding special promotions like holiday campaigns, limited time deals, rollbacks, and clearance).
To protect your “Was Price” from price erosion, be intentional when planning promotions. To be most effective in your promotion, you’ll want to be able to give your customers a large enough discount to qualify for the slash-through and reduced price badging.
Without the right pricing strategy in place, your products are in danger of falling into deeper and deeper discounting as you chase the ability to achieve slash-throughs and proper badging. Without the slash-throughs and badging, you’ll lose the ability to easily communicate the increased value of your product and the traffic and conversions you’re trying to earn by running the promotion in the first place.
It’s important to keep your products’ prices as steady as possible to protect your promotion periods. As you prevent high-low price fluctuations, you’ll be able to use slash-through prices and promotional badges like “Reduced Price” and “Clearance” to your advantage in driving better traffic and conversions for your listings.
Without the ability to display badging, a promotion falls flat even if the price has been dropped. With steady pricing over time, you’ll be able to keep a stable “Was Price” and ultimately enjoy more rewarding promotional periods long-term.
It’s important to remember that the “Was Price” policy also applies to 1P and other 3P sellers representing your products on Walmart.com. Unfortunately, your other strategies will be ineffective if other sellers are breaking your MAP policy or playing the high-low price game. So, it’s more important than ever for brands to be conscious of their distribution channels and keep rogue and unauthorized sellers in check.
By allowing Pattern to be the authorized seller of your brand’s products and working with Vorys eControl law firm to eliminate rogue sellers, you can be confident in creating and executing a powerful selling strategy on Walmart.com and other digital marketplaces. As a 3P seller partner, Pattern is truly invested in our partners’ success, we’ll help you to create and execute a strategy that truly prioritizes the long-term performance of your products on digital marketplaces.
Contact us today to learn more about the changes on Walmart.com and how you can optimize your performance.
Pattern’s Accelerate22 event, the global ecommerce acceleration summit, provided a way for participants to learn from each other and leading experts about building a successful ecommerce presence. During our Brand Control and Compliance track, Leslie Hensell, co-founder of Riverbend Consulting and an Amazon expert, spoke to attendees about “Bezophobia”—the fear of losing brand control on Amazon. She talked about the importance of having a clear strategy to help you perform your best on the digital marketplace and the fact that achieving that is much harder to do in a 1P Amazon relationship.
With better control, which is more achievable in a 3P relationship, brands can let go of their fears and more richly enjoy the inherent benefits of selling on Amazon. If you think you could have a case of Bezophobia, read below for three important areas every brand should have control over when selling on Amazon.
Pricing is a huge concern for brands selling on Amazon—in most cases, Amazon prioritizes their customers’ happiness and providing a great experience for them on the platform over brands’ best interests. So, they want to offer their customers the best price available at all times.
This seems harmless enough until a rogue or unauthorized seller enters the ecommerce space. They’d like to capture your consumers’ interest as well, and often list your products at a lower price than you’d authorize. When Amazon notices the change, whether on its platform or on another, they drop your listing price to match.
Many brands seriously struggle to raise their prices after events like this occur, leading to what we call the Profitability Death Spiral. As your product prices fall, it’ll be harder and harder to raise them again, especially if you’re operating with Amazon as a 1P seller.
At Pattern, we know brands can’t achieve marketplace acceleration without brand control. So, we partner with econtrol firm VORYs to allow all brand partners to better understand their distribution channels and how to address control problems that ultimately lead to pricing issues.
The next key area of control brands should be focused on is their product selection on Amazon. Leslie spoke about this being a common issue for brands—as mentioned above, Amazon doesn’t see your brand as its top priority.
Many brands provide a certain assortment of their products to Amazon to sell, then find that their expectations don’t match Amazon’s efforts. Leslie has worked with many brands that have believed that Amazon will list, market, and move product the way a brand would if they were managing their Amazon presence themselves.
But, in a 1P relationship, it’s difficult to get true visibility into what’s really going on. If Amazon buys your products without putting the effort in to represent your product selection in the way you think, it can cause big, long-term issues that are very difficult for brands to reconcile.
In Leslie’s experience, this is a brand’s most important area to have control over on Amazon. Your ability to sell products is completely dependent on how you’re able to showcase those products through your content. And, in a 1P relationship, brands lose the ability to have the final say over how their products appear to consumers.
Leslie has seen many cases of brands’ sales dropping inexplicably, only for them to discover that their vendor has made significant changes to product detail pages and other marketing materials, such that they no longer reflect the brand.
Pattern understands how important your brand representation is on digital marketplaces like Amazon. So, when we agree to partner with brands, we provide a suite of creative services to help your products look their best, including a studio team for fully-optimized pictures and videos and an expert advertising team that knows how to write descriptions and copy that really help your products stand out among the competition.
If you’re able to get ahead and get in control of your Amazon strategy, especially in your pricing, selection, and marketing efforts, you have no need to fear the digital marketplace. As an Amazon expert and ecommerce accelerator, Pattern knows what it takes for brands to truly succeed, and is committed to helping all brands take charge of their strategy to achieve long-term success.
Set up a call to talk more about Amazon and ways Pattern can help you make the platform work better for you.