Understanding Amazon's Buyer-Seller Messaging Service

Amazon seller messages or Amazon Buyer-Seller Messaging is an encrypted service that enables you to communicate with buyers. It is a great way to reduce frustration and improve the customer experience. But when it comes to how to reply to Amazon seller messages, not everyone knows how to do it.

Because Amazon is strict about customer communication guidelines, this article will help you understand everything you need to know about the buyer-seller messaging service.

What is the Amazon Buyer-Seller Messaging Service?

1. Why is it Important to Read About Amazon Buyer-Seller Messaging?

Amazon buyer-seller messaging service is a simple and encrypted way for your customers to reach out to you. Buyers can contact you via an encrypted alias assigned by Amazon and route the message to you.

You can receive these messages through one of two areas: your Amazon-associated email account or Amazon Seller Central. You will find it under the "Buyer-Seller Messages Page."

According to Amazon's Seller Guide:

"Buyer-Seller Messaging is the only approved method for communicating with buyers on Amazon."

Amazon has tight controls over how sellers can contact customers. Therefore, it's important to educate yourself thoroughly in order to avoid "Terms of Service" violations.

2. What Are The Seller Benefits Of Using Buyer-Seller Messaging?

  • It keeps a per-order record of all customer-facing communication
  • You have higher security in the event where a customer is trying to take advantage of you
  • You can view the messaging from your email address
  • Having a base of communication reduces the chance for product claims and disputes
  • You can instruct the buyer on how to use your product through direct messaging
  • Checking in with your customer is a great way to build loyalty

Amazon's seller messaging system has support for the following email systems:

  • Microsoft Outlook, Live, and Hotmail
  • Google Gmail
  • Yahoo
  • Thunderbird
  • GMX
  • HTML Email
  • Almost all major email address systems

You can choose between using a business or personal email address.

3. How Should I To Respond To Amazon Seller Messages?

How Should I To Respond To Amazon Seller Messages?
  1. Click on the "Orders" tab
  2. Choose "Manage Orders"
  3. Locate the order about your target buyer
  4. Select the contact reason
  5. Fill out your message
  6. Click "Send"

In this one case, Amazon will allow you to send an email to them from your business email address. You can contact the encrypted email from the messaging page and paste it into the send field.

You are not circumventing Amazon's process by using an off-site email in this case because the email is going to an @marketplace.amazon.com address. Amazon can continue to track emails going to this address as they are generated under your Seller Central profile.

If you use a business email not associated with your Amazon account, Amazon will kick back the message.

When Can I Contact Customers About Orders?

Amazon allows you to use this correspondence method when customers contact you. However, you can contact the customer if you need something from them to complete the order.

Situations where you can contact them include resolving order issues, requesting address information, sending invoices, and scheduling delivery of bulky products.

You can also inquire about returns, but Amazon does not allow you to coerce buyers from leaving negative feedback. Doing so is a quick way to get suspended from the platform.

Amazon allows you to maintain this contact for the first 30 days after an order is made. After the 30 days elapse, the messaging service closes.

In Which Situations am I Not Permitted to Contact the Customer?

As of November of last year, Amazon revamped the messaging service. When using this messaging service, you are disallowed from making the following messages:

  • Requests for positive customer feedback (especially if a request has already been made)
  • Order, shipment, delivery, and refund confirmations. Amazon handles these confirmations through its automated system
  • Messages thanking the customer for their order
  • Any message containing external links (unless it is required to complete an order)
  • External email addresses, phone numbers, or social media links
  • Incentivized review requests
  • Inquires as to why a customer canceled an order with you (this is handled by Amazon customer service)

Before sending an email to the customer from your email, you should also be sure they do not include the following problems:

  • Grammar issues and spelling errors
  • Emojis
  • GIFs (Animated images)
  • Any font style changes from the default
  • Anything with excessive line breaks (two in a row usually)
  • Huge images
  • Images from unsecured locations (HTTP instead of HTTPS)

After November  2020 Amazon implemented significant buyer-seller messaging updates. However, Amazon has always been restrictive about how its sellers communicate with customers.

Thankfully, there are ways to overcome many of these issues. It is best to think of the buyer-seller tool to resolve product and shipping errors through direct communication.

How to Find Out If You Have Permission To Contact Customers

The Manage Orders page is an easy way to tell when you have permission to contact your customer. If you see the "Contact Buyer" button available, that means the system is enabling you to check in.

Other locations where you will see the button include the following:

4. What if the Amazon Buyer Blocks Messages?

What if the Amazon Buyer Blocks Messages?

Amazon's Buyer-Seller Messaging Service will not guarantee you can contact the buyer. Some buyers determine excellent customer service by blocking everything from the Amazon messaging service. However, you can overcome this block by labeling your message as critical.

How To Send A Critical Message To Your Buyer

A critical message is that which must be resolved to complete an order. Amazon defines an urgent message include the exact phrase "[Important]." Don't forget to include the brackets!

If you receive a bounce-back message, you'll know something is off. However, emails including [Important] in the subject line overcome the system.

Examples of critical messages include the following:

  • You need to schedule the delivery because you handle fulfillment of heavy items yourself
  • The product is customizable, and you need to ask them a few questions to add finishing touches
  • The shipping address shows up as invalid, and you want to confirm that the information is accurate

Using critical message labeling without having a critical message will result in the suspension of selling privileges.

5. Adding Attachments Via The Amazon Buyer-Seller Messaging Service

Another method to address customers with issues includes attachments. Amazon allows you to connect the following attachments to your message:

  • Text files (.txt) and Word documents (.doc and .docx)
  • Images (.jpg, .gif, .bmp, .png, and .tiff)
  • Adobe Portable Document Format (PDFs)

Attachments must be below 10 MB (total) for any attachments. If you are using your business/personal email address, you need to include the size of your email text.

Amazon reserves the right to remove sensitive content in images of text if it can offend its customers. You should avoid inappropriate content  (including offensive language).

What Are Some Attachments I Can Send To Amazon Customers?

Keep in mind that many of these attachments must be done as a response to a customer complaint. For example, a customer might be struggling with how to use your product correctly.

Any easy attachment that resolves customer issues is a PDF (or text) version of the owner's manual. As the product owner (or seller), it is up to you to understand different sections of your manual.

Regardless of what you use, you'll want to encourage your customer to use CTRL+F if they're going to find solutions later. This is a bit easier on Microsoft Word, but many modern PDF readers will enable you to see text the same way.

Citing different sections of your owner's manual is a great way to resolve customer complaints before turning them into a negative review. Otherwise, you might show example images of you using more complicated features of the product.

Images can be helpful when you want to show the customer visual steps on how to use your product. If you have a mechanical effect with small parts, you'll want to have these ready for the customer to look at.

You can also use these images on your product listing, as providing people with more excellent understanding upfront encourages them to make a purchase.

6. How To Setup Your Business Email

How To Setup Your Business Email On Amazon's Buyer-Seller Messaging Service

To be sure your business email is associated with buyer-seller messages, you'll need to do one of two things:

  • You need to be sure you use the email address already associated with your Amazon Seller Central account
  • You will want to access the "Messaging Permissions Page" to add/remove email addresses that have access to Amazon Buyer-Seller Messages

Changing Your Email Under Your Seller Central Account

If you want to change your email, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to the "Settings" portion of your account and select "Edit" next to your email text field
  2. Enter your preferred email address
  3. Click on "save changes" at the bottom of this page

How do I Add an Extra Email for Customer Messages?

How do I Add an Extra Email for Customer Messages?

If you want to add a new email address, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to the "Messaging Permissions Page" under your Seller Central account
  2. Select "Add An Email Address" at the bottom
  3. Insert the email address and choose the "Approved" option
  4. Select "Save" to be sure changes are put through

Changing Messaging Permissions for Customer Messaging

To remove the newly added email from your messaging permissions page, choose the "Edit" button and click the "Delete" button.

If you want customer messages to temporarily not go to your employee's email, choose the "Blocked" selection from the status field. Switch the settings back to "Approved" if you want them to receive emails again.

Regardless of what email you choose (be it a business email or personal email), the customer will not be able to see it through the Amazon buyer-seller message system.

7. How To Use Buyer-Seller Messaging Templates

Because there is only so much time available during the day, automated messages are essential. Amazon provides this service allowance through its buyer-seller messaging templates.

If you find yourself sending the same message to people (and wasting time resending duplicate emails), templates enable you to access your preferred format quickly.

Here are some features you will want to know about messaging templates:

How To Create A Buyer-Seller Messaging Template on Amazon

  1. Go to your "Manage Templates Page"
  2. Click on the "Manage Email Templates" link and "Create Template" button
  3. Enter a name to remind you of the type of message you are sending (i.e., invoice request-response)
  4. Create new (or use existing) tags to be able to search for the template later
  5. Select "save"

If you want to use the template, you will see a "select template" button next to your reply button. Provided you did everything right; you will see your template in the box.

If you want to remove or edit the template, go back to your "Manage Templates Page" and select the edit/delete button of the template you wish to remove or modify.

8. Using The Amazon API To Handle Buyer-Seller Messaging

The Amazon API (application programming interface) enables developers to create programs to access and process data. Much like other critical Amazon-based data, you can use the API Gateway to process information.

So if you have a developer on staff, you can process data and create automated responses to customer inquiries. For example, if you receive numerous repeat inquiries about invoices, you could feasibly have a computerized system process this data for you. 

Because most Amazon sellers do not have the budget for hiring full-time developers, you have a few other options:

  • Hire a freelance developer on websites like UpWork or Freelancer to handle this one-time job
  • Seek assistance through Amazon's Partner Network to assist you in API management.

Utilizing the Amazon API can be handy, but it is essential to understand how you want to use the data before hiring someone to interpret it. For example, if you're going to track competitors' data, you are better served by our tool on product research.

9. Best Practices of the Amazon Buyer-Seller Messaging Service

If you want to know what to do with the messaging service, here are some quick tips:

Tip #1: Do Not Use It To Check In On Your Buyer or Upsell Products

Amazon's language is clear on discouraging sellers from contacting buyers whenever possible. So if you feel the urge to check in on your buyer with this messaging tool, don't.

Many Amazon sellers are discouraged from making this contact to avoid Amazon's Terms of Service. Instead, you can check up on the customer when they purchase your product, and you have third-party access to them.

This situation is why it is vital to establish an off-site presence away from Amazon. You cannot rely on Amazon as your sole sales channel because Amazon has 100% control over the traffic.

Consider Amazon as a vehicle to make it easier for you to become a powerful eCommerce salesperson. If that automobile breaks down, it will be good to have a backup option.

Also, avoid upselling via these channels. If anything, the buyer-seller messaging should solely be for responding to customer inquiries.

Tip #2: Have "Study Materials" Ready For Customer Review

When people access Amazon's Buyer-Seller Messaging service, they either do it to complain or inquire. Assuming that it's the inquiry part, it is essential to access the owner's manual and visual examples.

These two tools will enable a product seller to instruct the customer more efficiently. These items ensure that the buyer knows how to use your product with limited confusion.

Study materials should be person-facing and easy to understand. Ideally, you should explain your product so that a five-year-old can use it (assuming it isn't too dangerous for them).

If you have kids and an easy enough product, you might run the "five-year-old" understanding test. Otherwise, you might upgrade that age to a grade-schooler. In either case, you've proven how good you are at explaining things if a kid can understand your instructions.

You might also run surveys and ask people who aren't your friends and family. Consider this whenever making updates or creating an owner's manual.

Tip #3: Respond Within 24 Hours

Customers like fast responses that focus on problem-solving. At the bare minimum, you should make it a goal to respond to any message within 24 hours.

If your product is popular enough, you might want to hire a customer service specialist. Those who can handle customer service on your behalf can save you time to focus on more critical aspects.

The goal is to eventually automate your business so that you don't have to fret over some aspects. While your customers are essential, some are needier than others.

By handing off the "service" part, you can focus on identifying data and trends. This brings us to our last tip.

Tip #4: Take Customer Feedback From Your Messages

Regardless of how much money you are making from your Amazon business, it is crucial to improve continually. You should constantly be setting goals for your next step. These steps should go back to your overall business plan, enabling you to control your business trajectory.

When it comes to product development, your best source of improvement comes from the people who use your product. So pay attention to your customer reviews, and do not forget about your buyer-seller messages.

These messages are almost always from disgruntled customers running into challenges with your product. If you see a trend among messaging (that happens to match customer reviews), it might be time to make a change with your product.

Being responsive to changes in how a mediocre business becomes an excellent business. Understanding and responding to (reasonable) customer needs brings people through the later stages of the buyer's journey.

10. Amazon Buyer-Seller Messaging FAQs

Does Amazon Read Buyer-Seller Messages?

Amazon has access to all correspondence sent through the messaging tool. While there isn't an Amazon Employee actively scrolling through the hundreds of thousands of messages, Amazon likely has AI looking for concerning phrases.

Both sellers and buyers can report opposing parties, enabling Amazon to read through conversation. Amazon protects either side should they be trying to take advantage of any situation.

What is the Amazon Response Time Calculation

The buyer-seller messaging service measures the buyer's response time to any message sent to them. Higher response times are "poorer customer service," which can deter some buyers from contacting you, returning the product instead.

To avoid this, ensure that you respond within 24 hours. Click the "No Response Needed" option under the buyer-seller messaging center if the message does not require a response.

Is There a Per-Day Limit To Customer Messages on Amazon?

Amazon's customer-facing message limit is your daily order volume times five with an additional 600 messages. For example, if you sell 100 products, you can send 1,100 messages (100*5+600)

How Do I Know If My Email Receives Buyer-Seller Messages?

Two things identify the message being from a customer if you are accessing your email inbox:

  • The email ends with marketplace.amazon.com
  • The email has 35 characters total (including the domain)

11. Conclusion

When it comes to utilizing the buyer-seller messaging service, it is crucial to understand expectations. Buyer-seller messaging is not a way to promote additional products, check in with your customer, or ask them if they have received the package yet. Instead, it's a direct line to your business for technical support.

Understanding this will ensure that you avoid the TOS chopping block of Amazon. So instead of trying to turn it into something it isn't, be prepared by being friendly and having easily-accessible instructions to provide to all customers.

For inquiries that you receive constantly, have templates ready to save you time (and money). Also, you can take the data from these inquires and combine them with data from our services to benchmark product changes.

Understanding what customers are looking for and how to use the tools Amazon gives you enables your business to excel where others have struggled. Sign up for DataHawk today to see how our services can help you outpace the competition.

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