If you’ve ever sold on Amazon during Q4, then you probably remember that the Toys & Games category isn’t open to everyone. For MFN sellers, there are Amazon holiday selling guidelines that exclude certain sellers that Amazon deems “underqualified” for this mega shopping category.
In the interest of customer satisfaction, Amazon wants to ensure that MFN sellers slinging products in the most popular category have enough selling experience and are in the top percentile when it comes to seller metrics.
We don’t want you to be met with any unfortunate surprises come the Q4 holiday shopping rush, so here’s an update on the specifics of this year’s Amazon holiday selling guidelines for Toys & Games.
While it’s similar to what Amazon has required of MFN sellers in past years, some key dates have changed.
Read on to learn if your seller metrics already qualify you to sell in Toys & Games or if you need to make some quick fixes to your account so you don’t miss out on a massive selling opportunity.
The Amazon holiday selling guidelines email about Toys & Games: Part 1
In late July, Amazon sellers were emailed the new Amazon holiday selling guidelines.
Here’s a copy of the first half of the email (the bold styling is ours for emphasis):
To maintain a great customer experience this holiday season, we have established holiday selling guidelines for the Toys & Games store.
Only sellers who meet the criteria listed below will be eligible to sell in the Toys & Games store from November 17, 2017, through January 5, 2018.
- Your first sale on Amazon must occur prior to September 15, 2017. The sale does not need to be specific to the Toys & Games store.
- You must process and ship at least 25 orders from September 1 through October 31, 2017. The orders do not need to be specific to the Toys & Games store.
- Your pre-fulfillment cancel rate for the period from October 1 through October 31, 2017, must not be greater than 1.75%.
- Your late shipment rate for the period from October 1 through October 31, 2017, must not be greater than 4%.
- Your order defect rate must not be greater than 1% short term as of November 1, 2017.
Orders that use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) will not be subject to the above criteria provided your account is in good standing.
You can find your cancel rate, late shipment rate, and order defect rate in the 'Performance' section of your seller account. If your account does not meet the above criteria, we encourage you to take corrective action now to help ensure your eligibility to sell in the Toys & Games store this holiday season.”
Key takeaways from part 1 of Amazon’s holiday selling guidelines email
If you’re looking to break into Amazon selling for the first time during this year’s Q4 rush, it’s important to start now.
That’s because Amazon is gating the Toys & Games category from MFN sellers who don’t log their first Amazon sale before September 15th, 2017. The initial sale doesn’t need to be in the Toys & Games category to qualify you, so literally any sale will do.
Want to sell these action figures during Q4? Then you'd better meet Amazon's holiday selling guidelines
On top of that, MFN sellers must make at least 25 total sales between September 1st and October 31st. Consider selling Halloween costumes and decorations to help meet this requirement.
Beyond these two criteria, MFN sellers must ensure that three key sellers metrics are in excellent standing:
- Cancel rate → must be lower than 1.75%
- Late shipment rate → must be lower than 4%
- Order defect rate → must be lower than 1%
If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to sell in Amazon’s Toys & Games category in Q4 because your metrics don’t meet these standards, consider shifting to FBA for fulfillment.
While there are plenty of differences between FBA and MFN that call for a detailed comparison and pros and cons, times like these make a strong case for using FBA, despite the fees associated with the service.
Especially when the difference could wind up being between lower-margin sales via FBA and no sales at all with MFN.
The Amazon holiday selling guidelines email about Toys & Games: Part 2
Below is part 2 of Amazon’s email explaining this year’s holiday selling guidelines for the Toys & Games category:
“Eligibility for selling in the Toys & Games store is determined separately for each marketplace. If you sell in multiple marketplaces, your accounts will be evaluated for each marketplace.
We will provide final notification about your eligibility to sell in the Toys & Games store by November 11, 2017. Beginning November 17, 2017, we will monitor the performance and listings of sellers who are approved to sell in Toys & Games during the holiday season.
Amazon reserves the right to cancel listings, remove selling privileges, and prohibit the sale of specific products to maintain a great customer shopping experience.
Here are some steps you can take to remain eligible to sell in the Toys & Games store throughout the holiday season:
- Monitor performance metrics and take corrective action when necessary.
- Use FBA to ship products to customers.
- Check your orders frequently in the 'Manage Orders' section of your account.
- Minimize order cancellations; only show inventory for sale that you have available to ship.
- Ship orders and confirm shipment in a timely manner.
- Ensure your seller policies are up to date.
- If you work with outside drop-shippers, solidify their SLA commitments for providing pSLApt shipping confirmation.
Thank you for selling on Amazon.
Again, Amazon suggests using FBA to ship products to customers as a good way to stay eligible for selling in Toys & Games throughout Q4 (and the beginning of Q1).
Beyond that, Amazon mentions that sellers who sell on multiple marketplaces will be evaluated for Toys & Games eligibility on a marketplace-by-marketplace basis.
While not everything is completely in your control (customer returns, shipping carriers causing order defects, etc.), follow Amazon’s suggestions and you’ll be in good shape.
Final thoughts on the Amazon holiday selling guidelines for Toys & Games
Because Amazon is obsessed with high customer satisfaction, it creates unique rules for sellers who don’t use its proprietary FBA fulfillment service during the busiest shopping season. The goal of these rules is to ensure that customers enjoy a seamless shopping experience during the holidays from all third-party merchants, including MFN sellers.
The Amazon holiday selling guidelines are just part of the eCommerce game for MFN sellers
In order for MFN sellers to gain entry into the most highly sought-after shopping category, Amazon gives them the option to either sign up to use its premium FBA fulfillment service or to maintain extraordinary MFN seller metrics (outlined above).
While some sellers will be swayed to FBA instantly as a result of these Amazon Q4 policies, other sellers who can’t stomach FBA fees will be scrambling to improve their metrics in the three critical categories affecting eligibility for listing in the Toys & Games category.
We recommend that sellers monitor their performance metrics in detail starting immediately so they understand exactly where they stand when it comes to Amazon’s holiday selling guidelines.
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