Amazon Invoice Verification: How to Pass the Test
In the never-ending war of the counterfeit vs. the authentic, Amazon has it especially tough. Between an increasing number of quality control complaints and the growing popularity of selling with Amazon FBA, the online marketplace mammoth has had to crack down with their checks and balances. Most notably, Amazon invoice verification.
The purpose of collecting invoices is to ensure that the product you are selling is safe, legitimate, and from an upstanding supplier. Amazon has the means to get in touch with your supplier and will not hesitate to do so if they see something fishy (this could be something as “insignificant” as an improperly formatted invoice).
When Does Amazon Ask for Supplier Invoices?
Generally, Amazon asks for supplier invoices to verify a product was sourced new or if the product’s authenticity is in question. We reached out to former Amazon Investigation Specialist and friend of Helium 10, Chris McCabe, on the supplier invoice subject matter of supplier invoices.
He explains, “Anytime buyers report that they received something not matching the order, or not in the right condition, or not the quality they were expecting, Amazon’s knee jerk reaction is to ask [the seller] for invoices and supplier info.”
The most common things that spark an invoice investigation are:
- Product quality complaints
- Product condition discrepancies (“new” vs. “used”)
- Products “not as described”
- Product safety concerns
Do NOT Fake it Until You Make it
Never attempt to fabricate an invoice from your supplier. Amazon has systems in place (including investigators) that specialize in determining the legitimacy of these documents.
More often than not, getting caught forging an invoice will result in a permanent Amazon seller account ban.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Your goal here should be to present Amazon with a professional and easy-to-read document – make their job of approving you as easy as possible.
- Avoid things that may raise suspicions like blurry photos, poor quality scans, or colors that don’t align with your supplier’s brand/logo. The idea here is not to give Amazon investigators any reason to think you may be faking or altering your invoices. Even small artifacts like pixelated logos or lines that do not intersect properly can trigger suspicion.
- Do not submit Amazon a handwritten invoice. Don’t be afraid to ask your supplier for a typed copy if they give you something handwritten. If they are unable to supply you with a formal invoice… it may be time to find a new supplier.
- Update your information! Is the billing address current? Is your supplier’s website up and running? Even if the link you provide to your supplier redirects to a generic landing page, this will raise red flags with Amazon. These are some of the most common reasons invoices are rejected. They are also some of the easier things to catch before you send your invoice to Amazon.
- The quantities on your invoice must always match or exceed your sales volume. Sales that impossibly outpace your inventory quantity will most likely result in your invoice being flagged and the given ASIN being banned from future listings.
- Make sure the invoice is dated within the last year. Older stock is considered “aging inventory” and after a few invoicing audits, it will not be considered acceptable to verify your documentation.
While it’s true Amazon may never ask you for an invoice, it’s always best to be ready. Keep accurate records, hold your supplier accountable, and be prepared to prove your brand’s legitimacy.
What Happens if I Don’t Have any Invoices to Send to Amazon?
Dropshipping (bad news)– If you only have invoices for items after they sell, you end up between a rock and a hard place. According to Chris McCabe, “Amazon often asks sellers to prove authenticity BEFORE there’s an order. You’re stuck, and have nothing to show if you don’t have any invoices or a designated supplier.”
Private Label Seller (good news)– If you are selling via private label, you most likely are in touch with a supplier or manufacturer. Get your invoice from whoever makes your products.
Invoice Verification: A Real-World Example
Helium 10’s Bradley Sutton is always running case studies within Amazon accounts to keep up to date with the company’s policies and procedures.
One of the accounts Bradley monitors is a wholesale Amazon business in the field of health supplements. Recently, a customer complaint prompted an Amazon suspension notification for one particular ASIN. They included a plan of action to reinstate the listing.
Take a look at what they are requesting…
Notice the Amazon invoice (or receipt) must:
- Be dated prior to the date of the policy warning
- Include the seller’s name and address (so that Amazon can verify this isn’t just some random invoice for someone else)
- Include the supplier’s name and address
- Reflect a purchase of at least 10 units
They also explicitly state that they “may verify your submitted documentation by contacting the product vendors you identify in your application.”
This is a great (and recent) example of Amazon’s invoice certification requirements. If just one of these things is missing, Amazon reserves the right to reject the action plan altogether.
Avoiding Amazon Invoice Verification Requests
By this point, you may be associating invoice verifications with jury duty. Fear not, they’re a bit easier to avoid.
The best way to avoid an invoice verification is to avoid situations that require them in the first place. Now, this comes with an important caveat. Customer complaints are unavoidable – there are certain things out of your hands.
Let’s focus on the factors in your control.
- Do not misrepresent your product in the listing copy or images that would prompt a customer to complain to Amazon.
- Make sure your product packaging is sufficient, and will withstand the journey to the customer. Too many customer complaints (that often result in ASIN suspension) are “used sold as new” claims made by buyers. More often than not, this complaint is not even due to the misleading sale of a used product. Rather, since the packaging wasn’t sufficient, by the time the product arrives, it is in such bad shape that the buyer thinks they received a used product.
- Be proactive with your customer communications. If you are requesting an honest customer review, please include (in the same message) that you are available 24/7 to field any questions about the product. Be advised; if the customer replies to that message, it will go to your buyer/seller messaging platform. Make sure that someone is monitoring this channel seven days a week.
Don’t know where to start? Helium 10’s Follow-Up tool is specifically designed to make Amazon email automation effortless.
Take a Page from the Amazon Seller’s Boy Scout/Girl Scout Handbook
As an Amazon seller, always be prepared.
Failing an Amazon invoice verification is an unnecessary risk and completely avoidable. There is no reason to roll the dice on having your Amazon account suspended or banned.
Reach out to your supplier and request an invoice now, when you aren’t under pressure from Amazon. Iron out any issues that may arise should you actually need one in the future. A proper invoice at the ready is like car insurance – you’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
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