Quickly Resolving Brand Issues in Q4 ⎜ ecommerceChris ⎜ EP 147

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This is a podcast episode titled, Quickly Resolving Brand Issues in Q4 ⎜ ecommerceChris ⎜ EP 147. The summary for this episode is: <p>Ryan Cramer of Crossover Commerce talks with Chris McCabe of ecommerceChris one-on-one to discuss how to quickly resolve brand issues in Q4.</p><p>---</p><p>Crossover Commerce is Presented by PingPong Payments. PingPong transfers more than 150 million dollars a day for eCommerce sellers just like you. Helping over 1 million customers now, PingPong has processed over 90 BILLION dollars in cross-border payments. Save with a PingPong account <a href="https://usa.pingpongx.com/us/index?inviteCode=ccpodcast" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">today</a>! </p><p>---</p><p><strong>Stay connected with Crossover Commerce and PingPong Payments:</strong></p><p>✅ Crossover Commerce @ <a href="https://www.facebook.com/CrossoverCommerce" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.facebook.com/CrossoverCommerce</a></p><p>✅ YouTube @ <a href="https://www.youtube.com/c/PingPongPayments" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/c/PingPongPayments</a></p><p>✅ LinkedIn @ <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/pingpongglobal/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/company/pingpongglobal/</a></p>

Ryan Cramer: What's up everyone. Welcome to my corner of the internet. I'm your host, Ryan Cramer, and this is Crossover Commerce, presented by PingPong Payments, the leading global payments provider helping sellers keep more of their hard- earned money. Hey, good morning and good Monday morning to everyone out there listening. This is Crossover Commerce, welcome to my corner of the internet. I'm Ryan Cramer, and this is my podcast where I bring the best and brightest experts in the Amazon and E- commerce industry. This is episode 147 of this show that I've started over a year ago to bring people onto the show to level up their knowledge and understanding. If you're listening to this, you want to level up your understanding, right, of Amazon? There's always constant moving parts of logistics, compliance, product listings. No matter what part of E- commerce you're really trying to dive into and figure out, this podcast is one for you. So that being said, before we dive into it with our special live guest today, Crossover Commerce is presented by PingPong Payments. Now, PingPong Payments has actually helped sellers facilitate more than$ 150 million to date in cross- border payments. Now, to date, that means that's over$ 90 billion in cross- border payments. What does that mean? That's more money in your pocket in order to save and put that towards your margins. That's any time that you're paying your VAs, you're paying your suppliers, your manufacturers, you're paying employees, or even just selling in multiple marketplaces, PingPong can help you save more of that money when it gets converted back to your local currency. Go ahead and check out PingPong Payments today. You can go ahead and click on the link below in the show notes or in the comments section in order to understand how you can save money today. And why not save money? Especially when prices are going up for logistics or containers or sourcing or shipping or anything like that, have more money go back to your bottom- line today with PingPong Payments. It's free to sign up, go ahead and check it out again today and make sure you mention that Crossover Commerce sent you. That being said, this show is not just about me. As always, talk about if you're new to the show, it's about my guests and what they bring to the table, the virtual table if you will, of what's going on in the day- to- day life of Amazon, right? Right now, it's September. Let's check it out, September... Or excuse me, August 30th. I already want to jump into September. So we're in the back half of Q3, starting to prep for Q4. That being said, brands need to start prepping for Q4 like every other year, but this year, expecting that there will be some additional chaos in the system. What does that mean? Well, I have the guest for you. His name is Chris McCabe of ecommerceChris. He works as a seller account consultancy. Him and his team have actually used to work for Amazon with Amazon, so they know the inner workings of what's going on there. They're now helping brands kind of go through all of the nuances of why they got suspended, what's the problem with their account, did they do anything wrong, how they can get it fixed quickly and effectively. Because as you may have heard, listener, always on the show, time is money. And when you're not being able to sell on Amazon or in your E- commerce marketplace, you are losing money. So that being said, we're going to be talking about today's topic, quickly resolving brand issues in Q4, time is money, money is currency is what we always like to say. That being said, let's go ahead and drop in and welcome on Chris McCabe of ecommerceChris. Chris, welcome to Crossover Commerce.

Chris McCabe: Hey. Thanks for having me on.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah, man. Yeah, before we get started, I just wanted to kind of say you're joining... I love it when people tell us kind of their background, where they're coming from. It's kind of the easy soft introduction of like if people don't know who you are, it kind of gets you warmed up who they are. So for the listener out there who may not have heard of you, which they should have, but for the few who are under the rock and are listening to this-

Chris McCabe: Oh I'm not that famous yet.

Ryan Cramer: ... Not yet.But hey, you're a speaker at major Amazon conferences, you have a great core group of, let's say, students. But also, you're just putting out a lot of great content out there in thought leadership. You used to work for Amazon. Now, kind of like what's that story of you and where you got to today? Like why step away from it, why are you doing things on your own? Let's get the story of you.

Chris McCabe: Yeah. A quick version on my background at Amazon was that I was on these commonly known as seller performance teams, performance evaluation, policy enforcement, listing take downs, suspending accounts as necessary, adjudicating appeals as they came in. The entire kind of ecosystem of how you regulate which sellers can play and which ones need a time out. Me and the team I worked on, we were responsible for that. It was kind of growing in those days but nothing compared to the size of it now. So now as a consultant on the other side of the fence, helping sellers understand why Amazon communicates the way they do, which is often vaguely or poorly, and also helping sellers up their game to communicate as best as they possibly can with Amazon because in terms of appeal strategy, that can make or break you, right? Whether or not you're reading what they ask you to give them and then giving them what they want, but giving it in a way that will make sense for their needs to help accept an appeal and reinstate.

Ryan Cramer: Great.

Chris McCabe: So it's a lot nicer on this side of the fence. It's better to be a seller advocate than it is to sort of be among the drones at Amazon seller performance, just kind of cranking out these investigations, sometimes without rhyme or reason or without even understanding, I think, after a while what they're doing and why they're doing it. So I'm out there to help people who sell on Amazon understand that thinking.

Ryan Cramer: Right. So you stepped away what year to kind of do this in-

Chris McCabe: 2012.

Ryan Cramer: ...2012. Okay.

Chris McCabe: Yeah.

Ryan Cramer: So in the essence of the Amazon world, this is a while ago. So it's really understanding, were you ever a seller yourself or are you currently?

Chris McCabe: I wasn't a seller. Basically, I took a year off after leaving Amazon and then started consulting in 2014. So I've actually been doing this seven years, which is longer than I worked at Amazon.

Ryan Cramer: There you go.

Chris McCabe: I mean, again, the short version, I knew that things were trending downhill on those teams. I saw the messaging getting murkier, I saw investigation quality getting poorer. Quite honestly, I saw manager- level decisions that didn't make a lot of sense to me and I kind of had to pull the parachute cord and get out of there.

Ryan Cramer: Great.

Chris McCabe: Do something else with my life, but make my contribution to Amazon selling a little bit more meaningful than what I was doing for them because... And time has proven me correct in terms of I definitely left at a good time because they did trend downward fairly steeply in the coming years. Auditing of investigation quality, the messaging itself like I said, poor communication, and other factors of your business relationship with Amazon, I don't think any of it has really improved in the year since. So fortunately, I've been able to stay current with all this stuff. I mean, the account help services team didn't exist until a couple of years ago.

Ryan Cramer: Right, so I was going to say-

Chris McCabe: We know that thing backwards and forwards, right? So it's like...

Ryan Cramer: ...Right. What I was going to say, for the account help services department, like there's so many... As everyone knows and lister knows, is there's so many different like little bubbles within inside Amazon's ecosystem. You were in charge of looking at, obviously if there's something wrong, you were selling something essentially that was either illegal or not appropriate for the marketplace, or they were effectively trying to game the system. Is that like a fair assumptive way to kind of position that department?

Chris McCabe: Yeah. Primarily beginning with them, I was kind of fraud investigator, fraud prevention team. We wore many, many hats. They've since divided things up into different squads. Back in those days, it was more like... I mean, globally, even dozens of us total. I mean, maybe it got into the hundreds over the years that I worked at Amazon, but at least the Seattle- based teams, there were a few dozen of us looking at this stuff. So we had to kind of do a little bit of everything on seller side, not buyer fraud or buyer facing. But there were seller fraud cases where we had to sign people out of their accounts, kick them off the site, not answer them. Just bad players, bad actors, get rid of them.

Ryan Cramer: Great.

Chris McCabe: crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: Because they were going against terms of services. Yeah, exactly.

Chris McCabe: Yeah. There were a lot of things I didn't know about Amazon itself, but until I worked there. I knew about fraud investigation, I knew about E- commerce fraud and online fraud, so forth. But I learned a lot about Amazon just that was specific to Amazon, things that wouldn't necessarily apply to other marketplaces, which made it why I became mostly, even though I'm ecommerceChris and that's my company and my site, my original plan was to do all kinds of E- commerce consulting. I didn't realize so much that once I updated my profile on LinkedIn and sort of hung the shingle, made myself available, that it would just be all Amazon sellers all the of time contacting me.

Ryan Cramer: Well, I was going to say, is that still the dream or is that kind of like-

Chris McCabe: crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: ... youcrosstalk, you said 2012. Yeah. The dream of like getting away from Amazon, but that's where a lot of people come onto it.

Chris McCabe: Yeah. I mean, my broader business interests. I mean, in terms of this particular consulting firm, perhaps this will be Amazon all the way. But other projects I'm involved with that involve E- commerce entrepreneurs, other kinds of content that aren't necessarily Amazon- specific, those business interests are very much alive and I'm pursuing those as time allows. The Amazon consulting is a 24/7 business. Fortunately, I've been able to add some wonderful people around me. So it's not the one- man show it was in 2014. But my interest in E- commerce have changed over time and have actually become not just bigger but better. Not just focused on like hey, how do you sell on the world's biggest online platform? I mean, I've met a lot of entrepreneurs. I'm sure you've you interviewed many and you've talked to a lot of sellers who strike you as very smart, very interesting people. Not just business owners making money, but people who have a good concept of what a brand should be out in the world, not just on Amazon.

Ryan Cramer: Exactly. I think that's a bigger question, that I always love to hear what people have to say. It's not just Amazon is such a big component of not just consumer life, but as entrepreneur life, if you are with a business, everyone's trying to figure out how do I get my products or services on Amazon, but then also how do I get off of Amazon too? So that's like there's two ways to come at it. Both people are starting natively, but how do I diversify to be omnichannel in retail, how do I become a natural brand versus" brands" are trying to become now more omnichannel, selling to you where the eyeballs are. And there's so many different ways to come at it. So I 100% agree with you. So you're with Amazon-

Chris McCabe: crosstalk I mean-

Chris McCabe: ... justto

Chris McCabe: plug the conference on September 23rd. I mean, that's where of the idea for that came from, get all these brand experts together. They're not all necessarily Amazon brand experts. It's an Amazon brand conference, because obviously I work with Amazon brands. But really, it's about just running a good business omnichannel all over the place, as many places that you can. Amazon included. Because my personal interests are at this point, not just launch a brand on Amazon, have an Amazon hostage to the Amazon experience, because there's so much more out there in retail. The future of retail will be Amazon, but it will be selling in other marketplaces as well.

Ryan Cramer: Well, yeah. You alluded to it, and I have just a quick like when people say what's the conference? Just a quick like little probably by September 23rd, we'll touch on this a little bit. But the Seller Velocity conference, of course, was what we're talking about and alluding to. So we'll make sure we have the information on that as well. If you're listening to this, you can check it on the show notes for a link to obviously sign up. But kind of going back to our-

Chris McCabe: Yeah. crosstalk discount code, remind me if I don't drop that on you, but-

Ryan Cramer: ... Well, I haveit already, man.

Chris McCabe: You've already got it, so ...

Ryan Cramer: I'm already prepped and ready to go. This is lined up. But for the major topic that yeah, we kind of wanted to discuss there, you're seeing this with lots of sellers, quickly resolving brand issues in Q4. Now, brand issues can have multiple different things. You've alluded to that. It's anything from your ASIN gets suspended. You have your account shut down for a number of reasons. There can be hijackers. There can be lots of different things attacking you, whether it be from Amazon or from outside competition. So set the table for me, Chris. What is a day- to- day life in the ecosystem that you're dealing with? What are the problems you're solving? And then can this happen to anyone? Like what's this ecosystem look like that you're in day- to- day with people?

Chris McCabe: Yeah. Unfortunately, it can happen to anyone. Even strong, long- lasting successful brands are surprised sometimes that they get a random call from account health that says they have 72 hours to write a plan of action. Who, what, why? Because they had a couple listing take downs. Maybe they were even in the process of working that out and appealing them, but they hadn't done it quickly enough or their risk score went up a little bit. Their account health dash suddenly says they're at risk. And they're like, how did we get here? We've been selling for years. We've never been suspended. Those are scary, especially in Q4 where the revenue numbers are higher. Those are scary because those threaten an entire account shut down. So of course, we help people appeal whenever their account is fully shut down and their selling anything, let alone their top basins. That's a potential business- ending event. So there's a reason why we're the best at that. We've been working on these for years, but...

Ryan Cramer: So if I'm a seller and I haven't had that happen to me, how do I get notified? Is this email, is this a call? Is this like a popup on your site bar? Is this in seller central? How am I get notified?

Chris McCabe: crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: Okay.

Chris McCabe: Yeah. Seller essential says your account's been deactivated. That's if it's already happened. But a lot of sellers these days get a call or at least see a message in their performance notifications if they missed a call from account health that essentially says, you're about to be suspended. You have to send a plan of action to prevent that suspension. And they give you a 72- hour window. Couple years ago when they started rolling this out, it was a bit haphazard. Sometimes they told you, you had a week, sometimes three days, sometimes 24 hours. There were all sorts of random messages. We all know Amazon loves to mix and match these things, sometimes send you the wrong thing. But it's streamlined over the years to be like look, you've got three days. I usually hear from people they haven't been suspended yet. They had some listing suspensions that they either appealed and were rejected, which is one reason. That's our main focus today, right? Resolving ASIN- level problems, whatever they might be, as they come in. Or they just ignored them. They were too busy. They didn't think they constituted a threat. They didn't think it was an ASIN that they cared that much about, whatever it might be. Maybe they are going out of stock and they didn't think it was that big of a deal. As the years go by, I think there are fewer sellers that sort of shrug that stuff off and think, " No big deal. Amazon's not going to take me down. I sold 40 million in last year." I think now we realize sellers of any size, brands with any degree of past success could be under threat. And then if they call you, then you already know that the clock's ticking. Like there's no ambiguity at that point. But long story short, my main communication lately for people heading into Q4 is deal with these performance notifications quickly. Yes, but not hastily. With some smart strategy. Because if you keep getting declined, they are less likely to respond to you or they just see that you're sending the same thing in over and over and they wonder why you're not amending your appeal. They wonder why you're not giving them content that has anything to do with why they suspended your ASIN, and they start losing interest in dealing with you. And that means those problems fester until you start getting that account level manual review that everyone dreads, because an investigator looking at your whole account based on multiple ASINs with policy violations, buyer complaints, whatever, that investigator is motivated to take an action on your account at that point, they're already spending their time looking at that problem. So what is their motivation, do you think? Is it their motivation to look at your account quickly and make a couple notes, pass you and walk away? Or is it to show like a result of that work? So...

Ryan Cramer: Right. Well, there's lots of things to dive into. So obviously, this is something that's like, Amazon, they're essentially skimming your account. Right? And it comes across as something is not in correct place. A lot of the time, is it Amazon, they just like happen to like randomly check in or is it more of like it's on the seller, they did something wrong. Whether it be it's in their account somewhere, something is out of line?

Chris McCabe: It's both.

Ryan Cramer: Okay.

Chris McCabe: It's both. I like how you mentioned competitor abuse and listing hijacking and stuff like that, because that's an important part of this conversation. A lot of people do get flagged because somebody reports them for what could appear to be minor listing violations. I mean, I think brands make a lot of listing mistakes when they try and optimize these days, or they hire like a firm that does their optimization who doesn't know the rules and doesn't comply with the policies and they don't know that they're making those mistakes. So it might seem like a minor infraction, but if you've got the same listing error. Let's just stick with listing violations for a moment, and they've already sent you a warning in the past and you kind of blew it off, or you kind of think you took care of it, but didn't. Or you've got the same listing violation on multiple ASINs. Well, that gives your competitor multiple opportunities to report you. And you can't just respond and say, " Well, we think this is just a competitor trying to get us taken down." If it's a valid complaint about a very real policy violation, it kind of doesn't matter who complained. Amazon's still kind of on the hook for enforcement. And even if the person who's reporting you has violations themselves, that's kind of stupid on their part to do that because they're drawing attention to themselves, but it doesn't change the fact that you're guilty of something and you have to account for it. And if you get a warning and you just sort of take the warning email and flip it over to the employee or the third- party service or whoever, your account manager, let's say, at Amazon. And say, " Well, we got this and we don't know what it is and we don't know what to do with it." It kind of goes there to die. Right? Nothing really happens when you do that. Those are things you really have to take seriously, because you never know when a minor infraction will be treated as a major infraction really overnight, without Amazon standing up and waving at you saying, " Hey, by the way, those listing violations, those petty warnings we're sending you, we've decided those are a big deal and we're getting thousands of them every day so we're going to start shutting people down for that."

Ryan Cramer: So what's a... Yeah.

Chris McCabe: That's crosstalk a brand surprised, when they-

Ryan Cramer: Well, I was going to say. Yeah. So as a brand, so those are a great point. As a brand what, what would I expect? Like what would a competitor potentially come to me and say, or a co to Amazon say, " I'm going to complain about this?" Like teacher, teacher, this person is doing X, Y, Z. What is that X, Y, Z in most cases?

Chris McCabe: Right. And I'm leaving out of this part of the conversation like somebody who's obviously leaving you fake reviews or buying from you and bashing you with fake buyer complaints about fake product or unsafe product. Like we know that happens. But leaving that aside for now, let's just say you're guilty of a few things. Style guide violations in 2021 have been taken way more seriously than they ever were before. People using all caps in their listing, for example. There's also-

Ryan Cramer: Title and listing. Yeah, exactly.

Chris McCabe: ...Title, wording and the title that doesn't belong there.

Ryan Cramer: Keyword stuffing. Yeah.

Chris McCabe: keyword stuffing, there's image violations that I still see that I can't understand. I assume people just don't read the image policies or again, they hire somebody who doesn't know the image policies. Basic stuff like that, where you would assume... I think the basic problem that brands, reason that they get caught and the problem is they assume that because they see other people doing something, it means it's okay. It means that it's allowed, like I don't have to read the policy pages. Nine of my competitors are doing all these things I'm doing. Enforcement is extremely selective. It's also very unfair because it's selective. Right? And it's extremely inconsistent. Maybe out of those nine sellers, you're the only one who was reported for that violation. And it might not even be a seller, like a competitor that reported to you. It might be a buyer who said, " I hate this." It's all caps. " I hate it. This is terrible. Visually bad buyer experience." I mean, it could be a real buyer doing that. Sometimes these are real buyers complaining that they see your style guide violations and they don't like looking at your detail page.

Ryan Cramer: Right. Because ultimately, Amazon's going to side with the customer and the consumer.

Chris McCabe: Yeah.

Ryan Cramer: More often than not. That's what they tend to award, I should say, they put a lot of gusto behind. If someone says something negatively, there should be an investigation whether it's the seller's fault or not. You said hijacking, and I've never understood the full concept. In theory, how can a competitor hijack a listing? If a listener out there is like, everything's secure, my passwords are all secure. How can someone either" break into Amazon" go under the back end and put all these bad things about it without anyone detecting it? Is that-

Chris McCabe: And abuse.

Ryan Cramer: ...Okay.

Chris McCabe: And it's a little bit of a complicated conversation. I define hijacking as somebody gets into your detail page and starts changing it against your will, even if you're in brand registry-

Ryan Cramer: And that's because they hack your account information, whether it's username, password, whatever it is. Correct?

Chris McCabe: They mess with your ASIN contributions. They can also just get your listing suspended if they put illicit backend keywords, if they overwrite your ASIN contributions, if they mess with your content, your flat file head vacancies and fields with nothing in them, they can insert a word in there that'll attract the bots and get automated tools going to remove that listing. And then people have to appeal for reinstatement. This is kind of a hybrid service, hybrid appeal that we have started doing over the last two years, because abuse is rampant and going up. A lot of people didn't understand that their back end keywords could be abused so easily, or they're A + content. There's several ways that can happen.

Ryan Cramer: Is that an Amazon issue or is that a seller issue?

Chris McCabe: Amazon not closing loopholes in their tools and-

Ryan Cramer: Got you.

Chris McCabe: ...there's this concept of brand exclusivity, or some people call it brand priority, which is a theoretical program. I heard it exists. I heard this from Amazonians, but you can't apply for it. You can't be offered. It is a program that exists that would help you protect your brand and protect your listings from this kind of abuse that they haven't made widely available. So actually, every podcast I've gone on, whether it's talking about the Seller Velocity conference or not, I've been telling people, " Hey, go to your account manager. If you have a relationship with the category manager, you've been in that category for years, ask them about this, mention this. Because bin registry doesn't protect you from this." Somebody can overwrite your flat files, sync up to Amazon's API, overwrite your content. If you're not reloading, syncing up to their API every 20 minutes, 30 minutes, somebody else can leapfrog you like that.

Ryan Cramer: Right. Would that be-

Chris McCabe: Bit of a scandal, but it's been going on for years. So I think it's a known concept now, and yeah.

Ryan Cramer: Should that give sellers a pause when working with like tools or any sort of SaaS company, that whether it be access to MWS or any sort of like your personal that's tied to your account, having access to that, should that give sellers now more pause of how am I still staying protected against potential abuse?

Chris McCabe: Yeah. crosstalk. Generally speaking, best practices are conversation you want to have with any third party service provider, myself included in terms of working with you on listing uploads, the appeals process. People can make mistakes that are very damaging very quickly and not know that they're doing it. That's what concerns me the most, is how many brands come to us saying, " Well, first I hired somebody, kind of didn't know what they're doing. I need you to dig me out of that before we even start on having you fix it." Or I'm the one telling them, " There's a lot of damage to undo before I even start writing your appeal." Some people call us saying, " I want you to write an email to Jeff for me. Amazon's ignoring me."

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. No problem. I'm right on that.

Chris McCabe: "They keep denying us." And I have the conversation with them which directs them to account health. Okay. Talk to account health, why was your appeal denied? We start with that, knowing that account health might not have info or might give you conflicting answers. I mean, that's just the nature of that team. But the other side of it is on the seller side. Like before you jump the gun, figure out like I did this myself and I'm not sure what I did. Get a damage assessment, get at a risk assessment. Or if you have a third party service doing stuff for you, analyze and assess what they've done up to that point that got you into this situation. And then either decide with them how they're going to fix it for you and undo the problem. If they don't know, if their area of expertise is just doing things, not undoing things or not fixing things that they break, then you probably have to talk to somebody like me at least about next steps, even if you don't really hire us to do it. Best practices. That's something we're going to be talking about at the conference, because I think a lot of sellers don't have SOPs that are ironclad, that they've tested, kind of battle tested for will this work in a pinch? Will we be able to troubleshoot something using the standard operating procedures? Or are we going to be floundering around and scrambling and just calling a bunch of people and Googling stuff and asking for help?

Ryan Cramer: Right. That would be worst case scenario. Because you're given a timeframe, right? I get this email 24 hours, 72 hours. You don't have a lot of time to educate yourself.

Chris McCabe: Yeah.

Ryan Cramer: Even for you, if I'm reaching out to you, Chris, and I'm a listener and I'm like, I just got this yesterday, I need your help as soon as possible. You don't have the capabilities to just drop everything and just like, all right. I'm on it. Like let's assess everything. Let's review everything. You almost have to be proactive in the nature before reactive. And if they're giving you such a timeframe, I know that's not something that any sort of like helper that can fix things in that box. And that's what's so scary, but also we're here to educate the listener to say like, " Listen, you need to be proactive about this instead of reactive, because time is coming where you see more bad actors." And again, this is not tied to any sort of marketplace, this is just in general. This is hopefully a lot more good than bad. But if it happens to you, which you you've seen firsthand, around times of the year where this is most damaging, whether it be a competitor or just a person who has it out for you, for one reason or another, you can get attacked in the most inopportune time, where sales are the most. When your listings are doing the best, and all of a sudden, shut down. There's no in come. There's nothing happening. You've done everything right. But then this is something that they have to turn around and fix. So how easy is it to get reinstated ultimately? If I get this, is it easy to do? Is it pretty involved? What's that look like?

Chris McCabe: As this quarter continues, it'll be harder because Amazon takes longer to review things, longer to respond. They'll be transferring things around. It might eventually be handled properly. I've seen a lot of sellers also don't know how to sort of agitate for a response or request an update. They either sit at home waiting, or they keep calling account health, and account health says, " Wait more." And then they're stuck again. Or they go the other way. And they're like, I need to write to Jeff. I need to escalate this. I need to go to executive sell relations today. It can't be an all or nothing game. You can't be 100% black or white with this stuff. You have to understand the nuances of strategy, because not everything needs to be escalated. Some things really need to be escalated. And you shouldn't just be opening up seller support cases or emailing seller performance or just waiting. And the difference is crucial in Q4 because yes, people like competitors that know how to game the system are going to want to hit you at the most lucrative time, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday. But honestly, that's just how it started. In like 2017, we started hearing from people Thanksgiving night ahead of Black Friday, because they wanted to hit them around Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but not too soon. So they wouldn't come at you at Tuesday, Monday. They'd wait till Wednesday night, Thursday, whatever. But now, like the whole month of November is like Black Friday, Cyber Monday. And they know how backed up Amazon is. They know the confusion and chaos inside some of these teams in terms of transferring things inappropriately. Tickets are cut, assigned to somebody, they're left to rot. Nobody looks at it for weeks. Black hats know that stuff. 2018, 2019, 2020, they've been doing this every Q4. So they know-

Ryan Cramer: They get better. For lack of a term, they get better.

Chris McCabe: ...They're getting better. And then sometimes unfortunately, they get leaked info about like what the changes are from year to year. Some stuff leaks out from inside the company in inappropriate ways, and black hats tend to know what that is and scoop that up and integrate that into their fraud strategy. That means you have to be prepared. I mean, you can point the finger at Amazon and say, " Why aren't you ready for fraudsters who are adapting and changing their tactics?" And Amazon would say, yeah. We adapt to them." I mean, they've got a ready pad answer, but they might be slow or they might not know it as well as you do because you're the one getting attacked and you're seeing what's happening to your listings. So I mean, I'm telling people, " Be ready now. Form your plan now before it's October, November, December." Even write some copy and put it in a template that you start adding to little bits of info to over time, just on your top selling ASINs, just in a hypothetical you're attacked and you know-

Ryan Cramer: It's good exercise to go through.

Chris McCabe: ...You could even just as an exercise, just for the future, forget about Q4. For the future of your Amazon business, backend keyword abuse. Start punching some of those phrases into an appeal. Hey, we've been attacked. We've reported it. Amazon didn't do anything. I mean, this would be under the assumption that they're taking forever to act or they just disregard it with a quick copy and paste canned email, which they often do now. You are ready to come back with, I'm going to be denied. I know I'll be denied. I was denied the other three times. The fourth time, I'll be sent some generic email that says, they're not going to help me with this. I've already got an escalation in the can. All I have to do is modify it, plug in some ASINs. I'm not encouraging people to use templates, to overuse templates with generic content because they're giving you generic. You send generic templates back, two sides talking past each other. I'm never going to say that, but have something ready to be modified with custom content. That can make all the difference in the world. And that's why we work with people who get reinstated sooner, because the person at Amazon on the other side, whether it's manager level or even VP level, for some escalations, that person knows that you've given them data and facts in a unique, custom email that they can use to reinstate you, that they can use to investigate it or to delegate it to one of their senior crew. And they know that you've given them actionable info. You're not just spouting off or giving them general, we've been attacked again.

Ryan Cramer: Right. So in theory, like if best case scenario, you can get reinstated, what? Day of, or what's like best case scenario?

Chris McCabe: I mean, it varies. Every year like you said, every... Yeah. Day of, or some. I would say most sellers can't expect to get reinstated within 24 hours. Some of them, with the way our rates and our pricing works, is for priority work or immediate work, especially in Q4, we have a higher fee for that. We have some brands, they're large brands, they're losing tens of thousands of dollars a day on one product. So some of them-

Ryan Cramer: So it's worth it. Yeah. So it's worth it.

Chris McCabe: ...Like don't even like, tell me your different rates. I need you to start as soon as possible. crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. Bill me later.

Chris McCabe: Right. I mean, you still don't want to double up too much in terms of well, we're going to take the next 60 minutes and just shotgun blast spam everyone we can with the same message. No, you need to send different appeals and different content depending on the audience. That's another big mistake brands make. They write one letter to Jeff and then they copy and paste it and send it everywhere.

Ryan Cramer: Right.

Chris McCabe: Without really modifying it, depending on who you found on LinkedIn, what email address of somebody that you heard about from your account manager, whatever. They don't understand that's not how it works. You'll just have it thrown away. Like, they'll see that you sent this message to everyone under the sun. They won't take its seriously. And they probably won't like it for other reasons. They'll think that your factual info isn't actionable enough.

Ryan Cramer: So yeah. You're saying that there's actually cadences and SOPs to a point where you actually have to say, start here, escalate it up. Depending on if infraction" X, Y, Z" happens, you need to start here. And then appropriate amount of time, you can follow up. There's all these different ways. If you hear back then, this is what you do. Like it's almost like a web of what's next. And do you handle all that for most sellers, or is this kind of like a coaching through at all or what's kind of that decipher?

Chris McCabe: We have a one- hour slot, and you can rent me for an hour, one- hour appointment on my calendar. We try to decide based on the initial information, don't bother with the one hour, this is something you need to hire us for, especially for abuse and attacks. A lot of people don't know how to interpret is this a glitch, is Amazon just doing something weird? Is it technical? Am I being attacked? So stuff like that, we usually say you should have us handle it just because we've done it so many times and done it the right way. For ASIN- level appeals, there are brands that we work with who have been around the block a number of times, they've done this before. They show me either a past appeal that they modified or they wrote something today and they show it to me. And I'm like, you know what? With some minor tweaks, this can go in. You don't need to hire us. At least take one shot at it yourself because you understand the problem. And when I'm reading it, I try to think like if I'm upper level management or if I'm VP level at Amazon, am I going to accept this from this seller? I try to just put myself into the Amazon boots again and imagine that I'm reviewing it. Is it something I would delegate to a senior investigator? And have them review it and say, " It looks like there's enough here. There's a lot of info. I have no time to do it myself, you do it." When I look at it myself and make my own executive decision, like this is ready to be reinstated. Obviously, it's a false positive or a mistake. And then I delegate it to somebody to actually go in and do the reinstatement. If it doesn't pass that test, I usually say, " Have us write it for you and hire us to do it, or book an hour and I'll lead you through why this isn't an acceptable appeal." I mean-

Ryan Cramer: crosstalk.

Chris McCabe: ...a lot of people don't have time. Like you said, sometimes my calendar's booked for the rest of the day. You're losing 10 grand a day. It's like, yeah. You don't necessarily want to book an hour on my calendar tomorrow.

Ryan Cramer: Exactly.

Chris McCabe: Yeah.

Ryan Cramer: So is Amazon getting better with understanding these appeals? Like they themselves again, you said bots are scraping it. For a listener out there who's saying, " I don't understand like how Amazon sees on a day- to- day basis." They have the algorithm, or they have basically these tools that can go across and they will like identify these red flags or not. Is Amazon doing a better job of understanding like hey, that was our bad or that you're right. Like that's an easy fix, problem solved, X, Y, Z. And go from there. Are they doing a better job or has it gotten worse or is there...

Chris McCabe: The lower tier teams are not doing a better job. They're taking longer to respond and they're giving general nonsensical answers. When you get things executive- level, they have a better understanding of abuse, for sure. They've seen so many examples over the last two years now, they know what's going on with people manipulating tools, people taking shots at each other. In the old days, they didn't really understand that at all. I would meet some at Amazon conferences, like the old Boost conference. I remember talking to a couple high- level executives that were like well, we've built a process for this. You just have to follow the process. And I would say, " No. You don't understand. We've already done that. We've escalated. It. We've already gotten it to the person that I already know manages that team. All he did was kick it back down to some other investigator who said the same exact thing." They had no concept, no understanding of this in 2018. They would hear about these things, like rumors, that they would treat them as rumors. Now, 2020,'21, they know from the last year, like this is real, people. Competitors are pounding each other with fake product reviews. They're abusing each other's branded pages. We've seen by the reaction of some of the escalations we've done, and we know we've struck a nerve or we're drilling and we hit oil when the executive themself writes to our client.

Ryan Cramer: Exactly.

Chris McCabe: And says, " I'm sorry." Like they don't apologize necessarily, but they will own it way more than they did before. So on the higher levels of the company and executive levels of the company, they are taking more ownership of broken process. At the lower levels of seller performance, you're getting more of that kind of tinny automated feel where we will have our clients, who sometimes we're on the call with them with account health and we'll say to the account health rep, " What's annotated on this account, what are the denial notes? It's obvious this is a false positive. It's obvious this is a failure of an automated action. What do you have for us?" And they'll just say, " Nothing's here." They're either not being truthful or they don't know where to look and they literally don't see it. Or there really is nothing there because the investigator themself didn't understand the situation.

Ryan Cramer: Well, to me, when I hear you say that though, Chris, I think that it doesn't make sense that Amazon wouldn't be more ingrained of what's going on, on a seller by seller basis. Right? Does that make sense of-

Chris McCabe: Yeah.

Ryan Cramer: ...if they're that canned and they don't understand their own customer, which inevitably is both the consumer but also a seller, why wouldn't they be more involved and want to be more involved of the frustrations, the kind of complexities and just this would help alleviate issues on both ends, whether it's fraudulent or just like just the perception of we're not here to support you? They have so many teams, like you've said, to be more involved and just take on all this grind, these issues. Why isn't it more like let's work together on this and get this resolved because we don't want to have to deal with this, you don't have to deal with this. This mean more partners. And like oh, you're right. Like we screwed up or we F'd up, or something like that. Like, however you want to... It doesn't make more sense. Like why wouldn't Amazon want to be more involved in that?

Chris McCabe: They want to. I think they lack some motivation because there are other things they need to be doing. And this is always kind of on the back burner, but I'm also thinking they don't know how to fix some of these problems. They're such an octopus. They're so big, so many teams. Teams don't really communicate with each other well, so they can't really communicate with sellers better than they communicate with each other. Sometimes things are transferred because they don't know which team owns something. So stuff is left to rot sometimes because it's just sitting with the wrong team. And we find out later, three weeks later, two weeks later, it was with the wrong team. I mean, brand registry doesn't do what it was supposed to do. Isn't as effective nearly as it was a couple of years ago. Sometimes, things should be handled by brand registry, but they've kind of morphed that into a glorified seller support or customer service team, where training isn't so great, auditing of mistakes, probably non- existent or just not significant. They don't know how to fix that stuff. So it is sort of strange that you have anecdotal escalations fixing all these problems simply because it was surfaced in a well- communicated, detailed way to a higher level management employee. That's not scalable either. What if everybody did that? I mean, unless a senior VP suddenly has 100 direct reports instead of 12 or 24 or 50 or whatever. I mean, yeah. I guess that's kind of a stop- gap solution, but there doesn't seem to be a cohesive strategy. I mean, Andy Jassy is only two months in as the CEO. Maybe there is a cohesive strategy that he's putting together now and it'll come out Q1, Q2. But I'm not depending on that. If anything, we've seen more executives leaving or changing roles, which means there's a fresh face, which means great. Maybe they've got some new solid ideas to implement. How long is that going to take? How many people have to bring that executive up to speed before they can implement those ideas or even test them to make sure they're good ideas?

Ryan Cramer: It's true. Do you think this-

Chris McCabe: My personal theory, and it's been hard to verify because I personally know some people that have worked with Jassy.

Ryan Cramer: ...Sure.

Chris McCabe: My personal theory is that he's going to be borrowing lieutenants and established peers from AWS who might not know some of this marketplace stuff. And he might put them in high- profile, heavy- impact roles, but they're going to have a learning curve. How do we know the right managers and the right VPs are going to be working with that executive to get them up to speed before they pull the trigger on a major, major decision that's going to impact thousands of brands, tens of thousands of brands? I mean, that's kind of scary. We don't know what's going to happen. So it's more of an uncertainty, but you have to prepare for that. They're not necessarily going to warn you. Oh hey, by the way. I grabbed the guy I love from AWS, he's going to be in charge of this now. It's going to take him six months to a year to figure out the right strategy and the right way to communicate to brands. And what's going to have a good impact versus a bad impact. They're not going to tell you that, that's behind the scenes stuff.

Ryan Cramer: Exactly.

Chris McCabe: I'm not going-

Ryan Cramer: Potentially... Yeah. I was going to say, potentially the storm could get worse before it gets better. So in that context, as a seller or if I'm working with you, what are the... There's no foolproof plan to like prevent anything from happening to your account, right? You just got to be prepared as possible. What are those ways that, maybe top tips, that you would suggest or always go with your conscience, say, " Listen, this is how you easily and most effectively protect yourself." It's almost like a year now, this was cheese strategy of like, this might not be full- proof, but hey, if you have all these layers on top of each other, they all work nicely and you may not have ever run into a problem ever again. Or if you do, it's easily resolvable. What are those things?

Chris McCabe: I mean, general suggestions, of course, due diligence, do a kind of quality control on your internal teams, whoever's operating your account. Do due diligence on the services you hire, third- party services. Make sure things that they're doing are compliant with policy. Make sure they're not making listing errors. I mean, another thing we see is ASIN variations. I meant to mention this earlier. A lot of sellers, a lot of brands are still making mistakes with variations and they're not aware of it. Right? They just see other people doing it. So stop that kind of thinking, incorporate that in your due diligence. And then in terms of specifics, yeah. Make sure you're responding to performance notifications. Make sure when there are ASIN- level investigations that you need to do, either before Amazon flags them or if Amazon's flagged them with like a soft block, like a warning, that hasn't resulted in a listing suspension. Take that seriously. Don't assume the way I see a lot of brands that contact us, saying, " I think it's just a bot. I think it's just a glitch." I heard there were all these false positive messages going out to all these brands, so you cast it aside and you don't take it seriously. Don't do that. That could be indicative. I mean, I will say at least to Ryan's listeners and in terms of PingPong clients and so forth, if you need me to do a quick two, three- minute assessment of like, should I answer it or not? Should I take it seriously or not? Does it mean something or not? Throw it at me. I can probably do that very quickly for you.

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. Yeah.

Chris McCabe: Yeah. You'll at least know. I know it's confusing. Amazon gives you this appeal button and it's like, even if it's not blinking, you're brain's making it blink while you're looking at it. Some people don't know if they should respond, not to respond. There's a little bit of investigative due diligence. Do that yourself before you either appeal or before you start deciding that there's nothing to be done about it because it could result in a listing suspension that costs you thousands. And you're going to either on the phone with me or somebody like me, backtrack to that day, September 1st, where you got the first notice and you're going to wonder why you didn't do something about it. So don't have that kind of regret. This is not the time of year for regrets.

Ryan Cramer: Right. And like you said, the more you ignore, the more they're going to opt into saying, "You know what? Let's take a little bit deeper dive into this." Not that you're doing anything wrong, but you don't want something to be tied up into internal reviews. It can get sticky. It could be something that they shut down everything instead of one- off. So it's always important just to be more proactive than sort of reactive.

Chris McCabe: And be humble. Maybe getting a step away from the Amazon jargon for a minute. I mean, humility is really important. Don't be like, I can solve anything. This is my business. I'm doing the appeal. You might not even be the best writer in your own company. You probably shouldn't do a written appeal that could make or break your Amazon business. I am ex- Amazon, there's tons of stuff about Amazon that I don't know. That humility is really important, right? Because if you start deciding that you know everything and you approach it that way, and there's things you miss, or you've got a blind spot, you end up paying for it later. And that's another reason why, again, we put together the Seller Velocity conference. There are a bunch of brand experts or Amazon experts speaking this September 23rd here in Boston, that know way more about their area of expertise than I do. And I-

Ryan Cramer: crosstalk. I was going to say, you should be hosting my podcast, man. Because you naturally segued me into my next bullet point. Kind of the learning-

Chris McCabe: crosstalk mind.

Ryan Cramer: ...Exactly. Exactly. Like I said, great minds think alike, but to learn and to be more cognizant of continuing education, that's what this podcast is all about. To be aware of, this has changed completely from a year ago when we were just talking about certain things like copyright infringements, imaging. Just all that kind of stuff has always changed, and it changes from market to market. So this is your opportunity that like it's forced to me-

Chris McCabe: And it's crosstalk trendy too.

Ryan Cramer: Right. Exactly.

Chris McCabe: Of course, if there's a big, bad story about fake reviews in The Wall Street Journal, like a couple of weeks ago, guess what? A bunch of people get suspended for reviews abuse, or something else. Yeah.

Ryan Cramer: Right. Well, and that's the thing, is it's a responsive ecosystem, right? Where you see there's either lots of complaints about it. And then all of a sudden, you see the swift ax come down, whether it be warranted or not, you always see response from other sort of outside call to actions, whether it's employees of Amazon or just tools being used or any of these kinds of things, where you say, if the squeaky wheel indeed gets the grease, but it can cut off the actual like gear itself. Don't want to have to deal with it. It's just a pain and headache. So that being said, we were talking about this conference, this is something new and unique and something we're partnering, PingPong, and then your team, as well as a couple other great service providers and thought leaders out there, continuing education to kind of help with that going into Q4 processes, what was kind of that, how this came about?

Chris McCabe: Yeah. I mean, we've done this, our Velocity conference before. This is our first one since 2019. We took last year off for obvious reasons. But the one comment I've gotten from the most brands, the most sellers, the most agencies is the quality of our speaker lineup and the expertise that's already proven and that's very direct and honest and approachable, which is why I'm really hoping people come in- person here in Boston. If you haven't been to Boston before, it's a great city. I'm from here. This conference is in the Seaport, which is kind of the Amazon land of Boston. It's become that way because Amazon's right across the street renting office space like crazy.

Ryan Cramer: Look at that.

Chris McCabe: But the Seaport's a great place to have this because not only is Teikametrics space there, they're co- hosting, co- managing this conference with us. But there's so many service providers that know what they're doing. I never sign off on somebody if I don't know that I've had several brands come back to me later and tell me like, " These guys helped me and they're good." I don't just refer people saying, " I think these are nice people. And I think you should try them because I've got some sort of partnership or business relationship with them." That's not how I've ever done it. And after seven years, I'm pretty sure that's not how I'm ever going to do it Because people like this, like I said, some of their areas of expertise, I will never have their degree of knowledge in that area. I might have a superficial knowledge. I might know enough to guide a seller in terms of where to start their decision- making in terms of who helps them. But I mean, those are services I'll probably never offer myself because I know that my expertise will never be as high as theirs. And so that's why I love grabbing and assembling all those wonderful minds in one place, on a one- day, all- day conference. And just give you a chance to interact with them, share your stories with them, but they also share their strategies with you to help you at times of the year like this.

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. And again, everyone, this is a September 23rd. I know that's kind of blocked out if you're watching visually, but it's September 23rd in Boston Seaport, but it's a cool model because it's both in- person. If you can make it, if you're in the New York- Boston, that general area, make the drive there for the day, entire lineup is going to be there. Breakout sessions happen in- person. But there's also a digital component where you can listen to these speakers, be there interactive and interact with the audience as well, but just of course, if you're across the country or for some reason you're just stuck at home or in a different country and you want to attend, all these different things apply to those natures, which is really cool about this conference. So in- person-

Chris McCabe: And we've always done the virtual, actually from the beginning, the first year that we did it a few years ago.

Ryan Cramer: You were cool before it was a thing.

Chris McCabe: I know, before-

Ryan Cramer: You were trendy before trendy.

Chris McCabe: ... Beforethe pandemic virtual conference became so omnipresent, we had a lot of live streamers even a few years ago. And I'm glad we did that. We're going to do that again this year.

Ryan Cramer: And it's going to be held at the Teikametrics' offices?

Chris McCabe: Yeah.

Ryan Cramer: Okay. So yeah, it's going to be in- person. Only a definitive amount of people can get in- person tickets. And I know it's kind of meeting up on the cap I know from what we've talked about, but if you can see or if you're listening to this and you're listening to this later, since this is an annual thing or sponsored, if you're watching this now, it's PingPong rocks, and you get 10% off your code. So it's definitely important to know that you can get access to this. You can watch the content later, correct?

Chris McCabe: Yeah.

Ryan Cramer: If you can't catch all of it at one day, but also, what other things come with it? We have great speakers-

Chris McCabe: We also have an online platform called Circle, where you can interact. This is our kind of experiment this year. You can interact with other attendees and thought leaders in the online platform, Circle. Pre- conference, during the conference, of course it'll be virtual, and also post- conference. So it's not just like a bunch of people email you after the conferences say, " Hey, maybe I talked to you, maybe I didn't in Boston on the 23rd. How about we set up a time to talk?" I mean, that's great. Email lists are fine, but this is a little bit different and I think we're doing this in a big way in future conferences, because it's great to give people an intro to speakers and their areas of expertise way before they show up here.

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. And again, that is for a listener out there who's listening to this right now, sellervelocityconference. com. If you're looking to attend, either virtual or in- person, use the coupon code, PingPong rocks, to get 10% off your ticket price. Man, I sound like a voiceover person. I should do that for a living, but before we have to go, there's so many different things that besides the conference you're doing. You're onboarding, you're growing as a team. You even have a podcast too. Just kind of quickly, wanted to touch on that. What's the podcast like? Where did that come from? As a podcast host to a podcast host, or co- host, I should say, you're doing this with the teammate. Where did that start from, and what's that kind of outlook on for that show?

Chris McCabe: Yeah. So Solid Performance Solutions is the podcast that I co- host, co- manage with Leah McHugh. Leah and I are also speakers at Seller Velocity, by the way. We've had a lot of good feedback on the podcast. I meant to begin it, I think it was January 2020 or February, at the beginning of the COVID crisis. Once that rolled in, there were so many brands selling so much, you had so many listing issues and needed appeals help. I really had to put it on the shelf for 2020. I hated doing that because I had great content ready to go, great ideas. But we started January 2021. So we're in the, whatever, seventh or eighth month of it. We have guests like yourself that we do Q& A with. But we also do some episodes where it's just Leah and myself. Most episodes are about 15, 16, 17 minutes. So it doesn't soak up your entire day, but we focus on one topic in detail, as opposed to state of affairs or current events. As time goes on, I'll probably be doing a few more videos that are like hey, this cropped up today, this was reported in the news today. Little one or two- minute things, but the podcast is meant to be a bit more in- depth. And we've had a great time doing it. So as soon as the conference comes and goes, we're going to be loading a lot of Q4 episodes. I'm looking forward to it.

Ryan Cramer: It's amazing. And again-

Chris McCabe: One of them will have you

Ryan Cramer: That's true. Yeah. That's what I've been told. Like I will be a guest on there. So I'm excited to load up on all my knowledge-

Chris McCabe: And we appreciate your support for the conference, by the way, if I didn't make that abundantly clear earlier.

Ryan Cramer: ...Well, yeah. Well, I always love... Again, that's what this show is all about, is education beyond what you... You've alluded to it too, Chris. Of you don't know everything yourself, you can only go so deep as an individual if you're not continuously educating on other topics or surrounding yourself with other people in the space, you're not growing. So that's what events like this always speak to me, is you can always take lots of different small nuggets, apply them to your business actionably today. Like in theory, today. And then obviously, growing and protecting yourself and just becoming a better business person, professional, even personal. Lots of great people walk away with personal tips, how to balance both time with family and then profession. It's such a tricky industry to be in. So stuff like this is always easy to support when it's good content, and has a great audience too. Of course, anytime we can support it, let me know. But other than that, is there anything like going into the rest of the Q4 that you really have your eye on? Whether it's income suspensions or anything like that, it's something it's newsworthy or it's like flying under the radar that you really want to keep your eye on before the turn of the year.

Chris McCabe: It's something newsworthy. Well, we all heard about the aggregator stuff and brands talking about exit strategy. The part that seems to fly into the radar is that a lot of brands, before they sell, or when aggregators hire us for like pre- acquisition due diligence on risk assessment and so forth, a lot of brands don't understand they've got some cleanup to do in account health before they position themselves to sell. For two reasons. One, nobody wants to buy an account that might be about to get suspended, that kind of crosstalk puts a damper on crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: That'd be bad. Bad investment.

Chris McCabe: Yeah. I'm not sure why I don't hear more about that out in this aggregator space in podcast land, but that's something that people should be talking about more. And not only that, it probably hurts your valuation as well.

Ryan Cramer: 100%.

Chris McCabe: So there's kind of two huge reasons why you want have impeccable account health, like all the time. And for the brands that mention to me either in casual or professional conversations, like we're looking to sell this year, next year, whatever. Usually, I go straight from that conversation to well, what's going on with your account health? Well, we got a bunch of performance notifications we haven't been able to resolve all summer. And some of them have got us at risk. Well, let's fold that into the first conversation about crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah. Let's start there. Exactly. Like how are we going to-

Chris McCabe: Like because you're going to have competitors. What if you've got a direct competitor with a similar product and the aggregator wants to go straight to them instead of you because their account health shows all zeros and yours has a bunch of crooked numbers, right?

Ryan Cramer: That makes sense.

Chris McCabe: Yeah.

Ryan Cramer: I think that's a unique perspective on how to effectively exit a business. Again, making sure your margins are as air- tight as you could possibly do it. Your relationships with suppliers, manufacturers. You don't have weird, like you said, crooked numbers on your books. And then making sure your account... Again, it's a 12 to 16- month rolling calendar of if you had something creep up recently, it might've looked good six months ago, but now it might look not so great if someone's actively attacking you, if you didn't resolve it quick enough, or it's just sitting there as a hey, we lost out on this great selling product because X, Y, Z. Well, that's going to throw up red flags in the initial due diligence, like you said, and it can effectively hurt your exit strategy, whether you want to exit now, or like you said, a couple of years. So yeah.

Chris McCabe: Yeah. Even if it's something a bit less understood or a bit more nuanced, like I'm going to buy your brand, I'm looking in your seller central, I'm going through your performance notifications. And I see the same ASIN, which could be one of your top sellers, high- revenue drivers, suspended over and over and over. If you tell me, " Well, we just kept getting attacked. So we kept appealing and it kept getting back up." I would think, " Well, what's the stop another suspension right after I buy your business?" That top selling ASIN could vanish, and Amazon could say, " No, it wasn't an attack. It was something you were doing, or it was a combination of bad things you were doing and you were getting attacked." It's still a risk, right? Those things can't be easily explained away. I would just think about that before you have the valuation conversation.

Ryan Cramer: Man, all great conversations, I'm sure we could do as a round table of like hey, why aren't people talking about this? So in future, I know that would be something, or maybe you're talking about the conference. Maybe that's something-

Chris McCabe: It's going to come up inevitably at the conference. I mean, it's a brand conference, which means that the aggregator topic will definitely arise. It's not an aggregator conference. We do have Thrasio is sponsoring us as well, so we do have an aggregator of course there. But they're also Boston- based and we've known them for a while, so it's not-

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely.

Chris McCabe: ...The aggregator references will be interesting. There'll be a lot of events and conferences, I think in 2022, once things calm down a little bit, those will be fascinating to me for brands.

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. I think lots of great things stemming from Boston, not just those aggregators, but E- comm. Chris, of course, you're the OG. The original Amazon.

Chris McCabe: crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: Right. You established yourself in Boston base from there too. But again, for people who want to connect with you, what's the best way to do that? Is on LinkedIn or is that just go directly to the website? What's the best way do that?

Chris McCabe: Yeah. I mean, ecommerceChris is the website. If you're curious about the conference, it's sellervelocityconference. com. I'm going through all the messages we received through the website myself, along with my staff every day. So I mean, that's the best way to reach us. ecommercechris. com. We have a contact form there. And yeah, if you do have plans to attend the conference, whether you're based in the northeast or in the east coast or not, you have a couple of questions about it, feel free to let me know. I've been answering all the questions about the format, the all- day event, how it's going to work. The agenda's on their website. So happy to answer any questions you might have.

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. Check out the website first and then reach out to Chris. He never sleeps, it seems like. Always working for his clients. So we appreciate you taking some time to talk to our audience. And then obviously, to me, about what to look for resolving issues in Q4. So hopefully, nothing happens big significant for the people that are listening out there. But again, what I've learned is proactivity is the best way to protect yourself. So thanks for coming.

Chris McCabe: Thanks for having.

Ryan Cramer: Shining that light on-

Chris McCabe: I love your pro- education stance. This was educational for me as well. So thank you so much.

Ryan Cramer: ...Of course. Well, thanks so much, Chris. Again, we'll catch you at the conference. And again, check that out on the comments or show notes below this. So thanks for hopping on today. Also, and everyone again, if this was your first time or if this is your 147th time on Crossover Commerce, we appreciate you chiming in today. For the questions that were answered, or if you have them that later on, go ahead and put those in the comments section or tag Chris or myself, and we'll make sure that one or the other, we'll make sure that those get answered. This is a live interactive show. So next time, if you want to go ahead and be notified of when we go live on these platforms again, LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube, you can actually go ahead and opt to and just subscribe to our channels. That's the easiest way to do that on PingPong Payments, or follow us or follow me individually and you'll be notified of future episodes we have. Again, so much great content going out, both video as well as audio versions as well. You can subscribe to those on all your favorite podcast channels. I'm Ryan Cramer. We have a big packed week of content coming your way this week. We have so many great conversations around different kinds of aggregators, as well as people, product research, whatnot. This podcast covers a little bit of everything, but it's all in the notion of getting the best experts who have proven track records in the ability to help businesses grow on Amazon or in E- commerce in general, no matter what that topic might be. I'm Ryan Cramer. This is my show. This is my corner of the internet as I like to say. We hope to catch you guys next time on Crossover Commerce. Take care.


Ryan Cramer of Crossover Commerce talks with Chris McCabe of ecommerceChris one-on-one to discuss how to quickly resolve brand issues in Q4.


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Today's Host

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🎙 Ryan Cramer - Host

|Partnership & Influencer Marketing Manager

Today's Guests

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Chris McCabe

|Owner & Founder of ecommerceChris, LLC