SOS Programs and Parents Press Explain Amazon's EDI Chargebacks
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Posted by: Lynn Fred Clark, IBPA Member
An IBPA member copes with Amazon’s Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) shipping chargebacks: an early warning to others
SOS Programs and Parents Press is a small two-person publishing company with expanding Amazon sales. We publish psychology self-help and parenting books and videos. Our increasing volume (over $3,000 a month) triggered Amazon’s algorithm, and we began getting order fulfillment and shipping chargeback fines which, at first, were automatically waived. Regarding these early chargebacks, Amazon told us, "Don’t worry about it" and "It doesn’t apply to you."
However, later we started getting chargebacks which were not waived. Our chargebacks totaled over $5,000 and were deducted from Amazon’s disbursements before we learned how to comply with Amazon’s EDI demands. Amazon told us that we were a "big publisher" which was a surprise to us! And that we had to comply.
Amazon’s many support requests yielded information, as well as considerable misinformation, as to what we were to do. Most of what we learned did not come from Amazon. We wasted time with an inadequate third party Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) provider which had no experience with book publishers or Amazon Advantage. Had we known the following information we could have avoided the fines.
Dos and don’ts when you begin receiving Amazon's shipping chargeback fines:
- Google and download “North American Vendor Shipment Preparation and Transportation Manual, Last updated – January 4th 2017,” a 31 page manual that Amazon never told us about. It is essential to meeting Amazon’s EDI demands. (UPDATE: Lynn added this comment on Saturday August 31, 2019: Surprisingly, Google now lists the “January 4th 2017” manual as “missing.” Amazon apparently removed it - why I don’t know. Instead, Google now shows an earlier 34 page manual listed as “North American Vendor Shipment Preparation and Transportation Manual Last updated–September 1st 2016.” This equally ominous manual appears to be similar to the 2017 “missing” manual. The Google link for the manual “this week” is https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/A1CGEzPx85L.pdf Be sure to capture and save this PDF so it also doesn’t disappear. I don’t think Amazon Advantage is intentionally trying to make their EDI rules hard to find and understand. EDI compliance cuts their expenses.)
- Do obtain an essential 4” x 6” label printer. A bar code scanner would be helpful.
- Get an IT consultant if you do not have IT skills. We contracted with an IT consultant who helped us to obtain, understand, and meet Amazon’s many complicated EDI order fulfillment and shipping requirements.
- If you expect $100,000 in orders per year, get an EDI provider which knows how to work with book publishers and Amazon Advantage. A provider which only has worked with Amazon’s Vendor Central will be completely inadequate.
- For more information check with www.pubnet.org or www.unitechedi.com.
We are now meeting Amazon’s EDI demands. Good luck for when your increasing sales volume triggers Amazon’s shipping chargeback algorithm!
Lynn Fred Clark
SOS Programs and Parents Press
|SOS Help For Emotions: Managing Anxiety, Anger, and Depression by Lynn Fred Clark
All of us in the IBPA office were impressed with Lynn's generosity sharing his hard-earned expertise with the IBPA community. "I want IBPA to provide as much news about Amazon as possible," he said...and we agree! So we reached out to learn more about SOS Programs and Parents Press, their books, and Lynn's experience as an independent publisher.
Lynn wrote, “SOS Help For Emotions: Managing Anxiety, Anger, and Depression, a book for lay persons and mental health professionals, is the latest book I have revised. I am a clinical psychologist and have only two part-time employees at SOS Programs and Parents Press. We are a small publisher like many of you. Do continue being a part of IBPA!”
Two Questions with SOS Programs and Parents Press’ Lynn Clark
IBPA: Can you list three key lessons you’ve learned about how one can succeed as an independent publisher?
Lynn Clark (LC):
- Actively obtain critiques of my written work from others before publishing and revising my books. Listen to ideas from others.
- Focus on continually upgrading my self-help books. I first self-published SOS Help For Parents in 1985. It was last revised in February of 2019 and has sold over 330,000 copies and has been published in 19 languages.
- Adapt to the changes Amazon has made to the publishing industry.
IBPA: How has it been beneficial to you to be a member of Independent Book Publishers Association?
LC: Being a long-term member of IBPA has been essential to my success in the publishing industry. I get valuable industry news from the IBPA Independent magazine and the weekly IBPA eNewsletter. Several times I have contacted Angela Bole (CEO of IBPA) and she has provided me with answers to my questions (e.g., where to find EDI information) that I could not find elsewhere.
IBPA: Thank you, Lynn, for sharing your experience, expertise, and insights with the IBPA community!
Click here to learn more about SOS Programs and Parents Press!
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