EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3083 - June 10, 2013     1 of 4

Amazon to Suppress Listings with Missing Images

By Julia Wilkinson

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Amazon.com informed sellers that products listed without main images in certain categories may be hidden or suppressed on the site, and it is also imposing stricter criteria for images in its apparel department. But it's not ready to hide images in its Media, Automotive, and certain other categories yet.

The ecommerce giant sent emails to sellers on June 6th stating that "beginning Thursday, June 27, 2013, we will hide from search and browse all listings in the U.S. that are missing a main image EXCEPT listings in the following categories:

  • Media categories (Books, Music, Video, DVD, Software, and Video Games);
  • Automotive & Auto Parts;
  • Industrial & Scientific;
  • Trading Cards in Sports & Entertainment Collectibles."

Amazon has sent previous notices to sellers about adding images to listings as needed, but now the site plans to go so far as to suppress listings that do not have images in some categories.

The site explained the change by saying, "Our research shows that images improve the shopping experience by making it easier for customers to find, evaluate, and purchase products. We have determined that it is in the best interest of customers and sellers to hide (or suppress) listings that do not meet our standards."

The notice went on to explain to sellers that, "The suppressed listings will continue to be visible in your seller account and accessible via Manage Inventory, so that you can easily identify and upload missing images. A customer also can find the item if they navigate directly to the product via the ASIN."

Sellers debated the policy on the Amazon discussion boards.

Cracking Down on Clothing and Lingerie Images
Amazon is also enforcing stricter requirements for images in at least one category, as well. One seller told EcommerceBytes that she received notices about apparel images from Amazon's Clothing department. The first notice she received on March 19, 2013 read in part:

"Dear Seller,
"We are sending a final reminder about the Amazon Clothing Store image standards. Please review these standards and update your Amazon.com clothing catalog to help improve the overall shopping experience. The Amazon Clothing Store is continually looking for ways to improve the overall customer shopping experience. We have found that clean, high quality images help customers more easily find evaluate and purchase products."

The letter went on to list "minimum image requirements for listing products in the Amazon Clothing Store," including:

  • "Background must be pure white with a high quality image that truly represents the product being sold"

  • "Images uploaded must be at least 1001px on the longest side with an aspect ratio of 190px:246px"

  • "The product should make up 85% of the image frame and only depict the actual product to be purchased"

  • "Product must be shot flat or on a model"

Prohibited images in the Amazon Clothing Store included colored backgrounds, product images on a mannequin, and borders/watermarks, text logo color blocks or other decorations.

Intimate apparel and swimwear had more specific prohibitions listed. Lingerie and swimwear products, for example, "may not be sexually explicit or obscene as determined at the sole discretion of Amazon and must comply with rules," including:

  • "Images of live models that use poses that could be interpreted as indecent excessively erotic or lewd are not permitted" and

  • "Thongs and panties must use front views for the main product image. Back views can be uploaded as alternate views."

The email said that failure to comply with the image requirements may result in removal of the seller's Amazon.com selling privileges "and removal of active listings from search and browse at any time."

The apparel seller said she assumed that these changes would be applied category by category "but the email I received was for apparel and from the apparel department."

More information about Amazon's image policies can be found on this Amazon help page.

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About the author:

Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at YardSalers.net where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.


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