There has been a lot of consternation among sellers about the “official address” that Amazon plans to display starting on September 1. Part of this is Amazon’s fault because it is so secretive. Here’s what you need to know to choose the right address for Amazon to display. In addition, I cover the questions we are getting most from sellers.
Sellers on social media are more confused than ever by Amazon’s upcoming policy change because they are realizing something that Amazon never told them: There are multiple Seller Central platforms.
We all think there is ONE Seller Central platforms that all sellers use, but that’s not the case. There are many. This is why, for example, some sellers have the option of daily draws and others don’t. It isn’t because they are special; it is because when they signed up to sell, that was an option on that platform.
From my own observation of the thousands of sellers’ accounts we’ve been inside, there are at least four and possibly many more different platforms. Generally, they all have the same elements but not always in the same places. Some elements, however, are not present in all platforms which is why this issue of the official seller address is so confusing.
When you add in the foreign markets, it can be doubly confusing. In some countries Amazon will display your name, business name and address. In others it is just your business name and address. What will Amazon do in the US? We don’t know yet. They weren’t clear on that.
Will Amazon Show my Seller Name?
Regardless of which platform you are on – and no, there is no way to tell – it is easy to pick the address you want to show. You should assume for now that the name of the primary on the account will also be shown. You’d think that, at least, is easy for everyone, but it’s not.
In some cultures, for example, the same person will have multiple “official” names. I see this among Asians and Orthodox Jews a lot. They have one name that is used for business, their driver’s license, etc., but another name that is their religious name used within their community, or it might be their “nickname.”
My team in the Philippines has legal names, but most of the time they use a more common English nickname for work. I remember looking at a payroll report once and asking, “who’s that? Are they new?” I was so embarrassed to realize it was someone I had worked with for years! We see nicknames with clients from India and China as well.
For the Orthodox Jewish community, people often go by their Biblical names, but they also have another name that appears on their credit cards, for example. Keeping our database clear is an ongoing challenge as we need to have ALL the names our clients go by to know 1) who just paid us and 2) who just emailed us.
And then there are the cases where a business partner pays us, but we are working with someone else. But I digress.
All this is to say that Amazon may already have different names for you in their database.
What Name and Address Will Amazon Show to Buyers?
For the past few weeks since Amazon’s original announcement we have been consulting on this a lot. We’ve helped sellers make sure the name and address that appears on September 1 is the one they want. All changes are made under “Settings” and “Account.”
Here are the most common scenarios:
I want a different office address to show
This is the easiest one to fix. In the case of most sellers, Amazon has every address you’ve ever used in any capacity on your seller account (and sometimes your personal buyer accounts as well). All you need to do is choose the one you want and make it your official address.
If you have the “official business address” option, click on it. Depending on your platform, you should see all the addresses Amazon has on file for you. Pick the one you want and make it your official address. You are done.
If you do NOT have this option, you will have an option that says, “business address.” Start typing in the address you want. If Amazon has this address for you, it should start to auto-fill. Select it as your business address. You are done.
When you click on business address, you might see an address already selected as your business address. If you are OK with it, there’s nothing more for you to do. If you want to update it, select the “edit” function. You will either have a box where you can start to type the address you want (see above) or you will have the option to completely edit the address. Edit your address. Save. You are done.
Some sellers will see both an “official business address” and a “business address” option. These are – understandably – the most confused sellers. You want the official business address. That’s what’s going to show when Amazon goes live on Sept 1. When you click on “business address” you’ll see all the addresses associated with your account. When you click on “official business address” you’ll see just ONE address that Amazon thinks is your official address. If you are Ok with this, you are done. If you want to change it, you can go back to all your addresses under “business address” and choose one as your official business address.
I want a NEW address to show
In this case, none of the addresses in your account are the one you want to show. All you need to do is add your new address and make it your “official business address.”
Some sellers are wondering if they can use a virtual address for their official business address? I wouldn’t recommend it. While Amazon has not addressed virtual addresses in their TOS (yet), I’m confident they will. The reason for this requirement is both legal and for transparency. Hiding behind a fake address is not transparent. I’m not sure about the legal question. Amazon has a lot of addresses for you so knowing where/how to find you is not an issue for them. But being required to display the addresses is a legal requirement in many countries, so I’m confident fake addresses will be a no-no in the US even if it isn’t technically illegal.
I want a different name to show
We see this in the case where perhaps the account was set up under a business partner or even someone who is no longer with the company, etc. There are a couple of ways to achieve this. The easiest is if you have the correct name and address already in your account.
When you look at the list of addresses that Amazon has for you (those of you with this option), you will see different names as well. If one of the names and addresses matches up with what you want “John Smith, address 1, etc.” then make that your business address and the name should go with it. I say “should” because until September 1 we won’t know for sure that names will be displayed, but I’m preparing people just in case.
If the address is right but the name is wrong, you can either edit that record or add a new one to your account with the correct name and address.
For those of you who can’t see the list of names, if you start typing in the correct address all the possible options with that address should show up. Pick the one with the correct name. You can also type in the name and see what addresses come up under that person. If you don’t have the correct name, add a new name and address to your account and make it your official business address.
For those of you who want to change the official account holder name on your account, contact us to talk about your particular situation. It’s trickier, and we need to understand exactly what you want to achieve.
I want my DBA to show instead of my legal business name
This is confusing to people because they think they must change their LEGAL name in Amazon. You don’t.
ABOUT LEGAL NAMES: The legal name in Amazon MUST match what is on file for you at the IRS. If you are like me, when you file your corporate taxes, you include your official business name AND your DBA with the IRS. You could change to your DBA in Amazon if you wanted to because it will still match the IRS’ records. This assumes that you legally own this DBA and that the IRS recognizes it. If you legally change your business name for some reason, you will need to tell the IRS (of course), get a new tax ID and add it and your new company to your Amazon account and re-take the tax interview: in that order.
I strongly recommend you talk to someone like us before making big changes like this. They can be tricky. You might trigger a verification and suspension.
HOWEVER, you do not need to change your legal address for the September 1 policy change because Amazon is displaying your OFFICIAL BUSINESS ADDRESS, not your legal name. I realize they are one and the same for many of you, but not all of you. For the Sept 1 change, Amazon sees them separately.
If you want to change your OFFICIAL BUSINESS ADDRESS to your DBA because it matches your storefront name, for example, you can do that.
For some of my clients they found out that their DBA was already attached to their business address and the correct name of the person they wanted to be displayed. They only needed to select that address/name as their official business address, and they were done.
For others, they needed to add their DBA. They could do this either by editing an address Amazon already had on file for them and choosing it, or by adding a new name, dba, address to Amazon’s list and making it their official business address. John Smith, DBA Storefront Name, address 1.
I want to hide my real business address or name
I do not recommend hiding.
If you have a DBA, you can legally use that instead of your LLC/corp. Another option for you would be to get a DBA before Sept 1 that is owned by your corporation. You can then add it to your account. I know of a couple of sellers who are doing that because they want a DBA that matches their storefront name. In Texas, a DBA costs $50 all in. This is legal and not hiding because public record ties the DBA to your legal name.
If you want a different person to be the face of your business, you can add him or her to your account as an admin. If you have a new business partner, for example. You can put his/her name on the official business address (see above), but they better be a real person and they better own more than 2% of the business.
You could also legally get yourself a different address. If you work out of your home, for example, you may not want that address to be shown to the whole world. People are cray-cray, we get that. No need to worry about them showing up at your house for a refund, but you need a REAL address where mail can be delivered as your official business address, then.
I have a UPS store box that I’ve had for 10+ years. It is listed as my official business address on my taxes, with my business bank account, my credit cards, the state of Texas…you get the idea. If you are going to get a mailbox and make it your official business address, you need to change your address with the IRS, your state of incorporation, your bank, your business credit card, your mobile phone bill, etc.
- Amazon’s policy change is about NOT HIDING! I can state with certainty that hiding will be against TOS. This policy is designed to reduce bad behavior on the platform and for Amazon sellers to be findable and accountable.
- When/if Amazon decides to verify this address, it needs to be real. With one of my clients they sent her a postcard in the mail with a code she needed to use to verify the address.
- Face ID. Amazon has this on hold right now because of civil unrest (their biggest clients for this technology are police departments), but it will be back. They want to tie your face to your account, your ID, everything. This is about transparency. The name you have just told them as part of your official business address will be verified at some point ALONG WITH the name of the official account holder. They’ll have your official ID and face on file.
- The tax man. Do you know when I decided to get a mailbox? When an IRS agent showed up at my door. I did not let him in. It was a beautiful Friday afternoon. I think he just wanted to get out of the office, but damn. My house? NO way. Technically they know all my addresses but officially they are not supposed to look at them unless I’m under investigation. I have enough problems with door-to-door salesmen. Just saying.
Counterfeits and Unauthorized Sellers: How to Protect Your Brand on Amazon
August 27, 2020, 2PM ET
In this webinar, Cynthia Stine will reveal a specific plan of action brands can leverage to preserve their brand equity by effectively tackling counterfeits and removing unauthorized sellers from their listings.