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Amazon VTR (Valid Tracking Rate) more detail

By Chris Dawson April 13, 2021 - 8:00 am

As a reminder, from 19 April 2021, Amazon VTR will kick in and you will be required to provide the name of the shipping service provider and the specific delivery service used for all merchant fulfilled orders and the tracking ID for merchant fulfilled orders that are shipped with a tracked ship method or the unique parcel ID (located above the 2D barcode on the label) in case you use the Royal Mail 24 or Royal Mail 48 ship methods.

You will need to hit 95% Amazon VTR on your domestic shipments through Amazon UK over a rolling 30-day period (that is if you ship from an address in the UK to a delivery address in the UK). Amazon VTR will be measured for merchant fulfilled shipments at a category level. It is really important to prepare for this new metric as if your products are suspended at category level you will be required to go through the tedious process of an action plan to get them reinstated.

VTR will be measured on all domestic shipments shipped through integrated shipping service providers where Amazon receives scan information. Here at Tamebay we are well aware that this is sketchy from the point of view that not all labels carry a barcode and even where they do sometimes the carrier won’t capture a scan at the point of delivery.

Amazon VTR FAQs

Amazon have provided the following FAQs which in themselves are confusing. On the one hand Amazon say that if you use Royal Mail services without a barcode that you should contact Royal Mail to switch to purchase methods that do have tracking… and then say that if you simply purchase stamps that these are outside the scope of Amazon VTR. Below are the FAQ from Aamzon:

  • Are scan events provided for Royal Mail 24, Royal 48, Royal Mail 1st Class and Royal Mail 2nd Class
  • Yes, if you are using a Royal Mail 24/48/1st Class/2nd Class product that offers a delivery confirmation then Amazon will receive this once the product is scanned on delivery. This will provide visibility to Selling Partners, customers and Amazon of delivery.

    Amazon say that you are using one of these products without a barcode then you must contact Royal Mail to set up these services. You will not be able to confirm shipment of an order using a Royal Mail 24/48/1st Class/2nd Class delivery method unless you provide the parcel ID.

  • Are Royal Mail 1st / 2nd class stamps considered for VTR?
  • Postage stamps are not a tracked service, if you are shipping your shipments using an untracked ship method you are not required to provide us a tracking ID for domestic and cross-border shipments.

  • What happens if my shipping service provider fails to scan my packages meaning I miss ‘VTR’ for a product?
  • The first thing to do is engage directly with your shipping service provider to try and find a resolution with them. You should also review your labels to ensure you’re using the right ship method and that labels are being printed correctly.

    You can also consider using Buy Shipping, which allows you to buy shipping labels through the Seller Central interface. With Buy Shipping, the shipping service provider, ship method and tracking ID are automatically provided by shipping services provider to Amazon and all tracking IDs received by Amazon through Buy Shipping are considered valid. In the UK, Amazon currently have DPD, Hermes, Amazon Shipping and Royal Mail ship methods available. You can access Amazon negotiated rate cards or, for Royal Mail, you can link your accounts to benefit from your own rates.

  • If my Shipments do not reach 95% VTR in a category, when will I be suspended?
  • You are expected to meet 95% VTR from 19 April, meaning we will review the first 30 days’ delivery performance on 19 May 2021. From May 19, you may receive an email notification if your VTR does not meet the 95% bar at category level in the last 30 days. The impacted selection may be suspended in the category level if the 95% bar in the last 30 days is not met. To reinstate suspended selection, you will need to submit a plan of action, which will need to be approved.

  • This new VTR metric still proves to be 1. confusing, 2. a force to get merchants to use Buy Shipping and 3. an unjust metric whereby the merchant is reliant on the delivery partner to scan items correctly.

    I think it is safe to say that the majority of buyers want a good delivery experience, however, when selling FMG which are typically low value on a marketplace, it is not viable to use a fully tracked delivery service which would pretty much guarantee you >= 95% VTR. The “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” analogy seems to apply.

    Thus it appears that as a fail safe option you can use Buy Shipping – as postage purchased via Buy Shipping = 100% VTR (apparently) – so we must question the integrity and reasoning behind this metric whereby it is proving to be a case of:

    1. use a > 95% reliable tracked delivery service, or:
    2. use Buy Shipping, or:
    3. risk being penalised

    If you try and read the 1000’s of seller forum posts on Amazon you will see that there are definitely two sides to this new metric and a lot of grey unknowns in the middle! It certainly is causing much stress and big changes/implementations to online multi channel sellers workflow.

    Hopefully for those sellers that can use Buy Shipping that will be their best option and according to Amazon help pages you can use it via Seller Central or a 3rd party app on the API.

  • JoeB
    1 month ago

    It can really be summed in one answer – buy shipping from Amazon, or else.

    The suggestion to reach out to the delivery company is ridiculous. ‘Dear Royal Mail, please can you tell your posties to scan more barcodes’ – ‘ok squire, we’ll get right on it!’

  • 1 month ago

    Yet more dirty rotten tricks to force you into Buy Shipping or go FBA. A crippling move for many sellers of low value FMCG. A postage fee onto amazon sales – but not other marketplaces and your own store – to pay for the more expensive postage service is another way round it will hopefully move buyers towards other channels, and ones that are happy to work WITH you as a partner. Probably not going to help your sales in the immediate future however.

  • 1 month ago

    I’m inclined to agree with Joe B

    How can a widely used service like Royal Mail 24 and 48, which should fail to meet VTR requirements if bought on your own RM account, pass them if the labels are bought through the Amazon buy shipping service?

    It’ll be interesting to see what the fallout is here later in May.

  • Gemma
    1 month ago

    This is ridiculous. Royal Mail’s scan rate for RM48 and 24 is way below 95% and there is nothing that we can do about it. It’s bad enough that Amazon send emails telling customers that they can ask for a refund if a parcel is not scanned(when the parcel has in fact arrived) but we have a number of products that have been put into the wrong category by Amazon (which we cannot change).

    We have 16 sales in office products but only 12 have been scanned (I believe they were low cost large letter items), so our VTR is showing at 75% and products in that category are now at risk. They should be in the same category as the other 1,122 sales we have which is showing a rate of 98%. All of our products had tracking uploaded. We are being penalised for having our own warehouse and multichannel systems that cannot integrate with Amazon’s system. Abuse of a dominant position springs to mind…

  • 1 month ago

    Using Royal Mail mix of Tracked 48 and 24 as well as 24 and 48 Large Letter services that have the 2D barcode.
    Looking at our VTR today:
    76.11%
    Target over 95%
    Number of non-exempted shipments 23,424
    Shipments with valid tracking: 17,828

    So that’s 5596 orders that the postie didn’t bother to scan in the last 30 days. I see a massive problem coming here! We can’t be alone, low value orders where using a fully tracked service is simply unviable.

    What do we do?

  • 1 month ago

    Most of my sales are sent Royal Mail 24/48 large letter with the 2D barcodes. My multi-channel firm automatically uploads all the “tracking” numbers to Amazon, but of course, these aren’t tracking numbers as such, just delivery confirmations if the postie bothers to scan it before putting it through the letter box. my current rate is showing at 77% on Amazon. So what happens if I buy the same service through Amazon buy shipping and the delivery confirmations remain the same? There is no reason to suspect they will suddenly shoot up to 95% when the delivery method is exactly the same!

  • Nick
    1 month ago

    We’re going to have to stop selling everything that goes by Royal Mail since that is the only carrier that has caused us to drop below 95% VTR consistently due to not being scanned upon delivery. These are all low price items so can’t be sent any other way.

    It also seems a back door way to kick Royal Mail as a delivery competitor since anything we might consider sending by a Royal Mail Tracked service is cheaper by a courier, so we won’t use Royal Mail Tracked, and the scanning rate will prevent us using RM 24/48.

    Selling as Merchant Fulfilled was pretty much essential a year ago when Amazon prevented us and many others from sending anything into FBA or provided 1 month+ delivery estimates, forcing us to ramp up our seller fulfilled offerings.

    Now we have to cut down just to stop all listings being suspended because all our products are in 1 category – and hope Amazon FBA does not repeat what happened last year!

  • Lauren
    1 month ago

    Just got off of a chat with an Amazon rep and they’ve said that for non-tracked shipments to set the Carrier to ‘Other’ so that it isn’t counted into the VTR metric. Handy for a business like the one I work for where the majority of our stuff goes via standard second class post, but the whole thing has become such a faff

  • Good points all above! ^^^

    Yep it is probably the most frustrating policy change to affect our business that is for sure.

    We are hoping that our 3rd party app (VOLO) will let us use the Buy Shipping correctly via the API. (I have been told that you miss out on RM volume discounts and average weights if you do this as it is basically one item at a time, not a bulk end of day manifest, however I have no evidence of this and am trying not to keep focusing on the negatives!).

    If that fails then we will have to review the items/price we sell for and what service we ship them on.

    Like said above, the issue is that if you start using something on Amazon (Buy Shipping) and then for whatever reason they change it or block it then you are in a tough spot – like when inbound FBA was suspended in 2020.

    Good luck to everyone sorting it out. Perhaps share your success secrets here to help others overcome this! 🙂

  • Gemma
    1 month ago

    If anyone is brave enough (or has the system capability) to use Buy Shipping linked to their Royal Mail account you need to keep an eye on this – there have been reports on the forums that from users who have had both their Amazon and Royal Mail accounts charged for the same parcels.

  • David
    1 month ago

    I have spoken with our RM account manager this afternoon and it seems the only way to solve this is to link your RM account with Amazon.

    He has confirmed that you would need to bag and separate the Amazon orders as they appear on separate manifest. All the billing is done in OBA at your agreed RM prices.

    As you have brought the labels in Amazon they will not require a delivery scan, as Amazon know the label ID’s are legitimate.

    He acknowledged there had been issues with double billing but that has now been resolved.

    Still extra work that none of us could do with!

  • Carolyn
    1 month ago

    Can anyone help?

    I am printing my labels through Amazon WITHOUT a RM linked account. They are all “1st class large letter” OR “2nd class large letter”. I do not have a RM business account yet.

    Are these valid for VTR because they are printed through Amazon? They are not 24/48 hour CRL service because I don’t have that option yet.

    I read that anything printed through Amazon is valid. Does this cover the”1st class large letter” OR “2nd class large letter” service?

  • Simon Everett
    1 month ago

    Using Amazon’s buy shipping might not be as great (-B as it sounds.
    We do Seller Fulfilled Prime, in our own unique way, and even though shipping was printed via the same Amazon Buy Shipping RM Tracked 24, it was classed as late dispatch due to the RM and their depots. The first depot don’t scan but the second major hub does and this is sometimes the next day causing me defects.
    I then asked our RM collections manager if there was a way for the collections guy or girl to do an acceptance scan on the doorstep. Yes and since then, no more late dispatch notifications.
    This is fine when there are only a few Tracked Packets packets but what happens when there is no scan on a RM LL even though purchased through AMZ Buy SHipping.
    There is no proof that you sent it as there is no scan!
    I know for a fact that LL items get multiple (3) scans through the RM network, but they don’t make it public and only make the delivery scan public.
    I think RM need to start releasing that information as a tracking scan so that at least one can be used as a valid tracking scan.

  • “I think RM need to start releasing that information as a tracking scan so that at least one can be used as a valid tracking scan.” – That would be very useful.

    @Carolyn, “Can anyone help?” – I think your VTR would be ok as the current general thought is that any postage purchased via Amazon Buy Shipping = valid VTR. Furthermore, I think that as you are purchasing 1st Class and 2nd Class, then Amazon know that these are untracked services and do not count them in their evaluation regardless of where you purchased them from. It is all still a bit of a grey area, I can only suggest you 1. look at your VTR report, 2. email seller support with specific question. Good luck with it 🙂

  • Julius
    1 month ago

    I have spoken to my Royal mail account manager. Senior Royal mail executives who deal with Amazon are speaking with Amazon from about one month ago. It looks like Amazon are using this as a stick to beat Royal mail into improving their service. That is not a bad thing, however, I do not want to be collateral damage in all of this.

  • Pete Miller
    1 month ago

    After a long webchat conversation with two, associates, I was constantly told to contact royal mail regarding my 89% VTR rate (Royal mail account linked, failed orders were not scanned at the doorstep) I did manage to get them to confirm that if you set the carrier to other and do not enter tracking details for domestic orders that the vtr metric will not apply.

    Hence I am now off to delink my royal mail account from my amazon account and mark domesti orders as above, what a backwards step, sellers are the lowest of the low on this platform

  • 1 month ago

    It’s hard to believe that 25% of the time the scanners aren’t working, I get it that the barcodes are only as good as the printers that people using. Clearly there are alot of postmen who aren’t scanning the mail

  • 1 month ago

    The trouble with marking items as “other” and not entering the tracking details(ie Royal Mails postie delivery confirmation) we would be opening ourselves up further to spurious INR claims from chancers. The amount of emails we get saying they haven’t received the item, spurred on of course by Amazon telling them they can claim a refund, is ridiculous. 99 times out of a 100 when you screenshot them the delivery confirmation we don’t hear from them again. Of course, if the postie hasn’t bothered to do the delivery scan we are stuffed and have to refund but at least its cutting the vast majority of false claims out.

  • Jonty
    1 month ago

    @rob
    Completely agree. And we always claim from Royal Mail. They market their services with compensation included. Scans should be a natural course of delivery provided we have paid to use the correct service. Often they don’t respond to claims- we just save a batch of such disputes up and go straight to their legal department asking who’s name should be quoted on the small claim court notices.
    Amazing how that focuses the mind.

  • Alan
    1 month ago

    To hit the metric , the tracking numbers would need to be uploaded before the item is delivered. We have multiple orders that were delivered before the tracking uploaded (posted at weekend) and shipped on Monday, but they don’t count!

  • Toby
    4 weeks ago

    Amazon still don’t accept DHL Parcel UK as a Valid courier & no solution in sight before Monday, as we’re currently 0% on all categories.

    Every single order has valid tracking & tracking works via https://track.dhlparcel.co.uk/

  • samantha
    3 weeks ago

    This is just another attempt to cull small sellers by Amazon’s dirty tricks department. Bullying, no more, no less. I’ve little doubt that VTR has been made as unfathomable as possible to deliberately distress and confuse sellers. Furthermore if any seller dared to speak to the media or to an MP, it would be impossible for them to understand it either.

    What really annoys me is the sheer hypocrisy of these corporate creeps. Like so many conscientious and experienced sellers, I use Royal Mail and I very seldom lose any orders, less than 1 in a 1000 in fact. I package everything very well, I double check every address, I print the highest quality labels I can. Why do I do this? Because I care, because I want people to be pleased with their orders. I know I keep my customers happy because I’ve held a consistent 100% feedback score for 14 years now.

    Let’s be frank about Amazon’s Prime. Insultingly poor packaging, deliveries at 10 in the evening, deliveries left out in the damp, deliveries that never turn up, damaged goods, incorrect goods, etc etc. In my part of the world, we’ve had an Amazon driver stealing another delivery from somebody’s doorstep. I recently read on Amazon’s Facebook page that there’s even been a case of a lady assaulted by an Amazon driver.

    There are now well over 10,000 posts on seller-central concerning this VTR issue. Within a few weeks there’ll be thousands of sellers having to complete grovelling POA’s for Amazon’s deities upon high. Amazon should be ashamed of itself, this is a disgraceful way to treat its sellers.

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