Andon Cord is a Japanese quality process that Amazon adopted to contain mistakes and maintain a high satisfaction rate.
If you are a manufacturer working with Amazon, you may have received an email from Amazon about an Andon Cord for one of your products. The product page is barred with the words Item under review. This is a case of Amazon Andon Cord. It can cost you a lot if not appropriately addressed. Here's what it is and how to deal with it.
Where does the Andon Cord come from?
Andon (行灯) is a Japanese word that means paper lantern. The Andon Cord is a concept that was introduced in Japanese factories following the Toyota Production System. It consisted of a pull cord or button that workers could activate to stop the production and warn management in case of a significant issue. This way, the production line would not manufacture any faulty units while working on fixing the problem as fast as possible.
What does it mean on Amazon?
Amazon has adopted the principle of the Andon Cord for the products that it ships. Support agents at Amazon can "pull the cord" when they suspect a problem with their inventory. This stops all sales and shipments before the issue spreads to more customers.
Amazon says this practice has allowed them to reduce returns and support requests. From our experience, Amazon Andon Cords are pretty rare. Based on the products that we track at Amazon, about 0.03% are Andon at any given time.
Here is a list of potential issues:
- A customer reported the item as defective,
- The item doesn't match its description on the product page,
- The packaging is faulty or inconsistent with the item.
When you receive the email, Amazon halts all sales of this ASIN until you take action.
Amazon Andon Cord: Frequently Asked Questions (Free PDF download)
What you can do
Take it seriously
Amazon Andon Cords usually originate from a customer complaint, which Amazon takes very seriously. If you don't as well, it may impact sales and your working relationship with Amazon. The risk is that Amazon permanently removes you from the site.
Investigate and respond
The email from Amazon will contain the reason why they pulled the Andon Cord ask that you investigate on your side. Inspect your inventory and rapidly confirm one of three scenarios:
- There is indeed a defect with the products and it affects the Amazon inventory: you will need to fill a Return Authorization (RA) and switch all of Amazon's inventory for a new batch.
- You are unsure if other products have been affected: ask the fulfillment center to control their inventory. If the defect is feature-related, provide detailed testing guidelines.
- It is a false alarm: if you think the customer pulled the cord by mistake, take action immediately with Amazon. Provide documentation to prove that the customer was misguided and whatever quality control procedure you have for reassurance.
Whatever the cause was, Amazon Andon Cords are costing money to you and Amazon alike. It is crucial that you contribute to solving the situation quickly. If you don't, you will not only lose sales, but Amazon may penalize your listings in future search results and lastingly impact your sales.
Have a plan for next time
If this is happening to you for the first time, you may find that you could have used more preparation. Once the situation is solved, and the dust has settled, look back at your reaction and see what you could have improved. Consider involving several teams in your organization to set up a plan in case this happens again.
E-Commerce monitoring dashboards like BlueBoard can help you detect and fix Amazon Andon Cords faster. BlueBoard lets you create real-time notifications of essential distribution events. Learn more at blueboard.io.