Amazon's Gated Categories: How To Get Approved In Restricted Categories 0
In this article, we will teach you the various gated and ungated categories in Amazon as well as what you should do to get ungated.
Amazon wants customers to be able to shop with confidence on Amazon. For certain products and categories, Amazon might require additional fees, performance checks, and other qualifications.
So before we jump into the proper process of getting ungated on Amazon, let's review the good news! Guess what? There are tons of categories that are automatically open to everyone, including new sellers!
These are the categories:
- Baby *
- New & Used Books (not including Collectible Books)
- Camera & Photo
- Consumer Electronics **
- Fine Art (but new seller applications are limited)
- Health & Personal Care***
- Home & Garden
- Kindle Accessories
- Musical Instruments
- Office Products
- Personal Computers
- Pet Supplies
- Software **
- Tools & Home Improvement
- Toys *
- Video Games **
* Some restrictions apply during the holiday season.
**Specific products may still require approval.
***There are sub-categories that may still require approval, and an application fee.
The Categories That Are Restricted On Amazon
So now that we have covered all the categories that are open to all sellers on Amazon and we have also cleared up some confusion about the categories that are sometimes (or were) gated, let's get to the real deal! what are actually restricted categories on Amazon?
These are the restricted categories:
- Automotive & Powersports
- Clothing & Accessories*
- Collectible Books
- Entertainment Collectibles
- Gift Cards
- Grocery & Gourmet Foods
- Industrial & Scientific (the BISS category)
- Jewelry (Note: Amazon is not currently accepting new seller applications for jewelry)
- Luggage & Travel Accessories*
- Major Appliances
- Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses*
- Sports Collectibles
These categories are listed as restricted in some places or pages on Amazon, but it actually appears that these are open, but just be careful because some BRANDS require approval.
Restrictions Based On Product Condition
Used items cannot be sold in the following categories:
- Clothing, Accessories & Luggage
- Grocery & Gourmet Food
- Health & Personal Care
- Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses
- Toys & Games *
NOTE: Amazon has long banned selling toys in used condition but would allow sellers to list them in Collectible condition. This is considered a “loop-hole” because that is where buyers and sellers go for “used” toys.
Why Does Amazon Restricted Categories Exist?
Understanding Amazon’s Point-of-View
Every single requirements page for the Amazon restricted categories reads the same:
“Amazon limits the addition of new sellers in [this] category to ensure that customers can buy with confidence from all sellers on Amazon.com.”
HOW TO GET UNGATED IN AMAZON RESTRICTED CATEGORIES
What is Ungating? – this is the process of getting approval to sell in Amazon restricted categories
You will really find that some Amazon categories are very restricted for new sellers. Sellers will need to get approved by Amazon in order to sell products in certain categories. There are a lot of benefits to getting ungated so if you want to expand your Amazon FBA business you should consider starting the approval process.
The harsh reality is that most of the best categories with the biggest opportunities are gated for new sellers.
So, what are the advantages of getting ungated on Amazon?
There will be LESS competition in the gated categories and therefore MORE opportunities for sourcing GREAT DEALS. It also means you will avoid any new rules and regulations as Amazon continues to make things more difficult. In gated categories, you tend to get more experienced sellers. This means less inexperienced penny pinchers constantly undercutting prices in a race to the bottom. Amazon sellers usually find their ROI (return on investment) is much higher once you are selling in gated categories.
E-commerce is growing and therefore there is a MASSIVE business opportunity to be had by those who see the potential. It will never be EASIER – Amazon is adding more rules and regulations all the time so we recommend you do it now while it is as EASY as it is ever going to be.
Requirements for getting approval in restricted categories
Before you start your ungating journey, you need to ensure your seller account meets some of Amazon’s minimum requirements.
Professional Amazon Seller Account.
A knowledge of good genuine wholesalers and not cash and carry firms.
Invoices correctly addressed to your Seller Account name and registered address and dated within the last 90 days, although our recommendation is to use very recent invoices.
You must be able to provide a return delivery address in the local country (Amazon provide this if you’re doing FBA).
You must be able to provide local language support for customer service in the country in which you wish to sell (gotta love Google Translate 😊).
Good Seller Metrics.
The Basic Process For Getting Ungated On Amazon
In some cases, you'll request approval to sell in a restricted category and will be approved automatically. This happens randomly and without notice. Amazon doesn't specify which brands or categories this works for.
In general, however, you'll request approval by following these steps to start the process:
- In Seller Central, click the inventory link and select Add a Product.
- Run a search for the item you wish to sell. Or ANY product that you know is listed in that category.
- In the search results, click the Listing Limitations Apply link across from the restricted item.
- Click the Request Approval button to begin the application process.
To check the status of an application, return to the Add a Product tool and click the Selling application status link located toward the top of the page.
Depending on the category you are requesting approval in, the process that happens after clicking request approval could be slightly different. We will cover some of the different processes below.
How to Get Ungated In The Grocery Category
Of the restricted categories, Grocery & Gourmet Food is probably the one that new sellers are most interested in. It has a wide variety of products that are familiar and easy to source, and with low investment. In fact, we wrote an entire book about how to sell grocery items!
Amazon outlines the process to apply to get ungated in Grocery & Gourmet Food on Seller Central, though sellers have had varying experiences with that process and have filled us in on tips that worked for them.
First and foremost, you'll need good seller metrics, an invoice showing proof of purchase, and possibly some other paperwork.
Seller metrics include:
Be a PRO MERCHANT – this means you are paying the $39.00 a month for your seller account.
- Order defect rate: < 1%
- Pre-fulfillment cancel rate: < 2.5%
- Late shipment rate: < 4%
The only reason you would fall below these as an Amazon seller is if you are doing Merchant Fulfilling. Since you are most likely just doing FBA, you will meet the above requirements no problem :)
We wish you every SUCCESS in getting yourself ungated and unlocking the possibilities available to Amazon Sellers.
Amazon is a GREAT platform for selling and the more products you can SELL, the more MONEY you can make!
Here are a few recaps:
- From the Inventory, menu select Add a Product.
- Search for the item you want to sell.
- In the search results, click the Listing limitations apply link next to the item.
- Click the Request Approval button to begin the application process.
Food & Beverage
Products that (1) claim to be organic, (2) claim to contain organic ingredients, or (3) use the U.S. Department of Agriculture ("USDA") organic seal must comply with the USDA organic regulations at 7 CFR Part 205. You are responsible for understanding and complying with all requirements of the organic regulations, including production, certification and labeling requirements. For more information, see Organic Products.
Examples of permitted listings
Properly prepared and sealed foods and beverages that are appropriately packaged and labeled. Products need to be shipped appropriately to protect the quality and safety of the food, to avoid spoilage, melting, damage, and so on. All food packaging must include the following:
- Product name
- Name and address of the packaging company
- Expiration date
- Net content quantity and weight (the weight of the contents, not including any packaging)
Lot-controlled products with a shelf-life of greater than 90 days.
- Perishable products must be removed from inventory 50 days before the expiration date.
- For Amazon-fulfilled orders (FBA), units within 50 days of expiration will be removed for disposal and will not be available for return.
Examples of prohibited listings
- Unregistered infant formula
- Goat's milk infant formula
- HIPP formula and milk products
- Products containing any meat imported from China
- Betel nut products or products containing betel nut flavoring
- Kaffir lime leaves imported from Thailand
Shipping and labeling requirements
Each shipment of produce must have: (1) the name and address of the shipper or owner; (2) the name of the person to whom the shipment is being sent; (3) the name of the country, state, or territory where the contents were grown; and (4) a statement of the contents. State and local governments may have additional requirements for both interstate and intrastate shipment and labeling of certain produce.
Additional useful information
See Selling Custom Variety Packs of Single-Serve Hot Beverage Products for additional Grocery & Gourmet Food guidelines.
Food & Beverage
Sourced Credit: Amazon Seller Central
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Should you sell on Amazon?- Pros and Cons on Selling On Amazon 1
“Are you ready to expand your brand to Amazon, the fastest growing marketplace in e-commerce?”
One of the main reasons why every seller should consider selling on Amazon.com is because of one reason- you can reach at the largest customer base online selling platform than found on any of the other e-commerce websites which includes eBay.
Additionally, what is even more challenging is the fact that you can potentially earn more money by doing lesser work!
Amazon is indeed one of the biggest ecommerce stores in the world. Shopify just partnered with Amazon to add some features that will allow entrepreneurs to sell their products through Amazon so easily. You can definitely use Amazon as a sales channel to grow your revenue.
Truth is, there is no perfect place to sell online, but despite that Amazon offers a wide variety of advantages for those who are willing to take risks financially, wish to reach a larger and more diverse online consumer.
Amazon has Large Number of Potential Customers
The number of potential customers you can reach through Amazon.com is more than triple the number of potential eBay customers. Statistical data estimates the number of Amazon.com customers at 237 million. In a recent Forbes article, the Trefis Team estimated the number of active eBay users at 70 million. If these estimates are correct, you will reach over three times as many potential customers if you sell on Amazon.com.
Amazon built their platform in a way that it could cater hundreds
People Love to Shop With Amazon.com
People spend a lot of money on Amazon.com, and the amount of money they spend is increasing fast. According to Amazon.com, about their sales- the reported a revenue (the total amount of money it earns from sales) in June this year is of $81.76 billion. In June last year, Amazon.com’s revenue was $66.85 billion, according to Ycharts.
People spend over three times as much on Amazon.com as they do on eBay. A survey by the firm RBC quoted by Motley Fool writer Daniel Kline noted that the average Amazon customer in the U.S. spends $320 a year on Amazon.
What do these figures mean for the average seller? For starters, you should recognize the incredible amount of business to be had on Amazon. The tricky part is capturing some of this business for yourself.
Amazon have built Reputation over the Years
Amazon.com has a much better reputation than eBay. Many people will not shop on eBay because they regard it as cheap and dishonest. Those same people love Amazon.com and shop there regularly.
Every seller should keep this in mind if they are choosing between the two big e-commerce platforms.
Programs like Amazon Prime can increase your revenues and customer base. Prime does this by encouraging customers to spend more money by offering incentives, such as giving customers free two-day shipping on a wide variety of products with no minimum order.
A survey of 2,000 U.S. Amazon.com customers by RBC found that the average Amazon Prime customer spent $538 a year on the site. Compare this to the $320 that the average Amazon customer spends and you will see the instant advantage to using Prime in your Amazon e-commerce strategy.
Amazon Has No Listing Fee
You will not have to pay anything to list an item on Amazon.com. In fact, you will not be charged until you actually sell something. This means you can list more items and leave the listings up longer, which is great news for a seller!
Be aware, however, that Amazon.com will take a hefty cut out of the sales price, usually around 20 percent. Amazon will take out an even larger cut if you participate in programs like Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA).
You do Less Work on Amazon
You may be able to do less work when you sell on Amazon.com. Unlike eBay, you won’t have to continually relist items, but you will have to handle the shipping and customer service chores unless you opt for FBA. The Fulfillment By Amazon program handles these tasks for American and UK sellers. (FBA is not available in Australia yet.)
We highly recommend that you read our article on Fulfillment By Amazon (LINK) if you are interested in reducing your workload as a seller.
Amazon Testing Purposes
Selling through Amazon.com is one of the best ways to test the market for a new product. Amazon.com data can show you whether there is a demand for a product, what that demand is, and, more importantly, what you can charge for the product.
From Amazon to Your Online Store
Amazon.com can be a great means of driving customers to your online store. If you can gather contact information from your Amazon.com buyers, you can tell them about offers or products that are not available through Amazon.com.
This is a long-term strategy, but every seller should have this in mind when they start off.
As a seller, you can take advantage of the Amazon Associates service to promote products related to your industry on your website. This is basically an affiliate program where you earn commissions for sales. There is a danger, however, that there will be a conflict of interest between the products you sell and the products you promote.
The only way to avoid this conflict is to select the products you promote very carefully. The last thing you want to do is cannibalize your business (i.e., compete with yourself).
Charge Higher Prices
You can usually charge higher prices on Amazon. Amazon.com is basically a retailer. A retailer makes money by selling items at a competitive price; this is in contrast to a wholesaler (which charges the lowest price possible).
For example, on eBay (a wholesale market) the lowest price for women’s Ariat shirts was $5, whereas the average price for an Ariat shirt on Amazon.com was around $40. Part of the reason for this is that the items for sale on Amazon are usually new, while the items on eBay are often used.
Note: It can be hard to price items on Amazon.com and eBay because both sites list artificially low prices in an attempt to drive sales.
Amazon.com is one of the most trusted brands in the world. People like Amazon.com and many of its customers in the United States are willing to pay $99 a year to participate in the Amazon Prime service.
So what’s the takeaway point here? If you sell your products through Amazon.com, your business will be associated with a brand that customers know and, more importantly, trust.
A Big Chance for the Little Guys
It is impossible for the average person to get a product onto the shelves at a big retailer such as Walmart without spending a lot of money (or having some serious connections). Yet anybody can list a product at Amazon.com and put their wares before 237 million customers worldwide.
While some people may feel like the fees are too high, the truth is that they aren’t really when you consider what you’re getting. Imagine if you had to set into place the type of infrastructure that Amazon provides, the technology to check out, the customer base and more yourself? What is that worth?
The difficulty of Understanding the Marketplace Infrastructure
While the infrastructure is indeed awesome for some people, the technology may be too hard to understand. This may require that you hire someone to help train you on how to do shipments and list your inventory properly. Thankfully there are virtual assistants that do only that for their customers.
Amazon has No Branding Control
Selling on Amazon means you’re one of many million people selling products, and unless you are manufacturing a unique item only known to you as a merchant on your own, it will be hard for you to brand yourself. The brand that is on Amazon is simply Amazon.
You can notice that when you search for a product, the search results focus on the variation of products instead of brands.
You definitely have to decide for yourself if selling on Amazon is worth it or not for you. But do consider this: if you can price something well enough or have a unique enough product, you can make plenty of money on Amazon as a seller.
The 9 Basic Tips for Selling on Amazon
To get a good idea of how your business will perform in this marketplace environment, you’ll want to get a clear picture of what selling on Amazon entails.
1. What is the Buy Box?
When browsing on Amazon, customers will navigate to a product’s main page and click on the “offers” links below the product description (as indicated by the red circle on the screenshot below) to see the majority of available sellers. vblog_Amaon1
However, Amazon also gives merchants the ability to compete for the coveted “Buy Box” – the CTA button in that familiar shade of yellow. $56 billion of Amazon’s $62 billion sales happen right here, so it’s important to understand how it works.
The Buy Box is the box on a product detail page where customers can begin the purchasing process by adding items to their shopping carts.
2. How does Amazon determine who wins the Buy Box and the order of the merchant offers list?
Because a key feature of the Amazon platform is that multiple sellers can offer the same product, becoming the featured seller who wins the Buy Box is very difficult. In fact, it’s pretty unrealistic to think that your site is ever going to get ranked high enough to become the featured seller. But even if you never win the Boy Box listing, it is still important to understand how it works and how different parts of your site are weighted. Many of the things Amazon values fall in line with e-commerce best practices, so it’s in your best interest to be doing these things anyway. A number of factors affect where a merchant appears in the offers list, including:
Competitive pricing. This includes not only the product cost but shipping costs as well. Many shoppers expect to see low prices while browsing Amazon.
Competing offers. Generally, the more sellers there are, the harder it is to climb to the top.
How much history the merchant has on Amazon as a seller. Merchants who have long, positive selling histories with Amazon have better chances of obtaining one of the top spots.
How many Seller reviews the merchant has on Amazon. Online reviews have a huge impact on driving sales, and can really end up making or breaking your business.
There are many other factors as well, and there are some pretty good articles out there about how to optimize your sales. As a general rule of thumb, the most effective solution is to ensure that any transactions you receive through Amazon run as smoothly as possible. That means delivering your product in a timely manner and communicating with your customers along the way.
However, if you’re looking to break into the market a little quicker, here are two shortcuts that can help:
Start by selling a low-competition item to boost your seller ranking. This will increase the probability that the offer will show higher for more competitive products.
Try offering a very competitive price for a popular product. This draws in bargain shoppers and can increase your seller ranking. You can check out Amazon's "Most Wished For" list to see the most popular items by industry if you need some inspiration.
3. What is Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)?
Fulfillment by Amazon is a program where you send your merchandise to one of the many Amazon fulfillment centers to be stocked; then customers buy products from you, and Amazon ships them. This sort of arrangement allows you to focus on other aspects of running your business while Amazon handles many facets of shipping and customer service. Other benefits include extending the reach of your products to Amazon Prime members and gaining an extra push towards winning the Buy Box, even if your products have a bit of a higher price. With Volusion, merchants have the ability to set up different shipping options including drop shipping, which allows flexibility to try using FBA. You can learn more about Fulfillment by Amazon here.
4. What types of merchants tend to benefit the most from selling on Amazon?
Three kinds of merchants tend to perform particularly well on Amazon:
Merchants selling unique-to-them products. (e.g. companies who produce their own products, such as a company that designs its own jewelry)
Merchants who sell hobby or niche products. Amazon generally won't start fulfilling or carrying hobby or niche products, so there's less of a risk you'd have to compete with Amazon itself.
Merchants selling refurbished or used products. Amazon has a huge market for these products, as they attract shoppers whose main concern is price and don’t mind waiting for shipping. It is worth noting, however, that used products cannot win the Buy Box spot.
That said, the benefit of owning your store’s URL and fully branded website cannot be overstated; this gives an extra level of credibility and authority, and visitors are more likely to remember you versus someone else. Many merchants who achieve popularity on Amazon still find it essential to have control over their own e-commerce website and branding. This allows them to achieve a fully independent store presence and market to large audiences outside of Amazon through other marketing channels.
Other frequently asked questions about selling on Amazon Marketplace
Now that we have the basics covered, let's get into the nitty-gritty. Here are a few common questions about the details of selling on Amazon:
5. Why should I associate one of my products with an Amazon product that's already listed?
Products are only allowed to be listed once in the Amazon catalog, so creating a second product detail page for an existing product will result in your listing being removed. By matching your product to the product detail page that already exists, your offer has a chance to be seen.
6. Why can’t I use certain shipping methods at first?
Amazon doesn’t allow new merchants to offer certain shipping methods right off the bat, such as two-day shipping. These shipping methods have to be earned by establishing a history of reliable shipping at the slower shipping speeds.
7. Why aren’t I being compensated correctly for shipping?
Amazon determines how much they think it should cost to ship a product based on the merchant’s origin, the customer’s address and the given weight of the product. However, oftentimes the amount of money that Amazon reimburses merchants for shipping won't match the actual shipping cost.
8. How can I increase the number of reviews on my Seller account?
Please note that merchants are forbidden from soliciting or paying for Seller Account reviews. Any sellers who engage in these practices risk having their accounts suspended. Your best bet is to give customers a great shopping experience (including aspects of product price, clear and informative customer communication and shipping reliability) so they want to vouch for you on their own. If your business is hurting for reviews, we have some advice to help you out.
9. Are there any policies I should look over before I start selling on Amazon?
Here are some policies you may want to review or view on their website before selling on Amazon:
- Product detail page rules
- Shipping policies
- Policies and agreements
- Selling Policies
- Prohibited seller activities and actions
When you want to sell on Amazon, the best advice we have is to first know your business, and know what you're getting from it. A new Amazon integration means a lot of new opportunities. By doing an audit and focusing on your business' needs, you'll be taking your online success to the next level in no time.
Good luck in your selling venture!
Need help selling on Amazon? Not sure where to begin?