Nothing is more frustrating than spending a wealth of your precious time doing product research only to find that Amazon doesn’t let you sell the product you sourced. That is, while other sellers thrive selling the same type of product. In a nutshell, that’s what Amazon gated categories is about.
But what are gated categories? Why do they exist and how to join this exclusivist circle of sellers? Find out all about it in this guide, and discover which are the Amazon gated categories 2019.
Part 2: How to Sell Amazon Gated Categories
Part 3: How to Request Approval
Part 4: Conclusion
Gated categories are closed – hence “gated” – categories in which you can’t sell unless you’re approved. Amazon calls them restricted, but regardless of how you name them, the frustration of seeing yourself unable to create that listing and turn your merchandise into profit stays the same.
These categories exist to protect shoppers from fraudulent sellers as well as counterfeit or potentially harmful products.
Amazon updates its list of gated categories regularly, and in 2019, these are:
- Food and Beverage
- Chilled and frozen food
- Dietary supplements
- Tobacco and tobacco-related products
- Medical devices and accessories
- Cosmetics, skincare, and hair care
- Sex and sensuality
- Animals and animal-related products
- Human parts and burial artifacts
- Art including fine art and home décor
- Automotive and Powersports
- Composite wood products
- Explosives, weapons, and related items
- Export controls
- Gambling and lottery
- Jewelry and precious gems
- Laser products
- Lock picking and theft devices
- Organic products
- Pesticides and pesticide devices
- Plants, plant products, and seeds
- Postage meters and stamps
- Recalled products
- Recycling electronics
- Subscriptions and periodicals
- Surveillance equipment
- Warranties, service plans, contracts, and guarantees
- Offensive and controversial materials
- Other restricted products
If this seems like a long list, know it’s not exhaustive. Gated categories apart, there are also gated subcategories within some unrestricted categories. But there is more. Amazon also regulates restricted brands and restricted products.
Are you wondering how this affects you? Simple. Let’s imagine you’re selling in the clothes category and you just found an unmissable wholesale for a stock of branded items, for instance, Levi’s jeans. You’re now planning to implement your retail arbitrage strategy only to find that Levi’s is a restricted brand on the marketplace.
And on top of it, you must also pay attention to condition restrictions which may apply, for example, to products that can only be sold if new. All these conditions and restrictions can easily make selling on Amazon an overwhelming experience.
Why Are There Gated Categories on Amazon?
Amazon is renowned worldwide for its pro-customer attitude. The saying “the customer’s always right” has never been more meaningful, but to protect shoppers, Amazon has to select its sellers carefully.
While some of the selection is made directly by shoppers through reviews, for certain categories or subcategories of products, the marketplace feels it should exert more control, so that shoppers will always feel that they can buy in all peace of mind.
Now, before giving up your idea of selling in a certain category or subcategory, you must understand that if someone already sells in them, there must be a way to make your entry. Therefore you must learn how to sell in Amazon gated categories.
To sell in Amazon gated categories, you must apply for approval and get your application accepted. Sounds smooth, isn’t it?
The truth is that getting approval for selling in restricted categories and subcategories is not only time-consuming, it’s also hard and expensive. Now, the good news is that all these obstacles ward off many of the less serious sellers, which means there is a lot less competition to worry about in these categories.
The value of the sellers that have made it up to here is also superior to the value of those conducting business in unrestricted categories only. This is a potential business growth opportunity you shouldn’t underestimate.
That’s why you should roll up your sleeves and start learning how to get approved. Here’s what you should know.
Before You Get Started: General Requirements
Joining a small circle of approved sellers in a certain category is not easy, and your application will be rejected instantly unless you meet certain criteria. While each restricted category has specific rules, there are a few general requirements you must meet before even thinking of selling in Amazon gated categories.
To get started, you must:
- Be a professional seller
- Have good performance metrics
- Have evidence of product authenticity
- Be able to add acceptable invoices for your stock
- Have a company website
Regarding your performance metrics, you must have an order defect rate of less than 1%, a late shipment rate of no more than 4%, and a pre-fulfillment cancellation rate lower than 2.5%.
As for the evidence of authenticity, you’ll typically be required to provide proof that your supplier is either the manufacturer or a licensed dealer.
A Word On Invoices
One of the most common causes of rejection is the inclusion of inappropriate invoices with your application.
The first thing to know is that you must pay attention to the invoice content and format. Amazon will unlikely accept electronic copies of invoices that were emailed to you. Instead, you should include a copy of the paper invoice you received with your products.
It is also advisable to handwrite the ASINs next to each item linked to your gated category approval application.
The invoice must also be legitimate. Pro forma invoices and receipts don’t count, so just skip them.
It is also crucial that the company information on the invoice match the company information in your Amazon Seller Central account. Check everything, including name, address, contact information, and website, to avoid disappointment.
Last but not least, the invoices must be dated within 90 days immediately before your application date.
Special Requirement Categories
While all Amazon gated categories have special requirements, there is also a handful of categories that have special requirements for the special requirements. These categories are:
- Automotive and Powersports
- Fine art
- Fine jewelry
To be approved to sell in any of these categories, you must meet other eligibility criteria that vary from category to category. Some examples include:
- Specific refund or warranty policies
- Preparation or packaging
- Product condition requirements
Regardless of which gated category you want to sell in, though, you must always check all requirements before applying, as incompliance may result in a hefty mistake.
Tips to Getting Approved in Amazon Gated Categories
Getting your application approved is often overwhelming, but the tips below may help you.
- Build a solid seller reputation before applying. Amazon tends to reject applications coming from new sellers due to the lack of history and credibility. For certain gated categories, the marketplace may even require you to have an independent e-commerce site they can review before making a decision. Since building up credibility on Amazon takes some time, it’s always better to start from ungated categories and work your way up from there.
- Use brand items when applying, even if you want to sell private label items in that category. Once again, that has to do with Amazon’s excessive pro-shopper policy. They don’t know and don’t trust your private label, but know and trust an established brand. If it is true that the ends justify the means, use known brand items in your application even if you don’t plan to actually sell them.
- Check quantities. Read the application requirements to make sure you meet the minimum quantity requirements for each invoice. You should aim to exceed or at least meet these requirements.
- Pick your supplier wisely. It is common for sellers to source their products from affordable suppliers or manufacturers. But Amazon rarely accepts invoices from overseas manufacturers in a category ungating application. That’s why you should always source products for the gated category from a local supplier. If possible, it is also better to purchase directly from the manufacturer rather than a wholesaler, as this shows Amazon that there is little chance you’ll run out of stock once you get approved.
- Don’t outsource the application process. It may be tempting to get the burden off of you and let someone else handle all the what’s and why’s of your application process. But the truth is that only you will be affected if your application gets rejected. Since joining Amazon gated categories is already hard, it’s recommended to handle the application yourself so that you can check the compliance with Amazon’s requirements.
Other Things to Consider
Although these things should be the basis for getting started, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by too many things to do and forget to check the obvious.
These regard your listings and product UPC codes.
To get approved in a gated category your listings must be outstanding. Amazon defines high-quality listing standards and will only consider those applications with listings that include:
- A descriptive title
- Compelling product description
- Quality product images
- Clear bullet points
- Compelling price
A method to ease up your way to application approval is to follow these high-quality listing requirements for all the products you sell, regardless of what category they’re in.
As for the UPC codes, all items included in your application must have them. This won’t be an issue if you plan to use items from established brands to ungate the category. But if you decide to go the hard way and apply with private label products, get UPC codes before filling in your request.
Also, keep in mind that a way to increase your chances of getting approved is by growing your reputation through customer reviews.
Despite the hustle and bustle that goes with an application, selling in Amazon gated categories comes with multiple benefits. Once you’ve gathered all necessary documentation, requesting approval is also easy. Just follow the steps below:
- Log into your Amazon Seller Central Account and go to Inventory menu
- Select Add a Product
- Use the search function to find the item you want to sell
- Click Listing Limitations Apply link in the search results
- Click the Request Approval button
This will take you to a new page where you can begin the application process, which varies from category to category.
Your application can be approved or rejected, and Amazon will notify you of the outcome. If you’re unsure though, you can log into your account and check in which categories you are approved to sell from the Inventory, Add Product, Selling Application Status.
You will be prompted with a table showing all the categories in which you can sell, that are still pending approval or that have been denied.
Being approved to sell in the Amazon gated categories is a lengthy and complicated path. With the marketplace changing policies, category restrictions, and requirements regularly, gathering necessary evidence and keeping up with an application can be daunting.
Resisting all challenges is worth it though. Once you’re approved, you’ll be able to set yourself apart. Less competition means a greater chance of gaining and retaining customers.
You’ll also be able to create a private label product that truly stands out in the gated category you’re in, and that’s another chance of taking your business to a whole new level.
At the end of the day, all good things are reserved for those who are willing to fight for them. So, learn Amazon gated categories basics, and do your best to meet or exceed their expectations. Your effort will be well repaid.