Many Amazon sellers want to know how to get ungated so they can start selling certain products. Breaking into the more restrictive categories on Amazon can be confusing and frustrating, however.
Selling on Amazon is full of rules and guidelines as it is, and there are even more of them when it comes to restricted or “gated” categories and products. It’s not that Amazon wants to give sellers a hard time for no reason. They want to be the most consumer-centric company in the world, and they have to take precautions to protect their reputation. There is no time that this is truer than today in 2019.
Sellers have to apply to get ungated for certain types of products because Amazon wants to make sure that customers can shop with confidence.
What are Gated Categories?
Gated categories refer to categories where listing is controlled for safety reasons and to prevent fraudulent activity. Sellers have to apply to list in these categories, which requires certain types of documentation and may also require additional fees. They also have to allow Amazon to conduct performance checks, among other requirements.
There are also certain products that are not in gated categories but require similar permissions to sell on Amazon.
Why Does Amazon Restrict Certain Categories?
There are a few primary reasons that Amazon gates certain product categories. Amazon’s main focus is on providing customers the best shopping experience. By restricting certain categories Amazon can help maintain product quality and product safety for the end consumer.
Many of the restricted categories are consumable goods such as food and drinks, and health products such as vitamins, cosmetics and supplements. Protecting a customer from purchasing a product that could be potentially harmful to their health is a primary goal of category gating.
Another reason for category restrictions is to fight counterfeiting or knock-off products. Counterfeiting has become a serious problem for Amazon is damaging the platforms reputation. In February 2019 Amazon rolled out the Amazon Project Zero to help prevent this in combination with category gating.
We believe that Amazon may become even more restrictive on who they let sell certain products. On July 3rd, 2019 a U.S. Federal Appeals court made a ruling that could open the platform to lawsuits from customers who purchase defective products on the platform.
The current ungating process is already selective, with Amazon not even allowing new sellers into certain categories. It will be interesting to see how this legal ruling with effect Amazon’s brand gating policies going forward.
Gated Categories and Products
Here’s a list of gated categories from Amazon that sellers are required to obtain Amazon category approval for before they can list:
- Requirements for selling Automotive & Powersports products
- Holiday Selling Guidelines in Toys & Games
- Music & DVD
- Join Amazon Handmade
- Sports Collectibles
- Video, DVD, & Blu-ray
- Collectible Coins
- Entertainment Collectibles
- Fine Art
- Streaming Media Players
And this is a list of restricted products that also require approval:
- Animals & Animal-Related Products
- Art – Fine Art
- Art – Home Decor
- Automotive and Powersports
- Composite Wood Products
- Cosmetics & Skin/Hair Care
- Currency, Coins, Cash Equivalents, and Gift Cards
- Dietary Supplements
- Drugs & drug paraphernalia
- Explosives, Weapons, and Related Items
- Export Controls
- Food & Beverage
- Gambling & Lottery
- Hazardous and Dangerous Items
- Human Parts & Burial Artifacts
- Jewelry & Precious Gems
- Laser products
- Lock Picking & Theft Devices
- Medical devices and accessories
- Offensive and Controversial Materials
- Pesticides and Pesticide Devices
- Plants, Plant Products, and Seeds
- Postage Meters & Stamps
- Recalled Products
- Recycling electronics
- Sex & Sensuality
- Subscriptions and Periodicals
- Surveillance Equipment
- Tobacco & Tobacco-Related Products
- Warranties, Service Plans, Contracts, and Guarantees
- Other Restricted Products
Why Get Ungated?
Restricted items tend to be high value items, and can be very lucrative business. One sale for a jewelry item, for instance, can earn a seller a nice profit. Other high value products are also high volume, like vitamin supplements. Even with high competition, sellers of quality product stand to gain a lot.
Amazon gated categories provide significant barriers to entry which can provide some protection from competition. Going through the process of getting ungated for an Amazon category can give you a leg up on the competition who are not on the platform yet. Amazon is not accepting applications in certain categories and we expect that it will only get harder to get approved in the future. Getting ungated early should be a focus for every retail brand that has products on the Amazon gated categories list.
How to Get Ungated
If you follow these steps, you will be prepared for your application and enjoy a smoother process with Amazon.
Step 1: Check your Account and Seller Information
- You must have a Professional Seller account if you want to get ungated on Amazon.
This means making a few different wholesale orders. Make sure that your address on file with Amazon is the same address that reflects on the receipts. Keep these receipts because Amazon will ask for them as required documentation.
- Your account must meet certain metrics:
- Order defect rate: < 1%
- Pre-fulfillment cancel rate: < 2.5%
- Late shipment rate: < 4%
You can find these stats in Account health, which is under Customer Satisfaction in the Performance menu. Don’t begin the application unless you meet these standards or your application will be automatically denied.
Step 2: Research the Product
- Find the product you want to sell on Amazon. It’s best to search Amazon for the ASIN of an existing product (FBM or FBA).
- Find the acceptance criteria for that product and make sure that you not only meet it but can prove it before you apply. If you don’t meet the criteria or can’t prove it, your application will most likely be rejected, wasting your time and energy.
A Seller Central search will return a list like this one:
Then you can look at the requirements for each category and prepare to meet them (or make a decision to sell something else).
Step 3: Create an Online Store
It’s not a requirement for you as an Amazon seller to have your own eCommerce store, it is required for some restricted categories. And even if it isn’t required for the category you want to get ungated from, it can still help improve your chances because it shows that you are a legitimate seller.
- Create an eCommerce site, even a simple one that doesn’t cost much, as long as it looks professional. Make sure it shows the same information as your Amazon account and has your logo on it.
- List the specific product you want to get ungated for. Make sure to follow Amazon specifications for each of the listing elements, like product photos, titles, search terms, etc. This way, you can easily provide Amazon with what they require.
Step 4: Create a Wholesale Account and Purchase Product
- If you don’t have an open account with a supplier yet, you need to open one. Make sure that you use the address that you have on your Amazon account, and add both your seller name and your LLC name as your company name if they are different. This is to ensure that the information matches up.
- Prepare your wholesale purchase orders. You will need to make three separate orders since Amazon wants to see more than one sample invoice. Make sure that for each order you have more than a quantity of ten for each restricted product.
- Check to make sure that the invoices you will receive have your seller and LLC name on them.
- Place your orders and wait for the product to arrive.
Step 5: Prepare your Documents
- Once your product arrives, scan and make photocopies of the invoices, and keep the originals in their original condition.
- On a copy of the invoices, clearly write the ASINs and UPCs next to the product names.
- Blackout all pricing information.
- Scan or take a photo of each invoice separately. Make sure you can easily read the seller name, ASINs and UPCs. You will upload these during the application proper.
Step 6: Your Application
Here’s the application process from Amazon to get ungated for a product:
- From the Inventory menu, select “Add a Product”.
- Search for the item you want to sell.
- In the search results, look on the right hand side where is says “Apply to Sell”
- Click the “Apply to Sell” button to begin the application process.
Once the process has begun, keep the following in mind:
- Take your time and answer all the questions carefully based on your thorough research of the product or category restrictions.
- Upload your snapshots or insert your scans of your invoices with the ASINs and UPCs when asked. Be sure to note that you can provide an alternate file type if needed.
- After submitting your application, a case will be created for it. Open that case and attach snapshots or scans of any other pertinent business paperwork you have like your company Tax ID, Resellers Certificate, and the like.
How to See Which Amazon Gated Categories You Are Approved For
You can quickly check which restricted product categories you are ungated for. You first need to go to your Amazon Seller Central account, and under the inventory tab click Add a Product.
The Add a product page features a number of boxes at the bottom. The one that says ‘Categories Requiring Approval’ is what you should look for. There will be a link that says ‘Manage Selling Applications’. Clicking this link will show you all the Amazon gated categories you have applied to and what your application’s status currently is.
Amazon Ungating Services
There are a variety of Amazon consulting agencies that can help you get into restricted categories. We help all our clients ensure that they get the approvals they need to sell their products on the Amazon platform.
Handling the ungating application process can be a difficult process if you do not have prior experience. A good ungating service should ensure that all your documents are correct and there is no needed information missing from your application.
Understanding the various policies, rules and guidelines that govern the Amazon marketplace are difficult. Allowing a third party to help you navigate not only the application process, but the actual management of your account can help you ensure you do not violated any of them.
Amazon likes to take its time, so don’t worry if you don’t get approved right away.
- If your application is rejected, take a deep breath and go over the requirements again.
Most likely, it will be because you have overlooked something. The Seller Representative may actually tell you exactly what’s wrong. If they don’t, reply stating that you thought everything was complete per Amazon’s specifications and politely ask if they can point out anything immediately wrong with your application.
- Sometimes an application will be rejected because the seller is new. If you have zero or very little sales history on Amazon, it will be difficult to get ungated. Remember, Amazon wants to protect itself and its customers, so they want to make sure you are a trusted seller before they give you that privilege. If you’re up to the challenge, work on building up your account and apply again after a few months.
- Amazon may temporarily close applications to a certain category so it can regulate the number of products being sold. You may have done everything right, but there are just too many sellers with the same product right now.
This has also been known to happen around the Christmas season. If you want to get into the categories for toys, wrapping paper and other gift items, for example, you need to apply before December or try after a few months.
You also have the option of appealing a rejection of your application, but we don’t recommend it. The process can be very long and difficult, and the decision rarely goes in favor of the seller.