Gated, prohibited, curbed.
These terms, in plain language, mean “no” or “not allowed.”
They’re the last words any merchant wants to hear, because they limit what you can or can’t sell on an ecommerce marketplace.
Unfortunately, these roadblocks are unavoidable when selling through Amazon.
The ecommerce website requires sellers in specific categories to get approved or “ungated” by Amazon’s Seller Central reps before they can list the products they want to sell.
Gaining the company’s approval can really expand your listing opportunities and reduce competition as there are only a few merchants in the gated categories on the platform.
Before You Get Ungated on Amazon
Before anything else, you’ll need to be signed into your Seller account.
Once that’s done, see which of the restricted category your product falls under.
Below is a list of gated categories that require Amazon’s approval in 2019:
- Collectible Coins
- Streaming Media Players
- Holiday Selling Guidelines in Toys & Games
- Amazon Watch Warranty FAQs
- Video, DVD, & Blu-ray
Besides gated categories, certain items require approval from the company.
For instance, you’ll need to meet additional criteria to sell automotive parts, fine art, dietary supplements, organic products, surveillance equipment, and other things that may require a state-approved license or certification.
You can learn more about restricted and permitted products here.
It’s worth mentioning that the sale of certain products is completely prohibited, so make sure to review the restricted’ products list carefully to avoid facing troubles with your Amazon store.
Note: You’re also barred from selling branded and counterfeit items on Amazon. However, the company hasn’t published an official list of forbidden brands.
If you’re concerned about whether a certain brand or ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) is restricted on the website, we recommend you to get in touch with Amazon to verify this.
With all that said, the list of gated products and categories is constantly changing, so double check to see whether your products can be listed in a particular category before following any Amazon ungating process.
Why Does Amazon Have These Restrictions in Place?
As is the case with any reputable company, Amazon’s main objective is brand perception and customer satisfaction.
Now with more than 50% of its total unit sales coming from third-party sellers, the firm has to have some rules to safeguard its reputation.
This is the main reason why the ecommerce giant puts restrictions on categories that susceptible to problems with quality, safety and counterfeiting.
While these limitations are great for the consumer and Amazon, it can make business difficult for merchants.
That’s why you need to ensure you’ve done your homework to figure out if that profitable item you’re about to list would come under a restricted category.
If it does and you don’t mind a few extra steps, the next section may be for you.
Amazon Ungating: Steps to Get Approved
For selling a product that falls under Amazon’s restricted items list, you can take the steps mentioned below:
1) Get a Professional Selling Account
If you’re on the free plan, you’ll need to buy or upgrade to a Professional Selling plan. It costs $39.99 a month but it also means Amazon takes less of a commission from your proceeds.
Hence, in addition to letting you sell in restricted categories, getting this plan will actually save you money over the long term.
2) Meet Amazon’s Account Health Standards
In addition to becoming a Professional Seller, the ecommerce company also wants you to keep your account in good standing.
Make sure your defect rates, late shipment rates and pre-fulfillment cancel rates are low as possible. Ideally, an approved seller is on par or better than the following metrics:
- < 4 % = Late Shipment Rate (LSR)
- < 2.5 % = Pre-Fulfillment Cancel Rate (PFCR)
- < 1 % = Order Defect Rate (ODR)
If you’re selling through FBA or Fulfillment by Amazon, you should be beating these figures easily. In case of handling the fulfillment process yourself, you’d probably need to make some effort to improve your account health. You can find your actual percentages by going to your Seller Central account and clicking “Performance > Customer Satisfaction > Account Health.”
3) Fulfill Category-Specific Requirements
Some restricted categories have specific requirements you need to meet before you can apply for approval.
The Powersports and Automotive categories, for instance, require sellers to have compliant images that can be either be analyzed on an external image host or website.
Others, like Jewelry, require you to fill in a questionnaire apart from submitting images.
Some products and categories are also subject to FDA approval and may have additional rules, such as listing guidelines a seller must adhere to.
4) Find a US-Based Wholesaler
It’s rare for Amazon to accept invoices from cross-border manufacturers as part of its ungating process.
To prevent issues, source products from a US-based wholesaler like DollarDays. If you purchase directly from the local manufacturer, that’s even better.
Purchasing from a local source shows Amazon that you carry a lower risk of supply issues as opposed to buying from a foreign wholesaler who may cause significant delays.
Another important aspect of Amazon ungating is product quantity. Amazon requires you to buy at least ten units of products to belong to restricted categories. In addition, you’ll have to place three different orders as Amazon requests you to submit more than one sample invoice.
The good news is that the products don’t need to have a high dollar value. Don’t focus on generating a profit with them either. Buy low- to mid-value items purposely for ungating.
Note: Once you’ve placed an order with a wholesaler or manufacturer, you’ll need to ensure that the details you used to create your Seller account match what’s on the invoices. Verify that your email address, phone number, and home address are all the same. If they aren’t, you might need to make another purchase, costing yourself even more time.
5) Submit Invoices in Their Original State
A popular factor behind unsuccessful ungating is the submission of incorrect invoices with your request.
Amazon requires you to submit invoices in their original state. Do not write or mark on these papers, as you’ll need to submit a copy or a scan.
Also, make sure to submit the invoice within the last 90 to 180 days of when it first arrived, with clear information about the wholesaler.
If you haven’t put your business name in the header, then do that too. If you have taken the previous step of verifying it on the supplier’s website, then it should be already mentioned at the top of the document.
It’s also important to handwrite the ASINs beside each product associated with your gated category applications.
The easiest way to source the ASIN is to look at the Amazon product page for a given item. You’ll find the ASIN under the “Product Details” heading of the page.
If your items are unique, the ecommerce company will provide you with a unique ASIN for them.
To request an ASIN, you just have to go into the Amazon Catalog, create a new product and enter the EAN or UPC code for your item.
Once you’ve mentioned the ASIN, take a photo of the invoices. Make sure to take high-quality images to prevent delays in processing your application.
To avoid mishaps, you can scan them in .pdf, should Amazon’s Seller Central team require additional copies. Make sure the ASIN, Seller Information, and UPC details are clear enough for the Seller Central reps to review.
6) Submit Your Application
For most categories, you can request approval by taking these steps:
- In the Seller Central dashboard, click the “Inventory” option and choose “Add a Product.”
- Conduct a search for the product you want to sell or any item that belongs to that category.
- In the results that show up, click “Listing Limitations Apply” across from the restricted product.
- Now click “Request Approval” to start the application process.
Pro tip: To improve the odds of having your application expedited, apply during the normal US business hours. Amazon outsources some parts of its customer support during off hours, so submitting an application outside of standard business hours may raise a number of additional considerations that could result in a rejection of your application.
If you get a response from Seller Central reps requesting further details, try to respond quickly to avoid any delays with the processing.
Your application will be rejected or approved, and you’ll receive an email about the outcome. Sellers who’re unsure of this can log into their account and check in what categories they’re approved to sell from the Inventory, then click Add Product > Selling Application Status.
What If I’m Rejected?
If your request is denied, take a deep breath and thoroughly review each requirement. You may also be able to find out what’s missing or wrong in Seller Central.
If you can’t identify any issues in your application, get in touch with Amazon stating that you think everything is complete and politely ask if they can convey anything immediately missing in your request.
If you’re a new seller on Amazon, we don’t recommend applying to sell in a restricted category. As time goes by, Amazon is getting pickier about who they approve for these categories. Your account isn’t likely to be in good standing, and even if it barely is, don’t be surprised if Amazon doesn’t approve you right away.
Hence, it’s going to be more difficult for you to fulfill the ungating requirements. The company favors more experienced sellers who have a reputation that Amazon can see.
Note: In certain instances, Amazon will completely close a category to sellers to regulate the amount of items being traded in that category. This is subject to change so feel free to try again in the future.
Is the Ungating Process Different for New and Experienced Sellers?
Nope. Even established and successful Amazon sellers need to follow the same steps. It’s just easier for them since their seller accounts are in good standing. In a nutshell, they don’t have a competitive edge over someone who’s just made a Seller account.
Also, there’s no guarantee that an application will result in an approval. Even those who’ve followed the instructions correctly can get rejected. The trick is to apply and hope for the best.
What Are Amazon Ungating Services?
Amazon ungating services refer to third-party companies or vendors that specialize in helping sellers unlock restricted categories on the Amazon marketplace.
We typically advise against investing in these services as there’s a risk that they won’t take measures according to Amazon’s guidelines, like sending original copies of your invoices.
If Amazon is asking you to submit invoices, you need to be actually buying the items. Unless the third-party company places the orders on your behalf, they’re most likely submitting forged documents, and no one would take the risk of providing forged documents to Amazon. That’s business suicide!
Can I Sell Anything Once I’m Ungated?
Unfortunately, you can’t. Besides getting approved to sell in a specific category, you may need to submit a request for being ungated in a subcategory of that category.
For example, if you’re ungated for Music, you’ll most likely need to submit an application for the Popular Music subcategory to be able to sell in that genre.
Keep this in mind to avoid any hassle during your journey.
The Final Word on Amazon Ungating
While the process of approval is lengthy, having a roadmap makes it much easier. The advice and recommendations mentioned above should help get your business ungated quickly.
If you do get rejected by the Seller Central team, don’t lose hope! Sometimes, it takes multiple applications to see your business approved. Work with the Amazon rep to ensure you check all boxes.
While they won’t sit around or coach you through the process, you’ll receive advice on the sort of changes you’ll need to make before you submit another application.