[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″ admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” _builder_version=”3.0.51″ background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” border_style=”solid”]
Amazon is known for their unparalleled customer service and they expect you, the seller, to meet the same high standards. In order to ensure that sellers adhere to their standards, Amazon has gated some categories and if you want to sell a product in that category, will require that you meet certain performance and application requirements. But the effort can pay off in the long run, as becoming ungated in categories can enable you to expand your inventory and to enjoy lower competition.
Before we go any further, a quick word about ASINs — an Amazon Standard Identification Number is a big part of this conversation, so we wanted to quickly define it for anyone not familiar with the acronym. An ASIN is given to every product you list on Amazon. Usually in the format B00xxxxxxx, an ASIN is attached to the listing, not the product itself. No two items will ever have the same ASIN (even when the same product is listed multiple times).
Okay, let’s dive in.
What are Gated Categories and How Do I “Ungate” One?
A gated (or restricted) category is simply a category or product that needs approval before you can start selling. If doesn’t mean you can’t sell that product on Amazon; it simply means you’ll have to do a bit more paperwork to receive approval. Amazon restricts certain categories to protect customers, for example, skin care items in Beauty or supplements found in Health & Personal Care.
Every restricted category has different requirements and a unique process sellers must follow to ‘ungate’ the category. Because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all protocol to follow, the best advice we can offer is to visit Amazon’s Categories and Products Requiring Approval page. If you are selling in one of the categories listed in that table, click the link next to the category name and follow the instructions to submit your application.
How Do Brand Restrictions Differ?
In addition to gated categories, you will also find brand restrictions on Amazon. Generally speaking, this means that sellers will not be allowed to list certain brands even if they are ungated in the category. You can use the Amazon Seller App to determine whether an ASIN is restricted. Please be advised that this may not always be accurate and sometimes items become restricted after you send them into FBA.
Usually these brand restrictions are the result of manufacturers demanding that Amazon exclude most, if not all, sellers from listing these items. The manufacture, distribution, and/or sale of counterfeit or stolen goods carries both civil liability and criminal penalties in the United States and other countries. These companies have the exclusive right to use their copyrights and trademarks and work diligently to protect their reputation.
There are certain instances where sellers may be able to list these restricted brands if they provide documentation from the manufacturer indicating that they are an authorized online reseller for these products. Unless you have a direct account with the manufacturer, it is unlikely that you will be able to meet this requirement. If you DO have a direct account with the manufacturer, contact them and request to become an authorized reseller.
The Reasoning Behind Gated Category and Brand Restrictions
- Safety – items that are potentially dangerous to one’s health such as recalled items, prescription drugs or illegal products will be prohibited from sale.
- Brand Exclusivity – companies may want to limit the sale of their items to select retailers to preserve a certain image and exclusivity, so they will diligently pursue brand restriction. This is often true for multi-level marketing An additional concern for MLM companies is the potential for resellers to tamper with or alter the product in some way that might harm the brand image.
- Counterfeiting– particularly high-end brands for products such as handbags, cosmetics, apparel, perfumes, shoes, watches and jewelry will be restricted in order to protect the consumer as well as the company from having their copyrights, trademarks and/or reputation violated.
- Prevention of Stolen Goods – brands and goods that are frequently stolen may be restricted from sale on Amazon to prevent the resale of stolen property.
- Brand Reputation – some companies do not want their reputation tarnished or perceived value diminished with too many retailers selling their goods or not following M.A.P. (minimum advertised price).
- Buyer Satisfaction – Amazon may restrict certain ASINs that are consistent issue ASINs (with buyer complaints) so they can assert better quality control. They’ll also do this through gating particular categories in order to ensure great customer service and maintain that only new, authentic, quality goods are being sold
We bring up this topic now because we want to help you avoid unhappy surprises later on. As you consider which product you would like to sell, it’s important to check if it falls into a gated or restricted category on Amazon.
This may seem obvious, but unless you know for a fact that you CAN sell it on Amazon, DON’T sell it. There are dozens of reasons for this, the primary one being that rules change over time. Amazon is constantly updating their policies and their rules aren’t always obvious. Also, don’t always trust what you read in online forums, Facebook groups, or blogs. The best way to know what can and can’t be listed is to review Amazon’s guidelines on restricted products.