Amazon’s restricted categories (also known as gated) are the subject of both intrigue and criticism. Some Private Label coaches advise sellers and upstarts to steer clear of these categories (and products) because it can be so hard to get selling approval.
But then there are others that consider gated categories as potential goldmines. So, which side has it right? In our opinion, while the approval process for certain gated categories can be difficult, there are benefits to selling restricted categories too.
Restricted categories aren’t open to every seller--only those that meet a set criteria and clear the approval process are allowed to create product listings and sell products.
Gated categories are known to have relatively less competition, higher demand for products, and ample growth opportunities. If you are one of the many sellers wondering how to get ungated on Amazon in 2021, then you’ve come to the right place!
So grab a coffee, get comfortable, and let’s begin.
Here’s what we have in store:
Amazon is well-known for being one of the world’s most “consumer-centric” companies. With around 6.2 million sellers, the eCom giant enacts policies that ensure its customers can enjoy a safe shopping experience.
These policies prohibit both counterfeit goods and dangerous products. At times, the regulatory laws overseeing such products are part of Amazon’s seller policies and in other instances, are reflective of restrictions imposed by governing bodies on both a state and national level.
By keeping a tight grip on what third-party sellers are allowed to sell in every marketplace, Amazon has managed to win the trust of customers worldwide.
The first step to getting ungated on Amazon is understanding the types of restrictions. First, there is an overarching restriction on a whole product category i.e. a category restriction. Then there are certain categories with gated niches, sub-niches, or products (otherwise known as restricted products).
Image Caption: Example of a gated product category on Amazon
It’s important to note: across the 17 global Amazon marketplaces, not all restrictions are equal. As mentioned earlier, bans on products vary according to local, state, and federal laws. So products or categories banned on Amazon U.S might not be banned in, Amazon Australia, for example. This point is especially important for those planning on selling in a foreign or international marketplace.
There is also the case of FBA product restrictions e.g. temperature-sensitive items that require special care. For more details, check out the Meltable FBA inventory, Expiration-dated FBA inventory, and FBA prohibited products page.
We suggest you visit Amazon’s official restricted products page as it gets updated from time to time. A product that is permitted today may not be permitted tomorrow. The following is a list of restricted products for other Amazon marketplaces:
Note: Amazon India has, by far, the least amount of restricted categories, with a total of just 10 (right now).
It is also worth noting that product restrictions across the EU are more or less the same. However, you should still double-check to determine the status of a product in the marketplace you plan on selling in.
According to Amazon, sellers are responsible for knowing which products are prohibited and which are not. They also state that due to frequent changes in both law and policy, the restricted products list is not absolute or all-inclusive.
Sometimes products that are legal to sell according to seller policies and state laws may have their listings taken down after some time. This could either be due to incomplete or inaccurate documentation or Amazon simply not being able to determine the nature of the product. In both cases, sellers are encouraged to get in touch with customer support to try and get your listings reinstated.
Sellers who fail to play by Amazon’s rules may face consequences ranging from a suspension of selling privileges to legal action. Here are a few practices you can follow to ensure you are compliant:
Still interested in selling a restricted product? Let’s look at how you can obtain approval below.
Before we get into the details of how to get ungated for restricted categories, let’s go over how to get approved to sell restricted products.
It’s important to clarify here the difference between “brand ungating” and “category ungating” which sellers often assume to refer to the same thing. The reality, however, is they are both quite different.
When attempting to resell products on Amazon, you’ll find that some items require approval from the brand before they can be listed. Amazon will ask you for written permission, and once you provide it, it would then allow you to sell the product on your account. We call this brand ungating.
Some companies provide brand ungating services to sellers in exchange for a fee. Please keep in mind such practices are strictly against Amazon’s TOS. You’re actually better off without them.
The bottom line: selling in restricted categories is not the only way to sell on Amazon. If all of this seems either too difficult, risky, or confusing to you, opt for open product categories where there’s equal opportunity to grow, excel, and make plenty of profits.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for ungating a restricted product category. Instead, Amazon has shared general information about the criteria sellers need to fulfill to obtain approval.
Note that approval may come with extra selling fees depending on the category, rigorous seller performance checks, and/or required documentation from recognized organizations.
While there are a plethora of blogs online by Amazon sellers with all sorts of ungating anecdotes, there are certain things many sellers agree on when it comes to ungating.
The following is a list of some gated product categories for Amazon.com:
Just like prohibited products, Amazon gated categories also differ for different Amazon marketplaces. Let’s go over the ungating process for some of these gated categories.
Getting approved to sell jewelry can be difficult owing to the nature of products sold within this category. Jewelry on Amazon is further divided into two main categories: Fashion Jewelry and Fine Jewelry.
The criteria for Fine Jewelry is really strict and only established sellers or experts with an already existing physical presence and logistic network should apply. Check out this helpful article to better understand how to differentiate between Fashion and Fine Jewelry.
The following are major points of consideration when attempting to ungate the Jewelry category:
Unless you’ve been a part of the Jewelry industry for some time, we recommend choosing Fashion Jewelry—and that too if you fully understand the pros and cons of selling on Amazon vs. any other platform.
Requirements for the watches category on Amazon reflect buyers concern for branding and safety.
According to Amazon, the requirements for selling watches reflect buyers’ concern for safety, branding, and most importantly, product quality. Similar to Jewelry—albeit to a lesser degree—Amazon wants to ensure that products sold within this category are authentic and of high quality.
Before applying for sell watches, make sure to understand the following guidelines related to product listings, quality, and general requirements:
If you’re confident in your ability to meet such requirements, go ahead and begin the ungating process by applying to sell.
Amazon has a made in Italy category dedicated to products made in Italy.
As the category name suggests, Made in Italy is a storefront dedicated to all products made in Italy in line with current regulations. Irrespective of whether the seller represents a small or large business, the goal of this category is to promote Italian-made products, particularly ones made out of high-quality materials and reflect great attention to detail.
On the main page, there’s a wide assortment of goods generally imported from Italy including:
This product category is featured on Amazon USA, UK, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and Japan.
Naturally, the Made in Italy category isn’t the subject of many ungating applications as a very small percentage of sellers are able to meet the main requirement i.e. made entirely in Italy. Or, at the very least, undergone a final “substantial and economically justified transformation or processing in Italy”.
It may be a long shot but the fact that Amazon created a separate category for Italian products shows there is definite demand.
Aside from the main requirement, here’s how to get your products listed on Made in Italy storefronts:
Amazon can take up to two weeks to review, approve, and finally display your product in the Made in Italy category. Even then there’s no guarantee of it appearing on the storefront; however, if it’s approved it will definitely feature a “Made in Italy” badge on the product listing, at the very least.
Reasons for rejection include choosing the wrong product category or failing to meet Amazon’s guidelines and quality standards.
Amazon’s sports collectibles category includes limited edition releases like sneakers.
Products within this category include items like athlete-signed gear, limited-edition releases like sneakers, and other memorabilia that come under the heading of sports collectibles. The following is a list of some general requirements needed to sell in this product category:
Aside from the above-mentioned requirements, all products should be authenticated (except for certain trading card items) by a third-party authenticator or grading companies. Some companies include:
Note: Amazon doesn’t seem to be accepting applications to sell in the Sports Collectibles category at the moment. If you’ve got a great product to sell in this category, keep checking back on Amazon’s official Sports Collectibles approval page or get in touch with the Seller Central support team.
Coins in Amazon’s coin collectibles category must meet strict guidelines.
Moving on from one collectible to another, this product category also emphasizes the sale of genuine products. Right off the bat, Amazon states that it may remove selling privileges unless 100% of your items are either issued by a legally recognized mint or graded by approved graders. This is in addition to meeting product requirements for this particular category.
Sellers should also possess a membership to any one of these organizations:
Some other criteria include:
The image requirements are as follows:
Finally, here’s the referral fee for Collectible Coins:
Image Caption: Referral fee for Collectible Coins with a minimum applicable fee of $0.30
Note: Amazon is currently not accepting new seller applications for the Collectible Coins category. Keep checking back to see when there’s an opportunity to apply by visiting the official page.
The Streaming Media Players category is gated to address copyright infringement concerns. To sell products here you have to meet to following benchmarks:
Amazon does not compensate applicants for the samples they provide during the application process. The shipping costs involved in sending samples for review must be borne by the applicant. Once the application has been reviewed, Amazon will inform the seller regarding the results via email.
Amazon’s video, DVD, and blu-ray category has been made more difficult to get approved for.
In an attempt to stem the sale of counterfeit Blu-Ray/DVDs being sold in the market, Amazon has made it harder to get approved for this category. Details regarding seller performance and the information required include:
Note: If you do manage to get approved to sell in this category, keep routinely checking up on the content policy guidelines which keep changing over time.
Let’s go over some questions we get from our sellers related to ungating on Amazon
It depends on which gated category you wish to sell in. Some categories are easier to get into whereas others have strong barriers to entry. After successfully meeting the seller criteria, good seller performance coupled with considerable time spent selling on Amazon increases your chances of getting ungated.
There’s no legal way to ‘buy’ permission to sell in a gated product category. Each category has its requirements and approval processes. However, for some categories, there is an approval fee that can go as high as $5,000. Such fees are usually non-refundable.
It depends. For some product categories, the application review process can take up to 2 weeks whereas for others it can go for as long as 12 weeks. In some cases, Amazon might temporarily close the application process if it feels like the category does not need any more sellers.
Items that cannot be sold on Amazon are referred to as restricted products. These vary from one Amazon marketplace to another. The sale of certain products is prohibited sometimes due to Amazon’s policies whereas in other cases it could be due to state and federal laws.
Ungating a product category on Amazon can range from easy to really, really difficult. Depending on the region, gated categories can vastly differ and it is your job to know which products are prohibited and which are not.
To ensure you stay on the right path and can compete against the big players, ZonGuru offers a dedicated team of Amazon sellers to guide you. Want to be guided by the vest? Check out our expert live training page and become a part of the elite ZonGuru seller community today!
Discover opportunities. Maximize your sales. Grow your Amazon business!