February 14, 2020
Amazon Restricted Categories: A Guide to Getting Your Products Approved
This blog post was originally published by Deliverr, which is now Flexport. The content has been adjusted to fit the Flexport brand voice and tone, but all other information remains unchanged. With the merging of Deliverr’s services (DTC fulfillment, B2B distribution, and Last Mile delivery) into Flexport’s existing international freight and technology services, we’re now able to provide merchants with true end-to-end logistics solutions spanning from the factory floor to the customer’s door.
Amazon sells everything, but you can’t sell everything on Amazon.
Known as Amazon restricted categories, there are certain types of products that you need prior permission before selling on the platform.
In this guide to getting your products approved for Amazon restricted categories, we cover the main restrictions and how to get approved to access a less competitive and highly profitable area of the marketplace.
What are Amazon restricted categories?
In most cases, creating and publishing a listing on Amazon is quick, easy, and seamless. However, several Amazon categories require prior approval from Amazon before you can start selling on them. These are known as Amazon restricted or gated categories.
These categories are updated regularly and currently include:
- Automotive and Powersports
- Collectible Coins
- Entertainment Collectibles
- Fine Art
- Sexual Wellness
- Sports Collectibles
- Streaming Media Players
- Toys and Games (Holiday Selling Guidelines)
- Video, DVD, and Blu-ray
In addition to these categories, there are also some sub-category restrictions on certain products and brands, which can be found in the specific Selling Guidelines on Seller Central.
Why Amazon restricted categories are a good thing
While it might be frustrating and time-consuming seeking special permission from Amazon for these categories, the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience.
Amazon’s restricted categories are there to protect shoppers and provide them with a positive shopping experience. This experience results in repeat visits to Amazon and repeat opportunities for you to drive sales. Whether it’s item safety, authenticity, or quality, restricted categories ensure that consumer protection is promoted.
Amazon’s restricted categories are also there to protect sellers by increasing consumer trust in your products and preventing unscrupulous sellers from damaging your brand or sector image. Plus, there’s the added benefit of fewer sellers and, accordingly, less competition in these categories, increasing the chances of your listing being seen and clicked on.
How to sell products in Amazon restricted categories
To sell products from Amazon restricted categories, you must first request approval through Seller Central.
From the main dashboard, find the relevant product and begin the application process by clicking Inventory > Add Product > Listing Limitations > Request Approval.
Depending on the category and product selection, you will be required to provide certain information and evidence during the approval process. Once completed, Amazon will review your application and respond within a few days, either approving your request, asking for additional information, or rejecting your request with reasons.
How to enhance your chances of success
To increase the likelihood of getting your products approved for Amazon restricted categories, it’s recommended that you complete the following steps before requesting approval.
1. Open a professional Amazon account
Being a business seller on Amazon is essential for accessing restricted selling. If you’re selling via an Individual account, you can quickly upgrade to Professional from Seller Central. Go to your Account Settings, click Modify Plan, and select the upgrade option.
The Professional account costs $39.99 per month, but since you’ll be saving the $0.99 per item selling fee, you can sell strategically to absorb this cost.
2. Enhance your performance metrics
Amazon’s gated categories are there to improve consumer confidence in the marketplace, therefore Amazon wants high performing and experienced sellers selling in these categories only.
To get your products approved for a restricted category, it’s necessary to elevate your performance metrics and build a commendable reputation at the same time.
Specifically, you should aim for the following KPIs.
- Last shipment rate of less than 4%
- Order defect rate of less than 1%
- Pre-fulfillment cancellation rate of less than 2.5%
If you’re struggling to meet these metrics, then it may be necessary to analyze your inventory and fulfillment methods, and consider whether Fulfilment by Amazon or Seller Fulfilled Prime could help.
If you’re new to Amazon, it’s also suggested that you invest time building credibility and performance by selling from ungated categories for some time before moving onto gated categories.
3. Retain evidence of authenticity
You must be able to evidence the authenticity of your products to Amazon, including proof that your product supplier either manufactures the products directly or is a licensed wholesaler. Amazon has been known to reject invoices for overseas manufacturers too so, where possible, try to source locally or manufacture yourself.
4. Retain invoices for goods
In addition to evidence of authenticity, Amazon may require proof that you purchased your items directly from the supplier identified. Ensure that you keep acceptable supplier invoices, that are dated within 90 days of your application and contain up-to-date company information (such as name, office address, and website) that is identical to that of your Amazon account.
5. Create a company website
In determining the authenticity and credibility of your business, Amazon may ask to see your company website. It’s helpful if you can provide a link to a professional-looking website that is active, up-to-date, and easy to purchase from. If you’re not sure which eCommerce platform to choose, take a look at our helpful comparison of Shopify vs. WooCommerce.
6. Create a high-quality listing
A high-quality listing is crucial regardless of which categories you’re selling in on Amazon. But it’s particularly important when seeking Amazon’s approval. Ensure that your listing complies with Amazon’s listing policies and is informative, engaging and professional.
This includes having:
- A descriptive title
- Informative and engaging descriptions
- Bullet points of product features
- High-quality images
- Competitive pricing
- Fast shipping options
7. Research and comply with the additional requirements
Finally, each individual category will have further requirements for being approved. These range from minimum quantities, seller history, and specific licenses. Ensure that you understand the particular requirements for your category and can comply with them before seeking permission.
Wrapping it all up
Getting your products approved for Amazon restricted categories might be a lengthy and even costly process. Still, once you’ve gained access, you’ve also gained access to a less competitive selling environment with high levels of consumer trust and purchase activity. Your bottom line could soon reveal that Amazon restricted categories are worth the investment.
The contents of this blog are made available for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for any legal, business, or financial decisions. We do not guarantee, represent, or warrant the accuracy or reliability of any of the contents of this blog because they are based on Flexport’s current beliefs, expectations, and assumptions, about which there can be no assurance due to various anticipated and unanticipated events that may occur. This blog has been prepared to the best of Flexport’s knowledge and research; however, the information presented in this blog herein may not reflect the most current regulatory or industry developments. Neither Flexport nor its advisors or affiliates shall be liable for any losses that arise in any way due to the reliance on the contents contained in this blog.