How to Sell in The Restricted Categories on Amazon: The Ultimate Guide

Before you start selling your products on Amazon, you might want to take the time to think about your niche. Even seasoned Amazon users, who may have already retailed a product or two before, are often puzzled on what categories to trade in.

Often, folks will ask me what I sell on the platform, and I gladly confess that any item that will make me an extra buck is on my list. However, they are mostly unappeased by my rebuttal as the hunger for the details on the types of these items are great.

Thus, in this post, I will strive to dive into details on the different categories of items that one can retail on Amazon. Just remember that there are some Amazon restricted categories that requires you to get approval from Amazon first. Many sellers find the licensing procedure quite long and tedious, but the competition in the confined section is low with fewer sellers approved.

Let’s get into the details of what you can and cannot sell on Amazon, shall we?

Ungated Categories: Open to All Sellers

Before we examine the procedure of getting an Amazon restricted categories approval, let us check all the categories open even to the new sellers. They comprise of the following:

  • Camera & photo
  • Baby
  • Beauty
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Fine Art (however new seller submissions is fixed)
  • New & Used Books (excluding Collectible Books)
  • Office Products
  • Pet Supplies
  • Home & Garden
  • Outdoors
  • Kindle Accessories
  • Health & Personal Care
  • Musical Instruments
  • Personal Computers
  • Software
  • Sports
  • Video games
  • Toys
  • Tools & Home Improvement

So what do you sell on Amazon? For starters, you might want to focus on products covered under one or more of the categories above. A good number of items for sale on Amazon are in the Amazon gated categories, though. If you want to apply for Amazon restricted brands and categories, it is paramount to immediately seek approval. Amazon also applies some limits on what you can and cannot sell during a festive period.

Retailed Items in the Open Categories

The open categories attract a lot of attention, eagerness, interest, and curiosity, mostly drawing the a huge number of sellers. The top in the list of categories includes the Beauty and Health division, Health and Personal Care, Toys, and Home & Garden. Competition is tougher in these categories. However, the markets are also wider as they invite more potential customers.

Usually, we find ourselves cherry picking our niche. It is, in fact, advisable to do so. You need to do careful research on your target market and competitors before you settle on a niche.

Also, the categories listed above are too broad. You have to specify exactly where your products belong. For instance, under the Beauty category, you need to identify your products into sub-categories, e.g. Beauty & Grooming or Heath & Household. Then, under Beauty and Grooming, you need sub sub-categories, e.g. Men’s Grooming, All Beauty, Luxury Beauty, Professional Skin Care, or Salon & Spa.

Health & Personal Care: Restricted or Not?

For some time, restrictions had been applied to the Health & Personal Care categories, including beauty products. The only sellers that had unlimited access to it were the pioneers who had started retailing in the section since its inception. On the flip side, Amazon policies were reviewed on these categories and users of the platform were approved to sell without requiring exclusive concession.

It is imperative to differentiate a brand name restriction and category restriction to avoid the generalization that the whole category is banned. While the Health & Personal Care is no longer a restricted category, there are sub-categories like over-the-counter medication that will still require permission, and Amazon may levy some commissions on that. Restriction on sensitive subcategories is done to limit the upsurge of illegal drugs that have begun popping up on the platform.

For an endorsement in these restricted categories, one may have to pay a weighty fee. You can’t simply be granted free access in a number of these categories. In a different circumstance, one may need direct consent from a particular brand, requiring you to pay even more fees. Since it is more expensive, sellers don’t usually opt for this method.

Toys: Gated Category on Amazon or Not?

Like the Health & Personal Care category, the Toy category is also awashed with incorrect information regarding their product listings in the restricted or open categories. Only recently did toys attract restrictions. How? Sellers who wanted to sell straight from their warehouses have contradicted the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) understanding. If, however, a trader, selling on Amazon is operating in line with the FBA program, there are no constraints on both the fresh seller or the seasoned seller.

Divisions that Attract Restrictions on Amazon

After the knowing the categories that are open to all sellers, it is now necessary for us to dive into the specifics of the Amazon Prohibited products or those which are out of bounds for the casual retailers. Amazon Prohibited Items categories include the following:

  • Grocery & Gourmet Foods
  • Collectible Books
  • Gift Cards
  • Clothing & Accessories
  • Automotive & Powersports
  • Industrial & Scientific ( the BISS category)
  • Sports Collectibles
  • Major Appliances
  • Luggage & Travel Accessories
  • Watches
  • Jewelry( currently locked by Amazon for new sellers)
  • Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses

The above-named categories are gated in other sections on Amazon. However, they are not restricted, even though many BRANDS need permission to sell their products.

Restrictions Grounded on Product Condition

Previously owned items are not eligible for sell under these Amazon prohibited categories:

  • Jewelry
  • Toys & Games
  • Beauty
  • Clothing, Accessories & Luggage
  • Grocery & Gourmet Food
  • Health & Personal Care
  • Watches
  • Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses

Amazon has, for a while, bootlegged the retailing of toys in ‘USED’ status but would permit traders to poll them in Collectible condition division. This creates a technicality where traders buy and sell the ‘used’ toys.

Items Sold in the Restricted Categories

Amazon ungating service allows a trader to sell some products which are indeed listed in the gated categories. Among these items are Grocery and Clothing & Accessories. Groceries are easier to access because you can prove the good condition of the product by simply checking the expiry dates. Thus, Amazon seller requirements on the Grocery category include a detailed on-the-counter checking of the expiration dates before and during the dispatching of products to a fulfillment center.

Reasons for Gated Categories on Amazon

To avoid counterfeits, Amazon imposes regulations on categories in which they restrict brands and products sold daily. Regulations help in curtailing the liability of trading fraudulent items. Mock products like duplicated DVDs, fake name brand handbags, replica jewelry, and parallel beauty products would easily pass as authentic on other ecommerce platforms. Amazon, however, seeks to verify that traders on their platform are genuine, decent, and impartial before giving them the privilege to sell products on sensitive categories.

Different Forms of Restrictions

Amazon Restricted Products cover three primary things: condition, categories, and brand. For example, products under Amazon categories like Grocery are closely monitored. Not only are the brands under these Amazon Product Categories thoroughly screened, but their individual products are also tested to verify their condition. Amazon will require you to apply to get licensed to trade your products.

In the restricted category, established brands work with Amazon to get their products sheltered. Thus, if you are a trader selling a brand or product that is not your own, you might have to get approval from the brand or company itself before you can begin to sell on Amazon.

The Key Procedure for Getting Ungated on Amazon

Your request for approval will rarely get an immediate positive response. If, by chance, it does, Amazon will be vague on the specifics about which brands and categories you will have access to.

Still, if you want to access restricted Amazon categories, you might need to follow the steps below for requesting permission:

Step 1: Select Add a Product in the Seller Central by clicking on the inventory link.

Step 2: Perform a search for the product you want to sell or any item that you are sure is classified in the category you are looking for.

Step 3: Click the Listing Limitations Apply link in the search results

Step 4: Start the process of application by selecting the Request Approval button.

Step 5: To track the status of a request, select back to Add a Product tool and click the Selling application status link near the top of the page.

Step 6: Once you’ve asked permission to access a restricted category permission, you can proceed by clicking the request approval button.

How to Bypass Restrictions in the Grocery Category

Grocery & Gourmet Food is the restricted category that sparks most curiosity among sellers who are just starting out. The category contains a wide range of items that are not new to the traders. Plus, they are easily available and attract a substantially lower capital to venture into.

On Seller Central, Amazon explains one effective way of sending in your submission to apply for permission to trade in this restricted category. Traders have reported relative experiences on their interaction with the licensing process outlined by Amazon, and a few tricks can be done to make the process faster and easier.

Firstly, you need to have affirmative seller metrics, paperwork ascertaining that you bought the items, several other documents.

Seller metrics entails:

  • Transform to a PRO MERCHANT – by paying the due rate of $39.00 per month for the seller account you are in possession of.
  • Late shipment rate: <4%
  • Pre-fulfillment cancel rate: <2.5%
  • Order defect rate: <1%

The above conditions are easy to subscribe to because they are designed to work for the traders on Fulfillment By Amazon or FBA Amazon as opposed to those on Merchant Fulfilling, who are guided by a different set of factors such as shipping schedules, late shipment rate, and so forth.

Paperwork Required to Rid Off Restrictions in Grocery

If you want to sell items classified under the grocery category, you need to present to Amazon several important documents. Countercheck the details to ascertain that information in the invoice does not contradict that of the account that you use when selling on Amazon. Vital details, such as your business location, should be uniform with those registered in your seller account. Otherwise, Amazon will not approve your application.

Often, people intending to have brands or products sold on Amazon have been turned down because the location and address of their enterprises do not correspond with that on their seller accounts . It is, therefore, of supreme importance that traders give their formal business address.

However, the invoice should not be taken as a replacement of a receipt offered from the barter stores. It should include crucial details such as the name, contact number, address and, most importantly, the website of the enterprise. It has been noted that excluding the website on the information in the invoice will not augur well with Amazon because the platform relies on the website to get all the information to establish the legitimacy of a seller. Further, the website should hold this information in its first page to make it easier for Amazon to find the details on the first search because they will not spend much time trying to look for the information on the other consecutive pages on the website.

Among other details that a seller may be required to produce is a recent tax/business license. Even though Seller Central does not inform the traders about this requirement in advance, it is still crucial to produce this documentation in that case that you are asked for further verification.

On Amazon seller categories, standard exhibitions of ten different items of a product have been necessary. It is up to the seller’s discretion to choose which distribution channel to use because Amazon does not require traders to confine themselves to one. Among the most used channels include Amazon Boot Camp and Hot Shots Hot Sauce, which traders have used to buy items and, in turn, successfully present the invoices to Amazon for approval for a less costly tag of about $50. Price Master has also been utilized as an alternative channel. Although the cost is higher as it requires a minimum of $200 on all the purchases made via the channel.

In summary, the primary elements that will get a fresh trader ungated are:

  • Buying more than ten units of a product
  • Getting the official invoice and presenting it to Amazon accompanied by an updated business license.

Confirming Invoice from Amazon

If you can’t buy more than ten units of a product to get ungated, you can use the second option. How do you do it? Here are the most important guidelines that you need to know:

One: Confirming that the Items You Intend to Buy are on the Amazon List

It is of essence that you list an item on Amazon. Also, the items need to be cataloged in that particular category that you are seeking approval in. By far, the most efficient method to achieve this is by navigating to seller central and selecting Add A Product. Amazon will inform you what category the product is placed immediately.

Two: Waiting for Official Invoices from Amazon After Delivery of Order

During the delivery of your order, Amazon will attach an invoice inside your package that you ordered. This is the formal invoice which you will require when asking for permission, so you can have the invoice scanned and sent the copy to Amazon.

Three: Checking the Invoice for Details
You need to write the Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) of each item that you are sending to Amazon. Also, inscribe a footnote if there is a mix-up on the number of units that you have purchased.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Amazon Restricted Access Approval

Can’t I simply pay for approval?

You can’t unless you are paying someone to make you order on Amazon, which is not necessary since it is easy to do it yourself. It is not advisable to pay for approval because Amazon requires official invoices. These invoices are attached to your package after you made the required ten orders while seeking approval.

Paying for approval endangers your chances of being approved because you are more likely to be paying for forged documents, and Amazon has strict penalties for submitting fake paperwork. The absolute punishment is not being allowed to trade on the platform, and this beats the logic of why you are trying to pay for approval in the first place.

Is approval guaranteed?

There are no guarantees for approval. Even traders with the right paperwork will sometimes have to make multiple submissions. It is, therefore, advisable to send in a couple of requests before giving up on the prospect of being approved.

Is a business license necessary?

It might be confusing because some sellers submit a license and others don’t. It varies as per Amazon discretion. Some sellers are required to produce an updated business license prior to the approval, but some manage to get the approval even without it.

As a new seller, will I get approved?

Well, some new sellers have had the privilege of getting approved while some have been sent back. However, a little experience on Amazon will increase your chances of getting approved faster.

Are receipts from platforms like Target accepted?

Do not bother with these retail receipts; they DON’T work especially for approval in categories.

If I trade from China, are my invoices valid for approval by Amazon?

It is very rare for Amazon to admit invoices with Chinese origin. You better stick to the approval method we mentioned because Amazon will be very reluctant to approve you based Chinese invoices because it is very difficult for them to ascertain the authenticity of the documents.

Is it possible for me to sell the ten products I purchased when seeking approval?

You are free to sell the products as you may wish. You may not get to make a resounding profit, but you can at least get some of your money back.

Am I limited to selling only to the wholesaler who is listed on the invoices I presented to get approved?

There is no limitation because Amazon is no longer counter checking your invoices after they permit you to trade. Therefore, you can trade with any approved supplier on Amazon as per your discretion.

Amazon Revisions on the Product Restrictions

Amazon revises restrictions more often than you think. This forces traders to keep a vigilant watch on the changes made each time. The restriction revisions happen so often that it is difficult to effectively establish which category is gated and which one is not. Therefore, the perfect method to be certain which products you can sell and can’t sell is by scanning the product with The Amazon Seller App. If you are not using a desktop computer, click Add A Product and a pop up will alert you of any restrictions on the individual item.

Final Thoughts

Now, as a new seller, you will know how to sell things on Amazon, without Amazon restricting what you can trade in because I assume that from the guide above, you will have known how to get approval.

I am confident that, as a new seller, you can now comfortably make a viable list of the products you intend to sell on Amazon. Now, your next problem is how to actually make a sell. If you want help in reaching out to your target customers, SageMailer can help you.

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