To protect their customers, Amazon requires sellers in restricted categories to go through an “ungating” process. Only once your application has been approved by Amazon are you allowed to list products in that category.
If you want to learn exactly how to get ungated on Amazon, you’ve come to the right place!
[This article was last updated on 27 October 2020]
First of all, getting ungated on Amazon can be a frustrating process. Amazon isn’t going to bend over backwards to assist you. If your application is unsuccessful, expect a generic response from them.
They won’t give you detailed feedback or provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to fix it. For example, if they’re not satisfied with an invoice you’ve submitted, don’t expect them to tell exactly what’s wrong with it.
It’s important to understand Amazon isn’t deliberately trying to make your life difficult.
As Amazon explained it to me, they have specific internal rules in place. They know exactly what’s wrong with applications, but aren’t allowed to divulge the exact details of their approval process.
If you’re a reseller who’s just getting started, there are certain steps you’ll want to take to get ungated. More about that in a moment.
Amazon Restricted Categories
“Gating” is Amazon’s way of protecting the integrity of their platform. Amazon wants to ensure that no Amazon seller sells low quality, counterfeit, or potentially harmful products to consumers.
Finding details on Amazon restricted categories can be cumbersome, especially if you’re not an existing Amazon seller.
For example, you can access a page where Amazon lists restricted categories. However, to view details on certain categories, you’ll need to log into your Amazon Seller Central account.
Amazon also doesn’t have one single page listing all their restricted categories. For example, dietary supplements are mentioned on this restricted categories page, but not on this Amazon Seller Central page.
To help you out, I’ve put together an up-to-date list of most Amazon restricted categories:
- Animal-Related Products
- Automotive & Powersports
- Certified Refurbished
- Cosmetics & Skin/Hair Care
- Dietary Supplements
- Drugs & Drug Paraphernalia
- Explosives, Weapons & Related Items
- Fine Art
- Gambling & Lottery
- Grocery & Gourmet Food
- Hazardous & Dangerous Items
- Human Parts & Burial Artifacts
- Jewelry & Precious Gems
- Laser Products
- Lock Picking & Theft Devices
- Medical Devices & Accessories
- Offensive & Controversial Materials
- Organic Products
- Pet Food
- Plants, Plant Products, and Seeds
- Postage Meters & Stamps
- Subscriptions & Periodicals
- Surveillance Equipment
- Tobacco & Tobacco-Related Products
- Video, DVD & Blu-Ray
- Warranties, Service Plans, Contracts, and Guarantees
NOTE: Many categories don’t require approval, although their sub-categories might. In addition, even if you don’t need to get approved, certain categories have “selling guidelines” you need to know.
Become an Amazon Seller
Before you can sell products on Amazon, you need to open a seller account.
You can use your customer account to start selling. Alternatively, you can create a new seller account with your business email address.
Amazon requires the following information from Amazon sellers:
- Business email address or Amazon customer account
- Chargeable credit card
- Government ID
- Tax information
- Phone number
- Your bank details where Amazon can send you proceeds from your sales
You’ll notice Amazon charges a monthly fee of $39.99 + selling fees. This is for a professional account.
You can sell on Amazon without having a professional account. If you scroll down the sign up page, you’ll see the following link:
As an individual seller, you don’t have to pay any monthly fees, but you’ll have to pay Amazon selling fees.
This is how Amazon explains their individual selling plan:
“The Individual selling plan is a pay-as-you-go plan that provides access to a basic set of listing and order management tools. Individual sellers can create listings one at a time by matching their products to existing pages or creating new pages in the Amazon catalog.”
Amazon’s pay-as-you-go rate is $0.99 per item. Based on this, if you have less than 40 sales per month, it might be the right plan for you. If you want to sell inside gated categories, though, you’ll need to get a professional plan.
For more information on how much it costs to sell on Amazon, have a look at their selling fees schedule.
7 Tips on How to Get Ungated on Amazon
Be wary of Amazon ungating services that “guarantee” to get you ungated in restricted categories.
There are no guarantees these Amazon ungating services will get you ungated on Amazon. You could end up paying for a service that fails to deliver and won’t give you a refund!
That’s why you need to work through the ungating process yourself.
If you follow the tips below on how to get ungated on Amazon, you should soon be selling in restricted categories!
1) Work With a Reputable Supplier
Before you can apply to get ungated on Amazon, you need to have a relationship with a reputable supplier. If you don’t have products or access to products you can sell on Amazon, there’s no point in applying.
It falls outside the scope of this article to cover how you can find the right supplier(s).
If you don’t already have a supplier, I do suggest you take a look at SaleHOO.
SaleHOO is a directory that lists 8,000+ pre-vetted suppliers. Finding a good supplier can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. SaleHOO can make this process much easier!
Supplier vs Manufacturer
Try to find a supplier who’s also the manufacturer of the products you wish to sell on Amazon. If you want to sell within gated categories, Amazon will ask you who the manufacturer is.
If your supplier is not the manufacturer, it can create problems with the Amazon ungating process. This is especially true if your supplier isn’t known to Amazon.
Tip: Ask your supplier if they’re the manufacturer. If not, ask them if they could give you a letter from the manufacturer that clarifies their relationship. Submit this letter to Amazon during your application process.
2. Start Off Selling in Ungated Categories
In my experience, it pays to start off selling in ungated categories. You’ll have a better chance to get approved for gated categories if you have a successful track record with Amazon.
As previously mentioned, “gating” is just Amazon’s way of protecting the integrity of their platform. If you’ve never sold on Amazon before, they’ll be more cautious if you want to sell in a restricted category.
The above comments don’t imply you can’t get ungated if you're new to selling on Amazon. However, if you have no account health history, it can be more difficult to get ungated. Having an account in good standing will benefit you.
The key metrics appearing on your account health dashboard are:
Customer Service Performance
Order Defect Rate (ODR) - Target: Under 1%.
Order defect rate consists of negative feedback, A-to-Z guarantee claims, and chargeback claims.
Target: 0 Issues.
- Suspected intellectual property violations
- Received intellectual property complaints
- Product authenticity customer complaints
- Product condition customer complaints
- Food and product safety issues
- Listing policy violations
- Restricted product policy violations
- Customer product reviews policy violations
- Other policy violations
Shipping Performance (Seller Fulfilled)
Late Shipment Rate - Your late shipment rate should be below 4%.
Pre-fulfillment Cancel - Target: Under 2.5%.
Valid Tracking Rate - Target: Over 95%.
Amazon sellers need to comply with Amazon’s requirements. Getting approved to sell in a gated category will be difficult if your Amazon account metrics are poor.
3. Have a Professional Looking Website
Amazon doesn’t always ask for your website details but having a website can help you get ungated. If you have a new seller account, you’ve not had the opportunity to prove yourself to Amazon. A professional looking website can boost your credibility!
Having your own website is always a good idea, regardless of whether you want to sell on Amazon or not. Remember, Amazon is only one sales channel, and you have no control over how they operate.
It’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. Think of it this way… What would happen to your business if Amazon decides to close your account tomorrow? Being 100% dependent on a single platform is very risky!
You typically have two options.
Have an ecommerce website
Sell products straight from your website. You don’t have to worry about getting ungated and don’t have to pay Amazon any fees. In addition, you don’t have any competitors on your site like you have with Amazon.
Build a content marketing website
You don’t need to have an ecommerce website. Having a high quality website with helpful content and links to your products on Amazon is a great idea. If you optimize your site correctly, you can send free organic traffic to your products on Amazon.
Should Amazon ever decide to close your seller account, you have an established website you can turn into an ecommerce site. And if you decide to no longer sell your own products, you can turn it into an affiliate marketing site that sells other products in the same space.
Perhaps the single biggest advantage of having a website is it can help you build a relationship with your target audience. By capturing the details of visitors to your site,you can build up a database of prospects. This isn’t possible to achieve using only Amazon, as they don’t allow you to capture customer details.
4. Sign up for a Professional Plan
In order to get approved to sell in a gated category, Amazon will expect you to sign up for a professional plan.
Here are the benefits of a professional selling plan, as mentioned by Amazon:
- No $0.99 Closing Fee for each item sold. You pay only a monthly $39.99 subscription fee, referral fees, and variable closing fees.
- Ability to collect U.S. sales and use taxes on your orders.
- Customize your shipping rates and services levels for all products (except Books, Music, Videos and DVDs).
- Manage your inventory using feeds, spreadsheets, and reports.
- Manage orders using order reports and order-related feeds.
- Access Amazon Marketplace Web Service to upload feeds, receive reports, and perform other API functions.
- Ability to offer Promotions and Gift Services.
- Eligibility for Featured Merchant status and listing placement in the Buy Box.
If you already have an individual sales account, you can upgrade to a professional selling plan. Amazon will request additional information from you within 72 hours after you’ve requested an upgrade. Once you’ve submitted the requested information Amazon can take up to three business days to review and approve your request.
NOTE: If you’re already dealing with a manufacturer, make sure your details correspond 100% with those on the manufacturer’s invoices (e.g. use the same address and contact details).
5. Add Products/Request Approval
Once you’ve been approved to sell on Amazon, it’s time to add your first product.
There are two ways you can add a product.
One. Click on “Add Products” in the catalog.
Two. Click on “Add a Product” in inventory.
Both options will take you to the same page, where you can add a new product.
Products currently sold on Amazon
If you want to sell a product that’s currently sold on Amazon, enter the product’s name, UPC, EAN, ISBN, or ASIN.
Most people selling on Amazon are resellers. They buy products from a manufacturer or merchant and resell it on Amazon. The products are often already listed on Amazon.
If you’re a reseller, you should first search for the product on Amazon. You can’t just create a new listing if the exact same product is already being sold on Amazon.
This is what you would see if you search for “supplements.”
Amazon has 1,794,395 results for supplements. Since supplements is a restricted category, Amazon will show “Apply to sell” and “Show limitations.”
For example, the second product has the following limitations:
- You need approval to list in this brand.
- You need approval to list Dietary Supplement products.
- Collectible, Refurbished, Used conditions: You cannot list the product in this condition.
Restricted categories have different requirements depending on the category. Once you apply to get ungated, Amazon will let you know what information they require.
Here’s another example for the grocery and gourmet foods category.
The first product in the grocery and gourmet foods category gives you the opportunity to apply to sell. It lists two limitations:
- You need approval to list in the Grocery & Gourmet Foods category.
- You need approval to list in this brand.
The third product mentions: “You are not approved to list this product and we are not accepting applications at this time.”
Based on the above, you may find different limitations for specific products within a restricted category.
Here’s another example for the toys category.
Getting ungated on Amazon for the toys category poses an additional challenge, namely holiday selling. That’s if you fulfil orders directly. According to Amazon, it’s to maintain a positive customer experience.
For example, for 2020, Amazon has the following requirements:
It’s applicable from November 2, 2020 through January 3, 2021.
- Your first sale on Amazon must be prior to September 1, 2020 and does not need to be specific to Toys & Games.
- You must have processed and shipped at least 25 seller-fulfilled orders from August 15, 2020 through October 14, 2020.
- Your pre-fulfillment cancel rate must be no greater than 1.75% from September 15, 2020 through October 14, 2020.
- Your late shipment rate must be no greater than 4% from September 15, 2020 through October 14, 2020.
- Your order defect rate must be no greater than 1% as of October 14, 2020.
Getting category approval for toys can be cumbersome. And based on Amazon’s holiday selling policy, you might want to consider selling in another gated category instead.
Adding a product not sold on Amazon
If you want to sell a product that’s not currently sold on Amazon, click the link: “I’m adding a product not sold on Amazon.”
This is typically the case where you manufacture your own products, or sell products under your own brand name. Many Amazon sellers source private label products they can sell under their own brand name.
It’s a smart idea. Selling products under a private label helps differentiate you from your competitors.
Amazon will ask you to provide full details on the product you wish to sell. If the product is in one of the restricted categories, Amazon will let you know. They’ll give you the opportunity to apply to get ungated.
At BrandBuilders, we believe in the value of building your own brand. If you can find a manufacturer that will allow you to sell their products under your own brand, go for it.
NOTE: Stay clear of private label ebooks. It’s one of the fastest ways to get your account banned. The above comments on private label products refer to physical products, not digital products.
If you’re selling private label products under your own brand name, register your brand with Amazon. This only applies if you have a registered trademark.
To register your brand name with Amazon, you can’t just lay claim to a name by putting ™ behind it. It has to be a trademark that’s officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Having a registered trademark won’t necessarily help you get approved for gated categories. However, if you’re serious about building and protecting your brand, it’s still worth considering.
Tip 1: If you want to sell products under your own brand name, make sure you’re not infringing on someone else’s trademark. USPTO has a trademark database you can search.
Tip 2: Be careful what barcodes you use. Many unscrupulous sellers sell cheap barcodes that won’t be accepted by Amazon. To be safe, use GS1. If you don’t have eligible barcodes, you can use Amazon barcodes instead.
Many Amazon sellers are resellers and sell products under their own brand name(s). Nothing stops you from doing both.
For detailed information on what information you need to include in a new product listing, refer to Amazon’s Quick Start Style Guide. It will walk you through Amazon’s requirements for your product title, key features, product description, and images.
6. Submit Requested Information
Once you’ve applied to be ungated in a restricted category, Amazon will request certain product information from you. You have to respond before you can get approval to sell specific products.
The two most common reasons why Amazon will decline an application for getting ungated are:
- Incorrect product images
- Incorrect invoices
Amazon wants to see actual product images, not computer generated images. This is often the reason private label sellers are rejected. They receive a computer generated image from their supplier with their brand name superimposed on a product.
Make sure images you submit to Amazon in support of your application are actual product images. The image should only show the product and nothing else. Submit images taken from different angles.
In my experience, you can often get away using computer generated images in your product listings, after you’ve been ungated. However, during the application process they won’t tolerate computer generated images.
Where possible, use a plain white background. The ideal size of a product image is 2000px x 2000px. If possible, try not to submit images below 1000px x 1000px. The actual product should occupy at least 80% of the image area.
Submitting a correct invoice from your supplier is the most important thing that can make or break your application.
- Make sure your details on the invoice matches your details in your seller account. Details should include your company name, physical address, and contact details.
- Amazon will only accept printed invoices. Don’t submit handwritten invoices.
- Your supplier’s name, physical address, phone number, and website address should appear on the invoice. (Amazon should be able to reach your supplier to verify the authenticity of your supplier and the invoice you’ve submitted).
- Amazon wants to see an actual paper invoice, not an email invoice.
- The invoice should be 100% clear and legible, so only submit high-resolution photos.
- Invoices need to be recent. In most cases, Amazon won’t accept an invoice older than 90 days.
- Amazon will only accept real, original invoices and not pro forma invoices. You have to place an order with your supplier.
- The products and quantities you ordered should be clearly listed on the invoice. Amazon may request invoices for a minimum quantity. You can submit more than one invoice to meet this requirement.
7. Never Give Up!
Don’t get discouraged if your application for category approval is declined. Amazon will give you an opportunity to resubmit required documents. You’re also welcome to appeal their decision – although, in my experience, it’s unlikely an appeal will be successful.
The good news is, if your application is unsuccessful, you can submit a new application.
Is Getting Ungated Worth It?
Trying to get ungated can be frustrating, as getting ungated on Amazon isn’t easy.
It’s important to understand that Amazon wants to limit the number of sellers in restricted categories and brands. New sellers have to earn their approval. Amazon isn’t going to make it an easy process, as that would totally defeat the objective of gated categories!
One of the arguments in favor of getting approval to sell in a restricted category is that you have less competition. In my experience, selling in a restricted category isn’t necessarily easier or more profitable.
Selling on Amazon can be a good way to increase sales. If your current product range happens to fall in a gated category, it makes sense to apply to get ungated.
I would advise against trying to sell in a category simply because it’s gated, though.
For example, let’s assume you’re currently selling private label supplements under your own brand name. It would make sense for you to consider selling them on Amazon and going through the ungating process.
What would not make sense is to start a dietary supplements business because it’s a restricted category on Amazon. Don’t think you’ll make more money by first choosing a restricted category and then finding a supplier to support you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about ungating on Amazon.
Will Amazon accept invoices from a Chinese supplier?
Many Amazon sellers source products from Chinese companies, such as AliExpress or Alibaba. It’s possible – but not probable – that Amazon will accept invoices from a Chinese supplier for gated categories.
Instead, you should find a local supplier that’s more than likely already known to Amazon.
Once I’m approved to sell in a restricted category, can I change my supplier?
In principle, once you’ve been ungated, you’re not restricted to work with the original supplier you used. It’s unlikely Amazon will ask you to submit invoices again.
However, if they receive product complaints, they may ask you to submit new invoices. For your own benefit, only deal with highly reputable suppliers.
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article! I trust it has answered your questions on how to get ungated on Amazon. As explained, getting ungated on Amazon isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked out to be.
If you have a legitimate reason to sell in a gated category, then it’s worth applying to get ungated. However, selling in a gated category doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have fewer competitors and make more money.
If selling in a gated category makes sense for your business, then go for it! The seven tips we mentioned can help make the ungating process much easier.
And what if you don’t have experience in ecommerce or selling on Amazon, but want to get started? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us!BrandBuilders has a solid track record of helping entrepreneurs build and grow their own successful online business. To discover how we can help you succeed, book a FREE coaching call with one of our experts now!