To protect their customers, Amazon requires sellers in certain categories to go through an “ungating” process, that allows them to get the products they want to sell approved by Amazon’s Seller Central team.
In the past, getting ungated has been relatively easy -- provide a few receipts from a large store showing that you’ve purchased the products using legitimate methods and they aren’t counterfeits, and then Amazon would allow you to start reselling products on their platform.
However, over the last year, Amazon has begun making it harder and harder to get products ungated.
If you’re a reseller who’s just getting started selling through FBA, there are certain steps that you’ll want to take.
If you’re not familiar with “gating”, it’s Amazon’s way of keeping unscrupulous sellers out of categories like health, beauty, and grocery, to ensure that they are not passing low quality, counterfeit, or potentially harmful products onto consumers.
Gated categories can prove to be very fruitful for you, as a seller, because the competition is typically lower (due to the ungating process) and the prices are not nearly as volatile as some other categories.
There are some services available that “guarantee” to get you ungated in the categories that you want to sell in, that you’ll want to remain leary of.
When it comes to a human approved process, like getting ungated, there are no guarantees.
You could end up paying for a service that fails to deliver on their guarantee, and also refuse to refund the money you’ve spent.
That’s why you need to approach the ungating process yourself, using the steps that we’ve laid out for you below.
Something to keep in mind is that you may have your request denied, with a response that goes something along the lines of “this decision is final”. Instead of taking it as a hint that you should abandon the process, continue submitting your request.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the times that you’re submitting your requests.
Amazon outsources their customer service to India during later hours in the US, so if you submit your request after, say, 10pm, you may have it sent to someone that doesn’t have a firm grasp on the English language, and receive a boilerplate response for your efforts.
If that happens, try submitting your request during the day, when it will be forwarded to a US based customer service center, and handled by someone that can read, speak, and understand what you’re telling them. The language barriers are real.
We have heard numerous reports of these steps working, so if you don’t get accepted right away, keep tweaking your approach and trying again.
If you follow the steps below, you shouldn’t encounter many problems.
Getting approved to sell in gated categories has a lot to do with your approach, and the Seller Central representative that you get to listen to your request.
There really is no rhyme or reason that helps us figure out why people are approved or disapproved, other than needing physical copies of your invoices and waiting longer to become approved than you were forced to wait in the past.
With that being said, here are the basic steps you need to follow to start the ungating process.
Before you submit a request to Amazon, you’re going to need to have a wholesaler account with a distributor that sells products that are found in Amazon’s health, beauty, or grocery categories.
While you’re creating the account, make sure that you are using the same home address and email address that you have used to create your Amazon account. Any discrepancies between the addresses you order with, and the addresses you sell with could cause significant delays.
When you’ve created an account with US Grocer or Dollar Days, you need to find three different products to purchase.
To make things easy, you’ll want to place three different orders that contain a different ASIN on each order.
To give you an example, you could place an order for Chap Stick, another for Oreo cookies, and another for multivitamins. This gives you one product in each category.
The goal here is to get ungated, not necessarily make a profit. If you’re able to turn a profit, great, but don’t focus solely on finding products that can deliver a profit for you. Instead, focus on getting one product from each category.
It will typically take between 3 to 7 business days for your order to arrive to your house.
Once you have received the order from US Grocer or Dollar Days, you’re going to need to verify that the information is the same, between what’s included on the invoices, and what you’ve used to create your Amazon account.
Double check that your home address, email address, and phone number are all the same. If they aren’t, you will need to place another order, costing yourself even more time and money.
Amazon is no longer accepting digital copies of invoices, because of so many low quality sellers faking them and using the fake invoices to get ungated. In the past, you could forward the emails you received when you placed the order to Amazon, and use the emails to be approved.
Now, though, you’re going to need to scan your invoices or take a picture of them with your smartphone. Once you take the pictures or scan them, you’re going to need to do some light editing.
Grab the image you just took and open it in a photo editing program on your computer. Then, next to the item description, you’re going to want to add text with the ASIN of the product on Amazon’s marketplace.
Make sure that the text is clear and easy to read to avoid delays in processing your request.
Now, you’re going to need to jump onto Amazon’s website and grab another image to include in your email request to the Seller Central team.
Browse to the category where the products you’ve purchased are located, and then find the listing for the actual product.
Scroll down the page until you get to the product information, and then grab a screenshot of the details of the products you’re trying to get ungated with.
You’ll want to make sure that the ASIN, UPC, and Item model number are clear enough for the Seller Central team to read.
Once you have the images ready to go, you’re going to need to browse to the main page of the category that you’re trying to get ungated in here.
Go through the required steps to submit the invoices you’ve received, along with the ASIN screenshots. You’ll need to include a picture of your business license, as well.
You should submit your requests quickly after receiving your invoices from US Grocer and Dollar Days. Invoices that are more than 90 days old will be rejected, along with any invoices that do not have clear names for the products that you’ve purchased.
With the number of responses increasing over the last 12 to 18 months, you’re going to need to expect to wait between 3 hours and 3 days to receive a response from the Seller Central team.
Make sure to submit your request during normal business hours (in the United States) to receive a response quicker. In most cases, they will give you a reason why your application has been rejected, giving you areas you need to address before you resubmit the request.
If you’re already selling on Amazon, and are looking to start reselling, there are other things you can do to help increase the chances that your reseller application is approved and you get ungated from the health, beauty, and grocery categories.
If you’re already selling on Amazon in other categories (which you should be, if you’re trying to get ungated), you need to make sure that your existing metrics will show the Seller Central team that you’re a quality seller.
Selling on other categories and having existing metrics that Amazon can look at will greatly increase your chances of being approved to sell in health, beauty, or grocery.
Amazon has a reputation to uphold, so if your metrics fall above the numbers we’ve just given you, you will have a hard time getting approved to sell in gated categories.
You may also find yourself being forced to explain why the metrics are so low and risk having your account suspended as a result.
If your metrics fall out of the ranges we’ve just given you, you will need to address them and start getting your orders out on time, make sure that the products you’re selling aren’t defective when you send them out, and address the reasons people are canceling before you actually ship the products to them.
While some of the metrics may be out of your control, if they’re substantially higher than the recommended ranges we’ve given you, you will need to address the areas you can to get them lower than the recommended ranges.
Paying to become a professional merchant on Amazon is another great way to increase your chances of being approved to sell in gated categories. Becoming a professional merchant is cheap, and just good practice when you’re reselling on Amazon.
If you sell any type of volume, the professional merchant selling plan will pay for itself.
Right now, it costs $39.99 per month to become a professional seller, and you gain access to multiple different options that aren’t available to individual sellers.
For instance, you can create and upload multiple listings at the same time, while individual sellers need to create listings individually. You can also receive inventory and order management reports and feeds to keep a closer eye on your numbers.
You can learn more about the differences between individual and professional selling accounts by clicking here.
In the past, Amazon has accepted digital copies and email invoices to help you work through the process of getting ungated.
However, they’ve since changed the rules and will deny your request (usually without providing a reason) if you submit digital copies of your invoices.
Now, you’re going to need to send them copies of the paper invoices that you receive from the wholesaler you’re purchasing from.
If you don’t have a scanner to scan copies of the invoices that you can forward to Amazon, you can use your smartphone. Use the advice we’ve given you above, though, and ensure that you edit the images to include the ASIN next to each item, before you send the images to Seller Central.
If you do take a picture with a smartphone or digital camera, make sure that all of the text is legible, and that your personal information is easy to read. If the Seller Central team has a hard time deciphering what you’ve sent them, your request will be denied.
In the past, the Seller Central team would typically respond within an hour. However, lately, it has gone from an hour to taking anywhere between 3 hours and 3 days.
To help expedite the process, you’re going to want to stay on top of your emails and make sure that you respond to the emails you receive as quickly as possible.
If you follow these steps, you should have no problems getting ungated so you can start selling in the incredibly lucrative health, beauty, and grocery categories.
Andrew is an entrepreneur, digital marketer, wine enthusiast, hustler (in a good way) & the guy behind BrandBuilders.io. His business helps both FBA sellers and Amazon Affiliate marketers build out their brands and manage their portfolio of sites.