How to Sell Through Amazon’s Restricted Products List & Other Categories
Amazon sells a whopping 3 billion products worldwide, over 11 marketplaces. Selling to over 30 million customers, could there possibly be anything that Amazon does not let sellers sell, with stats like these?
Of course, there are many products which are on
Amazon’s restricted product list
for obvious reasons: weapons, alcohol, animals, etc... But what about the rest of the products on the restricted product list: those which aren’t instantly recognizable as being illegal to sell?! Some of these, that we might have expected to find on Amazon, include floating lanterns, vehicle tires, or gift cards.
Let’s investigate this through the example of selling fine art on Amazon
The category of Fine Art gets rather complicated when you’re looking to list something on Amazon under it. All art is, of course, not on Amazon’s restricted product list. For example, you can sell unique, one of a kind, watercolors and drawings, and two-dimensional mixed media, or prints and photographs with several stipulations (it must be in an edition of 200 or less, should be numbered and signed by the artists, etc.) The seller also must have been selling fine art for at least three years, and have a strong online presence on their own - or a third party - site.
There is a lot of fine art that is on the Amazon restricted product list. For example, 3D pieces of artwork like sculptures, anthropological or archaeological art, any reproduction of an existing art piece and artwork that is not signed or isn’t attributed to a named artist.
These examples of fine art, like sculptures, are what are known as “gated” categories. What this means is that, within this category, Amazon holds restrictions about what you can and can’t sell. To sell products in “gated” categories, the seller has to go through an approval process, which in itself is usually unique to that specific category.
Amazon’s justification for restricting certain categories on the Seller Central site is that they want their customers, “to be able to shop with confidence on Amazon”. This explains some of the restricted products. You would want to know as a consumer that you were not investing in any kind of counterfeit or illegal products.
Some of the other stipulations may not seem as transparent, such as the restriction on selling 3D art, but as a seller on Amazon, these are just some of the hoops you need to jump through to be able to sell your product.
Amazon’s restricted product list and process for getting approval to sell is designed to protect both Amazon’s reputation and the experience of the shopper. It’s no wonder, that with the rapidly growing number of third-party sellers on Amazon, they choose to safeguard themselves in this way.
Which categories are “gated”?
“Gated” categories, where Amazon requires approval from their sellers, are as follows:
- Fine Art
- Collectibles (e.g. books, coins)
- Fine Jewellery
- Gourmet food
- Automotive and Powersports
- Major appliances
- Video, DVD, and Blu-Ray
- Toys and Games during the holiday season
However, just because your product isn’t in a gated category, does not mean that no other restrictions apply.
Other things to look out for include:
- Gated subcategories
- Restricted products
- Restricted brands (e.g. Adidas, Apple, Bose)
- Condition restrictions (e.g. in some Baby Products categories you can only list the item as new
How can I check which categories are restricted?
The best way to see which products, brands and categories are restricted is to try and list a product for sale - before you have purchased your stock. You should also check out Amazon’s category overview and restricted products to save you time. Only use these as a starting point though before you trial list your potential product on Amazon: sometimes the information can be misleading or out of date.
Through Seller Central you can request approval to sell a product in one of Amazon’s restricted categories:
- From the Inventory menu select “Add a Product”
- Search for the item you want to sell
- Click the link that says “Listing limitations apply” in the search results
- Click the “Request Approval” button to begin the application process.
This will then take you to an easy-to-follow application form.
You MUST successfully complete the application form to be approved to sell in a gated category.
There are also some other more general stipulations and rules that apply to selling in multiple different restricted categories, such as being on the professional seller plan, great performance metrics, or a company website.
Once I’m approved, what can I sell in the category?
So, a seller may have been approved through the application process for the top-level category. But this does not mean they can sell any product within that category.
Gaining access to the top-level category might be the most difficult part of the process, but even then the seller must still be mindful of some of the stipulations we have already mentioned. These are extra stipulations which have their own, second, approval process. These include gated subcategories, restricted brands, and restricted products. Furthermore remember what we said about condition restrictions: it might be that you can only sell items of a certain condition within each category or subcategory - so make sure to do your research!
From “gated” to “ungated”
Your application process to be listed in a restricted category can be much assisted by Amazon category ungating services. Some of the top-rated tools and services include Amazoker, Amazon Category Approval and AMZ Ungating .
These services can help you handle the application process form, ensuring you have the right documentation (including, most importantly, invoices) to make your application process a breeze. Remember that these are not official Amazon services, so it will not guarantee that you will be approved, but it might just ease your process of application and increase your chances.
Going through the process step-by-step and ensuring you’ve ticked all of Amazon’s restricted products list boxes is vital: not only to ensure that you can actually sell your product on the platform but for your Amazon seller reputation.