If you exclusively sell home products on Amazon, then you may not have run into restricted categories just yet. However, if you are interested in expanding your inventory to automotive, electronics, or other categories, you may need to obtain Amazon approval before selling your new units. Below we’ll discuss these “restricted” categories and how to prepare your application for the best chance of approval.
UNDERSTANDING APPROVAL CATEGORIES
Before entering any new marketplace or selling class, you should always be aware of the different categories in which you would be selling and the relevant Amazon standards. Click here to see Amazon’s full table of categories for possible restrictions and requirements.
Generally, these categories involve Amazon approval through a separate application:
- Cell Phones/Accessories
- Clothing & Accessories
- Collectible Books / Collectible Coins
- Entertainment Collectibles
- Grocery/Gourmet Foods
- Health/Personal Care
- Industry & Scientific
- Jewelry / Watches
- Luggage & Travel Accessories
- Major Appliances
Note: Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging in any category also requires additional approval.
Each category has its own requirements, as you can see in Amazon’s table, and each has its own unique application process.
Generally, it is a simple application process for the following categories: Clothing & Accessories; Jewelry/Watches; Luggage and Travel. You will likely fill out a questionnaire that tells Amazon the answers to four major questions:
- What will you be selling?
- How will you be selling it?
- Why are you selling it?
- What is your business model?
You will then be approved or denied immediately based on the results of the questionnaire. It’s important to note that you must directly purchase from the manufacturer or be a brand owner in order to be approved.
Other categories have a more extensive application, like Beauty, Grocery, Health/Personal Care, and Automotive. These applications require invoices, proof of purchase, proof of business ownership, and others.
Each category will call for its own standards. Below are the five key requirements you may be called to meet when applying to sell within a new category.
1. HAVE A SOLID, PROFESSIONAL SELLING REPUTATION.
You must be a Professional Seller on Amazon in order to sell in any restricted category. Amazon writes, “These standards help Amazon customers have confidence when buying in any category.”
You also need to have positive customer metrics and a proven track record on Amazon. On average, your Amazon ranking should look similar to this:
- Order defect rate <1%
- Pre-fulfillment cancel rate <2.5%
- Late shipment rate <4%
If you are new to Amazon, you won’t necessarily be denied. You simply need to show some sort of online sales history (eBay or your own site) to prove you are a quality seller. However, Amazon generally prefers to give these restricted opportunities to their own proven sellers before bringing in new ones. In this way, you may want to start by selling in an open, pre-approved category to gain some Amazon experience and advance your customer metrics.
HomeRev can help boost your sales rankings towards category approval with our Managed Services.
Pro-Tip: Using Amazon’s Fulfillment (FBA) tends to speed up the approval process.
2. HAVE INVENTORY AND INVOICES READY.
For certain categories, you will need to show proof of purchase to Amazon. They will likely require three invoices per category with a minimum quantity of 36 sellable units across the three receipts.
The invoices must be from a legitimate, reputable supplier and they must clearly show the suppliers’ information (name, address, phone, website). You should also have your company info listed on the invoice. Make sure that your info on the invoice matches identically with the information on your Amazon account, or you likely will not get approved.
It is okay to change suppliers down the line; you will not lose your ability to sell in that category. Amazon requests these inventory invoices mostly to prove that you are running a consistent, trustworthy business with quality products.
3. USE QUALITY IMAGES.
Some categories require you to submit five images of your product. These images must meet listing image guidelines:
- 1280 pixel minimum (2560 preferred)
- Product takes up more than 85% of image space
- Background is white
- Picture does not show accessories that are not included
- File format .jpeg preferred
Always make sure that you have these quality, guideline-appropriate images ready before submitting your application. Amazon uses these photos as a way to prove the value of your products as well as the potential quality of your future listings.
4. USE FLAT FILE TEMPLATES FOR MULTIPLE PRODUCTS.
If you are going to be selling multiple products (at least five) within a restricted category, you may need to upload a flat file as part of your application. A flat file is a template spreadsheet that lists your products in bulk for a single selling category. Amazon uses this as a way to understand your business model and how you will be using the platform to sell your goods. It also allows you to save time on approving individual products within the same category.
If a category requires a flat file upload, Amazon will give the template to you. Have inventory and unit information available for quick input.
5. GET TO KNOW CATEGORY-SPECIFICS.
Along with these general requirements, a given restricted category may have its own approval needs. The more you know about your category, the more likely you are to be approved.
For example, Automotive parts and equipment must be warranted by the manufacturer and sellers must disclose the warranty type for refurbished products. These products must also be listed using the manufacturer’s UPC. These requirements are not necessarily true for all categories.
Have everything ready and ensure that you meet all of the requirements before starting the application process. An incomplete application will be canceled after 2 days of inactivity. Also, note that Amazon is not always accepting applications for all categories, so check the Amazon table to ensure your application won’t go un-received.
OTHER SELLING RESTRICTIONS
Most other categories not mentioned are pre-approved, including Home & Garden. However, some individual product types within these permitted categories require specific approval. For example, if you are listing a new product from a private label that no one else has previously listed on Amazon, it will need to be approved before selling.
The general rule of thumb: Before adding any new stock, be sure to do your research on Amazon’s Seller Central.
There are also some products that cannot be sold or listed on Amazon at all. These prohibited products tend to be items you might expect, such as illegal, unsafe, or prescription-only things. Some brands are also restricted, like Apple and Burberry. Most of these categories are prohibited for the safety of Amazon customers and to protect the legitimacy of branding. Learn more about Restricted Products here.
Moving into new inventory territory can be exciting and profitable. Before beginning, though, know what you’re getting yourself into when it comes to Amazon’s regulations and requirements.