Gated, restricted, prohibited. These words mean, in their simplest form, “no” or “you can’t have”. They’re the last words any reseller wants to hear, because they limit what can and can’t be sold as part of their business. Unfortunately, these boundaries are unavoidable when selling on Amazon. There are currently 22 categories of goods on Amazon that are “gated”, meaning that they require express permission before selling.
While frustrating, they are gated for a reason. Gating merchandise is meant to protect against safety hazards, fraud, and copyright issues, and allows Amazon to maintain a level of quality control for certain types of merchandise.
For some gated products, it might make more sense to sell them on eBay. However, Amazon sellers should first make an effort to understand the gating system. Here are answers to some common questions about gated merchandise on Amazon.
How do I “ungate” merchandise?
Ungating merchandise requires that resellers submit a request through Amazon, and each specific category has different requirements (see here). A reseller’s overall goal is to demonstrate to Amazon that they are a reputable distributor. In essence, that means having steady business and positive customer reviews.
Be careful not to jump into this too quickly—resellers should have proven track record of sales for at least three months before submitting a request to ungate merchandise. Ungating merchandise also requires a pro seller status—meaning resellers must pay a monthly subscription fee to use the Amazon marketplace.
Make sure to understand exactly what is required for each category before beginning the application process. Typically, each phase of the application must be completed within 48 hours. Some applications are simple and straightforward, while others require inventory lists and photos, among other things.
Are some things easier to ungate than others?
There are no hard and fast rules, but lower-stakes categories (i.e. less likely to run the risk of fraud or a poor product) are typically the easiest to ungate. These include Books, Clothing, Jewelry, and Automotive. More challenging categories are Grocery, Beauty, Health and Personal Care, and Video, DVD, & Blu-ray.
Can someone help me ungate products?
There are a number of services in the market that offer help with ungating merchandise. For simpler categories (mentioned above) paying for these services is typically not recommended. In fact, The Selling Family recently stopped offering services for Jewelry; Clothing & Accessories; Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses; and Watches because Amazon currently doesn’t require sellers to provide documentation to ungate these categories. In addition, there are many blog posts like this one from FBA Master and this article on WebRetailer that provide a more in-depth look at ungating merchandise.
Does Amazon change its policies often?
Not often, but policy changes do happen. Amazon typically communicates these changes via a seller alert. Within the last couple years, for example, Amazon created a policy that gated DVDs and Blu-ray unless they have an MSRP below $25. This rule is meant to discourage piracy. Many resellers with DVDs in stock were forced to find other ways to offload the product.
If this happens to you as a reseller, don’t panic! For the most part, there are other avenues to sell merchandise not allowed on Amazon. Before giving up, try joining the conversation in online forums and Facebook groups to see how other resellers are responding to the change.
Can I sell anything as long as it’s ungated?
No. Amazon (and eBay for that matter) has a specific list of prohibited and restricted items that cannot be sold through their platform. There are also certain brands that are restricted on Amazon. These are subject to change, so make sure to reference the most-up-to-date lists. When in doubt, contact seller support to avoid account suspension.
Any other questions about gated merchandise on Amazon? Submit in the comments section, and we’ll add to this post!
*Note: We updated this post to clarify requirements for Amazon pro-seller status, and the details of the DVDs and Blu-ray policy.