Have you ever found yourself asking the question: ‘What can I sell on Amazon?' Or, maybe you are already selling and are confused by ‘What categories can I sell in on Amazon?'
These are very common questions that come up as someone is starting out on Amazon!
When people ask me: “What do you sell on Amazon?” I often grin and say “Anything that is profitable!” But I know that isn't what they are asking exactly, they want to know they types of things.
In this post, we are going to talk about the types of things you can sell on Amazon, based on their categories (this is totally different from brands that are restricted on Amazon). Some categories are gated to new sellers and some categories are open from the start.
If you want to sell in any of the restricted categories on Amazon, you will need to get approval from Amazon to do so. The process for approval can be different based on which category it is and we will cover some of the different methods further along in this post. Going through the approval process can really expand your inventory opportunities as an Amazon seller. It can also reduce competition since there are usually fewer sellers in the gated categories on Amazon.
We hear from a lot of new sellers that feel It can be a challenge when you first get started selling FBA because you run into a lot of restricted categories and brands, and it sometimes feels hard to find inventory. A lot of sellers try to get ungated in as many areas as possible to speed up the process.
We totally get it, and we’re here to help!
One thing though, we honestly feel like there are lots of things to sell that are NOT restricted. We recommend waiting until you've got some experience under your belt before you spend a lot of time (and sometimes even money) to get ungated in categories…unless you have specific products you already want to sell.
Alright, let's get right into what you can and can not sell on Amazon…
The Categories That Are Open To All Sellers On Amazon
So before we get into the process of getting ungated on Amazon, let's review the good news: there are tons of categories that are automatically open to everyone, including new sellers!
- Baby *
- New & Used Books (not including Collectible Books)
- Camera & Photo
- Consumer Electronics **
- Fine Art (but new seller applications are limited)
- Health & Personal Care***
- Home & Garden
- Kindle Accessories
- Musical Instruments
- Office Products
- Personal Computers
- Pet Supplies
- Software **
- Tools & Home Improvement
- Toys *
- Video Games **
**Specific products may still require approval.
***There are sub-categories that may still require approval, and an application fee.
This post was updated on Feb 10, 2018.
Things That We Actually Sell In The Open Categories
For those of you curious “what we sell” in these open categories, here are our favorite categories: Baby, Beauty, Health & Personal Care, Home & Garden and Toys. We pretty much personally steer clear of the other ones listed. So, just because a category is “open” doesn't mean that you HAVE to sell in it!
Some of the types of things we sell in the categories I just listed are: Baby blankets, Baby Toys, Shampoo & Conditioner, Make-up, Toiletries, Deodorant, Gift Sets, Bedding, Candles, Decorations, Board Games, Legos, Blocks and much much more.
You see, there are so many categories that are wide open, that's why I don't feel like it's necessary to get approved in the following restricted categories right away.
Aren't Health & Personal Care and Beauty Gated On Amazon?
For awhile, the Health & Personal Care and the Beauty category were completely gated to new sellers on Amazon (established sellers were grandfathered in). The good news is, these categories are no longer gated on Amazon, so you don’t need special permission to sell in them.
However, you may still need approval to sell in subcategories like topicals or over-the-counter medication, and Amazon may charge you a (significant) fee to get approved in some of them. Other times, you'll need to receive approval direct from the brand, which might also charge a fee. These can get quite expensive (in the thousands), so we don't recommend this route for new sellers.
Also, many brands or individual ASINs within those two categories ARE still restricted, so you may run into that. Just don’t get confused by a brand name restriction and think the whole category is off-limits.you may still need approval to sell in subcategories like topicals or over-the-counter medication, and Amazon may charge you a fee to get approved in some of those. Other times, you'll need to receive approval direct from the brand, which might also charge a fee. These can get quite expensive (in the thousands), so we don't recommend this route for new sellers.
What About Toys? Isn't That A Gated Category On Amazon?
Just like the 2 categories above, there is a lot of mis-information about the toy category. The only time of year that toys becomes a gated category is during the 4th quarter. And during that time, they are ONLY restricted if you want to Merchant Fulfill them and even then, it's only if you don't meet the Q4 toy qualifications. If you are selling using the FBA program, then you are good to go whether you are a new or established seller.
The Categories That Are Restricted On Amazon
Ok, now that we have covered the categories that are open to all sellers on Amazon…And cleared up some confusion about categories that are sometimes (or were) gated, let's get to what are actually restricted categories on Amazon.
- Automotive & Powersports
- Clothing & Accessories*
- Collectible Books
- Entertainment Collectibles
- Gift Cards
- Grocery & Gourmet Foods
- Industrial & Scientific (the BISS category)
- Jewelry (Note: Amazon is not currently accepting new seller applications for jewelry)
- Luggage & Travel Accessories*
- Major Appliances
- Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses*
- Sports Collectibles
*These categories are listed as restricted in some places on Amazon, but it actually appears they are open, but some BRANDS require approval.
Restrictions Based On Product Condition
Used items cannot be sold in the following categories:
- Clothing, Accessories & Luggage
- Grocery & Gourmet Food
- Health & Personal Care
- Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses
- Toys & Games *
* Amazon has long banned selling toys in Used condition but would allow sellers to list them in Collectible condition. This is considered a “loop-hole” because that is where buyers and sellers go for “used” toys.
Things That We Actually Sell In The Gated Categories
Since I shared what types of things we sell from the open categories, I thought I better share what we like to sell from the gated categories.
Of the gated categories, the only ones that we source in regularly are: Clothing & Accessories and Grocery. We love the grocery category because we can often find discontinued products with huge followings…But the one thing we have to worry about in that category is expiration dates. Amazon has strict guidelines on dealing with expiration dates when sending items into a fulfillment center (or even merchant fulfilling).
Why Are Some Categories Gated On Amazon?
It helps to understand the reason Amazon has restricted categories in the first place. Usually it's because there are a lot of products in that category that are counterfeited, and Amazon wants to reduce its risk. Think about pirated DVDs, fake jewelry and name brand handbags, or counterfeit beauty products. They're all over the place. This is very common at flea-markets and even on eBay.
Amazon wants to make sure you're a legitimate, honest seller before granting you permission to sell in these somewhat risky categories. It doesn't want to be known as a platform that's easy for counterfeiters to use.
There Are Other Types Of Restrictions Too
When you're looking at restrictions, they include three major areas: categories, brands and condition.
Restricted categories are just what they sound like: an entire category, like Grocery, that Amazon guards carefully. You'd apply to Amazon directly to get approval to sell.
Then within any category, gated or not, you'll find some product restrictions and brand restrictions. This is when a brand like Disney or Black & Decker (or even much smaller companies) will go through a process with Amazon to have its brand protected.
This means that as a seller, you'd need permission direct from that brand to sell on Amazon; you'd work with the brand to obtain that permission, then supply proof to Amazon.
And finally, there are condition guidelines. This is like the Toys category, which doesn't allow you to sell toys as Used.
Here are some specifics on each of these.
The Basic Process For Getting Ungated On Amazon
In some cases, you'll request approval to sell in a restricted category and will be approved automatically. This happens randomly and without notice. Amazon doesn't specify which brands or categories this works for, but usually someone in our Facebook group will alert us all when it happens so everyone else can give it a try as well. 🙂
In general, however, you'll request approval by following these steps to start the process:
1. In Seller Central, click the inventory link and select Add a Product.
2. Run a search for the item you wish to sell. Or ANY product that you know is listed in that category.
3. In the search results, click the Listing Limitations Apply link across from the restricted item.
4. Click the Request Approval button to begin the application process.
To check the status of an application, return to the Add a Product tool and click the Selling application status link located toward the top of the page.
Depending on the category you are requesting approval in, the process that happens after clicking request approval could be slightly different. We will cover some of the different processes below.
How To Get Ungated In The Grocery Category
Of the restricted categories, Grocery & Gourmet Food is probably the one that new sellers are most interested in. It has a wide variety of products that are familiar and easy to source, and with low investment. In fact, we wrote an entire book about how to sell grocery items!
Amazon outlines the process to apply to get ungated in Grocery & Gourmet Food on Seller Central, though sellers have had varying experiences with that process and have filled us in on tips that worked for them.
First and foremost, you'll need good seller metrics, an invoice showing proof of purchase, and possibly some other paperwork.
Seller metrics include:
- Be a PRO MERCHANT – this means you are paying the $39.00 a month for your seller account.
- Order defect rate: < 1%
- Pre-fulfillment cancel rate: < 2.5%
- Late shipment rate: < 4%
The only reason you would fall below these as an Amazon seller is if you are doing Merchant Fulfilling. Since you are most likely just doing FBA, you will meet the above requirements no problem
Documentation Needed for Getting Ungated In Grocery
You'll need to buy some products listed in the grocery category and then supply Amazon with a proper invoice. Make sure the information on the invoice matches your information on your Amazon seller account. In other words, your company name and business address should match or Amazon will likely reject the application.
We have seen sellers denied simply because the name/address used wasn't an exact match to what is shown on their Amazon account. So make sure to include your “Official” business contact information.
Also note that an invoice is NOT a receipt from a retail store. It's a specific piece of paperwork from a company or distributor with its letterhead and your business info, plus detailed information about the order.
The invoice should include the supplier's company information: Name, Address, Phone Number and Website. No website on the invoice? It won't work!
Note: The supplier's website should have all of this information on the first page as well. So they are easy to identify as a “legitimate supplier.” Keep this in mind when you are looking for a wholesale company to use! If you can't find all of their contact info on page one, Amazon won't search further than that. If the site looks like a discount supplier, it won't work.
Although Seller Central doesn't specify this up front, sellers have reported that Amazon also asks for an updated sales tax license or business license (depending on your state) along with the invoice. Not all sellers experience this, but be prepared that it could be a requirement as you request approval in this category.
Amazon has been requiring a case (10 individual items) of a product. There are a variety of distributors you can use and Amazon doesn't provide much guidance, though many of the members in our Amazon Boot Camp group have successfully used Hot Shots Hot Sauce to purchase products and use the invoices for approval — and it's been inexpensive (less than $50)! Other sellers have been able to successfully use PriceMaster, but they have a minimum order total of $200 so you will have to spend more money.
So those are the key components: purchase at least 10 of an item, get a proper invoice, and submit it along with a copy of your business license.
Make Sure The Items You Order Are Already Listed On Amazon
It is important to make sure you are purchasing products that are ALREADY listed on Amazon!
They need to be listed in the category that you want to get approval in.
I suggest looking up the specific products up through Seller Central > Add A Product to find out what category they are in.
When you are looking for products to purchase, it's not important to make sure you will make a profit on the items. Most likely you won't make a profit on the items (or maybe won't even send them in to Amazon). Just make sure to purchase 10 of the item and have a qualifying invoice!
Place Your Orders and Then WAIT For The Actual Invoices
When you apply for the selected category, you will need to have the official invoice that comes inside the box — not just a printed copy of what gets emailed to you after the purchase.
You can use your phone to take scan a picture of the invoice, then submit that image to Amazon.
Mark Your Invoices With Appropriate Information
Handwrite onto the invoice the ASIN of each item that you are submitting to Amazon.
If there is any confusion on how many units you purchased, annotate that on the invoice as well.
For example: You ordered 3 cases of a product, and there are 10 units per case. Mark that on the invoice, that 3 cases = 30 units.
You can use a computer program to make the annotations if you prefer; just make sure to take a picture of the invoice that came with your order.
The Best Way To Check For Product Restrictions On Amazon
The truth of the matter is Amazon changes restrictions more often than they should! It keeps us on our toes for sure. One day we think a category is gated and then the next it isn't. Just like the shoes, clothing and luggage categories. They show restricted on Amazon in some places, but they actually seem to be open.
So, how could you possibly know what you can/can't sell?!?
The absolute best way to know for sure is to scan the product with The Amazon Seller App. This will check to see if YOU are eligible to sell the product or not. If you are on your computer, go to add a product and see if there are any restrictions that pop up for the specific item.
Still Have Questions About Approval? Here Are Some Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get approval if I am a brand new seller?
I've seen brand new sellers get approved as well as get denied. I recommend having some experience under your belt to show Amazon that you are established in your business.
I am private labeling from China, can't I use my invoices?
Unfortunately, Amazon rarely accepts invoices from China to grant approval into these categories. You are better off going about it as we have instructed above.
Can I sell the products I purchase for approval?
Of course! I wouldn't expect to make all of your money back, but I would get as much as you can for them!
Can I only sell products from the wholesaler I used in the invoices?
No, Amazon is not checking your invoices once you have gotten approval. At that point, you can purchase from any legitimate supplier.
Will receipts work from places like Target?
Nope, retail receipts will NOT work for category approval!
Do I need a business license?
Some sellers are asked for a business license during the application process, and some are not.
Will I get approved for sure?
I wish there was a guarantee! But even some people who have followed the instructions provided, still don't get approval right away. Sometimes it takes submitting your application multiple times in order to get approval.
Can I just pay someone to get me approved?
I would highly advise AGAINST doing this! If Amazon is requesting invoices, you need to actually be purchasing products. Unless the person you are paying is placing actual orders for you, then you are most likely getting forged documents, and I wouldn't submit forged documents to Amazon in my account! I've even heard of sellers getting suspended for using forged documents, so just don't do it!
Now You Know What You CAN And CAN'T Sell On Amazon!
Whew, that was a doozy to write.
So, even though there may be *a lot* of restrictions when it comes to selling on Amazon, there actually is a lot that you can sell without worry about restrictions. You see, many of the “restricted categories” are not really even ones that appeal to many Amazon sellers. With the exception of Grocery (which you can get into following our instructions above) which is actually a great category.
Once you've got your categories under wraps, you may want to check out our post on restricted brands on Amazon. This is the other place where you will find Amazon restricting your product selections.
How have restrictions affected you in your Amazon business? Let us know in the comments below.
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