Have you received an email from Amazon alerting you to the fact that you MAY or MAY NOT meet the criteria to sell toys on Amazon this Q4? Amazon starts sending this email out to all registered sellers starting in August, and they continue to send it through the end of the year.

It is a pretty scary read for many sellers, and we often get inundated with panicked sellers in our Amazon Boot Camp community that are wondering if they will qualify to sell toys or not in the fourth quarter (Q4) on Amazon.

I mean, imagine selling in Q4 and NOT being able to sell TOYS.

One thing that makes it even trickier is that Amazon tends to change the wording of the email each year. This often leaves even experienced sellers scratching their heads.

Fortunately, the email for 2019 has been the clearest one yet. I think that after some BIG misunderstandings in 2018, Amazon wanted to word this year's “Holiday Selling Requirements” email more clearly.

Here is a copy of the original email for 2019 that was sent to all sellers on August 1:

The Holiday Selling Requirements for Toys email from Amazon

As you can see from the red box I added, if you are using Fulfillment by Amazon, then you do not need to meet the above criteria!

The email is intended for sellers who are considering Merchant Fulfilling toys in Q4, whether they’ll do so for everything or whether they’ll do it alongside FBA.

Maybe you're thinking that this won't affect you because you sell exclusively (or mainly) FBA. As you know, Cliff and I built our entire business as FBA sellers.

But I highly recommend adding Merchant Fulfillment to your Q4 strategy. This is something that we do every year and we recommend it to our students as well.

In Q4, we do both FBA and Merchant Fulfilling, using Merchant Fulfill mainly to sell items as late in the season as possible (in December, particularly, when it’s too late to ship items into an Amazon warehouse but while sales are still high). Plus we like to take advantage of the brief windows of time when Amazon runs out of stock on a hot item.

There are actually several occasions when using Merchant Fulfillment makes more sense than FBA,  but Q4 is my favorite.

Why Amazon Has the Toys & Games Requirement

Understandably, Amazon wants to perform its best when the stakes are highest. So they created some requirements for those who want to play the Q4 game.

Things get over-the-top crazy and hectic in Q4, particularly from about mid-November on. And Amazon wants to make sure that those who want to Merchant Fulfill Toys – by far the most popular category – have a track record of being a great Amazon seller.

This makes sense. Amazon doesn’t want to entrust order fulfillment at the busiest time of year to a flood of sellers who have never successfully sold on its platform.

Imagine the damage to Amazon’s reputation if there were a significant number of products being delivered that were of questionable quality or with damaged packaging – or worse yet, not arriving in time – to stressed-out customers who are trying to find that perfect gift with only days left to shop.

Customers wouldn’t remember the third-party seller who shipped the item. They would only remember that it came from Amazon.

What You Need To Know In Order To Sell Toys On Amazon In Q4

Do You Qualify To Sell Toys & Games On Amazon FBA In Q4?

Now that you've gotten the email from Amazon, here's what you need to know about your ability to sell Toys & Games during Q4.

If you sell FBA and only FBA, you can ignore the email entirely. You’ll be able to sell Toys without a problem, whether you’ve sold your first item yet or not. Because these guidelines are set in place for Merchant Fulfilling Sellers.

Because Amazon handles fulfillment for FBA, it knows the items will have been inspected when they arrived at the warehouse, will be prepped and packaged to its specifications, and will be delivered on time.

If you do want to Merchant Fulfill at all during the Fourth Quarter, then the email is for you. But don't worry, it still isn't as complicated as it may seem.

Here are the two most important bullet points from the email (I highlighted them in the screenshot above):

  • Your first sale on Amazon must be prior to September 1, 2019 but does not need to be specific to Toys & Games.
  • You must have processed and shipped at least 25 seller-fulfilled orders from August 15, 2019 through October 14, 2019

This is good news. This criteria is very reachable: You need to have made your first sale by September 1, and then MERCHANT FULFILL 25 orders in total between Aug 15 – Oct 14.

In years past we did not have to merchant fulfill orders in order to meet these criteria. In 2018 this changed and sellers who had not merchant fulfilled any orders were blocked from being able to merchant fulfill toys for the year. At least this year they were very straightforward about the requirement.

Here are the three biggest things to remember from the email:

  • This only affects the ability to Merchant Fulfill toys during the following time period: November 1, 2019 – January 3, 2020.
  • This only relates to items in the Toys & Games category. That means you can still Merchant Fulfill all the best selling non-toy items like candy, pajamas, kids' clothing, and ornaments!
  • If you don't end up meeting the criteria, you can STILL use the FBA program to sell toys in Q4. So you are good to go my friend!

3 More Qualifiers To Selling Toys & Games MERCHANT FULFILLED On Amazon In Q4

Amazon has three other requirements, and points out that these do NOT refer to orders that use FBA:

  • Your pre-fulfillment cancel rate must be no greater than 1.75% from September 15, 2019 through October 14, 2019.
  • Your late shipment rate must be no greater than 4% from September 15, 2019 through October 14, 2019.
  • Your order defect rate must be no greater than 1% as of October 14, 2019.

In other words, Amazon wants to make sure that if you Merchant Fulfill, you have done so successfully. They want to make sure that sellers ship on time, don’t have a bunch of returns, and that they don’t cancel orders on buyers. If you have never merchant fulfilled, then you meet these criteria pretty much by default.

If you’re unsure of your status, you can check cancel rate, late shipment rate and order defect rate in the Performance section of Seller Central.

Amazon says it will provide final notification about eligibility before November 1.You will likely get updates on your status between August 1 and the final decision.

How to Merchant Fulfill

If you'd like to hit the 25 Seller-Fulfilled Orders requirement (which must be placed between 8/15/19 – 10/14/19), now is the time to learn how to Merchant Fulfill.

If you've only ever sold FBA before, there is a bit of a learning curve for Merchant Fulfillment.

The trickiest part is actually setting up your shipping templates in a way that won't cause you to LOSE money on each order.

So many new sellers get this wrong and then wonder why a buyer only paid $3.99 shipping to cover an item that actually cost them $20 to ship!

I have an upcoming LIVE masterclass that will get your ready for Merchant Fulfilling Q4!

I'll show you how to:

  • Create your shipping templates
  • List Merchant Fulfilled items and make sure that you set them at a profitable price point
  • Process your Merchant Fulfilled orders once they sell
  • Plus I'll give you a list of quick selling / easy to ship products you can buy and resell to meet your 25 order minimum!

This class takes place LIVE on Weds August 14th, 2019 at 4:00 PM PT and will be recorded in case you can't make it live.

Get Ready for Q4

Whether you're reading this August 1st or November 1, NOW is the time to prepare for Q4.

Our Q4 Profits Guide (which was completely updated in 2018), will teach you everything you need to know about the Q4 selling season on Amazon.

You can get more details here, but here's a taste of what you'll learn in the Q4 Guide:

  • What clues to look for in stores to learn which products people are eager to buy (and pay big bucks for)
  • How we decide what to buy, what to test, and what to skip
  • The types of items we look for during each holiday (because Q4 is WAY more than just Christmas Day!)
  • How to find products on retail shelves that sell for 3x+ on Amazon

In this guide, we're sharing our entire fourth quarter strategy with you.

Q4 Profits Guide For Amazon Sellers

This guide is available for purchase all year long. Once you buy, you'll get instant access to the PDF guide. Start reading it today and then refer back to it as the season progresses.

If you're ready to have your best Q4 ever, you'll want to get your hands on this guide.

Still have questions about qualifying for toys this year? Let us know in the comments below 🙂 Please note that this post has been updated for 2019!