Amazon Marketing Tips

The Ultimate Guide to Amazon Restricted Products

One of the great advantages of shopping on Amazon is the vast amount of items that can be found there. However, there is also a wide variety of Amazon restricted products.

Many items will be available for anyone to sell, but there are several gated categories that sellers should know about before starting to sell on the platform.

Some of these categories are easy to access, but others will require you to ask for permission from Amazon.

In this article, we will break down Amazon restricted products categories and the requirements that you will have to meet if you are interested in selling them.

Scroll down to learn more!

What Is a Gated Category?

The first thing we need to understand is that some categories are restricted. For most cases, you can just set up your account and start publishing your products. 

No real hassle there, other than the work required to publish successful listings on Amazon—but it’s different for gated categories.

These categories have Amazon approval needed. Not only will Amazon have to authorize you to publish listings within these groups, but you’ll also be required to meet certain criteria for you to be approved. 

The requirements can vary depending on the category you wish to be published in; normally, it will be something along the lines of having a website: 

  • a recognized UPC, or 
  • providing certificates of authenticity.

Most of these conditions are set in order to protect buyers from fraud since items listed in Amazon gated categories are normally:

  • More expensive, 
  • Safety-related, 
  • Of a sensitive nature, or 
  • Collectible items

These are the kind of products that require to be sold by a specialist, or that would not be on a regular counter at a store but rather in a special locked display. 

Some examples are:

  • Industrial & Scientific
  • Automotive & Powersports
  • Collectible Coins
  • Sports Collectibles
  • Video, DVD & Blu-ray
  • Jewelry
  • Fine Art
  • Grocery & Gourmet Food
  • Luggage & Travel
  • Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses
  • Watches
  • Business Products (B2B)

Why does Amazon have gated categories?

As we mentioned before, these products are either very specific to a niche, a demographic, or items with a higher price than you would normally spend on a platform like this. 

But there are bigger concerns that come with selling certain types of products.

Here are some examples:

Safety concerns

Amazon has always been very careful with this point in particular because of the fact that the company’s name is always at the front of any purchase, and it does not want to be associated with products that may cause harm.

For example, a cheap car part may cause a malfunction that can put someone in danger; expired medicine might be linked to health risks, etc. 

Amazon will gate these categories to avoid potential dangers to their clients.

Amazon’s reputation

As we mentioned before, Amazon’s name is at the front of every purchase. 

We know that the products come from independent sellers, but the marketing for the platform is so effective that “Amazon” is all we see. 

Because of this, the eCommerce titan is particularly careful of how purchases may affect the way sellers perceive Amazon’s brand. After all, this is the company that built an empire on customer experience, so it makes sense that they would want to protect their shoppers from buying knock-offs, low-quality products, or falling into fraudulent purchase experiences.

Risk of fraud

Ecommerce has come a long way since it started, especially in this department. It is only logical that a company like Amazon would do anything within its power to reduce the risk of fraud. 

Of course, that risk is higher with some types of products than with others. For example, if you buy glasses for your kitchen, you’re probably more on the safe side than if you buy collectible memorabilia.

If you wish to break into one of Amazon gated categories you’ll need to make sure you can maintain Amazon’s trust and an impeccable customer experience.

Some things are gated, but not really

Many sections have been recently ungated, which may sound like great news; BUT there is a small catch, you need to be mindful of subcategories

Things like groceries, beauty products, and health-related items used to be off-limits to new sellers. This is no longer the case. 

However, you are required to get authorization to sell certain items that might fall under the umbrella of these labels but have specific characteristics like topical beauty products, or over-the-counter drugs and medications. 

Sometimes you will be required to get approval from the brand itself; and, as you might imagine, this is not a cheap task to accomplish. Depending on your budget, you might want to rethink your inventory. 

Some brands are completely off-limits to Amazon, even if the category is not. But before you get discouraged because your item was not accepted, think that it might be something related to your brand and you can probably still sell your other products in the same category.

One downside here is that you won’t be able to find a detailed requirement list for these items like in other cases. So, you are going to have to do some trial and error from time to time.

Don’t despair, there are ways of getting past the gate

Keep in mind that different categories will have different requirements. This is also true for different products. 

You’ll have to be very careful and plan meticulously if you are thinking of uploading several products on different classifications. It is a fantastic idea to use a spreadsheet or other type of document so you can keep track of everything.

How can I know if my product will get approved?

When accessing your Seller Central account, click on “Inventory” in the main menu. Then, select “Add a product” and write the ASIN or name of the item you want to know the status of in the search box.

Once your product appears in the results, check if there is a legend under the “Apply to sell” button that says “Show limitations.” If that is the case, select that button to check what are the observations that particular product has:

If you find yourself in the situation that Amazon prevents you from listing that product, select Apply to sell to have your request evaluated.

Another way to do this is by going directly to the Seller Central search engine.

Type “restricted categories” and you will be redirected to an article where you will find a chart with different categories in which you can request approval:

One more thing, don’t over do it!

As with any Amazon listing, it is very important that your main image for every listing contains only the product with a white background. 

Do not try to include images of how the item is used, you can add those types of images after the main one, however, you should always make sure you follow guidelines for the specific product you are selling. 

Pay close attention to the legalities of certain products – like supplements – you don’t want a lawsuit on your hands.

We advise about these details because failing to properly submit your listings to Amazon can result in access denial. 

Make sure you don’t miss any of the steps, and keep in mind that many Amazon restricted categories will require you to be on the Amazon Professional Plan in order to gain Amazon category approval. 

The “Professional Sellers Only” category is a good example of this. This is a selection of things that not just anyone should be selling, and again, keep in mind that this is aimed to protect shoppers from potentially fraudulent or dangerous products.

Some of the most common Amazon restricted categories people seek to have ungated are:

Business Products (B2B)

There are many Fortune 500 companies already on Amazon, so it isn’t crazy to try and break into the B2B market through this Commerce platform. 

This is a gated category, and you will need to meet certain criteria when asking for authorization from Amazon. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Open an Amazon Professional Seller account.
  2. Create a business profile with all your company’s details, story, etc.
  3. Start uploading your listings through the Amazon Builder.

Automotive

This is a category for which you’ll need to ask for approval since it uses a sort of “loose term” but it encompasses catalytic converters, new tires, and most types of fuel containers. For this one you are going to need the following:

  1. You will be required to have an independent website that can be reviewed by Amazon.
  2. Your products must comply with all laws and regulations, not just your local ones, but all the way up to international law.
  3. If you are offering refurbished parts, you have to clearly state it. Make sure to include information about the manufacturer’s warranty.
  4. Also, the manufacturer’s UPCs (if they have them) must be visible on your listing.

Jewelry

There are 2 categories regarding jewelry; Fine jewelry, and Fashion Jewelry. The latter being less expensive, and including materials that are not that fancy. 

Fine jewelry refers to those artifacts made with precious stones and metals such as silver or gold, with a higher price tag than the fashion items, of course. 

Though these are classified separately, the requisites are mostly the same:

  • Make sure you categorize accordingly, don’t mark Fashion Jewelry as Fine Jewelry.
  • All the jewelry you offer must be authentic and it has to come with a warranty.
  • If your jewelry doesn’t have a brand you must explain its origin in detail on a seller-created page.
  • Amazon has specific standards for listing photos when it comes to jewelry. Make sure to follow them.
  • If your product is from a known brand, you will need to list the manufacturer’s UPC code right there on the product page.
  • Your products will be required to meet certain regulations like Amazon Jewelry Quality Assurance Standards, FTC jewelry guidelines, amongst others.
  • You cannot sell used products; everything must be brand new.

Shoes, sunglasses, and handbags

We have mentioned a few times that one of the reasons for gating categories is to prevent fraud or customer dissatisfaction. 

This is a category especially prone to fake knock-offs and imitations. If you wish to sell any of these, here are the requirements:

  1. Do not list knock-offs or counterfeit products. Everything has to be authentic.
  2. Amazon will want to review the products you wish to sell, so, you are going to be required to have a website.
  3. As with all original products from major brands, you will have to list the manufacturer’s UPC on your product listings.

Lasers

Yes, lasers are fun and we all love them, but they can also be dangerous! 

We have all heard that lasers can blind you; especially cheap and poorly manufactured ones, which is why Amazon has decided to restrict them. 

This is one item that will require you to gather some documents in order to be able to sell it. You will need to send everything to electronics-safety@amazon.com. 

Here’s what you will need:

Your business information

  • Company name
  • Seller ID
  • Email address
  • Phone number

Your listing information

  • A list of the ASIN’s for all the laser products you wish to sell.
  • Accession numbers from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) For each ASIN that you are requesting to sell.
  • Documentation provided by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) showing evidence that your product was tested and deemed safe according to certain standards.

Medical devices and accessories

This is a very restricted category because of the risks and implications that come with it. Only certified professionals are allowed to sell in this category, due to the sensitive nature of the items in question. 

Amazon needs to make sure that all of these items are authentic and in the appropriate working conditions. Not to mention having the necessary licenses and paperwork to list something like this. Here’s what can sell:

  • Any kind of device for medical use that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for over-the-counter purchase and is not otherwise restricted. It will need to be described and labeled appropriately. 
  • Ionized or ionic bracelets
  • Eyeglass frames
  • Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs)
  • Tanning devices
  • Otoscopes

If you wish to get into this category, you will need to email prohealthcare@amazon.com to get more information about the documents required and the process you’ll need to follow.

Hazardous and dangerous items

There are some items that are permitted by Amazon for the right sellers. Nonetheless, you will always have to ensure the proper management, handling, and transportation of those items, all in accordance with the procedure and regulations requested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Some of the items you can sell are:

  • Batteries, as long as they don’t contain mercury
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Portable fuel containers certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Items in this category that are completely restricted are:

  • Anything that contains Bisphenol A (BPA)
  • Products containing Carbon Tetrachloride, like:
    Fire extinguishers
    Refrigerants
    Cleaning agents
  • Any chemical substance or compound originally intended for commercial, industrial, or professional use only. (The type of item that is not available for the general public to purchase.)
  • Explosives, such as:
    Black powder
    Caps for toy guns
    Exploding rifle targets
    Explosive fuses

What happens when you get denied access to the gated categories?

This is a common occurrence and it happens for a number of reasons.

Don’t feel discouraged, though. Maybe you did everything right! Maybe you provided every document and followed every guideline, but the category is limited, and you have to wait for an opening. 

Take this time to strengthen your business and your strategy so you can be better prepared next time.

Our closing thoughts

Selling on Amazon can seem complicated, but remember that all of these guidelines and requirements are what makes this such an amazing platform. The reason why so many shoppers look towards Amazon is because of the staple of quality that comes along with it. 

Accessing the Amazon Restricted Categories can seem tough, but it’s just a matter of having the right documents for the Amazon approval needed. 

It just takes a step to ensure your buyers that they’re purchasing a quality product; and, in time, that will strengthen your business and take it to higher levels.

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