If you’re an Amazon FBA seller, you may have come up against some hurdles when selling on the world’s most rapidly growing online merchant. Getting started is simple, but it takes time and patience to conquer the Amazon marketplace.
A common misconception is that, from the get-go, you can sell any types of products in any category on Amazon. However, this is not the case.
As a seller, you need to know about gated categories.
Amazon gets hundreds of new sellers every day. The company limits the number of sellers and products in specific categories. With gated categories, the intention is to limit the number of new sellers in certain areas.
For sellers, the key thing to remember is that these won’t always lock you out.
So, what are gated categories, and what categories are gated on Amazon? And most importantly, how can you unlock them so you can sell?
Here’s everything you need to know about gated categories as an FBA seller.
Table of Contents
What Is a Gated Category?
A gated category is essentially a restricted area. It keeps new sellers from entering that part of the market on the site.
These restrictions may not be forever or even applicable to all sellers. However, Amazon creates these limitations to prevent oversaturation in various categories.
Why Does Amazon Have These Restrictions?
Amazon is a consumer-focused platform. Most of its protections and restrictions favor the customers rather than the sellers. As such, they limit specific categories to protect their customers from scams.
These protections may sound tedious for a seller. However, it is ultimately beneficial for both consumers and sellers for Amazon to continue this practice. It prevents fraudulent sellers from oversaturating the market, and consumers can feel a bit better about what they are buying.
Competitors like eBay don’t have these restrictions, and most people are far more hesitant to buy things from eBay because of the number of scams.
Why Do I Need to Worry About Unlocking the Gates?
You may wonder why these gated, or restricted, categories matter. As such a large platform, there are tons of options for labels to sell your products under, and plenty of other items to sell in a more general category. You might reasonably ask whether you couldn’t simply list your items in a different, unrestricted category.
However, you should care about these limited categories for two reasons: competition and profit.
Some categories are more challenging to gain entry than others. If your products fit into a particular category, gaining access will be extremely beneficial. Once you unlock these areas, you’ll have significantly less competition than in the unrestricted parts.
Many people never bother to try and gain access. If you do, you’re already well ahead of many other FBA sellers. This topics is covered in some of the best Amazon FBA courses and can give you the upper hand when starting out or as an Advanced seller.
Unrestricted sections have far more sellers, particularly as becoming a merchant on Amazon is an increasingly popular thing to do. When you learn how to unlock your account, you will find that your products have far less competition, and you’ll likely turn a better profit.
Read more about the Pros and Cons of selling on Amazon
What Categories Are Gated on Amazon?
Amazon has two types of gated sections: gated brands and gated categories.
People often conflate the two, but that can be to your detriment.
If you are attempting to sell an item and you find it has restricted access, make sure you verify whether it’s a gated brand or category. One may be easier to work around than the other.
Brand gates are typically more challenging to gain access to than general category gates. Certain brands prohibit their items from being for sale on Amazon for various reasons.
Common reasons for brand gates include:
- It’s an exclusive brand elsewhere.
- The items are easier to steal from retail locations.
- The items are frequently counterfeit.
- The brand doesn’t want its value to decrease in public perception.
Most of the time, to “ungate” a brand, you need a specific connection to the brand. You will also have to pay a hefty fee.
Amazon usually requires documentation from the brand to verify you, as well.
As of 2021, here is a list of restricted categories that impact FBA sellers:
- Powersports and Automotive
- Entertainment Collectibles
- Gift Cards
- Music and DVD/Blu-Ray
- Sports Collectibles
- Collectible Coins
- Fine Art
- Major Appliances
- Streaming media players
Categories may change each year as Amazon assesses business and sales. Make sure you frequently check the lists, especially when you plan to add a new item to your inventory.
What Are Other Lesser-Known Restrictions I Should Know?
Gated categories are not the only concern. A few things you may need to look out for:
- Restricted subcategories – In some cases, the whole category may be open, but specific subcategories may be gated. These subsections include beauty, health and personal care, and toys.
- Holiday restrictions – During the busy holiday seasons, Amazon cracks down, especially with toys and games. However, if you are part of the FBA program, these restrictions likely won’t affect you.
- Product conditions – Certain items are not permissible to be listed for sale if they are used, such as beauty products, baby items, grocery and food, and some others.
Does My FBA Seller Status Affect My Access to Gated Categories?
Amazon uses your stats to determine if it will unlock your account. Specifically, it reviews your:
- Shipment rates
- Fulfillment rating
- Defect rates from other sales
These metrics are why sellers who have a long Amazon history will have a better chance at approval.
As of 2021, Amazon searches seller accounts for performance targets that exhibit:
- A defect rate under 1%
- Cancel rates (pre-fulfillment) under 2.5%
- Late shipments below 4%
Some specific categories have more requirements, but the company will inform you about this.
How to Sell in a Gated Category
If you’re a new seller, you may need more time selling in unrestricted areas. For seasoned sellers, the process isn’t always complicated.
To get the process started, here are the necessary steps you must take:
- Login to your Seller Central on Amazon, and select “Add a Product” under the inventory section.
- To find the application, search for the item you hope to sell and select “Listing limitations” next to it.
- Click “Request Approval.”
That’s all! Sometimes, there are extra steps required, depending on the product or how long you have been an FBA seller.
Amazon will also verify the validity of the product you hope to sell. They also typically require you to ask for at least 10+ units of the item you want to ungate. All of the required documents and order information will be available from Amazon when you make the request.
Most categories will have additional requirements that vary based on the items and how long you have been a seller on Amazon. The product should have a list of what Amazon needs from you to approve you, or they may send a message requesting supplementary documents. The longer you have been a seller, the more likely you will gain approval.
Selling on Amazon for beginners is not difficult, but some things are more challenging to sell than others. Gated categories don’t have to stay locked forever, though.
With patience and the right tools and skills as an FBA seller, you’ll see quick approval by Amazon to sell in restricted categories and see far less competition. Use the resources in our blog to build a good reputation as an FBA seller, and see what gates you can unlock!