One of the main questions I see people asking on the Facebook groups and FBA forums is related to getting accepted into Amazon’s gated categories. Included but not limited to these gated categories are DVDs, Auto, Health & Personal, Grocery and Beauty. Other gated categories which take considerably more work to get approved to sell are Apparel, Jewelry, Handbags, Shoes & Industrial. I do understand why Amazon makes the approval requirements a bit tedious on paper, forcing those who truly want to sell them items to jump through the Amazon hoops to approval-ville. The issue many have and understandably so is there seems to be mixed messages from the mother ship as to what is truly required for gated category approval. I personally experienced this confusion during my quest to sell those gated items and I’m here to share what I did wrong and ultimately right to get approved for certain categories.
Wrong Way to Apply for Gated Access
Let’s start with the improper way to apply for gated approval. I’ll be up front in saying the categories I have applied for and gotten approved in are for Beauty, Health/Personal Care and Grocery. I am currently in the process of getting approved for Apparel but that’s another long post for another day. I have not applied to any other gated categories yet but do plan to get into Auto and DVDs at some point.
So as all wannabe sellers do I applied via the normal methods in Seller Central. No problems there. I quickly received a response from Amazon and here’s exactly what their instructions were:
Please submit the following documents:
•Three legible, scanned or clearly photographed billing statements, vendor invoices or packing slips for the products you intend to sell in the category
Note: Please obscure all pricing information.
Your documentation (e.g., billing statements, vendor invoices or packing slips) must include the following:
• Invoices dated within the last 90 days, or showing item delivery or purchase within the last 90 days
• Your name and contact information or your company’s name and contact information
• The name and contact information of the company that provided your billing statements, vendor invoices or packing slips
• The names of the products you purchased
In reading through the above info I figured this needs to be done in the proper manner and professionally through the right wholesale channels. The first category I approached was Health and Personal Care since this was my specialty in my full time job. I went to an online discount medical wholesaler and purchased 3 separate mobility accessories (3 of each) and had them shipped to me. After receiving the items I sent the invoices in and followed the instructions above with our company name and the pricing info obscured. This should be easy since I was doing everything by the book, so I thought. Well, I get a note back from Amazon that I was not approved. What? Now, they wanted copies of the packing slips in addition to the invoices. Ok, no problem. I scanned them in and quickly sent them over. Approved, right? Nope. Why? 3 items was not a ‘sellable quantity’ according the their customer service rep. I quickly went back to the above documentation and nowhere on there is anything about any ‘sellable quantity’. Didn’t matter.
Changing Courses on Getting Approved: The Right Way
Now I was ‘slightly’ perturbed and phoned Amazon customer service to find out what is a sellable quantity. The answer? “We are not allowed to disclose that to you”. Really? Why not? I didn’t feel like buying 10 more of each of those items only to find out that 10 still wasn’t a sellable quantity. However, there was a golden nugget that came from that phone conversation. I had always heard rumors of people getting approved using solely local store receipts but figured that’s not the right way to approach this. I asked the rep that if this was a valid way to get accepted and she said ‘Absolutely.’ Truly? That’s all I needed? I asked again and she concurred. I asked about not having our business name on the receipt and the response: “You don’t need that if you’re purchasing from a store”. Well then, the info in their official notification is basically incorrect (or not fully inclusive) from their own mouths and I’m glad for that. I got her name and asked if I can use it for proof down the road in case of an issue and she obliged. Check.
Game on. Now, I went onto some of the forums and through some digging determined that 10 might be a safe # of items to be considered sellable. Check. Me being the cheapskate figured since there’s plenty of items sold on Amazon also sold at Dollar Tree why not just go there, buy 10 of 3 separate items and send those receipts in. So I did and bought 10 toothbrushes, 10 dental floss packages and 10 breath strips all of which had listings already on Amazon. Went home, obscured the pricing, scanned them in and sent them over to Amazon.
24 hours later from an Amazon customer service rep: “I have gone through the invoices and I am happy to inform you that you are now approved to sell in the Health and personal care category. I wish you all the best for your future sales on our website.”
Approved. The one word I’d been waiting to hear all along. Yes, with Dollar Tree receipts. I couldn’t make that up if I tried. So, I simply rinsed and repeated for both the Beauty and Grocery categories with the same result: Approved.
Followup Regarding Approval
Some may ask: What did you do with the items you purchased since the Dollar Tree does not accept returns. Simple: I purchased items that I knew were already sold in multipacks on Amazon so I simply sent them in fulfillable as such. Did I make a profit on them? No. But was the slight loss worth it to get approved? You bet it was. Sure I could have just kept 10 toothbrushes and 10 dental flosses but I just didn’t think that was necessary and we don’t each that much taffy in our house.
Here’s the bottom line: Even though it appears to be a time consuming, tedious process to get approved to these gated categories it really is not. Please please please do not waste $$ on paying someone else to give you ‘advice’ and ‘assistance’ in getting into the gated categories unless it is for the more difficult labor intensive ones like jewelry, apparel, handbags, shoes, etc. Just follow my ridiculously simple template above and I can’t see how you won’t get approved unless they change their tune in the near future.
Good luck selling and go make some dough.