As your Amazon journey increases and your experience selling through Fulfilment by Amazon to make money grows, you will start to look at selling in some of the restricted categories…
…welcome to the mysterious world of “gated” categories.
So what is a restricted/gated category on Amz?
When you first sign up for an Amazon Basic Selling account you will get privileges that allow you to sell in categories such as books, DVDs, Toy & Games and many more.
If you have a professional AMZ account you will get the option to request permission to sell in other categories that are gated.
The main three gated categories people are concerned with unlocking are:
– Heath & Personal
There are a few more but the three above are the more mainstream categories that lend themselves to enabling you more options when searching for arbitrage opportunities.
The advantages for you to sell in a gated category is that you’ll experience less competition in general as many new sellers aren’t or are unable to get ungated…
…plus the peace of mind you have more scope when sourcing.
My journey to getting ungated on Amazon began earlier this year.
The rest of this post will give you a step by step guide to how I got unlocked in the big 3 categories.
It will hopefully answer many of your own questions about getting ungated (and perhaps dispelling a few myths too.)
Here’s How To Check If You’re Gated
There’s a quick way to see if you need to apply to get ungated or not.
Go to AMZ Seller Central, and click Inventory > Add A Product
Underneath the Add A Product title is a link called “Selling application status”, which you’ll need to click.
This will then show your status for the gated categories… here’s mine:
The Basic Requirements
Before you go rushing off and buying products to attempt your ungating application, it’s important that you meet the minimum eligible criteria:
- Professional seller plan
- Order defect rate <1%
- Account should been in good standing
- 3-4 months+ of selling history
With the above metics being met, what would the AMZ requirements be for a restricted category to be accepted?
Firstly unlike the USA, Amazon UK will only accept a receipt/invoice from a wholesaler, which does not include a supermarket till receipt.
I was lucky enough to chat with a really knowledgable Amazon rep in Ireland who gave us a lot of information and answered a lot of questions…
…probably some that he shouldn’t have done but after some gentle probing he gave me a better insight into what was needed.
Here’s what I discovered:
- AMZ require 3 separate invoices that MUST come from a wholesaler
- Each invoice to have a MINIMUM of 3 items from the category we wanted to get ungated from.
- We could use the same invoices for the same items if there was a cross over into more than 1 category for any ASIN
Armed with this new information I opened an account online with Bookers Wholesale (one of the largest wholesalers in the UK), and drove over there on the next day to finalise the account.
I had looked online at their product range the night before so had a good idea of the kind of items I was looking to purchase for each AMZ categories.
On the first visit, I purchased items to cover more than 1 category x 3 min items and returned the next day and did the same…
…but to speed things up, this time I asked the cashier to split this order into 2 separate invoices at the till which gave me 3 separate invoices – albeit two were on the same day!
The best item on the invoice was the soap, as it was a cross-over item that sat in multiple categories.
How much did it cost me to get my goods for my ungating requests?
Just over £150 in total, and this included some personal items that were on offer in Bookers like dishwasher tablets and batteries 🙂
Some people assume you need to spend a ton of money to prove to Amazon that you’re a “big player” in a category… frankly in my opinion this doesn’t matter and they don’t care.
They have a criteria to meet, and if you do this then it can certainly be done on a tight budget.
All that was left now was to submit our information to the evil gatekeepers at Amz :/
The Moment of Truth
I should point out that I had initially only intended to try one category at a time.
But the AMZ advisor suggested doing all of them all at once as they are handled by a team in the same department (which proved to be true.)
Below is the exchange for each category, starting with grocery:
As you can see from the exchange below, the Amazon rep didn’t check the items on the invoice to check what the ASIN was.
You may think this is a little unprofessional from a company with such high standards…
…but it’s important to remember just how many ungating requests they receive every single day.
The moral of the story here is definitely to MAKE LIFE EASY for the AMZ reps, as they hold the key to ungated bliss.
Many people would take the first “no” from Amazon as a failure.
However, by knowing my items were in fact in the Grocery category, I had the confidence to shoot an email back to point out the reps mistake.
As this was the first request to be approved, it also gave me vital knowledge for an exchange with the reps in the Health & Personal category coming up.
First time success is sweet!
The beauty category was really easy (even though I had not written any ASINs down for this one)…
Sometimes the AMZ gods smile down on you and you get a conscientious rep who truly wants to help!
Health & Personal Care… Cue The Pitch Battle!
Now this was the last category that Amazon looked at helping us get ungated in.
The first rep who answered our approval request was not in slightest bit interested in our Bookers invoices (even though they had helped us pass with flying colours in the other two categories.)
After a little bit of back and forth communication however, Amazon did a complete U-Turn and decided they do accept Booker invoices.
But their reason this time was that the items on the invoice weren’t in Health & Personal Care.
Notice a pattern here?
So of course I “corrected” little old Amazon to the error of their ways, and completed a clean sweep of ungating requests just as the rep in Ireland had said was possible.
Happy days 🙂
The biggest takeaways for me were two fold.
One is that there is so much misinformation, rumour and scaremongering out there it can cause people to not even bother attempting getting ungated, which is kinda sad.
And the second is that Amazon reps don’t always know the rules themselves.
That’s why being prepared is king if you want to get ungated, and not being scared to tell AMZ they are wrong (assuming you can show them where/why they are wrong).
If you can get an account as a sole trader or limited company at a wholesaler, I see no reason at all why anybody couldn’t get ungated successfully.
I personally think Amazon make life tough because they don’t want to be seen to be “easy” at ungating people.
So persevere, and don’t take no for an answer and you too could unlock your account and get unrestricted in health and personal care, grocery and beauty categories.
What is the biggest fear you’ve faced with ungating? Do you have any questions?
Share them in the comments section below and I’ll be sure to answer any you have!