So you all know that we wrote a guide to getting ungated in beauty, grocery, and health (it can be viewed here). At the time Mike wrote this post, the methods that were listed worked 90% of the time. We have numerous success stories from readers just like you that got themselves ungated using receipts from big box stores such as Walmart and Big Lots.
If you have been in the Facebook groups as of late, you will have noticed that there has been a bit of shift in the approval process and now our methods listed in Mike’s post are working around 15% of the time (or less). There has been a shift in the approval process and Amazon has changed their requirements for the approval process.
So what happened!?
Let’s step back and look at the entire picture. We as sellers always see these type of changes as Amazon’s attack against sellers across the world. Amazon is out to get us and there is nothing that we can do about it.
Insert negative words about Amazon here…..
But there is one thing that I have always tried to stress to all of you.
Look at everything from all sides before making a judgement
Why would Amazon make it harder for sellers to sell in categories such as Health, Beauty, and Grocery?
Before I started selling on Amazon via FBA, I actually had no idea that individual sellers could sell on Amazon. I just assumed that Amazon had a ton of stuff that it was selling across the nation. That was it. I only knew the brand Amazon.
If I received an item from Amazon that was damaged or one that was expired, I wouldn’t blame an individual seller. I would blame Amazon. Joe from Texas might have accidentally shipped in an expired item, but I will still blame Amazon.
Is this right? No. But it is how the world operates.
Each one of us as a seller represent Amazon as a brand. That is why there are so many different rules and regulations that we have to follow such as listing quality, item quality, etc. Each item that we ship in is a representation of Amazon to a future customer.
And let’s face it. A customer is worth way more than a supplier (not always, but in most cases in this kind of business).
But…..That’s not fair. I wouldn’t ship in expired or damaged items!!!!!!
Yeah – I’ll admit. It’s not fair. Amazon is hedging their risk by making it extremely difficult to sell in these categories. They realize that they are limiting high quality sellers, but they are restricting the bad sellers as well.
Think of it like this cup….
We pour in a bunch of sellers into the cup and the Amazon approval team is responsible for figuring out which sellers are high quality or not. Once they reached critical mass, they start overflowing with requests and aren’t able to keep up with the number of people who are applying.
Instead of taking the time to actually filter the good from the bad, Amazon just decided to restrict the number number of approvals given. It makes perfect business sense (even though we don’t like it as sellers).
Well here is what we know about the approval process right now (as of 12/7/15):
- The entire process depends on the Amazon rep that you get for your case.
- After numerous amounts of testings, there seems to be no rhyme or reason for the way they respond.
- Submitting the applications at different times of the day had no overall impact on the approval process.
- Receipts are now working around 10% of the time. Invoices have an approval rate that is around 15% of the time.
- Amazon seems to have an approved list of vendors (this is 100% based upon my experiences). I don’t know who is on the list, but I have seen some people get approved and some who have not.
- They are no longer accepting any type of invoice (from my experience) that is completely digital. You will need to have actual invoices and/or receipts.
- There are no exact items (or quantity) that Amazon is looking for.
- You should expect the process to take a good bit of time. The days are gone when the approval process took a few hours.
- You will start seeing the following questions for the approval process for beauty, grocery, and health (study tip: The answer for each of them is the bottom response):
- Amazon will not give you a reason for denial. You most likely will get the following response:
“Greetings from Amazon Seller Support,
Thank you for your interest in selling in the Grocery category. We regret to inform you that based on the information you provided, your application has been declined because the documents you have provided does not meet our minimum criteria.
If you are able to provide additional or different documentation regarding your products, please submit a new application to sell in the Grocery category through your Seller Central account. We reserve the right to verify all submitted documentation including contacting any product vendors you identify in your application. To reapply to sell in the Grocery category, please use the following link:
Categories and Products Requiring Approval
Grocery & Gourmet Foods
Please ensure the documentation you intend to submit as part of your new application meet our requirements as outlined here:
Invoices must be dated within the last 90 days, or showing item delivery or purchase within the last 90 days
POs must have your name or issuing business name
POs must have contact information for your business (e.g. address, phone number, email or website)
POs must have the names of the products you purchased
POs must have document issuer’s name, address, phone number, email or website
Please obscure pricing information (optional)
If you manufacture or own the brands for the products you intend to sell, as part of the application process, we ask that you submit business certification (e.g., your business license, sales/use tax license, or other registration document) and product testing and safety documentation (e.g., a report from an independent laboratory stating the ingredients in the product, or verifying the safety of the product) or your registration with the US Food and Drug Administration when applicable. We may request additional information on a case-by-case basis. Please note that MSDS (Material safety and data sheets) documents do not meet our requirements for product testing and safety documentation.
We would like to hear from you in the future. Thank you for contacting us.
Please let us know how we did.
Were you satisfied with the support provided?”
That’s all I know.
There is two major lessons that I want you all to learn from this change in the approval process:
1. Don’t wait to get approval. Always be proactive and make sure to keep your options open.
2. Remember that their are always two sides to a story. Don’t get up in arms about something until you investigate both sides.
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Thanks, Chris. But what do you recommend for going about getting ungated? If these methods aren’t working any more should we try something different? Do you think the process will lighten up in January? I really need some help getting ungated.
Thanks for this update Chris.
I was just about to use your ‘box store receipt’ strategy to get ungated for all three (health, beauty, and grocery).
Any advice on what to do in light of all the changes?
Thanks Chris for your advice. I think Amazon should just tell their sellers they are not approving anyone else in these categories. I tried for the third time this month and got a response that I needed to submit one more invoice because they couldn’t verify the address. I sent in another invoice and they rejected that one also. It’s very frustrating and expensive. Not much anyone can do about it,though.
Hey– do you provide a service I can pay to get me ungated? I see it referenced on earlier threads but no way to sign up. Please let me know– not having much luck in beauty myself! thank you
We used to offer this service, but we no longer do.
Chris, I am taking your class on Udemy which I have found to be very informative. I am a novice FBAer but not a Newbie. I started with FBA over a year ago then had to go with hubby in a Big Rig which put my FBA biz on hold. Now I am beginning again so I am grateful that you guys have taken some of the mystery out of the process. Thank you!
With regard to the changes that Amazon has made in the gated category requirements, why not take down your info about how to get ungated because it is no longer valid. Someone who does not realize this may go to all the trouble of following what you said to no avail. Then they stumble upon the changes and discover they have wasted a lot of precious time doing things incorrectly the first time. I actually got excited when I thought just maybe, I had found someone to get me ungated at a reasonable price. I see that is no longer an option either. Can you suggest someone who is NOT charging 300.00 per category to get ungated? Last but not least, is there a list of categories that is not gated?? I had picked up some water filters for a really good price a while ago only to discover they are in the gated Scientific category, arrrgh. Never even had a clue water filters would be that. Household , maybe small appliances but not Scientific. I think it is closed at the moment as it said I do not have permission to view it?? As a consequence I still have the water filters 🙁 . Appreciate your response- Barb
It’s been a very frustrating process requesting for Beauty to be ungated. I almost yelled at the fourth seller support rep for leading me in circle for the 10th time. I followed the guideline to the T, providing valid invoice with store’s address, phone number, website, ASIN and my own information and website (which I properly registered and paid). They sent me the exact same email template 15 times, closed my case twice then asked me to open a new one. Then seller support kept telling me to ask ungating dept to call me directly and assured me that they’d call me, which they never did and I doubt ever will. So here’s my solution: move on to a non-restricted category. Beauty category is too saturated with sellers that I don’t think they’re approving anyone. If you got approved please help this poor soul on some tips.
Here’s the list of restricted categories as of 3/3/16: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_left_cn?ie=UTF8&nodeId=14113001
Anything not on the list is most likely unrestricted, but then again it’s Amazon.
Yeah I’m finding it nearly impossible to get ungated in beauty as well. I have three invoices from an actual soap manufacturer but Amazon keeps denying and saying that they are an online retailer which they are not.
Its clear to me that Amazon has an “approved” list of vendors and are basically not accepting anyone on that list. Additionally, even if you had large purchases from an approved vendor it would appear that they are just not approving anyone at the moment.
Pretty shitty if you ask me.
Yep… I kept getting that in most of my rejections, that my invoices are from an online retailer. What the heck makes my invoices look like its from online? It’s just completely beyond me, and I have no idea how to correct it =\
Yea it is really shitty. If they’re not accepting new vendors, they should just be upfront about it -___-
Does anyone have an updated info on how to get ungated on grocery or beauty? I tried over 15 times this month, correcting everything they said, and still I get rejected with no rhyme or reason. I provided a sales tax id document and invoice, and they rejected the invoice but approved of the sales tax id, and this happened numerous times. When I finally got an invoice they approved, they rejected the sales tax id document because the issue date was 4 years ago. WTF? Hello! Your sales tax id is like your social security number! It doesn’t change no matter when it was issued, and they don’t issue you a new document every single year! Ugh, this process has been utterly ridiculous. They give the most vague excuses where I can’t even figure out what the heck is wrong with the documents provided =(
If anyone knows about their “approved list of vendors,” please be kind and share. =\
did anyone find out what the approved list of vendors might be? please help I’m struggling now my 4th month to get into beauty category and getting a reply they can’t verify the manufacturer…:(