What Can I Sell on Amazon without Approval?

Posted by Jimi Patel | February 13, 2024

“What can I sell on Amazon without needing prior approval?” This question often resonates with new sellers, and rightly so. Amazon’s policies and regulations can appear complex and daunting, but fear not! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore Amazon’s open categories and provide you with valuable insights into the wide array of products you can list without the need for prior authorization. 

Whether you’re a budding brand or an established business looking to diversify, this tell-all guide by our Amazon consulting experts will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to navigate Amazon’s marketplace successfully. So, let’s dive in and discover the possibilities that await you in the world of unrestricted selling on Amazon!

Why Are There Product Restrictions on Amazon?

product-restriction-on-amazon

Back when people started selling things online, it was like the wild west of the Internet. Almost anyone could open a virtual store and sell pretty much whatever they wanted. Some sellers would go to outlet malls, buy name-brand stuff, and sell it online without needing any special permission from the brand or proving their products were real.

But as time went on, big online marketplaces like Amazon realized they needed to make sure customers got what they paid for—real products of good quality. So, they started setting some rules. In 2016, Amazon made a big change by creating restricted and gated categories. This means that not just anyone can sell anything anymore. They did this to keep the trust of their customers and make sure they get real and good stuff when they shop on Amazon.

While you can still sell some things on Amazon without getting special permission, the list of things you can’t sell without approval has been getting longer. These rules help Amazon keep its marketplace safe and trustworthy for everyone. So, as the years go by, these rules are here to stay and make sure Amazon shoppers get the best deals and the real deal.

Navigating Amazon’s product categories

navigating-amazon-product-categories

With Amazon’s vast inventory, understanding the rules and requirements for selling your desired products can be a daunting task. Don’t worry; we’re here to simplify it for you.

Amazon classifies its product categories into three main types: unrestricted (open), gated, and semi-restricted. Let’s explore these categories and see what it takes to sell within them.

#1: Ungated or Open categories

Ungated categories are the friendliest playground for sellers on Amazon. In these categories, you don’t need any prior approvals from brands or Amazon itself to list and sell products. It’s a hassle-free way to get started. 

Examples of ungated categories

  • Home & Garden
  • Beauty
  • Amazon Device Accessories
  • Cell Phones & Accessories
  • Automotive & Powersports
  • Books (Non-Collectibles)
  • Tools & Home Improvement
  • Sports
  • Musical Instruments
  • Office Products
  • Grocery & Gourmet Foods
  • Pet Supplies
  • Software
  • Video Games
  • Toys & Games
  • Baby Products (not apparel)
  • Outdoors
  • Health & Personal Care

#2: Gated categories

A gated category on Amazon means that you need permission from Amazon to sell certain types of products within that category. This permission is necessary to make sure that sellers meet specific requirements, like selling high-quality and genuine products and following Amazon’s rules.

To sell in these categories, sellers or their Amazon seller central account manager usually have to provide documents, prove their expertise, or meet certain performance standards set by Amazon. Amazon does this to protect both buyers and sellers from fake or low-quality items. Some well-known brands also have strict rules, known as brand gates, which can make it even harder to sell their products without permission.

These categories can still be sold on Amazon, but sellers need Amazon’s approval first. It’s not always easy to get this approval, so it’s important to meet Amazon’s requirements if you want to sell in these categories. This helps keep Amazon a safe and trustworthy place to shop for everyone.

Examples of gated categories

  • Collectible Coins
  • Entertainment Collectibles
  • Fine Art
  • Gift Cards
  • Jewelry
  • Music & DVD
  • Major Appliances
  • Postage Stamps
  • Sports Collectibles
  • Streaming Media Players
  • Video, DVD, & Blu-ray
  • Watches

Entering restricted categories means exploring uncharted territory, potentially discovering fresh income streams, and boosting sales when done right. It’s a natural progression that often leads to business expansion and brand growth.

But how can sellers broaden their horizons in the realm of restricted categories? It’s straightforward: meet Amazon’s established criteria. While the specific requirements may vary depending on the category, Amazon generally asks sellers to:

  • Provide essential business information: This includes valid addresses, identification, and other necessary details.
  • Maintain performance standards: Sellers must meet certain performance benchmarks, such as low order-defect rates and on-time shipping.
  • Fulfill product requirements: Ensure that your products adhere to category-specific standards.
  • Pay ungating fees: Some categories may require fees for approval.

The process of gaining access to restricted categories typically involves three stages:

  • Application process: Sellers request permission from Amazon to sell in these categories.
  • Submission of documents: Sellers provide the required information and documentation for approval, such as product images and supplier invoices.
  • Category approval process: Amazon reviews the application and decides to either approve or reject it.

#3: Semi-restricted categories

Amazon also features semi-restricted categories, which have specific guidelines and limitations. While most of these categories are open and ungated, there are instances where sellers or their Amazon seller agencies need Amazon’s approval to list certain items. For instance:

  • Pet Supplies may require approval to sell certain pet food items to uphold FDA standards.
  • Some Video Games products necessitate meeting Sony PlayStation’s requirements before listing.
  • Beauty products must be FDA registered and approved by sellers before creating listings.
  • Automotive and Powersports items may have requirements like providing compatibility information, fitment data, warranties, and other essential details.

What are the benefits of selling in open categories

benefits-of-selling-in-open-categories

For novice Amazon sellers, the smartest approach often involves setting up shop in open categories. These categories don’t require additional documentation or selling permissions that can sometimes be a hurdle for newcomers. It’s a logical choice because it allows them to focus on learning the ropes and gaining experience without unnecessary complexity.

Open categories serve as the cornerstone of an Amazon seller’s journey in the marketplace. Here’s why they make a solid foundation:

  • Quick listings: Sellers can get their products up for sale more swiftly without bureaucratic obstacles.
  • Visibility and exposure: Selling in open categories exposes the brand to a broader audience, building early recognition.
  • Establishing presence: It helps them carve out their place in the Amazon landscape from day one.
  • Immediate sales: With no approval delays, they can start generating sales almost immediately.
  • Progress monitoring: Sellers can concentrate on tracking their performance and refining their strategies.
  • Optimization focus: They can work on streamlining their fulfillment operations for smoother transactions.
  • Brand growth: The extra bandwidth lets them concentrate on growing their brand and expanding within the marketplace.

Since entering the market is quicker and more accessible in open categories, sellers have a chance to experiment with products and marketing tactics. This period offers invaluable insights into customer preferences and Amazon’s unique dynamics. It’s like a practical crash course for Amazon’s success.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, Amazon offers a wide range of categories and subcategories where sellers can start their businesses without the need for prior approval. This accessibility allows newcomers to explore various product niches, learn the ropes of Amazon, and build a presence on one of the world’s largest online marketplaces. However, it’s essential to remember that while many categories are open, each may have specific product guidelines and policies that sellers must adhere to.

For those looking to navigate the complexities of Amazon selling, eStore Factory is here to help. As experienced Amazon consultants, we offer guidance, optimization strategies, and marketing solutions to enhance your presence and maximize your success on the platform.

Published by Jimi Patel

Jimi Patel, is a Co-founder and CEO at eStore Factory, an Amazon SPN certified agency that serves as a one-stop solution for all your Amazon business needs. Having helped countless brands increase sales and grow their footprint on Amazon, Jimi provides the most practical and effective solutions for your business. He is highly skilled in developing and executing plans that align with your specific business goals and objectives. When not working, Jimi enjoys practicing yoga and traveling to new places. He is an avid reader and enjoys staying up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in the e-commerce industry.