Once you start selling on Amazon, you will quickly realize that there are a lot of products that you are unable to sell at the beginning. These include products that are branded or are in certain categories like baby products and automotive products. Although you can definitely succeed on Amazon in the ungated categories, you will likely have to get ungated for most categories at some point. A good portion of new Amazon sellers are sellers that do retail arbitrage; this means that they will sell a large variety of products and will need to be ungated in almost all categories. This post will guide you on all things related to gating and ungating on Amazon and how you can get ungated for categories you’d like to sell in.
What does gated and ungated mean?
Gated and ungated are terms that Amazon sellers have developed over the years. Amazon generally refers to them as restricted products or categories. The terms gated and ungated basically refer to the seller’s ability to sell in a certain category of products. Gated means that a regular seller is unable to sell in that category. Ungated means that a regular seller can sell in that specific category.
Why are some categories gated?
Amazon has the strongest brand for a company in the world, this shows that they take their reputation extremely seriously. Certain categories are gated because Amazon wants to protect its customers and maintain their brand. The wisdom behind this is that if many new sellers join Amazon and flood a gated category like automotive products, Amazon can lose its credibility due to errors from sellers that are common when they first start selling on Amazon. Additionally, these gated categories are many compliance and legal requirements and opening them up to new sellers does more harm than good. Amazon requires sellers to meet certain performance thresholds to have the ability to sell in gated categories. This ensures that sellers that sell in gated categories are knowledgeable and trusted by both Amazon and its customers.
By gating categories, Amazon also repels bad sellers that are just trying to turn a quick profit at the cost of everything. By going through the ungating application, sellers are being intentional about selling in a category and are far less likely to damage Amazon, its brand or its customers.
What are the ungated categories?
The ungated categories are the categories you’re allowed to sell in as soon as you’re approved to sell on Amazon. You can just list products in these categories immediately without any limits. These categories include:
- Camera & Photo
- Clothing & Accessories
- Consumer Electronics
- Grocery & Gourmet Foods
- Health & Personal Care
- Home & Garden
- Industrial & Scientific (BISS)
- Kindle Accessories
- Luggage & Travel Accessories
- Musical Instruments
- Office Products
- Personal Computers
- Pet Supplies
- Shoes, Handbags, & Sunglasses
- Tools & Home Improvement
- Video Games
These general categories are open to all sellers. There are subcategories within them that sellers have to request approval for. For example, sellers can sell baby products, but they will require approval to sell infant formula. Some of these categories can be further restricted during holidays, so it’s important to be aware. Prior to purchasing any product to sell on Amazon, make sure you’re approved to sell it. You can do this by going in your Amazon seller app or seller central and searching the product. If it says “sell” on there, you can sell it; if it says “request for approval”, you can’t sell it.
What are gated categories?
The gated categories are the categories in which you will need to request approval for Amazon to allow you to sell. In addition to categories, there are many brands that require you to get approval prior to selling. Many lucrative opportunities for sellers are in gated categories and brands. For example, sellers have to request for approval to sell Nike products. Since there aren’t a lot of Nike-approved Amazon sellers, it’s a huge opportunity for approved sellers to make a lot of profit. This is an example of how gated categories can decrease competition and improve profits for sellers.
The gated categories on Amazon include:
- Automotive & Powersports
- Collectible Coins
- Entertainment Collectibles
- Fine Art
- Gift Cards
- Music & DVD
- Major Appliances
- Sports Collectibles
- Streaming Media Players
- Video, DVD, & Blu-ray
In addition to this, there are restrictions based on the conditions of a product in certain categories. For example, you can sell used and new books on Amazon. These categories below require all sellers to have new products only:
- Baby Products
- Clothing, Accessories & Luggage
- Grocery & Gourmet Food
- Health & Personal Care
- Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses
- Toys & Games *
How do you get ungated for categories?
Get a professional selling account: The first step to get ungated in a category is to get a professional selling account on Amazon. When you first start with Amazon, you’re likely on the free plan. Sellers who are on the free plan are not eligible to sell in gated categories at all. By upgrading to a professional selling plan, you are able to request to sell in all of the gated categories.
A professional selling account costs $39.99 per month and it removes all of the $0.99 selling fees per item sold. If you only sell 10 products a week, the plan will pay for itself with the savings on fees. Once you upgrade to a professional plan, you will be able to access a lot of resources that you couldn’t before like Buy Box eligibility and more.
Meet Amazon’s standards: Amazon requires sellers to meet certain performance standards to sell in categories. This eliminates sellers that have a bad track record with shipping, late orders, etc. If you can’t do the basic responsibilities of a seller at a basic level, Amazon will not allow you to sell in any other categories. Some of the metrics that Amazon measures include defect rate, pre-fulfillment cancel rate, your late shipment rate and more.
Generally, the defect rate should be less than 1%, your pre-fulfillment cancel rate should be less than 2.5% and your late shipment rate should be less than 4%. These are some of the basic metrics Amazon uses to assess your performance as a seller. You can see these metrics by going to your account health portion of seller central.
Apply to sell the product: Now that you have a professional selling account and you meet the basic standards, it’s time to apply to sell the product on Amazon. You can do this by going to Amazon seller central, go to the inventory menu and click “add a product”. Once you do this, you can search for a specific product and the listings should appear.
For example, you can search for “running shoes”. Once the listings appear, you will see “listing limitations may apply” on the right hand side of the product. Click on it and click “request for approval”. This will send you directly to the application link for the category or brand that’s gated for you.
Find wholesaler: Although many sellers go sourcing for products at retailers like Walmart, Amazon will not accept this as a proof to get ungated in a category. Finding a wholesale supplier is a great way to show Amazon you have a legit business and an invoice order from a supplier. By doing this, your application is far more likely to get approved in a certain category.
You can find a good supplier or distributor in your area by googling the category you’re trying to get approved in along with the words “supplier or distributor”. A sample search can be “U.S. automotive parts supplier.” Once you find a supplier, you can order a small invoice like 10 products and use that for your ungating application. Previous sellers have reported good results by using suppliers like DollarDays and USGrocer.
Application: Once you click on “request for approval” on a product, the application to get ungated will appear. Applications will differ based on the categories you are trying to get approval in. Some categories are much more strict than others. Most ungating applications will ask questions about your business, your experience with the category, submit any invoices, etc.
Make sure to fill out each questions with as much detail as possible. Once you submit the application, seller support will likely get back to you and tell you if you’re approved to sell or not. If they reject your application, they’ll tell you why and you can make the necessary corrective actions.
Some categories will require additional criteria in addition to questions about your business, submitting invoices, etc. Some of these categories include fine art, jewelry, coins, etc. The more valuable the niche is, the more scrutiny you’ll have to pass in order to get approved. This makes sense because Amazon should only want licensed sellers with established businesses for certain niches. When you fill out the application for these special categories, you’ll likely be asked a lot of additional questions in addition to providing proof of your business.
One example of this is the jewelry category. Jewelry is already a sensitive business due to the value of the average products sold. Customers who purchase products like jewelry online need the utmost trust in Amazon and the seller. To get ungated in jewelry, you must already have an established jewelry business with over $50,000 in annual sales.
In addition to this, you must also pay a $5,000 fee just to get ungated in the category. Lastly, you’ll be required to send in your products for testing by Amazon prior to getting approved. This strenuous approval process ensures that Amazon customers see products from real, established jewelry businesses. Although the cost of entry is very high, this is very lucrative for sellers because there’s not much competition and sales will be very high.
Should you use an Amazon ungating service?
Now that you’re familiar with how ungating works, do you need an ungating service to succeed? Yes and no. If you are already in a community of sellers like a Facebook group or something similar, you can easily ask someone to help you get ungated. This doesn’t mean they’ll do everything for you, but they can give the right guidance to get approved. The majority of sellers sell in popular categories like toys, sports, etc., and ungating for those categories is not super hard.
An ungating service is a company or individual that has a lot of experience with getting sellers ungated in categories. Many of these ungated services are other sellers that have done the process a number of times. The question you need to ask as a seller is what is the ROI of the is? If you are a brand new seller with little money, you simply can’t afford to use your money on an ungating service. If you are starting Amazon with a few thousand dollars, using an ungating service can be very convenient and allow you to hit the ground running.
The prices for these depend on the quality of the company or person ungating them. It’s important to remember approval isn’t always guaranteed, but it’s your best shot especially if it’s a hard category like jewelry. For most sellers, I would recommend just giving the application a try yourself. Even if they reject you the first time, if you’re persistent you’ll eventually get approved.
This covers the basics of gated and ungated categories on Amazon. For new sellers, start with the ungated categories and get a few sales. Once your business starts growing, you can focus on getting ungated for products. It’s important to focus on what actually grows your business instead of wasting time. Find some products, send them into Amazon, source more products and repeat. Once you do this, you’ll be more well suited to ungate categories and so on. To learn more about gating and ungating, check out this blog from The Selling Family.