You either have to be brave or crazy to list a product in one of the gated categories on Amazon. Perhaps you convinced yourself that it can't be so hard to do. Maybe you're already trying to get through those gates and you've tried everything you can think of, but they remain elusively and evasively shut. Having the key to open them will really help to get you through them a lot quicker, but don't worry you're not the only person to have found it to be problematic. Hopefully what you read here will give you some helpful hints and tips to ease you through those gates and move forward to selling success.
Why does Amazon Gate Products?
Amazon wants to protect its brand and is wary of items that may come with problems of their own. Let's take the beauty category as an example. It's a nice idea to sell there, because if you get a tribe of people that love your product they'll keep coming back for more. However anything that you put on your skin can have side effects and Amazon wants to be sure that the product you sell is up to standard, doesn't contain anything it shouldn't and is safe to use. So it sets a list of criteria that you have to meet before you can get onto the beauty category. The deeper into beauty your product is the more gates you will need to go through.
Why does it take so Long?
The problem is every time you make a contact with Amazon the chances are you are being dealt with by a different person. Sometimes the person dealing with your case will simply copy and paste the same answer as the person before them and so begins a game of ping pong going back and forth, which isn't really very productive. Ringing Amazon support may bring a similar response with the person at the end of the phone quoting the last piece of information that they can see on the case log, which again isn't always helpful.
So how can you break through?
Understanding what you need to get ungated will help. Let's look at the steps you could go through to get into the Beauty category as an example. Go to the Help page on Seller Central and type “required information to sell on amazon,” which will list the documentation you need (especially good if you are not yet VAT registered). You may want to quote the link when you send the documents as some operatives quote information that is irrelevant to anyone who is non VAT registered. You will also need 3 non consecutive invoices of differing amounts and from different dates and each with a minimum of 10 products on them. So far so good. The system will probably put you through a simple questionnaire, which so long as you give sensible answers you will have no problems.
The deeper you are into the category, the more wary Amazon will be and the more questions you will need to answer. If you want to use FBA the system may bring up another simple questionnaire, which is aimed at eliminating any hazardous items such as nail varnish to make sure they are compliant. The trouble is it is automated and even if your item is non hazardous, until it is dealt with by a person the system just kicks back to the original questionnaire. You'll probably think you're going crackers as there is no explanation for this. You will need to speak to someone and a good operative should liaise with the hazmat team who may then say that they need to see a copy of an MSDS form (there may even be an equivalent for other categories, but they should tell you exactly what they need). Don't worry, it's just to confirm if your item is classed as hazardous or not. Your supplier with prompting will provide you with a copy of this, just explain Amazon have asked to see it. What Amazon may not tell you as well is that the hazmat team might want pictures of your product from 6 different angles (if you have variations they will want the same for each). Then if your product is in a sub category you may have to resend some of the documentation that you have already sent. Don't get angry. Just send what they need and ask for.
Keep a record of key correspondence
If you can follow these steps, stay clam and keep a clear and level mind, then you are sure to succeed in getting ungated in Amazon. At any point in the process where you receive written confirmation that you have successfully completed a step, then made a note of the case number and date that the correspondence came on. This will help you further down the line if there are any problems or if someone says you have not completed a particular step. The chances are if this does happen, it is because something is missing from the file and you may need to resend something. Again, don't get angry, just resend what they are asking for.
Get a Single Point of Contact
If you find yourself going no further forward at any point you could ask for a referral to a supervisor or manager. If you can do this they may tag themselves into your case, but once the problem they are helping you with is dealt with it then reverts back to the normal system.
What are you waiting for?
Having your product made means you are already more than half way there. While going through the Amazon processes may be frustrating and time consuming it will all be worth it in the end. Just persevere and think of the end result, which is to see your product up and running on Amazon. Get it out there and get it selling.