Getting categories ungated could be the single most intimidating process Amazon sellers go through. The secret is, once you go through the first one, the rest of them really aren’t intimidating at all. In this article, I will spill the beans and help YOU have the necessary information, and hopefully help you gather the courage to push forward and go through this process.
Let’s first look at it from the perspective of WHY it really should not be intimidating. For what it is worth, this is likely the single most common question that we receive or at least a derivative of it.
“How do you get ungated?”
In reality, there are a couple of ways to navigate this process, but we have one that we suggest over ALL others.
- Supply Amazon with Invoices from wholesale companies
- Be a registered manufacturer with the FDA
I would highly advise against the latter choice (unless you already have those credentials.) If you register with the FDA you open yourself up to all forms of government inspection, etc. Then, imagine trying to explain to the FDA you simply were trying to get your Amazon account ungated in the Grocery category.
I’m sure that would not be “cool” with them. Don’t do it. The other way works just fine.
To really get a good idea of WHY Amazon requires this, let’s look at the policy in general. With Grocery, Health, and Beauty particularly, this is really self-explanatory. If you are selling in these categories, you are selling things that people either ingest or use topically. Either way, if you have suspect handling procedures, that could provide a risk to consumers. Amazon has realized businesses are much more likely to have “safety measures” than people and require this as a form of admittance to show that you are a “real” business.
Now, before I proceed, I want to make one thing abundantly clear…
In most cases, I am very pro-service. I LOVE services that save me time. As an entrepreneur, it is the one resource that I cannot “buy” more of.
However, in the instance of ungating, I would advise against using these services. The main reason is it is VERY hard for them to be TOS compliant. Effectively, to get through the gate, Amazon needs to see that you are buying products from approved vendors, and have the invoices to prove it.
Outside of signing you up for wholesale accounts and placing orders for you, there is nothing they can do!
So, if you get approved through these services, and they don’t sign you up for wholesale accounts and place the orders for you, they have given you inauthentic invoices that can get your account permanently banned. Or, even worse, they could have registered you as an FDA registered manufacturer.
Either way, bad news!
That being said, there really isn’t any reason to go that route and risk your Amazon account or, even worse, possible government fines (which are MASSIVE.)
The other way you often see people trying to get ungated is by going with the distributor ‘de jour’ that is working (at the time) and getting Amazon invoices that way. I know for a while the go-to was Pricemaster. Not sure if that is still the case, or if that one is even still accepted by Amazon. Either way, after you finish this article you won’t need it.
Before we jump into the “how-to”, I did want to point out that If you follow our instructions, you will get in. This is not a hack, or cheat, or short-cut. This is EXACTLY what Amazon wants. When you do things the right way, Amazon WANTS to work with you. They want to approve you to sell in categories.
Complete the following steps to be ungated in a category:
- Locate three brands, in the category that you would like to be ungated for. We suggest using the TWF methods to do this, and actually locating brands that you will want to work with in the future.If you are uncomfortable, find three products that you would use in your home, or would not mind using. This part will be unnecessary but may help to ease your fears.
We prefer to be brand direct here.
- Purchase a product or two from each brand in commercial quantity. Commercial quantity is generally defined as 30+ units.Bear in mind, the most important aspect here is NOT being profitable (though if you can be great), the most important aspect is getting ungated. You can lose money on the order and still win.
This product needs to perfectly match the Amazon detail page.
Ask that you be given a paid invoice for your order (most will do this anyway).
When you register your account with the company, make sure that it matches your Amazon Account Info that is on Seller Central.
- Annotate your invoice.On your invoice, you should write the ASIN the product corresponds with.
You can similarly use a program like Snagit. For an awesome guide on annotating invoices, please read our good friend Nate McCallister’s article here:
- Send Amazon the information, and if you are rejected don’t panic.If you are rejected for whatever reason, make sure your invoices have the required information and are generally acceptable.
- Supplier Information (company name, phone number, address, website)
- Buyer Information (company name, phone number, address, email)
- Invoice Date (must be in previous 90 days and visible)
- Item Name/Description
- Item Quantity in Units
At that point, if your invoice is correct, you can annotate the various parts of the invoice, as that will help the Amazon rep make the correct decision. Similarly, you can also get a Letter of Authorization (use the brand gating template) to give along with your invoices.
The vast majority of the time this last step is NOT necessary. You should be approved without issue using your invoices alone if there aren’t HUGE problems with them. Also, it is important to say most vendors are flexible and will tailor the invoices to your needs.
So, there you have it. If you can do that, you can get ungated. I realize the concern here is that:
“What if Amazon doesn’t let me in?”
You have to understand that simply isn’t going to happen. Amazon rewards people who do things correctly, and this is the process that Amazon WANTS you to follow. This is their preferred approval process because it gives them the information they need from the most legitimate possible sources. Just realize that this is a low barrier of entry for the opportunity to carry lots of new products. Likewise, with Amazon, hurdles NEVER go down, they only get higher (so you should do this sooner than later).
Until next time!