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Amazon Brand Restrictions – What to Do?


Amazon restricted brands and approval

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Many 3rd party sellers like you and me are restricted  from selling products from a couple hundred brands on Amazon. Thousands of brands are not restricted...

Let me get the "What you should do from now on?" stuff out of the way, then further down I'll share some recommendations.

1.) What you should do from now on - Part I:  Click through and bookmark this list of 'known' restricted brands. This information comes from the blog owner's information, not Amazon. Keep in mind that some sellers already be approved or will be approved for some of the brands listed. You can always try to get approved by attempting to list a product on Amazon. See my 'weird trick' here. But if you want to 'play it safe', avoid selling any of those listed brands unless you're an authorized reseller. Also see this post on getting instantly approved for some brands.

Then, check out the free Ultimate Guide to What you Can & Can't Sell on Amazon from my trusted partners The Selling Family. You'll see there is still plenty of opportunity to sell in unrestricted categories on Amazon. There are also tips in that guide on how to try getting ungated from some brands!

3.) What you should do from now on -  Part II: When in doubt, use the (free) Amazon Seller App for iPhone or Android. This will instantly tell you if you are restricted from selling a product (Note: non-Amazon scouting apps like Scoutify and/or Profit Bandit don't give you these alerts!). Use the Amazon app if you're in doubt or you want to double-check that you're approved to sell the item:

  1. Install the Amazon Seller App on your phone/device
  2. Ensure you're logged into the App using your Amazon seller credentials
  3. Open the App, select 'product search' and touch the 'camera' icon. Then scan the barcode any item (or enter the item name/UPC, or hover the camera over the face of the item as Amazon can 'recognize' what you're scanning). Hint: if you're on (say) Walmart.com and you want to scan an item, pressing the camera icon will work in most cases if you hover your camera lens over the picture of the Walmart item as it appears on your screen.

For instance, I randomly looked up four items (those I had a hunch I'd be restricted from), using my Amazon Seller App, and yep, I was restricted. Screen shot showing the restrictions is here...Not all restrictions are created equal. For some of the brands (e.g., Hasbro and Disney), it appears some sellers like myself were not restricted.

Also, now you can get on-screen notification (PC/MAC only) when you are looking at products on Amazon with CheckPermission (software for Chrome browsers). CheckPermission will tell you whether or not you're approved to sell them. It's a guaranteed time saver:

Can you sell it on Amazon? Find out instantly with my CheckPermission software

Now for some recommendations:

First, sourcing via retail arbitrage or online arbitrage is NOT dead. It's just changing. There will always be opportunities sourcing thousands of other (non-restricted) brands from stores (physical or online). You just have to be more selective and strategic. Let's take heed from some trusted experts:

"Retail arbitrage is still a resounding 'yes' for us right now. Time will tell whether these latest changes will wind up being something whose effect was exaggerated or whether we’ll have a whole new set of guidelines from Amazon. The point is, stay agile! Those of you who are willing to take the news and roll with it are the ones who will rock your businesses in the end!" - Jessica Larrew, The Selling Family

"Retail arbitrage is not dead. It’s just different than it was a few [years] ago. And in a year or two, it’ll be totally different again. But with any challenge, comes opportunity. It’s what we do as entrepreneurs – Re-frame situations to create profitable businesses"- Duncan McPherson of SmartFBAIncome

"Don’t dwell in the negativity. It can be so easy to get sucked into the negativity online when difficult situations arise in the FBA selling world, especially on Facebook. You could easily spend (waste?) hours reading and participating in the comments on Facebook posts about how fill-in-the-blank change is going to ruin our existence as third party sellers on Amazon. Don’t fall victim to that temptation!" - Stephen Smotherman of Full-Time FBA.

[Move according to your tolerance for risk.] Risk Profiles: Extremely Risk Averse: Immediately remove all inventory that has been sourced via retail and online arbitrage, and stop sourcing any new products via Retail Arbitrage (RA) or Online Arbitrage (OA). Risk Averse: Stop sourcing all new RA / OA and begin to shift to purchasing inventory via other sourcing methods such as wholesale. Calculated Risk: Keep sourcing RA / OA, while monitoring Amazon’s changes. Keep 2 to 3 months inventory in stock at a given point in time to be able to adjust if a change comes through the pipeline. Don’t make any drastic changes to your business at this point in time. Ignore Risk: Keep sourcing RA /OA as you do today, and plan to continue these methods until retirement or you are suspended [Ed. note - Suspensions of legitimate sellers has eased up, and (my estimate) 95% of suspensions can be reversed]. Essentially, you’ve picked your path and will not deviate no matter what changes are made by Amazon." - Ryan Grant, Online Selling Experiment

Second: It's time for you to consider diversifying into selling other products on Amazon, e.g. used books, wholesale and/or private label. My opinion: it's never been less expensive/less risky to do so. You have to do it the right way though. Learn the basics and more for free (or inexpensively) from my trusted partners:

(FREE) Online Book Arbitrage course and e-book by Peter Valley (one of the foremost experts on the topic)

(FREE) Private Label: JungleScout's (huge) library of free resources for getting started with selling your own products on Amazon.

($) Private Label: Proven Private Label $37 book or $397 mentoring group. (If you're already a Proven Amazon Course member, you get access to limited but 100% solid Proven Private Label content, and you can access the mentoring group for an additional fee.

(FREE) WholesaleRobyn Johnson (a seasoned and talented Amazon and Wholesale coach) has a free Wholesale Central page (great for beginners)

($) Wholesale: Proven Wholesale Sourcing (comes free when you buy The Proven Amazon Course)

($) Wholesale: Skip McGrath's Wholesale Buying System for Amazon or eBay

ThirdIt still is possible for you to be ungated from selling products from otherwise restricted brands BUT you have to prove to Amazon that you're approved by the manufacturer/brand owner, NOT a 'wholesaler' or middle man. The wholesale training resources listed above has tutorials on how to do just that. But don't expect approval from some/all of the biggest brands out there until you can demonstrate you can be an asset to those brands.

Fourth - Ensure you have an eBay account up and running (free tutorials here and here). If you're a new eBay seller, start selling random stuff around your house (unwanted DVDs, CDs, t-shirts, broken electronics) now as you may have a 'probationary' period. If you're suddenly restricted from selling an Amazon item, sell it on eBay. A service provided by Wowlister or Joelister (I'm not affiliated) will duplicate your Amazon product onto eBay. This isn't to panic you into selling on eBay (Don't panic), this is a smart thing for any Amazon seller to have in the event they get suspended or restricted from an item.

That's it for now.

Stay well, stay focused!

(Your feedback is welcome - comment below)

-Jordan Malik

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • maggie larson May 22, 2017, 8:55 pm

    I just got suspended on Amazon indefinitely and had created a new account. Before my account had no restrictions on brands but now since my account is new, I cannot sell in them.

    Do you have any tips on getting certain categories un-gated?

  • Kent C October 6, 2016, 5:30 pm

    Just a warning. Checking if your approved in the app or on the “add a product page” is only showing a moment in time. Grandfathering I believe, is rare, if not a myth. I was approved to sell a DVD, listed it, sent it in FBA, was up for sale, then sold. Attempted to send 5 more in 1 week later and now that DVD is restricted. Week ago I sent in 2 Kate Spade earrings to FBA. No branding restriction a week ago, approved to sell and in jewelry, was able to add to inventory, sent them in, they went live yesterday for sale. Today, they were pulled by Amazon, only notification received was that they are stranded inventory now, meaning not for sale. Checked the add a product page again with the ASIN and today those earrings are restricted. Mind you, no notification from Amazon that these became restricted. It just happened. No quality issues with my items or my account.

  • Dan September 15, 2016, 9:50 am

    Is there a link to show what categories you can sell in if you are not already a seller on Amazon and what ones require a fee. I had sold some text books in the past on Amazon but not through FBA.

  • Ron F September 5, 2016, 2:29 pm

    Hi Jordan, thanks for all the useful info.

    Couple of questions if you don’t mind.
    Are you saying that when you list a item in seller central it may not show up as brand restricted? That is, you have to use the seller app to see if a item is restricted to you.

    Have you tried selling a brand restricted item that you buy New RA or OA as Used Like New? Or Collectible Like New?

    I see some lego items on Amz being sold this way and still selling at what would be a decent ROI for me. Could be a way to not get those pesky cease and desist letters from manufactures.

    • Jordan Malik September 6, 2016, 12:57 pm

      I have not tried the strategy of listing something ‘collectible-like new’ when it a seller is restricted from selling it as ‘new’ so I cant recommend that strategy at this time.

  • Haroon August 31, 2016, 12:36 am

    As always GREAT Info. Thank you .

  • Sinclair August 29, 2016, 11:27 pm

    Thanks Jordan for the clarity.
    Change is not always a disadvantage. Before becoming a doctor you have to start a kindergarten.

    Thank you.

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