Amazon is a powerhouse when it comes to online retail, the biggest in the world actually, but this doesn't mean they're a "free-for-all".
Amazon puts restrictions on certain product categories, which means that you need special permission from Amazon in order to sell products in these categories.
They do this in the best interests of their customers, and we all know how much Amazon loves their customers!
This can be frustrating because it seems like these categories are off-limits but don't worry, we're here to help you navigate Amazon's restricted categories so you can investigate them further before you source a heap of products that you may not be able to sell.
In this blog post, we will discuss which categories are restricted on Amazon, how you can find out the severity of the restriction and how you can get approval and sell products in those restricted categories.
What Does it Mean if a Category is Restricted on Amazon?
If a category is restricted on Amazon, it means that you need special permission from Amazon in order to sell products in that category.
This permission is granted, or denied, as a result of an official application that you must make to Amazon, which we'll explain further down in the article.
Only sellers who have been approved by Amazon are allowed to sell products in restricted categories. Whatever you do, don't try to sell something without first obtaining approval. That will end your Amazon FBA or FBM career very quickly if you!
Why Does Amazon Restrict Certain Categories?
There's many a few reasons why Amazon might restrict a category. The first reason is because the category might require special certification or licensing in order to sell products. For example, alcohol and tobacco products are both restricted categories on Amazon. This is because sellers need to have a special license in order to sell these types of products.
Make's sense, right?
Another reason why Amazon might restrict a category is because the products might be considered dangerous or harmful. For example, some categories like weapons and ammunition are restricted on Amazon. This is because these products could be potentially harmful if they fell into the wrong hands.
Lastly, some categories might be restricted simply because Amazon does not allow certain types of products to be sold on their platform. For example, products that claim to cure certain diseases are not allowed to be sold on Amazon at all. There's no application process when it comes to selling these products, they are flat-out banned.
What Categories on Amazon are Restricted?
There's quite a lot of different categories on Amazon that are restricted due to various reasons that may include licensing, permits, or compliance with Amazon's terms.
It's important to note that a product being restricted doesn't necessarily mean you can't sell it. You may just need to jump through a few hoops before you get approved to sell the products in question.
Each one of the categories listed below is a link to further detail inside of Amazon's Seller Central, which I highly recommend you read if you are looking at selling in one of these product categories.
- Animals & Animal-Related Products
- Art - Fine Art
- Art - Home Decor
- Automotive and powersports
- Composite Wood Products
- Cosmetics & Skin/Hair Care
- CPAP Cleaning and Disinfecting Devices
- Currency, Coins, Cash Equivalents, and Gift Cards
- Dietary Supplements
- Drugs & drug paraphernalia
- Explosives, weapons, and related items
- Export Controls
- Food & Beverage
- Gambling & Lottery
- Hazardous and prohibited items
- Human Parts & Burial Artifacts
- Jewelry & Precious Gems
- Laser products
- Lock Picking & Theft Devices
- Medical devices and accessories
- Offensive and Controversial Materials
- Pesticides and pesticide devices
- Plant and Seed Products
- Postage meters and stamps
- Recalled products
- Recycling electronics
- Refrigerants: Ozone-Depleting Substances and Substitutes
- Strike anywhere matches
- Subscriptions and Periodicals
- Surveillance Equipment
- Tobacco & Tobacco-Related Products
- Warranties, Service Plans, Contracts, and Guarantees
- Upholstered Furniture, Bedding, & Other Quilted Products
- Federal Emissions – Products requiring EPA Certificate of Conformity
- Children's footwear
- Children's apparel
In addition to the above list of restricted categories, there's a whole list of Other restricted products which includes things like domain names, Washington Redskins merchandise, drop-side cribs and more.
How Do You Unlock Restricted Categories on Amazon?
If you want to sell products in a restricted category on Amazon, then you need to apply for approval from Amazon. To do this, you will need to fill out an application and provide information about your business and the products that you want to sell.
Once you've submitted your application, it will be reviewed by Amazon and you will either be approved or denied.
Here's how to apply to sell a product in a restricted category on Amazon:
1. Inside your Seller Central Account, navigate to the menu and choose Catalog > Add Products.
2. Search for your product and select it from the list of products that come up.
3. Once you've found your product, you will see a section on the right hand side with a list of limitations for that product and an "Apply to Sell" button.
If you end up getting approved, then you will be able to sell products in the restricted category. If you are denied, then you will not be able to sell products in the restricted category. It is important to note that Amazon does not approve every application that they receive.
* SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE *
Many actual BRANDS are restricted on Amazon too, which is different than a restricted category.
So before you hang your head in sorrow thinking that this is all too hard with the restrictions that Amazon imposes, let's quickly explain the difference when it comes to restricted brands.
What is an Amazon Restricted Brand?
An Amazon restricted brand is a brand that is not allowed to be sold on Amazon. This can be for a variety of reasons, but the most common reason is to avoid the sale of counterfeit products.
Some brands that are restricted on Amazon include Nike, Adidas, Dewalt, Disney, Garnier, Hoover and many many more! (Thousands more, in fact).
If you want to sell products from a restricted brand on Amazon, then you need to apply for approval from both Amazon and sometimes the brand itself. To do this, you will need to fill out an application and provide information about your business and the products that you want to sell.
Once you've submitted your applications, it will be reviewed by both Amazon and sometimes the brand.
If you are approved by both, then you will be able to sell products from the restricted brands.
However, if you are only approved by one or the other, then you will not be able to sell products from the restricted brands. It is important to note that both Amazon and the brands have different approval processes and requirements, so it is possible to be approved by one and denied by the other.
What Happens if You Sell Restricted Products on Amazon Without Approval?
If you sell restricted products on Amazon without approval, then your account will be suspended. This means that you will no longer be able to sell any products on Amazon, including products that are not restricted.
In addition, your seller feedback will be removed and you will lose your ability to participate in certain features of the site, such as buyer-seller messaging.
In short, it's not worth trying to sell something that's restricted without first getting the appropriate approvals.
The Final Word on Amazon Restricted Categories
Amazon is a great platform to sell products, but it's important to understand their policies and procedures before getting started.
By understanding Amazon's restricted categories and brands, you can ensure that you are in compliance with their rules and regulations and you can avoid getting suspended.
Trust me when I say, it is worth doing a little bit of research up-front to make sure you aren't getting yourself into hot water.
If you want to join the conversation with over 50k other Amazon sellers, jump into my Facebook group - FBA Today.
Until next time, thanks again for reading. Your support is always very much appreciated!