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Discover What Products to Sell on Amazon Without Approval

Threecolts
Geri Mileva
Published
February 12, 2024
Modified
February 19, 2024
What Products to Sell on Amazon Without Approval

After figuring out what to sell on Amazon, you must determine what products need approvals before listing them on Seller Central. While you can offer almost anything on the website, the retail giant has set terms on various items divided into 33 categories. Amazon "gates" or restricts some products, requiring sellers to send an application. In other cases, approvals are only necessary for specific sub-categories or brands in a subcategory.

Seven of Amazon's categories are considered gated. Meanwhile, 16 are partially or semi-gated because items in some sub-categories need authorization. However, 10 categories are “ungated” or don't need approval (Note that Amazon Seller Central doesn't specify whether it needs to approve the category: "Independent Design.") 

amazon product categories

Learning about these approval-free items can help if you want to start selling immediately and avoid plenty of rules. Before we dive in, though, here’s a quick tip.

How to Check if a Product Needs Amazon’s Approval

To verify whether Amazon has any requirements for listing your items on Seller’s Central, hover over “Inventory” in the main menu. Click “Add a Product,” then use a product identification, Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), or other identifier—such as ISBN, UPC, EAN, and JAN—to search for your item. 

How to Check if a Product Needs Amazon’s Approval

OR

How to Check if a Product Needs Amazon’s Approval

The “Show Limitations” button will appear if your product needs approval. Click the drop-down arrow to view what Amazon requires of you to sell the product. If you want to get ahead of the story, read our article about "How to Get Approval for Restricted Categories on Amazon."

How to Check if a Product Needs Amazon’s Approval 2

Benefits of Selling Ungated Products

Selling items under Amazon's ungated categories is a viable option if you're just getting used to the platform. Its advantages include the following:

Earlier start

You can put your product on sale sooner because you don't have to undergo a long and possibly rigorous seller verification procedure. A quicker entry to the consumer market—backed by strategic product listing, pricing, packaging, and delivery—can help you earn profits earlier.

Broad selection

The 10 ungated categories have several sub-categories. This wide selection of product types allows you to explore new niches and markets.

Easier management

Because these categories don't need approvals, you have fewer requirements to fulfill and track.

Most Profitable Ungated Amazon Categories 

Here are the top-selling categories among the ungated product groupings:

  • Home and garden (furniture, rugs, fabrics for interior, decor, cookware, utensils, pool supplies, storage, garden/lawn-grooming gear, snow removal equipment)
  • Cell phones and accessories (must be manufacturer-unlocked units with original—unaltered or reassembled—parts and must meet North American product safety standards)
  • Amazon Kindle (ebooks, audiobooks, online courses, and Kindle accessories)

Meanwhile, below are the best-selling partially gated categories:

  • Personal care (first-aid, feminine hygiene, dietary supplements, nutrition) 
  • Beauty (although Amazon’s chart said that this category needs no approval, the company has prerequisites for topicals—such as fragrances, bath/shower products—cosmetics, hair care, and skincare items. You'll find these details on Amazon's seller guide under "Conditions with restrictions.")
  • Toys and games (documentation and safety testing required for fidget spinners, magnetic building tiles, and invisible ink pens)
  • Baby products (non-garment items such as pillows, diapers, pacifiers, shampoo)
  • Books (non-collectible books, journals, magazines, and other printed materials, such as calendars, card decks, and sheet music)
  • Grocery and gourmet (fresh meal kits, prepared food, and specialty food like calorie-measured, vegan, and keto products that don’t include ingredients identified as “noxious” plants and seeds)
  • Office products (furniture, equipment, organizers, storage, and office supplies)
  • Pet items (food supplies, feeding containers, beds, toys)

In its 2023 State of the Amazon Seller report, Jungle Scout showed the percentage of sellers in the top categories by popularity.

 Top amazon categories by sellers

Stand Out By Choosing High-Demand, Low Competition Products

Because Amazon's ungated categories entice new sellers, many people scramble for a piece of the pie in these product groupings. More competitors might force you to lower prices to attract shoppers, but this will affect your profitability in the long run.

New sellers can gain traction when their goods have three qualities: they are in high demand, sell quickly, and have a low selling price. You can evaluate the competition and demand levels in your chosen categories by checking the following:

Competition

  • Number of sellers 

Competition is stiffer when there are more sellers (over five) selling a product or within a category.

  • Presence of strong, established brands

Big names have a loyal clientele and more resources, which can make it hard for you and other new/smaller sellers to compete.

  • Rating of competitors’ products

High ratings already enjoyed by existing sellers make the competition tougher for new entrants.

Demand

  • Sales volume

If you’re a first-time seller, search for products that have 10 pieces sold in the past 30 days. Meanwhile, if you’ve been on Amazon for a while now and plan to offer other products, look for items with three sales in the past 30 days.

  • Keyword search volume

The frequent appearance of a keyword related to a product on Amazon search indicates high demand for that item.

  • Number of reviews

More feedback about the product means that plenty of Amazon users have bought it.

  • Social media mentions

Demand for a product is high when many social media users discuss it or upload related images on their posts.

  • AliExpress

This eCommerce site’s search function lets you sort by “orders,” which indicate the sales volume of the product you typed on the search bar.

The demand and competition indicators discussed above will come in handy when applying the following strategies:

  1. Offer “traffic products.” 

Traffic or movement products are typically cheaper goods worth $15 and below. Although you earn a lower profit from them, these items can build awareness for your name or shop to buyers and spark interest in your other listings.

  1. Conduct competitor research.

You can manually search by going to Amazon’s Bestseller and Movers and Shakers pages. Although you’ll find no sales data in this section, you can still determine the competition level for each product by typing long-tail keywords related to it in the search bar. Competition is high when the search results display plenty of products relevant to your keyword. 

Online tools such as Threecolts’ Tactical Arbitrage—its Tactical Edge feature, in particular—help you discover competition levels. It also generates graphs showing historical sales ranking.

Data Available on Tactical Edge by Tactical Arbitrage

Data Available on Tactical Edge by Tactical Arbitrage

On the Tactical Arbitrage dashboard, scroll down to Tactical Edge and enter your chosen product’s Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) and its price. You can also access Tactical Edge from the Analysis tab on the left-hand menu or by clicking the microscope icon from the View Data page. Once you’ve entered the information, Tactical Edge lists the following data:

  • Estimated monthly sales: gives you an idea about how many pieces of an item you need for your first month of sales. You can also compare this figure with the “in stock” quantities of the top 2 or 3 sellers to ascertain the product’s turnover or speed of sales.
  • Breakdown and competition: shows how many sellers offer the product (merchant-fulfilled and fulfilled by Amazon).
  • Ratings and reviews: higher star ratings and more positive reviews reduce the likelihood of returns.
  • Sellers: Tactical Edge displays the top 20 sellers of a product along with their respective ratings, how much they priced the product, how many they still have in stock, their gross profit, and gross ROI. These stats can help you determine how much you should price your product to make a profit and to be comparable to current rates.
Data on Tactical Arbitrage

Other data from Tactical Edge can help you decide when to adjust prices. For instance, you can sell at a lower price when the Buy Box holder’s (seller with a green box beside it) “in stock” quantity dips. Meanwhile, you may want to price your items slightly higher when you see a decline in the remaining stocks of sellers offering the product at lower prices.

  1. Sell similar/substitute products.

Similar or substitute goods are ideally items you can offer to shoppers when their preference is unavailable or changes occur in the price and quality of their preferred product. You can use this concept as a selling strategy in two ways.

Search for the best-selling product in a niche and look for sellers with low feedback but have a good search ranking. Avoid seasonal goods to ensure your choices can be sold for longer. Then, look for suppliers where you can source products similar to that item.

You can use Amazon's Product Opportunity Explorer for this purpose. The tool creates niches based on the products that shoppers view or purchase after they search. You can browse through niches within the tool to discover top search terms and the potential sales performance of specific items within that space. Examples of niche details include search volume, search volume growth, and average units sold. Meanwhile, the tool features product details, such as click share, average customer rating, and average selling price.

Product opportunity explorer by Amazon

Meanwhile, Tactical Arbitrage’s Reverse Product Search feature can point you to suppliers where you can buy popular Amazon items at lower rates.

Reverse product search

How to Use Reverse Product Research 

Reverse Product Search can scour through thousands of websites in several ways. If you're a new seller offering only a handful of product types, the list below offers some of the fastest ways to search. You can find these options in the drop-down menu below "Sourcing From":

  • Quick Search: You can enter up to 100 ASINs, UPCs, and ISBNs.
  • Quick Keyword Search: After entering your product keyword, a new field with a drop-down menu appears to the right of the keyword search bar, where you can select a specific category. 
  • Scan Best Sellers: You must select a general category and consecutive sub-categories to narrow the search. 
  • Scan Most Wished: This option also opens a new drop-down menu with categories from which to choose.
  • Scan Movers and Shakers: Unlike Scan Best Sellers, this option doesn't have sub-levels. This search will go through Amazon products with the highest sales increase in the past 24 hours. The platform updates this section hourly.

You can also create separate listings for variants of your top-selling products. For example, if you're selling bed linens, create multiple listings according to brand, color, size, and quantity per set.

What Gated Categories Are and Amazon's Rationale for Approvals

Amazon requires approval for specific categories to ensure customers can trust the platform for quality purchases. Its "Products that require approval" page says the company may require documents, performance checks, and other qualifications from sellers aiming to sell items in gated categories. Amazon further explains that it wants consumers to "shop with confidence." Restrictions on certain products are necessary to maintain the safety, authenticity, and compliance of its goods (to local and regional laws). Its gated categories are product groupings where fraudulent goods can proliferate.

Approvals allow Amazon to screen new sellers and keep the site from selling fake or dangerous products. As a new seller, your compliance with Amazon requirements helps establish trustworthiness.

5 Reasons Why Some Sellers Prefer Gated Products

Although selling in gated categories requires extra effort, they can be worth breaking into because of the following:

Lower market saturation

You may face a less saturated field by selling gated products. Barriers to entry can turn off some sellers as the approval process will require waiting and possibly several attempts before finally securing authorization. This can result in fewer competitors for that product type or category.

Higher profit margin 

Fewer sellers in your category or item type allow you to charge higher premiums, resulting in more profits, especially when demand is high.

Improved reputation/seller authority

Passing Amazon's strict requirements for gated goods can help build your credibility on the site.

Access to premium features 

As an authorized seller, you can qualify for promotions, including the coveted Buy Box, which increases your discoverability.

Diversified portfolio

You can request approval to sell gated products to widen your product inventory instead of relying on one product or category.

What Does It Take to Sell in Gated Categories

The requirements for becoming an approved seller of Amazon's gated products will depend on your chosen category and brand. However, the process typically involves the steps below:

  1. Create a Professional Seller Account.

Sign up for a Professional Selling Plan, which costs $39.99 monthly.

  1. Identify the gated product you want to sell.

Click “Inventory” from the main menu, then select “Add Product” from the options. Select your chosen product in the search bar, then tap "Listing Limitations May Apply" to study the requirements. Our guide on securing approvals for gated products discusses the specifications per category.

  1. Gather and scan/take a photo of the required documents, which might include:
  • Invoices or receipts from authorized manufacturers or distributors

Reselling brand-name products from official wholesalers instead of using your private label is advisable when sending your “ungating” application. You must show invoices for at least ten items in your chosen gated category or brand (with product ASIN and model number/UPC) to signify your good standing with your distributor. Amazon must be able to find pertinent supplier info, such as its business name, physical and email address, and phone number. Choose a local supplier as much as possible, as the eCommerce giant rarely approves overseas sources for ungating applications.

In some categories, your documents must prove a sales history of at least three months to convince Amazon that you're a legitimate and responsible seller. Your billing and shipping addresses must be the same and align with the business information on your seller account. Include your contact details so that Amazon can reach you easily.

  • Proof of authorized reseller status

Documents may include a letter from the brand owner authorizing you to sell a product or other certification of vendor/wholesale distributor relationship.

  • High-quality product images to show safe and compliant packaging

Threecolts has a guide on producing compliant and attractive Amazon product photography

  1. Complete and submit the application form.

You must either click the "Request Approval" button or the "Apply to Sell" button.

  1. Wait for Amazon's response.

Keep track of the company’s review, complying with additional information and documents if necessary.

  1. Mind your stats.

Amazon evaluates your sales performance as part of its approval process. Aim for low defect rates, low late shipment rates, and low pre-fulfillment cancel rates.

Typical Duration of Approval Process

Amazon's approval process for new sellers can range from a day to several weeks, depending on the following:

  • Competition level

The company can take longer to approve your listing if your product is from a highly competitive category, such as branded products or toys and games.

  • Speed and completeness of your response to their request for additional information

When Amazon asks you for additional documentation or business details, reply promptly with accurate information and ensure that you submit documents in the right file format.

Options to Take When Amazon Turns Down Approval Request

Amazon can reject your application when:

  • You don't have a professional seller account.
  • The product on the submitted invoice doesn't match the product you want to sell.
  • The business details (name, address, contact numbers) found on a submitted receipt differ from the data on your seller account.
  • An item's price on the invoice you submitted is of questionable value.
  • Your account lacks a sales history.
  • You have low-performance metrics.

The good news is you can reapply if Amazon rejects your application the first time. Carefully read the company's reasons for not approving your request so you can meet the requirements or fix the issue before re-submitting your application. 

However, if you've failed after several attempts, you may need to seek a specialist's guidance to get ungated or approval. You may also consider selling products from less restricted categories, selling on other eCommerce platforms, or using Amazon's warehouses and shipping but selling through your website.

Launch Your Amazon selling journey with Threecolts

Selling products without Amazon's approval allows you to build your eCommerce experience faster and expand your product offerings later on. By using Amazon and third-party tools, such as Threecolts' solutions, you can select your categories, source products, and comply with company rules more effectively. 

Still, getting insights and applying our suggested strategies aren't enough to achieve sales growth. You must stay updated with evolving market trends and changes to Amazon's guidelines on top of ensuring that your sales performance metrics remain healthy. When you've grown your client base—and confidence—later on, you can venture into gated categories. Discover ways to optimize your seller account, use advertising, and enhance customer experience on Amazon by reading our blog and subscribing to our newsletter today.