Restricted or Gated Brands: Which is the deadlier account killer?
Brand Gating at Amazon is in full swing and won’t be stopping any time soon. And why would they? Remember, Amazon’s main concern is the consumer rather than the sellers. And if consumers feel that gating offers them absolute protection from counterfeit items, then the gating process will surely continue on and just widen in scope.
But being a company with Amazon sellers as it’s main focus, we at SellerLift can’t help but feel that many honest Amazon sellers, especially those that don’t follow the latest updates about the ecosystem, might unknowingly damage their standing with Amazon by interacting with gated or restricted brands. Some might even get their account suspended because of an honest mistake.
So with that in mind, I felt that it is needed to delve deeper into the different types of brand gating, as well as restricted brands, that Amazon has in place in order for the ordinary seller (and mind you, there are many out there) to have a better understanding of the matter.
Let’s start with:
Some gated categories include watches, groceries, health and beauty products and clothing. And for these categories, you need to ask Amazon’s permission first before you can list a product.
Though Amazon restrictions vary per item, you are required to present invoices from accredited suppliers of gated brands, plus the number of items you ordered/purchased from them.
Now this is the “tricky with headache involved” part.
Most if not all major brands are now, or working to become, gated. For them, it’s just another way to protect themselves from counterfeits destroying the image of their brand and products.
To “ungate” a gated brand, you need to either have:
- An invoice that shows you purchased your items from an accredited supplier of the gated brand
- A document that states that you are permitted to sell said gated brand from the company or its owner
Now the first part is feasible for big sellers on Amazon. But with the letter part, I doubt if most of them can get one, especially for huge brands. And if big sellers can’t do it, what chance does the little guy have?
Free trade activism aside….. Take note that there are brands that are only gated in specific countries. So meaning, you are free to sell, let’s say in France, but not in Sweden. But the important part is for you to be “ungated” to the country you’re sending your product to. So again, keep that in mind.
Some brands also carry restrictions when selling specific products under their name. Take for example Canon. You are allowed to sell their line of printers, but you are restricted to sell their cameras.
If you want to “ungate” a brand, you need to have an invoice that:
- Is dated on or after the 24th of December, 2016
- Shows your complete name and home address
- Includes the complete name and business address of the distributor/manufacturer of the gated brand
- Shows the purchase of a minimum of 30 units (this needs three separate and unique invoices)
- Shows the purchase of a minimum of 5 different products of the gated brand this needs three separate and unique invoices)
And yes, for the invoices, Amazon needs 3 separate and unique genuine copies. Yep, that’s 3 separate purchases for you.
High-risk and restricted brands: The real account killers
In truth, this is how most sellers get their account suspended. You see there are brands, big and small, that are not gated but have restrictions when it comes to people selling them on Amazon.
And the crazy part is that Amazon will allow you to list the restricted product. And when you do, you might just get an email from Amazon saying that your seller account has been suspended because you made and Intellectual Copyright Infringement. Yup! Like I said, craaaaazy.
At least when it comes to gated brands, you know not to mess with them. But with restricted ones, it’s like traversing a minefield. Step on one, and you will definitely not be having a great day.
But for smaller brands or “private labels”, the most that can happen is you getting an email from them asking to take down the their product from their listing or face legal action.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m not in any way saying that this is the only response, or course of actions, you will see from small brands/private labels. Technically, listing some of their products could get your account suspended. It’s a matter of how good the relationship of these brands are with Amazon. So again, we’re back in the minefield.
Pinpointing restricted and high-risk brands
Continuing with my landmine analogy, how do you pinpoint the location of a landmine? Well first, you need to tread lightly, and carry a tool that can detect them. And that’s how you should approach these high-risk brands. Patience and the ability to see those warning signs.
To start with, there are certain categories that I personally see as high-risk.
- Health and Beauty
- Sports and Outdoors
*This may change in the future, but for now, these are some categories I suggest you stay away from.
Whenever you see a seller selling several private label brands under their company name, and if said seller has one or more brands that looks as if they are the only one carrying, this usually is a red flag. Not towards the seller but rather the brands that they’re carrying.
In short, they might be listing restricted brands, and they are the exclusive seller of said brands.
So what you do is take note of the brands, and stay away from listing them yourself, just to be on the safe side.
Also, more Chinese manufacturers are listing products themselves on Amazon. Though this has nothing to do with Chinese manufacturers in general, I try to stay away from these brands, again, just to be on the safe side of things.
Actually. When I stumble across a manufacturer selling their products on Amazon these days, I just take a note of their listings and stay away from them.
Yeah, I agree. A bit too over the top even for me. But I’d rather take a cut on my ROI than have my account suspended permanently.
So, what is the best thing for the ordinary seller on Amazon to do? Well for one, I’m planning to start my own private label as I see all of this intensifying in the coming months. It’s not really a defeatist stand, but more of “if you can’t beat them, join em” kinda way.
I mean, yes, I do get where Amazon and the brands are coming from. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel that strings are being pulled to make it harder for the little guy to compete.
Yes, counterfeiting is a disease that needs to be eradicated. But at what cost?
Read related article: Is It Time To Start Your Own Amazon Private Label?
So, do did you find this article helpful? Do you agree with my opinion about Gated and Restricted brands? What’s your take about this entire matter?
We at SellerLift would love to hear your thoughts about this, so do leave us your opinion down below. And also, if you found this article and know of anyone that needs to read this, please do us a favor and share this with your contact.
As always, have a great day, and watch out for those landmines.
Johann is a Psychology major turned online writer and branding/marketing consultant since 2008. He now happily calls SellerLift home, and is the person behind their blog content.
In his spare time, and to remind himself that there is more to life than his computer monitor, he throws himself down steep country roads on his longboard, takes black and white photos, and produces lounge music for an independent music label.