Amazon requesting approval to sell a product? Here are the 3 scenarios you’ll encounter, how to get past each one, and how to get ungated to sell almost any product on Amazon.
Warning: When I say this is a “dummies” guide to getting ungated on Amazon, I’m not kidding. This is purely an introductory guide to every gating scenario you’ll encounter, and how to get approved in each one. No advanced tactics here: strictly a beginner’s 101 guide.
Video: Total doofus guide to getting approved to sell on Amazon
What to do when Amazon says you need approval to sell?
You go to list something on Amazon, and you get a message:
“You need approval to sell.”
Followed by an ominous orange button that reads “Request Approval.”
The good news is: There’s only 4 things that can happen when you click that button. And 3 of them result in you being allowed to sell that product on Amazon (with 2 of them requiring almost no effort).
If you like those odds, read on…
Why does Amazon require approval to sell products?
The answer is pretty obvious and not that exciting: Amazon does this primarily as an anti-counterfeiting measure.
Over the years, Amazon has faced several lawsuits from manufacturers and publishers over allowing the sale of counterfeits on their platform. To curb these counterfeits, Amazon has required certain sellers to jump through certain hoops to sell certain products.
Fortunately, most of the time, these “hoops” aren’t that hard to get through.
What’s changed when it comes to requesting approval to sell?
For years, there were only two scenarios a seller would encounter when they weren’t allowed to list a product for sale.
One, Amazon would tell you flatly: You’re not allowed to sell that product, and “we are not accepting applications at this time.”
Two, you would be taken to a page where you had to submit invoices from the manufacturer or approved distributor (they would never tell you which ones were approved).
Those were the only two scenarios you would encounter.
Things have gotten both worse and better. On one hand, Amazon has increased the number of restricted (i.e. “gated”) products in every category. On the other, there are more options to get approved – requiting almost zero effort on our part.
Let’s examine the three scenarios you’ll encounter when Amazon says you can’t sell something, and how to get approved in each scenario…
Thee three ways to get ungated to sell any product on Amazon
(Note: The 4th scenarios is Amazon simply telling you that you’re not allowed to sell a certain product, and not offering any option to apply. That’s always a dead-end, so I won’t be covering that here).
Scenario #1: Instant Approval
Listen, I told you this was a “for dummies guide”…
This one barely warrants a mention because its so obvious and simple. Most of the time (at least in the Books category), when you click the “Request Approval” button, you’ll get instantly approved.
How often you get approved seems to depend on your seller metrics and the age of your account. I’ve heard from some sellers who get auto-approved very infrequently, whereas I get auto-approved well over half the time.
Why does Amazon require you to click a button if they’re just going to auto-approve you anyway? I’m wondering the same thing.
Last thing on this: If you’ve been selling on Amazon for longer than 2.5 years (or so), you may have no idea you can get auto-approved just by clicking the button. For the longest time, the “Request Approval” button always took you to a page to submit invoices. 100% of the time. So its totally possible there are sellers out there who just stopped clicking the button and never knew that Amazon made this change. If that’s you, I hope this helps.
Scenario #2: Fill out a questionnaire
This is the second scenario that is almost as easy as the first.
When you click the “request approval” button, Amazon will often take you to a page like this:
They call it a “selling application,” but it’s really just a formality. Amazon asks you a bunch of multiple choice questions about your duties and obligations as an Amazon seller (not selling counterfeits, etc).
All you do to get approved is check the last box for each question (i.e. the most conservative answer for each).
Then you enter an email address, and you get instantly approved.
Confession time: This is embarrassing to admit, but I probably saw this page 300 times before I realized how easy this was to pass. There was a time (prior to 2.5 years ago) when anything you saw after slicking the “request approval” button meant Amazon was requesting invoices from a manufacturer or distributor. Since I never had those, I X’d out of the page hundreds of times. One day I gave the page a closer look and realized it had nothing to do with requesting invoices. This doofus mistake probably cost me thousands of dollars.
I doubt there’s anyone reading this as dumb as me, but I’ll repeat: Amazon doesn’t always ask for invoices anymore. And this page is super easy to get past and get approved.
Scenario #3: Submitting invoices
This is where Amazon starts to make us work for it.
Sometimes you’ll click “request approval” and get this:
This is the page you least want to see, but you can still get past it and get approved.
Disclaimer: My experience is limited since the one time I submitted invoices to get approved in a category, I used an ungating service (more on that in a sec). So basically I paid someone to do this for me. Some brands are a lot harder to get approved in than others, and it may be worth it to obtain professional help.
What’s happening here? Amazon wants to confirm your inventory is coming from a “legitimate” source. So they’re asking you to submit invoices from one of their “verified” distributors (or the manufacturer). Amazon wants to be confident you’re an honest seller selling honestly sourced (i.e. not stolen) products that are authentic (i.e. not counterfeit).
Assuming you’re not sourcing wholesale and don’t have invoices, you have two options here:
Option #1: Place an order with a verified distributor
This option involves placing a real order (with real money) with a distributor, just to get the invoices. This isn’t an order you would place anyway, and you may even lose money on the purchase (in fact, you probably will). But that’s not the point. This is an order you’re placing just to get the invoice to get approved.
What distributors are “verfied” and will be accepted by Amazon? That question is going to vary for every category and brand. And it can change over time. So here’s what you’re going to do…
Head over to any Amazon seller Facebook group and ask the question: “Has anyone been approved to sell <category or brand> recently? If so, what invoices did you submit? PM if you’d prefer to keep it private.”
It’s possible you’ll get some trolls jumping in to scold you for talking about “grey hat” tactics publicly. Ignore them. You should (hopefully) get an answer that will provide you with specific, and up to date info on how to get approved to sell that category or brand.
It’s important to know what’s working right now and not rely on dated info.
You’ll notice at the top of the application page, Amazon provides you with a list of criteria that invoice must adhere to. How recent it must be, minimum number of units, etc. All you’re doing it placing an order, and submitting an invoice that checks every box.
A small bit of insight I have on this: When I hired an ungating service (more on that in a minute), the order they created for me was well in excess of the minimum unit amount specified in the application. Since they’re the experts, this tells me Amazon may need to see a number beyond the “10 units” explicitly requested.
Option #2: Hire an ungating service
These are services that know exactly what Amazon wants to see to get approved for every brand and category, and handles this process for you.
I’ve had one good experience with an ungating service, and one bad one. So I’m hesitant to name names here and endorse any specific service. And they come and go.
Again, the best move would be to go to an active Amazon seller Facebook group and ask the question: “Does anyone have a recommended ungating services they’ve used recenlty, to get ungated in <brand or category>”?
Rates are going to vary, but I paid $300 the one time I used an ungating service.
Obviously the cost is totally worth it here if it allows you to sell a product you will have consistent access to, but currently aren’t allowed to sell.
And that concludes the total dummies guide to getting approved to sell in any Amazon category.
Have an experience getting ungated? Jump in the comments and share.