Myths, rumors and (some) encouraging truths about selling used DVDs on Amazon.
Everyone’s asking: What’s the deal with selling used DVDs on Amazon?
This article is to clear up the misconceptions around whether you can or can’t sell DVDs on Amazon, how to get approved to sell DVDs, and how to sell them correctly.
Bad news is that some of what you’ve heard is true.
Good news is that one of the biggest rumors isn’t.
Let’s get into it…
So, are DVDs a gated category on Amazon?
Selling DVDs has changed for 2024. Today, DVDs are what’s considered a “gated” category. In other words, you need permission to sell some DVDs, but not others.
The backstory: In the fall of 2015, Amazon announced that all of it’s sellers would have to apply to sell certain DVDs (or all of them, depending on when you first created your Amazon seller account).
After years of being a fully “ungated” category, DVDs went the way of clothing and jewelry, and became a private club for the elite who Amazon granted permission.
Although, it didn’t become entirely gated. Only “partially gated.” Amazon didn’t kick everyone out, and not everyone was prevented from selling DVDs (despite what you may have heard).
Here were the changes Amazon implemented, that remain in place today:
- Amazon sellers who had not sold any DVDs on Amazon between September 2013 and September 2014 had to request to sell any DVD, of any price. DVDs became fully gated for these sellers.
- Sellers who had sold DVDs on Amazon during this period only had to apply to sell DVDs with a Manufacturer’s Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) of over $25. They continued to be allowed to sell all DVDs that fit these criteria.
Why did Amazon restrict DVDs out of nowhere?
Counterfeit DVDs are the reason Amazon began restricting the sale of DVDs.
Amazon isn’t exactly telling the story, but basically there were tons of bootleg DVDs being sold. So the lawyers from the major studios flexed their muscles on Amazon to intervene.
No one really knows what went on behind closed doors, but Amazon was sufficiently scared enough to forfeit a huge amount in 3rd party sale commissions and capitulate to the movie studio’s demands. Amazon and the studios reached some kind of agreement, and DVDs with an MSRP over $25 were the casualty.
One thing I know: It would be foolish to say Amazon did something wrong here. One, they’re among the smartest companies in the world. Two, we don’t know any of the factors that led to this decision. Three, everything in business is just a cost / benefit analysis, and as far as Amazon’s interests go, every decision they make is a smart decision. So any editorializing on our part is pointless, and probably wrong.
How to tell if you’re allowed to sell DVDs
Head over to the Amazon “View Selling Applications” page. This is where Amazon lists every brand you’re allowed to sell, and every product category you’re allowed to sell in.
Alternately, grab a DVD off your shelf and try to list it here:
Here’s the steps”
- Enter the UPC from the barcode of the DVD you want to sell.
- Selection a condition.
- If you see a “Apply To Sell” button, then you are restricted from selling that DVD (and maybe all DVDs).
Don’t worry: If you’re restricted from selling DVDs, you still have some options…
How to get approved to sell DVDS (full process with screenshots)
So you tried to list a DVD for sale, and Amazon told you that you weren’t allowed. What are your options?
While Amazon heavily restricts who can sell DVDs, it’s not impossible like many people online claim.
Step One: Confirm you meet the minimum selling requirements
First step is to review Amazon’s DVD selling requirements:
- The upgraded “Professional Selling Plan.“
- Order-Defect Rate (ODR) under 1%.
- Cancellation rate under 2.5%.
- Late shipment rate under 4%.
You can confirm all of the above in your Account Health page inside Amazon Seller Central.
If you check all those boxes, continue to the next step.
Step Two: Make a purchase from a DVD distributor
This is the only part that takes a little work. Just remember that this is not as hard as it first looks.
Amazon needs invoices from a verified DVD distributor. I.e. a company that is on their list of approve distributors (they don’t make this list public).
Before you decide this sounds too daunting to proceed, just keep in mind that anyone can make a purchase from a distributor. You have to be willing to invest in a small wholesale purchase, but this is not going to break your bank.
In order to keep this article timeless, I won’t list the latest distributors that work best for this. They can change at any time, and new ones come and go. The best source of the most current info is to head over to any large Amazon seller Facebook group and ask what distributors have worked recently.
A lot of sellers might be cagey about sharing this information, but either immediately or with a little networking, you’ll get the answer you need.
From there, you make one or more DVD purchases. Make sure you get a PDF receipt.
Step Three: Navigate to the application for DVD approval
When you go to list a DVD for sale, you’ll be presented with a “Apply To Sell” button. Click that. Here’s what it looks like:
On the next page, you’ll see a second button that reads “Request Approval.” Here’s what it looks like:
Step Four: Answer the application questions
Next you’ll be taken to a short application.
First question you’re asked is: “Do you buy the products you intend to sell directly from distributors or liquidators?”
The second question you’re asked is: “How many units do you intend to sell?”
Step Five: Submit your wholesale purchase invoices to Amazon
At the bottom of the application, you’ll upload the receipt(s) to Amazon.
Qualifying invoices must:
- Be dated in the last six months.
- Include the name and address of the distributor.
- Show a combine purchase of at least 10 DVDs (some say the purchases need to be larger to get approval).
Then submit the application and wait for approval.
Here’s what the full application looks like:
My journey through the Amazon DVD mess
Here’s my personal experience going through this…
I got the original Amazon alert (back in 2015) like everyone else, asking for three invoices from a legitimate DVD distributor as evidence that I was selling “real” DVDs on Amazon (and not counterfeit). I was grandfathered in with all DVDs having an MSRP under $25, but for anything over that… Amazon blacklisted me.
Fortunately. I had these invoices, submitted them to Amazon, and was approved within a day. Problem solved.
It was smooth sailing for about two months.
Then sometime a few months later, I got another alert from Amazon. They changed their mind. Amazon wanted more invoices or I wasn’t allowed to sell the $25+ MSRP DVDs.
This time, I decided I wasn’t playing their game. Three things were clear to me:
- Amazon was making up all these rules as they went.
- I wasn’t going to reward Amazon’s capriciousness by jumping through yet another hoop.
- The entire DVD category on Amazon was a mess.
So that’s it. I had 40 or so DVD listings that immediately went dark. (If you want them, you can find them for sale on eBay.)
Not everyone gets this repeat-demand for another round of DVD-order invoices. Maybe I did something wrong. But it didn’t affect enough of my Amazon inventory for me to want to engage in an endless dance with Amazon. So I bowed out.
Where does that leave me? I have approval to sell most DVDs on Amazon, unless the “suggested retail price” is over $25. That leaves more than enough room for me to sell most DVDs, and I’m happy with it.
Where does that leave us? The DVD category on Amazon is an ever-evolving disaster. It may get better, it may get worse. But right now… I’m not touching it. (That is, for anything with an MSRP over $25)
Where can you trade-in (or sell) DVDs online?
With Amazon no longe an option, you still have some options to get cash for DVDs:
SellBackYourBook (SBYB): free shipping and they pay in cash.
Decluttr: enter the UPC and get an instant price quote
Bonavendi: they’ll run your DVD through other DVD buyback site and find you the best offer.
Exactly what you need to start selling DVDs (full list)
At this point in the article, I’m assuming you are approved t sell either some or all DVDs on Amazon. Let’s make sure you have everything in a row so you can dive in and start making money.
All you need is a Professional Amazon Selling Account. This is required to sell DVDs.
The only things required for a Professional selling plan are:
- Paying $40 a month.
- Going through the signup process.
- Possible additional identification verification.
None of this is hard, but I’ll expand on each so you know what to expect.
Paying $40 a month: This expense might be daunting if you plan to start small, but I have some good news. With the Professional Selling plan, Amazon waives the $0.99 per item selling fee. So this means if you plan to sell 40 or more items per month (which isn’t hard), you will actually save money on this plan.
Going through the sign up process: Amazon will ask you a bunch of basic questions like your address, bank account information, where you source your products, and basic identity information.
Additional identification verification: What happens in this step can vary depending on whether Amazon’s system flags you. These additional steps can include either asking you to send them more identity documents, a postcard with a code on it sent to your home to verify your address, or a video call with an Amazon representative. None of these are unusual or indicate you’ve done anything wrong. They’re just part of the process.
Even if you run into hurdles, the most important thing to keep in mind is that Amazon wants more people to sell on Amazon (even if it doesn’t seem like it). They depend heavily on third party sellers for their revenue, so they’re not trying to actively dissuade you from selling. They just need you to go through a few steps.
Where do you find DVDs to resell?
Now that you are 100% ready to start listing DVDs – where do you find them?
The best place to start is always your own home.
Test the waters with a few DVDs from your personal collection that you don’t want anymore.
Once you’re ready to branch out, here’s a few ideas:
- Thrift stores
- Garage sales
- Estate sales
- Flea markets
- Overstock/surplus stores
- Facebook Marketplace
Between these seven soruces, you could build an entire DVD reselling business.
How to grade DVDs
You’ve come a long way, and you finally have DVDs in your hand to sell. How do you measure the condition of a DVD and determine how to list it, and if you can list it at all? Here’s everything you need to know about conditioning DVDs.
Amazon gives you five options for condition:
- New (most heavily restricted condition).
- Like New
- Very Good
How do you know which one to choose? Here’s how I do it:
- List a DVD as New only when it is sealed.
- Avoid listing anything as Like New. This is a confusing to customers and should be avoided.
- List all DVDs with no visible scratches as Very Good.
- List any DVD with a visible scratch (but still playable) as Good.
- List any heavily scratched (but still playable) DVD as Acceptable.
Can you sell scratched DVDs?
I learned an important lesson from an owner of a closed video rental store when I bought out his DVD collection some years ago:
It’s really hard to damage a DVD.
Before I purchased his collection, I expressed concern over the volume of heavily scratched DVDs. I assumed all video rental stores had a refurbishing in the back that was running 24/7, and that scratched DVDs were a big problem.
As he clarified, he threw out very few DVDs due to damage (and didn’t even own a DVD cleaning machine). He told me there are several layers of data that have to be scratched through to have any impact on the playback.
Turns out he was right. I sold every one of the 3,000 DVDs I bought from him (mostly on Amazon) and didn’t get a single customer complaint. And this was for a collection of very used DVDs (Not only was it a video rental store, it was across the street from a big university. Their customers were not the most responsible).
My trick is to drag my fingernail across the surface of any heavily scratched DVD. If a scratch is so deep my nail can get caught on it, I won’t sell it. Everything else, I sell – no matter how badly it’s scratched. This has never failed me.
Understanding Amazon Sales Rank for DVDs
Let’s say you have confirmed you have some DVDs you’re allowed to sell. How do you read their Amazon Sales Rank to determine if there’s enough to demand to make it worth it?
Most sellers think the only factor that matters is the current price it’s selling for on Amazon. But before you sell a DVD, you also have to consider its Sales Rank.
The most important thing to understand about Amazon Sales Rank for DVDs (and any category) is that its not an exact science. All you can do is use rank for a rough estimate as to how often a DVD is selling. Sometimes the estimate is very imperfect, but what follows is a useful guide.
Here’s how to use Sales Rank to inform your selling decisions:
A DVD Sales Rank of 150,000 means it sold about 5 to 7 days ago
Possibly as long as 2 weeks ago. Remember how I said it’s an inexact science?
But 150,000 is still a strong rank. When you’re in the 1 to 200,000 range, you can consider these DVDs to be selling relatively consistently. Not necessarily “often” (as you get closer to 200,000), but not so infrequently that you should be deterred.
This is where it gets interesting…
A DVD Sales Rank of 350,000 means a DVD may not have sold for over a year
DVDs are an interesting category in that they have a higher percentage of titles selling “every now and then” than most other categories. In other words, fewer “long tail” titles.
So while an Amazon Sales Rank of 150,000 is still selling somewhat briskly, things take a dive around 300,000 (rough estimate).
I consider any Sales Rank better than 200,000 to be a “frequently selling” DVD
In my experience, you won’t have trouble selling a DVD ranked better than 200,000.
You really shouldn’t be concerned about selling a DVD of any rank (almost everything sells “now and then,”), but you should have no concern at all with a rank of 200,000 of better.
How to price DVDs for maximum sales
My approach to pricing DVDs isn’t too different from my pricing strategy for books.
- If you’re an FBA seller, compete with other FBA offers only.
- If you’re a Merchant Fulfilled seller, compete with other MF sellers only.
Pretty much as simple as that. If a DVD has particularly high value, I’ll check the Keepa pricing charts to see if the current price reflects something close to the average price. And if the current price is well below the historical average, then I’ll price around the average and wait my turn for a sale.
Simple as that.
What are Amazon fees for selling DVDs?
What percentage of the sales price does Amazon take?
I’m assuming if you’re reading this section, you aren’t very familiar with Amazon fees. So I’ll explain the basics.
First step is Amazon’s “revenue calculator.” This is an online tool Amazon provides to explain fees. Enter the UPC or ISBN of any product here:
To save you any manual labor, I’ll break down sample DVDs here for each fulfillment channel:
Merchant Fulfilled fees for standard DVD
- Sample list price: $14.99 (+3.99 shipping)
- Referral fee: 2.25
- Closing fee: 1.80
- Shipping: $3.92
FBA fees for standard DVD
- Sample list price: $14.99
- Referral fee: 2.25
- Closing fee: 1.80
- Fulfillment fee: 3.22
Good news about DVD fees
The awesome thing that separates DVDs from most other categories is that the fees for one DVD are roughly the same for every DVD. Since DVD weight and size is pretty uniform (except for weird DVDs or box sets), so you only have to memorize this once.
Dispelling the top myths about selling DVDs
A lot of Amazon sellers aren’t very sensitive to details. Or they just like spreading doom and gloom on the internet.
Whatever the case, some of what you’ve been reading about selling DVDs on Amazon is probably false.
- Myth #1: You can’t sell any DVDs without approval
- Myth #2: You can’t sell any DVDs with an MSRP over $25
- Myth #3: It’s possible to trade-in restricted DVDs to Amazon
- Myth #4: Only large Amazon sellers get approved to sell DVDs
Read on as I clarify these myths one by one (and Rumor #2 is a huge one)…
Myth #1: You can’t sell DVDs without approval
True and false. If you are a new seller, you do have to get approval to sell any DVDs on Amazon.
If you’ve been selling for several years, you’re likely grandfathered in (as long as you pay for the Amazon Professional Selling Plan).
Making a legitimate wholesale purchase from a legitimate DVD distributor is the most common tactic for getting ungated. In theory, getting approval should be allowed for anyone who places wholesale orders of DVDs from a distributor, and presents them to Amazon.
In practice, the actual criteria appears to be fuzzier and more capricious than that. Both myself and many other sellers are reporting that submitting wholesale invoices doesn’t always work.
Myth #2: You cannot sell DVDs for more than $25 on Amazon
No. No. NO.
Almost all Amazon sellers are getting this wrong.
Here is the truth:
You can sell any DVD on Amazon for any price, unless the publisher has set a “Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price” of more than $25.
An “MSRP” is entirely different than a selling price. “Manufacturer’s Retail Price” is a number assigned by the manufacturer, and denoting the price retailers should sell the DVD for.
But here’s what many sellers miss: Relatively few DVDs on Amazon have an MSRP.
The reason is that an MSRP is generally only assigned to DVDs put out by large film companies. Amazon’s restrictions only affects DVDs where the manufacturer somehow communicated a “suggested retail price” to Amazon. A ton (most?) films that are not put out by a big film company don’t do not have an MSRP, and aren’t restricted.
What’s better, most larger film companies compete on price, and don’t price their DVDs above $25 – unless they are box sets. (Criterion Collection DVDs, unfortunately, are one exception.)
So this should not profoundly affect the average inventory for the average Amazon seller. Most sellers should still be able to sell most DVDs.
Myth #3: It’s possible to trade-in or sell restricted DVDs to Amazon
Many sellers still believe that Amazon will buy any restricted DVDs from you, and pay in cash or trade-in value. This rumor is easy to refute.
False: Amazon shut down their trade-in program years ago, in 2020.
You can no longer sell DVDs to Amazon, yet there continue to be an incredible number of outdated articles on DVD selling that claim otherwise. But to be clear: Amazon totally stopped this practice years ago.
Myth #4: You need to use paid ads or create pages to sell DVDs
There’s a lot of weird misinformation online suggesting selling DVDs requires running paid Amazon ads, or creating whole product pages from scratch.
If you’re newer to Amazon selling, you may not be aware of this so let me clarify:
All you need to do is list the DVD for sale. Amazon takes care of the rest.
No paid ads. No taking photos or writing bullet points or anything. Just list and ship. That’s it.
Reminder: With minimal effort, you can still sell (most) DVDs on Amazon
Let’s reap some important facts about the current state of selling used DVDs in 2024:
- Older sellers are likely grandfathered in to sell most DVDs.
- Newer sellers need to place a small order from a distributor and submit invoices to get approved.
- Many if not most DVDs do not have an MSRP.
- You can sell a DVD on Amazon with no MSRP for any price.
- Most DVDs that do have an MSRP, have it set below $25.
- Therefore you can sell most DVDs on Amazon
- You can no longer trade-in DVDs to Amazon.
- If you are restricted from selling DVDs of any price, many sellers report that it’s fairly easy to get approved.
- If all else fails, you can get instant cash for DVDs through various buyback sites.
When Amazon brought the hammer down, well under 50% of the DVDs I had priced over $25 were affected. Why? Because they didn’t have an MSRP. The DVDs weren’t made by Warner Brothers. They weren’t made by Sony. These were niche DVDs from boutique production companies, and they were unaffected.
The facts should be encouraging for most people selling DVDs on Amazon.