#2 Amazon FBA: Getting Approved in Restricted Categories

Two words of advice I have to others seeking approval to sell in Amazon’s restricted categories: “Be prepared.” When I applied to Amazon’s restricted categories I was…mostly prepared. I did a ton of research to figure out how to get approved. I sought out blog posts from other FBA sellers to see what they did. Because of the advice of other sellers, getting approved was a piece of cake. Well, not a piece of cake. It was more like a piece of cake I did a ton of work to bake. Looking back the whole process was simple but I made some mistakes that made things harder.

To get approved you have to provide Amazon with three receipts proving you are buying bulk amounts of products to sell and not consume for personal use. From the advice of others I knew that I needed three receipts, each listing three different items in bulk quantities. Most people said they bought between 7 to 10 of each item. Thankfully, Amazon accepts receipts from normal stores like Walmart, Winn-Dixie, Walgreens, dollar stores, etc. so sellers don’t have to seek out wholesalers to get approved.

I really had no idea what type of grocery items to try to sell on Amazon.¬†There are so many foods available at every single grocery store in the U.S. that finding a special item that would sell and make me a profit seemed hard.¬†(Note: In another post I’ll share how the Amazon Seller phone app has made shopping a breeze). I decided to seek items that I could buy with store sales and coupons for as close to $1 or less each. That way I wouldn’t waste a ton of money on my start-up stock to sell.

Step #1: Finding Your Products For Approval

Before applying to the restricted categories I spent around two weeks researching store sales and finding super cheap items. My first receipt came from Walmart. This first visit was before my extreme couponing phase so I only had a limited number of coupons. After shopping for a bit and second guessing everything I’d done research on I pretty much threw all my researched information out the window. I had no idea what to buy and after a while I got tired of shopping and made mistake #1…I got frustrated and decided to basically walk around the store trying to find grocery items for under $1. i don’t recommend this method because you might end up with a bunch of something not worth selling (example 10 packets of taco mix). I thankfully had seven coupons for some flavored water and got them for .98 cents a piece. The second items I bought were 10 packets of instant mashed potatoes. I figured if I couldn’t sell them on Amazon then I could eat them. And third, were the taco seasonings for $ .75.

My second receipt came from Publix and for this trip I was way more prepared. I had my coupons and store sales information in order. I got 10 cans of pineapple on double coupon day for $.20 a can. They had cake mix on sale for 10 for $10. They also had some packets of pancake mix on sale for under $1 and I got 8 of those.

Because I was previously selling on eBay I had a receipt from a wholesale site selling a grocery item I tried to sell on Ebay. It was for one product with a quantity of 28. This was mistake #2. When I submitted my receipts to Amazon they sent me a message stating that they approved the Walmart and Publix receipts but not the third. They said it didn’t contain a high enough quantity. Seller support was quick in sending me notification that my third receipt hadn’t been accepted. They replied within an hour of me submitting my application.

Because of this, I had to take another trip out to Walmart to get a third receipt. This trip I bought 7 boxes of spaghetti noodles, 8 gravy mixes, and 7 boxes of flavored water mixes. I submitted the receipt and within 20 minutes I received an email saying I was approved to sell in the grocery category. I spent less that $30 on my first FBA stock.

I didn’t apply to the beauty category until two weeks after starting my professional account. I had a Walmart receipt with 7 shampoos, 8 bars of soap, and 6 Dial hand soaps of a seasonal scent. Second, was another Walmart receipt with two different types of shampoo (same brand different scents) in quantities of 8 each and another set of 8 Dial hand soaps. Lastly was a Walgreens receipt with 7 mini Colgate toothpastes, 7 bars of soap, and 7 shampoos. I applied for approval and heard 3 days later I was allowed to sell in the beauty category. It was all very easy and quick.

Step #2: Preparing Receipts

To submit my receipts I had to do a few things first. Amazon has specifications they ask for when you submit receipts. Each receipt submitted needs to have your name/your business name, address, phone number, and email address. It needs to have the stores name, address, and phone number. They also suggest that you black out what you paid. A Walmart receipt does not give your contact information so I had to improvise. I taped every single receipt to a piece of white paper. On the paper next to the receipt I wrote my name, address, phone number, and email in a dark black pen. I then scanned the receipt into my computer. I saved them as pdf files. In my pdf editing program on my macbook pro I blacked out all the prices. Then in the margin I typed out each product name I bought, the UPC from their bar codes, and the quantity bought. Even though I didn’t see Amazon saying I had to do this, I read on other people’s blogs that this was the way to do things. By typing out all that information I was helping whomever handled my case read the receipt much easier.

Once I got approval the next step was to list my very first products….continued in part 3.