#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.


#1 Amazon FBA: Taking A Chance On My Own Amazon Store

*Special Note: This post is for all of you out there who are interested in earning an income at home. Right now I have been running an eBay business and an Amazon FBA store for over a month each. As I go on my journey into the world of selling products online I will share my experiences and advice to those of you thinking of taking a similar journey.

In early May 2015, my husband got into selling groceries on eBay. He and I are both graduate students who earn a graduate student’s salary. We both decided we needed to pursue something to earn some extra cash. I started writing and selling articles to content mill type websites. My husband wrote a bit for the same websites as me but he wanted to find something that would pay more. He had talked for years about trying to sell things on eBay, and after a while finally took the steps to list his first items.

The only setback to his plan is that my husband is horrible with technology. He had trouble figuring out how eBay worked. He enlisted my help to set up listings and get the eBay store started. I became his partner and we worked together to find products to sell and I taught him how to do listings. I managed the site, the money, and paypal and he went out and shopped for products, packaged them when sold, and took them to the post office. Most of our food items ended up being foods you can only buy in the state of Alabama where we live. At first, business was slow but after a month we started getting sales more frequently which helped us build our good feedback rating. We made close to $200 that first month selling food items that can only be found in the state of Alabama.

Even though we had success on eBay, I sometimes felt frustrated because sales were spaced out and inconsistent. We didn’t mind packing and shipping our own items but selling groceries is a time sensitive thing. Groceries expire after a while and eBay doesn’t always produce enough traffic for the food items we sell.

I had heard about Amazon FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) but hadn’t looked into it until we got into selling on eBay. I was intrigued by the idea of selling items on Amazon but I was also afraid and intimidated by selling there. To sell certain items like groceries, beauty, and health items you have to have a professional account costing $39.99 a month and you have to get Amazon approval to sell in restricted categories.

I am not a natural business person. I’m going to school to get a graduate degree in Sociology. I never took a business class or a class teaching you to manage money or profits. When I started learning about selling online, I started from scratch. Getting involved in something that charged a $39.99 fee each month scared me. Along with shipping fees and Amazon fulfillment fees, I was very unsure I could sell enough products to cover my selling costs and still profit. Using eBay I was able to get my feet wet in running a small type of business. Because I discovered I could be successful there, I decided that I’d take a chance and pursue Amazon’s FBA program.

The first month of Amazon’s professional account is free and then you pay $39.99 every month after that. I did an insane amount of research before jumping into the Amazon FBA ocean. Amazon has rules, restrictions, fees, and more you have to know before selling on their site. I read other sellers blogs, watched videos seller’s had made to help other sellers, listened to podcasts and more. I researched wholesalers and tried to figure out where I could buy products to sell at a cheaper rate. I spent over a month reading up about Amazon FBA to figure out how to sell there and what to sell.

All this research led me to research another new world…the world of extreme couponing. Finding wholesale items to sell without any connections to the business world is hard, if not impossible…at least for me. I found plenty of sites selling low quality wholesale items and I found plenty of those items already on Amazon with far too many sellers. I knew the world of wholesaling wasn’t going to work with me when I had very little money to invest.

The world of couponing became very attractive to me. I’d seen the show, Extreme Couponers, where people are so great with coupons they get huge stockpiles of items for very, very little. Buying lots of grocery items for cheap and reselling them for a profit seemed like something I could do so I began to research.

Again, the world of couponing was brand new to me. I had no idea how to use manufacturer or store coupons, rebates, store sales, etc. all together. It was almost overwhelming at first. I had hundreds of coupons everywhere. I had store sale papers everywhere. I had no idea how to get organized.

I got my husband involved to help me out and together we researched our first couponing trips. We didn’t do as great as the Extreme Couponers on television but we did get a few free items and some greatly cheap products we could resell. I do have to say it was pretty awesome having 20 bottles of shampoo in my bathroom from couponing. I became addicted very quickly. After practicing our couponing for a while we decided to finally pursue selling on Amazon.

Amazon became primarily my business. It takes a lot of computer work to sell on Amazon and to my husband the whole thing was extremely confusing. I signed up for my seller account and then applied for my professional account’s first free month. As soon as I did this I knew the clock was ticking until we had to pay that first $39.99 fee.

With the clock ticking it was time to set things in motion to get my Amazon FBA business in order. The steps to get the business in order weren’t hard but they were time consuming. For those of you reading this, I know I haven’t shared a lot of details on exact things I had to go through in this introductory post. I plan on sharing more posts focusing on everything I learned and went through to help out other people interested in selling on Amazon or eBay.

In the continuation of this post I will discuss the process of getting accepted to sell in Amazon’s restricted categories.