The Amazon sales platform is open to 3rd party sellers (like you) to sell products to people who are already shopping for things they want and need. That’s the amazing benefit it is to sell your products on Amazon. However, there are certain categories where not just anyone can sell products. Amazon’s reasons for doing this is mainly to protect the consumer by ensuring that the people selling products in those categories are legitimate sellers who are not selling items that will be harmful or fake. Chris Schaeffer is a pro in these things and he unloads how he goes about getting products ungated, on this episode.
The category that I want to sell product in is blocked to new sellers (gated). How can I get in?
It happens quite often. Someone does their diligence in product research and discovers that the end of that process that the category their product falls into is blocked to new sellers. How can you get past that? Is there any way? That is exactly what this episode of the podcast is all about. Scott and his friend Chris walk you through 5 Steps you need to take in order to get your private label products into a gated category on Amazon. Be encouraged, their experience shows that you can always get into the category, it just may take time and some hard work. Be sure you listen to find out how you can get your product into the categories they belong in.
How does the Amazon Brand Registry fit into the ungating process?
If you have not gone through the steps to register your products and brand in the Amazon brand registry, that is one of the first things you need to do if you want your product to be considered for categories that are currently gated. Amazon will not consider your product if you have not verified your product through brand registry. On this episode of the podcast, Chris and Scott are going to walk you through the steps involved in getting brand registered, and show you that it really isn't as hard as it might sound at first. If you need someone to hold your hand, this episode does exactly that.
Make it easy for Amazon to approve your “ungate” request.
Anyone selling products on Amazon is able to apply for their products to be considered for a blocked or gated category. Chris Shaffer advises that if you were going to do that, you make it easy for Amazon to say yes to you. How do you do that? By getting all of your documents and requested things in order before you apply to have your product considered. Amazon is very clear about what it takes to become eligible for selling in those categories, so you need to do your part to meet their requirements before you even apply. On this episode Chris walks through what those things are so that you will be able to gather your information and go in with your guns loaded.
Don’t let the gated categories on Amazon get you frustrated.
The process of getting your products into gated categories can be quite irritating and frustrating. Sometimes Amazon will reject your product request and not provide any reasons why they have rejected it. Other times, they will respond with very big reasons that don't make sense. It is important that you understand that those things are just part of how it is, and that you need to do everything on your end to make it easy for Amazon to approve your request. Keep going, walk through the things you have submitted very carefully to ensure that they meet Amazon's standards, and even follow the tips Chris lives in this episode to restart the process if need be. And his experience, every request can be approved if you approach it the right way.
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:03] Scott’s introduction to the podcast!
- [2:59] Why categories on Amazon are gated (to protect consumers).
- [4:58] How gating impacts pay per click (PPC).
- [5:40] Is it possible to place your product into a different category if you’re gated out of the one it belongs in?
- [8:45] Select the category you want to be in.
- [9:45] Why you need to switch to a pro monthly plan to get started ungating.
- [11:30] Hitting the Amazon seller performance targets.
- [12:50] How new products figure into the gated category issue.
- [13:43] Working with your supplier to get verification regarding your products.
- [14:40] Particulars you need to make sure are correct.
- [16:40] The importance of having a website for the sake of Amazon brand registry.
- [18:25] Making sure you have your documentation together (including 3 invoices).
- [21:46] What to do if Amazon doesn’t give much reason for rejecting your request.
- [24:00] Why you need to make it easy for Amazon to approve your request.
- [26:43] Additional steps to take to get yourself approved.
- [29:49] Why it took Scott and Chris 3 weeks to get ungated in one situation.
- [32:12] Recap of the steps you need to take to get your product ungated.
- [34:40] Why you should consider the possibility of gated categories during your product research phase.
- [36:09] Chris’ final word: don’t let this frustrate you.
TRANSCRIPT TAS 212
TAS 212 : The Simple Process for Getting Ungated to Sell Your Products on Amazon with Chris Shaffer
[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone. Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller podcast. This is episode number 212 and today I’ve got a guest on, actually you guys might have heard of him before. His name is Chris Schaffer and he is going to break down and simplify the process of getting ungated in these gated categories. I’ve had a lot of people ask…
[read more=”Read full transcript…” less=”Read less”]
…in the Facebook community, I’ve had people helping but it’s really not that big of a deal but there are some obstacles and some hurdles that we have overcome. I figured I would ask him he’s done it numerous times, he actually just recently did it for something that him and I are working on together. We had a few sticky points there but we got through them and I wanted him to break down and simplify that process so that’s what he’s agreed to do. Really, really awesome stuff.
Actually, just recently we were at an event together called the TAS Breakthrough Live Event. Again, he was talking to people there about how to get ungated or some of the things that they were facing that they could have gotten around if they just would have went through some of these steps. Really awesome to have him back on and you guys may or may not know that he helps me a lot when it comes to the workshops that we do, our Private Label Classroom so he’s just a huge part of this business model because he deals with a lot of different businesses in the Amazon space.
He’s helped a lot of businesses brick and mortar, take their products and bring them online. Really excited to have him on. Before we do jump into the conversation that him and I had together, I did want to remind you, if you wanted to download the transcripts from today’s episode and the show notes and all that good stuff, you’re going to want to head over to the show notes page and that can be found at theamazingseller.com/212 and again all of the show notes and the transcripts will be there for you. You can read them right there or you can download the transcripts there as well.
[00:01:59] Scott: This might be one you might want to do that because he does go through some steps as far as what you need to do and what to look out for and I believe he’s also going to give us a resource to actually make it a little bit easier to go through this process. Definitely going to want to check out the show notes. I’m going to stop rambling as you guys know I tend to do when I get excited especially. Let’s go ahead and listen to this conversation that I had with Mr. Chris Shaffer.
[00:02:29] Scott: All right so Chris Shaffer welcome back once again. We’re going to talk about ungating which is been coming up quite a bit actually in the Facebook group, also in our class and just all around out there in the Internet. Welcome back to the podcast brother, how’s it going?
[00:02:48] Chris: Pretty good my friend, how are you doing?
[00:02:51] Scott: I’m doing amazing. It’s a beautiful morning here and getting ready to talk about this ungating thing. Let’s dig in, let’s not beat around the bush here. Let’s dig right in here. I know that you kind of went through this numerous times for clients, you’ve actually done it for something that you and I are working on together and I think there’s been different experiences within different categories or just whoever you talk to. Maybe you can run us through those five steps that you’ve broken down and give us the ins and the outs and also just let people know that there’s not one set way that’s going to work.
[00:03:31] Chris: We’re done.
[00:03:34] Scott: We’re done.
[00:03:35] Chris: We don’t have to cover anything.
[00:03:37] Scott: Yeah, show over. Just to let everyone know that there’s not one set way but there a few things that you can do to get yourself prepared as best as possible and that’s the key is really giving them as much information as possible. Let’s talk a little bit about why you feel that they are gating these different categories first.
[00:03:55] Chris: There’s a couple of different reasons. Right now there’s like 20 or 21 categories on Amazon that are gated and the reason that a lot of them are gated are to protect consumers actually. You have something like beauty, health and personal care and sexual wellness is the other one or the grocery and gourmet food for instance right?
All of those are gated so that they can make sure that the quality of the product is good. Then they have some other things like collectable coins and collectable books, entertainment collectibles and those are gated just to make sure again, that the quality is good but for a different type of product. Does that make sense? In the collectable space they want to make sure that you’re not selling non-collectible items. In beauty, health and personal care obviously, they have a vested interest in making sure that the product isn’t going to harm anyone.
They want to make sure that you are a legitimate vendor for that product. It’s not that it's a restricted product in the sense of something like a switchblade knife where Amazon can’t sell it. They’re just trying to make sure that you as a supplier are giving them quality goods so that they don’t end up in hot water on their end if somebody runs into trouble.
[00:05:03] Scott: Yeah and this is different than also I believe that some people saying they can’t do pay per click. Those are two different animals, right?
[00:05:12] Chris: It is and the big category that pops in mind when people say, “Oh I'm in this category and can’t do pay per click,” is jewelry and there are people in jewelry who can do pay per click but you have to be invited. They’re not really letting people into that space for pay per click but you can still get ungated in jewelry and you can still sell in jewelry, You can’t just launch with pay per click up front unless you were previously approved before they brought that down last year.
[00:05:36] Scott: Let me ask you something here too and I get this question a lot is… I’ve got to go into a gated category or maybe I want to go into a category that they don’t offer pay per click anymore for that category for new people that are selling in that category. They ask me can I sell mine in a different category? What would your feedback or your response be to that kind of question?
[00:06:05] Chris: You’re going to love this. It depends. I know. We were just in Denver and I gave that answer a whole bunch of times but it really does depend. If it’s something let’s just say health and beauty or beauty versus health and personal care, you could put a lotion technically in either but where I like to be personally is where my competitors are because even while most people start at that home page of Amazon, they don’t start in a category search. If for whatever reason you end up in a category search as a customer, your product wouldn’t show up then.
If somebody typed in lotion, they clicked on a listing, they ended up in health and beauty and then they typed in facial lotion, if you’re listed in personal care and they’re then searching inside of beauty you’re not going to show up even though you might show up for facial lotion if they searched it from the Amazon home page. I like to be where my competition is even if that means I wouldn’t necessarily be able to run PPC and I know you guys all have heard me talk about PPC and how much I love it but I would rather give that up to be where my competition is in those cases. That being said, if you can find competitors that are in either categories, I would feel comfortable listing it in either category. What are your thoughts on that Scott? I’m curious where you sit on that?
[00:07:22] Scott: I agree and actually that is kind of the answer that I gave, I didn't say exclusively like it depends but it does because that’s always a good answer. The thing is it really comes down to where does your product fit. You don’t want to put that product in a category that it doesn’t fit just so you're not in a gated category or if you’re in a category that doesn’t allow pay per click. If it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make sense.
You have to use your head on that, you have to use common sense and yes, it can work in some circumstances but in most it probably can’t because you do want be where your competition is and again, that’s another hoop you have to jump through but also that makes it harder for other people to then come in as well so that’s where I would stand on that.
[00:08:08] Chris: You touched on two golden nuggets right there. One, yes it’s a barrier to entry but barriers to entry are only bad for people trying to enter. Once you’re in, it’s great for you. The other one is, don’t try to put it in another category just so that you can get around this process.
[00:08:23] Scott: Yeah, take those actual steps.
[00:08:26] Chris: Specifically because… Let’s go back to that lotion example. It could fit in health and personal care or it could fit in beauty, not really another place where it would fit. Guess what, both of those are gated so it doesn’t matter which one of those you put it in, you’re still going to have to go essentially through the same process. You could list it in Home and Kitchen technically but that’s not where it would fit. If Amazon comes through and looks your listing, they’re going to delist you until you go through this process. You might as well do it up front.
[00:08:53] Scott: I agree, 100%. Let’s dig in, let’s say that I have to get ungated. What are my first steps? What is the first step that I need to do to start that process?
[00:09:05] Chris: The first thing you need to look at is you need to look at what category you’re getting listed in and we just talked about that a little bit but as I mentioned right now and we can include a lot of this stuff in the show notes because it is a dense topic but there are about 20 categories on Amazon right now that are restricted or gated as we call it in the FBA community. The big ones there obviously are beauty, health and personal care so anything that goes in your body, on your skin, grocery and gourmet foods, sexual wellness and then one that we hear a lot about Scott is like jewelry, watches and then sunglasses and those kind of things are gated as well. If you guys are doing retail arbitrage, one of the big ones that’s gated is videos, DVDs and Blu-rays.
[00:09:49] Scott: There’s about 20 different categories, there are some main categories. We need to figure out number one, what category we’re going into. Let’s just use an example… Let’s just say it is in beauty. If we are wanting to go into that category, what’s our first step? Do they have…? Again, I’m playing the person on the other hand that you’re helping. I know the answers to these because we’ve already been through this but I want to go through that process step-by-step. What’s the first thing that you’re going to do for me as a client that you’re going to go ahead and get me ungated?
[00:10:24] Chris: The first thing you have to do is especially for beauty and most of these gated requirements are that you are on the professional seller plan. If you guys are on the individual seller plan you do have to be on professional for almost all of these and it maybe all of these at this point. Last time I looked I think it was 19 out of 20. If you’re on that individual plan you do have to switch to the monthly plan through Amazon.
[00:10:44] Scott: What is that still? Is that still like $39.99 a month?
[00:10:46] Chris: I believe it’s still $39.99. I should probably look at my credit card
[00:10:52] Scott: For people that don’t know that, that are brand spanking new, that allows you to use all of their tools in the back-end, it gives you pay per click that you can use if you’re obviously in a category that allows pay per click. You get all of the back-end tools and all that stuff. You also don’t pay that extra. What is it Chris now, the fee, if you’re not a pro seller? Is it a dollar per listing extra?
[00:11:16] Chris: It ends up being a dollar a sale.
[00:11:19] Scott: Okay, dollar a sale.
[00:11:20] Chris: If you’re selling more than 40 things a month… If you’re selling like one and a half units a day, you might as well be on the professional plan because then you’re not paying the dollar but you still pay the fulfillment fees.
[00:11:30] Scott: Yeah and you get all those other features but anyway okay. You need that, we need that. Let’s say that we have that.
[00:11:37] Chris: The second thing you need to look at is what Amazon calls their seller performance metrics. Now if you guys are brand new, obviously, you’re going to meet all of these requirements. If you’re not brand new, you’ve been selling for a while, take a look at it, chances are especially if you’re following what we've talked about here and you’re using FBA, that is not going to be a problem but Amazon wants to see that you are within the seller performance targets, which means you have an order defect rate of less than 1%, you have a pre-fulfillment cancellation rate of less than 2.5%.
Basically, it’s between the time that somebody orders it and Amazon fulfills it, as long as less than 2.5% of the people, so 3 people out of every 100 because you don’t have half of people, 3 people out of every 100 don’t return their order before it’s shipped. Wich that one, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an account with that rate high. Then a late shipment rate of less than 4%. That’s really only a concern if you’re a merchant-fulfilling. If you’re using FBA, you don’t have to worry about it but I have worked with people who were merchant-fulfilling and we had to bring those numbers into range before you were able to even apply because they’re going to reject you outright if you do not meet their seller performance targets.
[00:12:51] Scott: Yeah. Okay so you need those things in place. We got to make sure that that’s stuff is dialed in. What’s the next step?
[00:12:58] Chris: The next thing you need to keep in mind is that you have to be selling new products. Again, for most of us in this audience, if you’re selling private label it’s always going to be new with the exception of things like collectables, almost all of these categories are going to require that the products are new. If you’re selling private label you don’t have to worry about that.
[00:13:14] Scott: If I was selling a video game, I still would have to be ungated correct?
[00:13:20] Chris: Video games, I don’t think are, it’s videos like VHS, DVD and Blu-ray.
[00:13:27] Scott: Okay. Those I would have to, even if I found something that was on closeout I still would have to do that?
[00:13:34] chris: Yeah, you would still have to get it ungated.
[00:13:35] Scott: Okay. All right, so let’s move through.
[00:13:39] Chris: Specifically talking about private label. The next big step, once you’ve looked at your category, you understand that you need all of this specific requirements for that category, talk to your supplier. This is specifically for private-label people, you need to let them know that you’re going to need something special and in most categories, Amazon requires for the application, they require a copy of three purchase orders or invoices from the last 90 days, so 90 days previous from today.
For beauty products specifically, which is what we’re talking about, you have to have all of those things outlined and health and personal care is very similar. They want to know exactly what you bought on those invoices. A lot of private labelers throw up their hands and, “I’m placing my first order, there’s no way I can get ungated, maybe I’ll just go the receipt route.” You’re used to be able to just walk into Wal-Mart, buy a couple of health and beauty products on a receipt and submit that.
Amazon is cracking down on that but you don’t have to worry about that especially as a first-time seller because if you’re talking to your supplier like you should be, you say, “Look guys, what I need you to do, I need you to split my first order into three invoices. I’m going to pay you full amount upfront but I need it just for my accounting purposes, I need it split into three individual invoices, with three different invoice numbers and three different invoice dates. They’ll be able to do it for you, they may ask you why and just say you need it for accounting purposes. It’s not usually an issue, they’ll almost always be able to do that. Now on each of those invoices and Scott, if I get a little dense here just let me know.
[00:15:13] Scott: Okay, I’ll give you a smack if I need to.
[00:15:17] Chris: On each of those invoices, you need to have a website url, which is similar to… If you’re doing brand registry, doesn’t have to be a full website but you do have to have a landing page in a lot of cases. You need to have the business address of your store or office. The thing that a lot of people run into here and this is where I see a lot of sellers get caught up, the address on the invoice doesn’t match exactly with your registered business address.
[00:15:45] Scott: Is that kind of what happened to us?
[00:15:47] Chris: Yeah.
[00:15:47] Scott: Okay because we think so. We fixed it and it went away but there’s a couple of other things that we had to fix too, right?
[00:15:55] Chris: Right. If it doesn’t match the … Amazon has a lot of your business information obviously because you have a professional seller account and so they can look and they can look at some of the state databases and see what your registered business address is. Just make sure that the address on the invoice matches whatever you filed when you filed to incorporate your business. If you don’t have an incorporated business just use your home address, make sure that the address matches what's in the Amazon account.
That’s where I see a lot of people get tripped up because they have maybe a P.O box that they like all their mail to get sent to but the address in the Amazon account is their physical home address. Make sure that the invoice matches whatever that Amazon account address is and you should be okay.
[00:16:36] Scott: Yeah. Let’s pause there for a second because I want to rewind a little bit because before you actually submit this stuff you have to have that website created guys. It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged website like Chris was saying. This is something you can probably hire an Upwork or even on Fiverr and just have someone just create. You can create one yourself but it has to be a website that has a physical presence there in a sense. This way here when you direct people to that…
You have to buy a domain name, Go Daddy, Blue Host, wherever you want to go and then from there buy that domain name that has to point to that website and that website can… Again, I would say at the very least… If you’re going to brand register, you’re going to need it anyway, is to have a contact form or a Contact Us form, About Us page and then Product Page. Then from there you’re good to go. I just want to interject because that is an important piece there in this process right Chris?
[00:17:30] Chris: It is and if you don’t have it a lot of times they’ll just outright reject you. The other thing that needs to be on there in addition to your address is the address of your manufacturing plant. This is one of the reasons you've heard Scott and I say for health and beauty or for beauty or health and personal care that would be the actual category name, that you want to source from the US is because they need the address of your manufacturing plant.
If it’s going in your body, on your skin anything like that, you want them to be registered with the FDA. Amazon does check for those things and for health and personal care or for beauty, if they can’t find them on the FDA registration list, they’ll just reject you. They take a look at the business name and the address and they try to match that up with the FDA certificate, if they can’t find it then they reject you.
[00:18:18] Scott: Okay, okay, keep going.
[00:18:22] Chris: There's some of those things that you need to have on those invoices. The other thing is, a lot of you guys will go down this process and when you click on that, ungating, you’ll start to see that they say, “Okay, you can submit one invoice, two invoices or three invoices.” The reason that we’re talking about getting your documents together and making sure that you have three invoices is because I've noticed and a lot of other sellers have noticed that if you submit one invoice with the other documentation like a home occupation permit, a sales tax license, any of the other things that they might ask you for, that they still just reject you.
If you submit the three invoices and they meet all of their requirements, you’re done. Make sure you have those three invoices, make sure that they have your name and the businesses’ name, the contact information for the business, the names of the products that you purchased which is going to be your private-label brand obviously and then the document issuer’s name, address, phone number, email or website. They want the same contact information for the supplier that they have for you so that they can verify all of those kinds of things.
[00:19:30] Scott: Let me ask you this quick question, where do people find the actual form to start filling this process out?
[00:19:37] Chris: It’s inside Seller Central so if you just type in in your Seller Central search, ungating or gated categories, a lot of times it will come up and you just select the category that you’re trying to get ungated in.
[00:19:49] Scott: Okay. That’s easy enough.
[00:19:51] Chris: I’m sure there’s a better way to do that but that’s how I’ve always done it.
[00:19:54] Scott: That’s the way you did it, that’s the way we’re going to say it has been done and like you said there’s probably a hundred different ways you can do things but this is just your experience and that's why I wanted to tackle this topic with you because I know you've been through it. Numerous times and we just went through it and I just wanted to show people what the process is. Cool, let's move on. What is the next thing you need to do?
[00:20:18] Chris: Right now we know our category, we know that it is indeed a gated category, we've told our supplier and told them what we need. The next step is to prepare our documents. We need to make sure that those invoices that the supplier has given us those three invoices have all of the stuff that Amazon wants on them. In addition to that Amazon may come to you and say we want some other things as well. That's when you want to make sure you have your website, your sales tax license if you have one, if your state requires you to have a home occupation permit to work from your house you can have that. For beauty or health and personal care specifically you can get a copy of the FDA certificate from your supplier so that you have that in your back pocket.
Then reason that you want to have all that stuff in place upfront is even though you're submitting these three invoices and that's all the documentation that Amazon asks you for they do have some other things that they may come back and you just want to have all of them in one place so you can get through this process as quickly as possible. What I have noticed is it seems like when they approve you, they approve you pretty quickly. If they don't approve you they wait till the end of the period. They say, “Oh it will be seven to ten business days until we get your response.” When they do approvals they get back to you pretty quick. If they are going to deny you it seems like they wait till 11:59 and 59 seconds of the tenth day and then they go, “Denied,” and then they ask you of all these other things. If you have all that stuff in place upfront you can respond a lot more rapidly.
[00:21:47] Scott: Now, let me ask you this because I know we experienced that a little bit as they would reject you but they didn't give you much of a reason. What happens in that point? What's the process there that you took and you also what other people can take?
[00:22:03] Chris: Before they can reject us we actually have to submit our case. Obviously once you have all your documents together submit your case to Amazon, they create a support case for you after you fill out the form. If you haven't heard back from them in a couple of days, follow up and just ask what the status is and that generally will prompt somebody to actually look at it. At that point they can approve you or reject you.
If they reject you, what I like to do is respond right away and just say something similar to this, “Hey, I noticed that you didn't approve us and I was just curious why? We submitted three invoices, they contained all of the information,” basically I just copy and paste out of what they ask the invoices to have, “All three invoices that we submitted were dated within the last 90 days, they had the name of our company and the name of the business that we bought the product from, they had our contact information,” literally I'm just going down and bullet pointing everything that was included in the invoices, which is the stuff that they tell me specifically on the website that they ask for.
In some cases, I've heard them go, “Oh, sorry. Ungated.” In other cases they respond and say, “Oh, well it wasn't that, it was that we didn't understand what the product was or we could find the manufacturer. Can you give us more information?” Then in the other cases they just don't respond at all, which is annoying. The third case is where a lot of people end up stuck in this ungating purgatory type of situation and I know we had a couple of people in the class that ran into that as well where you're just stuck in limbo and you have no idea what's going on. In that case, I like to close that support case, I wait a day or two and I open up another one with the hopes that I get another different rep. A lot of times you will get a different rep.
[00:23:48] Scott: Now, do you ever call in on this or do you just always use the email?
[00:23:52] Chris: I've called the catalog team on a couple of occasions and if you guys ever have any issues and this is a shout out to those over the catalog team specifically the catalog team in North Dakota anything to do with listing ungating, flat file which I know you guys have heard me talk about in the past, any of those kinds of things, the catalog team can help you with. But I believe ungating is actually handled by in a different department. A lot of times they'll look at it and they'll just say, “Hey, I can't do anything with it. I can pass on to the person.” Once you've been given a rep, that rep is the person who'll respond to you. If you're lucky enough to get an American rep… Sometimes they can transfer you to that person but most of these people are in India and so you end up with kind of an overnight approval process.
You can't always get hold of them on the phone but it cannot hurt to call and ask why you were rejected. In one case I actually have gotten a hold of the rep who wasn't responsible for the case and I said, “Look, it contains everything,” and again I went through the bullet points. “They're dated within the last 90 days, they have all this stuff,” they said, “Oh, basically we get ten seconds to look at it. If everything's not obvious and called out for us, we can't do it.”
[00:25:09] Scott: Okay. Another reason why to be very, very clear on all of the things that they ask for and really highlight them as you've done.
[00:25:16] Chris: The other thing that I've started to do is if you get stuck in that third situation, I can't speak English, in that third situation where you're stuck in this purgatory, this limbo-
[00:25:29] Scott: You like that word this morning, don't you?
[00:25:31] Chris: Purgatory?
[00:25:31] Scott: Yeah. You sound really smart.
[00:25:35] Chris: I'm just using multi [inaudible 00:25:35] words for you.
[00:25:36] Scott: It's beautiful. Keep going Chris. You're making me feel like I'm getting an education this morning. This is good.
[00:25:43] Chris: If you're stuck in that limbo and you know that you do comply with all these regulations what I've actually started to do is I've gone in and literally photoshopped onto the invoices and said, highlighted the date and said, “This is within the last 90 days. Today's date is X, invoice date is within 90 days. Here's my name, here's the issuing business name, here's my contact information, here's the names of my products,” and I had a rep at their support immediately approve it upon resubmission. I was like, “Are you kidding me. It's the exact same invoice. All I did was went and Photoshoped it.” I wouldn't do that upfront but if you do get stuck in that limbo it can help.
[00:26:24] Scott: Yeah. You're like taking that invoice and you're saying, “See right here,” and you're pointing to it with your finger like, “It's right here. So you asked for this? Here it is and there is this.” It's kind of like, “Just tell me what you need me to give you and I'll give it to you.” I like that. I like that a lot. We've submitted everything. Let's say that we still are not getting this thing approved. Do you give up? Do you open another support? What else can we do?
[00:26:54] Chris: I wouldn't give up. I actually had somebody, I think it was somebody inside the private label classroom that submitted six or seven different cases with the same information. It was eventually just approved. It comes down to the rep and how much time they are actually willing to spend looking at it. If you are denied, the first thing that I would do is what I said earlier and it's just reopen the support ticket because they close it. You reopen it and say I don't understand, can you help me? Half the time, they will respond and say, “We were missing this, we were missing that.” You can then at that point respond and say, “No, you weren't. It's in the top left hand corner,” or, “Oh, you're right, it didn't have the correct address on it,” which is one of the reasons that you and I struggled a little bit with the project that we're working on and is the address didn't match the registered address of the business.
[00:27:44] Scott: Yeah, I was going to have you highlight that. On that topic right there real quick to let people know so that was one of the things that… We had a full out website. I have authority website that's been built and being built so that wasn't a problem. The address was the issue, right?
[00:28:04] Chris: Yeah. The shipping and billing address was different on the invoice than it was both for the registered company and different again on what's on the Amazon account, I believe. Once we matched those things up it went through just fine with the same said invoices.
[00:28:22] Scott: All we did was we just had to fix it. I didn't really realize that because I haven't' been in that billing information in a long time and we have since, after you did your LLC and all that stuff we didn't update that and so because of that there was a little bit of a not matching in those both areas that they were looking at. They didn't come right down and say that. We had to go back and say, “What isn't aligning here?”
[00:28:48] Chris: That's literally what I ended up doing because we ended up in that, I'm going to use your favorite word now, purgatory. We ended up in that limbo where the person who was assigned our cases would not give us a straight answer on anything. It will happen. Sometimes you get success and they say, “You're missing your address.” Looking at it and going line by line through the requirements in the category and what was on the invoice I said, “Hey, this doesn't match,” and it's just because I happened to know your situation. “This doesn't match with what you've told me in the past about where you're registered, what the registered address of the business is.” As soon as we reached out and got that fixed by the supplier we were good to go. Literally what it took was pulling the invoice up on one monitor, the requirements up on the other one and going, “Yes, yes, wait a minute, that one's wrong, yes, yes, okay, it has to be that because there's no other reason.”
Amazon's not going to reject you for no reason. They're only going to reject you if something doesn't jive or if they can't find something.
[00:29:50] Scott: The frustrating part of that was that that did seem like it took a little bit longer than we expected.
[00:29:56] Chris: It took about three weeks. Honestly, it was rejected twice. That kind of speaks to what I said a little bit earlier where they say and I think it's seven to ten days is what the general guideline for time is and it seems like… I'd noticed this with other people who I've helped get on ungated as well, is if they reject it, they wait that whole ten days but then on that submission where I looked at it and said this business address doesn't match, so make sure we have three invoices not just one or two. That was approved within a day and a half, which was as soon as the person looked at it. If you look at the support log it's like, “Looked at by rep, approved.” It can take that seven to ten business days and if you have a couple of terms on that, it can take two weeks or three weeks if you get rejected upfront. Make sure you planning on that.
[00:30:50] Scott: Yeah. Those are some good points there. Just to let people know again just because you get knocked down doesn't mean that you can't still get back up and fight that thing because as long as you're giving them what they want and what they need then you should be fine. I talked to another guy a while ago who was trying to get into beauty and there was… Part of his product was hazmat material. That he had a really, really, really hard time getting approved. He even got approved and then I think after he was selling they basically told him that he couldn't sell it anymore after than inventory was gone because it came back again. I don't know if it was he had a way to get around it and then they figured it out. I would tell people too, don't try to get around it temporarily because you don't want that either but understand that when you do have product especially like Chris was saying, something that you can consume internally or topically as far as a cream or a lotion or oils or any of that stuff. Oils I know are pretty big for hazmat, so you got to be careful with those things.
Again, we ran into some obstacles, we got through it and we were able to then move on to the next phase of this thing. Why don't we do a quick little recap there Chris? Why don't you walk through those different steps again quickly to just put it into a nice neat little order and then we can go ahead and wrap this baby up? What do you say?
[00:32:27] Chris: Sounds good. Step one, know your category. If you're in one of the twenty plus categories that require you to be ungated you to know where you're going to list upfront and that's going to come in where you are actually doing product research. You should know what category that product is going to be in at that point. Step two, when you're in discussions with your supplier you're getting ready to place that first order make sure that they give you three invoices for that first order and that it has all of the information that you need to be ungated. Step three, prepare your documents, make sure you have those invoices, double check them against the requirements for your category and if you need to tweak anything or change an address, anything like that talk to your supplier again and have them fix that.
If you need anything else or they ask for anything else that maybe some supporting documentation, something like a sales tax certificate or a website address any of those kinds of things, keep those in your back pocket but make sure you have them bundled and ready to go. Step four, submit your case, go ahead and submit to be ungated in that category. Make sure you select the three invoices tab because they will let you submit with one and supporting documentation or two with supporting documentation but what I've noticed is when you do that they tend to reject it because you don't meet the actual requirements of the category and specifically for things like health and personal care and beauty, they do call out in the requirements that you have those three requirements but they let you submit under those other two options as well.
Don't do it, just submit under the three invoices option and now we'll cut down on a whole bunch of headaches to begin with. Step five is follow up. If you don't hear back from them in a couple of days follow up on that case. If they reject you follow up on that case as well. Ask them why you were rejected and if they don't give you an answer, close the case, open a new one and specifically call out everything that's contained within those three invoices and let them know that you understand what the requirements are and that what you're submitting to them matches those requirements and you should be good to go.
[00:34:32] Scott: Alright. That was good. Nice and tidy little list there Chris. Good job. You used a couple big words this morning. You're feeling sharp. Again, I just want to let people know there's a lot of moving parts to business in general. This is just one of them especially if you're going to go into a gated category. The other thing I would want to bring attention to is while you're doing your product research you're also probably want to see if you're looking at a gated category. That's going to be another thing that will come into the mix and maybe for your first product, you don't want to go through this. Well, you might want to know that before you start looking into that type of product or those products or that market. Just be aware of what you're up against when you do start. I would not want to say don't do it because you're going up against that but I'm saying if you don't want to go through this process your first product because it's another thing you got to go through, then just put that on the back banner or shelf it and then move on to something else but you do want know upfront if you're going into a gated category.
The other thing I would like to go back to again is don't try to get into a secondary category that you think you can fit a product into if that really doesn't fit. Again we don't want to do anything that is… Where you're in that gray area, where Amazon can come in and say, “Listen, we just seen you just tried to get around this thing and now we've realized that now we're going suspend your account,” or whatever. We don't want that to happen. We want to stay above board as much as possible. Don't do that unless you know that it is a true fit. That's pretty much going to wrap that part of this up. Chris, is there any last little thing that you want to add in here for anyone that's listening, that's thinking about going into a gated category?
[00:36:17] Chris: No, I think you pretty much nailed it brother. The only other thing and we've touched on a couple of times is don't let this get you frustrated, it can be a very frustrating process especially when you're waiting that ten days to just get an email that says, “Oops, sorry. We spent ten seconds looking at it.” Don't get frustrated by that. Understand that this is going to be either the simplest thing you've ever done or a time intensive process. It's a fifty-fifty shot. You let go and go with it and roll with the punches. Don't let it get you frustrated. You will get ungated. It's just a matter of how long it takes you to do it. As long as you're meeting those requirements and we can list out a bunch of those, like a little pdf that goes a long with this or just in the show notes in general some of the stuff that we've talked about here today.
As long as you're meeting those requirements, you'll get ungated, you may run into a rep or two who doesn't take enough time to actually look at your stuff to know that it meets those requirements but don't let it frustrate you from that. Don't throw your hands up, don't give up, keep moving forward on it. Just understand that you may have to submit once, twice, three times, ten times however long it takes to actually get to a rep who understands what's going on.
[00:37:30] Scott: I agree and again, I want to just reiterate that there's going to be obstacles and this is just one of them. If you're running across this or maybe you're in the process of this take with what Chris just shared with us and just keep following up and be that squeaky wheel in a sense. It's not going to hurt to keep trying and I think that one little golden nugget that I like I what you said was if you're starting to really feel like you're running up against the wall, open a new case. Try to get a new rep. That's a good one. Chris, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. You're always a great guest and I know that you have a ton of information that's why I wanted to have you on here and you used big fancy words.
It makes me looks smarter. I want to thank you once again, I'll let you get on with your day and again just want to say thank so much for taking time out of your morning to share this info with the TAS community. Thanks brother.
[00:38:23] Chris: Anytime man.
[00:38:25] Scott: Alright. There you go. Another great episode with Chris Shaffer. Him and I become really good friends. He's quite a bit younger than I am but he is smart. Smart guy. I have lot of fun hanging out with him, whether it's online or if it's in person. We've been at a few events now together and every time we walk away saying like we just love this stuff. We just love talking about it. To remind you guys again, if you want to ask Chris a question or myself a question, we do live workshops as well. We walk people through the five phases to getting set up and launching your first product. You can always register for one of them an upcoming one by heading over to theamazingseller.com/workshop and we'd love doing that stuff.
If you guys want to hang out with us at a live event we may be doing another one here in the future and if you want to be notified of when we do one you can head over to theamazingseller.com/live and hopefully by the time that you listen to this, if you go to that link I'll actually have some footage from our last live event so you can check that out. We did a hot seat session there that was recorded on periscope that we could share there as well. What we're going to probably share that… I'm saying this because I haven't actually did it but I'm recording this a little bit further ahead. I'm assuming it's going to be there. You might want to check that out and see if that live footage is there.
I just again want to remind you about the show notes if you wanted to download the transcripts for this episode or just read them or the show notes or any of that stuff, the links, all that stuff that we discussed here, you can head over to theamazingseller.com/212 and you can find all that stuff there.
Alright guys. That is it, that is going to wrap it up. Hopefully you understand now how to get yourself ungated and to understand the process. Hopefully you got a ton of value from that episode. If you need to go back and listen to it again, I know we covered quite a bit there. Alright guys, that's it. That's going to wrap it up. Remember I'm here for you, I believe in you and I'm rooting for you but you have to, you have to… Come on say it with me, say it loud. I know you've said it before and I've heard you, “Take action.” Have an awesome amazing day and I'll see you guess where, yeah that's right, right back her on the next episode.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/workshop – Get into one of the live workshops.
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/live – how you can get into a live event.
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