One of the services we offer clients is ASIN reinstatement for when a profitable listing is suddenly suspended. More and more Amazon sellers are receiving notices recently that their ASINs are being delisted due to restrictions. Sometimes we can get their listing back for them and sometimes we can’t. It is frustrating because Amazon didn’t tell our clients in advance that a listing was restricted and when a seller has spent thousands of dollars on a product and shipped it up to Amazon for fulfillment it can hurt financially. What’s going on and how can you reduce the number of restricted listings in your inventory?
We see this issue quite often among our supplement, health and beauty clients. Occasionally we’ll see it in electronics, toys and auto parts. The FDA or some other regulatory body will put out a list of ingredients that are either forbidden or there is a warning. In the case of warnings, the FDA isn’t saying you can’t sell items with those ingredients in them but Amazon is very conservative and will immediately delist products with those ingredients.
If your product has a forbidden ingredient or one with a specific warning, there is nothing you can do about it. However, do check to make sure they are right. We’ve seen mistakes made several times where they claimed an ingredient was restricted and they were thinking of an ingredient that looked the same but wasn’t (some of them have very LONG names). Or it might be that a certain percentage of that ingredient is forbidden but anything less than that is acceptable. Amazon will likely restrict all products with that ingredient but often you can get a listing reinstated if your product contains that ingredient in smaller quantities. You will need to link to the FDA (or other regulatory body) site to prove your case.
Sometimes a different group inside of Amazon will be in conflict with Seller Support or Seller Performance on an issue. There might be a clash between HazMat and Seller Performance, for example. We saw this around Christmas time with alcohol-filled chocolates. It is not illegal to sell alcohol-filled chocolates and there is no HazMat danger, BUT Amazon was giving out a lot of conflicting information. In this case they made a policy change. It was determined that third-party sellers can’t sell it, period. This made a lot of my clients sad.
These kinds of restricted notices can’t really be avoided because they are spontaneous and changing. Assuming you are aware of potential restricted ingredients (like lead in paint, toys, apparel buttons and zippers…and so on), you’ve done all you can to avoid these issues.
If you are a private label (PL) seller, it is very important that you have your products tested before launch to make sure that they don’t have any hidden chemicals, lead or other problems. One seller I know who tests his products regularly was shocked to discover a very serious toxin in his shampoo formulation. When he went to his US-based supplier, he learned that they had sourced some of the ingredients from China and that those ingredients were tainted. Because of my client’s diligence he not only was able to avoid paying for toxic product, but he taught his supplier a valuable lesson as well. Never assume. Always verify. If you are not testing your products regularly, you will probably be unhappy when Amazon decides to test it for you. Another client who sells jewelry discovered by testing that his gold and silver that he was sourcing from overseas was heavily diluted with other metals. While none were toxic, per se, if Amazon had tested his products and discovered that he was not selling the purity of gold he advertised he would have been banned forever…at best. This is FRAUD folks and just because he was a victim as well, doesn’t mean he isn’t responsible.
In the food category all products now have to include the ingredient list as part of the listing. For mine I took pictures of the product label with the ingredients which was acceptable to Amazon. This also means it is harder for them to search my listings for ingredients. I sell mostly candy so I’m not expecting any surprises beyond some food dye and 3000 versions of sugar, but our listings are part of the way they track restricted ingredients. Health & Beauty items have the same issue.
This is much more confusing. There are certain brands that can only be sold by authorized resellers. They won’t show up on your Amazon Seller app as restricted because some sellers CAN sell it. Logitech is an example of a brand that can be sold if you are approved. I’ve attached two lists of restricted products HERE and HERE. One is sorted by category and the other by brand name to help you when you are sourcing. These are by no means comprehensive lists. We are constantly running across brands that are problems for our clients. Some of these are outright restricted and you MUST be an authorized reseller to sell them. These are the larger brands who have registered with Amazon and given them a list of authorized sellers. This is why you can’t sell Jones of New York, for example.
Others may not be restricted, per se, but they are problems for our clients and we advise that sellers proceed with caution. Michael Kors and Swatch are examples of that. They have kick-ass attorneys that are constantly filing claims against our clients for inauthentic, used sold as new and more. They buy the product and then they complain. This is to kick off the retail arbitrage and online arbitrage sellers, basically. They also take legal action through the platform for some of their products. If you aren’t buying directly from them or one of their stores…you are going to be hassled by them. Under Armor is another problematic brand. If you aren’t authorized, they may come after you hard. Nike, same way. Coach, Versace…ditto ditto. They will claim inauthentic. Make sure your paperwork is in order if you plan to sell these brands.
And then there are some brands where Amazon itself is the watchdog. You may get a restricted listing warning from Amazon rather than the brand. We’ve seen this with Disney and a few other brands. It not for everything Disney sells, of course, but some things. We all know about Frozen and Star Wars. Those are restricted because of potential counterfeit and it is possible for a seller in good standing to get authorized. Some of the other stuff it isn’t clear at all. I’ve seen Disney baby blankets and other unexpected products be restricted. All I can say is, if you get a restricted notice from Amazon for a particular brand, you can try to get authorized, but you may be out of luck until you do.
A restricted product is different than a brand. Here you might be dealing with a category of products. I had a client that was selling incandescent light bulbs on Amazon…you know, the same ones that NO retailer is allowed to sell any more by federal law? No wonder they were so cheap! I’ve had other clients selling weapons, stun guns, dog collars with spikes on the inside, prescription-only drugs…and they all wondered why their products were restricted! For every category that you sell in on Amazon you need to carefully read all of their policies and restrictions for that category. You aren’t likely to win your case with Amazon if you are selling products like these where Amazon has actually given you a list of restricted products. Also, the “but HE’s selling them!” argument doesn’t fly with Amazon. This is when you hope that Karma exists because the fact is, they’ve not been caught yet…but YOU have. Sorry, Charlie.
This is an area where you might be able to get your listing back. “Health Claims” are vague and – as practiced by Amazon – sometimes really stupid. Most of the time if you fix your listing, you are fine. For example, I had Bert’s Bees bath salts restricted for health claims once. What the…? It’s SALT, people!!! The listing talked about how diabetics can use it to increase circulation while in the bath tub – a totally true claim by way, hot water increases circulation – and it seemed kind of crazy to me. They’ve shut down clients for selling aspirin because it needed a prescription (those baby aspirin you take to thin your blood)…uh no….and on and on. In short, look carefully at the so-called health claim and see if you can either: 1) prove them wrong with information from an official website (federal or medical) or 2) fix the listing so the health claim is removed. In those two cases you should be able to get your listing back.
Unless the brand/product has been previously restricted for HazMat (hazardous materials), Amazon won’t necessarily tell you that it is a restricted product. I’ve scratched my head at quite a few products that are restricted because of HazMat. Basically anything flammable (it has gasoline, kerosene, alcohol, aerosol) is HazMat and certain dangerous chemicals, lead-acid batteries and other corrosives. This all makes sense. We don’t want the warehouse to blow up. What baffles me are things like the alcohol-filled chocolates, a web-shooting toy (propulsion), baby thermometers, anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, aquarium glass cleaners and false eyelashes. I mean I know the ads say my lashes will be a dangerous weapon against the opposite sex…but Hazmat? Anyway, my point is, read the list they give us in Seller Central Help.
Having a product restricted for HazMat is not the same as having a product be under HazMat review. HazMat review is when it is the first time a product is being sent to the warehouse via FBA. Amazon’s team looks at it to make sure it is not HazMat. Their insurance requires they do this. If you are selling a book or something else clearly not HazMat, this is annoying. However, once your product is checked, you’ll be fine. It can take up to a week. For real HazMat they will destroy your inventory when it gets to the warehouse. You don’t get it back. This is really upsetting if you got those web shooters at a steal at Target and 50 of them just went up in smoke or however Amazon destroys its HazMat inventory.
You have a very short window to dispute a HazMat claim before the merchandise is destroyed and that group is not very communicative or helpful. Most likely you’ve lost. Amazon won’t always tell you if a product is HazMat. My web shooters were a toy. I was thinking “toy” not “dangerous weapon that could destroy the warehouse” when I sent them in. Amazon didn’t stop me until they were checked in and then, poof! Every worker in the warehouse had a new Spiderman toy for their kid. I’m very careful now.
If you’ve lost a profitable listing due to restrictions or any other reason, let us help you with your appeal! For only $500 in most cases, we can help you get that suspended listing selling for you again: CLICK HERE.
Get Clean Stay Clean Additions
We’re excited by the growth of our suspension prevention services and are continuously making new improvements! Starting in May we will be offering Shabbos Goy Services for our Orthodox clients who do not work on the Sabbath or Holy Days, but who need to make sure someone is answering buyer emails and managing returns. In addition, we will be offering weekend, vacation and holiday customer service support for all our clients who want a break from the business or would like night shift and weekend coverage to supplement their internal teams. Fill out this form if you would like to be notified when this service is live.
Buy Your Tickets for CES IV Early Before the Crush on 4/26
Jim Cockrum’s CES IV conference tickets go on sale on 4/26 for the general public. Most tickets will sell out within an hour – and we’re talking more than 500 seats! If you are interested in going, you can get your tickets starting on Friday April 22 IF you are a member of Jim’s Proven Amazon Course (PAC). PAC members also get a significant discount on their CES VIP tickets as well (there are regular tickets and two levels of VIP). I predict that the VIP tickets will sell out before 4/26. If you want to buy PAC today, you will get immediate access to hundreds of hours of content relating to selling on Amazon (including an eBook from me) AND you’ll be able to go ahead and buy your CES IV tickets early.
If you don’t want to buy PAC, still click this link and look at the conference information. On the day tickets go on sale you don’t want to waste any time reading or making decisions. Last year the server had trouble handling the volume of sales so this year Jim’s crew has a rapid application program that will help you submit your order faster. Check it out!
This is one of my favorite conferences. The educational content, the inspiring speakers, the workshops, the sharing, warm and welcoming atmosphere and the many opportunities to network outside of the sessions makes it a wonderful experience. There are about 600 people and it is like a big party all week long. It will be in Nashville this year. Put your boots on and come join us!
May Flowers…Cynthia’s Travels in May
I will be tiptoe-ing through the tulips in Denver, Atlanta and New York City in May and I hope to meet many of you in my travels!
Springtime in the Rockies is the best time of the year! Come visit me in Denver during the Rocky Mountain Reseller Conference April 29-30! I’m hosting a dinner get together at the charming Stapleton Bistro for my clients and readers on Saturday night after the conference. Please RSVP here, I’ll send you details and reminders.
Our friends at SellerLabs are hosting a user group conference called Resonate in Atlanta May 16-18. This is a gathering of high-volume Amazon sellers eager to solve selling’s toughest problems. The focus of this conference is more hands-on problem solving with roundtables, workshops and networking as well as high-caliber presentations. Mike Brown of Deathwish Coffee will tell us how he became the number one selling coffee on Amazon against the biggest brands in the world, for example. Contact Jeff Cohen to learn more. I’m hosting a dinner on May 18thafter the conference. Click here to RSVP.
The Feedvisor Summit in New York City on May 24 is by invitation only BUT I’ve been given several seats that I can offer to my high volume seller clients who want to come. Fill out this form and I’ll send your names to Feedvisor. I spoke at the Miami Beach summit and I can tell you it is a top-notch, highly professional 1-day conference with food, networking, great content and strategic ideas aimed at the more experienced high volume seller. Most of the sellers in the room were $1.5M a year and higher in volume just to give you an idea. There is no selling by Feedvisor or anyone else (there are no vendors). This is great content.
In addition to meeting our clients at the conference, we will be having dinner with our local clients while we are in town. Please check your in-boxes on Friday for an invitation to this very special private party at the Reserve Cut in lower Manhattan. It’s Kosher and supposed to be one of the best steakhouses in New York City. I can’t wait! If you don’t see your invitation by Monday, contact my assistant Lissa at: [email protected].