For new and veteran sellers alike, the never-ending changes in Amazon’s brand and category restrictions can be frustrating. It’s constantly modifying and updating so it’s hard to stay abreast of those modifications. In addition, there are still many unanswered questions and unclear answers given as to which brands are restricted and why. So the best we can do is familiarize ourselves with Amazon policies, follow them as closely as possible, monitor evolving brand and category restrictions and adapt to those changes.
The Reasoning Behind Category and Brand Restrictions
Safety Concerns – clearly Amazon wants to keep it’s customers safe and healthy. So items that are potentially dangerous to one’s health such as recalled items, prescription drugs or illegal products will be prohibited from sale
Brand Exclusivity – companies may want to limit the sale of their items to select retailers to preserve a certain image and exclusivity, so they will diligently pursue brand restriction. This is often true for MLM (home based, direct sales or multi-level marketing) Companies. An additional concern for MLM companies is the potential for resellers to tamper with or alter the product in some way that might harm not only the customer but the brand image.
Counterfeit Concerns – particularly high end brands for products such as handbags, cosmetics, apparel, perfumes, shoes, watches and jewelry with higher rates of counterfeit production will be restricted in order to protect the consumer as well as the company from having their copyrights, trademarks and/or reputation violated
Prevention of Stolen Goods – brands and goods that are frequently stolen may be restricted from sale on Amazon to prevent the resale of stolen property
Brand Reputation – some companies do not want their reputation tarnished or perceived value diminished with too many retailers selling their goods or not following M.A.P. (minimum advertised price)
Buyer Satisfaction – Amazon may restrict certain ASINs that are consistent issue ASINs (with buyer complaints) so they can assert better quality control. They’ll also do this through gating particular categories in order to ensure great customer service and maintain that only new, authentic, quality goods are being sold
Below are some best practices sellers can follow to aid in compliance with our policies:
Do not assume that a product is permitted simply because it is not expressly listed in our “Examples of Prohibited Listings” or has an existing ASIN.
Assign one or more employees to be responsible for reviewing each product you plan to sell. This employee should have deep and up-to-date knowledge of the products as well as the industry, including laws applicable to those products.
Carefully review our Restricted Products policy, including the “Examples of Prohibited Listings,” and your product catalog on a regular basis. This includes any products that are included in inventory feeds or uploaded using an automated system.
If buying inventory from a source other than the manufacturer, apply extra diligence to understand the provenance of the products and the legal framework in which they may be sold.
When in doubt about whether a product may be sold, do not list it.
If selling drugs or supplements, understand the ingredients in these products and research whether they are permitted. In addition to our Restricted Products policy, there are some resources available online that can help sellers with this research, including those listed below.
Visit this link for a detailed list of general classes of items that are prohibited from being sold on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200277040
As mentioned above, some entire Amazon categories are restricted to ensure brand authenticity and quality as well as customer satisfaction. These categories referred to as “gated” can often be opened to Amazon sellers with approval. Some gated categories include clothing, shoes, jewelry, watches, automotive, industrial & scientific, beauty, health and personal care, grocery, luggage, sexual wellness and DVDs. To check whether you are approved to sell in these categories or to begin the approval process visit this link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=14113001
The Unofficial List of Restricted Brands & Products
There is no official list. It is tentative and constantly changing. And the brand restrictions aren’t black and white either – some brands might be 100% restricted while another is partially restricted in one category. Some restrictions that apply to your account might not apply to another’s account. Unfortunately, it’s not cut and dry and no one currently has a definitive answer. Also note that some brands on this list may not “appear” restricted when you go to list them, may result in an Amazon performance notification or may earn you a Cease & Desist letter from the brand owner. Others will be very obviously blocked when you attempt to list an item. That being said, use this list as a rough guide to suggest which brands you may want to purge, avoid or simply keep your eye on.
Aden & Anais
Anastasia Beverly Hills (certain ASINs)
Armani Exchange Watches
ASICS (must be an authorized reseller)
Bare Essentials Cosmetics – (some ASINs are restricted)
Beach Body DVDs
Beats by Dre
Belkin – (many items may not be sold as new, only used)
Bella (some ASINs)
Brooks (must be an authorized reseller)
Cane + Austin
Canon (cameras; certain ASINs can only be listed as used, not new)
Cloud B (certain ASINs have been restricted)
Coach (certain ASINs have been restricted)
Crabtree & Evelyn
DecoBros (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have been unable to list certain ASINs)
Disney Frozen (certain ASINs have been restricted)
Discovery Kids (certain ASINs were previously removed from Amazon due to allegations of intellectual property infringement)
Dolce & Gabbana
Dr. Dennis Gross Skin Care
Dunkin’ Donuts -(certain ASINs have been restricted)
Earth’s Best – (must be an authorized seller)
Enfamil – (must be an authorized seller)
Excedrin Sinus Headache
Fitbit (must be an authorized reseller)
Frye (has not been officially restricted but several sellers have received cease & desist letters & a directive to remove inventory from Amazon)
GEFU Spirelli Spiral Slicer
Gerber – (restricted in Grocery Only) must be authorized seller
Gianna Rose Atelelier
Godefroy Eyebrow Tint
Hamilton Beach (only some ASINs)
Honest Baby (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
Hoverboards (all ASINs are restricted to third party sellers)
Icebreaker (must be an authorized reseller)
iHome (certain ASINs have been restricted)
Ink and toner cartridges (As of November 2015, certain ink and toner cartridge ASINs are restricted to authorized resellers only. If you would like to apply to list these products, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
It Works! (It Works Global)
Jordan – shoes
Kate Spade Watches (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
Kilner (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
Klipsch (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
La Bella Donna
Lifeproof cellphone cases
Lil Woodzeez – many ASINs now restricted. Must have manufacturer approval
Logitech (can only be listed as used, not new)
Lush (some third party sellers have been sued)
MAC Cosmetics (certain ASINs may be restricted)
Majestic (in sports & outdoors)
Marantz (must be an authorized dealer)
Marc by Marc Jacobs (watches)
Matrix Biolage (If you purchased your inventory from an authorized supplier, please contact Seller Support to request approval)
Meaningful Beauty (soon to be restricted)
Melissa & Doug
Michael Kors – Handbags & Watches (some ASINs are restricted)
Mizuno (current season shoes)
Monster Audio headphones
Neewer (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
New Balance (must be an authorized reseller)
Nikon (cameras; certain ASINs can only be listed as used, not new)
Ninja Blenders (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
North Face (some ASINs are restricted)
NuBrilliance Skin Care & Skin Care Systems
Otterbox cellphone cases
Oxo – some ASINs are restricted
Peter Thomas Roth
Philips Sonicare E-Series toothbrushes and replacement heads
Portable, handheld laser products (http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/custo…)
Prepaid cellphones (certain ASINs are restricted)
Ralph Lauren (perfume)
Rayware (Typhoon Scales) – (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
Samsung (new is restricted, used is okay for now)
Satechi (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have been unable to list certain ASINs)
Skip Hop (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
Snoopy Sno Cone Machine (2013 version was previously restricted due to a recall; subsequent versions seem to be fine)
Sol Republic (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
Sony (cameras; certain ASINs can only be listed as used, not new)
Sony (headphones; some sellers have been unable to list certain ASINs)
Spark Cafe Cups-Reusable Coffee Pod (As Seen on TV)
Speck cellphone cases
Spigen cellphone cases
Star Wars VII (Certain ASINs are restricted. If you would like to apply to list these products, please contact email@example.com)
Step2 (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
Sunscreens containing Tinosorb
T-Mobile Prepaid Phones
The Art of Shaving
ThinkFun (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
True Religion Brand Jeans
Under Armour (certain ASINs became restricted in late 2015-early 2016)
Urban Decay (must be an authorized reseller)
Walkfit Platinum Orthotics
Warner Brothers DVD
Wedderspoon (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
Wen by Chaz Dean
Williams-Sonoma (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have not been able to list grocery items)
Wilton (some ASINs restricted)
Zoku (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
Checking for Restrictions
As mentioned above, some brands on this list may not “appear” restricted when you scan them or list them which may result in an Amazon performance notification or earn you a Cease & Desist letter from the brand owner. Others will be very obviously blocked when you attempt to list or scan them. On a computer you’ll notice that it prevents you from listing. If you are out doing retail arbitrage with a scanner, many times you’ll catch restricted products by checking them with the Amazon Seller app.
Requesting Brand Approval
Requesting brand approval can be done in some instances. To begin with, try requesting approval through Amazon. This can be done while attempting to list an item in Seller Central. When the blocked listing appears while you are adding a new product, click on the orange “Request Approval” button and follow the prompts. Many times they will want invoices from a reputable wholesaler or manufacturer and they may want a letter of authorization from the manufacturer as well.
Cease & Desist Letters
While sometimes Cease & Desist letters can be fake, scam letters from competitors or from brands that have no authority to ask you to remove your items, it is often best to respond to the letter. If it seems suspicious forward it to Amazon. If it seems legit you can respond by politely asking how to go about obtaining manufacturer approval or simply by confirming that you are selling authentic products from a reputable company or distributor and that you are just as concerned as they are about protecting the brand’s reputation as well as your own.
If you receive a warning or performance notification from Amazon about any kind of restriction, immediately comply. If you receive a message from them, respond verifying that you’ve complied. Pull the items from the warehouse, delete the listing and ask Amazon if there’s anything you can do to remedy the situation. Do not look for loopholes for listing. Non-compliance with Amazon policies and directives can result in account suspension which can sometimes be irreversible.
Sellers who violate our policies or applicable law may be subject to enforcement action, which can vary depending on the type of offense and the seller’s account history. We consider a variety of factors in the seller’s overall account when determining what action to take, including the severity and number of violations and other relevant information. Sellers who have had their selling privileges removed may appeal the decision in most cases. In some situations, we may reinstate a seller if the seller has implemented a robust plan of action that effectively addresses the root causes that led to the violations and will prevent recurrence of those and other violations.
Brands That Can Be Sold
Yes, the restriction length is lengthy. But the world is not ending and there are still millions of products and hundreds of thousands of brands that can be sold on Amazon. In addition, hordes of new products and brands enter the marketplace every year. Just keep an eye on the lists and until further notice, assume the brand can be sold on Amazon.
Where To Dump Your Excess Inventory
All sellers have felt the pain of going a little too deep on a purchase only to have the ASIN or brand restricted upon arrival to the warehouse. Or we’ve made the mistake of not checking it before we purchased it. So now what do you do with the items? There are several options to consider
Cash On the Spot – local stores, pawn shops, or chains like Once Upon a Child, Clothes Mentor and Plato’s Closet will pay money on the spot for unwanted goods
Local Consignment options
Online Consignment – Linda’s Stuff has a huge eBay store with free shipping labels, ThredUp sends you a free bag and pays you outright upon it’s arrival
Other Online Marketplaces – eBay, Bonanza, Etsy, Tradesy and many others allow you to list, sell and or trade your items
Craigslist or Facebook Yard Sale Sites
Local Auction Liquidators
Online Auction Liquidators
In summary, don’t throw in the towel because the brand, item and category restrictions seem so lengthy. There’s plenty of money to be made on millions of items. Just protect yourself and your account. Review Amazon policies, stay up to date with changes and comply with any Amazon directives and you’ll maintain a healthy, thriving business.
Brianna Moller Greene
Co-owner of Elite Product Sourcing
At Elite Product Sourcing we offer an array of services to aid Amazon FBA sellers in locating products to purchase and reseller in various online marketplaces. Our staff is comprised of part-time and full-time Amazon and eBay sellers with extensive experience in selling products in online marketplaces. With over 30 years of active experience and millions of dollars in sales, our product finding specialists are extremely well versed in analyzing marketplace trends and locating profitable products.
Co-owner of VA Rentals
Whether you have a small or large job you need to accomplish you can “rent” one of our VA’s services for a wide variety of tasks. We currently have VAs available for Merch by Amazon t-shirt designs and for OA product sourcing. And soon we will have options available for creating new listings, Amazon account maintenance, filing for reimbursements, SEO/keyword optimization and website design. Our VA team is ready and waiting to help you grow & automate your business. Time equals money so do yourself a favor and outsource.