So, you’ve already chosen what products to sell on Amazon. Great! But have you considered Amazon’s brand restrictions? If not, you’ve come to the right place!
Brand restrictions are frustrating to Amazon sellers and are becoming increasingly prevalent as retailers become more aggressive in their attempts to protect their brands. It is difficult for third party sellers to know for certain what brands are restricted on Amazon because as of February 2016, Amazon has not released an official list of restricted brands. Likewise, some brands may be restricted by category while other brands may only have restrictions on certain ASINs. Other brands may have restrictions based strictly on condition. Even if a brand is not officially restricted on Amazon, more and more companies are drafting cease and desist letters to sellers in an attempt to prevent them from selling certain ASINs.
This article explains why certain brands are restricted on Amazon, provides the most up to date list of known restricted brands, explains the different types of brand restrictions, and offers tips for how sellers can deal with brand restrictions.
1. Why are Certain Brands Restricted on Amazon?
There are several reasons certain brands are restricted on Amazon. First, some manufacturers may demand that Amazon restrict their brand in order to protect consumers from counterfeits and other infringing products. Some brands and categories like apparel, cell phone cases, handbags, luxury beauty products, shoes, etc. are more prone to counterfeits than others. The manufacture, distribution, and/or sale of counterfeit goods carries both civil liability and criminal penalties in the United States and other countries. These companies have the exclusive right to use their copyrights and trademarks and work diligently to protect their reputation.
Next, certain brands are sold exclusively elsewhere and companies will aggressively protect their distribution method. Manufacturers do not want the perceive value to be decreased by allowing third party sellers to list the item on Amazon.
Third, direct sales companies/multi-level marketing (MLM) companies often explicitly prohibit their distributors from selling their products online.
Fourth, certain types of items may have greater safety concerns and more frequent product recalls than others. For example, many baby items are restricted on Amazon. Certain health items are also restricted. Likewise, certain portable, handheld laser products and hoverboards are restricted due to safety concerns.
Fifth, Amazon itself may restrict certain brands in order to ensure a consistent buying experience and maintain its unparalleled customer service. One way Amazon has done this is by gating specific categories and requiring sellers to meet certain performance and other requirements.
Lastly, certain types of items may be restricted. For example, sellers cannot list perfume samples or perfume testers.
2. List of Restricted Brands on Amazon
Amazon has a list of prohibited products and restricted products. However, Amazon has not released an official list of restricted brands. If you are concerned about whether a specific ASIN or brand is restricted on Amazon, it is highly recommended that you contact Amazon directly to verify this.
Based on notifications received from Amazon and after extensive research by sellers over the years, the following brands are known to be restricted as of March 2016:
Aden & Anais
Anastasia Beverly Hills (certain ASINs)
Armani Exchange Watches
ASICS (must be an authorized reseller)
Bare Essentials Cosmetics
Beach Body DVDs
Beats by Dre
Belkin (many items may not be sold as new, only used)
Bella (some ASINs)
Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
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)
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
Earth’s Best (must be an authorized reseller)
Enfamil (must be an authorized reseller)
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)
Gianna Rose Atelelier
Ginna Rose Atelelier
Godefroy Eyebrow Tint
Hamilton Beach (some ASINs)
Honest Baby (not officially restricted, some sellers have received cease & desist letters)
Hoverboards (all ASINs are restricted to third party sellers)
Icebreaker (must be an authorized reseller)
iHome (certain ASINs have been restricted)
It Works! (It Works Global)
Kate Spade Watches (not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease & desist letters)
Kilner (not officially restricted, some sellers have received cease & 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
Matrix Biolage (If you purchased your inventory from an authorized supplier, just contact Seller Support to request approval)
Melissa & Doug
Michael Kors – Handbags & Watches (some ASINs)
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)
Nike (Jordan and FlyKnit)
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)
NuBrilliance Skin Care & Skin Care Systems
Otterbox cellphone cases
Oxo (some ASINs)
Paw Patrol (unconfirmed)
Peter Thomas Roth
Philips Sonicare E-Series toothbrushes and replacement heads
Portable, handheld laser products
Prepaid cellphones (certain ASINs are restricted)
Ralph Lauren (perfumes)
Rayware – (not officially restricted, sellers have received cease and desist letters)
Samsung (but only new products are restricted)
Satechi (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have been unable to list certain ASINs)
Showtime Season DVDs
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 (not officially restricted, some sellers have received cease & desist letters)
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 Episode VII (certain ASINs restricted)
Step2 (not officially restricted, some sellers have received cease & 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 DVDs
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 (certain ASINs)
Zoku (brand is not officially restricted, but some sellers have received cease and desist letters)
3. Types of Brand Restrictions
Amazon is known for its unparalleled customer service and expects its third party sellers to meet the same high standards. In order to ensure that sellers adhere to these same standards, Amazon has gated some categories and requires sellers to meet certain performance and application requirements. Becoming ungated in categories enables sellers to expand their inventory and to enjoy lower competition.
As of February 2020, some categories that previously required flat files and/or pictures are now being instantly approved (without uploading flat files and/or pictures) after sellers answer questions. These categories include automotive, clothing, fashion jewelry, luggage, shoes, and watches. Other categories like sexual wellness require photographs. The approval process and requirements for beauty, DVDs, grocery, and health are now more stringent and wholesale invoices are required.
Information on Amazon’s gated categories can be found here.
In addition to category restrictions, there are also brand restrictions on Amazon. Generally speaking, this means that sellers will not be allowed to list certain brands even if they are ungated in the category. Usually these brand restrictions are the result of manufacturers demanding that Amazon exclude most, if not all, sellers from listing these items. These brands tend to be higher end which makes them more susceptible to counterfeits.
There are certain instances where sellers may be able to list these restricted brands if they provide documentation from the manufacturer indicating that they are an authorized online reseller for these products. Unless you have a direct account with the manufacturer, it is unlikely that you will be able to meet this requirement. For some brands, the restrictions are limited to specific ASINs. For other brands, there is a universal listing restriction for all items. Lastly, for some brands, you can list items in used condition but not new.
Luxury beauty is a category of special note because even though a seller may be ungated in beauty, he/she most likely will not be able to sell brands that are in Amazon’s luxury beauty category. In order to be able to sell these brands, sellers must receive an invitation from Amazon or have the manufacturer contact Amazon on their behalf. Here is a list of luxury beauty brands on Amazon.
4. How Sellers Can Deal With Restricted Brands on Amazon
There are several ways seller can deal with restricted brands on Amazon. First, contact the manufacturer and request to become an authorized reseller. Next, when doing online arbitrage and retail arbitrage, use the Amazon Seller App to determine whether an ASIN is restricted. Please be advised that this may not always be accurate and sometimes items become restricted after you send them into FBA. Third, if an ASIN is restricted on Amazon, perhaps you can sell it on eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook. Please be advised that certain brands are restricted on eBay as well and you may receive a VeRO notification and listing takedown. Here is information concerning eBay’s VeRO program and the participating companies’ legal positions.
Just as there are different ways sellers can deal with brand restrictions, there are things sellers should not do when faced with restricted brands on Amazon. First, if an ASIN is in a gated category, obtain approval in such category rather than listing in the “Everything Else” category or another category to avoid this restriction. Next, if you are unable to list an item in new condition, but can list it in used, do not use the condition notes to state “item is brand new” as this may be viewed by Amazon as an attempt to circumvent the listing restrictions.
While brand restrictions may be frustrating to sellers, it is understandable why certain manufacturers and Amazon establish such restrictions. Companies are becoming more aggressive in enforcing things like MAP and in expanding their online presence, with many selling directly on Amazon and eBay themselves. Therefore, it is likely that such brand restrictions will become more prevalent. If you have not already done so, now is the time to start contacting manufacturers and establishing direct accounts.
Disclaimer: This article is a guest blog. Thus, the information and views presented are the opinions of the guest author, and not necessarily those of 888 Lots.