First off, if you’re not in the FBA Sourcing Simplifiers group on Facebook, you’re really missing out. So, stop reading, click this link: FBA Sourcing Simplifiers and let me know when you’ve joined. Done? Good. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to it.
Last week I went through the process to get ungated in grocery on Amazon. The process can be tedious and frustrating. After my multiple failed attempts I decided that my failures could be a good guide to help you get ungated in grocery. Enjoy!
Selling in gated categories can be very lucrative. There’s less competition so prices do not fall as fast, and it is easier to find replinishables. I went through the process of ungating myself in pretty much everything in my first six months of selling. I’m even ungated in “Collectible Books.” Will I ever sell a collectible book? There is a .001% chance I will ever sell a collectible book but who knows there may be good money in them. For some reason I balked at the idea of getting ungated and selling in grocery on Amazon. It just sounded like a pain dealing with food. You have expiration dates and you have no idea what the product looks like inside of the package. Then, you could not do Fulfillment by Amazon on items considered meltable during the Spring and Summer. I had a million excuses as to why I avoided it. Last October, however, I happened to scan one of those crazy flavors of Oreo and it was selling for $15. One pack of Oreos for $15 friggin dollars. So, I scanned a few other flavors and they were all $13+. At that point I realized there might be something to selling in grocery.
I spent the next month in a futile attempt to get ungated for myself. If you were around last year around this time, then you know Amazon for whatever reason started making it near impossible to become ungated in health, beauty, and grocery. At the same time they started auto-approving categories like shoes, clothing, luggage, and jewelry(this may still be true so if you haven’t tried you should do that ASAP). Once Q4 kicked started rolling I went with a service that helps you get ungated and she failed then refused to refund my money. After that I just said screw it. Fast forward to late June and I had read where someone had used AB Delivers to get ungated themselves and it seemed fairly painless. I was skeptical but decided to give it another shot.
I placed my order and it arrived in 3 days. I uploaded the invoice along with my business license. I felt pretty confident that soon I would be ungated in grocery and thirty minutes later I received an email from Amazon. I thought the fast response was a good sign. Nope. Fail. The response was something to the effect of “You do not meet the requirements to sell in this category. This decision is final.” Needless to say, I was confused. I went back through the metric requirements and compared them to mine to make sure I had not overlooked something. I was good there. I checked my invoice to make sure my address matched the business license. Good there. Eventually, I just chalked it up to an inexperienced or incompetent representative at Amazon. So, twenty minutes after the last refusal I submitted it again. Ten minutes later I get the same exact email from a different rep. Call me crazy but I decided to try again. Same result. This is one definition of insanity: trying the exact same thing over and over while still getting the same result. Calling it frustration is an understatement. At this point I wanted to burn every crazy flavor of Oreo on the cookie aisle of Sam’s Club, take a picture, then tweet it to @Oreo to let them know I do not approve of cotton candy flavored pastries. Luckily, I did not do that. Instead, I slept on it.
The next day at my day job I was mulling over whether or not to submit another request to get ungated in grocery. I had submitted the previous requests between 11:00-11:45PM EST. I concluded that I did not get any feedback from the representatives because of the language barrier. Amazon outsources in the late hours of the day to India. They may not speak English that well so the use of stock email responses is common. I told myself that I would submit another request during normal business hours and that if I got the same canned response then I was burning the stupid-flavored cookies and if I somehow avoided jail time then I was giving up on Fulfillment by Amazon. I made that last part up but I at least would have given up on grocery and definitely stayed with Fulfillment by Amazon in my normal categories.
Once again, I received a quick response(under twenty minutes). Once I saw this I just accepted that I was not ungated and not meant to sell delicious pumpkin shaped Reese’s for Halloween. I opened the email and SUCCESS! My application was not accepted but it was also not turned down. The Fulfillment by Amazon rep told me that my business license was good but that my business address had not been updated in my profile to match the license and that one of my items was not in the Grocery category. I thought that was odd considering I had ordered candy. I think what happened here is that since I sent a picture of the invoice with the ASIN on the picture she may have confused some 0s with Os. I quickly updated the address, and took screen shots of the ASIN and rank at the bottom of the listings to show that they were indeed in grocery. I emailed her back with all of the updates and proceeded to stare at my case log while refreshing it for twenty minutes with no response.
Three hours later I finally get a response. Success! 100% success this time. I am now ungated and allowed to sell crazy flavored Oreos and delicious pumpkin shaped Reese’s for Halloween. I was pretty excited to say the least. There are good opportunities in liquidation/closeouts for grocery and I plan on jumping into this area along with landing some grocery wholesale accounts. If you look below this I have created a step-by-step instruction on how to ungate yourself in grocery.
Grocery Ungating 101
Step 1: Navigate to http://www.abdelivers.com/main/homeretail.aspx and create an account. MAKE SURE TO USE THE SAME EMAIL, ADDRESS, AND PHONE NUMBER AS YOUR SELLER ACCOUNT.
Step 2: You need to find two cheap products(note: if you do not have a business license I would suggest making three different orders with one ASIN on each order) and order a quantity of 30 on each. You may be able to go with a lower number but I’m just telling you what I did. If you can find something to make profit on, great, but your main goal is to get ungated. I personally chose the Haribo Gold Bears and Haribo Sour Bears. They are only $1.33/piece but you may be able to find something cheaper. Place your order and wait for it to arrive. My total came out to $94.75 and it arrived in three days.
Step 3: You need to make sure your Amazon account information matches the invoice that comes in the box(not the one online). Check your address, phone number, and email to make sure they match what is on your seller account.
Step 4: Scan or take a photo of your invoice. Open the picture in Paint(or any photo editor where you can add text). You then need to add the ASIN by each product. Some people circle the quantity and call it out but I did not. Below is a picture of my invoice. I blacked out my information. The address and email are at the top and the phone number is at the bottom. I would also make the ASIN text larger than mine. I believe the lady had trouble reading the ASIN when I first submitted it.
Step 5: Take a screen shot of the ASIN and rank of the items to show that they are indeed in the Grocery category. If you buy these items then you can use the two pictures below.
Step 6: Submit your request to sell in Grocery by visiting the main categories page https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=14113001. Go through the steps and choose the option where you have one invoice and one additional document is required. Attach the invoice, business license, and ASIN screenshots. If you do not have a business license I would suggest having one or two more invoices.
Note: If you want to obtain your business license(and I highly suggest you do) then you can visit this page https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/business-licenses-permits/state-licenses-permits and navigate to your state to find the license you need.
Step 7: If you completed the above steps correctly then you should be accepted. The main thing is making sure your info in Amazon matches the invoice. If for some reason you are turned down they should give you a reason(if you submit it during regular business hours). Just follow their directions and you should be approved shortly.
Now go buy some crazy flavored Oreos!