Doesn’t it feel like the holiday season is always coming up? Nailing the perfect present often involves hunting down that must-have toy, and the market seems to be constantly expanding.
For a savvy business owner, this presents a lot of opportunity. And when it comes to reaching a wide customer base, there are few places better than Amazon.
However, selling toys on Amazon isn’t quite the simple moneymaker you might assume it is. Although holiday toys are big business in eCommerce, in order to sell them on Amazon you need to be approved. This long process is a stumbling block for the eager seller.
But don’t let that hold you back! If you’re willing to put in the effort, you enter a marketplace with a huge amount of potential. And getting approval might be time-consuming, but the profits more than make up for it. Read this guide to find out more.
What Are Amazon Restricted Categories?
Scrolling through Amazon, it can seem as though absolutely everything is for sale. And while this does present a world of possibilities for an intelligent business owner, you must be aware of some restrictions.
Restricted Categories VS Restricted Products
A restricted or gated category is a product category that requires a seller to be approved before they can list items.
These approvals generally relate to the performance of the seller, to ensure the quality (and authenticity) of the item being sold. Typical restricted categories include: watches, jewelry, collectible coins, and fine art.
Restricted products are different. Restricted products are items which can’t be sold on Amazon under any circumstances. If you’re caught selling a restricted item, the listing will be removed, and you may find your account terminated.
Why Are Toys And Games Restricted?
For most of the year, any seller can list Toys and Games. But when it comes to the magical last quarter of the year (Q4), you need approval.
When it comes to the holiday season, sellers flock to Amazon, hoping to make some cash on the coveted toy market. And although you may be doing what you can to ensure the highest standard of business, not everyone else is.
Unfulfilled orders, shoddy products, shipping delays — most of us have had an experience with an unscrupulous seller.
Which means when the holidays roll around, there could be a lot of unhappy customers. During Q4, toy sales rocket. Amazon needs to trust that the people receiving these orders are able to fulfill them.
To ensure this happens, Amazon wants proof that you’re able to run a clean business. The Toys and Games restrictions aren’t necessarily about stopping sellers. Instead, they’re to bring a level of quality to the Amazon brand.
Checking Which Categories You’re Approved For
Before you start trying to get approval, the first thing to do is check if you’re already clear to sell toys on Amazon.
To check if you can sell toys via Amazon, go to Seller Central. Log into your account, then click on ‘Inventory’. Click ‘Add a Product’ and then ‘Selling Application Status’. This will show you the categories you’re approved to sell.
Toy sale restrictions only apply to orders which are FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant) during Q4. If your business is FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon), then the restrictions aren’t relevant.
How To Get Approval To Sell Toys On Amazon
Don’t let the thought of approvals put you off — a good business should be automatically approved anyway. Amazon isn’t interested in making their seller jump through hoops. Instead, they simply want to make sure that the best people will make customers happy.
And if you’re running your eCommerce business right, then the best person is you!
The exact criteria for selling toys during the Q4 period on Amazon can change from year to year. However, the general rules are:
- Your first order as a seller on Amazon must have been completed before the September of that year. It doesn’t have to have been in the “Toys and Games” category.
- At least 25 seller-fulfilled orders must have been processed and shipped between August and October of that year.
- Your pre-fulfillment cancel rate between September and October of the same year must be no greater than 1.75%
- Your late shipment rate for this same period (September and October) must be no greater than 4%
- Your order defect rate must be no higher than 1%, as of that October.
The exact dates for these requirements will vary depending on the year.
Check your customer metrics and performance report to see how close you are to making the cut.
Exact requirements vary between markets. If you plan to sell globally, then please double-check you’re approved in each region.
These rules refer specifically to selling in the Toys and Games category during Q4. All toys sold must also comply with federal, state, and local safety laws.
Getting approval is only necessary for seller-fulfilled orders. Similarly, the only way to gain approval is through seller-fulfilled orders. Orders which are FBA won’t count towards your metrics when seeking approval to sell in Q4.
Sales in categories other than Toys and Games also count towards the metric. So, don’t worry if your toy business is slow to get off the ground. All the other products you sell will still count in your favor.
The best way to ensure you’re able to sell is to run a good business, and to keep an eye on your metrics. Regularly check the health of your account, including customer feedback and ratings.
By doing so, you won’t have a nasty shock when you’re kept from making sales during the time with the most earning potential.
What To Do If You Can’t Get Approval
If you’ve failed to get approval to sell toys, then you’re left with a limited number of options. It may be that the only thing to do is rethink your business, and make any improvements necessary to have a shot at the next year.
The toy requirements tend to stay pretty similar, so you can get a good idea of what you need to do.
Alternatively, you might be able to try changing up the categories. For example, some products that come under “Toys and Games”, can also fit into “Sports and Outdoors”.
It could be that the best way to navigate this holiday season is to think outside the box.
However, if you do intend to try new categories, be careful. Items listed in the wrong categories might get negative feedback from customers. And if you’re unable to fill orders in time for the holidays, you may find it impossible to get approved next year.
It may be that your recently established eCommerce business simply hasn’t been running for long enough. Use this Q4 to start learning. Take note of trends, what attracts customers, and which sellers are moving up the listings.
If you’ve left things too late for this year, then now is the best time to start planning ahead.
Needing approval to sell toys can sound intimidating at first. However, there’s no jumping through hoops required. Instead, if you can show you have a strong and reliable business, you’ll likely be able to sell.
Maintaining your business gives you the opportunity to capitalize on the most voracious quarter of the year. Keep an eye on your metrics throughout the year, to ensure you never slip below the selling line.
Then all you need to do is get your inventory in, and start making money.