It’s been a year since Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”) unveiled its brand gating initiative as a means to reduce brand authenticity concerns.
As we’ve talked about in several other posts, getting a brand “ungated” isn’t always an easy (or inexpensive) process. Depending on the supplier, there could be multiple back-and-forths to collect the correct documentation and submit it to Amazon. There can also be fees associated with ungating a brand.
In this post, we’ll discuss how to track Amazon brand ungating. I’ll also show how RestockPro simplifies the process.
Quick Recap: What is Brand Gating?
Amazon is no stranger to controlling which merchants sell what. As I’m sure you know, certain product categories (for example, clothing, grocery and jewelry) are limited only to Professional Sellers. Even then, approval is typically granted on a case-by-case basis. Being a Pro Seller is no guarantee of acceptance.
Brand gating extends Amazon’s control down to the brand level – even among categories traditionally known to be “open” categories (such as toys and games). Just because you have 1,000 units of this holiday season’s must-have toy, it doesn’t mean you can sell it on the Amazon marketplace. If the brand has been gated, you’ll first need to seek Amazon’s approval to sell it.
What’s involved with ungating a brand? To answer this question, it’s important to keep in mind Amazon’s motivation for this process: reducing counterfeits and keeping customers happy. Amazon therefore asks merchants to prove they have an existing business relationship with the brand owner. This is typically done by submitting an invoice and letter of authorization from the vendor. However, as our friend Dan Meadors of The Wholesale Formula pointed out in our ungating webinar, getting this documentation in a format that Amazon will actually approve can require trial and error. In other words, you need a rock-solid method for tracking your supplier relationships and related correspondence.
Spreadsheets vs. Software
Depending on your niche and retail strategy, it’s possible that you could be dealing with dozens of gated brands. To keep everything organized, your first inclination might be to track everything in a spreadsheet. After all, many FBA sellers already track their supplier and shipment details in spreadsheets.
While spreadsheets are probably better than handwritten notes, they’re not the best solution. Spreadsheets can’t integrate to your Seller Central data, they’re prone to errors and, frankly, they’re kind of a hassle to keep updated. The last thing you need is another administrative task in your already busy day.
A better approach involves centralizing all of your supplier information, restocking activities and profitability data into a single online hub. We built RestockPro to be the ideal “hub” for FBA sellers. After connecting RestockPro to your Seller Central account, your shipped and on-hand inventory flows seamlessly into our system. Import your supplier list (via CSV upload) and gain access to the information you need to plan your ungating priorities.
Avoid Ordering Gated Items (at Least for Now)
With supplier contact details now just a click or tap away, you’re in a much better spot to request the necessary documentation. However, before you start reaching out, it might be prudent to first adjust your restocking sequence for the items in question. The last thing you want to do is accidentally order a bunch of something you’re not permitted to sell.
There are a few ways to quickly do this with RestockPro. One option involves setting a product (or several products) to “inactive.” Inactive products are removed completely from your restocking suggestions. (Once Amazon approves your ungating request, you can toggle it back to “active.”)
If you’re hesitant to completely remove an item from your restocking queue, you might consider setting the item’s status to “Ignore.” This will keep the item active, but it will be temporarily filtered from your restocking suggestions.
Alternatively, you could create a “gated” tag and apply it to the SKUs in question. The items will still appear in your restocking queue, but seeing the tag will remind you to hold off reordering. This approach may also serve as a helpful reminder for following up with the vendor. You can also easily filter all products that contain “gated” to monitor the list and prioritize the products you want to work on ungating.
Track Ungating Correspondence
Just because you’ve requested an authorization letter, it doesn’t necessarily mean a supplier will acknowledge your request. You may have to send several emails, leave multiple voicemails and ask more than once.
RestockPro also offers a flexible way to track ungating correspondence with vendors. Just navigate to the supplier’s profile, add your update in the “notes” field and save your changes.
Don’t forget: Once Amazon ungates an item for you, be sure to remove any “gated” tags or ignore rules. You can’t afford to waste time getting inventory to FBA warehouses – especially this time of year!
Get Ungated with Less Confusion
If you’re looking for a better Amazon Brand ungating workflow, RestockPro can be a helpful tool in your toolbox. Sign up for a free trial today and upload your entire supplier list. There are no restrictions on the number of supplier records or SKUs that you track!