Like many other Amazon sellers I woke up this morning to a rather disturbing e-mail from Amazon. The e-mail is quite vague but seems to imply that the Music category on Amazon will now be gated and the selling of items such as CDs, cassette tapes and vinyl records will be restricted. As with other restricted categories there is a process for which to apply to sell in these categories again. Below is a copy of the e-mail I received:
Subject: Your Amazon.com Seller Account
Please read this email carefully. The listing information described below may affect your ability to sell certain products on Amazon.com.
As part of our ongoing efforts to provide a great customer experience, we are implementing additional selling qualifications for certain popular products in the Music category.
In order to apply to sell these types of products, please reply to this email within 30 days with the following:
— Copies of at least 3 invoices or receipts from your primary supplier(s) issued in the last 180 days for your most popular products (covering at least 20 units).
— Contact information for your supplier, including name, phone number, address, and website.
You can send .pdf, .jpg, .png, or .gif files. These documents must be authentic and unaltered. You may remove pricing information, but the rest of the document must be visible.
If we do not hear from you within 30 days, or we are unable to confirm the information you provide, we will remove your listings for certain popular products in the Music category.
To learn more about our policies, search for these topics in Seller Central Help:
— Prohibited Seller Activities and Actions
— Product Detail Page Rules
— Condition Guidelines
Seller Performance Team
As you see the letter states that Amazon is adding additional qualifications for certain products in the Music category. Its unfortunate that they are so vague in this statement. I would immediately assume they are talking about CDs but are they also going to restrict cassette tapes? Vinyl records? Are they only restricting music from major labels?
The letter continues with how to get approved to sell these items and starts with “3 invoices or receipts”. I am surprised they included “receipts” and wonder if it is intentional or in error. In the past they have not allowed you to submit a store receipt as proof of purchase for the purposes of becoming un-gated in a category. I would imagine they would still not accept a store receipt and it is just a matter of semantics.
After doing a bit of research on the Amazon Seller Forums I did see some people stating that a similar e-mail was sent out around Thanksgiving to some sellers and that the gating that was proposed in the e-mail never came to fruition. That may give us a slight bit of hope but Amazon has been moving in this direction for a few years now. More and more categories are becoming gated or restricted in some way. Sometimes it isn’t the entire category but only certain products or only certain products in certain conditions.
This is exactly why I have preached for years that any online seller needs to diversify not only what they are selling but where they are selling it. Almost all of us use sites like Amazon and eBay to get our products in front of customers. The cost of getting that exposure is you lose a certain amount of control on how you run your business. The best way to stay profitable is to minimize your risk as much as possible and a great way to do that is through diversification!