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Getting Approved in Health & Personal Care

Getting approved in the gated categories is a great benefit for Amazon sellers because it gives them a broader range of inventory items to send in for resale.  I’m happy to report that on September 26, 2014, I obtained approval in the Health & Personal Care category.  In this post, I will share my experience with the application process.

2/13/16 Update: Since writing this post, Amazon has changed the approval requirements.  Keep in mind that what I did over a year ago is now outdated information. 🙁

Here is the process that I went through:

Review the Initial Requirements
I signed into Seller Central and did a search for the word “categories”. This brought up a page with a link to the “Categories and Products that Require Approval” page. Once you get to that page, you will see a list of categories (23 at this time) that require approval.

Since I was interested in getting approved in Health & Personal Care, I clicked on the “View Requirements” link for that category. The requirements are:

  • You must be registered as a seller on the Professional Selling Plan
  • You must meet the following seller performance targets:
    • Order defect rate: < 1%
    • Pre-fullfillment cancel rate: < 2.5%
    • Late shipment rate: < 4%
  • You must provide Amazon with acceptable documentation and other information that they request about the products that you intend to sell. Once you request approval, Amazon will contact you with additional information.

Since I met the initial requirements, I pressed the “Request Approval” button.

Filling Out a Form
This led me to another screen with a short form to fill out. In the form, you enter your contact information and a brief message explaining the types of products that you wish to sell.  This is what I wrote:

I’m applying in the Health & Personal Care category. I would like to sell cleaning supplies like Windex Glass Cleaner and personal care items like toothpaste and deodorant.

When you do this step, please make sure that the products that you mention fall in the category that you are applying for. I know this may sound obvious, but there are some products that I assumed would be in Health and Personal Care but they are listed in the Beauty category instead.  To be honest, I was surprised to find “Household Cleaning” as a Health & Personal Care subcategory.

Next, I received a message stating that Amazon will contact me within the next 24 hours with further information.

Additional Documentation
The next morning, I woke up to an email from Amazon.  It contained the additional documentation that I needed to send in:

  • Three legible, scanned or clearly photographed billing statements, vendor invoices or packing slips for the products you intend to sell in the category. Note: Please obscure all pricing information.
  • Your documentation (e.g., billing statements, vendor invoices or packing slips) must include the following:
    • Invoices dated within the last 90 days, or showing item delivery or purchase within the last 90 days
    •  Your name and contact information or your company’s name and contact information
    •  The name and contact information of the company that provided your billing statements, vendor invoices or packing slips
    •  The names of the products you purchased
  • Please attach the required documentation to your email response (e.g., as a PDF file or an image file). We reserve the right to verify all submitted documentation including contacting any product vendors you identify in your application

If you notice, Amazon requires documentation for products that you purchased or had delivered to you within the last 90 days.  When I applied, I knew that purchasing items was a requirement but I chose to apply first because I wanted to find out first-hand from Amazon what they required.  I didn’t want to buy products based only on what I read in FBA Facebook group pages or FBA blogs.  Remember, Amazon’s requirements may change at anytime or others (including myself) may mistakenly give out wrong information.

I sent a message back to Amazon stating that I did not have the required documentation and that I will reapply when I do. Amazon wrote back and basically said, “no problem and that I’m free to reapply later.”  I was happy that I wasn’t penalized for not having the required documentation before I applied.

Purchasing Products
The two stores that I purchased from were Drugstore.com and DollarDays. If you use these same companies, I recommend getting to their websites by going through Ebates first. Ebates gives you cash back on the purchases that you make. I originally joined Ebates back in 2008 and have never had any problems or issues with them. Receiving that “Big Fat Check” in the mail is pretty cool.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
I’m not going to tell you the exact items that I purchased as I don’t want to do all of the work for you. But I started by finding items that are selling on Amazon.  Again, make sure that you are finding products that sell in the category that you are applying for. Something that may seem like Health and Personal Care may actually be listed under Beauty or even Industrial & Scientific on Amazon.

While I was finding products to send in, I was not concerned about profitability or sales rank.  Rather, I chose my items based on the price and if I would use the products myself.  I didn’t want to be out a lot of money or be stuck with a bunch of products that I would never use if I didn’t get approved.

So, after some research, I made two purchases from Drugstore.com and one purchase from DollarDays. For each order, I purchased ten of the same item. I like Drugstore.com because they offer free shipping for eligible purchases over $35.00. However, DollarDays charges for shipping and I almost cancelled my order because they were going to charge me $19.95 for shipping. As I was navigating away from my shopping cart, they must have known that I was going to cancel because all of a sudden a message popped up saying that they will charge me only $6.95 shipping. I accepted the lower shipping cost and completed my order.

Preparing My Documentation
Shipping Carton
Once I received my packages, I went through all of my paperwork (order receipts, packing slips) and determined which ones had the required information. For Drugstore.com, I used the packing slips and for DollarDays, I used their invoice.  To get the invoice, I logged into my DollarDays account and printed it.  Once printed, I crossed out the price information from the invoice.

I then went to Amazon and found the ASIN number for the three products that I purchased.  I hand wrote the ASIN number on the Drugstore.com packing slips and the DollarDays invoice.

The next step was to scan my documents and create a PDF file to send to Amazon. I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i scanner that I received for Christmas last year. It works great at scanning in documents and you can read my review about it here.

Anyway, I scanned in the two packing slips from Drugstore.com and the one invoice from DollarDays and saved it as one 3-page PDF file.

Since I now had my documentation, I went to Seller Central and reapplied for the Health & Personal care category. Again, I had to fill out a short form and then wait for my email from Amazon.

Submitting My Documentation
The next morning, I found my email from Amazon waiting in my Inbox. The plan was to submit the documentation later that night but Amazon Seller Central was down. But I didn’t think that mattered because I assumed that I could reply to Amazon’s email from my Yahoo account. So, I hit the “reply” button and sent Amazon a short note:

Thank you for considering my request for approval in the Health & Beauty Category.

Attached is a file showing the three products that I purchased:

  • Drugstore.com packing slip – ASIN: XXXXXXXXXX 
    Name of product
  • Drugstore.com packing slip – ASIN: XXXXXXXXXX
    Name of Product
  • DollarDays Invoice – ASIN: XXXXXXXXXX
    Name of Product

I noticed that you called me. I missed the call as I was at work and unable to answer the phone. You may also reach me at my work phone number of xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Thank you,

Diana Poisson

Unfortunately, my note never made it to Amazon as it was returned back to me as “undeliverable”.  I went back to the original email and saw that they said not to reply to it. I was a little mad at myself for not paying better attention. Since Seller Central was down, I did nothing more that night.

The next morning, Seller Central was back up so I logged into my account and navigated to the message center and found the message that Amazon sent me. This is where you need to reply back to Amazon. Again, I wrote the same short note and uploaded my PDF file. Amazon sent a message stating that I should hear something back from them within 12 hours.

Well, 12 hours past and then 24 hours past. I was getting worried that I missed something and that I would be denied.

Approval Email
I didn’t have to worry because a short time later, I received the email from Amazon saying that I was approved. I was very happy and hope to have the same luck with getting approved in Beauty.

10/11/14 Update: I followed very similar steps to get approved in Beauty but I was denied as Amazon didn’t accept the Drugstore.com packing slips this time.  I don’t know if this is a new rule across all categories or with just the Beauty category.  I will reapply again in Beauty and will write a blog post once I get approved. 

I hope that this post helps you if you are applying for the Health & Personal Care category. Please feel free to ask me any questions in the comment form below.

Take Care,

Diana

Photo Credit:
Featured Image: © Africa Studio – Fotolia.com
Packing Slip: © littleny – Fotolia.com

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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • GS October 12, 2014, 5:27 am

    Diana, Great Post!!! This information is very helpful and your stet-by-step instructions are very clear. Thank you for providing this wonderful information.

    Reply
    • Diana October 12, 2014, 1:25 pm

      Hi GS, the actual process of applying and sending in your documentation isn’t too bad. Also, Amazon is also super friendly in their messages to you. I am disappointed that I didn’t get approved in Beauty – mainly because I now have to spend more money buying beauty products. That’s the only bad part about it. But still, it’ll be worth it once I get approved. Thanks again for stopping by!

      Reply
  • Hov Chuk October 13, 2014, 2:10 am

    Hi Diana,
    Great blog. Thank you for the info. I’ve been trying to absorbing everything I find on the net to help get me started with FBA. Yours and Ryan (onlinesellingexp…) and a number of youtube’rs had been very helpful! I took the plunge 4-5 weeks ago after many trepidations. It’s been a lot of work as you can relate, but I’m pushing fumbling thru it so far. With regards to the request for Health and Grocery, do you think it’s too early for me at this stage? I do everything FBA and have only sold 23 items out of the 75 unique SKUs that I have so far (and sent over 200 items to their warehouses so far). This will be my full time gig as I have other resources to bridge my financial gap while getting FBA off the ground.

    Thanks in advance for your input,

    Reply
    • Diana October 13, 2014, 3:30 am

      Hi Hov Chuk,
      Congratulations for joining Amazon FBA! I can easily relate to it being a lot of work and fumbling through it. That is one of the reasons why I waited until now to apply for the gated categories because I didn’t have it in me to figure it out earlier. But it sounds like you are way ahead of me at the one month mark.

      As you probably know, I belong to a few Amazon FBA Facebook groups and I have seen posts from other new Sellers saying that they got approved. Some said that they have been selling for just a month or so. So, yes, it is possible for newer Sellers to get approved. I don’t think the length of time so much matters as long as you meet the requirements that Amazon wants.

      Since I just got denied in Beauty for submitting packing slips, I can tell you that it’s not the end of the world. You don’t lose any points with Amazon and you can reapply later. If they do deny you because you are new, then just save your receipts/invoices/packing slips for the products you purchased and reapply 80 days from now using those same receipts. Keep in mind that you will easily be out $100.00 to buy your products with no guarantee that you’ll be approved.

      Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad I can help. Ryan’s blog is one of my favorites and I hope to see you around in the FBA community!

      Reply
  • Hov October 14, 2014, 12:18 am

    Thank you! This is very helpful. I may wait for a bit longer. For right now I think I need to get a handle on my most hated things–book keeping and taxes. YUUK! Good luck to us all.

    Reply
    • Diana October 14, 2014, 4:53 am

      Hov, you are wise to get your books done early while there aren’t too many historical transactions to enter and also so you know your numbers…I’m one of the few that enjoys doing books but taxes are another story… I use Quickbooks Online, TaxJar and Excel to keep me on track. Let me know if you have any questions about any of it. Good luck and hope we both have a profitable 4th Quarter!

      Reply
  • Hov October 14, 2014, 10:30 pm

    Thanks. I’ll definitely take up on that offer at some point. I’m just starting out with Excel at the moment because my figures aren’t that overwhelming yet. I’m not that savvy with excel, so I keep it simple–cost basis, date, where purchased, etc. Now that I’ve sold some items and starting to understand most of Amazon fees and statement, I’m going to download the listing and statement and see how that goes about merging them together. My issue right now is sitting my butt down and plugging in those numbers from the receipts into those cells. I find that once I get behind 1 week or so (situation that I’m in right now–two weeks), procrastination sets in and I tend to not want to do it. It’s stupid really because it only gets bigger and worst. Something that I really have to watch out as this could bleed into other areas of the business and really ruin it before I even get off the ground. Staying excited is a challenge I find at times–especially when it comes to paper work. At least for me anyway. I’ve read some of your earlier blogs and from others across the web really helped me put things in perspective. So I really appreciated that.
    That said, I will be looking into TaxJar and Quickbooks as well. I heard about Taxjar as well, but have not digging deeper into their service yet. If/when this gig ended up being successful, then I don’t mind hiring services to assist me in these regards–especially the tax stuff.
    -Hov

    Reply
    • Diana October 15, 2014, 9:49 pm

      I understand about procrastination – I procrastinated this month about filing my sales tax returns and am now stressing about getting them filed by the Oct 20 due date due to website problems and not having my PIN number.

      As for how to get excited about doing paperwork – I do like doing paperwork, but the knowledge that it gives me makes it well worth it. Numbers don’t lie and when you see your numbers, you’ll know 100% how much you made or loss, where you need to cut back on, etc.

      TaxJar – they have a free trial so once you register for your home state and/or other states, then sign up for it. In my opinion, it makes the tax process less scary.

      Diana

      Reply
  • Hov October 17, 2014, 7:31 pm

    With regard to tax, have you registered to all the states with nexus yet? How long did that take you? I’m only registered in my state at the moment but planning on other states. I just finished registering to filing only the quarterly. I had to get on the phone with a real person though to get them verify and expedited my banking information so that I don’t risk being late comes after the 20th. I didn’t have to pay anything this time. No local sales.

    I’m looking at taxjar for info regarding sales tax for different states and noticed each has different requirements (ie; South Carolina says non-resident doesn’t have to collect tax? where Tennessee says “Persons that sell, on the average, less than $400 per month and pay tax to their suppliers do not need to register until their average monthly sales exceed that amount.”)
    Do you read into or take these things into consideration before registering? Or simply register for all states where Amazon established their warehouses? My sales are spread all over so far and I have not amass over $400 on any give state yet.
    Thoughts?
    Thanks
    Hov

    Reply
    • Diana October 17, 2014, 8:42 pm

      Hi Hov, So far, I’m registered in my home state and 8 other states (Arizona, California, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia). I still have a few more to go but so far don’t have anything stored in their warehouses. However my goal is to sign up for the rest of them before the end of the year.

      I don’t know how long it took as I didn’t do them the same day – that would have been too stressful for me. I registered over time and do remember that California was the most complicated. To be honest, I don’t know if I’m doing it 100% correctly or not. Would be nice if each state had a special section for online sellers.

      Tennessee – I didn’t register with them because I don’t have $400 in monthly sales there. However, I did try to register anyway and their website wouldn’t let me because of my low sales. South Carolina – as far as I know, you have to register – I did. I didn’t want to though as the registration fee was $50.

      If I were you, I would start with the states where most of your inventory is stored in.

      TaxJar – it is helpful, but not perfect. I find that they give general information but don’t give you step by step directions for the actual filing and registering. There’s still a lot that you have to figure out on your own. For example, I did my Texas return this morning and I had to enter the jurisdictions for each of my Texas buyers. TaxJar doesn’t give you that info so I had to manually find it through Amazon.

      However TaxJar is helpful because they gave me a list of my Texas Transactions so I was able to find them easily in Amazon Seller Central. For now, since it’s just $10 a month I’m going to continue with TaxJar as I’m not comfortable with tackling sales tax on my own. Even though they don’t give you all the info that you need, they do give you some.

      I hope this helps. I do plan on writing more about tax on one of my next posts – but just general info about it since I’m not a tax professional. I wish the sales tax thing wasn’t so complicated.

      Reply
  • Hov October 18, 2014, 1:08 am

    Hi Diana, thank you. This really helps in giving me some perspective on what I should be expecting. Yes most of my inventory went to Chattanooga, MURFREESBORO, and Charleston, TN and more recently South Carolina. Three different warehouses in Tennessee, who knew? I think 80% of my stash went there–not sure if it’s a good thing.

    Great point on tackling those states first. I do have some that went to Phoenix, –maybe 1/5 of the entire inventory. Nothing to CA and Texas yet–but thanks for the heads up on their convoluted process.
    It looks like I’m definitely going to be spending quite a bit of time then over the coming weeks reading up on each state. I’ll start on the ones with my inventory first for now. That should keep me busy for a while amongst other things.
    I’ll let you know how it goes with Tennessee if you wish.(assuming that this isn’t your state) 🙂
    Thanks again!
    Hov

    Reply
    • Diana October 18, 2014, 4:57 am

      Yes, let me know how Tennessee goes. TN isn’t my home state but just about all of my shipments go to either Tennessee or Virginia. The only thing I worry with Tennessee is that once we hit our $400.00 a month and get registered, will they want us to pay taxes on all of our prior sales?

      I may have mentioned it before, but even if you don’t sign up for TaxJar, go to their website and read their blogs on the different states and they have some free guides you can get emailed to you. Like I said, they don’t completely tell you how to do everything but I know I wouldn’t have gotten this far without them. I’m not an affiliate of them so I don’t gain anything if you sign up with them or not.

      Good luck and one piece of advice – sign up for the eFiling right away after your register. Sometimes it can take a few days for it to get setup and if you wait right before the tax due dates to do that (like I did), then you have to worry about missing the tax deadlines.

      Reply
  • Mike November 3, 2014, 10:06 pm

    Hi Diana,

    Very helpful post. Amazon’s requirements are quite confusing, and this did shed some light on the application process.

    I did have a few additional questions:

    — I’m brand new to FBA and just signed up for the Professional account. Since I’m brand new, I have not sold a single product yet. However, I would like to start out selling in the Health/Personal Care category for my first items. As you mention, there are initial seller performance target “requirements” that you must have first to begin selling in this category; but since I’m a brand new seller, what can I do? Do I have to start selling approved categories first, even though I have no interest in selling those kinds of items? And what’s the minimum amount of items that I must sell in the approved categories, in order to meet those requirements (seller performance targets), before I can selling in health?

    — They ask you to submit 3 different “invoices”; but what if I source my product in person, at stores like CVS and Walgreens? Obviously, I’m not going to receive an invoice; I’m going to receive a receipt. Is this sufficient? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that Amazon would require an “invoice” from an online order, as opposed to a traditional receipt.

    — Since they require 3 invoices, what are the minimum amounts of product that I can purchase for each order that will be sufficient? For example, can I order ONE item, and then have an invoice which contains only that 1 item, and use that as 1 invoice? Or do I have to order 10 items, or 20 items, per order/invoice? Amazon is not clear on this at all, and makes it quite confusing. You mentioned that you had purchased 10 of each item, but I’m wondering if that many is required?

    It seems like Amazon is making us jump a lot of arbitrary hoops to meet these requirements.

    Thanks for your post!

    Reply
    • Diana November 4, 2014, 3:10 am

      Hi Mike, Great questions and I wish I can give you definite answers to them. But as you say, they are confusing and there aren’t any clear answers that I have found. All I can tell you is what I learned from my own personal experience and to pass on information that I read in the Amazon FBA Group Forums. I will try to answer as best I can:

      1. Today, someone in Facebook asked the same question – can they get approved for Health & Personal Care even though they are brand new? Another member of the group said that they were approved before shipping in their first products. So, it is possible to get approved even if you don’t have the seller metrics. But unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that you will.

      2. I agree with you that Amazon shouldn’t care if you send in a receipt vs an invoice. But, they are picky about that. For example, they accepted my packing slips for my Health & Personal Care approval. They would not accept packing slips from the same company for when I applied for Beauty. When I applied for Health, retail receipts was not an option, but they were allowed in Beauty. After you submit your request for approval, Amazon will send you a message letting you know what type of documentation that they will accept. I recommend submitting whatever they want, even if it doesn’t make sense.

      3. As for quantity – I don’t know the exact quantity that they want. I believe that just buying one item won’t be enough. You will need to buy more. I have seen people on Facebook say that they got approved with purchasing 5 items per invoice/receipt. The risk that you take by not buying enough is that you will get denied and then have to buy more. So, if you were denied by buying 5, then you are back to square one and will need to buy more. Just try to purchase inexpensive items that you will use or that you can return so you aren’t out a lot of money.

      Good luck with it and if you decide to go ahead and apply now, let me know how it goes. Also, I have heard that sometimes your approval/non-approval depends on which Amazon Rep you are dealing with.

      Diana

      Reply
  • lysander April 13, 2015, 7:40 pm

    Hi Diana,

    I love your site and the blog post they’re very helpful. I struck out with my first attempt on getting approved for Health and Personal Care. I have a better insight now on what to do can you provide what products are set as health and Personal? I’m planning on getting some vitamin that are discounted in a local store by me but wondering what other two products would be worth purchasing.

    I appreciate any guidance that you can provide.

    Kind Regards,

    Lysander

    Reply
    • Diana April 13, 2015, 9:05 pm

      Hi Lysander,
      Health and Personal care is a strange category as products can easily be thought of belonging in a different category. The Health and Personal are items like cold medicines, household cleaning supplies, diapers, toothpaste. But you have to be careful because I’ve seen some toothpastes listed in Industrial and Scientific and some products listed both in Health and Beauty.

      For my approval, I used toothpaste, deodorant and Windex Window Wipes. I personally would go for something inexpensive in case you don’t get approved or something that you can return if you don’t get approved or it’s not profitable to send in. Also, make sure you double check before buying anything and make sure it’s listed in the Health and Personal Care category.

      Good luck with it and let me know how it goes on your next attempt!

      Diana

      Reply
  • Alberto February 4, 2016, 8:04 pm

    Has anyone had any success with receipts after the big shift Amazon took towards the end of November with regards to demanding invoices and not receipts?

    Diana, love the blog, your posts are oh so helpful. 🙂

    Reply
    • Diana February 4, 2016, 8:50 pm

      Hi Alberto,
      It’s getting really challenging to get approved these days. I heard that even the companies that provide the ungating services have quit doing beauty and health.

      When I was approved, I used Dollar Days and they provided invoices. I’m not sure if they still do or not, but you might check with them.

      Good luck and I’m glad you like the blog!

      Diana

      Reply
  • David April 5, 2016, 8:59 am

    Hi Diana,

    I am new to Amazon and found this very helpful. I just want to ask, did you just buy random products from drugstore.com to get all 3 invoices? My product is from China as private label, is the invoice from them counted as one invoice? also do they have any minimum amount for invoice to be approved? and, do you have to ship all the other products to FBA even when the only product you intend to sell is the private label one? I hope to hear from you soon.

    Many thanks.

    David

    Reply
    • Diana April 5, 2016, 1:28 pm

      Hi David,
      Welcome to Amazon and here are the answers to your questions:

      1. The products that I bought were already listed in the Health & Personal Care category. They were random products inside that category. I would look for low-cost items or things that you can use for yourself at home in case you don’t get approved.

      2. I don’t know if your PL product from China will count if it’s not listed on Amazon. You can try though. If you’re denied, you would need to find a different invoice.

      3. I know you need to buy a decent quantity of products, but I don’t know what the minimum requirement is. For all of my purchases, I bought 3 items of 5 to 10 items each. So, it would be 10 of Product 1, 8 of Product 2 and 9 of Product 3. All of the products that I used were already listed on Amazon.

      4. You do not need to ship in the products that you used for approval.

      Keep in mind that I was approved over a year ago and since then, Amazon has tightened the approval requirements. Right now, Amazon wants to see invoices. When I applied, Drugstore.com did not supply an invoice. But Dollar Days did.

      Good luck and I hope you get approved!

      Diana

      Reply
      • David April 6, 2016, 4:39 am

        Hi Diana,

        Thanks for taking time to respond. Much appreciated.

        Cheers!

        David

        Reply

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About Diana


I am working towards creating a full-time income by selling on Amazon. It's a lot of work but very fun! If you're interested in selling on Amazon, be sure to follow my blog as I'll be providing you with lots of tips!

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