Understanding Amazon’s gated product categories

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It wasn’t always like this. To begin with, until 1997, Amazon only sold books. Then Bezos decided to diversify, as CNBC reports. By 2014, it was selling everything under the sun.

So were dishonest sellers. To take them down, Amazon applied category-wide restrictions and verification in 2016. Sellers referred to this approach as ‘category gating’.

But it wasn’t good enough. Brand owners weren’t well-pleased with counterfeiters. So, Brand Registry 2.0 was launched in 2017, giving brand owners the power to ban sellers.

On top of this, Amazon started its own ‘brand gating’ campaign to check for resale authorizations. As more brands became gated, they closed off entire sub-categories.

For instance, the Video Games category isn’t gated. But some sub-categories are. So, a seller trying to list a new PS4 game on Amazon wouldn’t get very far today.

That’s because virtually all PS4 games are produced by well-known, gated brands (e.g., Sony, Disney, Marvel, EA Sports).

What difference does it make? Ungating a brand is very different to ungating a category. It often involves paying a hefty fee and obtaining an authorization letter for every venue you plan to sell on.

Ungating a category, on the other hand, is more of a formality. But both situations usually involve checking your invoices, as explained here.

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