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What can be sold on Amazon?

  • Published: 04.10.2022
  • Updated: 30.01.2023

Due to a number of factors, mainly the pandemic, in the recent years the growth of the e-commerce industry has accelerated very rapidly. Due to the need to survive and the increasing competition, companies that had previously completely disregarded it because there was no real need to do so started selling online.

Suddenly, it turned out that it was possible to buy products, which previously could only be bought in a brick-and-mortar shop, via the internet, including the largest marketplace – Amazon. What’s more, they are selling extremely well. Are you interested in finding out what you can sell on Amazon? And what is not allowed? Let’s get started.

what to sell on Amazon

Despite a significant increase in the available online product assortment, it is still impossible to access some products on Amazon. So in this article we will explain:

  1. What products are not allowed to be sold on Amazon (and why)?
  2. What conditions must products meet to be listed on Amazon by a seller?
  3. How do you need to prepare the products before listing them on Amazon?
  4. In what situations might it not be profitable to sell products on Amazon?

What products are prohibited from being sold on Amazon?

One of the key reasons why the US platform has been so successful is because of the strict requirements on exactly what can be sold and how. Amazon keeps a close eye on issues such as product labelling, descriptions and any issues related to customer service, especially returns and complaints.

Amazon’s main focus is to ensure that the purchasing process as well as the products customers receive, fully meet their expectations in terms of quality, compliance with the description, and also in terms of local regulations.

Selling on Amazon therefore poses quite a challenge for vendors, and certain types of products they simply are not permitted to sell via the platform for legal reasons or security issues. In turn, strict restrictions are applied to other categories.

Due to differences in regulations between countries, it is not possible to accurately describe the rules as they may differ between Amazon US, UK or DE. We will therefore focus on the basic categories and rules that apply to most markets.

Please note that a large proportion of the listed products may relate to criminal activity or animal cruelty. In any such case, Amazon encourages you to report such offers and this can be done by any logged-in user.

Possibility of appealing to Amazon

In its terms and conditions, Amazon indicates that it is entirely possible that products that are allowed to be sold, may be suspended. This happens, for example, when they have insufficient descriptions and key information is missing. In such a situation, the seller has the option to carry out the necessary corrections and submit the products for verification, which may lead to the reopening of the suspended listings.

Additional product and vendor restrictions and procedures

Before listing products in certain categories, Amazon requires prior approval. These categories vary considerably from market to market. In the case of the UK, these include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Apparel
  • Media (music, films, books)
  • Jewellery
  • Watches

This rule also applies to some specific products, such as scooters and other small electric vehicles.

In addition to category-specific rules, Amazon has also created general rules that apply to all products. Among other things, they concern copyright infringement and even the sale of products made in certain countries and regions, such as North Korea, Syria or Iran.

The rules also apply to products and vendors that may in any way be linked to criminal and terrorist organisations.

Amazon’s terms and conditions also include a number of other rules that apply to product descriptions and images. When it comes to descriptions, these largely concern the reliability and authenticity of the product characteristics given, such as whether the product is organic or claims medicinal properties. As far as images are concerned, there are rules relating to both what and how (e.g. award information for a product) can be included in the graphics.

As with non-compliant products, each situation can result in a number of consequences for the seller.

What happens if the products sold are found to be in breach of Amazon's terms and conditions?

what can be sold on Amazon

When Amazon considers that the products offered are not in compliance with the law or the marketplace’s internal regulations, it can apply several operations, depending on which regulations have been violated. What exactly may happen?

  1. Exclusion of listings that are deemed to be in breach of the law or regulations.
  2. Suspension of the seller’s account.
  3. Returning the assortment that is stocked in Amazon’s warehouses.
  4. Disposal of this assortment without the possibility of reimbursement.
  5. Complete closure of the vendor account and the terminating the cooperation.

In the case of illegal or hazardous products, the sale of which may incur civil or criminal liability, Amazon may refer the matter to the relevant law enforcement authorities. According to the terms and conditions, vendors on Amazon are fully responsible for all sales activities on the marketplace.

What requirements must products meet in order to be sold on Amazon?

For products that do not breach any of the above-mentioned rules, there remain a number of other matters that sellers must address. As we have already mentioned, a proper product description and information is necessary, i.e., among other things:

  1. Name and category
  2. Price
  3. List of compatible devices (e.g. which camera models the lens is compatible with)
  4. Photographs clearly depicting the product
  5. Information on product availability and delivery time
  6. Safety warnings and other similar information that may be required for the product
  7. Appropriate markings
  8. A link to the Privacy Policy document

There are also a number of rules on what the product cards should not contain:

  1. Reviews, comments from users or customers
  2. Incentives to write a positive review
  3. Information on alternative sources for purchasing the product (e.g. the manufacturer’s website)
  4. Pornographic or offensive content
  5. Private and contact details (with a few exceptions for specific products)

Will selling on Amazon be profitable?

If we have established that our products are eligible to be sold on Amazon, the question remaining is whether this makes any sense from a financial perspective. Selling on Amazon involves a number of costs that can ultimately make using this marketplace unprofitable. The key here, of course, is what margin we set on our products.

We elaborate more on this topic in a separate article:

Amazon commission and other costs incurred by sellers

Do you need support in selling on Amazon?

As specialists in VAT compliance and warehouse management, we help companies to safely expand and develop their e-commerce into new markets. We take full responsibility for the compliant and timely VAT declarations and payments in the course of sales in multiple markets as well as supporting the effective management of resources

We invite you to schedule a free consultation.

Also check out the following:

How to sell on Zalando?

Kamil Kempisty Co-founder in Taxology and KP Consulting. From 8 years in the accounting business.