How to Deal with Gated Inventory

New and experienced sellers alike deal with gated inventory quite frequently these days.

“Gated” is a term that means that the item in question is restricted from sale

  • By you
  • By everybody, or
  • In certain conditions

There are also occasions when you are gated but you can “Request Approval”. This process may be easy or hard, depending on the brand’s requirement. Sometimes you will need to provide an invoice and a letter from the brand authorizing you to sell their products. Sometimes you press a button and get approved on the strength of your seller account.

Today we’re going to go over your options for gated inventory that has not been shipped.

How to deal with gated inventory. Get rid of unsellable goods and back to buying quickly.

How to Avoid Gated Inventory

Dealing with gated items is a massive hassle, so the best thing to do is avoid it entirely if you can. Before purchasing ANYTHING be sure to verify whether you can sell it.

There are two main ways to do this. You can use a paid plugin called “Check Permission” which creates a little box right on the page you’re viewing.

Or the free way is to log into Seller Central, go to Inventory>>Add a Product and search the ASIN of the item you want to sell. It will show you whether the item can be sold, and if so, under what conditions.

This item cannot be sold at all. (Which is great, because it’s frequently counterfeited)

In this case you can see that you can’t sell this item as New or Like New. But, you can sell it as VG, G, or Acceptable.

A lot of people are confused by Amazon’s sentence construction.

“Collectible; Used: Very good, Acceptable, Good conditions”

Means:

  • All Collectible conditions, and,
  • These specific Used conditions: VG, A, G

In general, you’ll have four options.

  • You can sell it used, but not new
  • You can sell it new, but not used
  • You can sell it VG/G/A but not N/LN
  • You can’t sell it at all.

Basically nobody lists in Collectible, and Refurbished is its own can of worms, you can ignore that part. You just want the basics. New. Used. Nothing fancy or complicated about this.

Now that we have established the concept of gating and how to identify it, let’s move on. What happens if you’re already sitting on gated inventory?

How To Deal With Gated Inventory

We create the listings for a majority of our clients, and so when we upload their inventory file, we can see at a glance which inventory is gated:

This guy in green is gated. It’s not marked out-of-stock (OOS) because you’re never going to be allowed to go IN stock.

So these are the items we pull from your shipment. But then you’re left with a conundrum. What do you do with them?

Here are your options:

Option 1: Get a return and ship them back

No muss, no fuss. Of course, you might have to eat a little crow with your seller (and pay return shipping). But at least the matter is closed quickly and you can put your focus back on buying and selling– you know, the stuff that makes you money.

Check out our Return Templates to make this as painless as possible.

Option 2: Sell to someone who is ungated.

After the rash of gatings in the fall, I saw this work pretty well on the textbook seller FB groups. People who were gated put out a call, with a list of ISBNs, offering the inventory at cost to anyone who could take it. This worked best if both the buyer and the seller used the same prep service, because then shipping wasn’t a consideration.

Because gatings are frequently tied to the age/activity of a seller account, we have found that the more experienced sellers are more likely to be ungated than the newbies. So we have been compiling a list of long-term sellers to pass on to gated newbs.

If you’d like to try selling your inventory to a more experienced seller, please email the office for a recommendation. However, they are business people too, and may negotiate sharply with you!

Option 3: Ship it anyway and use Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment service

This is an advanced method, typically used by online arbitragers who might have experienced a seasonal gating (for instance, Toys in Q4) or for some other reason might have gotten gated unexpectedly.

In these cases, you can still ship to Amazon, but your items will not go live on the Amazon site. They are, however, still in your inventory (racking up inventory fees.)

These gated items are then listed on a third party site such as eBay. When a item sells, you simply put in a fulfillment order through Amazon and they will ship it to your eBay customer for a fee.

I do not recommend this method for book arbitragers because the whole premise of online textbook arbitrage is to take advantage of the premium price Prime users are willing to pay. Unless you are pretty sure you can get someone to pay that premium on eBay, you probably don’t want to ship your items in. Try option 1 or 2 instead.

Gating is a Solvable Issue

Gated products are a pain but they are a great, early object lesson in the importance of running through a system or procedure before ANY inventory purchase. Amazon is a business that requires systematic processes to ensure that you clear all the hurdles involved in the selling process.

Once you get a system in place to verify your selling restrictions and a process for dealing with the ad hoc gating that may occur later, you’ll soon forget about all the stress this caused you in the past.

7 Responses

  1. Hello,
    First, thank you for all the great information! I am new to the world of book arbitrage and I’m trying to learn as much as I can before I spend hard earned money….Having said that, I have a question about being “gated.” I have set up “check permissions” so that I can see before I buy whether or not I can buy. so the question is: can I be gated after I’ve purchased a book even though I checked permissions and was good to go at the time of purchase and AZ decided to gate me after the fact. Does that occur?

  2. Hi Dennis,

    Yes, it does happen that you can be cleared to list a book, only to have the title go restricted at some later date. This seems to happen when Amazon gets a lot of authenticity complaints for a listing. Then they restrict the listing in the hopes of weeding out bad actors. The good news is that you can usually swap or sell these ASINs on Bookseller Facebook groups, or use textbook tradein programs to recoup some of your cost. If you are US-based, you can also sell them on eBay.

  3. Hi Shanna,

    Thank you for that explanation. I just saw a FB post of a ZA member who’s had stated that almost half of his inventory (25 books) isnow gated! Is this example extreme….

    Again, thank you for your great information!

  4. Gating is seasonal and it heavily impacts new sellers. The longer you are on Amazon with good sales metrics, the more Amazon trusts you and the more items you are ungated for. Amazon does gatings in waves whenever there are problems with certain listings or certain publishers. First they close the listings to the newest sellers, then if the problems continue they get progressively more strict. For instance, almost nobody has been eligible to sell used DVDs in almost ten years because Amazon was unable to stop the trade in bootleg disks any other way. But for books, perhaps because it is a fairly specialized niche, most of the time if you hang in there selling less-desireable books for a few seasons, Amazon figures you’re not a fly-by-night seller looking to dump a bunch of counterfeits, and they gradually loosen restrictions. Unfortunately, it is not a matter of simply opening your account and letting it age. I can definitely tell with my sellers that the people who do more volume get ungated faster than the people who are more conservative. I think that Amazon sees sales volume as a leading indicator of a serious, legitimate seller, as these are the people investing most heavily in the platform and therefore more invested in following the rules.

  5. Hi Shanna,

    I have been selling this item (non book) on Amazon with no issues but suddenly one day they remove me from listing ie from “active” to “inactive” despite having inventory in their warehouse. Amazon now said I am not approved to sell this item. Besides creating a disposal order can I create a multi-channel fulfillment order via sellercentral if I have a buyer on E-bay or FB marketplace?

  6. I am not sure. Definitely you will be required to remove the inventory within 30 days, so I’m not sure how long if at all you will be able to use MCF.

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