Brands Ben Hedrick By Ben Hedrick

Understanding Brand Gating on Amazon: A Retailer’s Perspective

The process of brand gating on Amazon seems straightforward enough, particularly from the brand manufacturer’s perspective. Unauthorized resellers or counterfeiters threaten to cripple sales, so the brand asks for greater control over who can list its products on the marketplace.

But what if you’re a legitimate retailer with a business model that revolves around resales? What can you do to protect your listings from suffering the unwanted fate of less-than-trustworthy counterparts?

Let’s take a quick look at the brand gating need-to-know essentials for retailers.

Why Amazon Got Serious About Brand Gating

Before we begin to tackle the specifics of brand gating from a retailer’s perspective, it helps to consider what’s been happening from the brand’s point of view.

Fact is, many consumers simply don’t realize when they purchase a poor-quality counterfeit instead of the real thing. After all, buyers don’t stop by Amazon to peruse seller reviews and carefully vet merchants. They’re on the marketplace to make quick, convenient purchases — and to compare prices.

So when a lower-priced listing appears in product search results, consumers trust that Amazon’s serving up the best buying options.

This is where problems begin.

When shoppers unknowingly purchase counterfeit versions of the real thing, it doesn’t just wreak havoc on profits. The value of the brand itself begins to erode, too.

Many bigger brands have long been hesitant to sell direct-to-consumers on the marketplace for this very reason. Birkenstock made national headlines when it quit Amazon back in 2016 over product authenticity issues, and until 2017 Nike was known as one of the great “holdouts” when it came to selling on the marketplace giant.

More oversight was clearly needed. So Amazon got serious about brand gating.

The Impact Brand Gating Has on Retailers

Amazon has always strived to make its marketplace convenient, vast and serviceable. Its commitment to these principles has helped it grow tremendously in the last decade.

That growth has also attracted millions of third-party sellers attempting to latch on to the success of others’ Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs). These sellers are normally vetted by Amazon through standard compliance requirements, but some counterfeiters occasionally still slip through the cracks and start selling.

To stave off those unauthorized resales and assure consumers they can shop with confidence, Amazon turned to brand gating.

The goal of brand gating, which allows private labelers and brand manufacturers to control the list of resellers for their ASINs, is to block unauthorized retailers from listing brands that have been officially gated. Amazon has gone to great lengths to make it work, often charging new sellers one-time fees of $1,000 to $5,000 as an extra barrier to entry when listing certain brands.

What It All Boils Down To

If you’re selling third-party on Amazon, at some point you may be notified that you lack authorization to sell a specific brand and need to obtain certain approvals moving forward. This notification may appear in your Amazon Seller Central account or, if you’re the using ChannelAdvisor, in your Amazon dashboard within the platform. When that happens, we recommend the following actions:

  1. Grab this URL and put the ASIN inside the URL in place of the “xxxxx” of the SKU that resulted in the error in the ChannelAdvisor platform or on Amazon
  2. Go through the approval process for each brand that requires gating.

After you complete those steps, Amazon may tell you it could take up to 7 days to receive approval. However, we’ve seen responses as soon as 48 hours in some instances.

At this time, some brands are being gated that do not require annual selling fees and, moving forward, Amazon should make you aware of any other fees they associate to this policy.

Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published on March 28, 2017. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.