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Amazon Restricts Toy Sellers during the Holidays

Amazon
Amazon Restricts Toy Sellers during the Holidays

Each year since 2006, Amazon places restrictions on which third-party sellers can sell in the Toys & Games category. This year, the policy goes into effect today and stays in effect through January 3, 2021.

But don’t assume all sellers view the policy as a negative. While it can obviously be upsetting to those who are locked out, others view it as a way to protect the marketplace from shady characters or from sellers who are ill-equipped to provide customers with good service as sales surge in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

“If you can’t do 25 sales in 60 days, then Amazon sees you won’t be able to handle the surge in the 4th quarter,” one seller wrote on a discussion thread about the policy. Sellers have reported Amazon does make exceptions to the rule, however.

Another seller said the policy exists as a deterrent to sellers who want to do retail arbitrage during the fourth quarter. That’s a reference to sellers who buy items at retail stores and resell them as new on Amazon.

But another seller took a more cynical view when commenting on the AuctionBytes Blog a few years ago. “It’s like being restricted from selling ice in the summer because you didn’t sell enough of it in the winter,” RKTOYS wrote. Prices go up when the policy takes effect “as Amazon does its best to reduce competition in the marketplace,” the reader asserted.

Sellers who are ineligible to sell toys and games during the holidays have the option of using Amazon’s FBA fulfillment service, a practice Amazon began in 2010, though it is getting late in the game for that strategy to work this year.

Amazon uses the following criteria to make its determination:

  • Your first sale on Amazon must be prior to September 1, 2020 and does not need to be specific to Toys & Games.
  • You must have processed and shipped at least 25 seller-fulfilled orders from August 15, 2020 through October 14, 2020.
  • Your pre-fulfillment cancel rate must be no greater than 1.75% from September 15, 2020 through October 14, 2020.
  • Your late shipment rate must be no greater than 4% from September 15, 2020 through October 14, 2020.
  • Your order defect rate must be no greater than 1% as of October 14, 2020.

Not surprisingly, there are numerous videos sharing advice on how to get approval in Toys & Games during the holidays, such as the following:

Sellers should do their own homework, of course, and the Amazon discussion boards provide helpful information as well as cautionary tales.

Note that Amazon will inactivate Toys & Games listings for sellers who are excluded from selling toys during the holiday season. Once the requirement is removed, sellers must re-list inactive ASINs. See more details on Amazon Seller Central.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

3 thoughts on “Amazon Restricts Toy Sellers during the Holidays”

  1. Good Lord, this fool on YouTube is suggesting people sell through EE Distribution? Why, are they looking to lose their shirts? When I had an account with them, even their top tier provided barely any margin. I don’t mean like “rule of thumb” expectations like expecting to sell everything for double or triple what you paid either. I mean by the time you pay fees on shipping (and, in Amazon’s case, pad your prices to cope with $4 vouchers), you’re looking at needing 20% just to break even. That’s about where the top tier stops and you’ve got to buy 10+ cases of anything just to get there. And if those cases are an assortment, like with action figures, forget it, because half of those cases won’t sell anywhere north of 70% MSRP (tax included, plus free shipping). You’re basically counting on 1-2 figures out of 8 to sell for a crazy amount (because they’re shortpacked, scooped up at retail, or have a part needed to complete a build-a-figure) to have a chance at balancing the rest out. And that’s before EED plays games with partial shipments, slow/late deliveries, and damages they won’t take responsibility for. While I don’t know what I’d tell a hopeful to seller to do if they really wanted to sell toys, I do know that “open an EED account” wouldn’t be anywhere on that list.

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