The AuctionBytes interview with Amazon.com's Matt Williams generated quite a bit of email from sellers who said they were unable to list items in the jewelry category. I checked in with the company's PR department to get some clarification and was directed to the FAQs that outline which categories are open to individual and ProMerchant sellers.
What products can I sell Amazon.com?
You can sell items in the following categories: Automotive, Baby, Camera and Photo, Electronics, Everything Else, Health and Personal Care, Home and Garden, Musical Instruments, Office Products, Software, Sports & Outdoors, Tools and Hardware, Toys & Games and Video Games
What type of products can I not sell on Amazon.com?
These include: Apparel and Accessories (including shoes), Beauty, Gourmet Food, Industrial and Scientific, Jewelry & Watches, Personal Computer, Cell Phones, Service Magazines and Newspapers, Grocery, Adult Toys, Gift Cards and Gift Certificates, Guns and Ammunition, Photo Processing, Prescription Medication, and Tobacco and Alcohol.
I know from talking to sellers that Amazon.com opens up some restricted categories to certain Gold and Platinum level sellers (members of what many refer to as Amazon Merchants@ program).
I asked why the restrictions in categories such as Apparel and Accessories (including shoes), Beauty, Industrial and Scientific, Jewelry & Watches, Personal Computer and Cell Phones, and here's Amazon's response:
These are relatively new categories for Amazon.com and we are still refining the customer experience. As we refine the customer experience for these categories, we want to be even more particular than normal as to the sellers we bring onto the platform to sell types of products.
Marketplaces like Amazon.com and Overstock.com seem eager to have high-quality, high-volume sellers and reward them with added exposure on their sites. Overstock just expanded its agreement with ChannelAdvisor to let its merchants list on its Shopping platform.
This may be a good place to remind readers that Amazon retains tight control even in "open" categories: for example, each year, Amazon.com restricts third-party sales in the Toys and Games category to pre-approved sellers during the holiday shopping season.
And another caveat: during the ChannelAdvisor conference last year, an analyst warned sellers of the dangers of listing on a marketplace that could turn around and compete with them, specifically pointing to Amazon.com. But from what I've seen, that advice isn't stopping high-volume eBay sellers from jumping in with both feet.