What Amazon’s New Safety Requirements Mean for Sellers
I’m very proud of the smart, passionate consultants who serve our clients at eGrowth Partners (eGP), and I’m delighted when one of them can find the time to share with the community what we are learning about Amazon. This week, eGP’s Brad Tucker explains the thinking behind tougher requirements for Amazon sellers with topicals and ingestibles.
In late 2017, Amazon made big changes to health/beauty and topical requirements. Whereas, before a seller only needed to get approved for the entire health/beauty or grocery categories, policy now requires approval for specific types of products within those categories.
Some people were grandfathered into the category but find that when they go to list particular brands they are being required to get approval for that brand. Newer sellers must get approved both for Topicals and for the brand they want to sell.
Topicals covers basically anything that goes on the body from shampoo to lotions to vitamin-delivery patches. Amazon wants to make sure that products are safe and contain the ingredients the bottles say they do. Practically speaking, it means that in addition to invoices or receipts proving you bought the product from an authentic source, it must also have a certificate of analysis, or COA, from an independent testing lab.
Amazon will accept things like a brand’s FDA registration number but that is impractical for most sellers because they will never get that from the brand. If you own the brand and are FDA registered, then getting approved is a breeze.
This COA requirement has taken the wind out of a lot of sellers for these products.
Many sellers still source discounted topicals and ingestibles at retail stores or from liquidators. And although Amazon won’t explicitly ban retail arbitrage (RA), they can implement additional requirements to reduce the number of players on the field by requiring a COA. This reduces their potential liability and provides a better buyer experience.
A COA demonstrates that the product has been tested for ingredient composition and is safe for its described use. It is also expensive and can take a couple of weeks depending on your lab’s work load.
If you buy your product directly from a manufacturer, wholesaler, or authorized distributor, they should be able to provide you with a recent COA. But, if you source your product via RA, you will need to have your product tested by a third-party lab.
We have discovered that there are labs that will refuse to test your product if it is owned by a major brand. We assume this has to do with relationships the lab has with brands. After all, they have reason to want their secret formula to be secret. This means contacting several labs until one of them agrees to analyze the product.
Is Your Dog a Pot Head?
It’s not just products for people, either. We have recently seen sellers have their listings taken down in the pet products category. Right now, there is no comprehensive requirement for pet treats, supplements, topicals, etc., but all signs are pointing to the fact that this requirement will be coming soon. People love their fur babies and want them to have the same safeguards in place.
We have encountered products in both pet products and human supplements and topicals that contain hemp ingredients. In addition to a COA that tests the product to ensure safety, you must now also have a COA which tests the product for the presence of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (Cannabidiol), or any ingredients which simulate their effects.
Hemp related products are going to be an expansive market as more and more states legalize marijuana use, even for such benign uses as balm. And, those products must be tested for safety, as well as legal compliance.
Amazon’s current position seems to be to avoid liability and controversy. So many products that would be considered legal and that don’t have THC are still being denied for sale on the platform.
Several of our clients had hemp oil with cannabinoids that were rejected. Others didn’t have cannabinoids but were advertising their product as having them. As one explained, “Our buyers want cannabinoids in their hemp oil.” We were able to get their product back, but they had to change their listing.
Spoiler alert: Amazon loves dogs and doesn’t want them stoned.
If you are having trouble getting approved for Topicals, or any other category, we offer consulting for a flat fee of $500: https://www.egrowthpartners.com/category-approval
Come Meet Us!
Brad Tucker and Roy Miller will be traveling with Cynthia to the Amazon Boost conference in New Orleans this June, and we’d love to meet you! Brad and Roy will be the guys blinking and looking around like groundhogs. We tend to keep them chained to their computers working for our clients.
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