The below strategy may still work for you, but it seems there is a lot of confusion lately both on the part of the seller and Amazon. Please read my updated post on this policy HERE.
Also, Mountain View Movies has released a page with their own thoughts on this matter HERE
You may have heard by now about Amazon’s latest seller restriction. Any DVD, or Blu ray with an MSRP of $25 or greater will not be able to be sold unless you gain approval by Amazon.
When I first received the notice, I did not think it was going to be difficult to get approved. After all, I’ve been selling DVDs for several years and have maintained a 100% feedback rating. After submitting my information, I was denied! I did some searches to attempt to look deeper into this new restriction. I found that articles have been written all over the internet, sellers were talking about it in forums and overall, there is widespread speculation, anger and panic! None of the sources I found provided a method on how to get approved. I could not even find a single seller on the forums who did get approved! (I found a lot who had been denied however!)
Today I want to provide you with what I wish I would have found in my searches. As I’ve said in past posts, I’m happy to provide information that helps you to learn from my mistakes rather than your own! Through a lot of back and forth with Amazon and several attempts, I’ve been approved! Let’s talk about exactly what this restriction is and how to get the green light from Amazon!
WHAT IS THE NEW RESTRICTION?
Recently Amazon sent a notice entitled “important information about your DVD listings.” This was sent to sellers who have sold media (DVDs, CDs, Blu ray etc) through their accounts stating that a new restriction would be taking effect starting November 17th which would restrict sellers to offering DVDs (or Blu rays) with an MSRP of $24.99 or less. For sellers with an account in good standing, an application can be made to become exempt from this restriction.
WHY IS AMAZON ISSUING THIS RESTRICTION?
If you ask Amazon why this restriction is being issued, they will tell you it is to help combat piracy. This is likely true (recently Warner Bros sued a multitude of Amazon sellers due to pirated media!) If you read seller forums and blogs, however, there are numerous suspected reasons Amazon may be doing this. These speculations range from the absurd to the fairly likely. One guess mentioned that seemed possible was that Amazon has a partnership with major studios. These studios hate arbitrage sellers (sellers who buy at discount stores, on clearance etc and resell) because the studios essentially lose control of enforcing a MAP (minimum advertised price.) Thanks for the First Sale Doctrine, it is completely legal for small sellers like you and I to purchase products and resell them without any permission from the manufacturer or studio (the first sale doctrine is what allows you to hold a yard sale, sell your personal belongings on Ebay and even allows places like Goodwill to be in business.)
I have personally been confronted and even threatened with legal action from a couple of manufacturers/suppliers. They saw that I was selling an item on Amazon (which I had purchased on clearance) which I was not “authorized to sell” or in one case, was selling below the MAP (minimum advertised price.) When this happens, I kindly explain that the item was purchased on clearance and that I am selling it in accordance with the first sale doctrine. In most cases, I either do not hear back, or I am told “thank you for explaining.” and we part ways. In one case, the supplier became very hostile and threatened legal action and told me how aggressive they were with going after “distributors” who “violated contract” etc etc. I explained again and again that I did not violate any contract because I never signed one. We went back and forth for a while. I refused to take the item down and eventually they gave up. Why do I tell you all of this? I believe it shows that manufacturers, suppliers and studios do not like the fact that this law (first sale doctrine) takes a degree of control away from them. This move by Amazon could very well be due to the studios fighting back! As part of the potential approval process, Amazon is asking their sellers to verify their sources. I noticed in the email that Amazon says they are not accepting store receipts. Interesting… this certainly seems to confirm this suspicion that Amazon/the studios are not a fan of the arbitrage model. Arbitrage (whether for media or general merchandise) still works and I don’t believe it is going away any time soon, but I do think it would be wise to work your way through the 6 steps I lay out in my free ebook (step 3 is arbitrage, but if you make it to steps 5 and 6, it’s a much more secure position to be in for the long haul!)
WHY THIS MATTERS:
First, my original 6 step strategy focused heavily on selling media to start (DVDs, Blu rays etc). I’ve since updated the strategy so it can be implemented without selling media at all (though it’s still in there- it’s optional). When I first received this announcement, I thought I would get approved easily (I was wrong!) When I was denied, I figured “it’s ok- most of what I sell is below $25 anyway.” This is true, but read carefully! Amazon will not allow sellers to offer any title with an MSRP of $25 or greater! MSRP is “manufacturers suggested retail price.” For instance, if you look at THIS blu ray on Amazon, you will see that the price is under $25.00. Now look right above the price where it says “list price.” That is the MSRP: $39.99. Starting in November, this title will be RESTRICTED!… along with thousands upon thousands of other titles! The price you sell it at makes no difference, it’s the MSRP that will determine whether or not you can sell the title. This will greatly limit your options when searching for media to sell!
HOW TO GET APPROVED
So, what can you do? First, let me say, I don’t have any secret knowledge to the inner workings of Amazon. I can only say what worked for me and why I think it worked. I can make no guarantees that Amazon will act favorably toward your account. With that said, I think following these guidelines will greatly increase your chances of being approved!
Amazon says in the email they sent out that they require 3 things:
1) Your primary source(s) of inventory
2. A minimum of three invoices or purchase order for inventory with MSRP greater than $25 that you plan to sell
3. A written summary of processes that you have in place to prevent inauthentic goods from entering your inventory
As I mentioned earlier, my first time around, I was denied! The problem was, I did not take the time to read and response carefully. Perhaps I was a bit too confident due to my 100% feedback score and my DVD selling history. I learned quickly that Amazon does not care about this. They want you to read their requirements and give them what they ask for. Let’s go through it one step at a time.
Step 1: Click the link.
In the email that was sent out, Amazon provides a link to “begin the application.” Click the link. Here they will ask you for a brief explanation of why you wish to sell DVDs. I said something along these lines:
“Our company has been selling DVDs, CDs, and Blu rays for several years. We buy only from reputable sources and maintain a 100% feedback rating. Please consider our company for an exemption to this new policy. Thank you!”
Step 2: Receive and (thoroughly) read the followup/application email
In a day or two, you will (likely) receive an email from Amazon asking for the required information (see above). You have 48 hours to respond. If you do not, Amazon will close the case (don’t worry, you can re-apply if necessary)
Step 3: Provide information:
This is of course, the most important step. First, you will need to scan in invoices (if you don’t have a scanner, you can take a picture as long as it’s clear.) Be sure to block out the prices (Amazon requests this.) I used invoices from Mountain View Movies. You can use invoices from anywhere as long as it’s a legitimate supplier- not an individual, or a retail store These need to be dated within the last 180 days.
Note the language Amazon uses. This is very important (I did not pay close enough attention to this the first time and I believe it was why I was denied)
A minimum of three invoices or purchase orders for inventory with MSRP greater than $25 that you plan to sell
I only provided three invoices, but offered to provide more upon request. The main thing to note is this: The MSRP must be greater than $25. Amazon does not just want to see where you get your inventory. They want to see where you get your inventory with an MSRP of $25 or greater! I went through an noted a couple of the specific items with an MSRP of $25 or greater and mentioned these to Amazon in the message (which I will paste below)
Note also that Amazon says inventory you “plan” to sell. This seems to mean if you don’t have receipts yet, you can go still buy some inventory now (you will need to do this at least 3 times before November 17th) and still apply for this exemption! Note there seems to be some uncertainty on this point in the seller forums. In particular, one seller was informed by Amazon that the invoices must be dated before 9-16-14. With that said, keep in mind that Amazon has huge support centers with countless seller support representatives and their information is not always accurate. I have personally received contradictory information from different support reps. If you haven’t yet purchased DVDs, I would say it’s worth a shot- just make sure the titles can be sold elsewhere if Amazon does not accept this (think Ebay). If the sales rank is excellent, you could also sell before November 17th! on Amazon!
Lastly (and this was another area where I failed the first time), Amazon wants a “written summary” that shows you have a strategy for keeping inauthentic goods out of your inventory. This was tough to figure out since in reality, it’s nothing I’ve thought through. Blatant fakes are easy to spot, but I’ve basically trusted Mountain View Movies (as well as my other sources) to provide authentic goods (of course I look them over as well!) The key seemed to be explaining this in a more intelligent manner that sounds verifiable (rather than just saying “uh… I just trust my supplier.” That’s not going to fly with Amazon)
Finally, I provided some additional information that was not asked for in the first email to help Amazon understand that we were transparent and trustworthy. Below is my entire response to Amazon (I’ve removed specifics other than what is publicly available)
Hi [name of Amazon Rep],
Thank you for the reply. Below and attached is the required information:
1. Our primary source of inventory is Mountain View Movies (mountainviewmovies.com)
2. Attached are invoices from our purchases. We are happy to provide more if needed. Please note, not all of the titles we purchase have an MSRP of $25 or great, but many do (For instance “[title 1]” and “[title 2]” (both of these can be found on the attached file “Mountainview 1″)
3. Our first step to preventing counterfeit material is to buy only from reputable suppliers. Mountain View Movies currently has an A+ rating with the BBB and only carries authentic, factory sealed media. You can find more about the company here: http://www.mountainviewmovies.com/about_us
Furthermore, we inspect each title that comes in to insure authenticity. Most counterfeit DVDs, CDs and Blu rays can be easily identified (poor artwork printing, no barcode, blue, purple or green surface rather than silver, stickers on the face of the disc rather than screen printing etc. Our media is hand processed and must be verified as authentic before circulating into our inventory. Please let us know if you have further questions about this. I’m happy to clarify anything!
Our company information:
[company name, address, email and phone number]
Please see invoices for names and quantities of products
Let us know if you require further information. Thank you!
Mountain View Movies
PO Box 165
Davenport, NY 13750
This was what worked for me! I hope this is helpful and I hope that many of you are also able to be approved!
I prefer having many many options. I’m not a fan of restrictions. In all honesty though, if I would not have been approved, it would have been discouraging, but not devastating. First, I sell far more titles with an MSRP of $24.99 or less than titles over the $25 MSRP mark. At closeout sources, it is not difficult to find quality titles under the $25 MSRP mark- it just creates a little more work (checking the list price on Amazon.)
Furthermore, steps 3 through 6 really help round out the business. I sell a lot of DVDs, but the majority of my income does not come from this. It’s important to have a diverse selection of products and eventually diverse sources of income (from sources outside of Amazon.) This new restriction only serves as further motivation to me to keep working toward adding in other channels (Ebay, my own websites, other marketplaces etc.) Amazon has a lot of opportunity and I highly recommend selling on this platform, but remember, it’s their marketplace and they make the rules. It is wise to avoid putting “all of your eggs in one basket” and this serves as a great reminder! Best of luck on being approved!
If you haven’t yet and would like to sign up to my mailing list, you will receive my ebook completely free which provides and overview of the strategy I’ve used to achieve a 6 figure a year (profit) income and also gives you some actionable ideas to get started! Thanks for your support!