Selling food for the first time


#1

Hi, I am thinking of selling food on Amazon. My plan is Individual, and I understand I need to upgrade it to Professional plan.

I have already submitted a copy of seller’s permit, and it was accepted. Now, they are asking invoices.

Does anybody know if it is one-time request by Amazon? Am I keep submitting the latest copy to Amazon periodically to keep my eligibility to sell food on Amazon?

Another question is whether I need to keep the same process whenever I want to list a new item. For example, I want to sell Green Tea. Later, I may want to sell Black Tea. In this case, am I supposed to get their approval by submitting the invoice again?

They did not tell me exactly.

Any experience you already have is appreciated.

Best regards,


#2

Getting permission to sell food is easier said than done.
Your invoices may or may not be accepted by Amazon.

Once you are approved, there might be times where Amazon will ask for Invoices. You will need to keep the handy for both your tax person and for Amazon. You will not be expected to provide an invoice every time you reorder.

You will be able to add new products but again, at any time, Amazon can and will request invoices.

I don’t sell in this category so hold on till someone comes along with more first hand experience in this category.


#3

They ask at random, or when they receive complaints. And it isn’t just the first invoices you keep, it’s all of them. Forever, until you stop selling.


#4

Thank you very much for your explanation. I am getting understanding how it works.


#5

You can always be asked for invoices by Amazon in the future. Usually it is the result of authenticity issues.

You must be prepared to submit invoices to prove authenticity at any time.


#6

Thank you for your reply. So, I I have 10 different foods to sell on Amazon, I should always keep the 10 original invoices and ready to submit them whenever I am asked. Is it correct?

It is basically to prove the authenticity of listed products, not check the qualification of the seller. Am I understanding correct?

If you have already experience, do you or does anybody know how often they ask such a paper work after the initial approval process?

Thank you very much.


#7

I’ve been selling food on Amazon for 6 years. They asked for invoices to originally be approved in the category. Once I was approved, they have only asked for invoices 1 time since, and that was to gain approval for a specific BRAND of food (it was a very specific product, not like General Mills or anything). As long as you are purchasing your items from a Distributor you will be fine and approved. If you are purchasing from a company that has the word “Liquidation” ANYWHERE on their website, they will not be counted as a legitimate Authorized Distributor, Amazon is very strict about that in the Grocery category.
I hope this helps, and Good Luck!


#8

The others above are correct, but make sure you submit actual manufacturer’s 30 credit invoices in your company’s name. when amazon asks for 3 invoices, they want them to be over time to show how much repeat volume you purchase.


#9

Thank you for your information. I am really glad to hear the actual voice from the long-time seller on Amazon.

If I am approved with the legitimate invoice this time, can I add a different item (food) instantly?

For example, suppose I am approved to sell Green Tea this time, I want to add pasta to Amazon next week. At that time, can I list it instantly? Or, am I supposed to request their approval whenever I list items whose invoice Amazon does not have yet?

I am not thinking of how to by pass the process to do bad things. I would like to know how the paper work goes when I want to add a new item.


#10

I sell grocery items. Once you are approved to sell in this category then you can list most food items and you don’t have to ask for approval again. They may ask you for invoices again if there is a problem or a complaint from a customer such as a complaint on expiration date. VERY IMPORTANT…make sure that you check the expiration dates before shipping. I try not to ship anything less than 6 weeks of shelf life if I can help it. Some items need even longer shelf life such as teas, sauces and seasonings, at least 3-6 months for us anyway. I figure how long people would keep an item for. If it’s a pack of cookie then shorter life is okay because they should consume it within no time!

All it needs is for a buyer to make a complain about the expiration date! I got suspended once because 2 customers happened to make complaints around the same time. I didn’t even send expired products! One was for a pkg of cookies that had 5 weeks shelf life left but the customer said that she needed it longer because she was going to send it to Israel. Another one was from a buyer who bought 36 packages of Japanese Kit Kats that had at least 3 months shelf life left but again he was sending them to the Middle East. It was a messed for us before we could proof to Amazon that we didn’t send expired products. The problem with Amazon is they don’t check with sellers for any proofs first. They just shut you down right away with no warning and withhold your money for months!

You don’t need to switch to professional plan until you sell at least 40 items or more per month. But with professional plan you have more control of the shipping fees otherwise you will have to factor it in to the price of the item so you don’t loose money.

Invoices need to be real invoices from your suppliers with decent quantity on each item. Receipts are not good enough. Good luck!


#11

Thank you very much for sharing your experience. That helps me a lot to make a good plan.

Interestingly, they are asking me to upgrade my account first. They may have changed the policy, though.

Thank you again!

Best,


#12

I once asked about exp dates when it came to food and this is what seller support wrote:
Products can be sold until 3 months before exp date PLUS the amount of time it takes to consume the product. For example: If a can of coffee has 90 servings, the can could be sold up to 90 days plus 3 months BEFORE the exp date that the item can be sold.


#13

Those invoices could prove worthless in a few months.

Amazon expects a continuous set of purchases, not a one-shot for approval and then list whatever a liquidator sells you.

I get the strong feeling you are not in the business of selling food. Have no experience, no established sources of suypply and are trying to get approved to start your business here.

It is unlikely that you will be approved, and unlikely that if approved you will last vey long.


#14

Just to be clear — in order to apply for approval to sell in a restricted category, such as Grocery and Gourmet, you must be a professional seller so you must upgrade from individual even if you are not yet selling 40 items or more per month.

I know that no food products are accepted for FBA that have less than 3 months to the expiration date. Generally, it is safest to get items as far out in expiration as you can. Also, be sure to note the exacting requirements Amazon has about how to label for expiration (i.e. Best By) and the date format. All of the same item in a single shipment must be the same expiration date so… if you have 8 packages of chocolate cookies to ship and 6 are Best By 12/01/2017 and 2 are Best By 11/08/2017 then you need to send the two packages with the earliest date first, then send the remaining six together.

I am guessing that you are not a native English speaker. Just a note: in USA, our food is closely controlled. Everything MUST have a label with ingredients, nutritional info and warnings (for example: produced in a factory that also processes tree nuts). Food will be recalled without hesitancy if there is any possibility of an error. You need to keep an eye on the fda recall page to ensure you do not send in anything that is listed there. It would have been pulled from shelves in USA but possibly not in another country. Also, people who purchase food in discount stores should keep an eye on this list:
https://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/

If an item goes into your body (i.e. foods, vitamins, etc) or onto your body (creams, ointments, medicinal) you MUST walk a fine line with your shipments and your quality. It is very serious here in USA to sell something that is incorrect within the guidelines and could cause a lawsuit. An example: say you sold the above chocolate cookies and they had a creme between pieces. If that creme had traces of tree nuts and it was not so stated on the label, a person in the USA who is allergic to tree nuts could have a serious reaction after eating just one cookie – serious, including death. At that point, the person or their family, could sue for the label being incorrect and would probably win. They would sue both Amazon AND the original vendor and probably the manufacturer as well. That is the reason that Amazon sellers must carry business insurance.

So Amazon is protecting themselves when they suspend after a customer complaint, leaving you with the burden of proof.

I hope this helps you to understand. I imagine that not all countries have such stringent policies – or a population ready and willing to file lawsuits. Just remember that Amazon is not picking on you if they suspend, they are protecting their business, both reputation and income.

JJC


#15

In the event that you are approved, they may occasionally ask for invoices from a supplier. This has happened three different times to us in 3 years. They will ask for invoices from the last 180 days. You need three of them within that time frame, and it is for a certain amount of items too. I don’t remember the exact amount, but I remember that it was enough that you couldn’t just buy a couple of things.
Food on Amazon is a very difficult market. I am not saying that to dissuade you, if you figure it all out, then it can be profitable and good, but there are many complications. Expect LOTS of returns, constant customer issues with claiming something was stale, damaged, frozen, melted, etc. Expiration and inventory cycling is something you need to keep up with constantly, unlike durable hard goods. Depending on where you buy from, you often need to purchase large amounts to make the price worth it, and shipping worth it. Bulk foods usually don’t have the dollar value density needed to make shipping worth it. Also, food distributors in my experience are used to dealing with grocery stores and large commercial buyers, and don’t accommodate sellers like those on amazon, unless they buy in grocery store like quantities.
Once you are approved in food, you likely won’t have many more issues, when you do, its with a brand specifically denying approval to sell a brand rather than amazon. Try to get good relationships with your vendors, salespeople, distributors, and if you can, even the manufacturers. Then they will help you out when inevitably you run into problems, which always happen. Best of luck to you.


#16

Actually, shipping a product with 6 weeks remaining is tricky. The stated rule for no longer selling food items is 3 months before expiration (180 days). That can vary too based on the use life of the item (say you have 20 servings and people use those servings over a 6 month period etc — you need to account for that).

This is the basic rule of thumb for selling food on Amazon with expiration dates:

-As long as the expiration date is 90 days or more out and

-That items may not be sent and/or received at LESS than 50 days from expiration.

So you may be violating the rules by shipping out product at 6 weeks out.


#17

+Vending Toy Pride+ hit the “nail on the head.”

I’ve been selling on Amazon for 7-years. I have a proven track record, and absolutely perfect metrics. I also have 10,900 items in my inventory, over 2,000 SKUs in FBA.

Even so, I must have applied for Grocery & Gourmet Foods at least 30 times. My perfect invoices from US mega wholesalers kept getting turned down. If I hadn’t caught a lucky break, I’d still be sitting on $1,000 worth of seasonal items in my office.

It’s almost impossible to get approved, at this point in time. Just make sure you have absolutely perfect invoices from US manufacturers/wholesalers; and they include your name, phone number, company name, and contact information of the vendor. That your account is in good standing, and all your legal paperwork is in order; legal business entity, and sales tax license.

Don’t bother applying until you can provide all that. Once they turn you down, you’ll get caught in a never ending cycle of applying and being rejected.

Funky


#18

Before the gating went full force, there were social media posts shared here on the forum depicting very unsanitary conditions. I don’t know if those sellers are gone now.


#19

Yes, that’s my reaction also. At first, I pictured him with a little corner store somewhere, but then I re-read his subject line and discarded that idea.

Which, in turn, leads me to ----> Can we REALLY be sure all food-sellers on Amazon are absolutely legitimate and properly screened?

Please reassure me that they are!


#20

Can’t do that.

Interesting enough, I did order something from Indonesia, once. It’s a good thing the seller, who ended his “tenure” with a 13% positive feedback rating, didn’t send the order. I really wasn’t confident that it would be safe to eat.

Funky