Amazon’s New Holiday Toy Policy: No Fun and Games
by Matt Ellis
September marked the beginning of Amazon’s new policies for selling in the Toys & Games category — just in time for the holiday shopping rush. Amazon is tightening the belt on who can sell in one of the most lucrative categories of the season, and how they sell. If you’re a regular seller of products for kids, the policies could restrain your holiday plans; if you’re looking to break into the category for the first time, the policies could stop you outright.
Let’s take a detailed look at what the new policies are, whom they affect, and how to stop them from ruining your holiday spirit.
New Amazon Barcodes
The most dramatic change to Amazon’s Toys & Games policy affects Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) sellers only. As of September 1, all products sold in the Toys & Games category (through FBA) must use an Amazon barcode with an official ASIN. The new policy seems permanent, however they strategically unveiled it before the holiday rush.
So what does that mean for sellers? If you’re a self-fulfilled seller — nothing (although, you’ll have your own obstacles, described below). But if you use FBA and offer products without ASINs in the Toys & Games category, you’ll have to update your barcodes and relabel all your boxes, not to mention change the barcode type in the product listing when you’re finished.
There are two ways to handle this:
FBA Label Service. Amazon would be happy to help you out… for a fee, that is. FBA merchants can participate in the FBA Label Service, which will relabel your products for 20¢ per item. However, if you don’t comply with the other packaging, prep, shipping, and routing requirements, you’ll have to pay extra.
Manually. Of course, you can always label your own products with the acceptable barcode. It’s as simple as printing the labels yourself, as long as you know all of Amazon’s label requirements.
Printing your own labels is something we’d recommend anyway, regardless of the new Toys & Games policy. Printing sticker labels yourself allows you to customize them— you can print your logo right on the label, which does wonders for branding and name recognition, or you can include a personalized message, which is a great boost for customer relations.
Holiday Criteria for Self-Fulfilled Sellers
Think you’re off the hook because you fulfill orders yourself instead of using FBA? If you’re a new seller, you’ll have your own problems breaking into the Toys & Games category over the holidays.
To be eligible to sell in Toys & Games from November 1, 2019 to January 3, 2020, sellers must meet Amazon’s special criteria:
- You must have made your first Amazon sale before September 1, 2019. (Not necessarily in Toys & Games, however.)
- You must have processed and shipped at least 25 orders (self-fulfilled) between August 15, 2019 and October 14, 2019.
- Your pre-fulfillment cancel rate must be less than 1.75% between September 15, 2019 and October 14, 2019.
- Your late shipment rate must be less than 4% between September 15, 2019 and October 14, 2019.
- Your order defect rate must be less than 1% as of October 14, 2019.
You can’t blame Amazon for being overprotective of this category during the holidays — a bad seller experience reflects badly on the entire marketplace, and eCommerce brands are extra sensitive about making customers happy for the holidays. If you’re a veteran Amazon seller with a great record, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Child Safety Criteria
It’s not just Amazon’s laws you have to worry about, but federal laws as well. Selling toys in the United States means passing children’s safety standards, which Amazon takes very seriously. If Amazon is suspicious about how safe your kid’s products are, they’ll contact you and you’ll have to prove your case.
You can avoid this by making sure your products pass safety guidelines from the start. It's a good idea to read up on the requirements of your specific product or line of products. Here are some resources to help you get started:
- ASTM F963-17— The official document for the Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety (pay to view).
- An explanation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA)— Thanks to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commision, this quick description succinctly describe the legal requirements for children’s products in the U.S.
In some cases, you’ll need a Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) that verifies your product meets all the legal guidelines set up for children’s safety. Although there’s no fee per se, your product will have to pass testing from a third party. Amazon themselves may ask for this document if they’re worried about your products’ safety.
There’s no free lunch, as they say, so don’t think you can reap all the benefits of the holiday shopping frenzy with no strings attached. Considering that Toys & Games is one of the most popular product categories during the holiday season, it makes sense that there’s extra gatekeepers — and sometimes extra fees. That’s just how it is at the high-roller’s table.
Originally published on October 4, 2019, updated October 4, 2019
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.