What Are Amazon’s Condition Guidelines?
If you’ve sold on Amazon for any length of time, you’re familiar with the condition guidelines. Item condition is a key thing for sellers to watch to ensure they’re performing well, compliant with Amazon policy, and generating repeat sales—that last being a key component of long-term success on the platform.
How Do I Adhere to the Guidelines?
First and foremost, to follow to Amazon’s condition guidelines you need to understand them. You can find the Amazon condition guidelines here. Amazon has several different condition classifications—reading the descriptions of each gives explicit detail on what each classification allows.
- New: This is just like it sounds, a brand-new item. The original manufacturer’s warranty, if any, still applies, with warranty details included in the listing comments. Original packaging is present for most new items but certain items like shoes may be re-boxed.
- Renewed: A pre-owned product that was inspected and tested to work and look like new by an Amazon-qualified supplier (a seller or vendor) or by Amazon. The product has minimal to no signs of wear, no visible cosmetic imperfections when held 12 inches away, and may arrive in a brown or white box with relevant accessories that may be generic.
- Rental: A product that was inspected and graded by a qualified supplier (a seller, vendor, or by Amazon) in working condition with no structural imperfections that could impact the functionality. The products may be packaged in a generic box and come with relevant accessories as expected for a new product. Any exceptions to this condition description will be mentioned on the product detail page.
- Used—Like New or Open Box: An item in perfect working condition. Original protective wrapping may be missing, but the original packaging is intact and in good condition with minor damage possible. Instructions are included.
- Used—Very Good: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use and remains in good working condition. The item may show some limited signs of wear with small scratches or cosmetic blemishes. Item may arrive with damaged packaging or be repackaged and could be missing some accessories. Missing accessories are clearly defined for each item.
- Used—Good: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and functions properly. Item may arrive with damaged packaging or be repackaged. It may be marked, have identifying markings on it, or have minor cosmetic damage. It may also be missing some parts or accessories such as screws (in the case of furniture) or an instruction manual.
- Used—Acceptable: The item is fairly worn but continues to function properly. Item may arrive with damaged packaging or be repackaged. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents and worn corners. The item may have identifying markings on it or show other signs of previous use. Item may be missing some parts or accessories such as screws (in the case of furniture) or a mouse or USB cable (in the case of a laptop).
- Collectible: Items listed as collectible must provide added value; for example, they must feature an autograph or be an out-of-print edition. Provide a detailed description of the collectible aspects that justify the special value.
Definition of Unacceptable Items
That’s a lot of information, but Amazon’s condition guidelines go further and spell out things they absolutely don’t allow and don’t fit in any of the above condition grades. You can find these on the Help page under “Unacceptable and prohibited items”:
Items in any of the following conditions are unacceptable for listing on Amazon:
- Item is not clean, including signs of mold, heavy staining or corrosion.
- Item is damaged in a way that renders it difficult to use.
- Item is missing essential accompanying material or parts. This does not necessarily include instructions.
- Item requires repair or service.
- Item was not created by the original manufacturer or copyright holder. This includes copies, counterfeits, replicas and imitations.
- Item was originally distributed as a promotional copy, promotional bundle, product sample, or advance reading copy. This includes uncorrected proofs of in-print or not-yet-published books.
- Item has passed the expiration date (includes “best by” and “sell by” dates), has an unacceptable portion of its shelf life remaining, or the expiration date has been tampered with or removed.
- Item was intended for destruction or disposal or otherwise designated as unsellable by the manufacturer or a supplier, vendor or retailer.
- Item is prohibited for sale on Amazon.
So, I Read Amazon’s Condition Guidelines—Now What?
It’s not enough to read and understand the condition guidelines to be successful. There’s a lot more to it when selling on Amazon. There are so many ways to violate the guidelines that seem logical for a seller to do, but Amazon doesn’t like and will enforce the policy when they find sellers doing these things.
- Repackaging items out of retail boxes into plain. While a seller can do this, they can only do it for the condition Used—Very Good and below. Sellers often do this with Used—Like New and find themselves in trouble.
- Not having a condition grading system. Sellers who don’t use FBA have a lot of control over the items in their warehouse that they ship. But many times, there’s a lack of processes or training for personnel to ensure when items are picked for shipment, that they’re in the condition the order specifies. Warehouse personnel should have mechanisms in place to get items downgraded when necessary.
- Not segregating returns from salable stock. If returns aren’t hyper-organized, things that shouldn’t get re-shipped do. That can result in warnings, bad feedback, and even A-to-z claims or chargebacks. Have a dedicated place for returns to be stored, evaluated, and re-graded for sale if possible.
- Not adhering to the unique Renewed requirements. For sellers who offer Renewed products (formerly known as Certified Refurbished), many sellers find themselves in hot water with Amazon because they use an Amazon-qualified service provider to inspect and test to work their products. Repeated violations of this rule will cause sellers to lose Renewed access altogether.
- Not paying attention to FBA return data. Busy sellers often direct-ship or have their supplier ship to Amazon fulfillment centers and then adopt a ‘set it and forget it’ attitude. This is a mistake! Buyers can leave comments about why they returned items. These comments often show a clear pattern for the seller about what’s wrong – and gives them guidance to take appropriate action. Another way the ‘set it and forget it’ attitude is problematic is that FBA is prone to mishandling, damaging, and doing other bad things with sellers’ products. If a seller doesn’t pay close attention to what’s happening to their inventory, items can be lost, damaged, put back into sellable, and more. Vigilance is necessary.
- Not having an inspection process for direct shipping. If you’re a seller that direct-ships, it’s imperative that your supplier does inspections before they send inventory to Amazon. This reduces problems down the line – hold them to doing the necessary checks!
- Failing to appreciate category-specific rules. There are site-level condition classifications, but some categories like Baby, Toys, and Apparel have specific and unique rules. Ignoring or failing to learn these is a recipe for enforcement.
The Bottom Line:
Condition management is almost a full-time job unto itself when selling on Amazon. If you have problems with Amazon’s condition guidelines, Riverbend can help you make sense of what Amazon wants you to do and provide solutions to fix the condition problems before they turn into an account suspension.
If you have questions about Amazon’s Conditions Guidelines, feel free to reach out to us today.
Kelly Johnston is the glue that holds Riverbend Consulting together and was with the company at its founding. She survived 10 years in the digital salt mines of Amazon Seller Performance. Before that, Kelly held other e-commerce roles where she worked in content, sales, and operations. When not helping clients, Kelly is a talented artist. Collage and up-cycled assemblages are her current passions.
Great content! Keep up the good work!