I'm trying to factor in possible risks before starting selling on Amazon US. I researched the topic, so in general I am well aware of how things work and what are the requirements for new sellers. Still, there are a few issues that seem unclear to me.
I will be ordering a food product (e.g. berry jam) from my local European producer with my own label design and brand name already on it. I made sure that the producer has credible track record of exporting similar products to the U.S., possesses all relevant certifications, and registration with the FDA. I am also aware about necessary shipping and customs procedures & costs.
What I want to understand:
Upon registration Amazon asks "Do you manufacture and brand the products you want to sell on Amazon? (Yes/No/Some of them)". I assume, "No" is the right answer?
I have my own label design and the name on it (which I intend to register as a trademark with USPTO and/or Amazon Brand Registry at a later stage), BUT I am not involved in any kind of the product manufacturing or packaging process.
2) UNGATING THE CATEGORY
Here where it gets trickier. Amazon asks to submit different sets of documents based on whether "I am the manufacturer and brand owner" or whether "I purchase my products from a manufacturer". I am not the manufacturer, but apparently I AM the brand owner, and I do purchase my product from a manufacturer. Then, what would be the right pick here?
I feel that "purchasing from a manufacturer" is an appropriate one, but this option doesn't even ask for proof of manufacturer's FDA certification, which my supplier can actually provide, and which, I believe, can be a strong argument for getting ungated.
I've also read that those sellers who are not manufacturers themselves had really hard time getting approved in Groceries, no matter what documents they provided. Is this still the case?
Another question by Amazon "Do you have Universal Product Codes (UPCs) for all your products? (Yes/No)".
I want the product to have a GS1 UPC barcode from the very beginning, as I may opt for distributing channels beyond Amazon. But here is the thing: who should own the barcode? The actual manufacturer? If so, should I ask him to put on a barcode that was never used before, even on a similar product?
As far as I know, barcodes are important for traceability reasons, in particular, when it comes to production of groceries. Therefore, it makes sense to stick to barcodes that are owned by my supplier. On the other hand, if the barcode stays with the supplier but the brand/logo belongs to me, can this lead to any issues down the road regarding the product ownership?
4) LIABILITY & INSURANCE
I did my best to find a verified supplier with good reputation and all kinds of quality control at their production facility. Yet, when it comes to consumables, the risk is always there. Even top sellers with thousands of reviews in my category receive claims about cracked plastic/glass in their food product (that apparently occurred upon delivery) or food tasting/looking different or wrong.
So, given that I'm neither in control of actual production process (done by my supplier), nor doing the delivery (done by FBA), would I still be liable if anything goes wrong with the product?
I know that Amazon requires sellers to have Commercial General Liability (CGL), Umbrella and/or Excess Liability Insurance coverage with limits of not less than 1M$. But may be there is more into that, and there are some best practices/insurance providers to choose from when it comes to risks related to food products?
I hope we could shed some more light on this topic. After all, there is not that much practical and up-to-date information about selling in the Grocery category.