Managing inventory with Amazon FBA is a full-time job, especially when Amazon throws curveballs like marking your product as a Dangerous Good or Amazon Hazmat—especially when they aren’t inherently harmful or dangerous. Having a product marked as Hazmat by Amazon is a frustration FBA sellers often experience—especially those selling consumable and chemical products. Having a product under Hazmat Review can have serious consequences for FBA sellers, often halting product sales until the problem is fixed.
Pattern’s eCommerce experts have plenty of experience resolving Amazon Hazmat Reviews and making sure FBA sellers can continue to sell their product. Our experts explain the ins and outs of Hazmat Review and how to solve it from an inventory management standpoint.
When does Amazon flag products as Hazmat?
According to Amazon on Seller Central, Hazmat products are substances that pose a risk to health, safety, property, or the environment at any point through the distribution process.
This only applies to sellers using FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon), since Amazon is warehousing and transporting the product and requires Hazmat products to be stored and shipped from Hazmat-enabled facilities. There are nine different substance categories allowed for FBA, and another seven that Amazon won’t ship (those must ship FBM, or Fulfillment By Merchant). The bottom line here is that Amazon errs on the side of caution when they’re on the line—they don’t want to take on any potential liability from exploding aerosols, leaky batteries, or broken glass, for example.
Screenshot from Amazon Seller Central Help Center
Additionally, all new products undergo a Dangerous Goods Review on Amazon before they’re listed on the marketplace. All FBA sellers have to submit an ingredients list from the manufacturer that Amazon then reviews. If any of the ingredients sets off any of their red flags then the seller will need to submit additional documentation on the product to clear the review (more on that later).
However, that doesn’t mean that all the products Amazon flags as Hazmat actually are dangerous. Oftentimes just having a potentially dangerous ingredient, like sodium, is enough to earn yourself a Hazmat Review. This is frustrating for sellers because Amazon often doesn’t know the quantity of the possibly dangerous goods, often flagging products that aren’t inherently dangerous at all.
Finally, products that undergo a Hazmat Review will often be subjected to multiple additional Dangerous Goods Reviews, said Pattern Senior Brand Manager Jordan Mower.
“After a product is classified, this designation is not permanent. The FBA team will initiate a new review if they receive any conflicting ingredient information from any other seller—and possibly for additional reasons that we do not have visibility into. We sell several products that are constantly going through additional Dangerous Goods reviews. A product will be reviewed and classified and then a few weeks later that classification will get changed again and we'll have to pivot on that. So you have to be pretty dynamic with certain products,” Mower said.
What happens when products are marked Hazmat?
The seller's Product Listings are paused. Until the FBA team completes a Hazmat Review of product data supplied by the seller, the listing will not be visible on Amazon to customers. If the product detail page remains visible, the Buy Box will say that the product is currently unavailable.
Amazon will request a SDS (Safety Data Sheet) supplied from the manufacturer or a MSDS Exemption (Material Safety Data Sheet) from the seller. An MSDS Exemption is an Amazon form that can be filled out for products that do not contain harmful chemicals or substances. The form is made up of two declaration tables that the seller fills out with product information and a full ingredient list.
If the documentation is not submitted within four business days, Amazon will block the listing.
Amazon reviews the product documentation (Amazon says to allow up to 4 business days for this review) and designates the product as one of three classifications:
A. Non-DG: Amazon has not found the product to be dangerous, so there are no Hazmat restrictions. Business as usual.
B. Restricted DG: Amazon will only allow the product to be fulfilled through FBA fulfillment centers if the seller is enrolled in the FBA Dangerous Goods (Hazmat) Program. Existing inventory may need to be transferred to a fulfillment center capable of handling dangerous goods (FBA initiates this transfer themselves). Additional units may be sent to fulfillment centers, but these products count toward the seller's dangerous goods inventory limit.
C. Unfulfillable DG: Amazon has found the product to be a Dangerous Good that the FBA program cannot fulfill. A seller must create a removal order for the inventory and sell it FBM. If not removed, Amazon will dispose of the inventory after 5 business days. Amazon also gives the seller the option to request another review of the Dangerous Good classification by uploading a new SDS or exemption sheet.
How can you clear Hazmat?
In a nutshell? Submit the proper documentation. However, Pattern Senior Brand Manager Jordan Mower works with a few supplements brands and has often experienced this frustration. Although clearing a Hazmat Review can take time, there are a few things sellers can do to speed up the process or keep selling product in the meantime.
Best practices and things to know:
If a product is marked as Hazmat, you can create an alternate SKU with FBM to keep selling your product.
Always use an SDS if available. It contains more product information and is already at an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Data) and International Hazard Communication Standard, and is probably your best bet at getting products reviewed quickly and back online.
FBA sellers have a limit for Hazmat storage. They can request more through Seller Central Support, but often only larger sellers are granted larger storage caps. This may affect your Hazmat fulfillment options if many or all of your products are Hazmat.
Hazmat Reviews are product specific, not seller specific. When a product is marked as Hazmat, all of the sellers of that product will need to submit the proper documentation to clear their Hazmat Review.
Sometimes with new product listings, Amazon will pause your listing and will not allow the initial shipment of inventory until a Dangerous Goods Review is completed. This can seem like a headache, but it is actually better than needing to create a removal order for inventory after Amazon designates a product as Unfulfillable Dangerous Goods.
In the end, it’s important to have a savvy inventory management person in place who can keep up with the dynamic changes that come with FBA and Hazmat reviews. Pattern’s Brand Management team takes on a brand's Amazon inventory and fulfillment responsibilities, helping to reduce time-consuming tasks, Dangerous Goods, and other listing compliance issues that may arise from selling products on Amazon.
Contact us below to see how a Brand Manager’s expertise could help your Amazon listings take off.