Dietary Supplement Approval Requirements on Amazon: Everything You Should Know

Jared Mason

June 18, 2021

It’s been a rollercoaster year for sellers on Amazon, and one category that has experienced significant whiplash over the past few months is vitamins and supplements.

Since December, Amazon has dramatically changed their dietary supplement approval requirements, making it more difficult for distributors to get approval to sell their products on the platform. These policy changes have prompted widespread head-scratching and frustration for third-party sellers in the market, and they continue to evolve, making it especially important for brands to keep up.

If you’re selling dietary supplements on Amazon and caught up in the confusion, here’s a brief rundown with everything you should know about recent approval policy changes and their implication for your brand.

Previous supplement approval requirements

Historically, there’s been a pretty clear and consistent standard for selling dietary products on the Amazon marketplace, which is why recent changes have been so jarring.

Amazon has been selling vitamins and supplements for a very long time, and any time there was any type of complaint or problem with a vitamin, Amazon, as they do with any product, would pull the listing down and then ask for documentation about that product to verify that it is in good standing, high quality, and things like that.

One of the common forms of documentation Amazon requests from brands is a Certificate of Analysis (or COA). COAs are the standard quality assurance certification in the industry, and they confirm that a product meets the following FDA regulations:

  • 21 CFR 101.36 - Nutritional Labeling of Dietary Supplements
  • 21 CFR 111 - Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) in manufacturing, packaging, labeling, or holding operations for dietary supplements
  • 21 CFR 117 - Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP), Hazard Analysis, and Risk Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) for Human Food

Before Amazon’s recent policy changes, many manufacturers were able to conduct lab analysis on their own products to prove they were in compliance with product labeling. If a bottle claimed there was 1000mg of Vitamin D in a product, for example, a manufacturer could provide their own lab analysis and produce a COA that proved to Amazon that their product did in fact contain 1000mg of Vitamin D.

After submitting a COA through Seller Central and getting the green light from Amazon, brands were then approved to sell their dietary supplements.

Recent supplement approval policy changes

Until recently, the COA approval process was pretty straightforward. Then in December 2020, Amazon announced that every vitamin and supplement distributor on the platform would be required to get their products reapproved by February 2021 in order to continue selling.

As part of the reapproval process, brands would still need to submit a COA, but that COA could only come from an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited third-party or in-house laboratory. That caveat eliminated many manufacturers’ ability to produce COAs themselves and threw thousands of sellers across the platform for a loop.

Unfortunately, the reality is few laboratories have that certification. It is a standard requirement for certain types of labs, but is not an industry standard for vitamins and supplements. This resulted in many vitamin and supplement manufacturers saying, ‘Wait, what? How are we supposed to deal with that?’

So, why did Amazon change the rules?

The short answer is that Amazon has been trying to increase consumer confidence in the marketplace’s ability to deliver high quality dietary products, but sadly recent changes in Amazon’s supplement requirement policy have largely been arbitrary and created more problems than they’ve solved.

Amazon wanted to up their game. They wanted to be a bit more official looking and make sure that the supplements on their platform were high quality, so they put together this policy that unfortunately had no bearing in reality and caused lots of issues.

Brands expressed concerns such as, ‘We don’t want to get ISO certified when we don’t need ISO certification for anything else. We’re a 100 year-old brand. We’ve been selling high-quality vitamins forever. Why is Amazon requiring this?’ And that was part of the problem.

The fallout

Brands did not sit quietly over Amazon’s abrupt changes. The company received significant pushback from vitamin and supplement distributors, including Pattern, which has been involved in ongoing conversations with Amazon since the start of the year to find solutions for our brand partners.

Since Pattern began conversations with Amazon, the company has changed their dietary supplement approval policy four times, pushing back the due dates for documentation and readjusting the requirements for brands.

The good news is that these recent addendums have made reapproval requirements much more lenient, so brands that do not have certification from an ISO certified lab but have other good manufacturing practices certifications are now able to get approved.

Current supplement approval requirements

Amazon is currently accepting any one of the following certifications from brands for reapproval to sell on the platform:

1. A finished product Certificate of Analysis (COA) issued by an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited lab (in-house or third-party). The valid ISO certificate showing name of accreditation body and accreditation number must also be submitted.

2. A finished product Certificate of Analysis (COA) issued by an in-house laboratory that is compliant with current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) per 21 CFR 111 and 117. A valid GMP certificate of the manufacturing facility must also be submitted. Amazon accepts GMP certificates from the following third-party programs: NSF (NSF/ANSI 173 Section 8), GRMA (GRMA 455-2), UL GMP, USP GMP, Eurofins, SAI Global, SGS, Intertek, TGA, and SSCI.

3. Evidence of Product/ASIN enrollment or participation in one of the following third-party quality certification programs: NSF/ANSI 173 Product Certification, NSF Certified for Sport®, BSCG Certified Drug Free®, Informed-Choice/Informed-Sport Program, USP Dietary Supplement Verification Program, UL Brand Certification Program.

Another thing that Amazon has changed is the timeline requirements for a COA to be approved. It used to be required that COAs were six months old or newer, then it went to nine months, and most recently it’s 12 months.

Because of seller feedback, Amazon has continued to adjust and amend dietary supplement approval requirements. While we can expect more change to happen in the future, one way brands can be prepared for it is to partner with a distributor like Pattern who stays on top of these changes and helps brands compile all of the needed documentation required by Amazon.

Only time will tell what the approval process looks like next, but we’ll be on top of it. Lighten the stress on your brand’s dietary supplement approvals and schedule a consultation with Pattern today.

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Sept 27, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon drives renewable energy push with 71 new projects Amazon is planning to add 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through a couple of new projects as the company attempts to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. The ecommerce business will soon have a total of 329 renewable energy projects, generating 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering 4.6 million US homes every year. [Read more on Reuters](https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/amazon-drives-renewable-energy-push-with-71-new-projects-2022-09-21/) Amazon launches Prime Early Access Sale Amazon is launching a new 2-day shopping event for its Prime members only, beginning on the 11th of October. Across 15 countries, Prime customers will have access to the shopping event, with thousands of deals on offer globall, ranging from fashion to electronics to essentials. The event has the purpose of giving Prime users the chance to spread the cost of items over the winter months, 6 weeks ahead of Black Friday. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/26/prime-early-access-sale/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify unveils new localisation tool Shopify is launching a new localisation tool, called Translate & Adapt, which works with Shopify Markets to offer localisation for sellers who are looking to expand into new markets. The tool translates a user’s online store into different languages, including product pages and information pages. Merchants are also able to create different shipping terms for each market using the new tool, which allows international expansion and offers a more localised consumer experience, unveiling new potential. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/shopify-launches-new-localisation-tool/) Etsy is set to invest hundreds of millions into its marketing platform Etsy CEO claims that the company is on route to spend more than $570 million USD on marketing this year. Even during a time of macroeconomic pressure, inflation and rising interest rates, the company is preparing itself and its sellers for the upcoming holiday season and is focused on retaining interest from buyers. [Read more on Yahoo News](https://uk.news.yahoo.com/etsy-600-million-on-marketing-ceo-154054219.html) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Meta looks to cut costs by 10% in the coming months Meta employees are facing job redundancies as the company plans to cut its costs by 10% over the next few months. Meta reported a 22% YoY increase in costs and expenses, totalling over $20 billion USD. The cuts are expected to come in the form of job redundancies as a result of department reorganisations rather than formal layoffs. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/22/meta-to-slash-costs-by-10-over-coming-months/) DHL teams up with Quadient to offer smart locker deliveries in the UK DHL and tech company, Quadient, have partnered to offer smart lockers parcel pick-up throughout the UK. The new contactless, secure locker stations will give recipients more choice and flexibility to receive their parcels at a time and location best suited to them. The partnership plans to install 500 locker stations across the country by the end of 2022. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/21/dhl-partners-with-quadient-to-offer-smart-locker-delivery/) The online fashion market is set to be worth nearly $170 billion USD in 2025 The European online fashion retail market is set to grow 50% by 2025, with an online turnover of $170 billion USD, which is 33% of the retail branch’s total. Cross-border marketplaces prove to be the largest drivers of this growth, with online websites and apps like Vinted largely pushing the market’s online growth. Zalando recently became the largest cross-border fashion retailer/marketplace, responsible for 11.7% of the online market’s share. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/online-fashion-market-worth-e175-billion-in-2025/)
Sept 22, 2022

How an Amazon SEO Agency Should Be Serving Your Brand

If you’re in the global ecommerce space, you are most likely aware of Amazon, and probably selling your products on the marketplace. With over $470 billion in sales in 2021 alone, Amazon stands as the third largest company in the world based on revenue. The ecommerce giant is a household name in the U.S. and working hard to grow its market share across five continents worldwide.

Having your products available on Amazon and being competitive there, though, are definitely two different things. If you want to really succeed on Amazon, you’ll need specialized insight into how Amazon works and how to make it work for you. So, for many brands, it’s a great idea to work with an Amazon Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency.

At Pattern, Amazon SEO optimization service is one of our key competencies. We understand that technology, data-driven insights and expertise  are the most important tools brands can leverage to win top listing spots on digital marketplaces. With expert teams and years of experience, we help brands conquer the Profitability Death Spiral as they compete with other products and sellers online. We offer Amazon SEO agency services as a core solution to brands that need more resources to get ahead. 

What is an Amazon SEO Agency?

An Amazon SEO agency serves brands by improving their products’ rank and listing performance on Amazon. They make strategic decisions about ad spending and placement that lead to higher traffic, conversions, and revenue for ecommerce brands.

A great Amazon SEO Agency partner will:

Prioritize Your Success

Unfortunately, many Amazon SEO agencies profit in unfair ways from your brands’ perceived success based on the ROAS numbers they provide. This is done through including branded search terms in ROAS reports, which naturally skew listing performance

Let’s say, for instance, your brand is called “Annie’s” and you sell lollipops. Your brand has a very high likelihood of winning the top listing spots on Amazon for lollipop search terms that are paired with “Annie’s,” your brand name. So, SEO agencies will spend your ad money on those terms and report a very high ROAS. 

To avoid scenarios like these, it’s best to look for an agency that either calculates their profits on metrics other than your ROAS scores or weighs branded search terms differently in the performance metrics reports. Regardless of your Amazon SEO agency’s cost structure, you should align onbranded search terms before committing to a scope of work.

Provide Detailed Competitive Insight

A great indicator of a high-quality Amazon SEO agency is the level of insight they can provide into your competitors’ listing positioning and how it compares to yours. Data fanaticism is so important at Pattern that we’ve developed proprietary technology to display this exact information with precise detail for every brand we work with. In fact, you can find our free version here to see how you compare to some of your top competitors based on ASIN.

It’s certainly possible to improve your Amazon search performance with blind spending strategies. But a truly great solution will help you to know where your dollars are at their most powerful and competitive.

Reduce Your Ad Spend Over Time

Amazon’s A10 algorithm prioritizes customer satisfaction—it wants to show consumers the best products that align with their search intent to improve conversions and sales. So, the best way to gain momentum on Amazon is to work on incremental wins. 

Improving your performance on more obscure search terms that align with your customers’ search intent is a great way to increase ROAS for the long term. A10 will reward your success with better rankings on higher-volume search terms and the virtuous cycle can help you conquer your most-coveted listing spots. And the best part? This process of gaining momentum, if done right, will naturally decrease your ad spend over time as Amazon recognizes your value and works with you to keep your products at the top of consumers’ search results.

Amazon SEO Optimization and More

As an Amazon SEO specialist, Pattern knows how to help your brand win better success for long-term profitability on Amazon. With our data-driven tools and brilliant teams of ecommerce experts, we help brands with listing management, content optimization, Amazon ad strategies, and more.

Contact us to learn more about our SEO optimization services.

Sept 20, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 20th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon to raise pay and add extra work benefits for delivery drivers Following the rise in fuel prices and protests by Amazon workers, the ecommerce giant is raising its delivery drivers’ pay and adding more work benefits. Amazon has mentioned that it will be investing $450 million into rate increases along with an education program and a Delivery Service Partners program. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/amazon-to-raise-delivery-drivers-pay-and-add-more-work-benefits/) Amazon announces it will give away shipping software to merchants at no cost Amazon has recently announced that it will be giving ecommerce merchants free software to manage shopper orders on and off its platform as it extends its reach. The ecommerce giant will be ending monthly costs for sellers using Veeqo, a shipping software it recently acquired and instead offer to them a new, free shipping software. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/amazon-to-give-away-shipping-software-to-merchants/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Walmart unveils new virtual fitting rooms In an effort to drive clothing sales, Walmart has launched virtual fitting rooms while competitors reduce spending amid the cost of living crisis. The virtual try-on tool can be used by Walmart customers to virtually measure the clothing items and see how the products would look on them. Shoppers will now be able to see how over 270,000 clothing items on Walmart’s ecommerce site would look on their bodies. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/walmart-launches-virtual-fitting-rooms-to-drive-clothing-sales/?utmsource=Retail+Gazette+Subscribers&utmcampaign=2da7f0f8f8-EMAILCAMPAIGN202209150742&utmmedium=email&utmterm=0d23e2768b6-2da7f0f8f8-61040615) THG slashes sales and profit expectations The Hut Group has slashed its forecasts for 2022 as rising interest rates, inflation and energy costs take a toll on consumers. Previously, THG estimated its sales growth to be between 22-25% but after a recent evaluation, has lowered this prediction to between 10-15%. Initial predictions did not take into account the negative effects of ceasing sales in Russia and Ukraine along with the impact that the cost-of-living has had on consumer spending. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/thg-slashes-forecast-as-cost-of-living-crisis-hits-consumers-wallets/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- DHL and Post Office team up to provide click and collect services Through a partnership between delivery company, DHL and Post Office, a new click and collect service is to be tested at Post Offices before rolling out to over 1000 branches across the UK. Online shoppers will now have the option of choosing their local Post Office as a collection point, and DHL will fulfil the delivery aspect, opening up networks for both parties. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/post-office-partners-with-dhl-express-to-provide-click-and-collect-services/) US consumer watchdog plans to further regulate the BNPL sector The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has raised concerns regarding the collection of consumer data and the fast-growing nature of the BNPL sector, which includes companies such as Affirm and Klarna. The CFPB is worried that these companies could be negatively impacting consumers’ financial health and aims to put better regulations in place to ensure consumers are safe and empowered. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/us-consumer-watchdog-to-start-regulating-bnpl-sector/) Japanese ecommerce market estimated to grow by 6.9% in 2022 The ecommerce market in Japan, largely dominated by domestic online retailers including Reakuten and Mercari, is set to reach $194.3 billion USD in 2022, after seeing an annual compound growth rate of 5.2% between 2018 and 2021. This makes Japan the fourth leading ecommerce market globally, following China, the US, and the UK. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/13/japan-ecommerce-market-to-grow-by-6-9-in-2022/) Ecommerce brands are spending more on TikTok ads TikTok may soon be surpassing Facebook and Google as the most lucrative advertising channel, with ecommerce brands spending 60% more on TikTok ads in Q2. Facebook is still ahead as the top choice for ecommerce advertisers but only grew by 5.6% from Q1, while Google grew 20.5% in Q2, and Snap declined 10.8% in Q2. [Read more on SearchEngineLand](https://searchengineland.com/ecommerce-brands-spent-60-more-on-tiktok-ads-in-q2-387876)