Want to sell on Amazon? Well, you’re not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of sellers just like you who are selling on the world’s largest ecommerce platform. And the numbers are actually staggering when you look at the sheer breadth and velocity of those sales.
In fact, 53% of all items sold on Amazon are sold by third-party sellers just like you and I. That equates to over 6 million simple, everyday products! And the average amount that third-party sellers make is $90,000 per year. Now, if that doesn’t sound enticing, I’m not sure what does.
However, clearly it’s not as simple as 1-2-3. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it, right? You’ve probably heard some of these statistics before, and are likely wondering whether or not you can succeed by selling on Amazon. But maybe you’re not sure what to sell or how to go about doing it.
How To Start Selling On Amazon
First off, in order to sell on Amazon, you need to head over to Amazon Seller Central to create your seller account. Doing this is fairly straightforward as you merely go through an application process. But before you do that, you have to first consider a few important points.
- Will you sell on Amazon US?
- If you’re not a US person, do you have a business entity?
- Do you have a US EIN or tax ID?
- Do you have an internationally-chargeable credit card (Visa or Mastercard with raised numbers)?
- Does your local bank account support ACH?
Keep in mind that there are some restrictions for those looking to sell on Amazon US, but are not from the US. Amazon is fairly strict about this. So, to pull it off and sell as a non-US person on the US platform, you have to establish a US-based business entity. And, you’ll need an EIN (Employer Identification Number).
Amazon is fairly strict about this. And they will go to great lengths to verify your identity by checking your driver’s license or state identification card, asking for utility bills from your home address, and even requesting tax documents. So be prepared.
Why Sell On Amazon?
While there are numerous reasons I could present for selling on Amazon, one stands very much on its own. But to understand it, you have to understand something called search intention. It’s not meant to confuse you, but more so to further explain why Amazon is the best platform to sell any product under the sun.
Think about this for a moment. When you search on Google, what are you doing? For the most part, you’re looking for information or to solve some kind of problem. Sure, sometimes you might be looking to buy something, but you’re likely in the early stages of that.
Meaning, you have what’s called an informational intent. Your intention is to collect some information about something. You also might be looking to navigate somewhere, as in a particular website. Many people will search things like “Facebook login” or “Namecheap account” and other terms to help them navigate to a particular part of a site.
However, when people come to Amazon, they’re primarily heading there with one very powerful intention. To buy. Buyer intention is massive. It’s largely lacking on Google and other platforms like YouTube or social media sites like Facebook. Yes, it does exist. But when you’re heading to Amazon, you’re looking to buy.
Does Amazon Still Work?
Since there is such massive buyer intention on the platform, selling anything is a breeze, as long as you play by Amazon’s many rules. And, yes, there are many rules. But what most people immediately ask when posed with the possibility of selling on Amazon is—does it still work?
Of course it works. We can see it working for other sellers who are making 6 figures, 7 figures and even 8 figures per year selling on Amazon. But will it work for you? The answer is, maybe. Selling on Amazon is not an overnight thing you do on a whim.
Look, there are no guarantees in life. And if you think you’re going to get rich overnight, it won’t happen. It requires hard work and discipline to source products, invest in inventory, create an excellent listing, get reviews, and ensure that you pay close attention to the underlying quality and value of your product.
This can seem overwhelming to most people. But think about this for a moment. How much effort does it take to build out an entire business, fulfillment system, customer service team, warehousing, and other aspects of a physical product shop? It’s a massive undertaking. Yet, Amazon is doing all the heavy lifting for you (for a fee of course).
Amazon FBA = Fulfilled-by-Amazon
That’s where Amazon comes in with its FBA offering. Everything is done by Amazon. They pick, pack, ship, deal with customers, returns and the whole lot. All you do is get your products to their warehouse, and then focus on getting that product in front of as many would-be buyers as possible.
Is there plenty of competition on Amazon? Certainly, there is. But competition is everywhere you look. On and off Amazon. The question is, how do you sift through all the noise to find a winning product? And, when you do find that winning product, how do you actually push it out and scale up?
1. Setup Your Seller Central Account
Don’t even consider selling on Amazon before you setup a Seller Central account. Why? Because you want to make sure you’re approved for selling on the platform. Now, I’m not trying to be an alarmist. But Amazon is strict. Very strict, in fact.
So, gather your documents and head to sellercentral.amazon.com and start with your account creation. You’ll also have the choice between a free account and a professional account. What’s the difference you ask? Simply this. The free account is limited in its scope. You can sell up to 40 items and that’s it.
Difference Between The Free vs The Professional Account
- Free Account:
- No monthly charge
- You can sell up to 40 items per month
- Each item costs 99 cents to sell plus fulfillment fees
- Variable shipping fees for books, music, video, DVD, software, and video games
- Cannot offer gift wrapping as an option
- Gated categories are off limits
- Professional Account:
- $39.99 monthly fee
- You can sell unlimited items per month
- Gift wrapping option available for buyers
- Allowed to sell in gated categories (i.e. collectible coins, fine jewelry, fine art, gourmet food, videos, etc.)
2. Locate A Profitable Product You Can Sell
Once Amazon approves your seller account, you need to find an actual product you can sell. This is much easier said than done. It will require extensive research on your part. And the more time you spend here, the more profit you stand to make.
This is where the real magic happens. And should you play your cards right, boundless fortune and riches await you. Misplay your hand and you could be in for a serious world of hurt that includes loss of capital, loss of time, and quite possibly, a loss of belief and faith in yourself.
You see, most people approach this the wrong way. They find the hottest, in-demand product on Amazon and decide to go toe-to-toe with the biggest sellers. That, my friends, is a recipe for disaster. Especially when we’re talking about your absolute first product.
Sure, you need demand. But you don’t want too much demand at the outset. And you don’t want too much competition. You might think that’s impossible to still find these days. But it is most certainly possible. There are tens of millions of potential products on Amazon.
Select A Product Research Tool
There are plenty of product research tools when it comes to finding a profitable product to sell. For example, you can use a tool like Jungle Scout, which has been around the longest.
There are others such as SellerApp, Sellics, AmzScout and many more. Each of these tools will give you an estimation of monthly sales and search volumes, amongst other things.
But the best way to research a product is to use the manual method.
Look, every product research tool will give you a fairly accurate guess. It’s not a fact. Just an estimation. So it’s your job to read through the proverbial lines. Should you invest in that product or not? That’s the question.
To really determine the number of units selling per month, look at the Best Sellers Rank (BSR) of any product. It will tell you the rank within the categories. Some categories of products sell more than others.
But it’s the BSR that really counts. Your goal is find a BSR somewhere in the range of 10,000 – 20,000.
But the real beauty in selling on Amazon is in consumables. Yes. Consumables. Meaning, an item that can be replenished every single month.
Whether it’s hair vitamins, nootropics, probiotics or something else, this is where the real pot of gold is. Of course, to really understand what to sell, you need to know how much of the item is selling.
3. Purchase Your Inventory
Once you find the right product, you need to purchase your inventory. This is where you begin to incur the most costs. So bear in mind that you’ll need too shell out some capital here.
But before you buy anything, you need to find a supplier. Obviously, most people turn to Alibaba. But, if you’re in the US, you can use ThomasNet or other local manufacturers.
There’s a big trade off here because producing overseas is cheaper, but you end up paying lots more in shipping, importing, and quality control. When it’s created locally (if for instance you live in the U.S.) you spend less and the quality is often much higher.
This is obviously a big step. And before you do this, you need a solid Purchase Order (P.O.) with an ironclad agreement or terms. If you find a supplier overseas, it’s harder to enforce something like this. When you source locally, it’s a different story.
4. Create A “Dummy” Listing To Generate an FNSKU
You’ll need a “dummy” listing (aka a placeholder listing) in order to generate what’s called an FNSKU. An FNSKU is required to go on your packaging. Essentially, that’s Amazon’s internal tracking system. To do this, you’ll first need a UPC code. So you’ll need to purchase a UPC code in order to generate your FNSKU.
Build your placeholder listing by adding the minimal required information into the Seller Central panel where you’ll list your product. Once that’s complete, you can generate your FNSKU after you add the UPC code you just purchased.
5. Design Your Packaging & Labels
Ever the heard the saying, don’t judge a book by its cover? Sure you have. Well, when it comes to product packaging, people will judge your product by its cover. Meaning, your packaging and labels need to be on point. And that’s no small or easy feat.
This is where you have to be willing to spend to hire a pro. Because, your packaging and labels will be indicative of the quality of your product. So don’t skimp or try to cheap out on this expense. This is a vital part of bringing your product to market.
6. Send Your Products to Amazon
Once your inventory and packaging are ready, you need to send your products to Amazon. But before you can do that, you have to ensure that your supplier has properly packaged and labeled all your products. If this is your first time around, make sure to get your products shipped to you first if you live in the United States.
If you live outside the US, then taxes and duties of shipping into two countries, plus the slow speed, will not be worthwhile. This is where you have to ensure you have a good quality control process at your supplier. It might cause headaches at first, but you’ll find your rhythm.
To send your products to Amazon, you need to create a shipping plan in Amazon. To do that, you’ll need palette information, including dimensions and number of units in the palette.
7. Update Your Amazon Product Listing
Once you’ve shipped out to Amazon, you can update your listing and add all the relevant information including bullet points, tags, descriptions, and photos. I highly recommend you get your designer to create infographics for your listing to give it more of a professional feel.
Also, it’s important to pay attention to things like keywords and SEO descriptions to help propel your listing to the top of Amazon’s search results. Hire a professional who knows what they’re doing. Again, money spent here is well worth it.
8. Get Reviews Fast
Once your product listing is live, you need to get reviews fast. There are a number of ways to do this, but whatever your approach, you need to hit the ground running. This will be an arduous effort at first. However, the Amazon algorithm relies on both reviews and sales to determine placement in its search results.
I would highly recommend building out a product review funnel in this step.