Learn how to sell on Amazon. Pic by Russell Wall

How to Sell on Amazon

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Selling on Amazon can be a fantastic way to build a successful thriving online retail business, earn a decent second income, or simply get rid of unwanted junk for cash.

Depending on what you want to get out of your relationship with the Amazon marketplace, you will need to understand what tools and services are available, the costs associated with selling online, and what obstacles will need to be overcome.

The good news is that it isn't hard to get started, it doesn't cost much, and there are unlimited possibilities to generate good profits. This step-by-step guide will get you up and running quickly and show you some great tips and tricks that can have a huge positive impact on your fledgling enterprise.

1. How Big is Your Business?

There are two types of Amazon seller account:

  1. Individual - no monthly fees. $0.99 per sale plus other fees. Sell up to 40 items
  2. Professional - $39.99 monthly fee + other selling fees. Sell more than 40 items

However, if you are serious about building a strong online store then you also need to consider setting up your own eCommerce site that integrates tightly with Amazon. This allows you to build up your own brand and attract customers through multiple channels.

Fortunately, Volusion, one of the leading online eCommerce site builders has excellent Amazon integration that makes it cost effective and easy to manage both platforms in one place.

2. Register a Seller Account

You can get started with either type of seller account by registering with Amazon here:

Register an Amazon seller account

The process is fairly straightforward to follow and you will need to provide and verify information about yourself and your business, including:

  • Credit card
  • Seller information
  • Identity verification by text message or phone call

3. Integrate with your eCommerce Platform

According to Bloomberg, more than 50% of shoppers begin their online search for products on Amazon. That might have you shaking in your boots as a web-store owner, but it shouldn’t. What this means is that Amazon is a great place for your store to get discovered.

Thousands of online brands sell both on their own webstore as well as on Amazon. And the best part is that, typically, the people buying from you are two very different audiences.

3.1. Folding Chairs and Tables (Case Study)

Folding Chairs & Tables
Folding Chairs and Tables, a wholesaler of folding chairs and tables based in Tennessee, thought launching on Amazon would be:

  1. Difficult
  2. Devalue their brand

But that wasn’t the case.

Using their eCommerce platform, BigCommerce, which offers one of the more extensive eCommerce integrations with Amazon, Folding Tables and Chairs listed only 1 product - and it wasn’t even a product they offered on their store. Instead, they bundled their own best selling items into a completely new listing for Amazon, and sales grew tenfold.

In fact, in December 2016, the brand had to launch a new warehouse due to unprecedented growth.

Now, they are looking at an eBay test (still using BigCommerce's Channel Manager) hoping to generate similar results. At the same time, they are gaining orders from Amazon customers looking for even more product deals not offered on Amazon (i.e. offered on their website only) and seeing revenue spikes from Amazon customers who just want that bundle and nothing else.

Integrating your online store with Amazon provides marketing opportunities that also generate additional sales.

3.2. Bigcommerce & Amazon

Let's take a quick look at how to integrate your own online store with Amazon, using one of the industry leaders, Bigcommerce, as a case study. If you want to try out Bigcommerce, you can get started for free with our setup guide, entitled how to build an online store with Bigcommerce.

Why Bigcommerce?

Bigcommerce offers a diverse range of industry-leading integrations to help online retailers exploit multiple sales channels quickly and easily.

Once you have registered a free account, select Amazon from the list of options.

Bigcommerce channel manager

Next, ensure you have correctly setup your Amazon Seller account - as listed on Bigcommerce.

Bigcommerce channel manager & Amazon

Once integrated, you can manage inventory across your own store, on Amazon, and other channels (like Facebook and Google Shopping) all from this single interface. Having one central inventory management dashboard ensures you don’t have to manually update each channel every time a purchase is made, saving time and reducing the risk of overselling and fulfilment errors.

You can also maintain one organised catalog of products, and bulk listing capabilities allow you to upload items and make listing changes across stores with just a few clicks.

Bigcommerce channel manager product listings

Easily edit products for Amazon optimization within your own webstore's backend.

Bigcommerce channel manager edit product listings

Multi-channel selling, especially using Amazon, is considered a best practice for eCommerce merchants today. The combination of Amazon’s built-in audience with the relationship-building power of your own custom eCommerce site can make for a remarkable revenue-generating engine.

4. Prepare & Plan for Order Fulfilment

Amazon has one of the world's best delivery networks on the planet. They can deliver almost anything, anywhere, at any time. But, they also expect you to be able to match a minimum set of delivery standards (most often 3 - 5 business days).

If you are going to deliver the items you sell, then you will need to make sure you can meet their standard delivery criteria. They will take a delivery payment from the customer and pass that cash onto you (in the form of shipping credit) to cover the costs of shipping.

Remember, the faster you can ship, the more likely you are to attract sales. So it's worth doing some research into the best ways to package and deliver products locally, nationally, and internationally if required.

You can learn more about Amazon shipping credits and delivery expectations at shipping orders to buyers.

You might want to take a look at small business packaging and delivery services offered by USPS and UPS, since it is up to you how you choose to deliver packages. You can also get great discounts and savings on packaging and post using an online service like Stamps.

Alternatively, you can simply have Amazon fulfill orders for you and they will handle all packaging and delivery on your behalf. Take a look at the features and benefits of the Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) service.

Using FBA means sending the products to an Amazon fulfilment center where they will warehouse, pack and ship items as they are ordered. This means that the items you sell can take advantage of Amazon's logistics and shipping deals and specials.

5. Add Listings & Product Pages

Amazon sells tens of millions of items, so unless you are selling something that is absolutely unique, it already has a product page. All you need to do is add your own listing to this page.

Do a very comprehensive search for the exact version you are selling (including color, size, etc) - otherwise there will be irate customers receiving items they didn't order.

Once you have found the product page on Amazon, click the Sell yours button (please note, you have to be logged in with your seller account for this to work) and specify the :

  1. Items' condition - new, like new, used, etc
  2. Quantity in stock
  3. Price
  4. Shipping option(s)

Once that is submitted your product will be made available as a listing on that product page along with all the others.

Bear in mind that it is in your interest to be completely honest about the quality and condition of the items you sell. There are a host of benefits for sellers who are popular and highly rated by their customers. And, if you provide bad products and service, it's going to be difficult to make money.

If you have a new product altogether then you will need to add a new product to the Amazon catalog. You can learn how to do that at creating a product page. This can be quite a bit of work as you need to provide product descriptions, images, ownership info, versions and formats, and more.

Important: Don't try promote your own website or blog via Amazon listings. It is against Amazon's policy and is a great way to have your account removed.

6. Manage Your Account

Once your items are all listed and available for purchase, you will be able to monitor orders and payments, manage refunds, view inventory, and so on. All of this can be managed via the seller account, which can be accessed by clicking Your seller account when logged in.

From here you can also update orders with information that is important for potential buyers and customers who have purchases items already.

It is vital that you continually monitor customer feedback and ratings as these will have a huge impact. Pay close attention to what people are saying and offer professional and efficient customer service.

7. Source New Products & Grow

If selling on Amazon is going to become a real business then you will need to move beyond selling stuff that's lying around. Instead, you must source products that offer a decent net profit margin and are popular, or growing in popularity.

This can be difficult because no-one reveals their sales figures to the general public, which means you are essentially in the dark when it comes to choosing the best items to buy and sell.

But, fortunately, you are able to take advantage of services that offer Amazon sales tracking and analysis. In particular, RT500 Enterprise (RTE) offers a great way to track and analyse how well products sell in comparison to others on any Amazon locale - US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan (for a flat monthly fee).

Let's say, for example, that you want to sell a type of soap and have access to four different products. Which one is the best to stock up on? Easy. Track all four items on RTE for a week or two and then build a comparison graph that shows how well each one sold over that time period.

In addition, you can also keep tabs on how well products are reviewed, get weekly/monthly sales reports, and set alerts to notify you if any tracked items experience a spike or drop in sales.

Amazon tracking with RT500 Enterprise

This is also extremely useful for determining the effectiveness of advertising and marketing campaigns on the real-time sales of an item.

Imagine you know that a competitor is doing a radio interview about a product they are selling. If you are tracking their item via RTE, it is a cinch to check whether or not there was any impact on the sales of that item during and after the interview.

Be aware that RTE can only collect sales information from the time you begin tracking with them. For market research, make sure you being tracking items as early as possible in order to build up a decent sales history.

By combining the reach and logistics of Amazon with your own market research, customer service, marketing, and dedication there is no reason you can't join thousands of other successful online retailers and make good money online.

Do you already use Amazon as a platform for driving online sales? What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs starting out? Share your tips and ideas in the comments.

Comparing two leading eCommerce site builders

Trying to decide which eCommerce website builder has all the right features for your new online store in 2014?

We've compiled a list of some of the coolest new features of two of the best shopping cart solutions, namely Shopify & Bigcommerce, to help you make the right decision.

Both of these hosted solutions offer exceptional value for money out-of-the-box, and you can check out a direct comparison of all their standard features (including cost, value for money, customer reviews, etc) between the two at Shopify, Volusion & Bigcommerce.

Great ideas to break into the American market

There's a lot of competition and a lot of potential in America's eCommerce industry, and having a better startup idea than the next person might be all it takes to succeed (well, that and hard work).

eCommerce has grown consistently over the last 10 years despite large scale problems in the U.S. economy. This makes it one of the best industries for entrepreneurs to get into.

But, what you really need to drive decent profits is differentiation. Offer a store that isn't like everything else out there. Fortunately, the vast majority of eCommerce sites do the same old thing without adding much value - and offer less competition as a result.

Comparing Weebly to Bigcommerce

Weebly, arguably the world's leading online website builder, recently announced major updates to their eCommerce offering, that includes features like a coupon generator, product options, personalized emails, and more.

And while Weebly makes it quick and easy to build normal websites, how does it compare with leading, hosted shopping cart solutions like Bigcommerce?

This article looks at how powerful, flexible, and easy it is to start selling stuff online using Weebly, and uses Bigcommerce as a benchmark comparison to help you decide which is right for your online store.

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Whether your are an ambitious retail startup or a fast growing online store, you'll need to find a top quality enterprise level eCommerce solution to keep th

eCommerce Web design tips

eCommerce website design plays an important role in building trust and authority with potential customers to ensure that an online store converts sales efficiently to generate revenue.

Unlike other types of website (blogs, for example), Web design in eCommerce sites plays a more direct role in the success of that online business, because the design impacts conversion rates and sales directly.

It's also important to note that when we talk about "Web design", we aren't referring only to the theme or template (i.e. the look and feel), but also the functional design, SEO, and performance.

volusion and amazon integration

One of the biggest advantages of using hosted eCommerce software (like Volusion), is that they offer seamless integration with other retail platforms (like Amazon), to help increase your online sales.

Volusion and Amazon recently partnered to offer built-in Amazon integration that helps sell your products through Amazon, but manage everything from your own eCommerce store.

So, if you are interested in starting an eCommerce website with the intention of selling via Amazon, or want to find a way to increase existing sales by reaching out to the millions of buyers on Amazon, Volusion is what you're after.

Ways to avoid bottlenecks in the sales funnel

Is your online store losing out on valuable sales because customers are getting confused, losing focus, and moving on without purchasing anything? Can you even tell?

Every bit of Web traffic is valuable, and it is vitally important that your store squeezes as much revenue as possible out of each visit. Of course, not every visit can result in a sale, but that conversion rate can always be nudged a bit higher.

Making conversions easy for potential customers is not only good for profits, it also improves the user experience, which in turn leads to positive experiences and word of mouth.