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:
- Individual - no monthly fees. $0.99 per sale plus other fees. Sell up to 40 items
- 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 and Tables, a wholesaler of folding chairs and tables based in Tennessee, thought launching on Amazon would be:
- 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.
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.
Next, ensure you have correctly setup your Amazon Seller account - as listed on Bigcommerce.
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.
Easily edit products for Amazon optimization within your own webstore's backend.
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 :
- Items' condition - new, like new, used, etc
- Quantity in stock
- 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.