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If you’re a small business owner offering a unique product, we’re willing to bet that you’ve considered selling on Amazon. After all, Amazon is a tried-and-true retail powerhouse: Over the last thirty days alone, the online marketplace has garnered 175 million unique visitors. Compare that number to the traffic on your small business website, and it’s quickly obvious why selling on Amazon is a great way to expand your business.
But in addition to potential customer reach, Amazon’s generous range of business management and distribution tools makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to scale far beyond what they could otherwise do alone.
And you don’t only need to sell material products to leverage Amazon’s incredible marketplace: Now, Amazon Home Services allows B2C service providers (think handymen, computer techs, and even music teachers) to connect with clients in their areas.
So if you’ve been curious about using the Amazon Marketplace to grow your small business—whether that business offers products or services—read our comprehensive, step-by-step guide to selling on Amazon successfully. We’ve added tips on best practices, too, so you can be sure you’re using Amazon to sell to your greatest potential.
Depending on the type and quantity of products you’re selling, and how you choose to fulfill your orders, selling your products on Amazon can be as easy or as complex of a process as you choose. But if you want to make selling on Amazon really easy, it all comes down to these four steps:
Successful Amazon Sellers have included nationally recognizable brand names, individuals sellers distributing thousands of units straight from their living rooms, and everything in between. It all comes down to how you choose to leverage the marketplace, and Amazon’s various services, to fit your small business’s needs.
Regardless of their size, every new Amazon seller gets started with these four steps. Here are the details of what you really need to do to sell on Amazon.
When you sign up to sell on Amazon, you’ll choose one of two different selling categories, depending on the scale of your business:
Also, be aware that certain products require approval to sell—and, if approved, only sellers with Professional accounts are eligible to sell those products. So, before you choose which type of account to sign up for, check out Amazon’s comprehensive list of approved product categories to see whether you’ll need to get the go-ahead before becoming a seller.
After you’ve chosen which category you’ll sell under, you’re ready to set up your Amazon Seller Account. To complete your account setup, Amazon will request:
Once your account is active, the next step in the Amazon selling process is to complete your public seller profile. Think of the Amazon seller profile as your Amazon-based social network profile for your business: This is where Amazon customers will get to know your company, view your shipping and return policies, review customer feedback, and more.
Here are the main sections you’ll want to complete in your Seller Profile right away:
Once your seller profile is complete, you’re ready to begin the process of listing and selling products on the Amazon Marketplace. We go over this process in much more detail below.
→TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read): Before you can start selling your products on Amazon, you’ll need to choose and create an Amazon Seller Account to register your business’s information and bank account. Then, set up your customer-facing Amazon Seller Profile.
Amazon breaks down its selling process into four simple steps: list, sell, ship, and get paid. Of course, the first three of these steps involve quite a few sub-steps, and there is definitely a learning curve to selling on Amazon successfully. But once you get the hang of it, selling on Amazon can become simple and intuitive, so you can start easily growing your business.
Courtesy of Amazon Services
The first step to selling on Amazon is pretty obvious: You’ll need to list your products on the Amazon Marketplace. If you’re an Individual seller, you’ll list your products on the Amazon Marketplace one at a time. And if you’re a Professional seller, you can list your products in large batches.
The products you sell on Amazon will fall into one of two categories: Products already listed in the Amazon Marketplace, and new products of which you will be the first and/or only seller.
If the product you’re listing is already on Amazon, you can use the stock images and descriptions available on the site. You just have to indicate how many products you have to sell, describe the condition of the product(s), and select your available shipping options.
If you’re listing more than 50 products that are already in the Amazon catalog, you’ll use the Excel-formatted Listings Loader to fill in and upload the UPC/EAN codes for your listed products.
Do you design or manufacture a brand-new product that isn’t yet sold on Amazon? The great news is that you’ll definitely face less competition. The not-so-great news? The process to list that new product involves a few extra steps.
In order to list a new product on Amazon, you’ll need to provide:
Once you’ve gathered your product information, you have two options for uploading your new product listings:
For your first bulk product listing, it’s a good idea to limit the number of individual products to about 20 items. This will keep you from losing too much time and energy if a data error prevents the upload from going through.
Listings may be available to customers immediately after your upload is complete—but Amazon may take up to 24 hours to process your upload. If you don’t immediately see your new listing on the offer listing page, be patient and check back the next day for updates. If it still seems to be missing, contact Amazon through the Seller Portal, or use the FAQ to troubleshoot any upload errors.
→TL;DR: After you list your products according to their category, you’ll upload your products to Seller Central. Customers can see those listings up to 24 hours after they’re posted.
As soon as your listings are uploaded and have gone live on the Amazon marketplace, you can use the Seller Central website to manage all aspects of your selling account: Check for new orders, update your inventory, monitor your performance metrics, and much more.
If you’ve primarily listed new products in the Amazon marketplace, then the hardest part of getting started as a seller is behind you.
But if you’re selling products that have already been listed on Amazon, that means you have a lot more competition. You’ll need to build the best possible listings for your products, so that customers will choose you over your competitors.
Amazon manages this competitive selling process through what they call the Amazon “Buy Box.”
If you’ve ever shopped on Amazon, you’ll know that the platform allows multiple sellers to offer the same product. All the sellers listing the same product may compete to win the “Buy Box” for that product. The Buy Box on a product’s page is where customers add items to their shopping carts.
Image made on Canva. Product Listing: http://amzn.to/1hm1oua
By “winning” the Buy Box, one seller will become the default listing for any given product that multiple sellers offer—so if you do win the Buy Box, you’ll likely see an increase in sales.
Amazon doesn’t disclose the specific targets required for sellers to win the Buy Box. But to increase your chances of winning that coveted spot, focus on optimizing your listings in these four areas:
Ultimately, improving your listing placement on the Amazon Offer Listing Page requires trial, error, and a little bit of time. Work to provide a top notch experience for your customers, and improve your logistical processes. Over time, those efforts will show in your Buy Box placement in comparison to your competition.
→TL;DR: To optimize your sales, aim to improve your listing placement on the Amazon Offer Listing Page—and, ultimately, win the Buy Box spot from your competitors.
Once a customer places an order, the next step is to get that product into their hands. Amazon offers two product shipment options:
If you choose to fulfill orders yourself, Amazon charges customers standard shipping rates for media products (books, music, DVDs, software, and video games) if you’re a Professional Seller. Amazon will charge standard shipping rates for all your products if you’re an Individual Seller.
Standard shipping rates are determined based on the product category and shipping speed (which the buyer chooses). Amazon reimburses you for those rates through the Amazon payments service. Unfortunately, if your shipping costs don’t match the platform rate, you lose the difference in any additional shipping costs incurred.
If the nitty-gritty of processing and shipping orders yourself feels overwhelming, go for the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) shipping method. Through FBA, you can use Amazon’s world-class fulfillment centers, customer support, and other operational tools to scale your business faster than you ever could on your own.
If you work with FBA, you’ll store your inventory in Amazon’s fulfillment centers around the world. When a customer places an order, Amazon handles packaging and shipping the product to the customer.
Here are some other advantages to using FBA:
Beyond these advantages, the best part of using FBA is that it’s incredibly easy. Instead of handling the logistics of monitoring and fulfilling orders, tracking shipments, and handling customer service issues yourself, all you have to do is send your inventory to Amazon and let them handle the rest.
How FBA Works
If you decide that using Fulfillment by Amazon to manage your seller account is the best choice for your business, follow these steps to get started.
Pricing for Fulfillment by Amazon
The many benefits of using Fulfillment by Amazon do come with a significant price tag. But for many businesses, the increased exposure and ease of scalability far outweigh the costs of using FBA.
Let’s break down exactly how Amazon calculates FBA fees. Keep in mind that you’ll pay these fees on top of your monthly Professional seller subscription, and fees you already incur as an Amazon seller.
Fees for Oversize Products
Amazon defines standard-size products as any packaged unit that is 20 lb. or less, with its longest side 18″ or less, its shortest side 8″ or less, and its median side 14″ or less. Any unit product exceeding any of these dimensions is considered oversize, and will incur special processing fees.
In addition to higher Pick & Pack and Weight Handling fees, some oversize products may incur a “special handling” fee averaging $40 per shipment.
Not sure whether using Fulfillment by Amazon is the right choice for your bottom line? Check out Amazon’s handy revenue calculator to weigh the dollars and cents of using FBA for your particular products.
→TL;DR: You can choose to ship products to your customers yourself, or you can use the Fulfillment by Amazon service. If you use FBA, all you need to do is send your inventory to Amazon’s warehouses, and Amazon takes care of the rest of the shipping process. However, FBA requires that you pay some additional fees.
After you’ve figured out whether to ship products yourself or use Amazon’s FBA service, then you’re ready to offer your products to Amazon customers—and get paid for it.
Amazon deducts all those applicable fees we mentioned from your bank account every 2 weeks. They’ll deposit payments into your bank account every 2 weeks, too, and they’ll send you an email notification every time you’ve received a new payment.
TL;DR: To start making money on Amazon, you’ll first need to set up your account; list your products appropriately; leverage the sales process; and decide whether to ship products yourself, or let Amazon ship for you. Once you start making sales, Amazon makes a direct deposit into your business bank account every two weeks, and collects any applicable fees.
True, there are a few steps involved in selling your products on Amazon, and some are a little more complicated than others. But if you complete all these steps, you’ll be able to benefit from Amazon’s incredible advantages and quickly scale your business.
How exactly can your small business best benefit from Amazon’s selling platform? Follow these 6 tips to make your Amazon product listings stand out from the crowd, and win tons of sales over your competition.
Since customer service is a key metric by which Amazon determines your success as a seller, it’s crucial to know when a new customer has purchased your product. That way, you can promptly fill and ship every order you receive.
Amazon sends you an email notification when you have a sale, but those emails aren’t always reliable. Get in the habit of checking the Seller Central portal every day, so you can really stay on top of new orders or notifications from your customers.
Product sellers should always confirm on the Seller Central portal when an order has shipped. Amazon only charges your customer’s credit card after the shipment is confirmed. So, in addition to good customer service, this step is important to getting yourself paid quickly.
Remember that you’re responsible for confirming shipment within the time frame that you specified in your shipping settings. To confirm that Amazon has shipped an order, go to the Orders tab, then select the Confirm Shipment button for the order in question.
Keep track of how much inventory you have in stock at all times. Realizing that you’re unexpectedly out of stock and can’t fulfill an order is a recipe for negative customer feedback—which can have a dramatic impact on your future sales.
Shoppers are most likely to choose the lowest-priced deals (listed nearest to the top of the listing page, of course). So, if you hold a sale or lower your prices, make sure to update your product listings to reflect those changes.
One of the benefits of partnering with Amazon is your association with the brand’s top-notch reliability and customer service. As a new seller, you start with the benefit of Amazon’s built-in credibility—but it’s your responsibility to maintain that credibility by being highly reliable and responsive to customers.
If an order is delayed, for instance, reach out to the customer to give them a heads up. Or if a customer contacts you because they didn’t receive a shipment, or the product was damaged, respond immediately, and take steps to remedy the situation.
Cultivating a strong customer feedback rating is key to your selling experience on Amazon—both for improving buyer perception of your product listings, and for improving the placement of your products on the offer listing page.
Here are a few things you can do to help build a strong feedback rating:
→TL;DR: Basically, the key to selling on Amazon successfully is to be transparent with your customers. Be prompt and honest in your communications with your customers, and be proactive about answering any of their questions or concerns. If you do, you’ll be well on your way to hitting the top of the listings page—and seeing the numbers in your bank account grow.
By now, most retailers are well aware of Amazon’s impact on the product marketplace—and they know how selling their products on Amazon can benefit their businesses.
But if you’re a service professional who provides any type of B2C service, you, too, can use Amazon to grow your business.
Recently, Amazon launched Amazon Home Services to allow Amazon customers to source any type of professional services—like bike mechanics, carpet cleaners, pet groomers, and plumbers—through the Amazon.com portal.
Below are the types of professionals currently listing their services on Amazon, but this list is growing regularly.
Image Made on Canva/Information Courtesy of Amazon
If you’re a B2C service professional, here’s what you need to know to start selling your services on Amazon.
Think of Amazon Home Services (which we’ll call AHS) as an Uber for B2C services: Through AHS, Amazon customers can easily source a variety of services by connecting to those service providers in their neighborhoods. Check out the Amazon Home Services Storefront to see how customers navigate services, and to determine what other service providers are currently participating in your neighborhood.
Curious about becoming an Amazon Service Provider? Follow these 6 steps to apply to the program, set up your account, and start connecting with prospective clients in your area.
Before you can to register your professional services on AHS, you’ll need to complete an application. And, to be eligible for this program, you’ll need to suit Amazon’s basic requirements, which include holding General Liability insurance, and providing the appropriate licensing for your trade.
Then, Amazon will complete a business background check to make sure your company’s information is copacetic. Any employees participating in in-home services will need to pass individual background checks, too.
If your application is accepted, you’ll receive an e-mail from Amazon with an activation code and instructions for setting up your Amazon Home Service profile.
Once you’ve been accepted as an Amazon Service Provider, you’ll be able to create your storefront, which is the profile page where customers can learn more about your company. You can write an introduction to your business, specify your service area by zip code, collect customer reviews, and more.
Amazon has created set pre-packages for various service categories based on the most common service requests they see from customers (most of which are product assembly and installation).
Once you’ve signed up as a seller, you can choose which of these services to offer, set your prices, and specify the exact zip codes in which you’ll offer these services.
Then, customers can order these packages on Amazon.com at any time. You’ll receive an email notification when your new order is queued up.
Through the Amazon Seller Central portal, you can schedule services online, set up automated communications with customers, manage your packages, prices, and payments, and much more.
Occasionally, a customer in your neighborhood may be interested in a service that’s in your wheelhouse, but doesn’t exactly fit within one of your pre-packaged options. In that case, Amazon offers custom service requests.
When a client makes a custom service request, you’ll receive their request via email and have 24 hours to respond with a bid. If the customer accepts the bid, you’ll proceed with the order as usual, and Amazon will handle all scheduling, billing, and payment processing.
Amazon Payments automatically handles payment for services sold through Amazon Home Services, so you don’t have to deal with invoicing or collecting from your customers. Once you’ve completed a job, Amazon simply deposits your earnings directly into your bank account. Also be aware that Amazon collects a percentage of your service price, which they’ll deduct from your bank account every time they pay you.
Amazon Home Services Fees
One of the greatest benefits of selling services on Amazon is that you don’t pay up front for leads or advertising. Fees are calculated as a percentage of sales, so Amazon only gets paid when you do.
For any service that Amazon sells on your behalf, the company will collect the following fees:
The total cost of Amazon Home Services fees depends on the price of your service, and the type of service you’re providing:
As you can see, Amazon collects all transaction and platform fees as a percentage of the service price (rather than a flat rate). That percentage excludes any taxes collected through Amazon tax collection services.
→TL;DR: B2C professionals can apply to offer their services through the Amazon Home Services program. If your business is accepted to the AHS program, local customers can find your profile on Amazon.com and request your service. Amazon pays you for completed services through a direct deposit into your bank account, and they’ll collect any applicable fees.
Whether you’re selling products or services, Amazon’s brand recognition and logistical advantages are incredible tools for expanding your business far beyond what you’d likely have the capacity to achieve on your own.
Plus, you can use the Amazon platform to expand your business on a global scale. There’s a whole world out there just waiting to pay for your products—but if you’ve never before navigated the world of exporting, figuring out how to sell to international customers can be intimidating.
But with 11 global marketplaces, 109 worldwide fulfillment centers, and customers in 180 countries, Amazon makes it easy for small businesses to break into international exporting.
Courtesy of Amazon
Use Fulfillment by Amazon to quickly and easily fulfill international orders on the Global Amazon Marketplace. And check out the Amazon Global Selling portal, which can help you navigate tax and regulatory considerations for the countries you may be shipping to.
Whether you’re selling products domestically or abroad, setting up your small business on Amazon will take some time and attention. And the costs associated with selling on Amazon do take a notch out of your profit margins. But when you start to see your sales increase after working with this retail giant, you’ll thank yourself for that extra input.