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How To Sell On Amazon: A Helpful Guide

Learning how to sell on Amazon could change your financial life for the better. It’s one of the most lucrative ways that regular people make money selling online and some even end up quitting their jobs.

Like any other business, though, selling on Amazon takes a lot of time. There’s a bunch of learning, trial, and error involved that might get discouraging at times.

However, if you end up striking gold with a product that has a lot of demand, you could do really well. Plus, you can run most Amazon businesses from anywhere that has an internet connection.

Let’s take a look at how to do to it!

How to Sell On Amazon: Finding A Product

Finding a good product is easily the most challenging part of learning how to sell on Amazon. You have a handful of different options for doing this, but we’ll focus on two of the most common ones.

You could either invent something or white label a product from a manufacturer (usually through Alibaba). There are positives and negatives to getting into either of these methods, both of which we’ll explore.

Inventing Doesn’t Have to Be That Hard

There are a million different things you could invent. There are also a handful of different ways to invent them. If we tried to put together a list of all the unique ways to go about inventing something, this article wouldn’t be about how to sell on Amazon anymore!

The good news is that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You just need to pay attention to people’s problems and needs. The ones that can be solved or met with inventions are your golden goose. Geese. You get the idea.

Once you find (or stumble) on a good one, you can really start to learn how to sell on Amazon.

A Quick Amazon Story

Back in college, a buddy of mine and his friends had an idea. You probably know where this is going, but bear with me.

They wanted to create a water bottle holder that would attach to a bunk bed in a dorm room. The idea was to make it pretty simple and be flexible.

They were able to fabricate a silicon product themselves without going overseas or contracting with a local manufacturer. This not only saved them some time but also gave them a lot of control over the production process.

Like anyone starting out for the first time, they were learning how to sell on Amazon as they went along. The product actually sold really well and they were out of inventory quicker than they were expecting.

Because they ran out of inventory, their seller rating on Amazon took a major hit. Plus, their production system was not equipped to handle the demand at the time.

Their plan was to experiment and see what might happen rather than actually start a business. If they had meant to actually start one by doing that, it would have been a rough one.

On the bright side, they could actually sell on Amazon. I couldn’t even figure out how to sell on Amazon my first time.

How To Sell On Amazon: Products To Avoid

There are some categories of products that you should completely avoid with Amazon if you’re a first-timer. My big mistake when I originally wanted to get into it was electric toothbrushes.

Those seem innocent enough, right?

I found a good-looking Alibaba supplier.

Ordered some samples and the samples were solid and functional.

So, naturally I went to set up an Amazon seller account.

Nope.

Amazon has those in a category called “Health and Personal Care,” which is very tightly controlled. Unless you are a major brand with products like that, good luck getting anything on Amazon.

There’s also a very extensive list of products that are restricted and products that require special approval to be sold.

When learning how to sell on Amazon, scan those lists to make sure your product fits. It makes my head hurt just thinking about ordering a bunch of inventory only to find out that it can’t be listed on Amazon!

If you ever did do that, you could always start your own eCommerce store on WooCommerce pretty easily.

Let’s just stick with products that can go online fast.

If You Invent Something

If you end up inventing something brand new, that will probably make a big chunk of money. That’s if the product is needed by a lot of people or it just gets really popular really fast before competitors can move in.

There are a lot of free resources out there for developing plastic products and even consumer electronics devices. In the case of developing something new like that, you also want to speak with an attorney about a patent before putting it out there to the public.

Even if you don’t have a lot of money, there are pro-bono (free) legal services out there that can help. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has information on that here.

You can also take some ideas away from videos like this one:

Inventing a new product doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to come up with something like what I mentioned above, either. You could come up with a food product that uses a special recipe that you think could sell well or design a game that’s made of paper and cardboard.

Either way, once you land on something and get protection around it, you’ll need to track down a solid manufacturer on the road to learning how to sell on Amazon.

How to Sell On Amazon: Finding A Manufacturer

If you decide to white label a product instead of invent one, you will be looking for a manufacturer from the start. White labeling means that you take a product from a manufacturer that they already make and then sell it on Amazon yourself.

You can usually customize it with your own branding, too. Jungle Scout has a great guide and tool for tracking down great products on Amazon. You can use it to figure out if there’s enough market opportunity for you to start selling something similar and compete.

Getting Samples

Regardless of whether your product is newly invented or you are white labeling, you will need samples. The Founder of Popsockets, David Barnett gives a great anecdote of his product development process while working with an overseas manufacturer in this podcast.

In it, he describes the back and forth with his manufacturer sending samples that they made (or tried to make!). Although he wasn’t specifically trying to learn how to sell on Amazon at the time, you will need to go through this same process of placing sample orders and paying for shipping.

You may be able to negotiate with some manufacturers to discount the price of your first large order by the extra amount you’ll be paying for samples. Typically, the smaller the order, the larger the cost per unit.

The larger the order, the smaller the cost per unit. Samples will cost the most per-unit.

Sending Product Information

Working with an attorney will give you the full explanation on this, but, sending product info to manufacturers could present risks. The main risk is that if you invent something new, knockoffs could start coming out of China before you’re even ready to launch.

That’s why it’s really important to look at patents while learning how to sell on Amazon. It’s equally important to look at Trademarks if you come up with a unique brand name that you want to protect.

You can send product information (like designs, 3D-printer files, etc.) via Alibaba.com’s messenger tool. They caution (and I caution) against moving over to email with manufacturers because doing that will void certain protections that Alibaba offers.

How to Sell on Amazon: Alibaba Shipping Time

Using a manufacturer overseas will mean that there’s going to be a longer shipping time. It could mean up to 45 days of waiting for products to arrive from a manufacturer from the time of placing orders.

There are faster ways of shipping products that can get them stateside within three weeks or so, but those do cost more. Bigger orders will also take a while, at least up to a month and longer in some cases.

Learning how to sell on Amazon will test your patience when it comes to waiting for inventory to arrive. It’s even tougher if the samples aren’t manufactured correctly and you need to keep sending them back, but it’s all part of the process!

Dropshipping To A Warehouse

You will need to decide how to store and send out your inventory. In the beginning, a lot of people will keep inventory in their basement or garage then send it themselves.

If you do decide to go with that strategy, just make sure the inventory is safe from being damaged. People who live in Florida shouldn’t keep heat-sensitive inventory in a non-temp controlled garage and people in Alaska shouldn’t keep cold-sensitive inventory in similar storage.

Make sure your storage space doesn’t have water leaks either! Once your business picks up, you will want to explore something called “dropshipping” to a fulfillment center.

That’s where your manufacturer sends inventory directly to a warehouse (fulfilment center, sort of the same thing). Then, your inventory is stored until orders come in and it’s sent out to customers.

How to Sell On Amazon: Different Fulfillment Services

You can choose from a few different logistics companies to do this when deciding how to sell on Amazon. However, the best choice is to use Amazon’s FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) service.

A lot of people recommend this because it just works really well. Many 3rd party companies out there only have a few warehouses, but FBA gives you access to over 100 (110 in the U.S. and 185+ globally).

Plus, if you really dig deep into the reviews for a lot of 3rd party companies (the real reviews, not affiliate website reviews) you will often find a lot of negative ones.

You can get honest reviews from real B2B customers on the website Web Retailer for various fulfillment companies if you don’t want to work with FBA. That being said, Web Retailer also specializes in guides for selling online with Amazon and Ebay, so they could have incentive to promote FBA.

At the same time, most reviews in most places of FBA’s service are great. The only thing people complain about is the cost. In a good way, you can say that you get what you pay for with it!

Setting Up An Account to Sell

The next step to learning how to sell on Amazon is setting up an account at https://sell.amazon.com. Even though it says $39.99 per month, that’s just their professional plan.

You could set up an account on their individual selling plan here if you wanted to:

However, if you plan on actually starting a business, you’ll need the professional one for $39.99 per month. It may be a good idea for you to create a new account with an email address dedicated to your business, too.

sell online
Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay

How To Sell On Amazon: Navigating Seller Central

Once you make an account for Seller Central, knowing how to sell on Amazon will come in handy. They have detailed tutorials for navigating the dashboard, too.

In order to use Seller Central, make sure you add a valid bank account for deposits to be put in. Additionally, you will need to add tax information.

If you plan to list a brand new product, you will need to click “I’m Adding A Product Not Sold on Amazon” and pick the category it’s part of.

After that, you will be taken to a product detail page to fill in your product’s information. They recommend enabling “advanced view” here to know which fields are required to speed up the process.

While filling in product info, make sure you have information like product weight, how you plan to fulfill product orders, and make sure that you have a few high-quality images of the product ready to upload.

You can add up to nine images of your product for the listing. Product image guidelines can vary depending on the category that you use, so review those before starting.

Sending Products To Fulfillment By Amazon

Once everything is squared away with your product listing, you will need to get inventory ready to send. You do have the option of Amazon doing the labeling for you, but that does cost $.30 per unit.

At some point, you will need to invest in a label printer anyway. The Brother QL-700 is pretty solid, I bought it about five years ago. You can click the picture below to go to the Amazon listing for that.

They have detailed shipping guides for how to sell on Amazon here. Once your inventory is ready, sent, and received by the Amazon fulfillment center you choose, your listing can go live.

You need to keep an eye on inventory, too, and make sure it doesn’t run out when demand picks up. Speaking of that…

How To Sell On Amazon: Getting People to Buy Your Product

There are a lot of ways to direct traffic to your Amazon listing. We won’t try to cover everything in this article, but there are a few major options out there to consider.

Facebook advertising is an awesome way to get started. You can get a lot of clicks for a little investment there. The only thing to be careful of is if your product is part of a special category.

That can reduce your ability to target ads to specific people. You may end up limited to very broad ranges, like all men who are age 18-65 or all women age 18-65.

You can try out Google Adwords or other advertising networks to drum up interest for your product as well. Amazon also offers a cost-per-click advertising model where you can promote your products as sponsored listings in places like the first pages of search results.

Tying It All Together

Learning how to sell on Amazon and make significant profits can make you financially free. Like anything, it’s not easy or an overnight process. However, if you get everything set up and running the right way, it can make you money overnight. By following some of the tips in this article, you should be on your way to selling on Amazon and making money!

Bob Buckley

Bob Buckley

Bob Buckley is an entrepreneurship writer with a focus on personal finance and product development. Since studying accounting in school, he has worked at major financial and media companies in various roles. He's also the founder of This College Life. In his free time, he cooks a lot and occasionally blogs a recipe.