You need 5 things to start selling on Amazon: A product to sell, an Amazon seller account, product listings, a way to manage inventory, and a process to ship orders. Overall, learning how to sell on Amazon is pretty straightforward and we’ll show you how to start selling on Amazon in 5 easy steps.
1. Find Products to Sell on Amazon
There are many ways to source profitable products to sell on Amazon. Some sellers follow traditional business models, like selling products they make themselves or reselling wholesale goods. But many sellers reach beyond traditional means and source products in a variety of creative ways.
Here’s a quick look at 5 popular Amazon product sourcing methods, and we’ll explain each in detail below.
5 Ways to Source Products to Sell on Amazon
|Sourcing Method||Best for||Cost to start|
|Retail Arbitrage||Startup and small sellers||Low|
|Reselling Wholesale Goods||Established sellers||Medium to High|
|Private Label||Established sellers or brands||Medium to High|
|Manufacturing & Handmade||Artisans and established manufacturing businesses||Low to High|
|Dropshipping||Startups or experienced dropshippers||Low|
Now let’s see how you can use these sourcing methods to kick-start selling on Amazon.
This is a big-sounding term for a very simple process: Buy products in retail stores at drastically reduced prices and resell them on Amazon. Sellers who do this keep a sharp eye out for retail clearance and inventory reduction sales both online and in retail stores. When they find a product that looks like a great deal, they use scouting apps to check for profit potential. Scouting apps have a real-time link to Amazon and let you see what the same item is currently selling for, weighs the competition, and tells you if there’s room for profit. These apps even include fulfillment and shipping costs in the profit outlook.
Many successful small sellers got started just this way and now make reselling clearance goods their full-time job. But you have to know how to make it profitable. At first, you’ll likely spend a lot of time researching products that have no profit potential, but over time you’ll learn the tricks. On the plus side, also don’t have to invest much up-front using retail arbitrage.
Reselling Wholesale or Manufactured Goods
This is a more traditional method where you purchase goods in bulk from a wholesale distributor or direct from the manufacturer, then resell them at a markup. On the plus side, you can get low wholesale pricing that leaves plenty of room for profit. But, a serious downside is that you usually have to buy goods in volume. You really need to do your product research homework before taking the plunge on a large shipment from a wholesaler or manufacturer. If you don’t, you could lose money and be stuck with unsold stock.
Selling Private Label Products
This is a very popular option for many Amazon sellers. Private label sellers purchase products from manufacturers but package and market them under their own brand. This has many advantages, the main one being you actually build a name for yourself by selling a branded item that “belongs” to you. You can private label a huge assortment of goods, including cosmetics and skincare products.
Like reselling manufactured items, selling private label products has upfront costs because you have to buy these goods in some volume. But if you’re trying to build brand recognition beyond Amazon, private label products are a great way to do it.
Manufacturing & Handmade Goods
If you already make something yourself, then you know what you’re going to sell on Amazon. Your biggest challenges are understanding Amazon’s seller fees for handmade goods to make sure you can sell your products profitably and keeping up with production in the lucky event that your product is a hit.
Selling dropship products on Amazon is another low-cost way to get started, but it’s not for everyone. With dropshipping, you list an item for sale and, when ordered, your dropship vendor ships it for you, and only then are you charged for the item. It sounds like a sweet deal but there are several potential pitfalls with this model, especially when selling on Amazon.
Dropship goods tend to have low profit margins which leave little for you after figuring in your Amazon seller fees. Also, you can face product quality complaints, inventory shortages, and late shipment issues with dropshippers, which you have no control over. These can quickly sink your fledgling Amazon operation. Unless you can find a dropshipper that can meet Amazon’s stringent requirements, dropshipping really isn’t a top choice for new Amazon sellers.
Product Pitfall Alert! Always be Mindful of Your Profit
No matter how you source your products, doing your product research homework is key to success on Amazon. Products that sell like hotcakes elsewhere sometimes slog along on Amazon, while others fly off the shelf at a higher price than you’d ever imagine. And you must understand how Amazon seller fees impact the profit of every product sold.
Amazon has a free profit calculator tool, shown below, that you can use to estimate profits. But power sellers generally turn to more advanced Amazon seller tools to conduct thorough product research and competition analysis before spending a dime. And if retail arbitrage is appealing to you, start strong with a low-cost product scouting app to spot profitable finds.
After you have an idea of what types of products you want to start selling on Amazon, and how to source them, it’s time to see which Amazon seller account is the best fit for your selling needs and budget.
2. Select and Set Up Your Amazon Seller Account
You can choose between two types of Amazon seller accounts, an Individual Seller account, and a Pro Seller account. Pro accounts give you access to far more features than Individual plans but have a $39.99/mo. fee. Individual accounts are $0/mo. but charge 99¢ per-item fees. Plus, both accounts pay product fees when items sell.
Most sellers opt for Pro accounts because of the many sales-driving features you get as a Pro seller. But you can always start out with an Individual account, then upgrade. For example, if you’re just dipping your toe into Amazon using retail arbitrage an Individual plan can get you started with minimal costs. But, if you’re investing money in wholesale or private label products, the Pro plan is the best from day one.
Here’s are highlights of what you get, and what you can do, with each Amazon seller plan:
A Comparison of Amazon Pro Seller & Individual Seller Plans
|Product listing fee - charged when sold|
|Number of product listings/sales|
|Amazon product-related fees|
|Access to Fulfillment by Amazon|
|Access to Amazon Seller App|
|Sell existing Amazon products|
|Add new products to Amazon|
|Listings eligible for the Buy Box|
|Offer coupons, shipping specials, and gift wrap|
|Can apply to sell in restricted categories|
|Bulk upload products or feeds to Amazon|
|Access to inventory reports|
|Connect with 3rd-party services & product feeds|
To set up your seller account, select your Seller Plan, then follow Amazon’s account setup wizard. This is the wizard for the Pro plan:
Once you complete this, you’ll have access to your Seller Central Dashboard and can start listing products to sell on Amazon. Now let’s look at all the ways you can do that.
3. Create Your Product Listings on Amazon
Amazon sellers can create product listings in two ways. You can add your items to existing product listings or create a new product listing for an item. Adding items to existing listings is by far the easiest of the two, and this is how most new sellers get started on Amazon. So we’ll begin here.
Manually Add Your Product to an Existing Listing
You’ve probably noticed that many products for sale on Amazon have multiple sellers, as shown below:
Sellers 2 & 3 in the list above added their item to this existing product listing. If, at first, this seems like a waste of time because of competition, remember that often sellers have just a few items in stock. As others sell out, your listing will be the one available, and the one shoppers buy. Of course, you can also lower your price, offer free shipping, or use FBA (discussed below) to make your listing the top pick, too.
Manually adding your product to an existing listing is easy in your Seller Central Dashboard. Simply search for the item using the product name, Amazon product ID, or item SKU:
If it’s already for sale on Amazon, you’ll see it in the next screen:
Click on Sell Yours, and add your item to Amazon by filling a few fields in this screen. Required fields have an asterisk (*), others are optional:
Hit Save & Finish. Now you have a live listing on Amazon, ready to sell. That’s all there is to it! Here are a few things to keep in mind when you add products to existing Amazon listings:
Pick the Best Listing
You might find multiple listings for the same item, to start out, look for the the top-ranked listing with the best information and images. Adding to multiple listings can create inventory problems if you don’t closely watch your numbers.
Remember Your Profits
Don’t get caught up in a price war on competitive listings or you may find that you lose money before you know it. Always know your seller fees, watch your profit margin, and remember to research products. And remember to use scouting apps and the Amazon profit calculator when sourcing your products.
Prime Helps You Sell
You’ll notice that the top sellers on any listing tend to be those that are Prime-eligible. These sellers probably use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) to store and ship products. And even small and Individual sellers can do this, we’ll show you how in Step 5.
Want step-by-step instructions for creating this type of Amazon product listing? Visit Amazon’s Seller Tutorial.
If you have a Pro seller account, you can also add new product listings to Amazon manually, or through bulk methods. We’ll explore those now.
Manually Create a New Product Listing
Amazon Pro sellers can create completely new product listings for items not already sold on Amazon. This takes more time than adding products to an existing listing, but you can create a high-quality listing that sells by using your own keyword research, product images, and detailed item description.
Adding new products manually takes can be very time-consuming, as can manually adding many items to existing listings. Manual entry is fine if you sell just a few items, but if you have a large or changing collection, you’ll need a bulk upload solution. We’ll explore those now.
Use a Bulk Upload or Product Feed to Add & Manage Listings
If you’re a Pro seller, you also have the option to add many product listings at once by uploading all of your product data using a spreadsheet. And, if you also sell on own website, or plan to, you can directly connect your products to Amazon, too. Here’s how both of these options work:
Bulk Product Listing Upload Using a Spreadsheet
You can add your product to existing listings and create new ones using a bulk upload. To do this, you’ll build your Amazon product data file in a spreadsheet using Excel or similar software, save it as a CSV file, and upload it in your Amazon Seller Central dashboard.
Note, Amazon has several category-specific templates that you can use. There’s definitely a learning curve if you go this route, but the time saved in the long run can be worth the effort.
Bulk Product Listing Upload Using Product Feeds
If you sell, or plan to sell, on your own website, some ecommerce platforms support Amazon product feeds from your ecommerce store. This makes adding and maintaining product listings quite easy. Plus it streamlines inventory and order management, too. If you only sell on Amazon but want to better-manage your listings, there are systems for that, too.
Here are some top ecommerce platforms and listing management solutions to consider if you’re going this route:
Amazon-ready Ecommerce & Listing Management Solutions
|Shopify||Sellers using a website and Amazon||From $29/mo.|
|BigCommerce||Sellers using a website, Amazon and eBay||From $29.95/mo.|
|EcomDash||Sellers needing to streamline listing products on Amazon||From $50/mo.|
|SellBrite||Volume Amazon or sellers or ecommerce sellers||From $230/mo.|
However you plan to create your product listings in Amazon, once added, you’ll need to manage your inventory. Here are ways you can do that.
4. Manage Your Inventory on Amazon
Managing inventory accurately is key to your success on Amazon. Amazon will lower your Seller Rating for not shipping an order for an item that you show in-stock. Like product listings above, you have several choices when it comes to inventory management. Whichever method you choose, keep inventory updated to keep your Amazon seller ratings high.
Note, Amazon automatically reduces your inventory count as your Amazon items sell. If you sell only on Amazon, this should keep your counts correct. But if you sell the same stock on your own website or in a retail store, you’ll probably need a better solution.
Manually Adjust Inventory
You can manually adjust inventory levels within your Seller Central dashboard inventory screen. If you sell just a few items on Amazon, manual adjustments can be made by changing the Available units, as shown below. This isn’t too time consuming if you sell just a few products.
Manage Inventory Using a Bulk Upload or Inventory Feed
If you manage a number of products, reorder products, or need to balance inventory between Amazon and your website or store, you really need a better solution than manual adjustments. Like adding listings, you also have several options for managing inventory.
Bulk Inventory Upload Using a Spreadsheet
You can make inventory adjustments to some or all of your Amazon products using a bulk upload. To do this, you’ll build or change your Amazon inventory file in a spreadsheet using Excel or similar software, save it as a CSV file, and upload it in your Amazon Seller Central dashboard.
Inventory Management Using Ecommerce Platforms or Inventory Software
The ecommerce platforms and listing management tools listed in the previous section also manage and update your Amazon inventory. So, if you’re already using a tool that uploads products to Amazon, you can manage inventory the same way. If not, there are plenty of other Amazon seller tools that can help you manage inventory as you grow on Amazon.
5 Top Amazon Seller Inventory Management Tools
|Inventory Lab & Scoutify||Amazon sellers using retail arbitrage||$49/mo.|
|SellerEngine||Volume sellers needing full account management tools||$49 one-time|
|Seller Labs Quantify||Sellers wanting inventory & accounting features||$29/mo.|
|Joe Lister||Sellers on both Amazon & eBay||$29/mo.|
|Vendio||Sellers on Amazon & multiple marketplaces||$99/mo.|
After you have your Amazon listings in place and inventory in-hand, it’s time to watch those orders roll in. And when they do, you’ll need to get products to your buyers. Next, we’ll see how you can handle that task.
5. Fulfill Your Amazon Orders
The last major step in selling on Amazon is shipping orders. Here, you must remember one thing. Amazon is all about the customer. Amazon demands that you fill orders in a timely manner. If you don’t, your Seller Rating will suffer. So, to sell on Amazon, you must be prepared to ship orders yourself or outsource this task.
Ship Amazon Orders Yourself: Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM)
Many Amazon sellers start out shipping Amazon orders themselves. Plus, many established ecommerce sellers ship all Amazon orders from their own warehouse. Amazon calls this Fulfillment by Merchant or FBM.
If you choose to go this route but are new to shipping, Amazon makes it pretty easy to handle on a small scale. You can choose to charge for shipping products or offer free shipping. Plus, you can print orders and print both US Postal and UPS shipping labels right from your Seller Central dashboard. You’ll need to have packing materials ready-to-go, too, including:
- Shipping boxes
- Packing tape
- Filler such as paper or bubble wrap
- A shipping scale
- Easy access to shippers for package drop-off, or a secure place for pickup
Packing a few orders each week isn’t overwhelming for most, but remember! It must be done in a timely manner. That’s why sellers of all sizes tend to use our next option.
Let Amazon Fill & Ship Your Orders: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
With Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), you ship your products to Amazon, and they stock, pack, and ship your products for you. Of course, this comes with added FBA fees on top of your Amazon seller fees, but it also comes with many major sales-driving perks, including:
- Prime-eligible product listings – Most FBA items are listed as Prime products on Amazon
- Buyers look for Prime – 60% of US Amazon shoppers are Prime members, totaling $80M buyers in 2017, and they ALL look for Prime products to buy
- Free shipping to Prime buyers – FBA makes your products eligible for Prime free 2-day shipping
- Higher rankings for product listings – Amazon gives FBA sellers preference in rankings
- More Buy Box listings – When prices are the same, FBA sellers with the tie for the Buy Box
- Trust factor – when buyers sell it’s Fulfilled by Amazon, they trust it will arrive as expected
- Higher sales potential – All of the above reasons combine to equal higher sales
Using FBA can set your products higher than the competition, not to mention the time saved by not having pack and ship orders yourself.
As an FBA seller, you’ll have to prepare your products correctly for Amazon’s warehouse, then send them to Amazon. This includes printing barcode labels for products, bagging or packaging items per Amazon requirements, and shipping them to Amazon. But for many smaller sellers, this is a once- or twice-monthly task and more manageable that filling orders day-to-day. Plus, Amazon’s inbound shipping costs are very inexpensive, so that cost isn’t a great concern for small sellers.
Use a Third-Party Fulfillment Partner
Another option that takes fulfillment tasks off your plate is using an outside fulfillment company. Like FBA, these businesses store, pack, and ship your products for you. However, it’s considered Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM), since you use a company of your choosing. And, since it’s not FBA, you don’t get the sales-driving perks listed above.
A fulfillment partner is really geared for higher-volume multichannel ecommerce companies that sell in many places, including websites, Amazon, and other marketplaces. It’s rarely a good choice for a low-volume Amazon startup. But, you should be aware of this option in case your growth takes you beyond strictly selling on Amazon.
Bottom Line: How To Sell On Amazon
Amazon is an incredibly accessible platform that welcomes all kinds of sellers, from individuals selling a few items per month to power sellers moving thousands of products each day. There are many ways you can sell on Amazon, but the competition is fierce and Amazon is a demanding marketplace.
You need to approach every Amazon product opportunity from a profit perspective. This means you must figure your seller fees and the cost of the goods you sell, and add to that the time value for sourcing products, creating listings, managing inventory, and shipping orders. Once you understand your costs, you can make decisions to help balance efficiencies, increase net profits, and find ways to grow.
Are you an Amazon seller, or hoping to become one? If so, we’d love to hear how you got your start, or what you’re planning to sell on this vast platform. Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.