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How to Sell on Amazon

The Ultimate, Step by Step Beginner's Guide

Wondering if selling on Amazon is something worth trying given your situation? This is the complete, uncensored guide to selling on Amazon in 2020.

In this new guide you’ll learn:

  • How to quickly get your first sales.
  • Every strategy for finding products to sell
  • Scaling strategies to reach 6+ figures
Plus lots more. Let’s get started.

You're going to want a comfortable chair...

Before you get started, you should know a couple things.

First, this guide is big. Really big. 

We felt that the existing guides to selling on Amazon left a lot to be desired, so we created a 15000+ word monster of a beginners guide to selling on Amazon that will answer any and all questions you have.

If you want to know it, it’s in here. And if it’s not, make sure to let us know in the comments so we can add it!

To get a more condensed guide that focuses on How to Get Your First Sale on Amazon, click here to jump to Chapter 7 where you can download a free copy of my book.

Second, we discuss a lot of tools and services in this guide. Some of the links we’ve included are affiliate links. We appreciate if you use them because we’ll get a small commission at no cost to you. It’s a good way to say thanks if you like the post!

Contents

Chapter 1

An Introduction to Amazon

Chapter 2

How Amazon Works

Chapter 3

Finding Things to Sell

Chapter 4

Your Amazon Seller Account

Chapter 5

Listing and Selling Your Items

Chapter 6

After the Sale

Chapter 7

Get Your First Sale on Amazon

Chapter 8

Scaling Strategies

Chapter 9

Tools for Selling on Amazon

Chapter 1

An Introduction to Amazon

easymoney

Before we dive into the details of selling on Amazon, let’s cover some basics:

  • Why sell on Amazon?
  • How much does it cost to sell on Amazon?
    • What are the start up costs?
    • What are the fees for selling on Amazon?
  • How much money can you make?

Why Sell on Amazon?

Let’s start with a simple question that many people who consider selling on Amazon struggle with:

Do you actually want to try selling on Amazon? Is it worth it?

Before we can address that question though, you first need to decide what type of business you want to create.

Here at Online Selling Experiment, we focus on helping you build an online retail business for the following reasons:

  1. You can get started with online retail with any amount of money and you don’t need special skills.
  2. There is virtually no limit on the future size of your business. Product-based businesses are easier to scale than service-based businesses.
  3. It’s what we have experience with. Over the past decade, we’ve sold 8+ figures on online marketplaces like Amazon.
Amazon Sales Dashboard: 2019 Revenue + Sales Data on Amazon

The other big factor in our love of online retail is the ability to automate it.

Online retail provides a path to make more money while gaining control over when and where you work.

If this all sounds good and you want to try online retail in general, now we can address the question of whether or not you want to sell on Amazon. Here are 5 big reasons why selling on Amazon can be a great opportunity:

  1. You’ll get access to hundreds of millions of potential customers from the beginning.
  2. It’s easy to get started – everything except sourcing the product can be handled by Amazon.
  3. Related to #2 – Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) means you don’t have to spend time on order fulfillment.
  4. Low start-up costs
  5. You can sell on Amazon AND anywhere else you want. It’s not an either-or decision!

For all the downsides that you’ll hear about regarding selling on Amazon, we’ve found that the upsides far outweigh them. Amazon is the biggest online marketplace in the United States, and the potential sales volume to be gained far exceeds any other option.

For example, Amazon Prime buyers are noted for buying more products each year than the average online shopper, and there’s a lot of them. Back in a 2018 letter to shareholders, Jeff Bezos announced that worldwide there are more than 100 million Prime members!

More recent estimates have that number at over 150 million with nearly 100 million in the US alone! That’s a lot of potential customers.

How much does it cost to start selling on Amazon?

The start-up costs for both online retail in general and selling on Amazon are very low compared to other businesses.

A commonly cited figure for starting a business is $30k, but this figure is highly variable based on the industry you are getting into.

JungleScout recently published a study showing that the average Amazon seller only spends $3,836 to get started!

But a lot of people can’t even afford to spend that. If you don’t have $4k sitting around to invest in a product, that’s okay! The strategies we recommend for getting started don’t even cost this much – in fact, you can get started with less than $100!

Later in this guide, we’ll discuss this more. You should also grab a copy of the book I’m offering about getting your first sale on Amazon.

We’ll also discuss the fees for selling on Amazon – but there are options for getting started where you only pay once an item sells.

How much money can you make selling on Amazon?

The amount people earn selling on Amazon ranges from $0 to many millions. Some people lose money, some people become incredibly rich.

For perspective, we sold $6,507,690 worth of products on Amazon in 2019. On an average month, we sell over $450k in products. That number goes up considerably during Q4 though.

Here’s our Amazon sales dashboard from April 2019, a fairly standard month all things considered.

There are many people who earn a lot more than us, and there are even more who earn less. The big range in potential outcomes has a lot to do with your goals and the strategies you employ. My goal was to fully replace my accounting job, so I worked hard to scale my business to the level it is at today.

One of the biggest keys to early success and then achieving the scale you are after is reinvestment.

For most people, I recommend 100% reinvestment of profits for as long as possible. Most people make the mistake of “paying themselves” too early.

As I often explain to students and coaching clients, what most people consider a reasonable amount to take from their profits mathematically makes it very difficult for the business to grow quickly.

This graph shows how your capital grows over time based on what percentage of profits you use to “pay yourself”. As you can see, keeping 50% – meaning for every $10 you make, you keep $5 – leads to virtually no growth in the beginning. This is a very common scenario because people don’t realize the long-term implications of doing this.

So the amount you can make is nearly limitless. The amount you will actually make depends on how hard you work, how much time you invest, and how much of your profits you reinvest.

Don’t let others fool you – this is hard work and it will take time to be successful.

Chapter 2

How Amazon Works

howamazonworks

Now let’s take a look at how selling on Amazon works:

  • How to create an Amazon Seller account
    • Individual vs Professional
  • The Amazon “Buy Box”
  • Restricted categories, brands, and products
  • Amazon fees
    • What is FBA? What does it cost?
  • Selling internationally

Amazon Seller Accounts: Individual vs Professional

To sell on Amazon, you need to get an Amazon Seller account. This is separate from the account you use to buy things on Amazon, although you can sign up with the same email if desired.

There are two types of Seller accounts: Individual and Professional.

The Professional Account offers a lot of advantages over the Individual account, but it also costs $39.99 a month. Benefits include:

  • The ability to earn the buy box
  • Option to run promotions
  • Bulk-uploading of items from a spreadsheet
  • Ability to use 3rd party tools and apps

Of these, the ability to earn the buy box is likely the most significant if you will be selling products with other sellers on the listing. We’ll cover what the buy box is shortly.

Individual accounts do not include a monthly fee, meaning you can create one for free. Every sale you earn with an Individual account includes a $0.99 per item fee that the Professional account doesn’t have though.

So right away, if you plan on selling more than 40 items a month, the Professional account is the better deal even without the extra benefits.

You can read more about the differences between the two account types here.

Amazon vs eBay

The mechanics of how a listing works on Amazon versus how they work on eBay are very different.

On eBay, every time you want to sell a new item you create a new listing that is connected to your account. You can list more than 1 “unit” of each item if you have more than 1 to sell, but the listing belongs to you.

So when you search for an item on eBay, you’ll frequently see tons of listings for the same product.

For example, here are the results for the search “Rawlings Official 2019 All Star Game Baseball” on eBay. Even though this is a very specific product, there are 29 total search results and many of these are for the exact same ball.

When you open up one of these listings, you’ll see that the listing is “owned” by one seller.

In this example, the first result for the search led to a listing by a business named “usasportsmktg” that has sold 335 of these baseballs.

So when selling on eBay, one of the big challenges as a new seller is competing with other sellers to be at the top of the search results.

As mentioned before, selling on Amazon is very different.

When you perform a search for a product on Amazon, identical products show up in a single listing even if the sellers are different.

So when you search for “Rawlings Official 2019 All Star Game Baseball” on Amazon, only one of the results is actually for that ball. The rest are for different variations or different years.

When you open a listing, you’ll see that there are multiple sellers offering inventory.

In this case, there are 4 sellers, but for more popular products there can be many more than this. For example, the Settlers of Catan board game has 55 sellers currently offering it for sale!

This is where the Buy Box comes into play.

What is the Buy Box on Amazon?

You may have heard of people talking about “being in the Buy Box” or “gaining the Buy Box”.

Being in the Buy Box means being the seller whose inventory is added to a person’s cart when they click the main Add to Cart or Buy Now buttons.

In the image above, the red box is the Buy Box and the red arrow is pointing to the checkout buttons inside the box.

Below the checkout buttons, you’ll see “Sold by MBM Market and Fulfilled by Amazon”. I’ve highlighted this area with a blue box.

This means that MBM Market is currently “in the Buy Box”. If I clicked Add to Cart or Buy Now, I would end up purchasing their inventory and they would get credit for the sale.

As you can see, there are 53 other sellers also selling this game. You can purchase from one of them by clicking one of the areas it says “New (53)”, but few buyers ever bother to do that. Going with the one in the Buy Box is easier and less time consuming.

You may be wondering how to get in the Buy Box. There are a couple things you should know about “earning the Buy Box”.

First, Amazon displays different sellers for different buyers. They factor in things like whose inventory is closest to the buyer and what the buyer values most based on previous orders (like lowest price vs faster shipping).

Second, Amazon does not release their exact formula but there are factors that are known to be important. These include:

  • Price
  • Shipping methods and if it is FBA or not
  • Feedback and other account metrics

What is FBA?

FBA stands for Fulfillment by Amazon. This means that the process of shipping the item to the consumer is managed by Amazon – not you as the seller.

FBA is not mandatory to sell on item on Amazon, but we’ve found that it is usually worth the additional fees that come with the program.

For one, it ends up saving a lot of time over processing all orders internally. Instead, we can box up numerous items in a single shipment to an Amazon warehouse and then Amazon handles all the rest. We’ve sent hundreds of items at a time to Amazon which in turn saved us countless hours processing each item as it sold.

An FBA Shipment in Process

What is Amazon Prime?

Prime and FBA are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same things. FBA is a type of order fulfillment. Prime is a membership that consumers can purchase that unlocks free, 2-day shipping on many orders. Sometimes it even unlocks free one-day shipping!

This fast shipping is usually only available on orders that are fulfilled by Amazon, which is why some people mix them up.

“Seller Fulfilled Prime” is also an option, though this is generally for bigger warehouses and is only open via an application process.

What are the fees for FBA and selling on Amazon?

There are a variety of fees that are charged when you are selling on Amazon. Some are required, and others are optional based on the services that you choose to use.

The main differences in the fees that you will pay for selling on Amazon are if you use Fulfillment by Amazon or if you ship items to customers on your own. If you ship directly to customers this is known as “seller fulfilled” or “merchant fulfilled”. 

This means there are 3 categories of fees to discuss:

  1. Fees that are charged regardless of the fulfillment method you are using
  2. Fees that are only charged to FBA sellers
  3. Fees that are only charged to merchant fulfilled sellers

An important side note is that a seller can choose to use FBA on some items and merchant fulfill others. This doesn’t have to be an “either-or” choice, you can do both.

We recently published an in-depth look at all the fees associated with selling on Amazon, and we’ll also cover the basics below.

Fees Charged Regardless of Fulfillment Method

The following fees apply regardless of how an item is fulfilled:

  • $0.99 per item fee OR $39.99 a month Professional account charge
  • Amazon referral fee – between 8% and 15% on the majority of items
  • Closing fees on media items (books, DVDs, music, etc…)
  • Refund administration fee

The “refund administration fee” is charged when a refund is issued to your customer:

If you refund a customer for an order for which you have already received payment, Amazon will refund you the amount of the referral fee you paid for the item(s), minus the applicable Refund Administration Fee, which is the lesser of $5.00 or 20% of the applicable referral fee. For example, if you refund a customer the $10.00 total sales price of an item in a category with a 15% referral fee, your Refund Administration Fee will be $0.30 ($10.00 x 15% referral fee = $1.50).

Fees Charged For Seller Fulfilled Items Sold

The main additional cost that you will incur if you are seller fulfilling an item is the shipping cost to the customer.

While this isn’t technically a fee charged by Amazon, it’s very important to factor into the equation when evaluating items to sell.

You will be able to purchase shipping directly through Amazon for items sold and have it billed to your Amazon seller account. The cost of shipping directly to the customer will vary dramatically based on the size, dimension, and how far away your customer is.

Expect to pay between $4 and $15 to ship to customers for the vast majority of items.

Fees Charged for Using FBA

Fees that may apply to items Fulfilled by Amazon include:

  • FBA Fulfillment Fee
  • Monthly Inventory Storage Fees
  • Long term storage fees
  • Inbound shipping
  • Removal & disposal fees
  • Returns processing fees
  • Fees for additional optional services

The main fee that you will be charged is the “fulfillment fee”.

This is the fee that is charged for Amazon to ship your item to your customer on your behalf. This fee covers the cost of the packaging, the time of the worker who handles putting the shipment together, and the shipping cost. This fee will vary significantly based on the size of the item.

For example, if you were selling Monopoly Ultimate Banking using FBA, you would pay a fulfillment fee of $5.42.

This is a very good rate. If I tried to ship this item through the post office, I would likely pay at least $8.

You can use the FBA Revenue Calculator to see the fees in advance on any item you are considering selling. This makes it so that you can ensure you will be making a profit after all of the costs to sell your items.

What can you sell on Amazon?

Every product on Amazon is broken down into Categories and Sub-Categories. There are more than 20 categories that Amazon considers “open”, meaning you don’t need specific permission to sell in them.

There are also many categories that require approval. In other words, you need to get permission from Amazon before you are allowed to sell a product in them. Only people with Professional accounts can gain approval to sell in a previously restricted or “gated” category.

These Amazon categories require approval and a Professional Account:

  • Automotive & Powersports
  • Collectible Coins
  • Fine Jewelry
  • Fine Art
  • Grocery & Gourmet Food
  • Industrial & Scientific
  • Sports Collectibles
  • Video, DVD & Blu-Ray
  • Watches

These categories require a Professional Account (but don’t need further approval in most cases):

  • Business Products (B2B)
  • Fashion Jewelry
  • Luggage & Travel Accessories

If you want to offer Professional Services, you must be a qualified service professional. You can learn more here.

On top of category-based restrictions, there are also additional restrictions placed on individual Brands and products, as well as certain categories that only allow new items to be sold (i.e. you can’t always sell an item if it is used, even if you are allowed to sell it new.)

Brand-level restrictions are generally for big brands like Apple, Nike, Bose, and Levi’s.

Product or “ASIN-level” restrictions mean that an individual product is blocked from being sold by resellers. Brand level restrictions are often carried out by blocking all the individual ASINs associated with the brand. ASIN simply means “Amazon Standard Identification Number” and is a unique ID for the product on Amazon.

Can I sell used items?

Whether or not you can sell an item in “used” condition (or any other condition other than “new”) depends on the category it is in.

Categories that allow the sale of used items include:

  • Books
  • Camera & Photo
  • Cell Phones
  • Electronics Accessories
  • Home & Garden
  • Musical Instruments
  • Office Products
  • Outdoors
  • Sports
  • Toys (note: used items are classified as “collectible” in this category)
  • Tools & Home Improvement
  • DVDs
  • Video Games

You can read more about restricted categories and whether or not you can sell used items in a given category on this page on Amazon.

What is the A to Z guarantee?

The A to Z guarantee is something Amazon offers to buyers of items that are purchased from a third party seller on Amazon. A third-party seller simply means someone who isn’t Amazon, so if you sell on Amazon, you will be considered a third-party seller.

The A to Z guarantee covers both the timeliness of delivery AND the condition of the item.

Here are the specific criteria Amazon gives for when an A to Z guarantee claim can be filed:

  1. You have not received your package and three days have passed since the maximum estimated delivery date or the tracking shows a delivery confirmation, whichever is sooner.
  2. You received an order that is different than expected and have requested a return with the seller.
  3. You returned your item with a trackable shipping method and the seller has not issued you a refund.

Having these claims filed against you is bad for your business. They can lead to not ranking as well, not getting the buy box, or even getting suspended in extreme scenarios.

In general, it’s smart to be familiar with Amazon’s condition guidelines and follow them exactly.

Can you sell internationally on Amazon?

Amazon has marketplaces in many different countries around the world. You can set up accounts on as many marketplaces as you want as long as you meet the requirements.

To sell on an international marketplace, at a minimum you will need a tax ID specific for that country. Depending on the country, you may need to register your business there, have a bank account in the local currency of the country, and have a mailing address in that country.

The requirements vary a bit by country but you will be walked through exactly what is needed if you go through the process of setting up an account.

Setting up an account in another country can create some logistical challenges. We focus primarily on selling on Amazon.com, which is the platform in the United States. We aren’t even close to exhausting the opportunity on Amazon.com, so we haven’t expanded to many of the international marketplaces.

That’s not to say it’s not an opportunity, but we’re focusing resources at this time where we are seeing the best potential for expansion.

If you are thinking about adding in a marketplace for a country that you don’t reside in, I’d do an evaluation of if you think you’ve maxed out your opportunity in your home country first.

Countries where Amazon currently has marketplaces include:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Japan
  • China
  • India
  • Australia
  • United Arab Emirates

Chapter 3

Finding Things to Sell

product

There are numerous ways to find things to sell on Amazon. In this chapter, you’ll learn about ALL the major ways people are finding things to sell – also called “sourcing”.

  • Flipping
  • Retail Arbitrage
  • Online Arbitrage
  • Wholesale
  • Private Label + Brand Building

Selling an Existing Product vs. Creating Your Own

Many beginners incorrectly assume that they have to come up with a new product to sell – or at least develop a brand – if they want to make money on Amazon. This isn’t true.

In fact, starting off with your own brand and your own products doesn’t make sense for the majority of new sellers. Doing this means that everything you do is more difficult and more expensive.

When you sell an existing product, you get to use the existing listing for that product. You don’t have to do things like:

  1. Take product pictures.
  2. Write headlines or descriptions.
  3. Get the product to rank by getting early sales and reviews.

You get to skip straight ahead to selling.

You also have the added benefit of knowing how well an item is selling and how much you can expect it to sell for.

Amazon provides a “Best Sellers Rank” or BSR to all products which gives you an idea of how well an item sells compared to other items in the same category.

For example, here is the BSR for the ENO Doublenest camping hammock…

BSR for ENO Doublenest

Then third-party tools like CamelCamelCamel provide historical price data to give you an idea of how stable an item’s price is.

ENO Doublenest Historical Price Chart from CamelCamelCamel.com

All of this helps to decrease risk when you are starting out.

Unfortunately, many beginners never realize this. Instead they fall for the marketing hype surrounding private labeling.

The way many new sellers approach private label for Amazon is by doing nothing more than having a custom brand put on an existing product. Little to nothing is altered about the product except for the branding.

In the beginning, people were doing this and making big money. As more and more people do this every day, Amazon is becoming flooded with hundreds of brands selling the same cheaply made products.

The competition is fierce and many private label sellers are frustrated by decreasing profits.

For example, here is the ranking for someone selling a camping hammock that is nearly identical to the ENO Doublenest:

That’s a HUGE drop. From #3,413 in the Sports & Outdoors category all the way down to #175,310. And that is despite the fact that ENO, the more established brand, is selling their hammocks in the $50-$75 range while this contender is priced at… $17.99.

There are many people selling camping hammocks that are doing much, much worse. I saw dozens of listings with no sales that I couldn’t use as examples here because they didn’t even have a BSR (no sales means your product doesn’t’ register with a best seller’s rank).

Building your own brand still offers the potential for huge profits, but it isn’t the easy, get-rich-quick scheme that it used to be. To be successful with developing a brand, you need money and experience. And that’s why we recommend starting off with selling existing products.

We’ve organized the various strategies you can use for product sourcing into a system we call the Stairway to 7 Figures.

This approach allows you to focus on building both experience and capital with low-risk strategies when you are getting started. Over time, you add more complex strategies as you have the finances and knowledge to do so.

The beginning steps are flipping and arbitrage. These are two very similar strategies and you can start with one or both of them. Flipping is buying used items locally to resell online, arbitrage is doing the same thing with primarily new items.

People pushing private label and wholesale often look down on these strategies, but the truth is that they are perfect for beginners. They give you a stepping stone to bridge the gap between being a complete beginner and being ready to tackle more advanced strategies.

Flipping

Flipping is buying used items at local sales like garage sales, auctions, thrift stores, church sales, and flea markets. You then sell the items that you buy on online marketplaces like eBay, Craigslist, Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, and occasionally on Amazon.

Flipping is a great way to gain early cash. It allows you to get started with no money at all if you don’t have any. Last year I had a team member take on a flipping challenge and he was able to generate $2457 in 90 days starting with $0.

While there are people who specialize in selling things like used books on Amazon, in general we’d recommend utilizing the other marketplaces mentioned above as well.

With that in mind, let’s move on to retail arbitrage.

Retail Arbitrage

Walmart Clearance Section - Getting started with Retail Arbitrage

For the majority of people, retail arbitrage is likely the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to get started on Amazon.

Retail arbitrage is buying items at local brick and mortar retail stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Walgreens to sell for a profit online.

Retail arbitrage is what I’m best known for because it’s the main strategy I used in the process of scaling my business to 7+ figures.

(It helps that the story has been featured places like CNBC and Good Morning America.)

How Does Retail Arbitrage Work?

The process of retail arbitrage is simple:

  1. Set up your Amazon Seller account
  2. Download the Amazon Seller app.
  3. Use the app to scan products in stores.
  4. Buy products that match your buying guidelines.
  5. List them for sale on Amazon!

The Amazon Seller app is a very important tool for retail arbitrage.

When you scan a product’s barcode, the app tells you some very important data about the product. This includes if you are eligible to sell it, what the Best Sellers Rank (BSR) is, what the product is currently selling for on Amazon, and even how much you can expect to pay in fees.

Scanning a product means that you point your phones camera at the barcode on the product. After doing that you will see this:

This is what the Amazon Seller App looks like when you first scan a barcode.

How Much Can You Make With Retail Arbitrage?

Your earnings potential with retail arbitrage depends on where you live and how many stores you have access to. Sourcing in stores is a time-intensive process, so earnings – especially in the beginning – can take awhile to build up.

With that being said, my business now does 7+ figures in sales just from products sourced via retail arbitrage every year.

$1000+ in profit per month is a good target once you have your retail arbitrage operation fully developed. You can earn a lot more than this if you are doing it full time – especially if you hire people to work with you. But $1000+ per month is doable even on a part-time basis.

Regardless of your earnings here, the most valuable thing you will gain at this stage is experience. Aim to do everything well and maintain steller account metrics with Amazon.

Is Retail Arbitrage Legal?

Yes!

Contrary to reports that say otherwise, you are allowed to sell items sourced via retail arbitrage.

It is NOT against Amazon policies.

As described above, the Amazon Seller App will tell you if you are allowed to sell an item or not. If you stick to items you are eligible to sell, follow condition guidelines, and otherwise follow the rules, you should be just fine!

Best Stores for Retail Arbitrage

Here is a list of 12 of the best stores for retail arbitrage sourcing:

  1. Walmart
  2. Kmart
  3. Lowes
  4. Home Depot
  5. Target
  6. Kohl’s
  7. Walgreens
  8. CVS
  9. Costco
  10. Big Lots
  11. Ollie’s
  12. BJ’s Wholesale Club

Additional Information on Retail Arbitrage

For additional information on retail arbitrage, I recommend checking out the following:

  1. The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Retail Arbitrage
  2. Launch Accelerator: $150 in expected profit, guaranteed…
  3. Online Retail Pro (Lite)

Online Arbitrage

Online arbitrage is very similar to retail arbitrage, except you source from websites instead of brick and mortar retail stores.

There are two big advantages to online arbitrage:

  1. You have a much wider selection of stores and products.
  2. You can source at any time from any location.

The downside to this is that the lower barrier to entry means it’s also easier for competitors to find products. We’ve found online arbitrage to be a great supplement to our retail arbitrage sourcing in my business.

How does Online Arbitrage work?

To perform online arbitrage for Amazon, you must:

  1. Set up your Amazon Seller account
  2. Search for products online that you can sell for more on Amazon
  3. Evaluate the profitability of the product using the FBA Revenue Calculator or a 3rd party tool
  4. Buy products that match your buying guidelines
  5. List them for sale on Amazon!

The key to being successful with online arbitrage is finding products at a discount that you can sell for more. This can be done by manually comparing the price you can buy an item for to what it sells for on Amazon. This way works but it is time-intensive.

If you are going to take online arbitrage seriously, I recommend investing in tools to make the process more efficient.

Best Online Arbitrage Tool for Amazon

The main tool we use in my business for online arbitrage is called Tactical Arbitrage.

This software will automatically comb through pages of online retailers’ websites, compare prices with Amazon, then give you a list of the items that are profitable. You then have a pre-filtered list of potential products to buy.

The list Tactical Arbitrage provides allows you to focus on the products with the highest potential.

If you are interested, you can get an extended free trial with code OSE10 when signing up on Tactical Arbitrage’s website.

Websites to target for Online Arbitrage

The vast majority of retail websites present an opportunity for online arbitrage.

Begin by evaluating websites that you personally shop on, especially if you know how their discount system works.

Maybe you know they send a 25% off coupon code every 3 months, or you know that they clearance products on a certain schedule. If you have knowledge about a site like that, start there.

If nothing comes to mind from that, here are 10 websites I’ve placed online arbitrage orders from:

  1. Walmart
  2. Target
  3. Home Depot
  4. Lowes
  5. Sams Club
  6. Costco
  7. Sierra Trading Post
  8. Bed Bath and Beyond
  9. JCPenney
  10. Kohls

As you are shopping and browsing online in the future, aim to always pay attention when a price feels low, and then look up what it is selling for on Amazon. Over time, you’ll get an intuitive sense of arbitrage opportunities, and you will end up buying items to resell even when you didn’t start browsing with that intention.

Additional Information on Online Arbitrage

For additional information on online arbitrage, read the following:

  1. Online Arbitrage: Source More & Maximize Profits in 2020
  2. Online Retail Pro

Wholesale

Wholesale sourcing for Amazon involves setting up accounts with suppliers, distributors, and manufacturers to purchase bulk orders of existing products to resell.

Wholesale is the main business model that stores like Walmart use – they have wholesale accounts set up with the individual brands they carry (Heinz, Dasani, Hot Wheels, etc…), and they place bulk orders to resell the products at their own stores.

You can do the exact same thing, and it can be very lucrative.

Wholesale now accounts for the majority of our sales in any given month or year. In 2019, wholesale represented about 65% of our sales.

The rise of the internet and online marketplaces full of sellers eager to get wholesale accounts has made it more difficult to get them, but it’s also arguably made them even more valuable.

The Secret to Getting Wholesale Accounts

So you may be wondering what we’re doing that is allowing us to get wholesale accounts.

The secret lies in what we call “value adds”.

A “value add” is some way that we’re able to offer extra value over your average wholesale partner. Before we approach a distributor or manufacturer, we take the time to review their business and their current online presence to look for ways that we can improve what they are doing and help them get more sales.

Sometimes these value adds are customized to the business and their unique struggles, but we also have a list of standard “value propositions” or “value props” that we offer to all partners.

Build a Value Prop Website

Another “secret” to our success with wholesale is what we call our “value prop website”. This is a website that we built that showcases our business and the experience we bring to the table.

The website lends credibility to our business in numerous ways, one of the biggest being that it gives us a domain to host our email at. Instead of sending email from a @gmail.com or @hotmail.com address, we can send it from our own address just like we do for email from this website.

For example, our support email address here is support@onlinesellingexperiment.com.

A value prop website doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. We’ve helped many people build their own with simple tools and a hundred dollars or less.

How to Find Suppliers + Product Research

When you are looking to get started with wholesale, one of the first places that I’d recommend researching is on Amazon.

One of the main things that I would recommend looking for in your research are listings that need improvement. This could be low-quality product photos, a poorly optimized title, or not having the product description filled out.

This is an example of a significantly under-optimized listing. Bad photos and no details!

When a listing has room for improvement, this is a direct “value add” you can provide to help this company.

When you come across opportunities like this where you can help improve their listings, then I’d recommend finding the contact information for the brand owner and reaching out to them. The goal is to let them know about the potential problem you came across with their listing, how they can solve it, and how you can help solve it for them if they choose to work with you.

Approaching things in this way helps you lead with value as opposed to just asking to sell their product. This is the approach we aim to take when finding new wholesale suppliers.

In addition to searching for products that need optimization on Amazon, other ways to find suppliers include:

  • Trade shows
  • Searching on Google
  • Products you come across in retail store
  • Products you have sold via arbitrage sourcing methods.

There are many ways to come across potential suppliers. When you do, your goal is to find a way you can set up a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Additional Information on Wholesale

For additional information on wholesale, I recommend:

  1. Intro to Wholesale: Buying in Bulk for Amazon FBA
  2. Why 65% of My FBA Business Now Comes From Wholesale
  3. Online Retail Pro

Brand Building + Private Labeling

What is private labeling?

Private labeling refers to having a product manufactured and putting your own brand on it. The product is usually “generic” – meaning it’s not something that you have exclusive rights to sell and other people may already be selling it.

To be clear, you will have full control over any that have your brand, but there are usually other people selling the same object with their own brand.

You can private label almost anything. Cups, notebooks, greenhouses, pet toys – even beer!

To see an example of this in action, try doing a search for “camping hammock” on Amazon. But before you do that, take a moment and think about how many manufacturers you think there are for this product.

When you perform the search, you may be surprised at how many results there are for such a specific product…

But when you take a closer look at the products being sold, you’ll notice that they bear an uncanny resemblance to each other.

This is because the vast majority of these camping hammocks are being made by the same handful of manufacturers. The many dozens of brands you see are all contacting these manufacturers to have hammocks made. This is private label in action.

Finding a manufacturer to have this done is EASY.

We could have our own Online Selling Experiment brand hammocks ordered within a few minutes by heading over to Alibaba, searching for “camping hammocks”, and placing an order.

Here’s what happens when you do that search:

Those pictures look familiar, don’t they?

A lot of private label sellers just repurpose the product images provided by the manufacturer.

The Problems With Private Label

When these systems first started being developed and people realized how easy it was to have products cheaply made overseas, private labeling represented big and easy money. The number of products that offered large profit margins was near limitless, and lots of people cashed in in big ways on this opportunity.

But over time, more and more sellers stepped in to try private label. Tools were developed to make product evaluation nearly automatic. The most profitable opportunities were (and are) snapped up quickly.

Very often when someone finds a new, profitable “niche”, dozens – if not hundreds – of sellers rush in behind them to compete.

As more and more sellers step in to sell the same product, the profit margin goes lower and lower. Sometimes it evaporates altogether because someone decides investing in the product was a mistake and starts selling at a loss to quickly recoup some of their investment.

And as many people will tell you, Amazon frequently becomes a competitor too. They private label just like everyone else, and they have a lot more data to work off when choosing what to sell.

For the most profitable products, they often have NUMEROUS private label offerings. Try searching for something like “bath towels” and see what happens.

Here’s what I found.

And they get to skip straight to the front of the line (top of the results) thanks to “Editorial recommendations” where they are the top 3 brands!

This is the type of stuff you will be up against as a private label seller on Amazon.

Don’t forget that you’ll also be creating and managing your own product pages from scratch and it will be your job to get reviews and early sales to try to outrank your competitors.

This is why I don’t recommend private label for people who are just getting started selling online.

It’s extremely easy to dump lots of money into a product that looks great on paper or in the dashboard in one of the tools, then find yourself months down the road with a lot of camping hammocks in your closet and struggling to generate a profit or even get your money out.

This doesn’t mean developing your own products and brands is out of the picture. We just believe that is better saved for later in your online selling journey. Better to learn the systems with existing products, build up a base of capital, then take the plunge from a position of strength and not as a complete novice.

Success With Your Own Brands

The above problems are specifically associated with private labeling “generic” products just to sell on Amazon, which is what people often mean when they discuss this strategy.

The key to success with developing your own brands is the same as it is with wholesale: adding value.

In this case, you need to be adding value for the consumer.

These are all ways that value can be added:

  • Designing new “solutions” and products
  • Adding new features to existing products
  • Improving the quality of the construction
  • Offering better guarantees and customer service
  • Offering a more complete product line

The more difficult it is to replicate your “value add”, the better off you’ll be. This prevents other sellers from rushing in and copying you.

Another thing that will likely become increasingly important for brand building is developing the brand outside Amazon. Having a presence on other marketplaces and social media, building out your own website, and even achieving brick and mortar distribution are all things that you may want to consider.

Product Evaluation

There are lots of tools out there that are designed to help you find the perfect private label product. The challenge with these tools is that many people get access to the same type of data. So if you use them I’d recommend aiming to do some searches that other sellers aren’t.

Common recommendations for a “good” private label product include:

  • Sells for between $20 and $50
  • Lightweight (under 5 lbs)
  • Compact and easy to ship
  • Year-round demand
  • Good Best Sellers Rank
  • Low competition

This is why there are so many people selling water bottles, hammocks, flashlights, and portable speakers.

While products that fit these metrics are definitely appealing, you should always keep in mind the idea of the value add. What are you going to do to differentiate yourself from competitors in a way that consumers will recognize and appreciate?

A good place to start is the interests you already have and the products you already use. As you go through your day-to-day life, keep a log of every time you find yourself disappointed in the performance of a product. This is a potential opportunity to research later. You may find that there are better products out there, or you may find that you’ve stumbled on to a potential winner.

Another option is to do product research the traditional way and make a list of products that are worth investigating further, then look through the reviews for similar products. If the reviews are great, this is a sign that customers are already happy with what they are being offered.

If you find lots of negative reviews, keep an eye out for what customers are saying they want. Is there a weak spot in the design? Does the product fail after a short period of time? Is it just not very good at the job it’s supposed to do?

These may be opportunities!

Finding Suppliers

The most common way to find suppliers for private label is to go to Alibaba.com and search for the product in question like we did with the camping hammocks example above.

If you are looking for a foreign manufacturer, other websites you can check out include:

These are some of the most common sources for private label products, and many people perform searches hoping to find someone listing the exact product they are looking for.

But keep in mind that easily finding a manufacturer offering the product you want means that other sellers can do the same thing.

While they can be more difficult, there are other ways to find suppliers. These include:

Other Things to Consider When Attempting Private Label

The upside to successfully developing a product and brand is that the earnings can far exceed nearly any other business model.

But to realize results like this, you have to do a lot of background work and invest a lot of money.

Here are some other things you’ll need that all cost money:

  • Intellectual property protections in the form of a patent, trademark, or copyright
  • A professionally made logo
  • A website
  • UPCs

UPC stands for “Universal Product Code”. You may know them better as barcodes. The best way to do this is by going straight through GS1 US, but it costs more than using a reseller.

When you do the whole process yourself, you get UPCs with a unique company identifier as part of the number that are accepted everywhere.

Some Amazon sellers use UPC resellers without issue, but this can definitely lead to problems. If you are going to buy a UPC I would only go through GS1 as that’s the official way to buy UPCs in the United States.

Additional Information on Private Labeling

We’re working on private label in a big way for 2020. Our goal is to more fully figure out what it will take to be successful with brand building now and in the future, then pass what we learn on to you. We have some exciting experiments that we’re setting up.

Chapter 4

Your Amazon Seller Account

account

In this chapter, we’ll take a closer look at your Amazon Seller account and how you will manage it.

  • Creating your Amazon Seller account
  • Keeping you account in good standing
  • Dealing with suspensions

Let’s take a closer look at your account now…

What do you need to create an Amazon Seller account?

The main information you will need to set up your account is:

  1. Business information
  2. Email address
  3. Credit card
  4. Bank account
  5. Phone number
  6. Tax ID

Your business information and tax ID numbers can be your personal information. For a business name, you can put your own legal name. For your tax ID, you can use your social security number.

Keep in mind I’m not a lawyer or a CPA. Nothing in this post is to be construed as legal or tax advice. My recommendation would be to consult a professional who can get to know your personal situation for advice on these matters.

Amazon also sometimes will request additional information like scanned copies of your passport, national ID, bank account statements, or credit card statements.

They are mainly looking for consistency to make sure you are who you say you are and to prevent scammers or people looking to open up multiple accounts. When you submit documents, you want to make sure your address and name match across the documents and application!

Setting Up Your Amazon Seller Account

To set up your Amazon Seller account, you need to visit services.amazon.com.

Once there, you will see a big button that says “Start selling”:

This button starts the process of setting up a Professional account – the one that costs $39.99 a month.

If you want an Individual account, you have to make sure you do not press that button and instead scroll to find a link that says “Sign up to become an individual seller”:

Once you start the process of setting up a Professional account, Amazon locks the email address you use into that process. We figured this out because many of our students and readers have clicked the link in the picture above but were still asked to pay $39.99 a month.

After working with a student to resolve the issue, an Amazon rep said that the only options were to start over with a new email address or to pay the $39.99 to start the account then immediately downgrade to an Individual account and request your money back.

You can read more about setting up an Individual account here.

Common Account Setup Issues

A lot of new sellers get frustrated when Amazon won’t approve their account or suspends their account as soon as they complete the setup process.

Keep in mind, there are two main things Amazon is trying to do at this stage:

  1. Verify that you are who you say you are.
  2. Block spammers, scammers, and people with a history of poor account practices from creating a new account.

If they are blocking you, the first thing you should do is verify that all the information you’ve submitted matches exactly. When verifying your identity, Amazon is looking for exact matches in spelling, addresses, and other things like this.

For example, you don’t want documents with the following variations:

  • Mike and Michael
  • 123 Vine St. and 123 Vine Street

Bigger variations are even worse. If you’ve changed your address but the documents you are submitting don’t show that yet, I’d recommend getting the addresses updated first or trying to use different documents that reflect the address you are applying with.

How to Change Your Amazon Seller Account Status From Individual to Pro (or Vice Versa)

To change your Amazon Seller account status:

  1. Login to seller central
  2. Go to settings in the top right-hand corner
  3. Click “manage” in the your services box as shown below:

On the next screen, you will be able to see your current services. If you have a professional seller account currently, you will see the option to downgrade. If you are on the individual seller account, you should see the option to upgrade.

This is the process to change your account type any time you need to.

Managing Your Amazon Seller Account

When you log in to seller central, there are a plethora of reports that you can look at. You can look at reports for virtually any aspect of your business.

To begin with we’ll discuss how to keep your Amazon seller account in good standing.

In the screenshot above, #1 is showing where your unshipped orders will be.

If you are doing any merchant fulfilled orders, this is where they will show up. When they are in the “unshipped” status, the item has been paid for and it’s time to ship it. If you click on the number (it’s currently at 6 in the screenshot above), you will be brought to a screen where you can buy shipping.

Arrow #2 in the performance section is where you will see messages that you need to respond to.

The first is buyer messages, these are messages from your customers. You should respond to all buyer messages within 24 hours of receiving them.

In the performance section, you will also see “A to Z Guarantee claims” and “Chargeback claims”. These are much more serious and should be responded to right away if you receive one. These are generally signs that a customer had a major problem with an order, and it’s important to figure out why and submit any information that is required.

It’s also possible that the buyer is trying to take advantage of Amazon’s system. If you suspect that’s the case, you will be able to submit proof to have the claim removed from your account.

Arrow #3 shows the “account health” section of your seller central dashboard.

No news is good news here. As shown above, there is nothing displaying in this section. This means there aren’t any alerts. If you see nothing here that is ok, but if you see something here other than a green checkmark, I’d recommend looking into what the problem is. If you click on the blue “account health” hyperlink then it will bring you to your account health dashboard where you can review all of your metrics.

When you are logged into your seller central dashboard, there are many other reports and links that you will have available as well. The aforementioned ones are some key ones to be in the know about.

I recommend spending some time checking out all of the features and reports. You will be able to gain some great insights into your business by doing this. The ones I mentioned specifically above are some of the most important for keeping your account in good standing, thus the additional details on those.

What Happens If You Get Suspended

The best way to avoid suspensions is to follow the rules and maintain good account metrics as discussed above.

Unfortunately, sometimes people get suspended despite doing their best to follow the rules and be a good seller. This happened to me temporarily back in June 2015. It was an extremely stressful situation and one that is best avoided!

You can read more about my experience with getting my account suspended (and the appeals process) here.

If you do find yourself suspended, you’ll get a notification from Amazon that gives limited details about the decision and it will be up to you to investigate further and take the necessary steps to address the problems.

Appealing Suspensions

When you get suspended, you can appeal the suspension to get your account reinstated – but it can take some time, and it’s never 100% guaranteed that you will get your account back.

The best thing I can recommend is that you read through Amazon’s policies and follow them in good faith. If you do that, even in the unlikely event you are suspended, you’ll almost certainly get your account reinstated. I don’t personally know any sellers acting in good faith who have been permanently banned from selling on Amazon.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make at this stage is deflecting blame. Everyone wants to focus on why the suspension was a mistake and why they as the seller weren’t actually at fault.

I’ll tell you right now that this is a mistake and not what Amazon wants to hear.

You need to take ownership for the situation and explain to Amazon how you will avoid the problem moving forward. They want the problem solved, not excuses.

You can read more about appealing a suspension here.

Chapter 5

Listing and Selling Your Items

noun_online shopping_347940

In this chapter, we’ll explore the process of listing and selling your items.

  • Listing your products for sale on Amazon
  • FBA vs Seller Fulfilled
  • Shipping to FBA
  • Amazon Product Promotions & Advertising

Listing A Product That Is Already On Amazon

Listing a product that is already available on Amazon is easy.

To get started, use a computer to go to the desktop version of Amazon’s site and navigate to the product page.

Make sure that the product is an exact match to the one you have! A good way to do this is by searching by the UPC code on the product.

Let’s say you have a hardback copy of The 4-Hour Workweek that you want to sell. Searching Amazon for the UPC on the back of the book (9780307465351) will show you the exact result you are looking for:

When you open that listing, you need to look for a button you may not have noticed before that says “Sell on Amazon”.

You will find the button under the “Other Sellers on Amazon” box on the right side of the page.

If the “sell on Amazon” button is not displaying on a product page, you can also list a product by logging into seller central, hovering over inventory, and then clicking add a product.

This starts the listing process. For a step-by-step walkthrough of completing the entire listing process, check out pages 23-38 in my Get Your First Sale On Amazon book.

FBA vs Seller Fulfilled

When listing your item, a decision you’ll have to make is whether you will ship the item yourself (seller fulfilled) or have Amazon handle the shipping for you (FBA).

We recommend using FBA in the majority of situations. With FBA, you ship multiple items in a single box to the warehouse destinations that Amazon tells you to. From there, Amazon will handle the rest.

The main advantages of using FBA over shipping directly to customers are:

  1. FBA saves time.
  2. Prime products often sell for a 5%+ increase over seller fulfilled items.
  3. FBA products spend more time in the Buy Box.

FBA saves time…

Having Amazon ship each item to customers saves us a huge amount of time. When we use FBA, we are able to send our inventory to Amazon in bulk, and then they ship it to each customer as they buy it. Shipping directly to customers is one of the most time-intensive processes of selling online, so this relieves a significant amount of the workload.

Another major benefit along these same lines is that you aren’t tied to one physical location.

Whether you are at home, working at your office, or on vacation, Amazon will continue to ship your items as they sell. In a nutshell they take the vast majority of the logistics off the plate of the individual seller.

Prime products sell for more…

Items will generally sell for more when sold via FBA versus selling the item merchant fulfilled.

When items are sold via FBA, then Amazon Prime customers receive the same prime shipping benefits as when items are sold by Amazon. The return policy is the same as well. This leads Amazon Prime customers to have more confidence in the offering, and they will know exactly when they will receive the item.

Most buyers will only see that they get Prime shipping and “FREE Returns”. They don’t realize or care that Big Potato Games is the seller, not Amazon.

This higher level of confidence often means they are willing to pay a higher price.

In my experience, if we’re selling an item via Prime, we’re generally able to sell for at least 5% higher than the seller fulfilled competition, and very often we’re able to sell for more than 10% above the seller fulfilled competition.

More time in the buy box…

The Amazon buy box is the featured offer on a listing. When a customer clicks “buy now” or “add to cart” on a listing, the seller who is featured in the buy box is the one who will make the sale.

We’ve found that when you are using FBA, your item will be featured in the buy more often than if your item is listed for sale seller fulfilled.

When to fulfill your own orders on Amazon (Seller Fulfilled)…

There are certain situations where we end up fulfilling our own items.

The main one is in December when there is no longer time to get items to an FBA warehouse with time for them to ship out before Christmas. We’ve found that we get more sales and make more money by fulfilling our own orders for a few weeks because this eliminates the time our inventory is in transit to FBA warehouses and allows us to get more items delivered by Christmas.

Situations like this where you have a high-demand product that needs to reach consumers ASAP are the main scenarios to consider seller fulfilling.

Shipping to FBA

Lots of items on the way from our warehouse to FBA.

The first step in sending products to an Amazon warehouse for FBA is creating a shipping plan. You can create a shipping plan from within your seller account.

Each shipping plan indicates:

  1. What products you are sending
  2. How many of each product
  3. How you will be shipping it
  4. Whether you want Amazon to label the products for you

If you already have an Amazon Seller account and a product to ship in, you can start this process on your Manage Inventory page.

Labels are needed for identification purposes once the products reach the FBA warehouse. You can label your own products before shipping them, or Amazon will do it for you when the products reach the warehouse for a $0.30 fee per label.

If you are planning on selling a lot of items, it is more economical to label your own products but you need to have the right equipment to do this.

For a step-by-step walkthrough of this entire process, check out this post on creating your first FBA shipment.

What is Commingling?

Commingling means having your inventory pooled with the identical inventory of other sellers with no means of identifying which individual items came from which sellers.

For example, if you and I each sent in a copy of Settler’s of Catan and we didn’t indicate that we wanted the “Amazon Barcode” applied, both copies would end up in the same pool. When one of us sells “our” copy of the game, a copy would be taken from this group pool – though not necessarily the same one we sent in.

The pros of this system are that it can streamline things on the logistics side.

The cons are that this leaves room for other sellers to send in knock-off, counterfeit, or over-graded products and have them ship as your item!

If you want to prevent commingling, go to the FBA menu in Seller Central and set FBA Product Barcode Preference to “Amazon Barcode”.

How to Create a Listing for a New Product On Amazon

Here is how you start the process for listing a new product on Amazon (i.e. one that isn’t already listed).

  1. Log in to Amazon Seller Central.
  2. Click “Inventory”.
  3. Click “Add A Product”.
  4. Click “Create A New Product Listing”.

This starts the process –-now you have to fill in all the details. The first step is selecting the category and sub-categories it belongs to. You’ll also need:

  • A product title
  • Pictures
  • A description
  • A UPC
  • Product dimensions + weight
  • Variation details

Amazon Product Promotions & Advertising

To help boost your sales on Amazon, you can run promotions on your products. You can also pay for ads.

Running a promotion can help boost your chances of making a sale when a customer is looking at your item on Amazon. The options that Amazon provides for promotions you can run on your items include:

  • Social Media Promo Codes
  • Percentage Off
  • Buy One Get One

Social Media Promo Code

This allows you to create a custom coupon code that you can share with others. Amazon will provide you with a dedicated link to the page as well to help you promote it.

You are able to pick what type of discount you offer, and how many are able to be redeemed.

Percentage Off

This promotion type is designed to incentivize customers to purchase multiples. For example, you can run a promotion to offer 10% off if customers purchase 2 items and 12% off if they purchase 3 or more items.

Example of Percentage Off offers on Amazon

You can customize the discount percentage and purchase quantity required for customers to be eligible for the discount. This is a promotion we use fairly often in my business and it helps generate more orders of multiples.

Buy One Get One

This promotion type allows you to setup offers where if a customer buys one item they get the next one free or discounted. You can also set it up so customers have to buy multiple units to get one free. So you can do buy 3 get 1 free, or any combo that you’d like.

How to Set Up A Product Promotion on Amazon

If you would like to set up a promotion on an item you are selling on Amazon,

  1. Login to seller central.
  2. Hover over the advertising tab
  3. Click on promotions.

Amazon Sponsored Product Ads

Another way you can get more exposure for your items is to use Amazon Sponsored Product ads. This is an optional service that allows you to pay for additional exposure to generate more sales.

Amazon Sponsored Products show up in both search results and on product pages.

Example of a Sponsored ad on Amazon in the search results.

Amazon provides the ability to run automatic campaigns and manual campaigns. In an automatic campaign you set the bid amounts, set your budget, pick the products you want to advertise, and then Amazon will choose the targeting for you. If you run a manual campaign, then you will choose your own targeting options.

You can learn more about in our guide: How to Create Amazon Sponsored Ads and when you should.

Pricing Strategies on Amazon

The way you price your items on Amazon will have a huge impact on your profitability. After the items you source, pricing is the next most important factor in my opinion.

My default recommendation with pricing is to price in line with the competition if there are other sellers on the same listing.

To do this, find the lowest price offer using the same fulfillment method that you will be using, then match their price or add 1%.

For example, if there is a seller on a listing at $49.99 selling the item FBA, and you will be selling the item via FBA as well, I would price between $49.99 and $50.49.

When you set your price to match or price above the other sellers on the listing, you avoid something known as the “race to the bottom”. The race to the bottom happens when multiple sellers on the listing are constantly trying to be the lowest price on the listing. This can turn into an endless battle and erode all of the potential margin.

An example of how this goes:

Seller 1 is priced at $19.99, seller 2 prices at $19.95, seller 1 lowers their price to $19.89, seller 2 lowers their price to $19.75, and on and on, and before you know it there is very little margin left.

Pricing at or a bit above the competition helps to maximize the margins you will see on sales.

Here are some other tips I recommend when you are pricing on Amazon:

  • If in doubt, start by pricing in the high end of the range you are considering. You can always lower your price later if needed.
  • Compete only with items that are the same fulfillment method as yours.
  • Factor the current season into your pricing decision. Some items will be selling for dramatically more when they are in season compared to other times of the year.
  • Review your pricing often. I’d recommend multiple times per week as the market prices on items change regularly.

These tips should help you to get started pricing in a way that will generate sales and will maximize your profits.

Answering Customer Inquiries on Amazon

One of the things that you are required to do on Amazon is respond to messages you receive from your customers on Amazon. Amazon’s guideline is that you need to respond to 90% of messages within 24 hours. My recommendation would be to respond to all messages within 24 hours, and ideally faster.

You will be notified that you have a message to respond to in a few different ways. You can turn off any redundant notifications so that you only receive notification about each customer message in one place. Here are the notification options:

  • Receive an email
  • Push notification in the Amazon Seller Mobile App
  • When logging into Seller Central on a desktop

Any of these 3 options will work just fine, just pick the option that works best for you. If you receive a message, it will show up in Seller Central here:


In the screenshot above, you can see that I don’t have any messages outstanding that need to be responded to. If there are messages to respond to, you will see the number of messages you need to respond to. Click on the number and you will be able to respond directly within Seller Central.

When a customer message does come in, the main thing to do is respond within 24 hours. Be as helpful and courteous as possible. Do what you can to answer their questions or solve any problem they might be having, and you’ll be good to go.

Chapter 6

After the Sale

shipping

Once you get a sale, the work isn’t done! In this chapter, we’ll look at what happens after your item sells…

  • How to find out if your order sells?
  • Shipping if seller fulfilling
  • Getting reviews + review rules
  • Dealing with scammers
  • How do you get your money?

How to Find Out If Your Item Sells

If you receive a seller fulfilled order, you will receive an email every time that you receive an order.

Your email will say “sold, ship now” and have the details on the item. Then you will be able to login and purchase a shipping label to ship the item to the customer. You can also set up alerts on the Amazon Mobile App to receive a push notification every time you receive a new Seller Fulfilled sale.

The process for FBA orders is slightly different.

You will not receive an email until the item has actually shipped. At the time the item is shipped, you will receive an email that says “Amazon has shipped the item you sold”. They will then deposit the payment into your Amazon Payments account. 

The main difference for FBA is that the customer order will show up in your seller account before it actually ships. To see your real-time sales, you will need to go to log in to seller central, go to orders, and manage orders.

On this screen, you should be able to see a tab that shows “all orders” which will show you everything that is sold regardless of the current status. Orders that are showing up as pending are sold but have not shipped yet. There is also a tab on this screen to view only pending orders.

For FBA orders, you can do the same process in the Amazon Seller App. Navigate to orders and then update your filters to the status you want to view.

An important note is that the sales summary that you see on the Seller Central dashboard or on the Amazon Seller App home screen will include pending sales in the total.  

Now that you know how to review your sales, try not to check them too often 😉 

Shipping Seller Fulfilled Items

When it comes to shipping your items seller fulfilled on Amazon, you might be wondering:

  • How long do you have to ship the item?
  • How much will the shipping cost?

We’ll answer both of those questions in this section.

Once you receive a seller fulfilled order on Amazon, you will have 2 business days to ship the item.

Here’s the way it will look in seller central when an order comes in:

You can see that this order sold on March 20th, which was a Friday. The deadline to ship this item is March 24th, which is a Tuesday. Regardless of what time the item sold on the 20th, the ship by date would still be Tuesday. 

2 days is the default requirement for handling time. If you want to update this, you can do so in the shipping settings. You can do this by going to settings in the top right-hand corner of your seller central account, clicking on shipping settings, and then updating your shipping templates.

The price that you will pay for shipping a merchant fulfilled item is based on:

  1. The dimensions of the shipping box you are using.
  2. The weight of the shipping box.
  3. How far the package is traveling from your location.

The larger your items or the farther you have to ship an item, the more expensive it will be.

When you sell an item, you will be able to purchase shipping for the item directly from Amazon. You will also be able to compare the rates offered from multiple different carriers to get the best deal. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

A box that’s 12″ x 8″ x 5″ weighing 2 pounds, shipping from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City:

A box that’s 12″ x 8″ x 5″ weighing 10 ounces shipping from Minneapolis to Salt Lake City:

So you can see the box is the same size in both cases, but a substantial difference in weight leads to a significantly lower price. On every item you sell, it’s important to compare the prices and choose the optimal shipping method. Generally this will be the lowest cost, but could vary depending on your shipping offerings.

In my business, we do a lot of merchant fulfilling of toys and gift items every December.

There are quite a variety of weights and sizes of these items. I would estimate that on 95% of the items we sell, we are paying between $4 and $12 for shipping. This could vary for you, especially if you sell very large items.

The main thing I would recommend is to estimate your shipping costs in advance.

USPS, UPS, and Fedex all have online tools that will allow you to do this. When using the estimation tools, I recommend inputting a zip code that is one of the furthest points you would have to ship to.

We’re located in Minnesota, so when estimating shipping costs, we put in a California zip code. Keep in mind that Amazon has partnered rates with all of these carriers, so you’ll almost certainly end up paying less when buying the shipping through Amazon.

Here are some tips on keeping your shipping costs low:

  • Whenever you ship an item weighing less than 1 pound, use USPS First Class Mail.
  • Utilize USPS Flat Rate Products.
  • Utilize USPS Regional Rate Products.
  • Utilize USPS Priority Mail Cubic.
  • Be willing to ship through the shipping carrier that offers the lowest price.
  • Use the smallest possible shipping box. Using too big of a box leads to unnecessary extra costs.

Getting Reviews + Review Rules

Reviews are an integral part of the buying experience on Amazon.

Getting more reviews on your products will be very important if you are selling your own branded products. If you are selling existing products that already have listings on Amazon, then getting more product reviews will not be as important of a process.

Amazon has some very strict guidelines in place regarding reviews. Reviews have been abused significantly in the past, so Amazon has taken fairly drastic action to remedy the problem. As a result, getting reviews is not something you want to be bending the rules on.

Here’s a screenshot of current Review Policies:

Getting reviews without breaking Amazon’s rules ultimately boils down to getting sales and then requesting those buyers to leave a review for your product.

The main inputs you can influence here are the number of sales that you get on Amazon and the way that you word your requests to leave feedback. 

A certain percentage of all buyers will leave feedback, so getting reviews is a function of getting enough sales.

Many sellers when they are launching a new product on Amazon will sell the products for a very discounted price to get initial sales. Doing this will typically get a batch of reviews coming in. 

Other programs you can look into include the Amazon Vine Program, and the Amazon Early Reviewer Program. These are legitimate ways to get early reviews on your products. 

Overall reviews are not something to mess with. Be sure that you are in compliance with Amazon’s policies, as the downside to gaming the system can be very high.

Dealing With Scammers

When it comes to selling on Amazon, a concern that some new sellers have is how to deal with scammers on Amazon.

I’ll begin with the note that the overwhelming majority of the time, transactions go exactly as planned. The number of times you will run into someone trying to scam you is very small. It might happen on 1 in every few hundred orders. 

It’s still good to be aware of some of the things that scammers might try to pull on you. Here are a few to watch out for:

Saying they never received an item even though the tracking number shows delivered.

When tracking shows the item was delivered and we receive a message from the buyer like this, we will respond asking for them to check a few things first. The message we send back includes to make sure they check with neighbors, an apartment manager if they have one, their local post offices, and includes details on how to file a missing mail claim with the carrier if needed.

After sending this message, the vast majority of buyers are able to locate the item.

Pulling a “switcheroo” on a return.

This one can happen on FBA orders or on merchant fulfilled orders. It involves a customer buying your item, requesting a return, and then sending a different item back. On seller fulfilled orders, you can resolve this directly with the buyer.

On an FBA order, you will need to open a case with Amazon with proof. 

Requesting a change of address.

When you sell an item on Amazon that you are seller fulfilling, Amazon requires you to ship it to the address the customer provided. Some unscrupulous buyers will message you to request to change the address. Then you’ll send it to the new address, and then the buyer will file a claim saying they never received the item.

If a buyer reaches out to you for something like this, refer them to Amazon’s customer service to get their shipping address updated on the order. 

Those are a few of the types of scams to be aware of. There are other things that you may run into. My best advice is to pay close attention any time things feel a bit off. Read up on relevant policies if in doubt. If you do these things, you should be able to avoid many things scammers may try to pull.

How do you get your money after the sale?

Arguably the best part of selling on Amazon is getting paid. That’s why we do it, right?!

When you sell on Amazon, you will have a balance in your “Amazon Payments” account. It will look like this:

There will be 2 main sections of this report. The “standard orders” section, and the “invoiced orders” section. Standard orders are ones where customers paid for them at the time of purchase.

Invoiced orders are typically for business customers and are much less common.

When a balance shows up in a blue, that is how much is currently owed to you. If a balance shows up in red, that is how much you currently owe Amazon.

Amazon will add to your balance every time they ship an FBA order on your behalf, anytime you ship a merchant fulfilled order, or anytime they reimburse you for a mistake they made. The most common example of getting paid for a mistake by Amazon is if they damage or lose a unit of your inventory.

Amazon will subtract from your balance for their fees and for customer refunds.

Your Amazon payments balance will accumulate and be deposited to your bank account every 14 days. You will typically see the funds available in about 2 business days from when the transfer is initiated.

Note: for sellers that sign up during certain time periods, Amazon will provide them with the ability to request a payout on a daily basis. Most accounts don’t have this, so if you do, consider yourself lucky.

Chapter 7

Get Your First Sale on Amazon

This chapter is a condensed version of my book of the same name, Get Your First Sale on Amazon.

I’ll be listing this book for sale on Amazon later this year – right now you can get a copy of it for FREE. 

Your feedback will also help get it ready to be published!

It’s very easy to over-complicate things, especially something as big as starting a business.

What happens to most people who do this is that they keep delaying in the name of waiting for a better time or giving themselves more time to do research.

This chapter will simplify the process of getting started down to 5 very simple steps that you can follow, in order, to get your first sale.

My experience working with thousands of other people suggests that doing this will greatly increase the odds you follow through and get to the point that you are actually selling a substantial volume.

You can get these steps completed in the next week, maybe even sooner! Start now!

5 Steps to Getting Your First Sale…


Here are the 5 steps to take to get your first sale on Amazon:

  1. Familiarize yourself with the sourcing strategies on the Stairway to 7 Figures.
  2. Set up your Amazon Seller account.
  3. Source your first product via retail or online arbitrage.
  4. List the product for sale via FBA.
  5. Send the product(s) to an FBA warehouse.

Sound easy? That’s because it is!

There is no excuse for not getting this done in the next week. By dedicating just a few hours, you could have your first product listed for sale and be in line to earn your first profit on Amazon.

Remember, EVERYONE starts with 0 sales and the first step is Sale #1.

A Step by Step Beginner’s Guide to Getting Your First Sale on Amazon

We’ve already covered everything you need to know to accomplish the 5 steps listed above, but if you want additional details you should download a copy of my book now.

The book is organized around this concept, with each chapter focusing on one of these steps.

I will be listing this book for sale on Amazon later this year. Right now I’m making it available free to readers of this blog.

Ready to Get Your First Sale on Amazon?

Follow a step-by-step process for getting your first sale. Everything you need to know is included and condensed into this FREE, 40-page E-book!

Chapter 8

Scaling Strategies

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Want to sell 6, 7, or even 8+ figures a year? In this chapter we’ll talk about the strategies that will make that possible.

  • Adding sourcing strategies
  • Hiring people + automation
  • Leveraging tools and services

How to Increase Sales on Amazon

The strategies you can use to increase your sales on Amazon fall into two categories:

  1. Things you can do that generate quick results.
  2. Things you can do that generate results over time.

While you may look at those options and think you’d much rather focus on the quick results, the long-term strategies are the ones that drive the biggest gains over time. So a healthy mix of both types of strategies is called for.

Increasing Amazon Sales Quickly

Here are some of the top ways you can increase your Amazon sales in the near-term:

  • Upgrade to a Professional account
  • Use a repricing tool to ensure competitive pricing
  • Leverage FBA to offer Prime benefits on orders
  • Optimize product listings (if selling your own products)
  • Run a product promotion
  • Set up a Sponsored Product Ad

All of these can give a quick boost to sales and should be a part of your ongoing strategy.

Long-term Strategies for Increasing Amazon Sales

The strategies discussed above can give a boost to your existing sales, but they generally aren’t going to be the difference between getting a few sales a month and building a business that replaces your job.

The three biggest strategies and principles to scaling your Amazon to the point that it is generating 6+ figures a year are:

  1. Consistent reinvestment over time
  2. Expanding your sourcing strategies + product offerings
  3. Automation + delegation

Consistent reinvestment over time…

How and when you withdraw money from your business has a direct effect on your sales.

The more you withdraw to “pay yourself”, the less you have to reinvest. The less you reinvest, the slower you will grow.

If your goal is to replace a job, reinvest as much as possible until your business is generating enough monthly profits to support you.

Reinvesting 100% of profits is ideal. Adding to your capital from an external source like paycheck is even better.

The key principle to understand here is compounding returns. Every dollar that you reinvest into your business is a dollar that can earn profit in the future.

If you invest $1000 into inventory and average a 25% ROI on those products, you’ll have $1250 after selling them. That’s $1000 that you started with and $250 in profits.

If you reinvest that whole $1250 into more inventory and get another 25% return, you’re now up to $1562.50. Since you had an extra $250 to invest this time, your profits grew to $312.50.

But let’s say you were excited about that $250 in profit and used it to go out or even buy some extra groceries. No big deal, you can earn that again next month, right?

Yes – but this habit leads to much slower growth. Keeping all your profits for yourself (no reinvestment) means no growth.

The graph below gives you an idea of how different levels of reinvestment will affect your profits over time.

Keep in mind this is a simplification of how things would work in real life.

The graph shows what it would like like if you used all your capital to buy inventory AND sold it all to get capital + profit back each month. In real life, things aren’t this clean. Some investments may only take a week or two to see profits, while others may take a couple months. It also takes time to find inventory to invest in.

It also assumes 25% profit on investment. In real life, that number may be higher or lower. We aim for more like 35%.

But even with these limitations, the graph still does a very good job at showing how big of a difference there is between reinvesting your profits and keeping them to pay yourself. Like I mentioned above, adding in a little extra – even just $100 a month – can make a big difference in growth.

The main thing to understand is that the more you take out now, the longer it will take to achieve long-term goals like supporting yourself. While not paying yourself can feel like you are “missing out” on money, you’re just setting yourself to earn more in the future.

Expanding your sourcing strategies + product offerings

Earlier in this guide, we discussed what I call the Stairway to 7 Figures.

In my experience, this is the best way to approach the development of your Amazon business. It allows you to start small with minimal risk, then expand your business as your experience and capital grow.

As you add each additional sourcing strategy, your potential profits grows significantly. While we generate over 7 figures a year just from retail arbitrage, I’ve been doing this for well over a decade. Wholesale sourcing now accounts for over 65% of our sales, and for most people expanding to wholesale once they have some experience selling online will lead to the strongest growth.

Regardless of what level you are at on the Stairway, expanding your product offering then doubling down on your best sellers is also a smart move.

At the wholesale stage, this means implementing systems to continuously bring in new partners and tests to figure out which products are leading to the highest sales. When you identify items that sell consistently, you want to prioritize allocating your capital to buying these items, as selling the same product over and over again carries much less risk than testing out new products.

At the brand building stage, this means identifying products closely related to ones you are already offering and expanding the presence and authority of your brand by offering a more complete product line.

Automation + delegation

I would not have achieved the success I enjoy today if I had not leveraged automation and delegation strategies.

The basic idea here is that you want to free up your own time to dedicate to the highest value activities you could be doing. What this is will vary over time, even on a day to day basis. But the point remains, the more you focus on the most important and most valuable tasks, the more you will earn.

To be able to do this, you need to build systems, leverage tools, and hire other people when tools can’t do the job.

Chapter 9

Tools for Selling on Amazon

tools

We’ve discussed numerous tools already. This chapter will review those that we’ve already discussed and introduce some additional options that should be on your radar as you grow.

  • Tools & supplies for all Amazon sellers
  • Retail Arbitrage tools
  • Online Arbitrage tools
  • Wholesale tools
  • Private Label tools

Tools & Supplies for All Amazon Sellers

Shipping Scale – This is needed to determine the weights of the boxes that you will be sending to Amazon as well as shipping to customers. You could get started with a bathroom scale initially, but getting a dedicated shipping scale is a good idea. The one I linked to is good for starting off and is generally about $18.

The one I use is about $42 and you can check it out here.

Printer for shipping labels: you will need access to a printer for the shipping labels for your boxes. There’s a few options here:

  • Use a printer that you already have. Technically Amazon requires that you use a laser printer to avoid the possibility of ink smearing. So if you have an inkjet printer, you want to be careful but if you tape completely over the shipping labels then you should be just fine. I can’t officially recommend starting off with an inkjet printer, but that’s what I did right away when I was getting started and it didn’t cause any problems for me.
  • Office Max / Office Depot / Fedex Office / Most UPS Stores – All of these stores offer the ability to print for a relatively small fee and will get the job done if you are looking to keep costs to a minimum getting started.
  • Dymo 450 XL – This is a dedicated shipping label printer. This is 1 of 2 different models that we use in my business. Using a printer like this is quite a bit more efficient and you are also are compliant with Amazon’s requirements. The price of this is usually between $150 and $180 so it’s a decent sized investment.
  • Zebra LP2844 – This is also a dedicated shipping label printer. This is the 2nd type of label printer that we use in my business. This model is no longer made new, so I recommend buying a used or refurbished if you go this route. These aren’t quite as user friendly as the Dymo, but you can usually pick up a used one between $110 and $130. I have a slight preference for the Dymo as you are able to get it new, and it’s a bit more user friendly. Overall though either of these 2 label printers will get the job done if needed.

Shipping Tape – I now buy this from Uline, but when getting started I would buy from Amazon. If you want guaranteed quality I would go with Scotch or Duck Brand. If you don’t need the highest quality tape (in my opinion you don’t) then you can buy one of the 6 or 12 packs of a random brand for $1 to $1.50 per roll. Tape is also easy to buy at stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, etc if you just want to start with one roll.

USB bar code scanner – This will help you dramatically speed up the time it takes to list items for sale on Amazon. With the USB bar code scanner you are able to connect it with your computer and then scan the bar code of products as opposed to entering it in manually. You can manually enter in the UPC / bar code of products when listing items for sale, but the amount of time that this will save you is well worth the investment in my opinion. The one I use is linked and is generally available between $14 & $16.

Scotty Peelers – this tool definitely isn’t required, but it makes life easier. It is designed to help remove pricing stickers from products. They are much easier than removing stickers with just your fingers. With the metal ones be very careful as they are extremely sharp.

Heat Gun – another product that is not required but makes life easier. If you need to remove a sticker from a box, or from an item in a durable box this will help. All you do is point the heat gun at the label for a few seconds and it will loosen the adhesive making it much easier to peel off. I’ve linked to the one I use, but there are other options out there as well. If you have a hair dryer you can achieve a similar function, but those are not as high powered as a heat gun. If you do use one be careful as they are extremely hot and can cause damage to packaging if you aren’t careful.

Retail Arbitrage Tools For Amazon Sellers

Amazon Seller Mobile App – This is a free app directly from Amazon. It will allow you to scan products with your phone for retail arbitrage, and allow you to do just about everything you can do on a desktop computer. Essentially it allows you to manage most aspects of selling on Amazon from your phone. Regardless of the sourcing method you are using, I’d download it.

InventoryLab & Scoutify – These are included with the same subscription. Scoutify is a retail arbitrage scanning app. It will provide you with some user friendly tools that the Amazon Seller App does not have. InventoryLab is a software to help you list your items for sale, manage your accounting, determine your profitability on items sold, and much more. They offer a 30 day free trial, and you can learn more here.

Online Arbitrage Tools for Amazon Sellers

Tactical Arbitrage – This tool helps to automate the process of online arbitrage. In a nutshell the way it works is it allows you to pick one of the 1,000+ retailers it is compatible with, and then go item by item automatically and compare the price on that retailer’s website to what it’s selling for on Amazon. Items that meet your criteria are added to a list for your review. So rather than filtering through products manually, you get a short list of potential online arbitrage purchases. This only scratches the surface of what the software does, but in a nutshell this tool makes online arbitrage significantly more efficient. You can sign up for an extended free trial by using code OSE10 when signing up HERE.

Revseller – This is a chrome extension that helps to reduce research time by displaying sales rank, category, and profitability at the top of each product page directly on any item you are looking at on Amazon. You can check it out and sign up for a free trial if interested HERE

Wholesale Tools for Amazon Sellers

Price Checker 2 – Price Checker 2 specializes in the evaluation of wholesale price lists. You are able to upload a list of prices and UPCs and then the software will go through and show you key data on each one. This includes: profit, return on investment, sales rank, and much more. Rather than looking up items 1 by 1, you are able to look up thousands in just a few minutes.

Tactical Arbitrage – In addition to the online arbitrage features mentioned above, Tactical Arbitrage has a wholesale price list evaluation tool. It allows you to upload a list of products and it will pull all the details for you that you need to make a buying decision.

Restock Pro – This is a tool that will help you manage your wholesale inventory. The software links up to your Amazon account and will keep track of your inventory levels by supplier. You set in the software how many days of supply you want on hand, and the software helps make that happen. When you are running low it will tell you when to reorder products so you don’t sell out. Once you have more wholesale inventory than you can easily keep track of a tool like this really helps.

Tools for Amazon Private Label Sellers

Jungle Scout – Jungle Scout aim to be an all in one solution for Amazon sellers looking to build a brand on Amazon. They have tools to help sellers with the following: product research, finding suppliers, sales analysis, listing optimization, launch assistance, and more.

Helium 10 – They provide a variety of software tools for sellers, and aim to be an all in one solution. Their software includes tools that can help sellers with: product research, listing optimization, competitor analysis, identifying reimbursement opportunities, and more.

Viral Launch – They provide a suite of software tools designed to help sellers build and scale their own brands. Their software helps with product discovery, listing optimization, ppc management, and they have services to help you launch as well.

The above tools are some of the main tools that I think are worth considering investing in as you build your business. For a complete list of tools that I use in my business, check out my resources page.

The End

Now we'd like to hear from you!

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We hope you found this guide helpful. Comment below and tell us:

  • What’s your next step?
  • What goals do you have?
  • Is there anything else you wish we included in this post?

Don’t forget to download Get Your First Sale On Amazon for a step-by-step guide that will help solidify what your learned today and turn it into action!

332 thoughts on “How to Sell on Amazon”

  1. Dear Ryan,
    As of their last email, Amazon has accepted my documents, and I can now start listing my products. Your eBook “How To Sell On Amazon: The Definitive Guide”, could not have come at a better time.

    Reading through this very detailed guide, I felt you were there, motivating me every step of the way. Giving real life examples, and specific screen shots, which you articulated so well. I have never read such an absorbing guide, which has become my bible on “How To Sell On Amazon”.

    Thank you for being so passionate about selling on Amazon, and for sharing that passion.

    My sincere best wishes to you always,
    Anne

    1. Hi Anne,

      Great to hear that Amazon has accepted your documents and you are ready to start listing your products!

      And great to hear you enjoyed the free book as well, best of luck building your business!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  2. Dear Ryan, Thank you very much for your time providing all these info and advises for those of us who are into this online business and need mre details!
    my question is that:
    by reselling item that are already are on amazon, through abritrage, do I as a new seller still need to create a listing for the product i have! or if not how it works!? I have learned from other sources that for a new product I need to do photos and products discription to create a listing for amazon customers! but if we are selling what is already done and have a page on amazon, how do we list out products as a new seller!? thank you

    1. Hi Eli,

      Thanks for your question. If you are selling an existing product that you are eligible to sell then you do not need to create a new listing for the product. We’ve recently added some new details to the post about listing items for sale, so I’d recommend checking those out!

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  3. Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for your article, nicely done! Do you recommend Amazon over eBay to get started doing this, and if so, why? Or do you use both? I often see the same sellers with the same products on both sites.

    Thanks,

    Terry

    1. Hi Terry,

      Thanks for the comment. As a new seller I’d recommend starting on both Amazon and eBay.Main reason is that you can sell different types of items on each marketplace, and that opens up more sourcing opportunities. For example, used items that customers need to see pictures of the exact item are a better fit for eBay. Whereas brand new items are generally a better fit for Amazon.

      They both work together nicely as a new seller, so I’d recommend aiming to sell on both initially.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  4. Hi Ryan,
    I opened a Seller account following the steps of the post but my account was suspended just after I opened. I already sent the documents that they asked and they continue sending me the same message, requesting documents to verify my identity. I already sent all the utility bills (electricity, water, internet) showing proof of address, but they continue replying that my documents could not be verified. can you help me? I’m very interested in starting at retail arbitrage and join your course for beginners.
    Best regards,
    Rafael

    1. Hi Rafael,

      Thanks for your comment. I would recommend making sure that the documents you send to Amazon match exactly to what you put into Amazon.

      For example, st vs street or apt vs apartment, or any abbreviations can cause problems. My recommendation would be to go over this very carefully before resubmitting. If you submit exactly what they ask for then typically you won’t have any problems.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  5. Ryan, I live in the Seattle are the very home of Amazon. My question is can I deliver inventory of my sell items directly to a Amazon warehouse in my area personally myself for free and not use another shipper at a cost? Thank you for all the great info.

    -Mike B.

  6. Hi Ryan,

    I hope you’re well! I am 16 and from the UK, I love business ideas and have a bit of money that I have saved to invest (£5,000). Is that achievable at 16?

    Best regards,
    Bobby

    1. Hi Bobby,

      Thanks for the comment. Great to hear you are interested in starting a business at 16! I definitely think it’s viable for a 16 year old to sell on Amazon, and you are starting with plenty of startup capital to get things moving. The only catch is that, in the US at least, you have to be 18 to have a seller account on Amazon. So you could potentially partner with a parent, older friend, or family member to see if you can find a mutually beneficial way to get started.

      Alternatively you could likely start selling on local marketplaces, as I don’t believe they have the same restrictions. There are certainly ways to make it work and get started at 16, it’s just a matter of making sure it’s legal in your country.

      Best of luck to you getting started!

      -Ryan

  7. Hi,

    Would like to ask if drop-shipping is available in Amazon?
    Like, I will post items (that are not on hand yet) then will send items to Amazon using FBA once the buyer ordered from the items that I have posted in Amazon?
    Will that possibly work?

    Thank you very much in advance.

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      What you have mentioned wouldn’t work as if you are using Amazon FBA the items won’t be for sale until they are on the way to Amazon.

      What you can do though is sell your items merchant fulfilled, and then as customers buy them, have them shipped to the customer from your supplier.

      Let me know if you have additional questions on this.

      Thanks,
      Ryan

  8. Ryan,

    THANK YOU. Thank you. Thank you. This information is going to help me be a stay at home mom. That alone is priceless. Wishing you many blessings.

  9. Hi Ryan
    Can you please clarify this for me:
    Do I register and list my products? or I register and wait for my products to reach Amazon ware house before I list them?
    Regards
    July

  10. Hi Ryan,

    I am getting confused about the difference and purpose between the Amazon Revenue Calculator and the Amazon Seller app. I see that the Revenue Calculator has the camera for the bar code, and then it tells you in steps how much profit you can make.

    So what is the Seller app for?

    Thanks,
    Wendy

    1. Hi Wendy,

      The 2 do basically the same thing. The difference is the FBA Revenue Calculator is better used on a desktop computer, and the seller app is best used on a phone.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  11. I have inventory to sell from a business I am closing. I cannot afford to store it all but also have items that I only have 1 of. How does that work with the Amazon fullfillment program? I am just leary for some reason. I would be happy to get cost for these items plus the cost of listing etc. I am trying to figure out if this is feasible before my husband just throws it all in the trash. We are an off-road business with over 150k in inventory that we are sitting on and we are closing.

    1. Hi Kathleen,

      Thanks for the comment, and sorry to hear you are in need of closing down your business.

      With the Amazon fulfillment program, you can send in 1 of a single item, that’s not a problem.

      Depending on the type of item, it could be viable. With as much inventory as it sounds like you have, I’d definitely explore all options and see what you can do to recoup some of the capital!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  12. Madonna Beyrouthy

    can I sell on amazon a book I wrote recently and printed few copies? can I do that personally or is it restricted to registered as a company or publisher?

  13. Thank you for your informative post.
    I am trying to sell Cow Leather (genuine raw material without any brand name or barcode) that I bought in retail store in Korea.
    Regarding the process of listing, because the Leather that I am trying to sell does not have barcode or price listed, can I just go ahead and send those leathers to Amazon Warehouse with the price that I want to sell?
    Or is there any other processes I need to worry about?
    I am sorry for this confusing question, I am as confused about the FBA process as my question here.
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Jick,

      Thanks for the comment. This post covers how to sell existing products that are already listed for sale on Amazon.

      For something like what you have it would be a slightly different process. You’d need to create a listing for the product on Amazon, and part of this would require obtaining a UPC. UPCs can be obtained from GS1.org.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  14. Thanks for the post. We are an independent card game maker and have just sent our first FBA shipment which is now live. FBA is really easy to use.

    But do you have any tips on getting your items found?

    1. Thanks for the comment.

      This is a good question, and one that I will plan on adding to my list of posts to create. Keep an eye out for this on the blog in the future!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  15. Hey there, I really enjoyed this post (and some of your other ones too). I’m definitely feeling inspired.. I already made the Amazon Sellers Account and I plan on spending my tomorrow hunting for clearance items in the local Walmart. I’m a little lost on the tax protocols though… I’m new to this entrepreneurial world and have no idea how to handle taxes. Any advice on where to get educated on this matter? Thanks.

    1. Hi Chase,

      Thanks for the comment.

      When it comes to taxes, I’ve written about this a bit when it comes to sales taxes. You can use the search feature on the blog to find those.

      A good general rule to start off with is to keep good records of everything and this will make life much easier for all types of taxes.

      Let me know if there are more specific items you have questions on related to this.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  16. Ryan,

    Just curios, when amazon is paying you are you set up as an LLC or some other type of business? Or are you simply getting directly paid by Amazon?

    Luke

    1. Hi Lucas,

      You can read about the business structure I use in this post.

      For your other question, Amazon will deposit funds to any US bank account whether it is a personal account or a business account.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  17. Hi Ryan.
    Can you tell me about shipping lables.
    Do i need a shipping lable for the items i will send to Amazon?
    How are the lables produced and where does the information come from?
    Also, if i find a profitable item say a board game, won’t i look kind of silly and obvious walking up to the counter with 10 board games, just seems kinda weird.
    thx Ryan.
    Ralph; Ontario Canada.

    1. Hi Ralph,

      For shipping labels, you will print these out as you go through the process of creating an FBA shipment. Amazon gives you all of the information you need, and you can download them directly from Amazon.

      On your board game question, the answer is yes that might look a little silly. But it’s part of the process 🙂

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  18. The shipping to Amazon cost is something I don’t understand.
    Where or how can I know what will be the price to ship to Amazon?

    1. Hi David,

      In my business we average about $0.50/lb to ship to Amazon. When you are buying shipping labels through Amazon for your boxes you will see the cost at that time, so you will know the cost before you ever have to pay the shipping.

      To be safe you can estimate high on the shipping cost initially, and then once you’ve done a few shipments you can calculate the rate you are actually paying and use that for future estimates.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  19. Hi Ryan,

    Thank you for taking the time to do this blog. This is something I have been interested in for over a year now but didn’t know where to start!

    How important do you think it is to have a diverse inventory? Or does it not really matter as long as the items fit the criteria you laid out in this post?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Kolby,

      Thanks for the comment. This is a very good question.

      I think that it’s quite important to have diversified inventory as you scale your business. When you are first getting started you don’t have to worry about this quite as much. For example, you might be starting with $100 and find 2 different items to buy to resell, one costing $65 and one costing $35.

      In this example, it would be very diversified, but I don’t think this is a huge problem as you are starting with a relatively small amount of capital. So in a nutshell I wouldn’t worry about it too much when first getting started.

      As your business grows then I think it’s much more important. For example in my business, I don’t want any single source or product line under a single brand of products to be more than 20% of my inventory at a given time. This includes wholesale purchases as well. By doing this it ensures that if one source of inventory goes away my overall business will still be just fine.

      In certain circumstances I think being less diversified than my business is now makes sense. It really all boils down to the risk/reward of the opportunity at hand.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  20. Thank you so much for all of this life-changing information. You are an angel, and thank you for helping me figure out a business I can do for real. It is SO appreciated.

  21. I am planning to sell some items in amazon, In-order to list the items, do we have to take the pic/image of the item and upload it ?
    If the item comes with different colors, should i upload a pic for each color.

    1. Hi Thara,

      If there is an existing listing for the item on Amazon, which is the method I share in this post, then you will not have to take pics of the item.

      If there is not a listing already on Amazon, then you will have to take pictures and create a new listing.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  22. Just finished reading the article and all comments. Thank you for being thorough and patient in your answers. My son and I bought our first products today and will list them tomorrow morning. Thank you for your guidance. Btw I also appreciate your level of integrity with your answers.

    Have Wonderful Day!
    Ross

  23. Hello im a yound adult who is looking to start a business and wanted know if in your opinion is would be a good idea to start selling at a young age?

  24. Hi Ryan,
    I was wondering for example what if i do buy 10 brita filters and sell all 10? What is the next move, keep buying the same item that just sold out or move onto a next item? Or keep buying the same item and also buy new items if it’s going well? Thanks!

    1. Hi Daniel,

      If you can keep buying and selling the same item, that is an ideal scenario. So if you have access to more, I’d buy them to resell. I’d also keep looking for more items to sell too. So if you sell out, your next moves should be 1) look to buy more of the same item and 2) look for additional different items you can sell as well.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

    1. Hi Reza,

      You will have to list an item for sale on Amazon and then you will have a label available with an Amazon bar code on it.

      If you need a UPC, then I recommend buying it through GS1.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  25. Thank you so much. This is the most complete and no noncence information I’ve read on getting started in the Amazon selling business. Outstanding work.

  26. Hi Ryan,

    Awesome content and its very generous of you to share all your experiences here for FREE. As I am getting ready to start my arbitrage journey, I have 2 questions.

    1. While explaining the factors which could possibly lead to buy box, in addition to price and fulfillment method you also mentioned ‘ your feedback’. My question is how, as a new seller we have enough feedback to make it to buy box?
    2. Once sent to Amazon, if the products are not sold for several months, what Amazon does with them? Can we request to ship it back to us so we can try selling them somewhere else?

    I appreciate all your help!

    Ghazala

    1. Hi Ghazala,

      Thanks for the comment. On your questions:

      1. As long as you are setup as a professional account you should still be able to be seen in the buy box. Over time as you build up history you should be displayed in the buy box more and more as well as your metrics are built up.

      2. You can request them back at any time and the removal fee is generally $0.50 per item.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

      1. Hi Ryan,

        Thank for your quick reply. It makes sense. I was wondering how your coaching program works? I tried to request more info by submitting my name and email, but my request didn’t go through. I tried a few times. Can you please give information about private coaching? Thanks once again

  27. Hello Ryan, I have spent most of this evening on your website reviewing the Amazon Arbitrage program. Thanks so much for the information and I am going to move forward and start my online business. Just a real quick basic question: Do you suggest creating a completely new Amazon Seller Account or just adding to my personal Amazon account? Take care and I’ll be looking forward to talking to you in the future.

    Mike

    1. Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the comment. If you have never had a seller account before, then my recommendation would be to create a new account to use.

      If you have ever had a seller account before, then I would use the account that has the prior seller account.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  28. A very detailed post there and perhaps one of the most comprehensive guide I have ever read!! I am going to give the retail arbitrage concept a trial.

    Thanks

  29. Hi Ryan,
    I am completely new to selling on Amazon (except for a few textbooks from college). I have read several posts and started to do some research to see if it would be something I could do. I am already a bargain hunter in general so I figured I would give it a go. I picked up my first couple items yesterday using the sellers app and thought I did well. (2 Huffy Kids Scooters $7 each selling on Amazon for $27) Now, I am not so sure since shipping fees are well above what I figured. Do you have any posts about general shipping and what to expect. I won’t make any money shipping these items myself nor using FBA since pricing was so high for shipping. Any advice would be appreciated.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Jamie,

      Thanks for the comment. In regards to shipping to FBA I do have this post, however the situation you mentioned with 2 relatively large and heavy items will be a bit of an outlier.

      In general most boxes will cost an average of about $0.50 per pound to ship to Amazon warehouses. For large items like those scooters if that’s all you are sending, I would estimate those would cost $5 to $10 each to send to Amazon.

      There’s not a calculator that I’m aware of for shipping costs to Amazon. In general though if you are shipping a lot of items you will be in the ballpark of $0.50 per pound. If you are only shipping a couple items, that’s when averages aren’t as useful, so I’d estimate in the $5 to $10 range when you are purchasing the items.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  30. Great article, thanks! The beauty of retail arbitrage is in it’s flexibility, to me at least. Being able to buy on credit and leverage the stores return policy almost make this a riskless transaction….however if you use FBA, can you request these items back if they don’t sell? If so, how quickly? I ask because it seems by utilizing FBA you will lose the ability to return items to the store.

    1. Hi DD,

      Thanks for the comment. With FBA you can request items back if they don’t sell, on most items you will pay a $0.50 fee to have it sent back to you. Generally it takes about a week to get it sent back.

      I don’t recommend returning non-selling items back to the store you bought them from. I have found that building relationships with store managers and store employees can be very helpful for getting access to future deals. Consistently returning items is not something that helps in building that relationship.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  31. Hi Ryan,

    I really need your help. I need step by step process in adding my own product. On how to get ASIN. I want to have my own brand. If you don’t mind please send me an email. Most appreciated.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Britney,

      If an item doesn’t sell then you can have it sent back to you for a fee of $0.50 for standard size items. This is known as creating a removal order. Most items will sell over time or with price adjustments, but the removal order is an option if it truly doesn’t sell.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  32. Hi Ryan,in the section “Deciding what to sell on Amazon”, the Canton product initially lists like this: $26.12 (low price) -$3.92(fees) = $22.20 (gross proceeds). Then you say, “click on gross proceeds” and then the fees change to $8.49. What’s the $3.92 fee? And what’s the difference between the 2 fees?

    Thanks,
    Danny

    1. Hi Danny,

      The $3.92 is the referral fee that Amazon will charge whether you sell it via FBA or ship it yourself (merchant fulfilled).

      The $8.49 is the total you will be charged if you sell the item via FBA. So in this case the FBA fees are $4.57 (8.49 – 3.92). These are the fulfillment costs Amazon will charge you to ship the item to the customer.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

      1. Ryan,
        I thought if you’re signed up to sell via FBA ($39.99 a month), then Amazon wouldn’t charge you to ship your products? I understand the referral fee which is for all sellers no matter what. I just don’t understand how, and which, fees are calculated via FBA or merchant fulfilled.

        Thanks again,
        Danny

        1. Hi Danny,

          I recommend checking out the FBA revenue calculator which is linked to in the post above. It shows the exact breakdown of the fees you will be charged for any item you will sell. Let me know if you have additional questions after looking at that.

          Best Regards,
          Ryan

  33. Hello Ryan.

    I appreciate that this blog is for selling existing items, but I cannot find the answer to my question anywhere else. I have a new item which I manufacture and package myself. The item does have a bar code on the packaging, but you mentioned having to add another bar code and essentially bypass the original. Is the purpose of this new bar code for Amazon’s internal tracking? And, my package does not have space for a label such as the one you demonstrated in the blog (30 labels per sheet). Is it ok if I shrink wrap my small package and place the new label on the shrink wrap? Last question: I looked at the next closest item to mine which is already for sale on Amazon. That listing uses the phrase, “In Stock” instead of posting a specific quantity. Why?

    Thanks,
    Sharon

    1. Hi Sharon,

      On existing products, if it has a UPC / barcode, then you should use that to identify that. If you then print a label that will go over the bar code, that is for Amazon’s tracking / identification purposes. It would be fine to shrink wrap and then put the label on the outside. Just be sure the label will stay on.

      If you see just “in stock” on a listing, that happens when there is a lot of inventory available. So it’s likely that there are 1,000+ units available on the listing that just says “in stock.” The specific number comes into play when there are fewer in stock.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  34. Thank you for providing such a detail information. What is slow moving ASIN, I thought it is slow moving product but I noticed the sell ranking is very good. Do you recommend to sell this type of product.

    1. Hi Shaista,

      It’s an item that Amazon deems to be “slow moving.” I do still sell some of these items as I find that they will still sell even with this tag from Amazon.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  35. Hi Ryan:
    Everything I have checked for sale is priced so closely to the other sellers, I have found I can’t make a profit. I see many sellers are low balling the price in many cases. As you mentioned above, that hurts everybody’s profits. Is there any way to steer clear of these cases? I know you said if there are large price gaps, to sell at the higher prices. I suppose once the low ball sellers sell their stock, I have a better chance of a sale? Thanks!

    1. Hi Mike,

      If the other sellers are priced at a level that allows for a profit then it’s still likely fine. If there’s no margin available, then I recommend either not buying, or potentially pricing higher if there are gaps as you mentioned. Generally though I pass on buying items that aren’t profitable at the time of purchase. I prefer to keep money invested in faster moving items to allow for compounding returns.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  36. Awesome post. Learned about you on the Side Hustle podcast.

    I set up my individual sellers account and am excited to get started, but I am being asked to provide a copy of my government issued national ID. Can you shed any light on what they are looking for? I did some research and there seems to be a lot of confusion and contradictory information out there.

    BTW, writing you from Virginia, USA.

    1. Hi Dave,

      It sounds to me like they are looking for a copy of your drivers license. So if you scan & send them a copy of that, I’m guessing you’ll be approved.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  37. Due diligence…

    I purchased your $299 training program as an element of due diligence regarding retail arbitrage and doing business on Amazon. I’m on my second run through the material and find it interesting, useful, and well thought out. However, I have a couple of questions. Online research reveals that a significant number of people believe that retail arbitrage on Amazon as a means for generating real income has become saturated, the opportunity has peaked and is on the the decline. Some obstacles cited include major brands blocking the resale of their products, too many people now in the business buying clearance products which narrows the money-making opportunity, and Amazon closing more and more categories.

    I am curious to get your thoughts. Do you believe that focusing exclusively on retail arbitrage is a viable way to make a living and grow a business (I don’t really want to get into the business of exporting directly from China)? What percentage of your business comes strictly from retail arbitrage? Do you think retail arbitrage using Amazon as a sales platform will be viable for the foreseeable future?

    1. Hi Justin,

      Thanks for buying the course! On your questions, I still see a lot of opportunity with retail arbitrage. You can read more in depth on my thoughts here. It’s from a year ago, but things are generally the same today.

      Retail Arbitrage is still about 50% of my online retail business, and I still thinks it’s a great way to get started. Over time I recommend expanding into other sourcing methods, but it’s great for the first year or 2 at least. even when expanding, I recommend first outsourcing retail arbitrage to that can continue to bring income for you. That’s what I have done personally, and I see it being viable for the foreseeable future as well.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  38. Hey there, I read a news article on you and it eventually led me to this site. I’m 25, I have a baby on the way and little income. So I’ve been slowly reading this site for the past few days and talking to my girlfriend about doing this. The one question that I still really have is, about how long does the average product take to sell with the guidelines you’ve provided? And also, how long does it usually take to start making a steady profit?

    1. Hi Curry,

      Thanks for the comment. On average you will through items in about 45 days. I see that everything sells through on average in 3 months, but items are selling the whole time, so about 45 days is average for me. A steady monthly profit comes after spending the same amount on inventory for 3 months in a row in my experience.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

    1. Hi Chris,

      I started off as a sole proprietor, and then switched to an LLC after a few months. So the answer is that you won’t have to, but you should consult a legal professional to help determine what is right for your situation.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  39. Hi Ryan.
    Found you on MSNBC through twitter. Read some of your articles and am intrigued enough to test it out. I’ve been out of work since October and have considered Ecommerce. Looked at a few platforms etc… One issue I find is the difference between $Cdn and $Usd, it makes for tight margins.

    1. Hi Tyler,

      Thanks for the comment. In that case I’d look into selling on Amazon.ca, and then you wouldn’t have to deal with any currency conversion issues.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  40. Hi Ryan,

    Thank you so much for your post. What happens when an item that is fulfilled by Amazon gets returned, is that a cost to you?

    1. Hi Lili,

      If you would like to get an item returned to you then you will pay a removal fee of $0.50 on most standard size items, and this fee includes the shipping cost too.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  41. Hi Ryan,

    I got a great deal on some clothing merchandise at an outlet store and after the fact realized it could be sold in condition other than “New”. (I know rule #1 , always check the seller rules!). My question to you is, if I label as used , but in the description say something to the effect of “never used, brand new, etc” is that violating any Amazon rules?

    Thanks , Ryan (also an accountant and seriously considering doing this full time thanks to your advice )

    1. Hi Ryan,

      It’s always fun learning rule #1 the hard way haha. And I wouldn’t recommend listing in that manner. If you put “new” in the description of a used item your listing is likely to get removed by Amazon. For new items like that I would try to either get approval to sell in new condition or look into selling on eBay.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  42. Hello, I do not live far from an Amazon center… Instead of mailing the products, can I just bring them straight there?

  43. Hey Ryan, I just came across your website and read your article. My GF and i would like to start selling on Amazon this year. We would like to do the Fulfillment By Amazon but we would like to buy in bulk on Alibaba and ship to a Fulfillment center. Do you have articles on that route of selling on Amazon? We would like to start with one or two products to see how it goes. Any recommendations or advice. Thanks again for the tips and taking the time to offer value to newbies

  44. If I first sign up to sell on amazon with a personal account, can I later change my mind and go to a professional account?

  45. Ryan, were you upside down when you began. I have just begun selling through FBA. To date I have one shipment available for purchase and three subsequent shipments in various stages that have not hit yet. I am breaking even in the earnings/costs ratio listed. I am not, at this juncture, showing a profit.

    The shipping costs exceed fifty cents per pound, by the way.

    I am learning a lot, but nervous as I am not covering my product costs. Were you upside down when you began? Is this to be expected at the outset?

    Thank you,
    Liz

    1. Hi Liz,

      Thanks for the comment.

      When I started I had negative cash flow, as I was spending more on inventory than was selling right away.

      My profits on actual sales though were positive from the start. So in terms of profits I was profitable from the start, in terms of cash flow this was negative at times in growth phases. I’d recommend reading through some of the early financial results posts on the site here to get a better idea of what the profits vs cash flow looked like.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

      1. Thanks, Ryan. Yes, I was premature in my question. I was nervous, but my results since conform with yours. I purchased some duds :0(

        The shipping is more than fifty cents a pound.

        I have reviewed selling on Ebay for those items that I am restricted from selling on Amazon.

        Question: When I double-check sales results for an item on Ebay, it often reflects different stats than on Amazon. Do you think it’s a good practice to check both, or do Amazon shoppers have different buying patterns?? For example, I purchased a house alarm at Home Depot for $70 with tax. On Amazon the selling price was double, and the sales statistics fell well within the 250,000 figure, while Ebay shows multiple sales at prices close to and below my purchase price.

        Thank you,
        Liz

        1. Hi Liz,

          Amazon customers have different buying patterns in my experience, so I recommend checking whichever marketplace you will be selling the item on. So in that example, I would try to sell the item on Amazon.

          Best Regards,
          Ryan

  46. Thank you! My husband has an LLC, should I use that business name when I set up my seller account? Or will I not be able to get a free seller account using a business name?

    1. Hi Marianne,

      You don’t need an LLC to get a free seller account, you can sign up with your social security number if you would like.

      In terms of putting it in the same LLC, I would be very careful with that. You likely would want the operations to be separate to further diversify risk. I’d consult a local professional on this though, as I am not a lawyer.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  47. you didn’t talk about VAT and CST no. because i stitch dress at home and planning to sell it on amazon. i don’t have CST or Vat. what should i do for that

    1. Hi Veena,

      This post is based on getting started in the US. If you are selling from the UK I would consult a local professional on the best way to get started and what the impact of VAT is.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  48. I find this blog very interesting, and would like to try out for myself. My question is when setting up the seller account it requires to have a routing number for a bank account. Would you recommend using your primary bank or start a new account in another? If starting a new account what bank would you suggest?
    I don’t mind transferring start up funds from primary to new account but it still worry’s me that if something were to go wrong like card fraud or any kind of financial issues. If starting a new account I would like to have both physical and digital way of accessing the account and to not have someone else co-sign on the account as well.
    I would eventually like this to be a full time job if I can make it that far, so I can quit my part time job working in a warehouse.
    I apologize for the long post but would like to see my life getting better in a long run.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for the comment. In a perfect world I recommend using a separate bank account as this makes the future accounting much easier.

      In terms of which bank, I currently do my business banking through Wells Fargo and have no complaints. I’d pick a local bank in your area that is easy to access as most of the big banks are able to offer a similar service.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  49. Hello,

    I have a friend who manufactures plastic garbage bags in overseas, and would like to sell them on amzon, in the US and Europe. I’d appreciate your help and advice on how best to do that.
    Thanks and best regards
    Hass,

    Best

  50. Hi Ryan, I just discovered your excellent blog.

    How do you deal with items that have the name of the retail store where you purchased the item printed on one or more of:

    1. The packaging, where the item can be separated from the package (e.g box of shoes)
    2. The tag attached to the item, e.g with a plastic cord
    3. The actual item, e.g. printed somewhere on the item

    Thanks

  51. Scenario, I have 2 totes of hot wheels cars, roughly 200 in original boxes, single and the 5ct box sets. Just take a picture of each and scan upc label and then ship to Amazon and that’s it. After signing up of course but that’s just to get me started n opened for business.

  52. Hello Friend;

    I’m from South America, Chile. Do you think that everything you say in your blog can work here? I am happy that you are succeeding. Very brave what you did. Thank you

    regards

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for the comment.

      I imagine something similar could be done in your country, but I don’t have any experience selling on Amazon from outside the US, so I can’t say or provide any definitive input.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  53. Hi Ryan,

    When scanning items and checking the gross proceeds, should I always evaluate items based on the matched low price? Or is it appropriate to check the other prime FBA listing prices in the seller app and do the math based on those prices? They tend to be priced higher, which would allow more products to pass the test as I’m searching. Thoughts?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Ann,

      If you follow the method that is outlined in this post, then you won’t need to take any pictures. They are already on the listings that are created by Amazon or by other sellers.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  54. Hi Ryan, loved your story. So I set up an account and sold 3 items, but Amazon suspended my account saying these items could possibly be inauthentic. I posted them as “New”, do you post the items you buy on clearance as New or Used?

    1. Hi Brandon,

      If they are truly new and unopened then I will post them as new on Amazon.

      If a customer complained about an item you sold that can cause an inauthentic claim, even if the items are authentic. If you submit your receipts to Amazon for the item, then I would anticipate you should be able to get your account reinstated.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  55. Hi Ryan,

    I am a new FBA user.Whenever I am trying to scan a toy, I am getting message as “Fulfillment by amazon required”

    What exactly does this mean?

    1. Hi Nitin,

      As it’s currently the holiday season, Amazon has some different requirements. You can read the guidelines HERE.

      Effectively what that notification means is that you have to sell it via FBA to be eligible to sell it this time of the year.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  56. Hi Ryan

    Thank you very much for all info and courage that you gave us!

    I set up my individual seller account (without monthly fee) in order to learn as much as possible and then maybe upgrade it into business seller account… I found note that I can use FBA after 90 days. This is because of individual seller account instead of business or it’s not connected at all in terms what kind of seller account it is? Is there any way of avoiding passive period of 90 days and be able to have individual seller account with right of using FBA?

    Thank you again

    Buba

  57. Hi Ryan

    I really like reading all your useful hints and tips which will really help once I get going.

    I have one question though about a letter of authorisation which I’m being asked to provide,I’m not great at stuff like that.

    I’m in the UK and am just a sole trader,I have put in passport details and tax numbers but before I can actually sell I’m stuck with this,any advice would be great.

    Thank you
    Regards Ollie

    1. Hi Ollie,

      Thanks for the comment.

      My advice is to provide the information as long as you are comfortable with it. There’s generally not much wiggle room in what you can provide when Amazon requests something from you.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  58. Ryan,
    All great information, very useful, to the point and easy to understand. Appreciated and Thanks.

    Question –

    Which App do you use, Amazon Seller App, or , OAXRAY, or , Tactical Arbitrage??

    Have you tried any beside Amazon Seller App??

  59. Hello Ryan,

    Do you currently buy direct from any suppliers then have them ship to the Amazon warehouse for FBA? If so, how do you decide what products to buy and what suppliers do you use?

    Thank you,
    Wayne

    1. Hi Wayne,

      I do buy direct from suppliers, but I don’t have any ship direct to Amazon at this time.

      I won’t be able to share the suppliers, and will consider doing a future blog post about how to determine what to buy from the wholesale suppliers.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  60. When registering to sell on amazon, where it asks for name, is that the persons name or the name of the store they will be selling under?

  61. Thanks for all the info. Question about your current state of business.
    As a one man show you are defiantly limited in what you can accomplish in one day as far as looking for items, prepping them, ect.
    Eventually the only solution is to hire other people of course.
    So my question is what do you have your employees do? Do they only take care of things at the warehouse while you go look for deals? Or do you send them out to look for deals as well?
    As you grow are you shying away from physically going out and finding these items vs. Buying online at low prices?

    1. Hi Dustin,

      I will plan on doing a blog post in the future that shares what I do in this business / what my team does and how it’s changed over time.

      The short answer is that my team is involved with every aspect of the business. Everything from buying to the back end account management.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  62. Hey Ryan, your posts and info are great, thank you for sharing. If one does not have a printer is there a way to send FBA shipments to AMZN using UPS or FedEx via their stores?

    Thanks again.

    1. Hi Brett,

      You do need shipping labels, so you at least need access to a printer. Most UPS and Fedex stores have printers you can print for $0.10 or less per page, so I’d look into potentially using one of the printers in their stores for the fee per page.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  63. Wow! So informative and helpful. Since you began by selling back college books in college (brilliant!), I thought this would be a quick and easy question.

    You must have shipped books USPS “media mail?” How much did you calculate for shipping per paperback or hardcover?

    Or did you ship Fed Ex or UPS instead?

  64. Hey Ryan – I heard you on SPI, love the blog, and am extremely interested in pursuing this myself. However, before I sign up for your course, I’m wondering if there’s something I’m missing. I’ve gone to Target, Walmart, Big Lots, and Home Depot – and after scanning hundreds of items, only one met your guidelines which provided a $3.16 ROI. I see your pictures of lined up carts outside Target and the van filled with Home Depot boxes.. and I wonder if there’s something I’m just not understanding. Any advice would be great. Thanks.

    1. Hi Todd,

      Thanks for the comment. I look at getting started in this business as kind of like fishing. When you first get started it takes a lot more time to get some good catches, and then as you gain more experience it gets easier and easier. So I look at getting started with FBA via retail arbitrage in a similar way.

      Every time you scan an item you learn more about the brand, what you can sell, what you can’t, and other factors. This experience over time leads you to become much more efficient over time.

      Also to be clear with the pics I share on this blog, this is after years of experience, so it’s comparing your first few trips to stores to what I have been doing for years. With more time and consistent effort I do think you would find quite a few items out there that you would be able to sell. The course does help give some ideas of how to approach stores, etc, but it sounds like you overall are on the right track by getting out there and taking action.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  65. Hi, Thanks for giving out all this information to help others. My question is since so many people seem interested in doing this could this market get over saturated? Were there a lot of other people doing this when you started or were you the pioneer in getting this started?

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      Thanks for the comment. I had responded to a similar comment in the past so am copying a portion of my answer:

      I don’t think the market is over saturated at this point. I think as a general rule, it’s never too late to do anything. There are exceptions to this, but think of this, someone new becomes successful with just about all of these every day:
      -people continue to start successful blogs
      -people write successful books
      -people launch successful social media pages
      -people start successful brick and mortar businesses
      -people start successful affiliate sties

      Effectively people are starting successful versions of just about every business every day no matter how long a certain type of business has existed.

      So while it might not be as easy to do Amazon FBA (or any business opportunity that has been around for awhile) as it was a few years ago, I don’t think it makes it too late.

      As long as you are really willing to put in the work and differentiate yourself from the competition, then there’s still plenty of opportunity.

      Ultimately, I don’t think the window has closed for FBA. I will agree that with this higher level of competition that it’s not as easy as it was a few years ago, but there’s still a lot of opportunity out there in my opinion.
      I know many people who have started within the past year and are seeing great results already. I continue to find products available to sell on Amazon for a profit at large national retailers.

      As the number of sellers has been increasing, the number of buyers has been increasing as well. Not necessarily at a proportionate rate, but it does something to offset the impact.
      Overall, I think you have to put it a little more effort now as compared to a few years ago, but in my opinion there’s still plenty of opportunity left when it comes to FBA.

      So that might be a little bit more than you were looking for, but figured I would share the whole answer that I did previously as well.

      Hope it helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  66. Hi thanks for the earlier reply about shipping costs.
    I went shopping today and found a power cord. I used my app and it said I could sell it for a profit of approx $13.
    My question is if these things are on clearance, that means that nobody in the store wanted it, so why would Amazon customers want it? I bought some room wall decal stickers for $1 and with potential profit of $19. They have a selling rate of over 4 million. Are people going to buy this??

    Also, I am being paranoid maybe, but I felt like store employees were eyeing me suspiciously as I was scanning. Do you ever feel that way?

    1. Hi Amy,

      An item on clearance just means that no one wanted it locally. Generally there’s still going to be demand for the item online. If you follow the rank guidelines in this post you should only be buying things that people actually want.

      For store employees, I haven’t had issues in the past. They want to sell stuff and you want to buy stuff, so generally it’s a win / win.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  67. Hello Ryan,

    I think this is the future, as Amazon hasn’t even peaked yet. Anyway, how do I get my inventory directly from a supplier to Amazon warehouse for FBA orders? Is that something I have to pre-approve on the Amazon side via phone?

    1. Hi Sal,

      You would need your supplier to meet the prep requirements that Amazon has. If they can do that and have the required shipping labels, then you should be able to go direct from your supplier to FBA warehouses if you want to.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  68. If you have 5 items to sell and ship them to Amazon and it costs…say $25.00 in shipping do you just assume that you have $5.00 less for each item sold and take that out of ROI?

    How does that work if 2 out of 5 of those items aren’t heavy and therefore aren’t the reason that the shipping costs to Amazon are high?

    1. Hi Amy,

      I estimate shipping to Amazon warehouses at $0.50/lb, so it’s factored in to each item before I ever purchase it through the scanning app that I am using.

      So I would try to allocate it to the individual item in advance of purchasing to make sure it will actually be profitable.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  69. What a great post. I really appreciate the information and can’t wait to get started selling online. Today I came across some Barbie dolls that are for sale on Amazon but using the link you provided I wasn’t able to add it. They have other Barbie dolls listed but couldn’t find the ones on sale.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Julliette,

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

      What link are you referring to? and can you provide a few more details on what type of issue you were running into?

      Let me know and I should be able to help.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  70. Great read Ryan. I am having the worst time setting up the seller account. It keeps indicating my Credit Card is “Unable to charge”. I called and verified with my credit card to confirm no restrictions, and credit limit, as well as the details (billing address, expiration date, and zipcode). Am I missing a step here? And is there a phone number i can contact for support? The online FAQ’s are not getting me anywhere

    1. Hi Anthony,

      Sorry to hear that.

      I would try a different card if you have one. I’m not aware of a phone number, but there are some support options that are available at the footer of Amazon’s site, so I’d give one of those a shot.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  71. Hi Ryan,

    How much capital did you use in the beginning to get started? It seems it’s hard to invest $1,000 to try this. Would it work effectively with $25-50?

  72. I downloaded the scoutify app and the scanner did not work on anything I scanned do you know anything about it ? Or if there’s settings I need to change ?

    1. Hi Chris,

      Did you sign up for an InventoryLab subscription too? That is required to use Scoutify, and can be done HERE. If you have that in place then I would reach out to support@inventorylab.com and they should be able to help.

      Just in case you were aiming for the free app, that one is the Amazon Seller App.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  73. Hi Ryan! Great article.

    Are there additional storage fee’s if your product does not move in a specific time frame, or is the product storage built into their fee’s? I can’t imagine them not charging additional storage over 30 days, but you never know!

    Thanks!!!

  74. This is a great post! Thanks very much.
    I’ve always felt that my local UPS Store was a convenient but expensive way to ship. Is there a more economical way to ship to Amazon?

    1. Hi Fred,

      When you are shipping to Amazon you get their partnered UPS rates, so you will likely find them to very competitive. You can also use Amazon’s partnered rates for Fedex. Those are the 2 best options in my opinion when getting started.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  75. Ryan,

    You’re a class act. Thank you for sharing your story and making yourself available for questions for beginners. I hope it come back to you 10 fold.

    Do you know if my 13 yr old can begin this business? I want to strengthen her math skills and what better way to demonstrate it on a small scale than with money in her pocket. I would think a minor could do it provided they have a SS and follow all guidelines? Do you know if Amazon requires you to be over the age of 18?

    1. Hi Catherine,

      Thank you for the kind words!

      I think that’s a great idea to get your 13 year old involved in the business. I didn’t know right off hand, so I did a little bit of research. It looks like for someone under 18, they are allowed to use Amazon services as long as they are doing it under the supervision of a parent or guardian. This link goes to the terms of service, and the “Your Account” section specifically mentions the requirements.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  76. Hi Ryan. I am going to put my all into this venture. I just wanted to know, do I have to buy a printer to print out my own labels or can UPS print them out for me? Wish me luck!

  77. Hi, Ryan. This is a great source of information! Thanks for taking out the time post. I actually saw your segment on GMA about two or three days ago, decided to do some further research on you and found this site. Your story inspired me to go for it! I’m all signed up with Amazon Seller, I invested in few items to sell just to get the hang of everything, and am about to send my first shipment out to the FBA facility today. I did have a question for you. When you first started out doing this, what would you say was the biggest challenge or obstacle you faced?
    Thanks again.

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      The biggest challenge right away was just figuring out what to sell. It took a good amount of time to find consistent sources of inventory, so that was probably the biggest challenge right away.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  78. How do you delete the scan item history in the app for iphone? Every time I scan a barcode it stays in the “History” list which keeps growing. I want to purge the unwanted scans. How do I clear the scan history?

    1. Hi Jenny,

      Certain brands and product types are restricted on Amazon so that is normal.

      If you want to get approval, you’ll want to click the request approval button next to the item you are trying to buy and see what is required. Most often you will need invoices from an approved distributor / wholesaler to get approved for the item on Amazon.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  79. Hello Ryan,

    ~ as a US citizen did you have to obtain vendor’s license to sell on amazon?
    ~ did you have to register your business?
    ~ if so, do you pay sales tax on purchases that took place in your state/county only?
    ~ does Amazon provide with 1099 or some other forms to be added to our annual tax return return filings?

    It’s just so confusing.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Love,

      1. This varies by city and state, so I won’t be able to provide an answer that applies to everyone on this one.
      2. I have a business setup as an LLC.
      3. Google “Online Selling Experiment Sales Tax” I have written 3 separate posts on this and how to handle it
      4. yes, they provide a 1099 at year end if you have sold over $20,000 in a year.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  80. Hello Ryan,

    Great read Sir!,question, are you still using the KDC 200 barcode scanner If not what are you using as of now?

    1. Hi Michael,

      I do still have that scanner but I rarely use it anymore. The cameras on cell phones have improved dramatically in the past few years, so I typically just use the camera on my cell phone now.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  81. Hi. Thank you for the great information, I am brand new and excited to start my own selling experiment. Quick question: I scanned an item but did not see a rank at the top left- is there a reason for this? Does it mean it it is unranked, or something else?

    1. Hi Ying,

      Generally this means that the item is unranked and has not sold before. Typically I won’t purchase items like that as they don’t have any signs of proven demand.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  82. Hello, love your site and all the info! Heard on SPI and want to try your $200 challenge. What about the 99 cent store and Costco/Sams Club? Are those good places to find stuff to sell on Amazon? Thanks again!

  83. Hi Ryan,

    Thank you for taking your time to respond to questions, it is very informative.

    Starting out using the ” Make your first $1,000 selling on Amazon Video ” , does this walk you through from start to finish step by step? Does this video show some good insight into how to go about retail arbitrage ? Also does it show you other ways to sell on Amazon in addition to retail arbitrage ?

    Thanks Ryan,
    Ryan

    1. Hi Ryan,

      I’m guessing with this comment you are referring to my course.

      The answer is yes to walking through step by step, and yes to how to go about retail arbitrage.

      It briefly discusses some of the other ways to sell on Amazon but in terms of sourcing methods it focuses on retail arbitrage. The overall principles, pricing, account management, etc, will all apply in the future as well regardless of which sourcing method you use.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  84. Hello, your site is very amazing! Thank you so much! What about buying items at Costco or the 99 Cent Store? Are there profitable, good finds at either of these locales? Cheers!

  85. Hi Ryan,
    I really enjoyed the information you have provided. I have a question. Do you have to have a business license and what do you have to do to keep the IRS happy?

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      Glad you are enjoying the info!

      Every state and city has a different requirement. I would recommend checking into what the requirements are in your area. So the answer to your question is that it depends on where you live.

      In terms of keeping the IRS happy, you definitely have to pay taxes on any income regardless of if you need to setup a business license or not.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  86. Hi Ryan,

    You’ve mentioned you have looked into wholesaling options. Do you have any updates on that and/or tips on how to get started with that? I know you built your business from sourcing products yourself, but any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

  87. Hi Ryan,

    I am new to your site and find it very informative. I too am in the accounting field and have been looking for an opportunity to do something new. I do have a couple of questions for you.

    Do you utilize the Inventory Placement option from Amazon? If so, do you find it more cost effective?

    When you purchase items in retail stores that are on clearance, do you remove their sales sticker? What is the most effective way to do this so you don’t damage packaging?

    1. Hi Dolanna,

      Thanks for the comment.

      I don’t use the inventory placement service.

      I definitely do remove the stickers on the items. I like to use a Scotty Peeler to help remove the stickers. You can find a link to that, as well as a list of all the tools and services I am using to sell on Amazon, on my resources page.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  88. Hi, thanks so much for all the info, it’s truly very insightful and helpful! When I’ve purhased items from Amazon and they come from the fulfillment center and are either, damaged or delivered to the wrong address, they always immediately send me a replacement. Who eats that cost? Me as the seller or Amazon? Thanks in advance for reply!

    1. Hi KB,

      It would depend on who was at fault. If it’s damaged in transit then Amazon should be covering the cost, if it’s an issue with the product that you sold, then you will bear the cost of it.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  89. Future Amazonseller

    Nice blog. One question about your example for wall Mart clearance item. You entered 0.5/lb in shipping to Amazon warehouse.
    1. Is that standard shipping price.
    2. When completing FBA process on Amazon website do we pay shipping price online or pay at ups store.

    Thanks

  90. How long would you recommend leaving the item you are trying to sell in the warehouse before you choose to have it sent back to you? Thanks!

    1. Hi Martha,

      Normally I wouldn’t remove an item for at least 6 months. I will adjust pricing on items, but I don’t usually remove it for 6 months, although my goal is to sell through items faster than that.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  91. Hey Ryan,

    Thanks for the post and the providing the specific details in your technique.

    I have a quick question about selecting inventory. As part of my online research before heading out to the clearance isles of my local stores I’ve found some great deals through some basic googling where there is quite a large price difference for the product in one of the stores I’ve identified compared to Amazon. However, I’m concerned that if I can find the deal, then so can anyone else and they won’t buy my inventory, leaving me with stock I can’t sell (for a profit).

    For example (and easy numbers), I found a camera in the online clearance section of a national electronics store which has to be collected in person locally. The price of the camera is £100 in this retailer but is going for £200 on Amazon. It has a rank of circa 5000, a couple of sellers and non offering FBA. So following your advice above, this seems perfect! However, I’m just don’t understand why someone would buy this from Amazon without a quick Google first where they would find it cheaper.

    Could you please advise: is this deal a no go and is there a rule of thumb which states that if the product can be found cheaper elsewhere online then it’s not a worthwhile chance? Or could Amazon dramatically drop the price to match and cut out any margin? Any guidance around this would be really appreciated.

    All the best,
    Chris

    1. Hi Chris,

      If it fits the guidelines in this post, then I would buy it. For the example you mentioned, I would buy 1 and then see how it goes. It doesn’t always make perfect logical sense, but my business sells items like that all the time.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  92. Hi Ryan,

    I had a question about the seller rating ? If I follow all of your steps outlined above, I find a toy, for example, I list it at the same price as the cheapest person selling the same item also using Amazon’s FBA, but it’s my first time selling, I wouldn’t have really any positive ratings or reviews, all the others would more than likely have a much higher rating, did this effect the products you chose to sell at the beginning? Seems like I’d be hoping for the guy not noticing I don’t have reviews to purchase my same item even if I match lowest price, or did these items just take longer to sell ?

    Thanks so much for your blog,
    I look forward to trying to see if I can do this

    1. Hi Lisa,

      I wouldn’t worry about it right away. We all started off with no feedback. There are people out there who are willing to buy items even if you don’t yet have feedback. I’d just make sure you take care of the customers that buy your items and the positive feedback will come.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  93. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience!
    Is it required or beneficial to have my own website to sell in Amazon? What is the difference or requirements to sell as an individual and as a professional?
    Thank you

  94. Hi Ryan,
    I find you very inspiring and want to try to sell on Amazon. I like the idea of retail arbitrage but I am curious to know if it is important to peel off all of the clearance stickers off the item before you resell it?

    1. Hi Felicia,

      Thanks for the kind words. It is very important to take all clearance stickers off prior to sending to a customer. They don’t like knowing the price you paid as a general rule.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  95. I keep trying to register and is says I have an “incompatible account status” when I try to register at sellercentral and won’t let me register. Any idea why?

    1. Hi Mike,

      I can’t give official legal advice as it’s different for everyone’s situation. What I did though was setup a legal entity once I knew it was something I was seeing results with and wanted to grow further. So for me it meant setting up an entity about 3 months in.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  96. How do I put product information on amazon? Do I need to create or does it automatically shows up once I send merchandise to amazon? Also can I buy products from alibaba and ship them to amazon?

    1. Hi Kyong,

      If you are selling an existing product which is what this post is about, then you won’t have to provide very much information, but you will do that when you are listing your item for sale.

      For Alibaba, you could do that. I don’t recommend it right away, but if you build trust with a supplier it would be a possibility.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  97. Hi Ryan,

    I am a bit confused; your screenshot shows you have bought the item for $10 and made $7.13 net profit selling through amazon after all fees etc.. correct me if i’m wrong but shouldn’t the net profit be higher than the cost of purchase to have a good deal? it looks like you are gaining less than you bought the item for…

    Best Regards

    1. Hi Edwin,

      I think you are confusing net profit and net payout. The net payout is the total amount that I am paid for the item after Amazon fees. The net profit is the amount leftover after Amazon fees as well as the cost of the item. Hope that clarifies it, and let me know if you have further questions.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  98. Hi Ryan,

    Great post, very informative! Quick Question, what is the most cost efficient method to ship products to Amazon to maximize profits?

    Thanks,

    Brandy

    1. Hi Brandy,

      Glad you enjoyed it. I recommend using either UPS or Fedex, both of these will be options when you are creating your shipment to Amazon. You can compare the prices between the 2 on the shipment creation screen as well to make sure you are getting the best price.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  99. How frequent is it to have items accrue a charge from the warehouse for sitting too long? How much should the “star rating” on Amazon be taken into account (does a 3.5 star item with 15 reviews move significantly slower thab a 5 star item with 50 reviews and how does that relate back to my first question and the warehouse charges)? Big thank you for all of your work on this!

    1. Hi Chad,

      If you are buying based on the guidelines talked about on this post, then you shouldn’t run into paying excessive storage fees very often.

      This post goes into some more detail on the storage fees. In terms of reviews, that’s not something that I rarely factor into sourcing decisions.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  100. I live in Canada, do you have any advice on how I can sell to the US market? Amazon Seller ask to ‘Select Your Market’ as the first step to using the app, would I be selecting the US instead of Canada? Thanks for your time!

    1. Hi Ash,

      I don’t personally have experience in this, but when you are setting up your account I would select whichever marketplace you would actually sell on. My guess is that getting setup in Canada first would be easier to get started, and then from there you could potentially expand into the US.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  101. I am looking at selling something that has good numbers, but bad reviews on the Amazon website. Should I steer clear, or what is the repercussion of selling something that gets a bad review? Will I have to refund? Replace?

    1. Hi Mark,

      Generally speaking I don’t pay attention to the reviews. A buyer is able to see all of the reviews at the time they purchase, so if they are still willing to buy even with bad reviews, that’s not a problem for me. So a product with bad reviews is potentially more likely to get returned, but the worst case scenario would be having to issue a refund.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  102. Do you suggest signing up with Amazon Seller Account with your personal Amazon Prime account or should you sign up with a different email to keep things separate?

  103. What if I am unable to sell the item in Amazon ? Can you please list out the downside of my item sitting in the amazon inventory for ever ?

    1. Hi Ravi,

      If you are unable to sell the item on Amazon you can have it sent back to you for about $0.50 depending on the size of the item, or you can have Amazon destroy it for $0.15.

      If you do have your item stay in Amazon warehouses for over 6 months, then you will be charged long term storage fees and are pretty significant. There are emails sent out to clearly communicate this that come directly from Amazon well in advance though so the long term storage fees wouldn’t be a surprise.

      For items that are in stock for less than 6 months you will pay a few cents per month in storage fees.

      So the realistic downside is paying a $0.50 fee to have the item sent back to you.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

      1. Ryan,

        Once you have the item shipped back before the 6 months, can you send it back soon afterwards or are there restrictions on “resending” back to the warehouse? Thank you for all of your insight.

        1. Hi Bryan,

          There is generally a timeline for when you can send back in. It varies depending on the year, but typically if you remove an item due to avoiding long term storage fees, you have to wait a couple months at least before you can send the same items back to FBA warehouses.

          Best Regards,
          Ryan

  104. Sorry if this was somewhere in the post, but two questions: Does it now cost to sell on Amazon? I’m seeing posts quoting $39.99 per month? Second question: What if you warehouse your items via Amazon Fulfillment and the item doesn’t sell? What does Amazon charge to warehouse the item while you wait for sale? Thanks!

    1. Hi MB,

      You can still sell on Amazon without a monthly subscription fee, you can see the differences in the plan HERE.

      In terms of fees for items that are stored, you can find more details on that HERE.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

      1. Because there is a detailed description of Buy Box eligibility for Professional selling plans, I am unsure whether the free individual selling plan also can be Buy Box eligible. You said in this piece that getting into Buy Box position is important, so if that is true and the free plan can’t get there (or can it?), wouldn’t that imply that paying the 39.99 for the Pro plan is the way to go??

        1. Hi Nick,

          To my knowledge an individual account is eligible for the buy box as well. Do you have a link that says otherwise? The main differences can be seen directly on Amazon HERE.

          Best Regards,
          Ryan

      2. Hi Ryan,

        As of April 17, 2018, there seems to be no option to choose between an individual seller and a professional seller account when signing up. Thoughts?

        Best Regards,
        Jeff

  105. I eventually want to sign up for your course and learn to sell on Amazon full time (and quiting my current job). Before I make this commitment, I need to know if having a low credit score will effect my business growing. We had unexpected medical bills (on credit cards) that has caused us to settle with banks. I have a checking account and 2 open credit cards now to get things started. Is the credit card that you use to register to sell on Amazon only for the monthly fee($39.99)? If so, then no worries. I have an $8000 limit on my credit card. If business starts booming for me, and I have to apply for a credit increase, I won’t be approved. If all my business is done through my checking account, then no worries. I’m assuming I’ll be purchasing products with money in my checking account and money received will come into my checking account. And hopefully, the credit card will be just for the monthly fee. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Ryan

    1. Hi Danny,

      Thanks for the comment. A low credit score shouldn’t negatively impact your ability to sell on Amazon. A credit card is actually only used as a backup payment method for everything on Amazon, so it only gets charged if you don’t have a balance in your seller account to cover it. So the first month or 2 it will charge to your card, but then from there you shouldn’t see any other charges.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  106. Thank you for this post. It is super helpful.
    I am brand new to selling on Amazon and am trying to figure out what I can start out selling. Are Toys and Games, Baby, and Home Goods the only categories that don’t require approval or are there others I am missing?

  107. I am in the early/research phase of starting an Amazon business/store, and came across your extremely informative article. Although it detailed how to obtain, price, and sell various (clearance) items, I am wondering if a similar process would apply to products that are the unique creations (inspirational cards/poetry) of the seller?

    Thank you in advance for your response, and the 411 that may accompany it.

    1. Hi Brian,

      Thanks for the comment.

      This post is primarily about starting by selling existing products. Some of this would apply to new listings / new creations, but that’s a bit of a separate process altogether. I will add a post about getting started with new products to my list of future potential blog posts.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

      1. I am curious about how to obtain a Product ID to sell new products not already offered on Amazon. Can you help me with the steps?

  108. Hi Ryan,
    Thank you so much for your website and guidance. My question: When setting up an individual sellers account, what is the difference between “legal business name” and “unique business display name”? Can these names be changed after the account is created (like shifting name to an initial and last name)?

    I figure the “legal business name” is my actual name which is needed for payment and tax purposes. Still, I really don’t want my name out there since packages will have my mailing address on them and I am concerned about personal safety. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Maggie,

      Thanks for the comment.

      The legal business name is the name of the actual entity that your business will be operating as. This could be an LLC if you have one setup or could be your name if you are operating as a sole proprietorship.

      The display name, is the name that customers will see on Amazon when they are viewing items you have for sale.

      Both can be changed later if needed. Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  109. Hi Ryan,

    Very helpful article with most of the details covered. One question – If I am importing my product from other country, let’s say China, how do I deal with custom duty and custom clearance? Can I still make use of Amazon’s shipping partner (UPS) and they will take care of custom clearance since the shipment will be with them? or do I need to take care of it? I think some details about this are required to be covered?

    1. Hi Anand,

      This post is about specifically retail arbitrage and doesn’t go into the nuances of importing products.

      The short answer is that you will need to get them into the US first before getting to use Amazon’s partnered UPS rates. I would recommend using a freight forwarder to get the items into the US and then go from there.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  110. I want to sell on AMAZON, do I need a product to my own? It is possible to sell on AMAZON w/o physical Item. I mean just to promote other product to sell then I earn a commission?

    1. Hi Danilo,

      To actually sell on Amazon then you will need to have physical inventory that is available to ship to a customer. This doesn’t mean you have to ship it as you could drop ship or pay a fulfillment service, but you will need the inventory.

      If you want to just promote products in return for commission on Amazon, then I recommend checking out the Amazon Associates program.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

      1. Hi I have question plz , I saw the fulfillment by Amazon Revenue calculator; so how it’s come the net profitability for me is 21 or the same for Amazon is 16,79. Less than me??????

        1. Hi Rana,

          Amazon is willing to sell items at a loss to provide a great deal for customers. So it’s possible that’s what you are running into in this scenario.

          Best Regards,
          Ryan

  111. Hello,

    I’ve been wanting to start in this business since the beginning of the year and your post really boosted a lot information and insight on how to get started so I thank you for that.

    However, I do have one question in mind.. Do you think buying items off of retailers like Alibaba is a good start as well? If so, I would like some tips on how to really go about it and just little niches to give me a push, so to say. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Lucy,

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Personally I’d recommend getting started with the retail arbitrage method that is outlined in this post. Then from there you could potentially do a test on Alibaba in the future. Going the retail arbitrage route will decrease the number of things that have to go right to see initial results.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  112. Hi – One question I have is regarding sales tax. How do we handle doing sales tax. I can’t seem to find any information on that.

  113. Hi guys. Just heard the interview on Pat’s podcast. I am jumping into it. So i spent the day hitting 4 different stores and I would say 85% of the time when i scan the bar code in the store it does not come up in the seller’s app. It did say i could create my own listing, but i was choosing pretty normal items. this was especially true for clothing. Any advice on this would be great. Thank you

    1. Hi Troy,

      Glad you are giving it a shot!

      Clothing is a category that requires a separate approval to sell in. I’d recommend either seeking this approval (same goes for other categories that require approval) or focusing on categories that are not restricted. Some of the main ones that you will be eligible to sell in right away include: books, toys, home improvement, home & kitchen, sports & outdoors, among many others.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  114. Hi-Love the information you are providing. What happens when the customer wants to return the item? And anything to be concerned with when it comes to taxes on the profits that amazon sends us?
    Thank You

    1. Hi Matt,

      Thank you for the kind words!

      Any item that is fulfilled by Amazon will have the same return policies as if Amazon sold the item. So the customer is able to initiate a return directly through their own Amazon account if they want to return a product they purchased.

      In terms of taxes, this is definitely something to pay attention to. You should be paying taxes on the net profit your business earns from selling on Amazon.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

    1. Hi Priyank,

      Yes you can sell products manufactured outside the US. You will need to get a UPC for your product to be able to list it on Amazon. Once you do that you won’t actually need the barcode on the product as you can print labels for Amazon’s purposes directly through the platform.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  115. I just listened to you guys on the SPI podcast. It was very good and has sucked me in to the potential of online selling. This may be a dumb question, but I don’t see on this post or in the podcast anything about the Monthly Amazon Subscription fee. I was under the impression signing up would be free.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Glad you enjoyed the podcast!

      There used to be a free account for selling on Amazon, but that might not be available anymore. I’d recommend starting with the lowest priced plan that they offer, it will be either free or $39.99/month.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  116. Hi Ryan ,

    I heard you on SPI and was inspired to try this. Thank you for sharing your story and for providing a step by step guide on how to get started. However I am having difficulties determine how much it will cost me to ship products to Amazon? How did you get the .50?

    Thanks Again,
    Vanessa

    1. Hi Vanessa,

      Glad you enjoyed the podcast. $0.50/lb is the average based on what my business is charged and what we use to evaluate. You won’t know the exact charges until you ship the box to Amazon, but $0.50 should be very close. If you want to be very conservative, you could estimate $1/lb.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  117. Hi Ryan,

    My wife and I heard you on the SPI podcast and are getting started with our first set of inventory. I had a question on sales ranks. If we have high ROIs for specific items (100%), but the sales rank is higher (400K), what would you recommend? How strictly would you adhere to the < 250K sales rank criteria? Look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

    1. Hi Sri,

      In cases where the ROI is higher it often does make sense to expand the sales rank guidelines. The guidelines that I recommend should keep you out of trouble, but they are by no means hard and fast rules. In any situation like this, I would usually test it out and see what happens as long as it isn’t a huge investment. The reason for this is you will learn much more by trying as opposed to not.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  118. Great article and loved the interview on SPI podcast. Quick question, don’t you need a paid Seller Pro account to do FBA? I already have a seller account because I dabble in text book reselling, but it’s a free seller account. I am excited to get started and see where it leads!

    1. Hi Anna,

      Glad you enjoyed the podcast!

      In the past you could with a free account. I would try it with the free account, and if that doesn’t work for whatever reason, then I would upgrade to the paid account.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  119. Ok so we just started the Amazon business and we have a couple of items to list.
    The item in question populated as a bookshelf when it is a small pocket organizer. When we do post as a new item, the item’s UPC conflicts with another item (wrong item) on Amazon or can’t be found.

      1. Hi Jessica,

        In this instance, I would recommend opening a case with Amazon seller support to see if you can get the listings associated with the correct items.

        Best Regards,
        Ryan

  120. Great post and podcast recently guys! Appreciate the solid content. I had a question about shipping. I live in Honolulu, Hawaii and wanted to see how I can calculate shipping costs to the FBA warehouse. Is there a workaround if shipping is extremely high?
    Thanks, keep up the great work.

    1. Hi Matt,

      Glad you enjoyed the podcast!

      From Hawaii I am not sure if you get Amazon’s partnered UPS rates, but I would calculate the shipping costs through UPS.com or Fedex.com. Just input the size of the boxes you plan on sending and you should be able to estimate the costs. It will definitely be higher than shipping from the continental US, but should still be doable.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  121. Great podcast guys! Actionable and very real content.
    Question as I have never sold on Amazon. I live in Hawaii, how do I calculate shipping costs if I were to use FBA?

    Thank you, and keep up the great work

    1. Hi Matt,

      Glad you enjoyed the podcast.

      From Hawaii I am not sure if you get Amazon’s partnered UPS rates, but I would calculate the shipping costs through UPS.com or Fedex.com. Just input the size of the boxes you plan on sending and you should be able to estimate the costs.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  122. Hi Ryan,

    Thanks a lot for providing all this content!
    Quick question: Is it possible to start up this business from the Netherlands?
    Are there specific things I should pay attention towards?

    Regards,
    Jimmy

    1. Hi Jimmy,

      Thanks for the comment. I know it’s possible to sell on Amazon’s European platforms, and I would imagine that would be a good option for testing it out. I’ve never sold on anything but the US platform, so I wouldn’t be able to provide advice on the best things to pay attention to when selling on Amazon from the Netherlands.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

      1. Thanks for your reply Ryan, you are a true inspiration for me.
        I have studied your material and in your guide you recommended to use the “Amazon-Partnered Carrier (UPS)” as a shipping option.
        Is this option available on all platforms?

        Kind regards
        Jimmy

  123. One thing I don’t see here is if it costs something to set up an Amazon seller account?

    If i just want to try this do i need to pay to become a seller? (I just sell one or two things, i could end up with a net loss)

    1. Hi Jamie,

      You should be able to sign up for a seller account for free. When you setup your account, you will want to use an “individual” account as opposed to a “professional” account.

      Hope that helps!

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

      1. I went to go sign up as an individual seller and they are still charging 39.99 a month just to sell things on Amazon. Am I in the wrong place as well or did something change?

  124. Hello!
    Found you on SPI. I plan to set up my Amazon seller account and get started. Your selling experiment is an awesome way to get started. I am super excited! Thanks so much for all of the info.

    Regards,
    LaTasha

    1. Hi LaTasha,

      You are welcome! Glad you found the site, and let me know if questions come up along the way.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  125. I heard you on SPI, great interview. I found the episode very interesting and full of actionable advice. Thank you for that. I’m up in Duluth, I plan on doing this as a part-time business to start with. You have given me courage to get out there and do it. Thank you again!

    1. Hi Rashid,

      Yes, you can sell items with a quantity of 1. You can list any number that you like for sale, whether that’s 1 or 1,000.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  126. Hi there and thanks for the fantastic info! I am excited to get started. And props to Pat Flynn for helping me find you! 🙌🏼🙌🏼 Today when I was shopping and scanning items on the Amazon app, everything I scanned was either selling at what I would have to buy it for to start with, or said it was not available to sell on Amazon. Can you tell me or point me to where I find out why that is and how I can refine my searches in stores? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Julie,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Items that show up as not available to sell on Amazon, could either be restricted, or not have any listings available on Amazon. If there’s no listing, then you could create a listing for the product and then list your product for sale on the new listing you created. If it’s because it’s a restricted product, that is because Amazon places restrictions on what certain sellers are able to sell. There are certain brands and product categories that require you to apply for approval to be able to sell.

      Let me know if that helps or if you have further questions.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

      1. Hi Ryan!

        I also found you via SPI and decided to accept the challenge.

        In one day I scanned every clearance item I found at my local Best Buy, Home Depot, Target, Big Lots, Academy, WalMart (whose clearance aisle was rather sparse), and Michaels.

        Definitely learned a lot about pricing practices, in-house brands, and why I prefer shopping on Amazon.

        But much like Julie, the few times I came across articles with the right numbers, they were restricted: Samsung phone covers and almost anything electronic, any Star Wars related toy (got a warning about ‘collectibles’ for these), Crayola, Farber Castell, Brides, boat trailer parts, gun holsters, Nike, Under Armor, Wilton cake decorating stuff but not Wilton cupcake displays (but those didn’t make the numbers)… which brought up the interesting coincidence of within certain brands, the ones that fit the criteria were restricted but the others weren’t.

        Half way through the day I realized I should have recorded all of these to try to get some real data. Also there were a significant number that met everything except the BSR, because there was no BSR listed. What’s up with that?

        At the end of the day, I scored two items that met every criteria. So I’m wondering what your thoughts are on the application/approval process for ‘restricted’ items. Apply? Wait until some seller history established? If so how much?

        Thanks so much. I never cared for shopping much but I’m enjoying the challenge here.

        Cheers,

        Janine

        1. Hi Janine,

          Glad to hear you found a couple of items.

          On the items that did not have a sales rank, this can mean that the item has never sold before, or it can be in a category that Amazon does not have sales rank for. If it doesn’t have a sales rank, you could still buy it to sell on Amazon but it’s riskier as you won’t have any idea of how well it sells. The one caveat to this is if there are “verified purchase reviews,” these will show up in the reviews section of the product. If the product has verified purchase reviews, and no sales rank, then you can still be confident that it sells.

          In terms of restrictions, right away I would focus on items you are already approved to sell as opposed to applying for approval. Over time, it likely will be worth seeking some additional approval.

          Best Regards,
          Ryan

    1. Hi Cubby,

      I just tested it on my end and it seems to be working now. Let me know if it’s still not working for some reason.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  127. The links to your shipping to fulfillment guide and your financial results pages are dead…gives me a 404 error.

    That being said, great post. I am deffinetly going to give this a shot.

    1. Hi Curtis,

      Thanks for the heads up. My site recently underwent a redesign, and looks like I missed those. I just double checked and they are working now. Let me know if you have any trouble accessing them.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

  128. Hey guys,

    Just heard you on the SPI podcast – great work! This is perfect timing as we’ve been downsizing and have an room full of stuff to get rid of. You just saved me hours of researching. Thanks for the awesome resources!

  129. Thank you for your detailed information! I do have this question however, as the math doesn’t seem to add up. In your example it shows $7.50-Selling on Amazon fees, $4.70-Fullfilment by Amazon fees, $1.00-shipping and then $5.70 for TOTAL fulfillment cost. How does this add up? I get costs of $13.20?

    1. Hi Lori,

      In the example you mentioned your math is correct. The $13.20 and in fees is the difference between the selling price of $49.99 and the Seller Proceeds of $36.79 shown in the screenshot. Let me know if you have any other questions on this.

      Best Regards,
      Ryan

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