It’s a lucrative space, and there’s money to be made. If you want to get into the world of ecommerce and selling online, you have a few choices.
If you’re a traditional, “brick and mortar” store, you can start up an ecommerce website
You could build your own ecommerce store from scratch
You can take advantage of marketplaces on existing ecommerce websites such as Amazon and Etsy
Of course, the dominant player in the ecommerce space is Amazon — it’s
among the world’s largest ecommerce websites, and it
provides some massive opportunities for sellers. As an Amazon business, you can offer your
products for sale through Amazon to gain access to their enormous reach, technology and marketplace.
You might think selling on Amazon is easy; they do a good job of setting up sellers for success. Despite this, there are potential pitfalls to
selling on Amazon, so we’ve put together this complete guide to tell you exactly how to maximize your chances of creating a thriving Amazon
business. We’ll cover:
Understanding the world of Amazon businesses and what it takes to be an Amazon seller
Questions you should ask to see if you’re ready to start an Amazon business
The best legal structure for your new organization
The various rules and regulations you will need to follow
Information on taxes and finances for your Amazon business
Hiring employees, marketing and administration
Resources for your Amazon business
And much more
By the time you’ve read through our complete Amazon business guide, you will have all the information you need to setup and
manage a thriving Amazon business. Let’s get into it.
Understanding the World of the Amazon Business
So, what exactly is an Amazon seller? Simply put, they are people and companies who source goods and then sell them on Amazon at a profit. There are
two main kinds of Amazon businesses:
"Sold by Amazon" Sellers
Sellers who source, procure, store and ship the goods themselves including taking care of customer service and returns. They
only use Amazon to list their products, get exposure, sell them and take payment. These are known as "Sold by Amazon” sellers.
Amazon FBA Sellers
Sellers who source and procure products themselves but then send them to an Amazon warehouse for storage, sale, payment and
shipping. Amazon handles all customer service and returns. These are known as “Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA)” sellers
The difference is that in FBA, Amazon takes care of storing, shipping, customer service and returns. Of course, Amazon does charge for these
services, and “Sold by Amazon” is less expensive than “Fulfilled by Amazon.” But if you’re just a “Sold by Amazon” seller, you will have to take
care of your own logistics, customer service and storage, which can be costly. As a result, nearly 80% of Amazon sellers use the “Fulfilled By
Amazon” service for some or all of their products.
Typically, Amazon sellers source products from large supplier marketplaces like Alibaba, Salehoo, Wholesale Central and more.
Key Statistics and Trends for Amazon Businesses
Why would you choose to sell through Amazon? Here are some of their astonishing statistics:
Amazon.com's revenue in 2016
Number of people shops on Amazon.com
Amazon sellers had sales of $100K or more in 2016
80% of Amazon U.S. users purchase from the website at least once a month
77% of Amazon sellers sell on multiple channels (ebay, their own ecommerce store, etc.)
Nearly 80% of Amazon sellers use “Fulfilled by Amazon”
49% of Amazon sellers sell less than $100,000 of product through Amazon a year
36% sell between $100,000 and $1,000,000 of products a year through Amazon
15% sell more than $1,000,000 of products a year through Amazon
Understand Your Amazon Business Market
If you want to be successful on Amazon, finding the right products and buyers is absolutely essential. Due to the success of the
platform, there is a vast amount of competition across almost every niche and product. The biggest factors that will decide your success are
choosing the right product, understanding the demand for that product and selling it at a profit.
What Your Amazon Business Customers Are Looking For
People who buy on Amazon are motivated to purchase in a few different ways:
Amazon is famously known for its competitive prices, so much so that people often compare prices in traditional stores
with what Amazon is charging. You need to keenly price your items.
Customers expect high-quality items that do what you say they will. Even if items are inexpensive, customers do not
expect the quality to be “cheap.”
Customers want their items quickly. If you’re using FBA, Amazon will take care of that for you. If you’re shipping out
yourself, you will need to have fast and reliable logistics and distribution.
Reviews are the lifeblood of ranking your products on the marketplace. Good reviews are essential for getting your
products seen and creating trust with other buyers.
Questions to Ask Before You Start an Amazon Business
Is Amazon Business Entrepreneurship For You?
Although Amazon does resolve many of the issues facing an e-commerce startup (marketing, acquiring sales, managing distribution, etc.),
that doesn't make running an Amazon business easy. You must be able to deal with significant competition, be acutely aware of the state of the
marketplace, deal with Amazon’s regulations and policies and be a master administrator.
The profit margins are also likely to be razor-thin. You need to create, buy inventory, manage and maintain a successful business on
small profit margins and against a very competitive landscape. But, if you can make it, the upsides are huge. If your product really gets traction,
you could make your way into the upper ranks of sellers who make more than $1,000,000 a year on the platform.
What Are the Main Skills, Expertise and Experience to Be a Successful Amazon Entrepreneur?
Being a successful Amazon business owner requires a diverse set of skills:
Strong research abilities
So you can find the right suppliers, products and customers
Good math skills
So you can work out profit margins, cash flow and foreign currency exchange
Excellent forecasting abilities
So you can understand trends in the market and ensure you have enough stock and inventory
Powerful attention to detail
So you can examine top sellers, product specifications and supplier requirements
So you can adapt to changing requirements and customer needs
Good marketing skills
Since often basics such as headline writing, copywriting and call-to-actions can make or break your Amazon listing
What Are the Main Challenges for an Amazon Seller?
Here are the main issues an Amazon seller entrepreneur is likely to face:
Running a Successful Business With Thin Profit Margins
: The Amazon
seller space is very competitive. A combination of
price pressure, foreign exchange rates and customer expectations means you need to take care of all your business costs from constantly
pressurized profit margins. It’s essential to have a deep understanding of the numbers so you can pay all your business costs from those
Cash Flow and Inventory Management
: Because of these thin profit
margins you have to judge cash flow very carefully and
balance your cash on hand versus money you have coming in and having enough inventory to meet customer demand. You will also need to
bear in mind lead times on getting products from your suppliers and build this into your seasonal demand cycles.
Dealing with Competition
: Competition is ever-present in the Amazon
selling space. You need to keep a constant eye on other sellers, look at their product offering and prices. You will need to tweak your stock levels and selling prices so you rank
Marketing and Promotion
: Although you will get exposure on Amazon’s
marketplace, you also need to market yourself.That could be via buying ads on Amazon itself, social media marketing, going through an affiliate or some other means. The right mix of marketing will make a big difference to your success.
What Does a Day in the Life of a Amazon Seller Entrepreneur Look Like?
Here’s what you can expect in an average day:
Reviewing sales from the previous day, week and month to see what products are doing well
Looking at your current inventory and stock levels and planning for future sales
Making orders with your suppliers and arranging for payment
Exploring new opportunities for products and expanding into a different marketplace
Calculating profit margins and selling prices to ensure you can pay all your business expenses
Dealing with any requests or issues flagged by Amazon
What's the Right Business Structure for an Amazon Business?
Now that you have all the background information for your Amazon seller business, it’s time to make it into a reality. That starts by choosing the
right structure or “legal entity” for your business. In the U.S., there are four main business structures. They are:
This is the "default" business structure and is what your business will be if you decide not to create a more formal
We don't recommend this type of business as it doesn't give you the legal protections you need.
This is a special type of LLC entity that's only available in certain states. It allows you to create "mini" LLCs, each with their own
limited liability and separate assets, under the umbrella of a master LLC.
Once you've legally created your Amazon business you’ll need to get some other things in place.
Where are you going to run your business? Will you work from home, get an office, use a shared working space or something else? In
most cases, unless you are planning to store products, it’s best to start an Amazon business from your home.
Permits & Licenses for Amazon Businesses
Running an Amazon business could come with certain rules, regulations and legalities you need to be aware of. Incfile can conduct a
Business License Research package for you, or you can take
the time to do the research yourself.
What equipment do you need to manage your Amazon business? Make sure you understand exactly what you need to spend, so you can write
it off against business expenses. In most cases, you won’t need any specialized equipment or supplies unless you are planning to
ship products yourself.
What business processes are you going to use to run your business efficiently and effectively? You will need efficient processes for
managing inventory, dealing with suppliers, ordering stock, looking at competitors and completing market research.
Software & Tools for Amazon Sellers
Is there software that can help you manage and market your business? There are dozens of software applications designed specifically
to help Amazon sellers. Here are some great starting points.
Do you need to hire employees to help you out? This may change as your business grows, but try to think ahead about what sort of
experts you may need.
Most states require businesses to file an Annual Report
report once a year. You will also be expected to pay estimated taxes on what you plan to earn in the current business year. And,
your federal, state, regional and city business licenses and
permits may need to be renewed on a regular basis, typically once a year.
In addition to the specialist Amazon seller tools listed above, there are some other really great online tools for managing your
Amazon seller business. They will reduce the time you spend on administration, help you to collaborate with others and free up your time to grow
and manage your new venture.
Starting an Amazon business can be both very challenging and very rewarding. Find the right niche, source great products and
sell them at a profit and you have the makings of a successful business. Eventually, you could be among the 15 percent who sell more than $1,000,
000 worth of products every year.