Getting set up to start selling on Amazon isn’t as simple as deciding to list your products, getting them set up and then sitting back and waiting for the sales to roll in. It however should be easier than it actually is – so I’ve decided to take you through everything you need to know, do and decide – to make it as simple and transparent as I can.
Is Amazon the Right Marketplace?
I know you’ve heard me say this before – but before you start setting up an Amazon Seller Central Account, spend some time looking into whether Amazon is the right marketplace for your product.
I think it’s a great opportunity, for some products and some businesses. You might know businesses or brands that are doing really well selling on Amazon – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for you.
I have lots of podcast episodes and blog posts on how to research this. This is a great post to start with.
Once you’ve decided it’s right for you, and you’re going ahead, these are the steps you’ll need to take.
Apply to become an Amazon seller
The first thing I’ll say is I can’t and won’t do this for you! Even if you book my Amazon launch package this is the one thing I don’t do because, as you’ll see, you need to submit a lot of personal, business and financial information that I don’t want you to share with me.
I can however help you with the decision making, advise you on what I suggest, and write and set up fantastic product listings!
The first decision – what kind of account do you need?
A Professional selling account costs £25 + VAT (£30) a month, but it’s well worth it as you’re able to run ads to your listing and sell higher volumes. There’s also a free, individual plan (capped at 35 sales per month), if you prefer to start with that and upgrade at a later date.
Even if you’re selling as a hobby, I do usually suggest the professional account, as without it you won’t have the buy box and you can’t do any Amazon advertising. If you want to sell in the Handmade category, you’ll also need a Professional selling account.
How to sign up to Amazon Seller Central
Go to the Amazon Seller site, click on the orange Sign Up button and you’ll be taken to the registration page.
Next, enter your email address and create a new account.
Do note here that if you have a personal Amazon account (one you use for shopping, for example) you can use that email address – although I’d suggest using your business email address, or just a different one if you don’t have a business email yet, to keep the two separate.
Here’s what else you’ll need to set up your Amazon selling account:
- A chargeable credit card
- Valid passport or national ID
- Company registration details and VAT details if applicable. (It’s also ok if you’re a Sole Trader.)
- A phone number Amazon can contact you on
- Bank account details (so you can get paid!)
Once you’ve entered your personal and billing information, the next step is to name your Store.
I suggest calling it your business name, as that will make life easier in the long run!
Once you’ve submitted everything you’ve been asked for, expect an invite to a video call to arrive from Amazon. This call will be used to verify that you are who you say you are.
If you need to show or bring anything along to that call you’ll be informed in advance.
It’s not uncommon for IDs to be rejected, or to be asked for additional information when setting up and verifying your account. Provide whatever you’re asked for, as soon as you can, and remember to be patient. Yes, it’s frustrating, but you’re almost there!
FBM or FBA?
Once your account is verified the next decision to make is whether you’ll fulfil orders via FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant) – i.e. you handle the shipping yourself, or FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) where you send your stock into Amazon and let them store and fulfil orders for you.
I actually suggest doing both, if you can. It’s pretty simple and just involves you setting up duplicate listings for your product(s), one as FBA and one as FBM.
(Do note that this is the same listing and you should use the same identifier. The only difference is the way in which orders will be fulfilled.)
If you’re using FBM you’ll need to set up your shipping settings now too – so Amazon knows which shipping method you’ll be using and where you’ll ship to (which countries and regions) and can calculate when orders should arrive with customers. You need to use a shipping method that Amazon can track and you can find all options within your shipping settings.
I always suggest offering free shipping if you can, to match the Prime offer.
Another thing you can do is to tell Amazon the days on which you fulfil orders (every day or just Monday – Friday) and add in a handling time if needed. (i.e. if you know it takes a few days to make, or pack, your products add this in, so you don’t get penalised for shipping orders late.)
If you plan on using FBA you’ll need to set up a shipping plan to let Amazon know where the stock is arriving from, how many you’re sending, the sizes for each individual item and for the larger box(es) you’ll be sending them in. You’ll then get labels to print and you can arrange for your stock to be collected when you’re ready.
You can’t do any of this without having product listings, so that’s the next thing to do.
Create your product listing
You’re now ready to set up your product listing(s).
You’ll need to create a new listing in Amazon Seller Central (Amazon’s seller portal), which will display on the live site once you have stock in place. (Either by manually adding it in, syncing with your stock in some way, or by sending in stock via FBA.) I’ve spoken a lot about researching and writing product listings. This blog is very old – but still a good place to start.
What you’ll need to list your products
A complete, well optimised product description text
You need to write a title, 5 bullet points and some description text as a minimum. (If you decide to apply for Brand Registry, you do have more options.) You also need a string of Amazon-specific search terms (keywords) which are used in the back of your listing to help with SEO.
You’ll need one main image showing the product alone (not showing anything that isn’t sold with it), on a plain white background, with no added text or logos. I also suggest a variety of lifestyle shots and or infographics, depending on your product.
This is often the name you set up your account with, but it doesn’t need to be. Do be aware that you may need to apply for approval to sell under your brand name. This is fairly straightforward and will involve providing your website (if you have one), plus photos of your product showing the brand name.
If you don’t have this, don’t panic! Just get in touch and I’ll do my best to help.
This is an EAN / GTIN and you’ll need one barcode per SKU that you list. (i.e. if you have one product, but in 5 colours, you’ll need 5 barcodes.) The only valid place to purchase them from, for use on Amazon, is currently GS1.org.uk. (Note that if you’re selling a book, you’ll need an ISBN rather than a barcode.)
Safety Data Sheet – possibly
Certain products (for example, toiletries, cleaning products, perfumes, among others) require a Safety Data Sheet submitting before you can list the product, or send them in for FBA. Doing a little research before setting your product up will help you to understand whether this is required or not.
Note that some products and categories also require approval to list – check this before you start, as that might be an additional step.
You might also need to get approval to list under your brand name, or you might be planning to apply for Amazon’s Brand Registry.
Ensure you build in time to do all of this – and know that sometimes things can crop up that you don’t see coming!
What is Amazon Brand Registry?
If your brand has a pending or registered trademark, in the country in which you wish to enrol you can apply for Amazon Brand Registry. This is free and gives you access to other features on Amazon, only available to brand registered sellers, such as the ability to set up A+ content, an Amazon Storefront, more Advertising options and better protection for your brand on Amazon.
I can’t say this enough – please don’t do all of this work then sit back and wait for the sales to roll in. You’re still only halfway through!
As your listing will be brand new it won’t be easy to find. You’ll have to do something to drive traffic, or it won’t be found and all that hard work will have been for nothing.
If you can afford to, I suggest allocating a small amount of money (£2 – £5 per day) for Amazon Sponsored Products (pay per click advertising).
Or, you can drive external ads to Amazon if you prefer.
There are also free options such as using your email list, social media, etc, to spread the word that your products are now available on Amazon.
It can take some work to get those initial sales – but it really will be worth it!