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I sell my own products on Amazon. I get lots of enquiries from people wanting to start selling on Amazon and I help and work with a lot of Amazon sellers every single day.  I see a lot of people do well – but I also see people who don’t do as well and that’s why I wanted to share this.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that those who don’t do well don’t have a great product (but we will talk about that a bit later). It could just be that there’s another marketplace that suits your product better.

Also, you’ve probably heard me say, many times by now, that Amazon is a tricky place to get started – even if you have an amazing product.  It’s so hard in fact, that I wrote a free guide all about this – How to Successfully Launch a Product on Amazon or Rescue One that’s Not Selling!

Why Amazon Is An Appealing Place to Sell Your Products

There are lots of reasons!  It’s a huge, well known marketplace, many of us shop there (so we’re familiar with it) and there are lots of customers already there.  If your product is what people are looking for it can be easier to convert them (than on Google for example), as they’re usually there to shop.

Like with any marketplace, there are good and bad points about selling on Amazon.

The Good

  • It’s a large recognisable marketplace that people know and trust.
  • The customers are already there – so no need to worry about getting them onto the site – you just need to focus on them being able to find your product and converting them into buyers.
  • There are lots of inbuilt marketing tools you can use to attract customers – and these get better all the time.
  • If you decide to use Fulfilled By Amazon (Amazon FBA), then they can handle the logistics (storage and shipping) for you.  This can be expensive, so it’s worth trialing with just a small amount of stock initially.
  • You have the opportunity to sell Globally, as there are marketplaces all over the World, so plenty of opportunities for expansion.

The bad

  • There’s an ‘art’ to creating a great product listing on Amazon and you need one to get found! There are also lots of rules to adhere to and breaking any one of them can get your listing shut down.  This includes the wording you use – so be careful about any claims that you make.
  • There’s a lot of competition and it gets harder and harder to get started.  I usually suggest paying for Amazon Sponsored Products (Pay-Per-Click marketing), but this can get expensive. 
  • Amazon Seller Support aren’t that supportive!  Lots of sellers struggle and many give up, as dealing with them can be so difficult. You need a thick skin and to be pretty tenacious to get anywhere!
  • You don’t get any customer details (other than what you need for shipping, if you’re fulfilling orders yourself), making it hard to build up an email list.

What Kind Of Product Is It Best For?

You can sell most things on Amazon.  A few things you can’t sell in the UK include:

  • Vehicles (new or used)
  • Vehicle airbags
  • Fetal dopplers
  • Used clothes and shoes
  • Clothing made from animals

This isn’t the full list and I always suggest checking out the restrictions for anything you want to sell.  It may well be that it can be sold, but you’d have issues if you wanted to send it in for FBA.   Or you might need to request approval first – which can take time.  Also remember that the requirements can and do change.

How Do I Know If There’s Demand For My Product?

I definitely suggest doing a little research before listing your product.  I’ll talk about how a little later in this episode.  This doesn’t need to be expensive (there are free tools you can use) or particularly time consuming.

If demand (and competition) are really high it can be hard to stand out and compete with sellers who already have sales history and reviews.

Equally, if your product is really unique (so people don’t know it exists), or something people might not necessarily go to Amazon for (say handmade products) then it can also be hard to get noticed.

Handmade Products

A good example of this is handmade products.  I’m thinking of the kind of things you’d see on Etsy.  I recently worked with a seller who was doing well selling handmade candles on Etsy.  She wanted to try Amazon, so we did – but so far sales are way lower.

This isn’t to say she shouldn’t be trying – but she’s doing so in a low-risk way, only adding one product, that we researched and looks like it could have potential.

She’s also listing on the main Amazon site, not under the Handmade category.

What’s Amazon Handmade?

This is described by Amazon as ‘Artisan only’.  There’s an application process and you need to apply and be audited to join.  There’s a flat 12% referral fee.

You need to have an Amazon Seller account to apply.  You can still do FBA and advertising.  You also have the option to allow customers to customise products – although that can already be done via Amazon Custom.

I haven’t used it, so it’s hard to comment – but, then again, if I wanted handmade I wouldn’t go to Amazon, I’d go straight to Etsy.  In my humble opinion, that’s the best place for handmade sellers.

It’s a (quite nice looking) category but, for me, it remains to be seen if it’s a good place to be.

A Potential Issue With Handmade Products – Safety Data Sheets

Something else to be aware of with handmade products (or indeed many products) is that to use FBA you have to submit a safety data sheet.  This is a detailed information bulletin containing 16 sections prepared by the manufacturer or importer that describes the physical and chemical properties, physical and health hazards, routes of exposure, precautions for safe handling and use, emergency and first-aid procedures, and control measures of a product.

The kinds of things you might need this for are hand sanitisers, fragrances, foods and cosmetics.  This can trip up handmade sellers. For example if you’re selling a candle kit that contains a fragrance oil.  Having said that, the only real issue is you can’t use FBA – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, or a reason to not sell and despatch orders yourself.

Amazon Custom

I mentioned earlier that you can give the option to customise products without these being handmade products.  For  example, personalised books where you can add in a character’s name.  I also used to sell my towels with the option to have a name embroidered.

Again, this is nice to have and might work well for some products, although I still think I might go to Etsy if I were looking for customised products.

Having A Great Product

To do well on Amazon (and anywhere else) you need to have a good product to start with.

These blog posts should help:

How and why to validate your product ideas

How to carry out your own customer and market research

Research Tools

Hopefully you’ve already researched your product idea and have a great product to sell.  

You can now do some research to figure out if Amazon is the best marketplace for your product.

My first (free) suggestion is simply to go onto Amazon, search for products similar to yours and see how many appear and how many reviews they have.

But we can do even more than that…

Once on the listings, scroll down to the additional information section and take a note of the Best Sellers Rank and Category of the ones you’re interested in.

My favourite free tool is the Jungle Scout Sales Estimator, which will give you a rough idea of how many sales a product makes on Amazon per month.

I have a blog post and a video that explains how to use it – but it’s pretty intuitive.  I’ll link to everything in the show notes.

What you can then also do is get an idea of what the fees would be (also important) using Amazon’s free FBA revenue calculator.  Again, this is linked in the show notes.

If you want to invest in an Amazon research tool I also recommend Jungle Scout.  It’s probably the tool I use the most.  I have the full tool and a Chrome extension which allows me to see, at a glance, how well any product sells on Amazon and what the monthly revenue is.  You can also search for a product and see (for that keyword) what the competition is like, what demand is and how well optimised competing listings are.

The full tool also has product ideas, Amazon-specific keyword tools, as well as analytics to look at your sales, margins and profits.  If you’re looking to build or expand your business on Amazon it’s well worth looking into.

How To Get Off To A Great Start On Amazon

If you’ve decided that Amazon is a marketplace that might work for you, and you’re tempted to try it out, make sure you download a copy of my FREE guide to help get you off to the best start possible.