How do I sell products on Amazon?

How do I sell products on Amazon?

How to get products on Amazon

Are you trying to figure out how to sell on Amazon.  Here are some strategies that we have used in the past to get our products on Amazon.  Are you a manufacturer with your own products?  Are you a distributor or importer with cool and exciting items.  Have you gotten stuck trying to sell your products on Amazon.  Getting items on Amazon is much easier than you think.  This guide assumes that you are selling products that are not currently available on Amazon and that you need to create new listings. 

The first lesson is about account types.  There are two main account types that you can have with Amazon that allow you to sell products.  99% of you reading this article will fall into the second type.  If you are a large manufacturer with your own brand of products, you may fall into the first category.

  • Amazon Vendor
    • If you sell to Amazon, we will consider you a vendor.  If you are a vendor, you will have a vendor central account.  Amazon will buy goods from you at a stated price and pay you for those goods using standard agreed upon credit terms.  You will ship goods to Amazon warehouses or you may end up fulfilling directly.  Your company will need to negotiate with Amazon when you want to change your prices.  Amazon has different option for rebates and different options for returns and damage available.  All of this will be spelled out very clearly.  If you plan to drop ship, you can create labels using Vendor Central or your own system.
  • Amazon Marketplace
    • The second way to sell with Amazon is through the Amazon Marketplace.  For the Marketplace you need to establish a Seller Central account.  With this arrangement, you are not selling to Amazon.  You are selling to the end-user through Amazon's marketplace.  Amazon will collect the money and the taxes and transfer to you what's left after they take their commission.  You set your prices and charge whatever you want whenever you want.  Amazon takes a set percentage of sale which is typically in the 10-15% area.  Here is a link to Amazon's Seller Central pricing page.  You will need to handle your returns and damage.  You will need to handle customer inquiries.

So which option sounds better?  They both have their benefits and Richardson Seating utilizes both.  We like the flexibility of the Seller Central program and we like the volume and ease of the Vendor Central program.

Amazon pays like clockwork and is the best customer to have!  They have a great help desk and they have systems in place for anything a vendor could need.

So there is good news and bad news.  The good news is that you can have products on Amazon in just a few hours using Seller Central.  The bad news is that you may never get your products carried directly by Amazon or be part of Seller Central.

With that in mind, let's focus on getting your products on Seller Central so that you can start using the Amazon marketplace.  The first and most important question when getting started is do your products have a GTIN?

The Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) is an identifier for trade items, developed by GS1. Such identifiers are used to look up product information in a database (often by entering the number through a barcode scanner pointed at an actual product) which may belong to a retailer, manufacturer, collector, researcher, or other entity. The uniqueness and universality of the identifier is useful in establishing which product in one database corresponds to which product in another database, especially across organizational boundaries.

There are lots of sites that promise to sell you barcodes at great discounted prices.  You need to avoid all of them.  They are not going to register your company.  You will end up with a worthless bar code that will have your product listed under another company's name.

You will need to register your products with GS1 and get a unique set of UPC codes for your products.  You will need a unique code for every single variant.  You need one for each color and each size.  Make sure you get the right plan because the UPCs are sold in large batches.

Take the time to register.  Pay the fees.  Enter each of your products correctly with proper dimensions and proper descriptions.  You will save yourself so much time later if you enter good data from the start.  Bookmark this page and come back when you are done.  This is going to take you a while.

OK, great, you are back.  Now that you have registered each of your products with GS1, it is time to sign up for an Amazon Seller Central account.  You will need a valid credit card number, Tax ID number, address, and bank account.  You should have that information prepared before signing up.

Here is the link to sign up for a new Seller Central account.

It costs $39.99 per month which is why you need the credit card.  You can sign in using your personal Amazon account and have your Seller account attached.  For single person companies this may be a good idea.  For our company it wasn't the greatest idea.  People are able to login to my personal Amazon account and see my shopping history when they go to pull our Amazon orders.  I have to think twice about what I search for.  I was searching for baby gear before we told anyone that my wife was pregnant.  Can you guess how the office figured it out?

Ok, you took your time and got UPCs for all your products.  You signed up for Amazon Seller Central and you have all of your products loaded.  You gave each product a wonderful flowery description and posted lots of awesome pictures and videos.  Everything looks great but you have no sales.

There are two ways to get sales that have worked for me.  If I have a product that already has an established presence on Amazon, I can drop my price and have orders directed towards me.  If it is a product that sells like a simple bar stool, all it takes is a price drop and we get more sales.  It is an established product with hundreds of reviews.

Here is an example of an item being sold using Seller Central.  Please click this bar stool link

If you have a product that no one has heard of and no one is looking for, you may need to go another route.  Amazon has lots of advertising options.  You can bid for keywords.  You can create display ads.  There are so many cool options to advertise.  Consider this when setting your prices.  You are probably going to need to advertise.  You also need to consider how you are going to get the products to your customers.  If you are not setup to do fulfillment, it will be very time consuming and labor intensive to process individual Amazon orders.  You basically have 3 options when it comes to shipping products.  You can process each order individually and ship through the least expensive carrier.  You would need to establish accounts with the USPS, UPS, and FedEx.  The second option is that you could hire an outside warehouse or fulfillment center to store your product and ship out ones and twos as needed.  The 3rd option and the best for many is FBA which stands for Fulfilled by Amazon.  We ship everything ourselves using our own UPS and FedEx daily pickup.  This allows us to process an order with the least amount of paper work and phone calls.  We have had trouble shipping to Amazon DCs.  We don't have a very robust office staff right now so its hard to keep up with all of Amazon's warehouse shipping requirements. 

Many people with small easy to ship products will benefit greatly from Amazon's FBA service.  This is a service where you can send your products to Amazon in bulk and Amazon will ship your products on your behalf as you get orders.  This is the ideal way to go if you have small expensive products that ship well.  We tried it and it was not great for furniture.  We have found more success storing completed furniture at our factory and then shipping it out after we get an order.  You need to pay for shipping to the Amazon warehouse or warehouses.  You need to pay Amazon to store your order and you need to pay Amazon to ship your order.  It can get expensive if your products don't turn quickly.

Now things are going pretty well.  You are a strong Amazon Seller with great on time shipping and happy customers.  You have been doing this for a while and have established yourself as one of the greats.  It may be time to try and become an actual vendor that uses Vendor Central.

We received an invitation directly from Amazon and you will too if you are a brand and you show strong sales.  It doesn't hurt to network on LinkedIn and try to find buyers in your category or go to tradeshows where Amazon is looking for new vendors.  

Here is an example of an item that is sold and shipped by Amazon.  Click here to see the example.

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