How To Start An Amazon Store
Adding an eCommerce element to your sales strategy is not just smart, it’s almost a necessity these days. So when you’re looking for a way to branch into online selling, or if you want to expand your reach, you might consider jumping on to the world’s biggest online marketplace: Amazon.com.
Amazon presents a huge opportunity, with its 300 million active users worldwide and 195 million monthly unique visitors in the U.S. alone. If you’re interested in testing the platform, this is your step-by-step guide for success.
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Who Can Be An Amazon Seller?
If you have an active business, you can sell on Amazon. A better question might be what you can sell there. There are some commonsense restrictions, such as a ban on prescription drugs. Other restrictions are category based. Let’s start with the product categories without restrictions:
- Amazon Device Accessories: New and used
- Amazon Kindle Accessories: Used only
- Beauty: Fragrance, skincare, makeup, haircare, bath & shower
- Books: New and used books, calendars, card decks, sheet music, magazines, journals, other publications
- Business Products: New and used
- Beauty Tools & Accessories: Brushes, bags, cases, skincare and hair styling tools, new only
- Camera & Photo: New and used cameras, camcorders, telescopes
- Cellphones: New, used, and unlocked phones and accessories
- Clothing & Accessories: New outerwear, athletic wear, innerwear, belts, wallets
- Electronic Accessories: New and used audio, video, camera, photo, cellphone, car electronics, computer, and office accessories
- Fashion Jewelry: New jewelry that does not contain precious or semiprecious gems, pearls, or metals
- Home & Garden: New, used, and collectible kitchen, dining, pet supplies, furniture, decor, bedding, bath, craft, hobby, appliances, storage, patio, lawn, garden, pool supply, landscaping, snow removal, and generators
- Luggage & Travel Accessories: New luggage, backpacks, briefcases, umbrellas, and travel accessories
- Musical Instruments: New, used, and collectible guitars, orchestra, and recording instruments
- Office Products: New, used, and collectible supplies, furniture, printers, and calculators
- Outdoors: New and used gear, sports apparel, cycling, and action sports
- Shoes, Handbags, & Sunglasses: New shoes, boots, sandals, slippers, handbags, sunglasses, and eyewear frames
- Software & Computer Games: New and used business, media education, utility, security, children’s software and PC games
- Sports: New, used, and collectible exercise and fitness, hunting accessories, team sports, licensed/fan shop, athletic apparel, boating and fishing, and game room
- Tools & Home Improvement: New and used hand and power tools, plumbing, electrical, building materials, and appliance parts
- Toys & Games: New and collectible action figures, dolls, board games, arts, crafts, furniture, learning toys (holiday selling requirement apply)
Additional items can be sold on Amazon as long as you comply with certain restrictions. Learn more about the restrictions when you create or log in to your Amazon account.
Amazon Store VS Amazon Handmade
Amazon has two sales channels: the Amazon Marketplace and Amazon Handmade. The first is where the majority of Amazon’s sales and traffic occur.
However, if you’re interested in selling handmade items on Amazon, you could fit into a special category. Check out Amazon Handmade, a microstore within the Amazon framework that allows makers to showcase handmade items that meet certain criteria. It gives you access to Amazon’s vast shopper network. If you’re interested in selling items on Handmade, you can apply to the program.
What You’ll Need To Start Your Amazon Store
Starting a store on the Amazon Marketplace is similar to joining other sales platforms, with one major exception: extreme verification is required. Even after uploading photos of your identity documents, you’ll still need to wait more than a week for a verification postcard to arrive in your physical mailbox. So don’t expect to have your storefront up and running the same day you decide to build it.
That said, if you have some experience with eCommerce, you’ll find setting up your Amazon store to be a relatively simple process. And if this represents your first foray into online sales, don’t worry. Amazon makes it easy. Before you start, gather some key information. You’ll need:
- Business email address
- Registered business name
- Business license number
- A credit card
- Government-issued identification
- Tax information
- Phone number
- Bank account information where you can receive payment after you make a sale
How To Start An Amazon Store in 4 Steps
Wondering how to start an Amazon store? We’re here to help. Keep reading for a walk through the process, from start to finish. You’ll see how to start your Amazon store and be ready to start selling.
Step 1: Choose Your Plan
You can choose different routes toward Amazon selling, and which plan you choose will determine the fees you’ll pay for the privilege of selling on Amazon.
As you can see, the Individual plan is light on features, and it doesn’t have a monthly fee. Instead, you’ll pay $0.99 for each item you sell, in addition to other fees. It’s aimed at vendors selling fewer than 40 items each month and allows you to add products to Amazon. You can also choose to use FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) with an Individual plan, if you wish.
The Professional Plan is feature-rich, but it comes with a monthly fee of $39.99 in addition to other fees. Aimed at vendors who sell more than 40 items each month, it comes with APIs, analytics, inventory management tools, tools for engaging shoppers with advertising, and promotions. You can add more than one user to your Professional plan.
Whichever plan you choose, you can upgrade or downgrade later. Unless you’re ready to start selling at large volume right away, it’s okay to choose the Individual plan now while you set up your store and then upgrade when you’re ready to kick sales into high gear. After all, why pay monthly fees until you need to?
Step 2: Verify Your Information
Before you can join the Amazon community, the retail giant needs to know a little more about you. Actually, they want to know quite a lot. Amazon focuses on security and wants to ensure its vendors are legitimate. So don’t expect this to be the same kind of simple sign-up process you’d find with other online sales platforms. You will need to enter some personal information, including your country of citizenship, country of birth, date of birth, driver’s license or passport number, business address, and phone number. You’ll be sent an SMS verification code to the phone number you enter. Once your information is verified, you’re ready for the next step: entering a valid credit card number for paying listing and/or monthly fees.
You’ll need to enter a store name, as well— and your first choice may not be available, so come prepared with some variations or alternatives. You will need to answer three questions:
- Do all your products have UPC codes?
- Are you the manufacturer or brand owner, agent, or brand representative for any of the products you hope to sell?
- Do you own government-registered trademarks for the branded products you want to add to your store?
Depending on your answers to those questions, you may have to provide a little more information.
Next, you’ll need to upload images of your identifying document (driver’s license or passport). You can scan it or take a color photo, but a screenshot won’t work. We had no trouble with a photo snapped in good lighting using a mobile phone. Finally, you’ll need to upload a scan or photo of a bank or credit card statement, with the account number and dollar totals blanked out. The address must match the business address you listed, and your full name or your business name must show on the account.
At this point, you can sit back and relax…because before you can proceed, you’ll need to wait a week or more for a verification postcard to arrive at the address you listed for your business. Only once you’ve entered the six-digit verification code from that postcard will you be allowed to move on to the next step.
Step 3: Create Your Account
After your information is verified, you’ll be able to finish setting up your Amazon seller account. That will involve you re-entering some of the information you’ve already provided in the verification process, such as your business name, legal name, and address.
Step 4: Set Up Your Store
Once you’re verified, it’s easy to set up your Amazon store. Pick a free prebuilt Amazon template and add your text and photos to customize your store. You can add your logo to reflect your brand and upload multiple photos and videos for the products you feature. You won’t need to display any coding knowledge, thanks to the drag-and-drop format Amazon websites feature.
Once you have added products, use the web address Amazon assigns you to start driving traffic to your store.
Tips For How To Sell Items On Amazon
Of course, your to-do list isn’t done once you have entered products. Amazon.com is a vast marketplace. And if you want your store to stand out, you’re going to need to work to make it happen.
Start With SEO
If you’re familiar with the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), then you know something about how to drive traffic to your online store. When your store is on Amazon, SEO is a little different — yet still much the same. Instead of using keywords to make your site rank higher in Google’s algorithm, you’ll want your store to rank high in Amazon’s own algorithm. For example, the words you use in your product titles are especially important. Include your product’s name, a short but clear description, and its material.
Amazon also uses “backend” or hidden keywords that function like meta tags to help the search engine find your store and products. You will have five fields for these keywords, each with a 50-character limit.
Price To Compete
It’s no secret that shoppers come to Amazon in search of quality products at bargain prices. If you’re asking more for your items that your competitors on the site, you’ll be passed by. Your job is to know what items cost you, the seller, and how much you need to sell them for in order to break even on some and profit on others. When you sell on Amazon, selling in volume is the goal, and that can affect pricing decisions, too. It’s a balancing act that only you can determine. The bottom line is that if you’re asking more for your items than your competitors are for their similar items, you’d better be prepared to explain why yours are more expensive — what makes them special and worth more — or you will not make the sale.
Perfect Your Photos
What’s the first thing you see when you execute a search on Amazon? A screen full of photos pops up. Amazon is highly focused on visual appeal, and you need professional-looking photos if you want to compete there. Even more than that, Amazon has strict requirements for product images. For example, product photo backgrounds must be pure white, the product must fill 85% or more of the frame, and photo file names must follow a set format. So spending time getting product photos right won’t just help you appeal to customers. It will also help you stay in compliance with Amazon’s requirements.
Use Social Media To Your Advantage
The rules forbid sellers from including any prompts or links that direct shoppers to web pages outside Amazon. So that means you can’t post links to your Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest pages. But you can still link your social media accounts to your Amazon store. By posting links on your social media pages, you can encourage your contacts to visit you on Amazon. Shopping on Amazon is so easy and familiar, your supporters will find it easy to buy from you there.
Stay On Top Of Inventory
It may seem like a good problem to have, but if your sales on Amazon go too well, you run the risk of selling out of certain products. That negatively affects your ranking on Amazon and could cause you to run afoul of the rules for selling. So it’s very important to make sure you have ample inventory to fulfill anticipated orders. Though there are exceptions, in general Amazon gives sellers two business days to fulfill orders. If you take longer than that, you’ll receive a late shipping notification from Amazon. Rack up too many violations, and you’ll have to shutter your store.
Keep Reviewing & Improving
Amazon is a busy place, constantly in motion. If you’re not moving as well, you’re going to be left behind. Use the analytic tools provided to monitor incoming traffic, sales, keyword performance, customer habits, and more. If customers are browsing but not buying, find out why and make adjustments to improve.
If part of improving is adding new talent to your business, check out our guide on how to hire your first employee. We also explains exactly how to tell if you’re ready to hire an employee.
Getting Started With Selling On Amazon
Amazon offers a huge sales opportunity. If you’re ready to compete on the world’s biggest online marketplace, jump in! Use what you have learned in the article to reduce the risks, improve your chances, and make the most of your opportunity to succeed.