Fulfillment by Amazon in a Nutshell

June 14th, 2019
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Chances are pretty good that if you’re reading this, you are interested in selling a product in the online marketplace. You might have already selected a niche, or you may still be open to suggestions and advice on what to sell.

Either way, knowing how to sell using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) can only be worthwhile to you. Its multiple benefits help you fill orders without filling your house or garage or spending excessive amounts of time at the post office.

How do I figure out what to sell?

The first thing that you need to do is find a need. There are several different criteria to help you decide if your preferred product will do well in the online sector.

  • Is it in demand? This should be the very first question that you ask yourself. There may be a small need for three-dimensional, fuzzy, elephant-shaped stickers, but that market most likely won’t pay all of your bills. Utilize different search engines to see if your proposed product is highly available to or searched for by customers. If you find that demand is high, but supply is low, you have found a gold mine in the online marketing world. If demand is high and supply is high, you have to ask yourself some additional questions to be sure that you will make it in that niche.
  • Is it functional? This question could seem a little obvious, but products that make consumers’ lives easier have a high likelihood of going viral or at least having steady sales.
  • Does it have the “coolness” factor? Function is important, but a product that has an attractive form, as well as function, is almost guaranteed to rake in more sales. Think of your audience: tea drinkers in their 20’s and 30’s are more likely to buy a tea steep shaped like a manatee (get it? Mana-tea?) than the traditional, acorn-shaped wire mesh tea steep.
  • Will you be offering year-round relativity? If your products consist of mainly seasonal merchandise, understand that you will be doing a lot more planning and marketing than an online business that sells items that are sellable year-round. People don’t want to pay full-price for seasonal products after the holiday, so you need to do your research ahead of time to ensure that you can actually sell all of your inventory by the deadline. Holiday trends are rarely the same year to year, so don’t count on being able to sell surplus inventory the following year.  
  • Does it offer a touch of nostalgia or appeal to the emotions? People are suckers for nostalgia. If your products are novel yet appeal to the whimsy of days-gone-by, you should have a pretty good shot in your niche. This market can get easily over-saturated, so you need to make sure that you are staying current with trends that people want to purchase.

The next thing you should do is think about competitors who are currently selling similar products. Look through the reviews of your top potential competitors and pay particular attention to those who are highly engaged with their customers. Those sellers with an abundance of reviews, who reply quickly to questions will require a lot of effort on your part to beat or even match.

Think about the following questions as you narrow down your target audience:

  • What sets me apart from the competition?
  • How quickly can I make a return on investment?
  • Is there space for me in this market? Can I make at least 10-20 sales per day?

Before you jump in with both feet, do your research. Watch your competitors for a few months before taking the plunge. This will give you a good idea of how well they perform across seasons, which will help you gauge your own likely success.

Once I’ve decided on a product and would like to use FBA, what do I need to do before I make a sale?

Your first order of business once you’ve decided to distribute your products through Amazon is to set up an Amazon Seller Account. Amazon offers two types of accounts, so you need to decide which one fits your business’s needs.

  • Individual: This is pretty much a free service, so it’s good for small-scale selling.
  • Professional: This option is better for people with high ambitions to push through a lot of product. You have to pay $1 per sale to Amazon, but it’s scalable. Even if you start off selling only a few things, you can easily sell more products as your business grows. 

Next, create an FBA account under your Amazon Seller Account. Once you have both of these accounts set up, you can start listing your products. Amazon makes it easy to create single or bulk listings using the various tools on their website.  

At this point, you’ll need to either purchase barcodes from a reputable barcode-generating website, or you can just use the manufacturer’s barcode on the back of the original product.

Next, you’ll probably want to sit down with Amazon’s fee estimator to plan out how much overhead each item will generate. Storage, shipment, tracking, and packaging are just some of the aspects that the fee estimator takes into account when helping you set your prices.

Once you have your items listed, you need to prepare them for shipping and inventory. Make sure to follow Amazon’s inventory and shipping requirements so that your products are packaged appropriately, arrive safely, and are easily inventoried and distributed.

Now you can track your shipment to Amazon, and once it has arrived and been inventoried at their warehouse, you should be able to see each listing on the Amazon website. It’s up to you to market, market, market to get your product sold.

Why should I go the Fulfillment by Amazon route?

If you’re new to online business, FBA removes a lot of the headache of setting up shop. It picks, packs, and ships your items, so you don’t have to. Amazon also has the business know-how to keep track of your items and the experienced staff to offer exceptional customer service. Combined with its many other benefits, FBA is a good way to go for both new and experienced online business owners.

To learn more about the pros and cons of Fulfillment by Amazon and other ideas for kickstarting your Amazon business, attend an Amazon seller event. You’ll be able to network with top-tier service providers and learn tips and tricks from experts in the industry.  

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