What you need to know to start selling on Amazon

    start-selling-on-Amazon

     

     

    Amazon is one of the most prominent ecommerce platforms worldwide with over 310 million active users and over 6 million sellers. 

     

    Amazon has loads of features that are great for merchants, but understanding all of them can be overwhelming if you’re new to the platform. In this article, we’ll answer common questions new sellers have about selling on Amazon. We’ll breakdown each topic and give you a beginner’s guide on how to sell on Amazon step by step. 

     

    So if you’re ready to start your Amazon journey, then keep reading to learn the fundamentals of selling on Amazon.

     
     

    Table of Contents

     

    Which Selling Plan should I choose?

    How much are Amazon selling fees?

    How do I sell my product on Amazon?

    What are Amazon product listing requirements?

    What is the difference between Amazon FBA and FBM?

    What is Amazon Prime?

    What is the Buy Box? 

    What is A+ Content?

    What is the Amazon Brand Registry?

    What is Amazon Advertising?

    Conclusion

     

    Which Selling Plan should I choose?

     

     

    Amazon offers two types of selling plans, Individual and Professional. By default, you’ll be enrolled in the Individual plan when you first create your Amazon seller account. You’ll need to opt-in to the Professional account.

     

    The Professional Plan

     

    This plan is recommended for most merchants. It gives you access to advanced selling tools and Amazon Advertising. You also can use Amazon’s API and access reports. Both are useful if you want to connect to 3rd party tools or dive into your sales data. Also, certain product categories are restricted and are only available for sellers with a Professional selling plan.

     

    The cost of this plan is $39.99 per month in addition to referral fees. 

     

    The Individual Plan

     

    Consider this plan if you sell only a few items per month (less than 40) or aren’t ready to start selling yet. This plan is more limited, but you can still list items on Amazon and use Fulfillment by Amazon (we’ll cover that later).

     

    The cost of this plan is $0.99 per item sold in addition to referral fees. 


    See here a detailed feature comparison of the plans.

     

     

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    How much are Amazon selling fees?

     

     

    Amazon provides a great opportunity for merchants to sell products, but it isn’t free. Amazon takes a portion of the revenue of each item sold before depositing your share into your seller account. 

     

    Referral Fees

     

    Each time you sell an item on Amazon, you are charged a referral fee. The referral fee is Amazon’s cut of the item’s total price. Referral fees are charged in addition to the selling plan fees. 

     

    The total price includes the item price, shipping cost, and any gift-wrapping charges.

     

    Referral fees range from 6% up to 45% and depend on the product category. Some categories have a per-item minimum referral fee. For example, sellers pay the greater of the referral fee or the per-item minimum referral fee. Referral fees apply to all products sold on Amazon.

     

    To learn more about the exact referral fees per category, check Amazon’s Category Referral Fees schedule.

     

    Closing Fees (Media Only)

     

    For media categories (Books, DVD, Music, Software & Computer/Video Games, Video, Video Game Consoles, and Video Game Accessories), sellers also pay a $1.80 closing fee per media item sold. 

     

    This fee only applies to media categories and does not apply to non-media categories. 

     

    Examples of how fees are calculated:

     

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    How do I sell my product on Amazon?

     

     

    When you offer a product for sale on Amazon, there are two options for selling your product.

     

    Your first option is to match your product to an existing product detail page in Amazon’s catalog. If your product doesn't yet exist in Amazon’s catalog, then you can create a new product detail page for the product.

     

    Matching

     

    When you use matching, you are creating a selling offer for an existing item. You need to add your offer details which includes the product's condition, price, quantity, and shipping options. You can update your offer details at any time. 

     

    This method is relatively simple as you don't need much data to get started.

     

    All sellers with offers for the same product will compete for the Buy Box, a topic covered later in this article. 

     

    Create a new product detail page

     

    Creating a new product in Amazon’s catalog is more involved than matching. With this method, you will create a new item on Amazon that wasn’t there before. This method requires the following information:

     

    • Product Identifier - UPC, EAN, JAN, or ISBN
    • Offer details - condition, price, quantity, shipping options
    • Product Details - name (title), brand, category, description, and images
    • Keywords and search terms

     

    Note that adding a new product listing on Amazon when one already exists is a violation of Amazon’s policies. Amazon doesn’t allow multiple product detail pages for the same product and any duplicate pages are eventually merged. 

     

    Unless this new product is protected using Amazon’s Brand Registry (more on that topic later), then other sellers can create their own offers on the new product detail page. 

     

    A product detail page on Amazon

     

     

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    Adding your offers and products to Amazon

     

    Whether you are matching or creating new products in Amazon’s catalog, there are 3 basic ways of adding your offers and products to Amazon:

     

    • One-by-one using the ‘Add a product’ feature in Amazon Seller Central
    • Uploading inventory files to Amazon Seller Central
    • Using a 3rd-party automated feed solution

     

    One-by-one

     

    The simplest way to list products on Amazon is by using the Add a product feature. In the method, you add product information manually inside the Amazon Seller Central admin panel of your account. 

     

    This is a great way to get started with Amazon’s product addition process, but you’re limited to adding products one-by-one. This is fine for a few products, but is difficult to scale up. 

     

    Inventory files

     

    Amazon has inventory file templates for matching and creating new products. You download these Excel- based files from Amazon Seller Central, populate them with your product data, and upload them when you are done. 

     

    This method is good for adding a large number or products, but you’ll need to be comfortable with using Excel files. 

     

    Automated feed tools

     

    Another way to add products to Amazon is through an automated feed. With the method, a merchant connects their data source (like a shopping cart) to a 3rd-party solution that uploads that data to Amazon. 

     

    This allows sellers to add many new products to Amazon easily and systematically. In addition, good feed tools allow you to edit and manage your source data.

     

    At DataFeedWatch, our Amazon integration uses a powerful rule-based mapping engine that gives you control over your data. Our integration gives you the tools to customize your product details specifically for Amazon and build higher performing listings. 

     

    Contact our sales team and schedule a demo to learn more about our Amazon integration.

     

    ASINs

     

    When selling on Amazon, you’ll hear the term ASIN used a lot. An ASIN is an Amazon Standard Identification Number. Every product on Amazon has one and when you create a new product detail page, you also need to create a new ASIN.

     

    When people refer to an “ASIN,” often they are referring to the product itself and not just its number. It’s useful to know that the terms listing, item, product, product detail page, and ASIN are used somewhat interchangeably. 


    For more information on creating new products and ASIN, see our detailed article on how to create new ASINs.

     

     

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    What are Amazon product listing requirements?

     

     

    When you send product data to Amazon, it’s important to follow Amazon’s product listing requirements. Violate Amazon’s standards and your item could get suppressed and not show up  for customers to purchase.

     

    In addition to meeting Amazon’s standards, you should also consider the quality of your product information. The quality of your product listing will impact SEO and conversions.

     

    Most Amazon customers will discover your product through Amazon search and customers spend most of their time looking at the first page of results. This means that the highest-ranked products get the most traffic and consequently the most sales. A high-quality product detail page also increases conversions by giving customers the information and confidence they need to make the purchase. 

     

    Every product detail page contains 4 basic content elements: Titles, Bullets, Descriptions, and Product images. Let’s go over these elements and understand the product listing requirements. By following these requirements, you can ensure the quality of your product data remains high. 

     

    Product Title 

     

    Product title is one of the most impactful elements of your product listings. When building your product title, make sure to meet Amazon product title requirements below: 

     

    • Titles must not exceed 200 characters, including spaces.
    • Titles must not contain promotional phrases, such as "free shipping", "100% quality guaranteed".
    • Titles must not contain characters for decoration, such as ~ ! * $ ? _ ~ { } # < > | * ; ^ ¬ ¦
    • Titles must contain product-identifying information, such as "hiking boots" or "umbrella".

     

    Next, make sure to incorporate your most important keywords into the title. Avoid making the title spammy and too wordy; remember a human still has to read it. You have other areas to add  keywords that don’t fit naturally into the title.

     

    Here are a few more tips for improving the quality of your titles. 

     

    • Titles should contain the minimal information needed to identify the item and nothing more.
    • Titles should be concise (recommend fewer than 80 characters).
    • Don't use ALL CAPS.
    • Capitalize the first letter of each word except for prepositions, conjunctions, or articles.
    • Use numerals: "2" instead of "two".
    • Titles can include necessary punctuation, like hyphens (-), forward slashes (/), commas (,), ampersands (&), and periods (.).
    • Titles can abbreviate measurements, such as "cm", "oz", "in", and "kg".
    • Size and color variations should be included in titles for child items.
    • Don't use subjective commentary, such as "Hot Item" or "Best Seller".
    • Don't use non-language characters like Æ, ©, or ®.
    • Don't include your merchant name in titles.

     

    Here are some examples of good titles:

     
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    Bullets


    Bullet points are where you describe the features and benefits of your product. You can include up to 5 bullets for each product.


    Summarize the key features and benefits of the product. Keep it concise, highlighting 1 feature per bullet. This is another opportunity to insert relevant keywords, especially those that didn’t fit into your title. 


    Amazon suggests to keep your bullet points under 1,000 characters in total (for all five bullets, not per bullet). Pay attention to format and length because these factors impact readability.


    Here are a few tips for improving the quality of your bullets. 


    • Highlight the top five features that you want customers to consider
    • Begin each bullet point with a capital letter
    • Write in fragments and do not include ending punctuation
    • Write all numbers as numerals
    • Separate phrases in one bullet with semicolons
    • Spell out measurements, such as quart, inch, or feet
    • Do not use hyphens, symbols, periods, or exclamation points
    • Do not write vague statements; be as specific as possible with product features and attributes
    • Do not enter company-specific information; this section is for product features only
    • Do not include promotional and pricing information
    • Do not include shipping or company information. Amazon policy prohibits including seller, company, or shipping information


    Examples of well-written bullet points

     

     

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    Description

     

    Descriptions give customers more detail about what the product is used for and lets you provide information that you couldn’t fit into the title or bullets. This is the chance to use your copywriting skills to say something compelling and entice visitors to buy. 


    Format the description so it’s easy for customers to read. Amazon allows basic HTML tags for paragraphs, line breaks, bolding, and bullet points, but any other HTML formatting is not allowed. Product descriptions are limited to 2000 characters.


    Here are a few guidelines for writing descriptions:


    • Describe the major product features, such as size, style, and what the product can be used for
    • Include accurate dimensions, care instructions, and warranty information
    • Use correct grammar, punctuation, and complete sentences
    • Do not include any of the following types of information: Seller name, E-mail address, Website URL, Company-specific information, Details about another product that you sell, Promotional language such as “SALE” or “free shipping”

     

     

     

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    Images

     

    Images are important to the customer’s decision-making process and are a main driver of clicks. The right product images will improve both your click through rate and conversion rate. More traffic and better conversions will improve your product’s Amazon ranking and your sales.

     

    Amazon’s standards for main product images:

     

    • The image must be the cover art or a professional photograph of the product being sold. Drawings or illustrations of the product are not allowed.
    • The image must not contain gratuitous or confusing additional objects.
    • The image must be in focus, professionally lit and photographed or scanned, with realistic color, and smooth edges.
    • Books, Music, and Video/DVD images should be the front cover art, and fill 100% of the image frame. Jewel cases, promotional stickers, and cellophane are not allowed.
    • All other products should fill 85% or more of the image frame.
    • The full product must be in frame.
    • Backgrounds must be pure white (RGB 255,255,255).
    • The image must not contain additional text, graphics, or inset images.

     

    Amazon’s standard for additional other view images:

     

    • The image must be of, or pertain to, the product being sold.
    • The image must be in focus, professionally lit and photographed or scanned, with realistic color, and smooth edges.
    • Other products or objects are allowed to help demonstrate the use or scale of product.
    • The product and props should fill 85% or more of the image frame.
    • Cropped or close-up images are allowed.
    • Backgrounds and environments are allowed.
    • Text and demonstrative graphics are allowed.
    • Pornographic and offensive materials are not allowed.

     

     

    Example of a large, high-resolution image that enables zoom function.

     

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    What is the difference between Amazon FBA and FBM?

     

     

    Merchants selling on Amazon have two options for storing and fulfilling their items. They can manage all the logistics themselves or outsource it to Amazon.

     

    Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

     

    With Fulfillment by Amazon, a seller sends their inventory to Amazon’s warehouses. Amazon stores the inventory and ships it to the customer. Added benefits are that Amazon handles the customer support and items are often sent with 2-day Prime shipping.

     

    When you use FBA, Amazon will charge both a fulfillment fee and a monthly inventory storage fee. The fulfillment fee covers all the picking, packing, shipping, and providing customer service. The monthly inventory storage fees cover the space occupied by your products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers.

     

    Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM)

     

    With this method, a seller manages all the storage, shipping, and customer support themselves. In order to participate in Amazon Prime, the seller will need to enroll in Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime (a topic we will cover later in this article).

     

    Amazon sellers use of each fulfillment type according to Jungle Scout.

     

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    What is Amazon Prime?

     

     

    Amazon Prime is a paid membership program that gives customers free and fast shipping on their purchases. Customers pay an annual membership fee and get two-day shipping or better on any Prime-eligible products. It’s a popular program and over 112 million Americans are Prime subscribers.

     

    An example of a Prime-eligible listing.

     

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    Offering Prime-eligible products is great for merchants because customers prefer free and fast shipping. Also, the Buy Box algorithm prioritizes selling options that are Prime-eligible. 

     

    Merchants can participate in Amazon Prime in two ways: 

    • Items sold through Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) are automatically eligible 
    • Items Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) require the merchant to enroll in Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP). 

     

     

    Seller Fulfilled Prime

     

    Seller Fulfilled Prime allows FBM merchants to list products as Prime-eligible. 

     

    The Prime badge will appear on products that are shipped directly to customers with two-day shipping and free standard shipping. Prime offers can boost sales but remember, the merchant is still fully responsible for the shipping cost. 

     

    There is no fee to enroll in Seller Fulfilled Prime, but merchants must meet strict performance standards and complete a trial period. New sellers will have to build a seller performance history before applying for the program.

     

    Performance standards include:

     

    • A cancellation rate of less than 1%
    • An on-time shipment rating of at least 99%
    • Use of Buy Shipping Services (purchasing shipping through Amazon) for a minimum of 95% of the orders

     

     

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    What is the Buy Box?

     

     

    On Amazon, there is one product detail page for every item sold on the marketplace. Every seller offering that product shares the same product detail page. This in contrast to marketplaces like eBay where multiple listing pages may appear for the same product.

     

    The Buy Box is the section on the right side of a product detail page where the “Add to Cart” and “Buy Now” buttons are located. At any given time, a sale made through the Buy Box is awarded to only one seller. 

     

    Amazon rotates the Buy Box among sellers that offer the best buying options from the customer’s point of view. How often a seller “wins” the Buy Box depends primarily on the seller’s eligibility, fulfillment method, landed price, shipping times, and seller performance ratings. 

     

    Winning the Buy Box greatly improves your chances of getting the sale. To put it in perspective, 82% of Amazon sales go through the Buy Box. Non-Buy Box offers will appear in a less desirable position outside of the Buy Box.

     

    Below we will cover the just the basics of winning the Buy Box, but if you want a deeper dive into the topic, then read our in-depth article on winning the Buy Box.

     

    Location of the Buy Box on a product detail page.

     

     

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    Winning the Buy Box

     

    Before you can compete for the Buy Box, your item must be Buy Box eligible. 

     

    Eligibility requirements:

    • You must have a Professional seller plan
    • The item for sale must be new
    • The item must be in-stock

     

    See an item’s Buy Box eligibility in the Manage Inventory page of your Seller Central account.

     

     

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    Once your item is Buy Box eligible, there are several factors that determine if your offer will win the Buy Box. Here are the factors with the highest impact.

     

    Fulfillment Method

     

    Amazon prefers products offered through programs that ensure quick delivery like Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Seller-Fulfilled Prime (SFP). Products sold through these programs have the best chance of winning the Buy Box.

     

    Landed Price

     

    Amazon wants the customer to get the best deal. Amazon compares sellers based on the customer’s total landed price which combines the product price, shipping cost, taxes, and handling fees. Having the lowest landed price won’t guarantee that you win the Buy Box, but it’s a key factor. 

     

    Shipping Time

     

    Amazon looks at how quickly you promise to ship the item to the customer. This takes into account transit time and handling time. 

     

    The faster you can get the item to the buyer, the better.

     

    Seller Performance Metrics

     

    Amazon measures sellers on many metrics, but just a few have the highest impact on your Buy Box chances.

     

    The most critical Seller Performance metrics are your Order Defect Rate (ODR) and your Shipping Performance metrics. Go below Amazon’s targets and you’re likely to see your share of the Buy Box plummet.

     

    ODR and Shipping Performance metrics on the Performance tab in Amazon Seller Central.

     

     

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    What is A+ Content?

     

     

    A+ Content (previously known as Enhanced Brand Content (EBC), is a program that gives sellers richer product descriptions. This helps increase conversion and sales. 

     

    A+ Content lets you make product descriptions more attractive and more visually aligned with your brand. It’s a great way to better highlight the product’s features and benefits. Sellers have the opportunity to add more detailed images and use additional text placements to provide a more comprehensive product description. 

     

    A+ Content is available to Sellers and Vendors who are brand owners. Before you can get started with A+ Content, your brand must be enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry (covered later in this article).

     

    Want to learn more? Check out our in-depth article on A+ Content.

     

    Example of A+ Content on a product detail page

     

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    What is the Amazon Brand Registry?

     

     

    The Amazon Brand Registry is a program that gives brand owners greater control over their product listings and their intellectual property on Amazon.

     

    This is especially useful for brands that have issues with counterfeit products or unauthorized dealers appearing on Amazon. Enrolled brands can report suspected violations to Amazon. Also, Amazon can proactively remove suspected infringing or inaccurate content. 

     

    Enrolling in the Amazon Brand Registry is also a prerequisite for getting access to A+ Content, advertising using Sponsored Brands, and Amazon Stores (covered later in this article).

     

    Amazon Brand Registry Requirements

     

    To enroll in Amazon Brand Registry, you need to meet certain requirements.

     

    First, your brand must have an active registered trademark in each country where you wish to enroll or have a pending trademark application filed through Amazon IP Accelerator

     

    Amazon IP Accelerator is a network of pre-vetted law firms that help businesses obtain intellectual property (IP) rights. A trademark application can take months to process. Filing your application through Amazon IP Accelerator lets you gain access to Amazon Brand Registry before the trademark is issued.

     

    The trademark must be in the form of a text-based mark (word mark) or an image-based mark with words, letters, or numbers (design mark).

     

    Examples of accepted trademarks.

     

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    What is Amazon Advertising?

     

     

    Amazon Advertising is Amazon’s advertising platform. It provides solutions for Sellers and Vendors to help find, attract, and engage Amazon customers.

     

    Selling vs. Advertising on Amazon

     

    Before we cover advertising, let’s discuss the difference between selling and advertising on Amazon. 

     

    When you offer a product for sale on Amazon, customers can find your product organically through search results or recommendations on product detail pages. But Amazon is a crowded marketplace and sellers may want more visibility for their listings than from organic placement alone. 

     

    Amazon Advertising lets you boost your products with better placement and increased frequency in search results and on product detail pages. Note that when you advertise on Amazon, you will pay advertising fees on top of any referral fees you owe on a sale. 

     

    It’s important to note that Amazon ads always direct customers to places within Amazon. You cannot use Amazon Advertising to send traffic to your own website, another marketplace, or anywhere outside of Amazon.

     

    Now let’s look at Amazon’s three most popular advertising solutions. 

     

    Sponsored Products

     

    These ads are for individual products and will appear in search results and on product pages. In search results, the ads can appear at the top of the results page or sprinkled throughout the organic results.

     

    Sponsored Products is based on a cost-per-click (CPC) model. This means that the ads display at no charge and ad impressions are free. The advertiser is only charged when a customer clicks on the ad. 

     

    You bid the maximum that you’re willing to pay when a customer clicks on your ad. The higher your bid, the more likely your ad will be displayed on Amazon when it meets the ad’s targeting criteria.

     

    You can target Sponsored Products to appear when customers search for keywords or you can pick specific ASINs where you want your ad to appear. You can even run an automatic campaign and let Amazon decide how to target customers.

     

    Sponsored Brands

     

    These are banner ads that appear with a logo, a customized headline, and may also include individual products. These appear only in the search results. 

     

    Like Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands is also based on a CPC model. 

     

    When Amazon customers click on your logo in a Sponsored Brands ad, they're taken to a Store or custom landing page. When they click on a product, they're taken to a product detail page.

     

    In order to use Sponsored Brands, you must first enroll in the Amazon Brand Registry.

     

    Sponsored Brands, Sponsored Products and organic search results on the search results page.

     

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    Stores

     

    Amazon Stores allow you to showcase your brand and products with a customized branded storefront. Stores are customizable using drag-and-drop tiles or predesigned templates. Here you can add banners, videos and highly branded content.

     

    Stores and Store pages can also serve as destinations when customers click on your Sponsored Brand ads.

     

    Creating a Store is free, but sellers must be enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry. It is not necessary to advertise on Amazon to create a Store, but it’s unlikely many visitors will find your Store page organically.

     

    An example of an Amazon Store

     

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    Conclusion

     

     

    Amazon is a huge opportunity for many merchants, but learning how to sell on Amazon can be tough. In this article, we’ve covered common Amazon questions that new sellers have and let you know how to sell on Amazon step by step. 

     

    We’ve covered fees, listings, the Buy Box, A+ Content, advertising and more. Most of these topics deserve their own guide but hopefully after reading this article, you have the confidence to start selling on Amazon. 

     

    Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to start selling. Schedule a call with us and we'd be happy to help you get your product listings up on Amazon.

     

     

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