Amazon isn’t just a marketplace — it’s an epicenter of entrepreneurship. Since 2018, the company has controlled more than 49% of the U.S. e-commerce market, and this result is thanks largely to the third-party sellers who found their own success on the platform. In fact, Business Insider reports that third-party sellers now outsell Amazon itself on its own marketplace.
However, Amazon is just a vehicle — and not a guarantee. When you’re first getting started, learning everything you need to know to be a successful Amazon seller can be overwhelming. What kind of account should you choose? What products should you sell? What research tools and marketing best practices should you use to gain the biggest competitive advantage?
This learning curve does seem overwhelming at first, but we can break things up for you. Use this guide as a reference to better understand every step toward becoming a successful Amazon seller.
Step 1: Become an Individual or Professional Seller
The first step in becoming an Amazon seller is determining which type of account will best meet your needs: individual or professional. Both types of Amazon seller accounts come with different costs and advantages. So before choosing and registering your account on Amazon Seller Central, take the time to research both types of accounts carefully.
Individual Amazon Seller Account
An individual account might be the best type of seller account on Amazon for beginners — at least until you get a good inventory flow going. As an individual seller, you’ll pay a 99-cent fee for every item you sell on up to 40 items per month. You won’t have to pay a monthly subscription fee, so you have a better chance of making a higher profit on each item you sell.
Even if you plan on becoming a professional and selling more than 40 items a month, you might still want to choose the individual seller option at first. This will help you get started and used to the system as your inventory is prepared and shipped. If you have more than 40 items, you can change your type of seller account on Amazon’s account-settings dashboard before the items arrive.
Professional Amazon Seller Account
If you already have your inventory prepared and ready to go and it equals more than 40 items, you can choose to sign up for a professional seller account. Having a pro account means you don’t have to pay a fee for each item (unless your product is in a category that carries a minimum referral fee). If the item’s standard fee is lower than this referral fee, you’ll have to pay the minimum for that category.
As a professional seller, you have to register as a business. You’ll also have several perks that help enhance your products’ positioning; you can offer free gift wrap with your items, for example, and avoid shipping rates on almost everything except media. Having a pro account means you’ll pay a flat rate of $39.99 a month, but because you sell more than 40 items, you’ll pay less per item than you would as an individual seller.
Once you select the Amazon seller account you want to start with, you can input your business, contact, banking, and tax information into Amazon Seller Central and register the account. Congratulations — you’re officially an Amazon seller! Now, you can decide what to sell.
Step 2: Choose the Best Products to Sell
Researching the best type of seller account on Amazon is fairly straightforward. Read about the costs and advantages, compare them to your immediate and short-term business plans, and fill out your information. Deciding what you want to sell, however, is a bit more complex.
Don’t just rely on guesswork here; you have plenty of options and tools to find a good product, validate its potential in any market, and research its popularity using keywords. Follow these three tips before selecting any product to invest in:
1. Use a product finder to narrow things down. Many entrepreneurs who choose to start selling on Amazon’s marketplace don’t do it out of a desire to sell a single product. In fact, it’s common to go through every step of setting up an account without having any exact idea of what you want to sell! The next step, then, is to use our Amazon Product Finder tool to narrow it down.
Using the tool, product discovery on Amazon can be as niche as you want it to be. Want to sell electronics in a low-competition market? Is your goal to make at least $30,000 in profit? Using the right set of descriptive keywords, you can put the product discovery tool to work to find and compile a list of products that match your queries.
2. Get some intel on the state of the market. The way consumers search for products on Amazon is almost exactly the way they search for information on a major search engine such as Google. This provides plenty of data to help you research and validate your product’s chances on the market, including price margins, revenue potential, sources of competition, and more.
Gather that intel by plugging your product into our Amazon Product Research tool and diving into past performance of similar products; average revenue spreads and historical market trends can help you determine how likely it is that your product meets your goals. Get the full picture before you make a final decision on what product to sell.
3. Take a scientific approach to keyword research. As you research products and markets to dive into, keywords represent one of the most important sets of data you can utilize. Consumers use keywords to find what they want on Amazon, and keyword research can also help you determine what they’re looking for. Our Amazon Keyword Research Tool helps you track the most relevant SEO activity for your product.
Keep in mind that consumers search for products using a wide variety of terms. The research tool’s Market Relevancy Calculation filter will help you choose relevant keywords that fall squarely between high search volume and low to moderate competition (typically, that means items with at least 10,000 searches per month).
Now, you have a validated product and a healthy stack of keyword research in hand. You’re almost ready to put that research to the test! Circle back to the Amazon Product Research tool and strategize how you can use those keywords to maximum effect. That strategy will be important for optimizing your competitive advantage once you launch your product.
Step 3: Give Your Product a Competitive Edge
Knowing how to optimize your Amazon listing is a crucial skill, but it involves more than just finding a good product and compiling a list of keywords. What you do with your intel — and how that compares to your competition’s efforts — matters most. Avoid getting stuck after launch by making the most of our Competitor Intelligence tool and carefully placing pay-per-click advertisements, also known as PPC ads.
Using the Competitor Intelligence Tool
As a novice Amazon Seller, you can’t expect to enter the marketplace and immediately jump ahead of the competition. However, you can gauge how your top competitors reach and maintain their positions right off the bat — simply compare their listings with yours with our Competitor Intelligence tool. Instead of blindly building your strategy, you can gain actionable intel on how to successfully optimize your Amazon listings.
Because our Competitor Intelligence tool provides real-time insights, it can compare your product listing to those of top-performing competitors and update you on a daily or hourly basis. Overall, be sure to get detailed insight into not only the listing’s keywords, but also how your competitors interact with the market as a whole. As Amazon’s market grows increasingly crowded, that insight will be more valuable in helping your product rise to the top of each page.
Using the Right Amazon PPC Ads
PPC ads are essential to online marketing, and Amazon’s marketplace is no exception. By using different types of Amazon ads, you can pay to sponsor your product, a specific brand of products, or an entire display of similar products. At least 1 in 10 product pages on Amazon are sponsored, so you’ll leave out an important part of optimization if you ignore PPC ads.
However, simply investing all of your money in ads isn’t a good optimization strategy. PPC ads won’t generate much return on your investment for products that you’ve just launched. When you’re still establishing yourself as a seller and your product as a quality item, consider PPC ads as investments in future growth. Analyze your competitors’ sponsored activity and use it to design a PPC budget you’re comfortable with.
The different types of Amazon ads that are available — along with the access to quality data and research our tools can give you — will make it much easier to build and keep your competitive edge. Take advantage of it all, and you can go from novice to pro Amazon seller in no time.
Follow-Up Tips to Boost Your Sales Faster
After reading through our overview on how to start selling on Amazon, you should feel more confident in your ability to succeed. Still, the science of Amazon’s conversion-rate optimization — essentially turning more visitors into buyers — is a tricky and unpredictable one. After launching your product, use these tips to broaden your reach and boost sales faster:
1. Use a tool for keyword research. The only real way to take a scientific approach to keyword research is to use an appropriate tool. A robust tool will show you the most popular keywords currently as well as break down the histories of their search queries and the most relevant keyword variations.
2. Speak the way your customers do. To get the best results from your keyword research, you should use as many high-quality keywords as you can. However, these keywords will only be useful if they match the terms customers use. Be sure to use the same language they do in their searches to describe your products.
3. Put every listing in the right categories. On Amazon, you don’t just use keywords to differentiate your product; you also assign it to categories and subcategories with similar items. Researching your competitors’ listings will help you find the categories that will give your product the highest visibility.
4. Draw attention with quality photos. Nobody will pay attention to your product for its description alone. Without attractive, high-quality photos, buyers will likely scroll past your listing without ever even noticing it. If you don’t have great photos yet, check out our gallery of image resources to find some that match your product.
5. Identify the sweet spot for pricing. With so many different ways to optimize your Amazon listing, it might be easy to forget the impact pricing will have on its performance. Avoid pricing your product too low or too high by thoroughly researching the price margins of similar high-performing products.
6. Use Amazon’s terms of service to guide everything. Amazon’s terms of service give you plenty of leeway to optimize your Amazon listings as you see fit, but they’re strict about certain actions and practices. Any violations can prove costly, so be sure to refer back to the terms when devising any strategy.
Amazon’s marketplace is the most popular and active one in the world. The ability to get started easily and have access to every tool you’ll need to succeed is a big part of that. Don’t underestimate the importance of research and preparation, and remember the more data you obtain, the greater insight you’ll have into any market you launch a product in.
From setting up the right account to choosing the perfect product or devising a savvy optimization strategy, it pays to be as thorough as possible. At Viral Launch, our mission is to help you do just that with a variety of research and analysis tools designed specifically for Amazon sellers. To learn more about the advantages these tools provide, enroll in our free course today.