A stock price approaching four digits. Hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide. Yearly sales reaching over $100 billion in 2016. It all adds up to one of the world’s most powerful companies — Amazon — not to mention one inevitable conclusion:
If you’re not selling on Amazon, you’re not reaching your potential as a business.
The good news is that Amazon has gotten pretty darn savvy at this “selling online” thing, which means they’ll handle a lot of the work for you. If you have a product and you need to expand your company’s reach by selling it on Amazon, all you have to do is follow this guide.
Step One: Get Listed on Amazon
Amazon, like any retailer, has a few basic requirements you should understand first. Like a bouncer asking for an ID, Amazon won’t let you “get in” if you don’t have a bar code or some basic information about what it is you’re selling. Fortunately, the process is easier than you think:
Get an EAN/UPC Barcode from GS1 U.S.
The first thing you’ll notice on a fresh package: that prominent barcode. That’s not by accident. A Universal Product Code (UPC) is a 12-digit code that tells the scanner which product is inside, who the manufacturer is (you), and any relevant individual attributes of the product. (The European Article Number, or EAN, is the European equivalent.)
Before you sell on Amazon, you need one of these for your own product. Head over to the GS1 U.S. site on Getting Started to begin the process — and do this as soon as possible.
Figure Out Your SKUs
I know we’re throwing a lot of acronyms at you, but this one is just as important: the Stock Keeping Unit is the number on the label that tells your company exactly which item the customer has.
The difference between the SKU and the UPC is that the SKU is for your own internal reference: for handling returns, lost items, and the like.
The good news is that you can create SKUs that make sense. For example, if you sell, say, novelty wigs (just roll with it), you might create an SKU that looks like this:
LRW-1 (Large Red Wig #1)
SRW-12 (Short Red Wig #12)
…and so on. Clearly Inventory has some tips on creating SKUs you’ll want to keep in mind, such as avoiding the letter “O” because of its similarity to zero.
But what system should you use?
Since you’ll simply enter your own SKUs, you can either create your own for each product type, or head to a site like Random.org. The important thing is to keep track of each SKU and what it means internally. Ideally, you should have a unique SKU that tells you exactly what product you’re dealing with (such as a small red tee, not simply a red tee.)
The Amazon Seller Account
Once your ducks (or in this case, products) are in a row, it’s time to engage with Amazon itself. You’ll need an Amazon Seller account to get started.
From there, fill out all relevant information, such as:
With the basics in place, you’re ready to think about what happens when you begin making sales.
Step Two: Plan Your Sales
How much are you going to sell? You have no idea, of course. But you’ll have to ask yourself some basic questions about these plans before you figure out your precise relationship with Amazon:
Individual Plan vs. Professional Selling Plan
This boils down to how much inventory you think you’re going to move on Amazon — and what you want to pay.
For $39.99 a month, a Professional Selling Plan will get rid of the usual closing fee on each product and give you extra benefits like determining your own shipping rates and offering promotions and gifts through Amazon. For most businesses, the Professional Selling Plan is the way to go — there are too many benefits and it will likely pay for itself once you move enough products on a monthly basis.
Selecting a Category and Setting a Price
You now have to determine where you want your product to show up in the world of Amazon. This is a good time to do some competitor research.
What categories are your competitors in?
How much are they selling for?
What kind of elements do they include in their product descriptions that communicate trustworthiness and a superior product? You can either write your own product descriptions or hire out the work to a freelancer via sites like Upwork.
Getting Ready to Sell
Next step: preparing to turn your average Amazon user into a potential customer.
Make sure you’ve gathered all potential details about your product so you can list them on the product page.
Do you have several pictures of each product? In some Amazon categories, such as clothing, pictures are required. Good pictures can be just as important as everything else on the page when it comes to generating sales.
Create your company description and consider beefing up your Amazon company page to boost your credibility.
Take one last look at the top sellers on Amazon to see if there are any on-page elements you might have missed. You don’t want to start listing on Amazon and come to the conclusion that it “doesn’t work” because you never put your best foot forward.
Step Three: Fulfill Your Orders
Finally, you need a method of getting your product in customer hands. You’ll also need a system of handling returns. In short, you need to figure out your Amazon fulfillment options.
Fulfillment by Amazon
If you don’t already have fulfillment in place, consider having Amazon do it. Fulfillment by Amazon means sending your inventory to Amazon fulfillment centers, where they’re securely stored. The good news is that you can send as much inventory as you want, which means you won’t have to make major investments of capital to fulfill some arbitrary Amazon requirements.
From there, Amazon handles the shipping of your products. And since Amazon wants to handle this for you, they throw in some benefits like becoming eligible for Amazon Prime, which in turn helps you generate more sales.
Other Fulfillment Services
You can simply take orders from Amazon and fulfill the product yourself using whichever system works best for you. Fulfillment by Amazon is a great option if you don’t have the time, resources, or energy to handle it. But maybe you’ve already got fulfillment running through a service like Shipwire. Check to see if they offer Amazon integration, as Shipwire does, to link everything together for you. It will save you a lot of headaches down the line and streamline all of your Amazon sales.
Grow Your Business by Selling on Amazon
Once you’ve mastered all of these steps, you’ll have everything you need to sell your products on Amazon. In addition to reaching a new host of potential customers, you can now put an Amazon button on your website for purchases. With Amazon Prime in well over 54 million households, that little button can add up to a lot of sales.