Sell online

9 tips to sell online successfully and how to start on Amazon

Amazon online store showing a variety of products

How to sell online

Thinking of getting into selling online or looking for ways to boost online sales?

There are plenty of options for selling online. Some sales channels can help you sell used items and gear, while others will consign or sell on your behalf. Selling online with Amazon is ideal if you want to sell new products, build a business, and reach a vast pool of customers.

In this article, we’ll offer general tips on how to sell online successfully, plus more in-depth guidance on how you can reach the 300 million customers who shop Amazon stores worldwide.

Did you know?

On average, U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses sell 6,500 products per minute.

Data from Amazon’s 2020 SMB Report shows products sold by third-party sellers account for more than half of all units sold in Amazon stores.
A man and woman standing in a warehouse looking at a tablet

9 tips for selling online successfully

Clothes, books, art, antiques, food products—you name it, you can probably sell it online. Whether you want to specialize in sporting goods or electronics, here’s how to get started:

1.

Figure out what you want to sell

What products will sell best online? What niches could be most profitable for you? To determine what online business ideas are right for you, explore your interests and zero in on your strengths.

For inspiration, consult this list of business ideas. You’ll hear from over 40 entrepreneurs who’ve found success across different niches.

2.

Choose the right sales channel

What are you trying to sell? Who are you trying to reach? Whether it’s collectible art or vintage purple leather pants, consider the amount of products you’re selling. This, in turn, will influence what type of sales channel will work best for you.

If you’re cleaning out your house, then a website where you can list multiple items in one go might be your best bet. If you’re building a business, you’ll want access to analytics, customer reviews, and a large number of customers.

3.

Check listing and selling fees

The cost to sell online will vary with different sales channels. Be sure to pay close attention to fees and other charges as you decide on options for your business.

Some stores will charge a small fee to list products, while others offer free listings. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different fees you’ll come across:
  • Listing fee: typically, a flat fee to list on the site, either per item or a monthly charge
  • Selling fee: a percentage of the selling price (may include shipping and handling)
  • Payment processing fees: sometimes charged if you accept credit cards
Fees can add up. If avoiding fees is your top priority, then a plan that charges you fees at the end of the sale (like the Amazon Individual plan) can help you cut costs. Learn more about Amazon selling plans.

4.

Decide how you will handle shipping

Shipping time can make or break a sale. A survey of U.S. shoppers found:
  • Free delivery is the most important factor for 83% of shoppers when ordering online
  • More than half (54%) have abandoned online shopping baskets because of delivery costs
Consider how much it will cost to ship an item and how far you are willing to ship it. Some sellers are happy to ship products internationally and will benefit from stores like Amazon with a worldwide customer base. Other sellers prefer to deal locally and only allow orders to be picked up or dropped off within a small radius.

Some stores may have a shipping and processing time expectation if you are going to ship items, while others will ship products for you. This can eat into your profit but may also save you time and hassle.

How shipping works on Amazon

When a customer buys a product, either Amazon can ship the order for the seller with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), or the seller can fulfill their own order. Many Amazon sellers use a mix of the two.

Amazon Prime shipping

Many Amazon customers look for products with the Prime badge because it indicates fast, free shipping. Using FBA to ship products is the easiest way for sellers to get the Prime badge for most offers.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

When sellers sign up to sell in Amazon stores, they’re automatically enrolled in FBA. If they decide to participate, they send inventory to Amazon fulfillment centers, and Amazon handles shipping, customer service, refunds, and returns for those products.

Seller fulfillment

Some products aren’t ideal for FBA. For instance, certain hazardous goods don’t meet fulfillment center requirements, and some seasonal products might incur excessive storage fees. Other sellers may already have a logistics network in place, or other business reasons to fulfill their own orders.

5.

Take good photos

Good visuals help customers see the product in detail before they buy. To create excellent visuals for products:
  • Take photos in a well-lit area
  • Choose a plain background
  • Avoid photo filters
  • Include multiple photos showing different angles of each product
  • Avoid picturing other products not included in the order
Where possible, add a video of the product to help customers visualize the product. Great photos and videos are some of the best ways you can increase sales and reduce returns.

Most stores have specifications available for product photography, including Amazon.

6.

Be descriptive

Be honest about the product’s condition and include proper keywords to help products show up in search results for customers looking for similar items.

On Amazon, you can list a snippet at the top of the product listing page, and add more info below. Use all the available spaces to maximize the product’s chances of selling.

7.

Research the right selling price

One convenient way to compare and set prices is with the Amazon Seller app, where you can get product-level pricing and view competitor prices all in one place. You can also see low match price, Featured Offer price, and more in the palm of your hand.

8.

Package items with care

Use the right packaging materials to protect items from damage in transit and include proper postage. Sometimes a thoughtful touch like a small sticker or handwritten note can go a long way to earn repeat business.

9.

Focus on delighting customers

The golden rule of selling online? Take a customer-centric approach.

Start with the customer and work backward. What types of customers are you trying to attract? Are you looking to cater specialty items to a community of enthusiasts? Or do you want to attract a variety of customers and have the widest reach possible?

Pay close attention to customer reviews

Customer reviews can help you—or hurt you. Reviewers are candid, and many buyers read reviews before deciding to purchase: According to RetailWire, research shows customers trust online reviews as much or nearly as much as recommendations from family and friends. Don’t ignore reviews; instead, be sure to monitor, analyze, and respond to them.

Look at answering questions as an opportunity to build rapport with a potential buyer. While it’s OK to take a few hours or a day to respond, don’t let requests sit unanswered in your inbox for weeks. Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with the right way and wrong way to get product reviews and avoid policy violations.

Reward repeat customers

Do you get orders from the same customers month after month? Help them feel appreciated with a simple note by offering a small discount or adding a bonus gift to their order. This will encourage them to keep coming back.

Check out this ecommerce business guide for more guidelines on how to start and grow your venture.
A woman at a laptop looking up how to star selling on Amazon

Selling with Amazon

If you want to sell products and build an online business, Amazon provides tools and reach to help you launch and grow online sales.

Entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes thrive on Amazon. More than 300 million customers shop in Amazon’s store, and every day, customers browse, purchase, and review products sold by third-party sellers right alongside products sold by Amazon.
American SMBs had an average of $160,000 in sales in 2020, up year-over-year from about $100,000. The number of American SMBs that surpassed $1 million in sales grew by more than 20% that same year (source).

Learn the lingo:

Sellers

Sellers are independent companies or individuals who sell their products in Amazon’s store. This relationship is considered “third-party” since Amazon is not the seller of record. Instead, the seller is.
Generally speaking, sellers are either resellers or brand owners—or both:
  • Resellers find popular products that already exist and offer them in Amazon's store.
  • Brand owners manufacture their own products or source goods to sell under a private label.

What to sell on Amazon

Some products are easier to sell online for new entrepreneurs than others. Generally, it’s ideal to start your business by selling products that are:
  • Are easy to package and ship
  • Have branding potential
  • Are affordable for customers
  • Have a long shelf life
Some product categories are open to all sellers, some require a Professional seller account, some require approval to sell, and some include products that cannot be sold by third-party sellers. You can explore product categories on the Sell page.

Restricted products

Prior approval may be required to list products in certain categories, and some products may not be listed as a matter of compliance with legal or regulatory restrictions (for example, prescription drugs) or Amazon policy (for example, tobacco products). For detailed information, see the Restricted Products Help section.

Amazon Business

Amazon Business is a B2B shopping experience used by over 5 million businesses worldwide. If you sell B2B, Amazon Business is a great way to reach business buyers and grow sales.

Amazon Handmade

The Handmade store is available for artisans to sell handcrafted products to millions of Amazon customers worldwide.

Joining the Amazon Handmade program has several benefits:
  • List products for free and only pay a fee when you sell
  • Create a custom profile
  • Global reach for your creations on Amazon.com

And more…

Amazon works with millions of small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S., including sellers, authors, content creators, developers, delivery businesses, IT solution providers, and more, helping them reach customers, grow business, and pursue entrepreneurial ambitions.
New Republic brand owner building an Amazon store

Build a store on Amazon.com

Amazon Stores allows you to create and customize a dedicated brand destination at no cost. Feature your brand and products in a multipage, immersive online store with your own Amazon.com web address.

Product pages

A product detail page is where customers view a product sold on Amazon. If you’ve shopped on Amazon, you’ll probably recognize the product detail page. It’s where customers can find relevant information about a particular item.

When multiple sellers offer the same product, Amazon combines data from all the offers into one product detail page to improve customer experience. You can propose product information on a product detail page and request detail page reviews if you think the information is not correct.

A+ Content

A+ Content enables you to describe product features in new ways by including a unique brand story, enhanced images, and text placements which may result in higher conversion rates increased traffic, and increased sales when used effectively.
A warehouse with boxes and computer with Amazon apps and services

Tools to grow your online business

Amazon has tools to help you plan, automate, outsource, scale, and keep your business humming—along with more selling programs to help you grow.

Seller Central

Seller Central is your go-to resource for selling on Amazon. It’s a portal to your Amazon account and a one-stop-shop for effectively managing sales. Amazon Seller Central helps you navigate your selling account and grow your business on Amazon with helpful tools and content, all from one convenient dashboard.

You can log in to Seller Central to monitor sales activity and manage aspects of your Amazon business: inventory, update pricing, communication with customers, reviewing performance, contacting support, adding new products, and more.

Seller Central Partner Network

The Seller Central Partner Network is a one-stop-shop that helps sellers find apps, integrations, and other software solutions and services to help with their unique business needs, from automated pricing and listing tools to product research. Many applications focus on automating time-consuming and tedious tasks like product research, filling out tax forms, or building custom reports.

You can also access the free Amazon Seller App to manage an online store remotely.
A business meeting discussing advertising on Amazon

Boost sales with advertising on Amazon

There are many ways to increase brand visibility and improve online conversions. Check out this list of 15 ecommerce marketing techniques, from optimizing every stage of the customer journey and running product ads, to blogging and marketing on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Amazon also offers specialty ad solutions to help find, attract, and engage Amazon customers. Sponsored ad campaigns are easy to set up and appear in highly visible placements within shopping results or on product detail pages.
Sponsored Products are ads for individual product listings on Amazon. They appear within shopping results pages and on product detail pages.
Sponsored Brands showcase a brand and product portfolio. They feature a seller’s brand logo, a custom headline, and a custom selection of products, appearing in shopping results pages and helping drive both sales and product visibility.
Sponsored Display is a self-service advertising solution that helps advertisers reach relevant audiences across the shopper journey, with ad placements that appear on and off Amazon.
You can also use advertising, promotions, deals, and coupons to help increase sales, launch new products, generate reviews, clear inventory, boost product visibility, and more:

Promotions

Sponsored Display is a self-service advertising solution that helps advertisers reach relevant audiences across the shopper journey, with ad placements that appear on and off Amazon.

Deals

Run flash sales to encourage people to take advantage of lowered prices.

Coupons

Distribute coupons in shopping results, product detail pages, and customer Shopping Carts.

FAQ

How can I start selling online?
To get products in front of Amazon shoppers, first, sign up for a seller account, then register your brand and build a store.

Find more tips for starting and growing your business online in this ecommerce business guide.
What is the best store for selling stuff?
The right store to sell products will depend on your business model and several factors, such as the type and amount of products you’re looking to sell.
Where can I sell my stuff online for free?
Different stores will charge various fees to sell and distribute products.
What does it cost to start a store on Amazon?
It costs nothing. Stores on Amazon are free, always-on destinations for your brand. They’re available to vendors and sellers enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry.
How much does it cost to sell on Amazon?
The cost to sell on Amazon depends on your selling plan, product category, fulfillment strategy, and other variables.
How can I sell on Amazon for free?
The cost to sell on Amazon will depend on your selling plan, product category, fulfillment strategy, and other variables.
Is it profitable to sell on Amazon?
Selling on Amazon can be very profitable. Data from Amazon’s 2020 SMB Report shows American SMBs had an average of $160,000 in sales in 2020, up year-over-year from about $100,000. The number of American SMBs that surpassed $1 million in sales grew by more than 20% that same year.

Amazon's selling plans give you the option to pay per sale (Individual selling plan) or a flat monthly fee (Professional selling plan). You can decide which option is best for you based on your business model.
How do beginners sell on Amazon?
To get products in front of Amazon shoppers, first, sign up for a seller account, then register your brand and build a store.

Find more tips for starting and growing your business online in this beginner’s guide.

Start selling today

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