Blog post

How to sell on Amazon for beginners 

Date of post

10 November 2023

Blog categories

Read time

17 mins
Device showing the button to 'start selling' on Amazon

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of selling on Amazon? Fear not; we’re here to guide you through the complexities and simplify them.

You’ve probably already decided that selling on Amazon is a great way to generate extra revenue, and it’s no surprise, considering that Amazon’s net revenue in 2020 was $386 billion and over 50% of Amazon’s sales come from third-party sellers.

As a beginner, generating revenue through Amazon may seem like a herculean task, but with the right guidance and tools, it becomes an extremely rewarding journey.

With this easy-to-understand guide, we aim to answer your questions about pricing strategies, understanding product optimisations, garnering positive reviews, running successful ads, and setting up a prosperous Amazon store. 

By the end of this guide, you will have a well-rounded understanding of how to sell on Amazon successfully. 

Getting started: setting up your Amazon seller account

Before you can do anything, you need a seller account. This is where you’ll manage your products, orders, and payments. 

Step 1: Locate the sign-up page 

Start by going to services.amazon.com and click on the ‘Start Selling’ button. This will redirect you to the registration page. 

Step 2: Fill in your details 

You must provide your legal name, address, and contact information. Ensure this is accurate, as it’s a part of Amazon’s verification process. 

Step 3: Choose your store name 

Next, you’ll need to decide on the name of your Amazon store. This is the business name that your customers will see.

Step 4: Enter billing and banking information 

Amazon needs to know where to send your payments. You’ll need to enter your credit card details and bank account information here. Again, ensure all info is correct to avoid delays in payment. 

Step 5: Complete tax information 

Before you can start selling, Amazon requires you to complete an online tax interview. It’s quite straightforward – just follow the prompts and answer as accurately as possible. Remember, providing inaccurate information could result in complications down the road.

The key to a smooth account setup process is to prepare the necessary personal and business information beforehand. This way, you’ll breeze through registration.

That’s it! With these steps completed, your Amazon seller account is ready.

Now, the real fun begins as you start listing your products and making sales.

Screenshot of setting up a seller account on Amazon

Choosing the right products to sell on Amazon

There are a few things to consider when choosing the right products to sell or whether your existing products are a good match. It’s no secret that the type of products you choose can greatly affect your success on Amazon.

Whether electronics, books, apparel, or even handmade items, what you sell is a crucial part of your Amazon business. So what should you consider? 

Competitiveness 

How saturated is the market for your product? Are there already dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of sellers offering the same product? With high competition, you may struggle to rank high in search results and attract buyers, especially when other sellers have a first-mover advantage.

However, a product with little to no competition has its own risks – there might be no demand for it. Finding the sweet spot is the goal.

Profit margins 

Factor in Amazon’s fees, the cost of the product, and any other costs associated with producing and shipping the product. Consider whether you need an Amazon Ads budget to boost your product sales.

Your profit margin needs to be sufficient to make the channel viable. 

Product seasonality

Is the product something that will sell throughout the year, or is it dependent on seasonality? Seasonal products might see tremendous profits during certain times, but will there be demand throughout the year?

Learning how to analyse the market and choose the right products can take time. Don’t rush it. Do your homework, use market research tools if necessary, and always remember that patience and intelligent risk-taking can pay off.

Considering these factors, let’s look at a table that shows a very small selection of product categories, along with some pros and cons and fees for different product types. 

Product TypeProsConsExpected Average MarginAmazon Fees
ElectronicsHigh demand, wide varietyFast obsolescence, high competition15%8% – 15%
BooksOften evergreen, used books can be profitableLow margins for new books and weight can affect shipping costs20%15%
ApparelWide range of styles, sizes, and nichesHigh return rates, seasonal trends35%15% – 17%
Handmade ItemsUnique, can demand higher pricesTime-consuming to produce, may require special shipping50%15%

As you can see, finding the right product can be a dynamic process, but with accurate and comprehensive research, you can make informed decisions that set you up for success.

Understanding Amazon’s fee structure and pricing strategies

It’s essential to familiarise yourself with Amazon’s fee structure and pricing strategies. If you don’t complete due diligence with this phase, it could break your entire strategy.

Amazon charges various fees, but the two main ones to be aware of are the referral and closing fees. The fee referrals differ per product category; this is usually a percentage of the sale price. The closing fee applies to media items like books, music, videos, DVDs, video games, consoles and software. 

The complexity arises as these fees change regularly, reflecting shifts in the market. So, it’s crucial to keep an eye on Amazon’s updated fee structures.

It’s also important to get to grips with Amazon’s pricing structure. Your product’s income isn’t simply the price you assign to it. You must consider the charges, taxes, shipping costs, and potential returns. This might seem overwhelming initially, but don’t worry, we’ve all been there. 

Amazon’s ‘buy box’ and how to win the ‘buy box’

If you’re new to selling on Amazon, you might not know what the ‘buy box’ is.

The ‘buy box’ is that big, bold “Buy Now” or “Add to Basket” button that shoppers click to purchase on Amazon. Believe it or not, multiple sellers continuously battle to win this prestigious button. It’s the ultimate Amazon achievement for a seller, but sadly, many don’t even realise it. 

Screenshot showing the 'buy now' box on Amazon

How Amazon’s buy box works 

Typically, multiple sellers offer the same goods on Amazon. Instead of listing every vendor on the product page, Amazon condenses this into one primary seller – the buy box winner.

This simplification helps Amazon maintain a clean, easy-to-use platform that draws consumers without confusing them. 

As the most prominent seller, the buy-box winner gets the lion’s share of sales. The algorithm behind this remains part of Amazon’s secret sauce, but several performance-based factors may influence who wins. These parameters include: 

  • Order Defect Rate (ODR): The rate at which orders encounter problems.
  • Shipping times: Faster shipping speeds are preferred.
  • Historical vendor performance: Amazon considers past sales, customer feedback, cancellations and more.
  • Cancellation rate: The number of orders cancelled

Winning the buy box 

Now you understand how the buy box works, how do you win it? Here are some strategies. 

  1. Price competitively: While being the cheapest isn’t always best, you should remain competitively priced. Don’t forget to factor in delivery costs, as Amazon considers the total order cost.
  2. Maintain top-notch seller performance: Keeping a low ODR, impressive customer feedback, and solid sales history helps boost your chances.
  3. Prompt shipping: Consistently ship goods within the promised timeframe and aim to offer swift delivery options where possible.

It’s crucial for your success as an Amazon seller to grasp the concept of Amazon’s buy box and develop winning strategies to secure it.

Optimising your product listings for maximum visibility

Optimisation of product listings is a cornerstone in your Amazon selling journey. Let’s dive in and see how you can play with keywords, product titles, bullet points and descriptions to attract potential customers. 

Choose the right keywords 

Keywords are the basis of everything. They unlock the massive customer base that’s ready to purchase. Your job is to find the right key. 

  1. Identifying Keywords: Use Amazon’s auto-suggest feature to see what potential customers are searching for. Deep-dive research here pays off.
  2. Placing Keywords: Once armed with your keywords, place them strategically in your product title, description, and bullets – even in the Amazon admin.

Perfect your product title 

Your product title is your first impression, so let’s make it a good one. It needs to be crisp, clear and jam-packed with keywords (yeah, keyword stuffing in titles works on Amazon!).

Bullet points and descriptions

Allocate bullet points for key features and save unique benefits for the description. This part needs patience and a dash of creativity. It’s all about portraying your product in the best possible light. 

The beauty of backend keywords 

Backend keywords are your secret weapon. It’s like a hidden tag that makes your product visible when a customer search aligns with it. Make sure not to repeat any keyword. Amazon demands maximum efficiency, even in keyword usage! 

Optimisation AreaTop 3 Tips
Identifying and Placing KeywordsResearch is key.Place keywords in the title, description and bullets.Don’t stuff, smartly sprinkle.
Perfecting Product TitleStuffing keywords works better with titles.Pack it with your main keyword.Clearly communicate what the product is.
Using Bullet Points and DescriptionKey features go in bullets.Unique benefits sparkle in the description.Keep the language simple and engaging.
Benefitting from Backend KeywordsUse all available spaces.Avoid keyword repetition.Think like your potential customer.

Creating compelling product descriptions

Let’s delve into the intricacies of crafting an enticing product description for your Amazon pages. With the right approach, you can significantly boost conversion rates and ensure your products stand out in the crowd. 

The role of SEO in product descriptions

SEO and Amazon go hand in hand. Just like Google, Amazon also has its own search algorithm, A9, which decides which products show up first. It considers several factors like relevancy and customer behaviour. So, by optimising your product listings and descriptions for SEO, you can improve your product’s chances of ranking higher. 

SEO TechniquesHow They Help

Optimised Images

High-quality images help drive customer engagement and affect your click-through rate. Amazon has specific product image guidelines – make sure to follow them.
Relevant DescriptionsYour product description should be informative, engaging, and laced with your chosen keywords. The writing should not only describe the product accurately but give the customer a reason to choose your product over others.
Positive ReviewsYour product’s reviews play a big role in ranking. So strive for positive reviews, and if you receive a negative one, address it promptly and professionally.

1. Know your product inside out 

Before writing the description, take the time to understand your product from a buyer’s perspective. What does it offer? Why should someone choose it over other products? Instead of simply listing its features, articulate the benefits that these features bring to the user. 

2. Understand your target audience 

To write a compelling product description, you need an intimate understanding of your target audience. From knowing their pain points to having an idea of what language they use can help you align your product’s benefits with what your customer needs or desires. Try posing common questions your customers might have about your product, then answer them in your descriptions. 

3. Utilise bullet points 

Customers often skim through descriptions, picking out only key details. That’s where bullet points come in handy. They allow you to summarise key information in a format that’s easy to digest. 

4. Incorporate SEO 

Organic search plays a key role in driving traffic to your Amazon product page. Incorporate relevant keywords in your product descriptions, but do so in a way that organically blends with your content. Be careful not to stuff your content with keywords; keep it natural and fluid. 

More on this in a later section!

5. Keep it simple yet powerful 

Product descriptions need to be concise and impactful. Long-winded descriptions can lose your potential customer’s interest. Stick to simple language that your target audience would commonly use.

Remember, the goal of a product description is not just to describe your product; it’s to sell your product.

6. Proofread and edit 

Lastly, never publish your description without thorough proofreading. Spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and awkward phrasing can quickly turn off potential buyers. Editing is your final step towards a polished and compelling product description. 

Follow these six steps and watch your Amazon product descriptions transform from bland to grand. 

Using standout images

We can’t stress this enough – images play a monumental role in your success on Amazon. High-quality, engaging images can have a significant impact on your product’s visibility, garner customers’ attention, and ultimately influence purchase decisions. 

So, let’s look closer at why images are paramount on Amazon product pages and how you can use them to your advantage. 

Go pro camera on Amazon - screenshot

The importance of stellar images 

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” This old adage couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to online shopping. Your images act as the ‘eye’ for your potential customers, providing a visual representation of your product.

Captivating images can communicate your product’s value effectively, triggering positive emotions and convincing customers to hit that ‘add to cart’ button.

As an added bonus, as mentioned earlier, a great image can help your Amazon SEO due to increasing click-through rates.

Delivering quality with your images 

So, how do you ensure that your product shines on the platform? 

  1. High quality: Make sure your images are high-resolution, clear, and well-lit. Grainy, blurred, or low-resolution images can cast doubt on your product’s quality.
  2. Detail-oriented: Include shots that show as much detail as possible. Show your product from various angles, provide close-ups to highlight unique features, or even show your product in use. This gives customers a comprehensive understanding of what you’re selling.
  3. Authentic: Try to represent your product as accurately as possible. Misrepresentation can lead to returns, bad reviews, and a damaged reputation.

Optimising your images

Now that we’ve covered the essential elements for quality images, we should look into optimisation. Here’s what you can do for top-notch results: 

  • Size: Follow Amazon’s guidance on image size and dimensions. Bigger is generally better as long as it’s within Amazon’s recommended parameters.
  • Background: Clean, white backgrounds are Amazon’s preference for the main product image. It helps your product stand out and maintains a uniform look on the product listing page.
  • File type: Though Amazon accepts several file types, JPEG is generally your best bet for quality and compatibility.
  • Keyword-optimized file names: Believe it or not, even your image file name can help with search engine optimisation (SEO). Incorporate relevant keywords into your image file name to boost visibility.

Images aren’t just a requirement for selling on Amazon; they’re a tool for showcasing your product’s value, authenticity, and quality. Use them effectively, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful selling career on Amazon.

Handling customer reviews and feedback

Positive customer reviews are crucial for success on Amazon. When generating reviews for products on Amazon, there are several key factors to consider.

Firstly, it’s important to have a high-quality product that meets or exceeds customer expectations. If your product is subpar, it is unlikely to receive positive reviews. Therefore, focus on delivering a product that is well-made, durable, and performs as advertised. This will increase the likelihood of receiving positive reviews from satisfied customers.

Providing excellent customer service can greatly impact the number and quality of reviews you receive. Respond promptly to customer inquiries and address any issues or concerns they may have. By going above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction, you are much more likely to receive positive reviews.

Actively encourage customer reviews

Instead of sitting back and hoping you’ll get reviews, you can encourage customers to leave them.

Do this by including a note or insert in your product packaging, kindly asking customers to share their feedback on Amazon. You can also follow up with customers via email after their purchase, thanking them for their support. 

It is important to note, however, that you should never offer incentives or rewards in exchange for positive reviews, as this goes against Amazon’s policies.

Monitoring customer reviews

Actively monitoring and managing your reviews is vital. Regularly check your product listings for new reviews and respond to them promptly. If you receive a negative review, address the customer’s concerns and try to resolve the issue. This shows potential customers that you are attentive and committed to providing a positive experience.

By monitoring reviews, you can gain valuable insights into areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to your product or customer service.

Amazon review guidelines

Familiarise yourself with Amazon’s policies regarding reviews to ensure you are not engaging in any prohibited activities. This includes avoiding fake or manipulated reviews, as well as not soliciting reviews from friends, family, or anyone who has a vested interest in your product.

By adhering to Amazon’s guidelines, you can maintain a trustworthy reputation and build credibility with potential customers.

Running Amazon ads to boost sales

As we further venture into your Amazon seller journey, let’s shed some light on a highly effective tool for promoting your products – Amazon Ads.

Amazon’s advertising revenue reached $21.5 billion in 2020. So, what’s all the buzz about, and how can you tap into this success? 

With over 2.5 million sellers on Amazon, it’s easy to see why advertising is key to standing out from the crowd. After all, wouldn’t you want to make sure as many potential customers see your product as possible?

Screenshot of sponsored ad for dog bed on Amazon

Succeeding with Amazon Ads 

Knowing the importance of Amazon Ads is one thing, but understanding how to succeed with them is another ball game altogether. So, let’s break it down: 

  1. Researching keywords: This is all about discovering what potential buyers are searching for. Do they search for ‘running shoes’ or ‘athletic trainers’? Knowing how your audience speaks and searches can put you ahead of your competitors. You can use some of your research from the SEO section to help with this phase.
  2. Ad grouping: This involves creating groups for similar products. This allows Amazon’s algorithm to better understand and display your product for relevant searches.
  3. Bidding and budget: How much are you willing to spend to get your ad seen? Identifying a budget and competitive bidding strategy is crucial to ad success.
  4. Monitoring and optimising: This is probably the most critical step. Continually monitor your ads’ performance, understand what is working and what isn’t, and optimise accordingly.

Remember – advertising doesn’t immediately translate to success. It’s a gradual process that involves regular revisions, tweaks, and patience.

Maximising sales with Lightning Deals and promotions

Whether you are just starting out or seeking to maximise your sales, one way to generate a buzz around your products on Amazon is by taking advantage of ‘Lightning Deals’ and ‘Promotions’.

Understanding Lightning Deals 

Lightning Deals are time-bound promotional offers where an item is featured for a few hours on the Amazon Deals page. They’re especially popular during major sale events like Prime Day and Black Friday. When your product is featured in a Lightning Deal, it gets a substantial visibility boost. 

Setting up Lightning Deals 

  1. Step One: Start by navigating to the ‘deals dashboard’ within seller central.
  2. Step Two: Next, click ‘Create a new deal’ and choose the product you’d like to promote.
  3. Step Three: Set the quantity, deal price, and schedule.
  4. Step Four: Submit your deal for review. Amazon typically takes around 24-48 hours to approve.

Please keep in mind that not all products qualify for Lightning Deals. They rely on certain criteria, including price, stock, and product rating.

Boosting sales with promotions 

While Lightning Deals are an excellent tool, they aren’t the only way to increase your sales. Promotions are another valuable resource at your disposal. Offering discounts through buy one get one free (BOGOF), money off, free delivery or percentage discounts can pique customer interest and help drive sales. 

Types of promotionsSteps to create

Percentage off

Choose ‘Create a Promotion’, select ‘Percent Off’, decide on a quantity, and set promotional dates.
Buy One Get One (BOGOF)Under ‘Create a Promotion’, select ‘Buy One Get One’, decide on the products this applies to, and set your dates.
Free shippingSelect ‘Free Shipping’ under ‘Create a Promotion’, specify the item, and set dates for the offer.

By cleverly utilising promotions and Lightning Deals, you can stimulate interest, drive traffic to your product page, and increase your sales significantly. So, why not give it a go?

Key takeaways for a beginner’s guide to selling on Amazon

In conclusion, succeeding as a seller on Amazon involves a meticulous understanding and execution of a range of strategies.

A crucial part of carving out your success on the platform is understanding the Buy Box and how to win it.

Your product listings should be optimised for visibility by choosing the right keywords, crafting persuasive product descriptions, and publishing high-quality images that represent your product accurately.

Encouraging and actively managing customer reviews can bolster your product’s reputation; meanwhile, leveraging tools like Amazon Ads, Lightning Deals, and promotions can significantly increase your product’s visibility and drive sales.

This whole process requires patience and continuous learning, but it’s rewarding for those who master it.

Need help with all this? We offer Amazon consultancy services to help businesses set up and profit from having a store. Benefit from the world’s biggest online marketplace with help from Marketing Labs.

Post author

Matt is a leading figure in search engine optimisation, with over twenty years of experience in eCommerce and digital marketing. After years of running his own eCommerce businesses and then consulting for digital marketing agencies, in 2016, he decided to set up Marketing Labs.

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