Today I want to share with you my answers to some common questions about selling on Amazon.
How did you get started selling on Amazon?
I started with Amazon about six years ago.
I was working in a government day job and I had two young children home as well. I was super busy, tired, had lots of pressure in the day job and it was all just pretty hard work.
There was not enough downtime, and as well as that we weren’t making enough progress financially. We had the mortgage to pay and I felt like something had to change.
Then one day I was at work just doing my thing at my cubicle, typing away.
The lovely nanny who looked after the children sent me a text message and she was down at the beach with them and she sent me this lovely photo.
They were all having a great old time in the sun, and I was there in my grey cubicle in my suit, typing on a spreadsheet.
Looking back on it now, I can still remember how vivid that flash was that something had to change. I told myself “I need to find a way to get out of here, get down to that beach and spend the time with my children rather than working hard for someone else all through those special years when the children are so young.”
I dug around and looked at lots of options for things you can run online.
Living in New Zealand, it’s a tiny market here, so I felt it had to be online. It couldn’t just be a little hobby business. If I was starting something, it had to work and had to work in a big enough way to replace a good salary. Some things I looked at seemed a bit tacky, some were complicated, and some just didn’t suit me.
But when I came across Amazon, I really liked that you’re selling real products to real people. You can choose what to sell, and so you’ve got a chance to create your own real business.
When I looked hard at what I wanted, it needed to be relatively passive income, accessing big groups of customers without me having to do all the marketing myself.
It also had to fit into very part-time hours with children to juggle and I wanted to do it in a way that gave me a really good lifestyle, not just more work from home.
Why I Love the Amazon Seller Business Model?
The Amazon business model was great. I bumped into an accountant friend who’s a really smart guy and he was doing really well selling on Amazon.
I learned a bit from him about what he was doing and the kinds of products he was choosing. And then I did a course and I found some products of my own.
I didn’t actually follow any of the rules of that course because they’re all just saying, “Go to China and buy lots of cheap stuff and get plastic stuff and pile it high and sell it cheap.”
I decided my strategy was going to be much higher premium branded products, with so much more quality.
My first product was actually handmade in Nepal by a charity that employed people in the village. It was beautifully made, beautifully packaged, and it had that really nice feel-good factor for me, but also customers paid a lot for it.
Each item from Nepal only cost me a couple of dollars, but I sold each one for almost $30. I started off really small, just an initial order of 75 units of this product, so it was a really cheap thing to start with.
Within the first year and a bit, I’d sold over a million dollars worth of this product on amazon.com, from home, with the kids at home, and it was the start of a whole new adventure.
I’ve just been doing that now for six years, finding more products from all around the world, launching them on Amazon, and then sitting back and letting Amazon pay me every two weeks. It’s been great.
Tell Me About Partnering with Amazon and how that Works?
Amazon is a company based in the States founded by Jeff Bezos some 25 years ago.
He’s now the world’s richest man through this platform because it’s the world’s biggest e-commerce platform.
They’ve got millions of customers. They started in the States but now they’re in the UK, Europe, Australia, Japan, Middle East, you name it. Amazon is popping up all around the world wherever there are customers who can shop online.
The beauty of the partnership with Amazon, is that someone like me can sell our own products but use Amazon’s platform to host them.
We don’t need to build our own websites, and we don’t need to find our own customers, which is really neat. You can have lots and lots of different products selling, but Amazon does all the day-to-day heavy lifting.
They’re doing all the warehousing, all the shipping, all the packaging and also any customer returns. Anything regarding the dealings with customers or delivery, Amazon takes care of that.
They even take the payments, which is good because it saves you doing all that credit card processing and dealing with the customers direct.
It’s all hands off, so as a seller the only thing you need to get good at is choosing the right kind of product.
Obviously there’s a system for setting things up on Amazon the right way, but choosing the right product is where the whole game is won and lost. That’s the really essential bit to get right.
Partner with a Global Brand
Well, the beauty of Amazon is that it is already well-known worldwide. The customers are there and are looking to go shopping.
You could build something on your own website, but then you’ve got to spend lots of money and time and get really good at Facebook Ads to tell people on Facebook that you’ve got a product for sale over on your website, or some other way to find your customers.
That takes time and money and it’s way more difficult. Now, only a very small percentage of people scrolling Facebook are likely to then go on and buy that product that you’ve just suggested to them.
Whereas on Amazon, they’re looking to buy a particular thing. They just type into the search bar on Amazon, “I want to buy a metal fish ornament wall hanging,” or whatever weird, wonderful thing they want.
Actually, the more weird and wonderful the better because on Amazon the customers are buying from Amazon so they don’t need to trust me or my brand, they know that they’re giving Amazon the order, Amazon’s got their credit card and their address loaded.
This thing will arrive on time as promised. If they’re an Amazon Prime member then they get free shipping too, which is a real plus. They get shipping in an hour in some cities and a day or two in other cities. It’s really fast, and really convenient for customers.
Their ‘buyer intent’, which is how it’s called in the industry, is really high. They’re not browsing and being social like on Facebook.
They are only on Amazon to go shopping. So if you’re looking to sell something, the place to try to sell it is where people go to buy things surely. It lets you go global from the very beginning.
You can have those products selling all around the world and it’s really hands off, because of all the support that’s provided on the Amazon side.
You simply need to get the right product and have it branded and packaged nicely so it looks good. It needs to arrive at the Amazon warehouse in one piece and then it’s over to Amazon to do most of the rest of the process. I haven’t found a better model than that anywhere else.
There are people, they’re buying, and they trust Amazon. You can do lots of research on which products to sell. I do all of this online, looking at which products are in demand, and looking at where there’s lots of competition already (I always keep clear of the competition).
You can see which products are selling and you can work out how you’re going to launch into a category or a niche subcategory on Amazon and when, because all that data is there in front of you, waiting for you to process.
You can see all the competitor’s reviews, their sale price, the features of their products, how they’ve packaged it.
Everything’s transparent so it’s a really easy way to do product research.
That means it is up to you to make the right decision having done your research, and that takes some figuring out. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring this out but once you know what to sell, the process is very repeatable and very easy.
Tell Me About Sourcing Products for an Amazon Store?
I really enjoy sourcing products to sell. It’s like a treasure hunt – you’ve got an idea for a product, but you don’t know if it’s going to work until you’ve got a quote from a supplier who tells you what it’s going to cost to buy that product from them.
You’ve maybe seen what you think you could sell it for, you can see how many of them you think you’d sell in a month, but then the last piece of the process is what does it cost to buy this product? Say you buy a product for $2 and you sell it for $20, then there’s some good margins there.
But if you are selling it for $20 but it’s going to cost you $15 to buy it, it’s not going to work too well. The online sourcing is done through a bunch of websites. There’s some big directories that aggregate lots of manufacturers and factories.
There are some really easy-to-use ones like Alibaba, but I tend not to use those so much. They’re pretty well picked over by other sellers and it tends to be just the bigger, more obvious products there.
There are also different searches you can do online. I do a lot of my sourcing on trade show websites and I generally look in places where most other people aren’t looking for products. It’s all done online, but it just means that I can ask a bunch of questions of the supplier.
Because as well as price, you need to know a bit about quality, how long they’ll take to make each order, can they organise shipping and packaging for you. You want a one-stop shop, as you don’t want things handled by three lots of people before it gets out the door.
I want to know if they have any certification that may be needed? I mean, I don’t want anything that keeps me awake at night because I haven’t got some safety certificate, or customs in the States hold it up because it hasn’t met some local USDA organic paperwork check that they run.
The quality of the supplier matters a lot more to me than the price. I see most Amazon sellers just chasing down their suppliers to reduce the cost and they see it like a cost centre, whereas I see my suppliers like a secret weapon in my business.
They can give me far more market intelligence than most of the research tools. They know exactly what’s going on in their industry. They know who’s buying, which brands are doing well.
They’ve done lots of shipping and packaging before. They just know a lot. And so if you’ve got them on your side and they want to see you succeed, they’ll do things like give you an exclusive agreement.
Get Exclusive Agreements
All my suppliers now give me an exclusive agreement for my sales on Amazon. Most people selling on Amazon don’t do that, they just go to Alibaba, look for the first factory with the lowest quote that supplies a widget and then off they go.
So I’ve always put a lot more effort into the relationship with the suppliers and it’s been really easy to do online.
There’s a bit more time if English isn’t their first language for it to be by instant message or email, but they’re generally really great English speakers and they love communicating with people outside of wherever they’re based, in my case, India or Sri Lanka or Nepal or wherever it is. Some of my products are actually out of Australia and New Zealand at the moment and some are even sourced from within the States.
I always want to have a good high trust relationship with my suppliers. If they are held up as a quality issue, I’d much rather they gave me a phone call and said, “We need a few more days” than rushing that order out the door full of mistakes that cost me later.
Big Tip – Steer Clear of High Competition Products
The main thing is to keep clear of the high competition products.
If you’ve got something a little bit unusual, often these can be a good product. I personally like the really weird and wonderful, the more obscure the better. I don’t mind if it’s quite low demand.
My first product that made me over $1 million had hardly any demand initially, but I grew that market and I was the number one seller of that category of product for three or four years. It was just such a strong seller because there was no competition.
While everybody else chases the best seller and wants a little bit of their market share, I’d rather work really hard to not have to compete with people. I don’t like having a price war. I don’t like having to out-launch or out-market the other sellers, or be in a hurry to get reviews visible on Amazon.
Most of the Amazon sales come off the first page of search results, something like 86%. There’s a saying, “Where’s the best place to hide a dead body? Answer: On page two of Amazon.” Because nobody really looks past page one.
All my products have quite low competition, which means I can turn up with not a single review and on day one I’m on page one. That’s what I really like, low competition products. There’s still a system to follow to come up with these products and check that they meet the criteria of enough demand.
I mean, there’s no point selling something that nobody searches for. But if you’re going up against 20 pages of other yoga mat sellers, give up now, I mean, you’re just going to get absolutely thrashed in that market with those competitive products.
I also like food products. There’s a bit more work upfront, but they’re repeat purchases and Amazon’s looking to grow that category. But stay away from supplements, something like turmeric supplements, it’s absolutely a complete bloodbath trying to sell those. It’s so competitive. Make life easy for yourself, you don’t need to go after the million dollar products.
If you’re thinking about doing this and you want some help knowing which are the good products and which categories to keep clear off, then I do have free training that you can jump into and get some advice and some tips on how to be a successful Amazon seller overall, the strategies, the products.
But I also teach how to think differently – because you can follow the ideas re what products are great or not so good, but also you need to understand the Amazon game. Winning on Amazon’s a game, so there’s the rules of the game and how to play the game and to help you to win the game. That’s what we cover in the training.
The Benefits of the Amazon Business Model
If you want to grow a business where you’re not hands-on doing it all yourself or having to hire lots of staff to do lots of tasks for you every day, it’s really neat if you can find a business model where most of the day-to-day heavy lifting is done on autopilot.
That’s where Amazon’s ‘Fulfillment by Amazon’ service is so awesome, because I can live here in New Zealand, in the bottom of the South Island miles from anywhere, but every day Amazon’s got my products on their warehouse shelves.
When a customer orders, Amazon takes them, puts them in a box, puts the right label on, and a delivery driver gets it to the customer’s doorstep usually within a day. And so that opportunity of just tapping into all their infrastructure is amazing and we don’t need to do all the payment processing or customer service.
This means I can have a big business, but with no staff. If you’ve ever been a business owner, the idea of having no staff is very appealing.
But also just the fact you’ve got no overheads in your business, and your expenses in an Amazon business are really, really low. The only thing you’re really buying is product and then shipping that straight to Amazon, and Amazon does the rest. It means that you can have a lot of products.
I launched nearly 400 products in my first year on Amazon just because all I have to do is choose the products, not do all the downstream work as well. It lets you think big and grow big when you’re not doing it all hands-on yourself, so ‘Fulfillment by Amazon’ is very appealing to me.
Run Your Business from Anywhere in the World
You can be anywhere in the world and still be selling on Amazon. You only need to be able to use a computer well enough. If you can shop on Amazon, you can probably sell on Amazon. You need to be on Wi-Fi for maybe half an hour a day, but it’s not big hours.
One of the nice things is you don’t need to quit your day job to start doing this. You can do a bit of training, learn the system, and then start selling and start small as well. You could just do a tiny initial order of a hundred units and just get the feel for it, learn the process and then scale up from there.
You don’t need to take any huge leaps with an untested product. You can start small and test it yourself. You can be anywhere in the world, which is really appealing. You don’t need to have any particular kind of background.
Do You Need to be Technical?
People often tell me, “Oh I couldn’t do Amazon, it’s all a bit too technical for me.” But it’s the opposite, you don’t need to run Facebook Ads and do all the analytics on those. You don’t need to write any code for your own website because it’s all sitting on amazon.com.
You don’t need to do any database management or emailing to customers, it’s all taken care of. I reckon it’s the most low-touch, low-tech, online business opportunity that there is. I’ve looked at quite a few other things before I found Amazon and they all put me off because they were quite technical, but I really liked that Amazon’s just all about the product.
If you can find the right products and keep selling those, you can potentially have a really good solid income stream across the portfolio of products and just keep building it over time.
Start Small and Finish Big
Start small, then as you get more confident and you’ve got that feeling of success or a supplier you’ve worked with before, it just gets easier and easier. I know people need help choosing the first product and learning how to be a successful Amazon seller, which is why I offer this training, which you can register for now and see how I do it. And then once you get going, it can take off for you, and within a year or so… Quite a few of my students have given up their day job within a year, so that’s really rewarding to see that.
Click here to register for the free training now
Who Can Selling on Amazon Work For?
Who does it work for? There’s no particular background or skillset or personality even that determines if you’re likely to be a successful Amazon seller.
The one thing I see in common with the people that do really well is just… they’re prepared to take action.
They saw the opportunity and decided to get started. Then when they’ve watched the training, they don’t just sit back and think about it for six months until they find the perfect product.
They just start with a small order and learn by doing, and that’s always the best way to learn. They’ll do a small order, get it up and sell it on Amazon.
So they’re learning the ropes, they’re getting their eye in for choosing products, they’re getting used to doing weird new things like talking to a supplier on the other side of the world or figuring out how to load that new product into Amazon.
Amazon makes it easy, and the suppliers want your business. There’s a little bit of admin and set up. There’s some work to do, so people who don’t think that they have to do some real work, they’re not going to get very far.
The Secret is… Follow the System
There is a bit of real work, but none of it is hard. It’s easy when you know how and there’s a system and a step-by-step guide that will get you through all those early stages until you’re up and selling.
And then a really nice thing is watching people who’ve had their first product launch and start selling, then they feel really confident.
They’ve had that taste of success. They’ve seen what happens when you wake up in the morning and check your phone and there’s been sales going on overnight while you’re asleep, and then you kind of get hooked. And then from that point onward you’re just scanning for more and more products to add to your Amazon account.
It gets quite addictive. It never feels like work even six years later. I’m always on the lookout for new Amazon products and I’m always running numbers, what does it cost, what can I sell it for, can I find a good quality supplier?
Most people enjoy that feeling of success and if they’re motivated enough, they leave their day job because they don’t like that lifestyle, or they’re motivated to earn more income because they want more luxuries.
If you can connect the work you’re doing today to a future that you want more, then it’s much easier to keep going with the work.
When I teach people Amazon, I don’t just teach them the nitty gritty of how best to do an Amazon listing or which questions to ask a supplier, but we also do a lot of mindset training because there’s going to be all sorts of days where you need some real determination and perseverance to push on.
None of it is hard, but it’s just real life and real business and there’s just work to be done. We like to make sure people are in the right frame of mind to start strong and stay strong so that they can keep running this business through to the goal that they’ve set themselves.
Some Examples of Successful Amazon Sellers
As some examples of the kind of people who do well on Amazon, check out these people.
First is Andrew, who was an IT consultant, and he sold 31,000 units of his Amazon products in a single year. He lives in a ski town, he’s got two primary school aged children and now he’s not working for anyone else anymore.
He’s just built that brand up and he’s doing really, really well and now has a completely different lifestyle thanks to his Amazon business.
Then there’s Fiona who’s a pharmacist. She lives in the UK. She’s also got two young children. She gave up her day job as a pharmacist within a year because she really wants to be at home with her kids as well – and Amazon made that possible.
And also Lisa, who had a big job in HR, a professional, working in a real corporate lifestyle in Melbourne working at a stressful job, all day, every day.
But she just found that commuting was a killer and she really wants to find some Amazon products and make her own business and create it. She’s now got three really great products with around 30% profit margin and that is starting to make some massive changes in her life too.
Now, these aren’t typical results, but they do show what’s possible when you take consistent action and find the right products.
Is Amazon too Competitive for New Sellers Now?
Some say “The sky is falling, Amazon’s crowded and saturated” so there is no use starting an Amazon business. Usually they know nothing because they’re not actually doing it.
From my perspective, I can find new products every single day where there’s plenty of demand and not high competition. Some people will use a software tool, find product after product that’s already crowded and too competitive and then they give up.
There’s a lot of people just looking for the wrong kind of products, they’re going for products that are too competitive, so I keep clear of those. Many people think Amazon’s too hard because those are the only kinds of products they look for.
I think many people may have a perception that you need to be a technical type to be able to run an online business, but Amazon actually does all of that tech stuff. Other people believe it’s all too good to be true that you can work so few hours yet build such a big business.
In my case, when I was setting up my first business, I’d spend 20 minutes in the morning on the bus to work, and that turned into $1 million in sales in that first year, all while I was on the bus with a baby or toddler. If you want to do it, you can, anyone can do it if they put their mind to it.
But it just is a matter of deciding you want to do it, deciding to invest in learning and putting the work in to create it, and then a little bit of problem solving and learning a new system and just getting used to a new way of working.
But you can definitely do that alongside your current commitments. You might need to drop half an hour of Netflix a day, but you don’t need to give up your day job or find $100,000 to invest like if you were buying a franchise or something. It’s a relatively low capital cost to a hugely different future.
What does it cost to get started as an Amazon Seller?
And what does it cost to get started? I would say allow a budget of say $6,000. That’s everything you’ll need to learn the system, educate yourself and find that first product, get it ordered, get it shipped into Amazon and start selling.
And then for the timeframe from getting started with the education side through to seeing your first sale, for me it was about seven weeks, which was pretty fast and I was busy with other jobs at the same time.
You could go even faster than that. But typically I would say on average with my students over the years, probably something like three months is typical, maybe six months if you’re really busy.
But the good thing is Amazon is not going anywhere. There’s some of these other social media things or financial trendy things that are out there as a business opportunity, but they’re here today and gone tomorrow, whereas I feel really secure that Amazon is not going anywhere.
It’s got such huge infrastructure and customer base, and catalogue of products, and is a trillion dollar business.
Amazon is Around for the Long-Term
Amazon will always be here. If it takes you six or 12 months, instead of three, you’re still going to get there. It’s a matter of finding a quality product, not just rushing through and copying something else that’s already selling.
You want to actually learn how to create a product that’s going to make you profits and for a long time. I’ve got a product that I launched six years ago but it still generates tens of thousands of profit (that’s not sales, that is profit) every single month.
That was one of my first few products and I’m so glad I launched that. I nearly didn’t start this, I nearly didn’t choose that product, but it pays out for a really long time when you find those winning products.
But what you can do if you want to find out more about doing this, is book into my free training.
You’ll see what it takes to be a successful Amazon seller and can show you how you can get started as well. Because I’ve seen so many people make massive changes through learning how to sell on Amazon, it’s been a huge change for my life.
It’s not through anything really tricky or clever, it’s just a really clear set of criteria for the product, following best practice, feeling confident, and then just keeping on going once you know what you’re doing.
As soon as I can help people get started, then it just opens up such an exciting opportunity because you get this freedom selling your products while you work from home, get lots of your time back and it’s just a real privilege to be able to build a business on this big Amazon platform and can make a huge, huge difference in your life.
Click here to register for the free training now
Free 90 Minute Webcast Reveals
How to Make a Healthy Income Selling Products on Amazon - Even if you Have No Idea What to Sell Yet
Without ever storing a single product – or even going to the post-office