Long before the internet, retail was well established as one of the most competitive industries to enter. The internet has given new entrepreneurs the ability to launch their business with more ease, but it can still be difficult to find a foothold.
Even though there are tens of thousands of retail websites online, a few major brands continue to dominate, much like traditional high street retail. By some distance, Amazon is the largest online retailer of all.
The simple truth is that very few companies will ever be able to compete with Amazon. So why bother? The best thing that you can do if you want to start an online retail business from home is to get involved with the Amazon brand and turn it to your advantage.
Read on to learn the basics of getting up and running with your own Amazon business. You'll find out that by treating Amazon as an ally, not a rival, you too can start earning a great living from home.
Why Start An Amazon Business?
Understanding how you should sell products in the retail environment means understanding what customers look for when they buy them.
Of course, every customer looks for the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices. If you can offer something truly innovative, or enter an existing sector with lower prices, you can certainly attract a large amount of interest in your business.
But this interest is only worthwhile if it turns into revenue. Unfortunately, this means a big leap of confidence for your visitors.
Online security is better than ever, but retail trust is about far more than stolen credit cards. In fact, it can take years for potential customers to learn that you offer good products, you package them well, you dispatch them on time and you follow up with great customer service.
Amazon is the biggest online retailer because it is a brand that customers trust. If you're selling on Amazon, they'll trust you too.
How Does Selling On Amazon Work?
First, you need to sign up for a seller account with Amazon. There are two types of account available.
The standard Basic Seller Account is free, and offered to those retailers that sell less than 35 items a month. Products can be listed in up to 20 different categories, and you will simply pay a fee for each product sold. A significant limitation, though, is that you can only sell products that are already for sale on Amazon.
As your business grows, you may want to upgrade to a Pro Seller Account. This type of account is charged at £25 per month, but includes the ability to create new products, and sell them across up to 25 different categories.
For more information on the types of account available, visit amazon.co.uk/services
What Can You Sell On Amazon?
As with any retail business, the first step in successful Amazon selling is deciding on your products. Amazon now has categories for just about anything. Generally, you have three types of products that you can sell on Amazon - which one is right for you?
Products That You Make - If you have a great product idea, or even just a talent for creating new things, your products could fill a niche on Amazon. With little or no competition, these kinds of products are potentially lucrative - but it's incredibly difficult to be original!
Products From Wholesalers - The traditional retail business model, you could source products from wholesalers or manufacturers and sell them with a mark-up on Amazon. But beware - having stock shipped to your home address usually means buying high volumes of stock in advance! If you plan to use this method, consider drop shipping, where stock is dispatched directly from the wholesaler.
Used Goods - From second-hand books to DVDs, many sellers earn a living from reselling used goods. When a customer searches Amazon for a product, they will see your more affordable used version.
The best kind of product for you will depend on your talents, your goals, and the kind of products that you have access too. It's great advice to simply make a choice - spend less time considering your first products and more time working on promoting your Amazon business.
One Amazon seller, Tedric P, did exactly this. He started out by selling video games and consoles that he would buy from high street retailers that were shutting down their stores. Now, his products cover numerous categories and he is earning 30% more than he was in his full-time job!
Choose Your Preferred Order Fulfilment Method
When you have selected your products, it is time to think about how you will get these products to your customers. Never rush head-first into selling without getting a clear idea of how the entire process will work.
When you start selling on Amazon, you have a range of options for fulfilment. Each has its own advantages and your choice will depend on the kind of products you are selling.
First, you can keep your business in-house and send out products yourself. This adds to your own workload, but in the early days of your work-from-home business is usually the best method. Another great advantage of keeping distribution in-house is that you can retain control of your orders, reduce your costs, and even include promotional materials with your packages.
Alternatively, you could partner with Amazon to have them dispatch orders on your behalf. Fulfilment By Amazon, or FBA, is a service provided by the company that is designed to reduce your workload and improve the experience of customers. If you sign up for FBA, you will be asked to send your inventory of stock to Amazon, who will store it for you. Then, when an order is placed, Amazon take care of sending your products - customers can even combine your products with the rest of their Amazon order, or use services such as Amazon Prime for fast shipping.
Finally, you may be able to reach an agreement with your wholesaler or manufacturer if you have one. Using a process called drop shipping, you can concentrate your attention on promoting products and delivering great customer service. All you need to do is notify the wholesaler or manufacturer when an order has been placed, and they will take care of sending it on your behalf. A drop shipping agreement is also a great way to secure arrangements with wholesalers without buying large quantities of stock in advance.
How To Make Your Amazon Business A Success
Starting your Amazon retail business is easy. Making it successful is not! As with any retail venture, promotion is everything. Amazon includes a number of features to help you promote your products, but there is a lot that you will need to do for yourself. Here are three tips to get you started:
1. Consider How You Write Product Listings
A product description is a difficult thing to write. It must convey useful information while persuading, enticing and attracting your potential customers. As you write, ask yourself what your customers would want to know, and how the product can help them. Does it make them look great? Does it save them time? Write benefits-driven product listings that persuade customers to take action.
2. Encourage Activity Around Your Listings
Take a look at any product available on Amazon and you will see product ratings and reviews. These are vital assets for your work-from-home business.
Ideally, your products will be so good, and your service so amazing, that customers will naturally flock to Amazon to leave a message. But don't rely on that - always be proactive.
You could email your existing customers to ask for their reviews. You could offer freebies to established bloggers within your sector to encourage them to link to your product and review it. You could even get your friends and family to post reviews themselves. Every review lends credibility to your listing but, more importantly, can lead you to the holy grail of Amazon - The Buy Box.
3. Get In The Buy Box
The real results from Amazon selling come from getting yourself into the Buy Box. This is a complex, almost impossible task, but one that you should always strive for.
The Amazon Buy Box is the big 'Add To Cart' button that appears on the right hand side of every product listing. For the average user, it is the only place that they will click when they decide that they are ready to buy. If you sell a product that Amazon themselves offer, they will always remain in the Buy Box. But if you don't, you should work hard to get yourself there.
Amazon uses a complex algorithm to decide which companies are in the Buy Box, and the details of this have never been revealed. Essentially, there is only one trick - to be the best retailer possible.
Give great service. Send shipments instantly. Use Fulfilment By Amazon so that Amazon can be confident that products will be dispatched correctly. Reduce your prices and be the most competitive seller on the site. By doing all of these things, there is a chance that you could find yourself in this lucrative and in-demand position.
The Secret Of Online Retail With Amazon
All too often, people venture online to find out big secrets about their chosen work-at-home profession. The reality is, though, that there is only one thing that you need to do to create a successful Amazon retail business: do everything that you would do if you opened a high street store.
I opened this article by saying that high street retail was competitive. The internet is exactly the same, if not more competitive. So be discerning with your products, be proactive with your promotion and be unrivalled in your sector. If you can do all of those things, a successful Amazon business is just a matter of time.
Visit HomeforBusiness for more work from home business tips and ideas.
Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother of three, PR Consultant and Entrepreneur
Like many women on most days I seem to have to juggle all my roles. On other days just three or four. This is why I founded Homeforbusiness. I recognise what it takes to be a working Mum and how to set up an online business from home with all 'pulls' of everyday family life and work.
I have always been entrepreneurial and set up by first corporate communications company, EMA Productions, in my 30s working with big corporate clients such as Texaco, Rank and Boots. Whilst it was challenging and hard work, it was quickly successful. I could focus solely on winning contracts and meeting the clients needs without family distractions and with the support of a fantastic team and office.
I feel very passionate about HomeforBusiness as I believe that lots of people want to create a better work/life balance and work from home, either setting up a new business or working as a freelancer. There are hundreds of genuine opportunities for people but often people do not know how to start. I want HomeforBusiness to empower anyone who wants to work from home profitably. With a panel of guest experts I will share share genuine business opportunities, business ideas, advice on running a business, online marketing, and health and wellbeing tips. I have also put together my favourite free online resources.
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