Selling on Amazon FBA: My Complete Guide for Beginners (7,500+ words)

How to sell products on Amazon

I’m commonly ask how a beginner can start to sell on Amazon. I have many guides on how you can start selling on Amazon, but none as comprehensive as this guide.

Note: Currently this guide is only 4,200+ words according to WordPress and I’ll build on it with rolling updates within the next few months.

This really is a step by step guide and allow you to know exactly what is required to begin selling on Amazon and making money. If you’re looking for a career change, with a view to build a business on Amazon FBA, then this is for you.

My intention with this post is to outline the entire process of how to sell on Amazon. I hope, through reading this post, that you’ll have enough information to decide if selling on Amazon or online in general is something worth doing.

The Amazon opportunity

My journey through Amazon FBA started in 2015 and I have been selling for several years now. In April 2018 I was able to quit my career in order to pursue Amazon full time. Since then I’ve been running my own Amazon business ever since.

In that time I’ve learned many things that have helped my businesses succeed. Yes – I have 2 Amazon businesses selling different products. I’ve also helped thousands of people, through this blog, to start selling their first product too.

Selling on Amazon FBA
Selling on Amazon FBA benefits from scale & (mostly) automated logistics and customer service

This takes a lot of work. Hard work at times. I don’t pitch the Amazon business building journey as easy. I’ve had challenges and have overcome them. What’s most important is that you stay committed.

I’ll start this post off with the basics of selling on Amazon FBA, and will expand towards revealing everything you need in order to get your first sales. I’ll even show you guys some great ways to discover the first product(s) to sell on Amazon.

Lastly, and I can’t emphasize this enough. Don’t simply read this for entertainment value. The best way to learn is to apply. Avoid sitting on the fence thinking about it, and take action through what I share here.

Beginner’s guide to selling on Amazon

In writing this, I’ll assume you’re a beginner towards selling (and making money) through Amazon. I’ll fill you in on how this all works.

Amazon has recently become the world’s #1 company. They’re also the largest retailer in the world. People from most countries are permitted to sell on Amazon, and no matter which country you’re from, I would immediately recommend the US marketplace. It’s the only place where I sell currently.

Most people build their Amazon businesses in part-time hours.

You can list products to sell on Amazon. If the product sells then you’ll have to pay some fees, but your customers are available to be purchased by hundreds of millions of customers. Pretty neat operation.

Different selling models examined

I’ll soon get into what types of products to start selling on Amazon. Firstly I wanted to examine what an Amazon listing looks like, and how you as a 3rd party seller fits into the scheme.

In this case, let’s start with retail arbitrage or wholesale. This is where you merely sell a product that’s already being sold on Amazon. You’re piggy-backing on a listing.

Now, some things to note here:

Wholesale selling on Amazon FBA
  • The ‘Sold by’ is the seller of the product, very likely a solo person
  • Amazon will pick & pack this item through their own Fulfillment
  • There are other sellers of this product, but this one wins the sale
  • It appears on this listing, Amazon has run out of stock themselves

When starting your journey, and if you decide upon the retail arbitrage or wholesale methods, then this is what your listing will look like.

My preferred and most recommended strategy to sell on Amazon is private label. This requires a higher capital starting base, but also, gives you the more security for brand protection. No one else can sell your products without your permission, providing you apply for the trademarks and use Amazon’s Brand Registry program.

Private label selling on Amazon FBA

In this case, we can see some obvious distinctions:

  • The owner of this product is the sole seller for full control
  • Amazon isn’t selling this product, and unlikely ever will
  • Their photos, listing & FAQs have been built by the owner
  • Reviews for this product is quite strong (A true brand asset)

Finding products to sell on Amazon

I’ve previous covered finding products to sell on Amazon which is a more comprehensive post. Yet, I’ll run at this at another angle.

The truth is: Without products that produce a profit, your Amazon business is a sinking ship.

Finding a product to sell is the key step that beginners desire to start with. At the same time, it is also the most overlooked and rushed segment of the journey.

I often received messages from around the world stating “Please tell me which products to sell on Amazon” which is why I created the guide 101 Products to Sell on Amazon. This is a good starting point.

The truth is, you simply cannot just pick a random product. The perfect product can be found where your interests and a profitable margin align.

To take things a step further, the best products in the world solve problems. They come well packaged, are paired with world class customer support and have a strong perceived value.

Most beginners claim Amazon is too competitive. I’d argue that most sellers are too lazy. There’s a strong opportunity for those that can innovate.

Steps to product discovery

Now that we have an idea (in concept) of finding a product, let’s unpack this into a step by step process.

Narrowing down on products

When looking for that first product, you’ll want to pick well. This is why I’m not an advocate of rushing in. It could take a few months of solid research to find this winning horse.

That product needs to be generating sales as soon as possible, allowing you to scale towards a range of products. This also cements the belief that this works.

Picking a niche is hard. What’s easier is finding an existing product or brand on Amazon which is doing well, and at the bare minimum, model their results. In later stages I’ll discuss how to expand on their product range. This concept alone took me 3 years to figure out.

Selling on Amazon USA
Looking at products you’ve previously bought is a potential niche to look into

I don’t recommend seeking out profitable niches, but instead looking towards profitable products. The truth is: Most products on Amazon are profitable, even with the increase on Tariffs from China.

I’m often asked what my guidelines are towards finding a profitable product. These are:

  • Selling between $25 and $200. Most of my products are in the $50 to $70 range
  • Should be small, light and easy to ship. This is most important for the first product
  • A profit margin of at least 30% and you should be able to sell at 3x costs
  • Being small, can be air-freighted from China to USA within one week
  • Each competitor on page 1 has under 150 reviews allowing space to compete

A great tactic I’ve recently discovered is looking at products which are using Amazon’s PPC system, which is their paid ads program. As a buyer, if you’ve ever seen ‘Sponsored Ads’ then these sellers are paying to be in front of your eyes.

Now – if they’re spending money, then there’s a good chance that they’re selling well.

Caveat: There are some products to avoid, especially for the first launch. This includes oversize, high factory costs and products that Amazon is restrictive towards new sellers.

As a beginner, it’s wise not to spend time getting ungated, as that’s less time you have to look at the vast amount of unrestricted products. Reserve the restricted categories when your capital and time is greater.

Selecting the right tools

A builder is only as good as the tools that he works with. With Amazon, we have at our disposal tools that can use to evaluate sales volume of competitors. From this, we’re able to make a more accurate decision when it comes to deciding upon a product to sell on Amazon.

Note: These tools aren’t to be used as merely automatic product finders. That is – they won’t find you the magical solution. This is simply data allowing you to (likely) make the best possible decision.

Essentially, these tools allow you to set criteria and filters based on what I mentioned prior in the ideal product guidelines. Therefore, we can filter out the bad apples.

For Amazon Product Research, I recommend these 3 tools:

  1. Zonguru which I’ve been personally using for 2+ years. This is excellent software that, at a glance, gives you instant feedback towards products, brands and niches.
  2. JungleScout which achieves almost the exact same outcome, but at a more reasonable price.
  3. Unicorn Smasher which isn’t a full suite unlike the two options mentioned prior. This is merely a Google Chrome extension allowing you to access sales data within particular categories on Amazon.

Certainly none of this data is absolute. Amazon is a constantly changing marketplace daily. That said, these tools will give you a fairly accurate idea of sales volume, allowing you to make a competitive evaluation.

After a few days of research, you should have a few products that can potentially be launched to start selling on Amazon within weeks. Most of you are aware, but for those who aren’t – there is no perfect product to sell on Amazon. Completion is better than perfection, especially for your first product launch.

Going beyond your competitors is where the real opportunities lay. I’ll be teaching you further later in this article.

Finding Suppliers for your Amazon business

Every single Amazon teacher and mentor is recommending Alibaba, and I would agree! I’ve found some excellent suppliers from this platform. That said, it’s not the only sourcing platform, but as a beginner, it’s the best starting point.

Joining Alibaba is simple:

  • Jump on board Alibaba and select ‘Join Free’
  • Next, create a new* email address and join Alibaba
  • Fill out your basic information, and you can use a generic company name
  • Confirm your personal information and you’ll be up and running

*If you use a personal email address, then it will be spammed like crazy from Chinese suppliers. Especially if they discover that you sell on Amazon. Hence the recommendation. This always comes as a surprise to beginners. There is no unsubscribe button….I learned the hard way. 🙂

How to sell on Amazon FBA
Finding suppliers can be done via Alibaba, though I prefer trade-shows like the Canton Fair

There’s both an art and science towards finding the right supplier. You’ll need to make sure they follow this criteria at a minimum:

  • Accepts safe payment gateways such as PayPal and Trade Assurance
  • Are a Gold Supplier and have been operating for several years
  • Has been certified with an onsite check by Alibaba’s own team

I like to keep you on track. Let’s recap so far:

  1. You’ve found a few products which meet the guidelines I’ve provided
  2. Product validation and expected Amazon revenue has been validated
  3. You have gone ahead and opened an Alibaba account right now

Now it’s time to find 3 suppliers. I always recommend at least 3 and up to 5. Some will be more ideally suited than others, and if one is too busy in the future, then you’ve at least got at least one more on backup.

Dealing with Chinese suppliers for FBA

Ok – now the fun part! This is where it all starts to become real, especially with product samples. We’re going to be negotiating with suppliers, not necessarily for lower pricing, but to actually validate that they’re prepared to deliver what is promised.

For the purposes of this article, I’m relaying experiences in dealing online with suppliers. I would highly recommend that you instead deal with suppliers face to face, and the Canton Fair is one fine example. That said, I understand the costs involved in this.

When it comes to sourcing, you don’t immediately order with Alibaba. You’ll start negotiation with Chinese suppliers, and this is one fundamental step.

Now – I’m using China for an example. You’re open to sourcing from any country that fits within my recommended guidelines. You’ll find that greater than 80% of FBA sellers continue to source from China.

Step 1: Contact a key supplier and begin conversing

You’ll do this via Alibaba initially, but feel free to transfer conversations to WhatsApp as I have done countless times. Chinese suppliers are more readily available via instant messaging apps as opposed to email.

I understand that this can be a little nerve-racking at first. Suppliers are genuinely (in almost all cases) wanting to know how they can help you. Most are paid on commissions above their salary, so there’s a strong and vested reason for them to assist.

Step 2: Outline your product expectations

You’ll want to make sure that reasonable expectations are outlaid, so they are willing to and able to meet your standards. What you’re really doing at this stage is validating that you can continue to work with this supplier for the long term.

Many sellers attempt to negotiate lower prices. I high advise against this. Generally, as price lowers, so does the product quality. Chinese suppliers will ‘make up’ for this lost revenue. Discounts on pricing can come in time, and it’s most important to work on your relationship first and foremost.

Step 3: Place your sample order

Ask your supplier to produce a sample, and then take a video + several photos. If you’re happy with the results, then have it mailed to you. Air express via their courier account is ideal, and will avoid customs issues. Expect delivery within 2 weeks.

Upon receiving your sample, there’s some checks to perform:

  • Are there any defects?
  • How does it compare to the product photos?
  • Is there anyway you can improve to have a competitive edge?

I’ve written a more comprehensive guide on sourcing samples for Amazon if you desire to go deeper in this chapter.

Creating your Amazon listing

If you’re happy with your sample (remembering that you need at least 3, from 3 different suppliers) then it’s time to step forward. This is where things become even more real.

Before creating an inventory order, it’s best to start with creating the Amazon listing. Allow me to outline these specific steps:

  1. Head over to Seller Central and create an account
  2. From there you’ll want to create a new product listing
  3. Choose the category* of the products you intend to sell
  4. Fill in the required information, but also keep it simple

*Some products fit within more than one category. If you’re confused, look at competitors and their category for best selection.

There are some spaces that you’ll need to fill out:

  • Title: This is where you’ll enter your product name with keywords
  • Manufacturer: Enter in your company name (or intended one)
  • Brand: This can be the same as your company name or different
  • Price: Any price for now is fine. You can modify it once you’re live

Entering this information is simply so that Amazon has the information to have your product live, but most importantly, so you can create a shipping plan. That effectively means some barcodes for your product and cartons to be sent to Amazon.

Note: I absolutely recommend buying UPC codes. I’ve used GS1 with a lot of success, as have many of my students. Their pricing is quite affordable if you’re a small seller.

Please don’t waste time with redundant advice that recommends using barcode reselling services. Amazon’s rules have changed in recent months. A good reason why you shouldn’t rely on cheap courses or YouTube videos.

Creating an Amazon FBA Shipping Plan

This is a more complex step of the selling on Amazon journey. I understand if you become confused here. It will be worthwhile reading this part of the article several times over. Trust me – this part of the Amazon journey gets easier with practice!

The first thing you’ll want to do is go into your Seller Central Dashboard, find the ‘Edit Inventory’ tab and change your product that you recently listed to ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’. By default, Amazon always uses the Fulfilled by Merchant (i.e. you send products from home) option. What we want to do is use their own fulfillment network known as FBA.

You’ll also want to print your item labels from this page. These labels will be sent to your Chinese supplier who will sticker each unit, likely directly on the packaging.

Selling on Amazon FBA
Labeling is one of the most important (and confusing) steps to get started selling on Amazon

Next you’ll want to create your inbound shipment. To do this, simply click on Send/replenish inventory and select case-packed products. Essentially what this will equal is all of your products going into a single box, or a range of boxes.

You’ll note that there’s a Shop From field. I always set this as my Chinese supplier, but others have set it as their freight forwader’s address or inspection company.

Sometimes Amazon will ask you to fill out a Hazmat Review form. Don’t be too concerned here, as 99% likely that your product is totally safe.

Amazon will want to know the dimensions of your individual products, and how many units are within each case. Then they’ll also want to know how many cases there are. For reference, Chinese suppliers often refer to cases as cartons.

They will want to know if you want prep. This is a likely no, since your manufacturer in most cases completes this stage through packaging up your products for shipment.

The last stage is that Amazon will select which warehouse they want you to send to. They do this automatically, and unfortunately as sellers, we don’t get a choice. The address they provide is what you’ll relay to your freight forwarder.

Lastly, click on Work on Shipment.

Preparation and shipment to Amazon FBA

You’ll be selecting at this stage how your products are to be sent to Amazon. By far the easiest is small parcel delivery, essentially meaning one or a small amount (<15) cartons. The next step is pallets, and the largest sellers send in full containers, often of just one single product.

You’ll need to make sure all your shipping information is correct. You can ask your supplier how much each carton weighs and its dimensions. If you’re shipping pallets, you’ll also need the pallet weight and dimensions.

Finally – the last step is to Print box labels. When I say ‘Print’ I do mean printing to PDF. That is – you’ll send an electronic PDF copy to your supplier who will print off these labels and attach to boxes (plus pallets too if applicable).

Note: Remember that whilst you will have 10 labels, they’re not all the same. These are 1 individual labels, so ensure that your supplier doesn’t just print off 10 copies of page 1.

How do I sell on Amazon FBA
Logistics can be air, land or sea, depending on where you source from.

On the next page you’ll be able to enter in tracking numbers once provided by your freight forwarder. Personally, I’ve not worried about this step as I track my delivery through my emails already.

World class product photography

Phew! I’m sure that shipment stage is over. Clearly there’s much more involved than just find a product in China and get it on Amazon.

You’ll need to have your photos created before sending products in. But you can upload such photos whilst your products are in transit. As long as your products are ready and live while Amazon’s unpacking your products, then you’re good to go!

Now, there’s two approaches:

  1. The expensive method of paying for photographers and models
  2. The cheap DIY method which I recommend for all new starters

Guess what? The cheap method works just as good in most cases, and you can get pretty close to a professional standard.

There are companies pitching expensive Amazon product photography services and claim to be professionals. But if you’re launching dozens of products, or you’re on a limited budget, then these costs can be substantial.

I would recommend firstly that you take your smart phone and start practicing some photography of your product sample in different areas. There’s only 1 photo that needs to be perfect (on a white background) and that’s your main listing photo. All others are up to your creativity!

Product listing improvements on Amazon

One of the most neglected parts is the Amazon listing, especially for new sellers. It’s literally everything – your 24/7 sales agent. Nothing is going to help your sales improve more than a fully optimized product listing page.

Pro-tip: Never think that your product listing is 100% perfect – there’s always elements where it can improve.

Amazon business optimization should occur on a weekly basis!

Having a fully optimized listing paired with strong keywords and photos creates a strong relationship with your customer. I like to think as Amazon photos especially as equivalent of dating apps – customers will pass in one second if they’re not up to standards.

I’ll examine here the 5 core factors of a strong Amazon product listing:

  1. Your product title including keywords, features, benefits, size and brand name
  2. The product images that both meet Amazon’s requirements, and speak to the customer
  3. Fundamental product features which examine the product benefits
  4. Listing description where the brand story and mission can be featured
  5. Product reviews which will gain in volume over the next few months

As mentioned, optimization of an Amazon product listing is an ongoing process which leads to greater customer conversion and minimal buyer friction. Despite selling for almost 3 years, I continue to learn and optimize my listings on Amazon weekly.

Unique branding and scaling on Amazon

Generally speaking, logo designed should be placed higher in this article. But if you’re simply to get a product on Amazon and selling within weeks, then skipping logo design will greatly assist that start-up speed.

At the same time, logo design goes hand-in-hand with excellent product packaging and brand building. If you’re looking to build a long term business selling on Amazon and a recognized brand, then consider working on these elements very early on.

I’d highly recommend contractors and outsourcing. I’ve used 99Designs, Upwork and Fiverr for work previously, and my results have been excellent. These feelancers can assist with logo design, packaging and product inserts.

Branded products in most cases will yield higher prices than those which are generic. So consider the costs of such services to pay off in the long run.

Automation and systems

There are benefits of using systems and automation. You may wish to outsource elements of your business. Personally, a freight forwarder and inspection service has helped me in many ways.

Benefits include:

  • Fully scheduling of shipments from China to the United States
  • Inspection of your products each time prior to leaving China
  • Rejection of defective inventory prior to being loaded for shipping
  • Full preparation of your products as per Amazon’s guidelines
  • Complete handling into Amazon’s warehouses regardless of location

This is the missing link that often beginners attempt to perform on their own, or simply take the risk without inspecting their products.

I understand that such costs are going to eat into profit margins. At the same time, yet is an almost mandatory step towards supply chain automation. After all, many people start selling on Amazon for time-freedom.

Selling products on Amazon
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with every step on the Amazon journey ahead

Currently I am looking to hire my 1st full time employee, which is going to both allow scaling of my business, but also give me more freedom. Before you all reach out, I am seeking an existing Amazon seller for this role. 🙂

In summary

What I’ve covered is perhaps the most comprehensive guide on the internet for those who wish to start selling on Amazon, using their FBA program.

Let’s recap:

  • I’ve shown you how to hone in on what to sell on Amazon
  • Some software I use was recommended to examine sales data
  • Product validation was covered (and it’s at your sole discretion)
  • I have explained how to best communicate with Chinese suppliers
  • Product samples was explained, with a link to more in-depth training
  • I’ve elaborated why it’s best to optimize monthly your product pages
  • FBA Shipping plan was explained (and experience is the best teacher)
  • Using product and factory inspection services was highly advisable
  • I have talked about why branding with logos & branding is paramount
  • Finally – for the freedom component, I’ve talked about outsourcing

And from this, you’re very likely to make your first sale. What I’ve outlined here is exactly what all Amazon FBA courses are teaching.

The next steps

Everything I’ve outlined in this article is designed to motivate you. Clearly I have an immense amount of knowledge and experience. In fact, I’ve been dealing with Amazon (and making money in various ways) for 7 years now.

I guarantee you, that if you take everything in this article and apply it, then you can learn how to sell on Amazon. It’s likely this will lead to your first sale(s) and the creation of a new brand on the platform. The best day in your career as an Amazon seller is that first sale.

You will run into some challenges. In fact, the challenges actually just get greater. But I’m personally obsessed with doing the work that others won’t, so I can get the results that others can’t.

The first step really is to get started and take action. Don’t simply sleep on this information presented here.

Getting started with Amazon Brand Registry: Guide for beginners

Amazon Brand Registry Process

If you’re a beginner who has started selling on Amazon, you’ll know how important protecting your asset is. Amazon Brand Registry is your guardian angel.

Through this guide I’ll explain why you need to enroll in this program and how you can get started. I’ve written this for the beginner in mind who has one or perhaps just a few products.

What is Amazon Brand Registry?

This is a program that helps Amazon sellers in having their brands identified to Amazon. You’ll be able to much more easily protect your intellectual property from counterfeit attacks and control the entire brand experience.

Amazon Brand Registry and listing hijackers
3 years ago listing hijackers ruled the marketplace. Amazon Brand Registry solved it.

In a world of opportunity, you’ll also find the sharks lingering. They’re looking for brands that aren’t protecting themselves. This creates a reluctance for some to sell their existing products on Amazon, for fear of having their brand tarnished by the sharks.

I’d absolutely recommend that brands enroll in ABR. Amazon themselves have an entire team dedicated for brand owners. You can contact them to report IP infringements, policy violations, listing issues and much more. You can even escalate cases to higher ranks in Amazon’s corporate team, unlike just normal sellers.

Additionally, there’s simply more tools. My favorite is Enhance Brand Content and Amazon Storefronts. It simply gives a much better user experience to my future customers, leading to greater conversions.

This all came about due to the wild wild west scenario a few years ago and many sellers going into outrage. The hijacking of listings was common place and Amazon simply wasn’t doing enough. Faced with so much backlash, they decided to pull their fingers out and (finally) implement their Brand Registry program. Hurrah!

It’s now much rarer to hear if issues for new and existing Amazon sellers. The sharks have discovered that Amazon is watching very closely now.

Getting started with Amazon Brand Registry

Firstly, you’ll need to have the following attributes:

  • Active and registered trademark shown on your product / packaging
  • Contact information listed publicly on your trademark registration
  • Professional ($40/month) Amazon seller account with the same details

The exact requirements are different in each country, but for the US marketplace at least, what I’ve outlined is true. It also needs to be a word-mark or image-mark which contains text, as opposed to a graphical mark. For example, Nike’s own tick wouldn’t pass, as their brand name isn’t on the logo, despite it being publicly known.

I’m sure, however, that Nike would pass, as big brands like this have special privileges on Amazon. ???? Given the volume of fees that Amazon collects off them every month.

To get started with the Amazon Brand Registry process, simply log into your Seller Central account. Their instructions are pretty straight forward.

Amazon Brand Registry guide
Many people have found Amazon Brand Registry to be a true life saver in their business

You’ll have to have your ducks lined up. These include:

  • Images of your own brand and logo with the trademark symbol
  • More images of your products with your brand name clearly shown
  • An accurate product categories list in which your brand should be
  • A current list of countries where your products are sold currently

All private label sellers can enroll in Brand Registry, provided you fulfill the above criteria first. As you can see, there’s some legwork involved.

People from any country can enroll in Amazon Brand Registry on the US Marketplace. Thousands from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Singapore and many more have already joined.

You can expect approval within 24 hours in most cases. Amazon is working to protect brands that have their ducks truly lined up. Gone are the days of the wild wild west. They mean business and want to actually look after sellers once again.

Challenges for beginners

Now, it is free for any FBA seller to join the Amazon Brand Registry program. But there’s a significant cost to register your trademark with each country. For example, I paid $2,500 for the US trademark and $700 for the UK trademark. This is in USD. So clearly not a cheap endeavor, but I consider it a cheap insurance policy.

I pay for it once, and it’s done for life. Well, almost. Trademarks usually last 80 years. I think I’m good until age 112. ????

As I outlined as well, there’s certainly some work involved in addition to the capital requirement. The biggest downside is the time that it takes to get a trademark. Unfortunately the USPTO process takes 12 months for a US-based trademark. I’m an advocate of getting a trademark in ASAP.

Also, there’s a misconception that once you have Brand Registry, that you have full control over the listing. That is to say, no one else can sell your products. Amazon doesn’t help you control distribution of genuine products or simply block sellers from listing.

You’ll have to use software to stop those still attempting to hijack your listings. Such software notifies you the moment you have an IP infringement so you can respond instantly. You’ll be able to sleep better at night. Trust me.

Amazon Brand Registry Enhanced Brand Content
Yep. There’s some work and costs involved in becoming an approved brand, but it’s worth it!

But despite these challenges, the program is free and provides an immense amount of benefits for sellers. Consider it a complimentary insurance policy from Amazon for their top sellers that anyone can join, provided you work through the process.

In closing

I’d highly recommend that even those who aren’t yet live (but have their products on the boat) should start this process. Remember, it takes 12 months to get your trademark name. The sooner you start, the earlier you’ll be protected.

After spending so much on capital, no one else wants to invest into more expenses. But Amazon Brand Registry will help you sleep better at night. And after all, this is why we started this journey in the beginning.

Sourcing FBA products from India: A good viable alternative to China?

Source Amazon FBA products from India

Today I’ll be providing an alternative to sourcing Amazon products from China. Indeed, you can start sourcing FBA products from India through what I share in this guide.

Whilst most private label Amazon USA sellers I know still buy products from China (including myself), there is an increasing number who are looking elsewhere. There are numerous alternative countries including India where sellers are finding opportunities to diversify their brand range and reduce risks.

This has been compounded by the further tariffs that Trump has imposed on China-made products. It really is time to look beyond China for sourcing profitable products to sell on Amazon.

Advantages of sourcing from India for FBA

There’s some distinct advantages over China that India provides.

These include:

  • Unique product offerings not found in any other country or trade show. Some products are handmade and command higher prices in both retail and eCommerce marketplaces.
  • No trade import tariffs are due to no trade war with the US. Sure, this could change in a few years. But for now, Trump is cool with India.
  • Placing smaller test orders is something that many beginners are seeking to do. Since there’s a good volume of handmade products, suppliers are happy to go for a lower MOQ.
  • Brand protection and copycats is one major fear that new sellers have. Luckily, Indian suppliers just aren’t up to speed and generally won’t copy you or your designs. That said, still, file those trademarks and get EBC.
  • Communication is easier through India than the Chinese. English is the second official language and many are fluent. Many sellers know the frustration of the Mandarin-English language barrier.
  • Easier available of materials such as jute, wood, bamboo, and cotton is yet another key reason why sourcing FBA products from India is a wise move. Fewer delays in your supply chain can only be a good thing.
  • Helping people out of poverty is a key aspect why I choose to sell on Amazon. I’m looking to work with non-profit organizations that seek to employ those from disadvantaged communities.

The main point I wish to get across is that there are simply much fewer people sourcing from India than China. Plenty of the Amazon courses I’ve featured simply teach sourcing from China. Since 80 to 90% of sellers source there, it leaves prime opportunity for the early-birds.

Types of products found in India

Now, let’s get into the exciting part: What can you find in India to sell on Amazon? Plenty.

India’s main exports include vehicles, chemicals, iron, steel, machinery, pharmaceuticals and further industrial products.

That said, there’s plenty of smaller textiles for eCommerce sellers on Amazon. You’ll find wood, ceramic, metal, leather and eco-friendly products.

Sourcing FBA products from India

Let’s examine what you’ll find:

  • Fashion products which include jewelry, precious stones, accessories, bags and scarves
  • Leather products including shoes, belts, bags, wallets and unique products for horses/equestrian, both leather and normal nylon.
  • Home furnishings like curtains, placemats, cushions, duvet covers, bed covers, rugs, table clothes and more
  • Food like rice, spices, tea, coffee and lentils. I know a seller who made a fortune selling tea on Amazon

India is emerging to sell tools, based on their large mining operations and precious metal inventory. This is a space to watch. They’re also becoming more experienced selling sporting goods, though China still wins in this regard.

Discovering Indian suppliers for FBA

Most suppliers don’t maintain their catalogs. Often, their relationships are based on family ties, especially as you’ll find Indians around the world.

But if you’re looking to start sourcing Amazon FBA products from India then you’ll have to do some leg work. It’s simply harder than China.

Three instant online supplier directory recommendations are Global Sources, Alibaba and IndiaMART.

You can attend domestic trade shows. Most vendors aren’t exporting and cater to the domestic market, meaning (generally) cheaper prices.

I’ve used the services of sourcing agents. I understand that no one wants the ‘middle man’ but they’re very helpful and have their own databases of reliable suppliers.

In many aspects, finding suppliers so you can start sourcing Amazon FBA products from India is much like sourcing from China. You’ll find them, there’s just more work involved. I do recommend a trade show to build relationships.

Actually, let’s expand more on that.

Effective Amazon FBA sourcing from India

It’s very similar dealing with Indians as it is dealing with the Chinese. As I highlighted, in some cases it’s actually easier. But there’s still scams and issues that can arise.

Sourcing Amazon products from China
Plenty of Indian factories and warehouses are prepared to help Amazon sellers

With that in mind, we can safe-guard ourselves. These tips for sourcing from India are worth while reading.

You’ll really need to build a strong business relationship over the long term. This will take some time. After a few orders, they’ll trust you and you’ll trust them. Just like in China, it’s normal for them to want to know you on a personal level.

There’s a strong need to ask specific questions when negotiating product specifics. They don’t like saying ‘no’ to any question, much like my experiences dealing with the Chinese.

Don’t be afraid to find a new supplier at any time if your existing contact isn’t working for you. There’s plenty of factories in India keen to help start manufacturing for your Amazon brand.

Lastly, just be nice. Westerners are typically known as rude in Indian customs. You’ll need some degree of patience. It’s a chaotic place and you’ll be overwhelmed on your first business trip.

Sourcing from India has its complexities but also many similarities from China. The only way to gain experience is to take that first step. I’ll go first.

Finishing up

If you’re looking to differentiate yourself from the thousands of ‘me too’ products and sellers sourcing from China, then India is a strong and viable alternative. Many eco-friendly and sustainable products can be found here.

Whilst there’s some challenges in finding reputable suppliers, there’s also true opportunities. And some real upsides that many sellers are ignoring.

As they say, the early-bird gets the worm.

4 of the Riskiest Amazon Strategies (and why I won’t recommend them)

Riskiest Amazon Strategies

I love private label selling; it’s where creativity flies. Yet the riskiest Amazon strategies need highlighting, none of which I will ever recommend.

In today’s post, I’ll be covering just 4 of the most popular. Sure, you’ll discover how you can start a business for potentially cheaper and easier.

In my experience, there is simply no better profit margins and brand equity, than building a business through the private label method over 5 to 7 years.

Dropshipping

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you’ll instantly know that I’m not a fan of dropshipping. Not at all. There’s huge downsides including poor account metrics and real lack of brand equity.

This is where someone lists a product on eBay that they found on Amazon for a markup. When it sells on eBay, then simply go to Amazon and purchase it. But what if it’s out of stock on Amazon? Big problem. It’s not just merely refunding the customer, but taking a bit hit to your own seller account. There’s huge money in teaching dropshipping, and sure you can get started for pennies on the dollar, but the downsides outweight hte risks.

4 of the Riskiest Amazon Strategies
Drop-shipping is lucrative but success is seldom found. There’s way too much competition!

I’d rather focus my money into inventory and building up a solid Amazon account. One that has great feedback and metrics, leading to profits for years to come. Plus, I can sell my business at any time, since it’s stocked with real products, a real customer database paired with trademarks and patents.

Using debt to start an Amazon business

You simply shouldn’t be borrowing to start an Amazon business. You don’t want to start with a ball and chain wrapped around you. If all goes pear-shaped, then you’ve still got the debt without a business.

Have a personally borrowed in my Amazon businesses? Yes, 3 times in fact. This is after already starting and proving the concept with sales data. The bank isn’t going to lend me anything with blank financials.

4 of the Riskiest Amazon Strategies: Using debt to start selling
Simply do NOT go into debt to start selling on Amazon. It’s not worth the stress!

I’ll never advocate that you borrow to start selling on Amazon, either for an Amazon course or inventory purchase. This journey is already stressful enough, without the burden of finance and interest charges.

Manipulating your brand feedback

Within the amazingly in-depth and often hard to read Amazon Terms of Service, there are guidelines that state that you can’t manipulate feedback. That is, you can’t ask for 5 star reviews. Doing so highly risks getting your account suspended, and indeed one of the most riskiest Amazon strategies for beginners.

Amazon can and does routinely track reviews and can validate if it’s a friend or family member who left you a review on one of your products. A little bit like big brother, but it does happen.

4 of the Riskiest Amazon Strategies: feedback strategies
Some people try to game Amazon’s own system. That’s not me, and you shouldn’t do it either.

Also, you can’t ask customers to leave feedback in exchange for gifts, money, free items or future discounts. Whilst you may want to get product and account reviews in ASAP, you’ll have to wait for them to organically multiply just like the rest of us. Review services were banned officially a couple of years ago.

Learning Amazon through mistakes

In this industry, most beginners simply don’t have much money. So, they seek to find training courses for cheap or simply learn for free off YouTube.

It blows my mind. The most successful Amazon sellers I know went for the best and found the best results. That is, they sought out the best training courses in the world paired with strong communities.

4 of the Riskiest Amazon Strategies and mistakes
Some people learn Amazon through mistakes and attempting to do it themselves. But why?

Smart people back themselves with knowledge, unlike these people above. Through investing in their education, they were able to scale their FBA businesses significantly faster. Their education, therefore, was an investment.

Summarizing thoughts

I’m sure there are numerous people who would argue that some of these strategies work just fine. It’s great if it works for you, I just won’t advocate for those starting the Amazon journey to follow the most riskiest Amazon strategies.

I recommend starting your new Amazon FBA business with a solid plan. One that leads to long-term success and the desired 7 figure exit. That’s best achieved through playing the long game and investing through your own capital into education and high quality products.

Discovering Your Ideal Amazon Niche: Ideas for Private Label Beginners

Amazon Niche for Beginner Sellers

Looking to discover the ideal Amazon niche? Truth is, there isn’t one. But through this guide, I’ll help you find the one best suited to you.

The number one question I get daily is “Joshua, how do I find a private label product to sell on Amazon?” from beginners around the world.

That inspired me to created the 101 products to sell on Amazon guide. If you haven’t read it yet, then you should. It’s gold.

Truth be told, that success on Amazon typically comes from selling in niches that have passionate buyers. At the same time, you’ll want fewer competitors. Notice how I said fewer and not zero. Big difference.

See – every niche has competitors. Just some more than others.

Today I’ll be explaining my top ten favorite product researching methods. Read through this one and I hope it helps you find the right niche for your new Amazon business.

1. Start with your passion

Both my private label Amazon brands are based on my own passion. In fact, I am both the customer and seller! I love my own products, because I’d buy them myself.

I’d say my two brands to be a labor of love before profit. ????

I knew the type of product I like. I knew what it should be able to do. Most importantly, unlike my ‘competitors’ out there, I know how I could make my products better at the same price.

That’s the key to finding success at Amazon. It’s how you’ll get the edge over your competitors. Not selling carbon-copy catalogue products that another 30 sellers also have, but your own unique products.

2. Use your own experience

I’ve got industry experience in mining and logistics. Some might question what products could ever be found there.

Either none, or plenty!

Lighter hard hats. More comfortable gloves. Coffee cups for truck drivers. Safety bollards with lights. Pink gumboots. High visibility snow jackets. Rugged high vis torches. Oversized steering wheel covers for trucks.

Noticed how I gave suggestions for Amazon niche product improvements throughout that list? My next brand is probably in the PPE aisle. Just gave away my product and brand idea right there. ????

*Watch this space*

Now consider what industry you’re in. Nursing? You’ll know products in that niche that many wouldn’t have a clue. Lawyer? Another unique set of products, especially appealing to a wealthy crowd. Builder? You could sell a range of high quality tools.

Even if you don’t have experience in an industry, consider your hobbies. Many beginners I talk to are parents and are choosing the parenting niche.

3. Brainstorm and research like a gun

If you’re still stuck, then you need to get pen to paper. Now.

Discovering Your Ideal Amazon Niche: Ideas for Private Label Beginners
This is a smart future Amazon seller who is taking some time away to brainstorm and research
  1. List your hobbies, interests and responsibilities
  2. Look at companies on social media (Pinterest) related to your interests
  3. Shortlist a group of 10 to 15 products already in that niche
  4. Use tools such as JungleScout and ZonGuru to validate data
  5. Consider if there’s past, current and future product demand
  6. Always use your gut feeling and don’t be afraid to move on

The more research you do, the better you’ll get. I wasn’t a pro in 5 minutes. I’ve done thousands of hours on ZonGuru and the like. The more you think and research, the more ideas you’ll find. My own list is HUGE.

4. Get lost on Amazon

Seriously, you should. Look for hours to find unique Amazon niche with both a seller and buyer perspective.

Avoid their best seller lists. Like yoga mats, it’s just too competitive right there. Also avoid emerging markets or short term winners. Fidget spinners come to mind here.

Find that middle ground. Some competition, but not too much. Good sales volume, but you can still get in with a limited budget.

Spend weeks or months on Amazon. I’m serious. You’ll be selling on this marketplace, so you’ll have to get an idea of who’s selling what.

5. Source ideas from Kickstarter

Seriously, this place is a gold mine. If you want product innovation, you’ll find it here.

These products are only on Kickstarter. It’ll be a year or two before they’ll find their way to Amazon. Look how these innovators have immensely improved existing products.

You won’t be copying these companies. Use these for inspiration for product ideas. Add accessories, change sizes, colors or simply any variation to make a significant and worthwhile change to a product that impresses the customer.

I even subscribe to some of these sites via email newsletters. This way I can stay on top of what’s coming out long before it hits the shelves on Amazon.

6. Use the research tools

I can’t stress this enough – you will have to pay a subscription to a research tool. Any tool is good but JungleScout, ZonGuru and Helium10 are my professional picks.

Amazon seller research software trial
Get a free trial with any of the software providers listed here

These help validate the products you want to sell. You’ll get information on sales rank, sales history, FBA fees, review volume and much more. In a quick glance you can even get the potential profit without having to do all the legwork yourself. Neat!

Is Amazon saturated? Not really. But there’s plenty of products on there. Many people are selling ‘me too’ products. I use software almost daily to find gems all day long.

7. Get off the computer

Each year there’s literally hundreds of trade shows. I’m an advocate of going to China and now have 3 trips under my belt. You’ll get to meet suppliers, audit samples in stalls and generally get inspired with product and niche ideas.

It’s not just China either. You can consider sourcing from India, Nepal, Mexico, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and many more countries. Each have their own tradeshows which aren’t as saturated with Amazon sellers.

You can even go down to your local shopping centre. Bunnings gets my pick. I bring my phone with me to look up products and profit potential on the fly. Very nifty!

8. Jump on sourcing sites

Alibaba and Global Sources are two sites that I use often. Yes, they’re saturated with copycats, but they’re still a great resource. You’ll be able to discover new and trending product ideas.

Be prepared to go through pages and pages of search results to find the Amazon niche gems. Some manufacturers also hide their best stuff, so if you like what they offer, then ask them for anything new and exciting that they’re working on.

You can actually subscribe to the Global Sources very own Sourcing Magazine. This gets updated on a monthly basis with their newest products. Essentially, you’ll see products before 97% of people do. Probably one of the best kept secrets among professional Amazon sellers. ????

9. Get addicted to social media

I do say that in a good way. You won’t find as much on Facebook and Instagram. I look elsewhere. I look from a seller’s perspective, as there’s literally a goldmine of opportunity out there on social media.

Social media for Amazon niche discovery

For example, I look through Pinterest and look at cool products. Literally, type in ‘Cool cat bed’ and ‘Cool baby blanket’ right now. There are opportunities and inspiration galore right there.

I can’t believe the amount of people who walk right past this opportunity. I’ve noticed that many courses just aren’t teaching the Pinterest sourcing method.

YouTube is also one source of product ideas. Look up unboxing videos. You’ll discover products you’ve never heard of before. Some of you have even reached out with product ideas that I’ve never heard of. And yes, your secrets are safe with me. ????

10. Create your own product

Right – big caveat here guys: This is an advanced Amazon niche method. The first 9 methods shown are much better suited to beginners.

I have several unique products ready to go. Totally out of the left field. I haven’t launched them as they need an immense amount of capital to get off the ground. But if you’ve got the cash (and some experience) then consider going from complete scratch.

You’ll still have to focus on a sole niche or category. Avoid unrelated products. This is part of the reason why I haven’t launched my super unique products: They’re so unrelated. The main reason is still the high capital requirement, before the copycats chase after me.

Also remember that many sellers are avoiding difficult products. Fragile goods, oversized, high MOQ and those that need certification. Plenty of opportunity for those prepared to do some more leg work.

Amazon niche summary

Those who are focused on only slight improvements are just going to fall behind the market. The customer is becoming more discerning and wiser. They are looking for innovation, and some even demanding it. They want apple-like packaging and high quality.

In a world of greater competition on Amazon, you’ll really have to innovate. This all begins with finding the right Amazon niche from Day 1 that suits you and your budget.

Work through this, but don’t get lost here. Many people get stuck. It thins the heard. Remember when things are harder, there are just fewer people prepared to work through the challenges.

The rewards are waiting on the other side.

The 6 Types of Amazon Beginners: See which person is you!

Amazon beginners

This is a fun post where I’ll examine the 6 different types of people who begin the Amazon journey. Through this, I hope Amazon beginners will be able to spot themselves.

The 6 Types of Amazon Beginners

My blog continues to be read by thousands of you guys weekly. I’ve got a huge amount of respect, appreciation and more good stuff coming! Thanks so much for the praise my friends – it means a lot!

So, let’s get into it.

6 Types of Amazon Beginners

There’s really 6 core types of people I see who come into this Amazon journey. Some make no progress, yet others knock it out of the park. I’ve been helping to as many people as I can possibly be.

Here they are:

  • The Constant Researcher
  • The Eager Enthusiast
  • Mr Everyday Excuse
  • The Gary-Vee Wannabe
  • The Realistic Seller
  • Mr Marketplace Dominator

So allow me to unpack each one. Hope you get a laugh out of this one!

The Constant Researcher

This is the person that is constantly looking or researching a course or opportunity. They’ll trust random comments online as opposed to viewing real student results.

They’re often looking for a reason NOT to take the leap forward. Some sort of reason to feel good at night time. Things like “But what if….?!” is a common catch-cry. These people aren’t going to invest in their knowledge, and aren’t likely to become successful Amazon sellers. You might call them tyre-kickers.

Sometimes you’ll also find them on my blog. Constantly reading the next blog post, and seeing what courses I’ve evaluated. They’re skeptical at just about everything, whilst tens of thousands of us are active in the Amazon Goldfields.

Advice for this type: eCommerce works, but it also takes a lot of work. Most courses also work. Back yourself with knowledge and get in the game already. The easiest part is buying the course.

The Eager Enthusiast

On the flip side, this person doesn’t need much convincing. They’ve got some capital and they’re keen to go. In fact, maybe a little too keen.

They’ll jump on board with a course and research. They’ll spend their days looking at products and numbers, but never really pull the pin and actually start the journey ahead. The journey starts when you’re actually making money on Amazon.

You’ll also see them at every Amazon event too. “I’m still researching!” is what you hear 2 years on. Motivational quotes are often found on their social media profiles, but limited to no results. These guys mostly want to just feel good, as opposed to do the work.

Advice for this type: Sooner or later just pick a product and get it live on Amazon. Go for something with smaller MOQs. You’ll learn 2x more from the actual process of launching a product.

Mr Everyday Excuse

These guys shit me, because there’s an excuse for everything. Their “I can’t find something profitable” translate to “I’ve done 3 minutes of research and can’t be bothered anymore” and it’s somehow the fault of a course.

Most products sold on Amazon right now are profitable, otherwise why would people be selling them? Amazon sellers aren’t charities. If it were this easy to find a profitable product, I’d be a multi-millionaire right now. I guarantee you that I’m heading in that direction, as I go way beyond what others are prepared to do.

Advice for this type: Perhaps entrepreneurship isn’t your game. It takes serious work, and you can either have results or excuses. Not both. Being lazy and pointing fingers doesn’t put money in your bank account.

The Gary-Vee Wannabe

These guys make me laugh…because I used to be this person! I still have strong work ethic, but I also value sleep. 🙂

Some people have this ‘go-all-in’ attitude and I agree with that. There shouldn’t be a Plan B with Amazon, as it distracts from Plan A.

At the same time, Amazon is still a side project for me, even with 2 businesses. It doesn’t require so much intensity, and it shouldn’t for you either. Women traditionally make better Amazon sellers, as they can launch a beautiful product that impresses customers, without so much intensity.

Advice for this type: Relax! Building an Amazon business takes several years. Yes, you’ll have to stick it out at your day job for a while, but the rewards will come eventually.

The Realistic Seller

In a perfect world, we would all be here. Setting realistic expectations is what I recommend. What does that entail? 2 to 3 years before a full time income, and 5 to 7 years for a million dollar business.

Of course, this is theory only, and there are so many variables where guarantees of success can’t be provided. Hence, the need to be realistic.

I’ve helped many people move into this realistic vision of what they can create, through some work and capital, via selling on Amazon. These traits are commonly found among the 7 figure sellers too.

Advice for this type: You’re on the right track!

Mr Marketplace Dominator

This person is a beast! It’s the type of person you fear, the one with a lot of starting capital. They’re not looking to compete with you. That’s too easy for them. They want to dominate the entire category!

They’re happy to run at break-even prices for a while to establish themselves, then it’s full steam ahead! These guys are hungry, and Amazon is their feeding machine. They laugh in the face of potential Amazon beginners such as The Researcher, The Enthusiast and Mr Excuse.

Mr Marketplace Dominator is the type of person to strive for if you’re looking for multi-million dollar success on Amazon. It requires constant product launches, listing tweaking, world-class photography, excellent reviews and amazing customer service. Often realistic sellers will offload their businesses to these folk for a 7 figure exit.

Advice for this type: Make some room at the top for one more. 😉

Moving forward

I hope you’ve found yourself here and had a good laugh. Especially those in the first 3 that quite frankly are going to struggle with Amazon, unless you change your mindset starting today.

Amazon beginners
Selling on Amazon is quite literally a GOLD MINE. Why aren’t you digging?

If you Amazon beginners need some motivation, simply throw Tom Bilyeu Motivation into YouTube and start working. This is how I maintain energy throughout the day and night. Yes, night. I work up to 14 hours everyday, with no days off. I know what I want.

I’m someone seeking Mr Marketplace Dominator level of income. Wherever you choose to aim for is up to you, as long as it’s getting you to where you need to go. If not, it’s time to put on the big pants and get to work.