Amazon dominates the online market and businesses of all sizes find success selling their products through Amazon’s platform. Amazon’s range of inventory is so large that it can be hard for aspiring sellers to know how to start. That’s why we’ve reached out to the experts to bring you their best advice on what to sell on Amazon and how to make your product a success.
Before we dive into how to find the right product that will sell well on Amazon, it should be noted that we recommend you diversify the platforms your ecommerce store is on. Amazon is great, but they’re in complete control of your store, and their rules can change at any time. There is no harm in building your own ecommerce store while you sell on Amazon. We recommend trying Shopify free for 14 days to see if it’s the right ecommerce platform for you.
What to Sell on Amazon: Top 5 Traits of Amazon Bestsellers
Amazon is quickly becoming a marketplace where consumers can buy everything from appliances to entertainment. You can even now use Amazon to sell professional services like consulting or cleaning.
Based on our research, we’ve come up with five qualities anyone developing a product for Amazon should look to develop in their own Amazon products
1. Size Matters
Since Amazon is a complex marketplace with a lot of competition it can be tempting to go big or go home, but frequently smaller, simpler products are a true recipe for success. Cody Holmes, Marketing Project Officer for Sterling Marking Products, explains why: “We sell our custom stamps on Amazon. We’ve found that items with low purchase involvement, lower costs and physically smaller in size perform the best on Amazon. You wouldn’t buy a car on amazon, you’d do your research and visit a dealership, but you would buy a stamp.
“People are often still weary of making big purchases with their credit cards online. With the shipping costs a smaller item provides, customers the best bang for their buck. The low purchase involvement means they are simple products with simple usages.”
Most Amazon consumers aren’t looking to spend hundreds of dollars on complex machinery or furniture, they’re looking for something relatively small and cheap, like stamps or books. Amazon started as an online bookstore after all. This is a good thing, since smaller, simpler products can make it easier to make a profit.
Small, easy to manufacture products also make it more likely you will be able to make a profit. Steve Wimmer, Senior Marketing Manager with TriNova, explains why: “If you’re interested in getting started – my best advice is to pick something lightweight (under 1lb) in the $15 range or heavier/bigger in the $50 range. Amazon charges higher fees for bigger, heavier items and you want to make sure you’re able to profit.”
A $15-$50 window represents a sweet spot for Amazon shipping, and most consumers price ranges. You want to make sure you’re able to make a profit on every product you manufacture and sell. Ideally producing your product and putting it in customer’s hands will only take 25%-35% of the selling price. One of the reasons why selling digital products like e-books is so popular is because there are less expenses involved with them than there are with physical products.
Shea Drake, B2B Business Analyst at Verizon, recommends: “A product that has several options/variations. People like options, but not too many options. 3-5 is best.” Giving customers options, like colors and sizes, gives them further opportunity to take ownership of their purchase and increases satisfaction, but to many options can be overwhelming. Save extremely customizible services for e-commerce platforms outside of Amazon.
In some cases shipping options are as important as variety within the product itself. Drake also recommends making sure you’ll able to ship with Amazon Prime. Customers appreciate 2-day shipping.
Drake also wisely told us “This is not necessarily a product trait,but a product listing trait. Be detailed in giving dimensions, weight, all the info you can about a product. Think of every potential question someone might have and answer that question. Too many sellers on Amazon don’t do this!”
Many of your Amazon sales will begin with your product page, and customers will be more enticed if it’s detailed and informative. Consumers will be more likely to be satisfied with your product if you make sure they’re provided with an accurate description of what they’re getting, and a descriptive, well-written product page will set you apart from at least some of the competition. You can also take the opportunity to fill the copy on your store page with SEO keywords to increase traffic.
“Can you grow a brand in the future? Base your business on a theme.. is it fitness? Home décor? Find your niche and group products around this.” Sean Allen, Digital Marketing Manager at Aware, raises a good question. One solid product is one thing, but your small business will be more successful selling products on Amazon, and elsewhere, if you offer a range of complimentary products.
Offering a variety of items that go well together, be they activewear or kitchenware, will not only give shoppers the opportunity to find and purchase what they’re looking for, but also make it more likely for them to make multiple purchases and recommend or return to your brand in the future.
Examples of What to Sell on Amazon
Here are the stories of three entrepreneurs who found success selling some very different products on Amazon.
1. Shippers Supplies
“We have been very successful with our Heavy Duty Pickup Truck Load Bar. It has been so successful due to the gap in the market in general, especially with the listings on Amazon. It definitely stands out from the competition in quality and value.”
-Dustin Montgomery, Digital Marketing Specialist at Shippers Supplies
2. Alina Adams – Author
“Applying a child to Kindergarten in NYC is a full-time job – and I did it three times!
“As a result, other parents started coming to me for advice. So I gave out advice. Then they invited other parents, and it turned into a workshop. Preschools began offering to pay me to give a workshop. And parents at those workshops begged me to write a book so they could have all my information in one place.
“April 2016, I published the book they’d been clamoring for, Getting Into NYC Kindergarten, selling it via Amazon. The book promotes the most lucrative part of my business, private consults for parents, while my open to the public workshops promote the book, and so on and so on.
“The reason I think my small business has been successful is because everything is interconnected, one product promotes and compliments another, with the book, priced at a reasonable $9.99, often being the primary entry point.
“Its success has promoted me to add a second title, Getting Into NYC High-School.”
–Alina Adams, Author
3. 10 Bucks A Room
“Although we do not sell products on Amazon, we do sell our services. The company I work for is 10BUCKSAROOM.com Professional Cleaning Company based in East Brunswick NJ. Amazon Business is an amazing way to get more business without us doing all the legwork. Amazon does everything for us, like ask us if we want to take certain jobs, gather customer info, receive payment and even finalize the job for us.
We would have never been able to reach many Amazon customers if it were not for the Services portion of Amazon. I highly recommend that any small business should put themselves on Amazon. With 65 million Prime users, it’s no wonder that Amazon is easily becoming a giant and a preferred method of shopping, even for services.”
-Aziza Hana, Office Manager with 10bucksaroom.com
Working with Amazon is not the only e-commerce option available to small businesses. You can also set up your own website using a variety of platforms and programs like Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce. In fact, even if you’re selling products on Amazon it’s a good idea to have your own e-commerce website too as it will widen the reach of your brand.
We recommend Shopify for most small businesses looking to break into e-commerce because their comprehensive yet easy to use interface and excellent customer support make them a great fit for beginners as well as e-commerce savvy business owners. You can start a 14-day free trial with Shopify today.
The Smart Hack
Amazon is the biggest e-commerce website in the world, and it can take a bit of work for small businesses to excel there. Still, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying, especially if you build your own e-commerce website as well.
Now that you know the qualities of what will sell on Amazon, it’s important to start your own store as well. Amazon is a great platform to sell on, but it can change at any time. As an ecommerce store, you should diversify your income and the platforms that income is coming from. We recommend using Shopify to start your store on, which you can try free for 14 days.