Beginner’s Guide To Selling On Amazon FBA

When I first started looking for ways to take charge of my own schedule, I looked into all the nontraditional work arrangements: work from home, virtual office and part time work.  None of them provides the flexibility I needed to take care of my son when I needed to.
I then turned my attention to starting an online business.  I searched everything on the internet, blogging, niche sites, internet marketing, affiliate marketing….  All these seemed very confusing and more importantly, it would take quite a while before I would see the cash!
That didn’t give me any comfort to leave my steady paychecks any time soon.
I never thought of selling any physical products online.
With fate I received an email offering a course on selling on Amazon and how Amazon is a cash machine!  I was so intrigued by the business and the potential that I signed up for the course after the pre-launch webinars.
I have always been very skeptical and not easily bought by testimonials.  But the Amazon business is such a realistic and viable business model, I was sold and the rest is history.
I started my very own Amazon FBA business and successfully built my private label brand and have never look back.
I can now be home when my son gets off from school and support him with homework and other therapies early in the afternoon!
If I have to do it all over again as a newbie selling on Amazon, I will definitely do it differently with a different approach.
So here, my fellow special needs working mom (or working moms) I want to spare you the troubles and time to look for a viable solution and take charge of your schedule as soon as a possible.  And so I have put together this beginner’s guide for you.

What is “Selling on Amazon”?

Yahoo Finance, January 25, 2017

Some background information on Amazon before we get started so that you understand the power of selling on Amazon.
Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the world, has the most sophisticated logistics channel and keeps on innovating.
Per Yahoo Finance January 25, 2017 article, Amazon is “now worth more than the top eight traditional brick-and-mortar retailers combined” based on Credit Suisse research.
Pioneered Prime Shopping, Amazon successfully re-shaped customers behavior and nurtured a very loyal customer base and keeps growing.  Customers will simply pay more to purchase on Prime due to its 2 day or less Prime delivery and no grief customer service.
Amazon can be viewed as a gigantic shopping platform and engine where on average there are 183 million visitors per month.  More and more shoppers start their online shopping searches on Amazon (55% for Sep 2016) than Google, 25% increase from previous year according to Bloomreach.
So you see, Amazon is just one gigantic piece of pie and keeps growing.

How To Sell On Amazon

Now that you know how big and attractive Amazon is, you ask, how do you sell on Amazon?
There are 2 parts to the response to this question.
2 Types of Sellers on Amazon
Basically there are 2 types of third party sellers on Amazon:  Fulfillment By Amazon and Fulfillment By Merchant.
What is third party sellers?  That is any merchant selling on Amazon but not Amazon itself.
Fulfillment by Merchant or FBM for short is the type of merchant who uses Amazon as a platform to sell to online shoppers.  When a shopper buys from a FBM seller product listing, Amazon notifies the seller and the FBM seller has to fulfill or ship the product to the customer.  Any issue with the shipment, lost or delay will be handled by the FBM seller.
On the other hand, Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA, the seller ships the inventory to a FBA warehouse and doesn’t have to deal with the fulfillment of the product to the customer or any issues with the shipment.  When a customer buys from a FBA seller, Amazon takes care of the whole fulfillment process and customer service related to the shipment.
As a FBA seller you don’t see or touch the product again after you send the inventory into FBA warehouse.
Not only for this, there are numerous advantages selling FBA over FBM.
The big one is eligibility to Prime listing which means better pricing.  Amazon also has preferential treatment to FBA sellers such as access to various Amazon sponsored marketing and promotional campaigns.
Nevertheless, both types of sellers get paid on a bi-weekly basis.  This is the reason why Amazon business can be a cash machine.  There is no waiting or terms, every other week you get paid on the immediate 2 weeks sales.
Where can you find a business with such a quick turnover in cash and unimaginable volume capacity?
4 Types of Business Models
The 4 types of business models for third party sellers are: private label, wholesale, online arbitrage and retail arbitrage.

  • Private Label

Private label no doubt is the most involved, lucrative and hardest of the four but it is also the most protected because you own the brand.  There is much involved including capital and marketing effort because the brand is built from scratch.
Basically you source the product either from a manufacturer or a supplier, packaged and market it with your own brand name and sell it directly on Amazon.

  • Wholesale

With the wholesale model, you purchase the products from a manufacturer or distributor and then sell them on Amazon.  The main advantage of this model is the price as you buy directly from the source.  If the product is a well known brand, there may be little marketing effort needed to sell on Amazon.

  • Online Arbitrage

Online Arbitrage or OA sounds like a fancy name. What it actually means is you buy low online and sell high on Amazon.  The way it works is that you find a good deal online (clearance or not) for a product and the selling price for the same product is selling much higher on Amazon.  So you purchase the items elsewhere at a great discount, ship to Amazon warehouse and sell them for a profit.

  • Retail Arbitrage

Retail Arbitrage or RA is very similar to Online Arbitrage where you buy low and sell high.  The only difference is that you physically go to a retail store buy an item at big discount and then sell high on Amazon to make profit.
Of all 4 of the business models, Retail Arbitrage is the easiest for entry.  There is no minimum to buy and no other parties to deal with during the source to market process.  You buy what you can afford from a store and ship them to Amazon to sell.

Educate Yourself

Now that you know the different types of sellers and business models selling on Amazon, arm yourself with more basic knowledge and technical details.
There are literally hundreds of free and paid resources on the topic of selling on Amazon on the internet.  These may be blogs, websites, podcasts, facebook groups, video courses, or coaching.
How do you decipher all the information out there to get the most appropriate information that suits your need and situation?
I recommend subscribe to a few blogs or podcasts on this topic first.  This way you get a feel of what the buzz and the industry are about and then decide on which business model to pursue and whether if you get enough free information to get started or you need a paid course.
Personally, I will stay away from any high pressure, now or never sales pitch courses.  Amazon is still booming and selling on Amazon is really a viable business and no need to jump in in a haste.  But as with any business or venture, you need to know what you are getting into, what it takes to be successful and what kind of resources like time and money before going all in.
When you decide you are ready for the paid course to follow some proven processes, I recommend those that have a solid sizable community whose members support each other.
Another important factor to consider is whether the instructor or group are willing to share real practical strategies or tips in addition to a refund policy.

Have a Plan

The next step once you have the basic information and technical details under your belt is to have a plan of action.
A lot of people including myself skip this step in the beginning.  Without a plan, it is much more difficult to stay focus, know your direction and achieve your goal.  Your goal, my dear special needs working mom, is to be on your own schedule and be your own boss.
A good well thought out plan will guide you what important activities you should concentrate on to achieve your goals.
As a mompreneur, we are bombarded by so much information and different strategies every day.  Without a plan, you will easily find yourself spreading too thin, treading water and not moving forward.
The Amazon FBA model is very doable and scalable but it requires consistent focus effort.  So having a plan with clear measurable and quantifiable goals and achievable short term goals will guide you through the process.  With such a plan you will know when you are ready to leave your rigid schedule and call your hours.
I think this topic deserves a future post on its own.

Take Action

I can’t stress enough why taking action is so important.  Without action, you can’t see results and achieve your goals.
This may seem obvious at first but too many times I see other people and including myself get stuck in the stage of analysis or trying to be perfect.
This may sound familiar.  I want to gather all the information first.  I want to know all the available options.  I want to get it perfect so that I don’t need to come back and tweak it.
The truth is you can never be perfect and there are far too many factors that are out of your control.
Another important factor that I personally experience which slows action is the transition from employee to entrepreneur mindset – the fear factor of getting it wrong or losing money.
However, if you have done what I recommend above, educate yourself and have a plan, the fear factor should be minimal.  The most you can lose is time and very limited money.
On the other hand, the only way to be successful selling on Amazon or as an entrepreneur is to take consistent action and adjust your course along the way.  There will be many tasks you haven’t done before but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
It is the fear of doing new things or venturing into the unknown that hold us back.  That is why it is very crucial to educate yourself and join a community of fellow entrepreneurs who cares and supports each other.  This way you won’t feel alone and have the support from others who are ahead, behind or at the same stage as you.

Final Thoughts

I started with an expensive course to do private label on Amazon.  It was a tough journey for a newbie but I persevere and now I own a successful brand on Amazon.  If I did what I told you above I would have achieved my goal to take charge of my own hours much sooner.
My advice to you is to take the steps above and start with RA.  This has the least risk and you will learn all the basics of selling on Amazon through the motions fairly quickly.
With the consistent action and a plan, you can map out the timing of owning your hours and be there for your kid when you need to.
Some free resources I recommend on this topic:

Good luck and let me know how you do! 

7 thoughts to “Beginner’s Guide To Selling On Amazon FBA”

  1. I love FBA! You are so right – selling on Amazon is a great business model for special needs moms (and others). It’s flexible and you can start with very little money and as much or as little time as you can manage. Congratulations on your success. 🙂

  2. Thank you Shirley for starting this blog and sharing your experiences. I am soon to be an empty nest mom, and looking for new ventures to get involved in. You success story is encouraging me to try this business. Congratulations! Hope to learn more from you, Shifu!

    1. Hey Cathy,

      That’s awesome!! Can’t wait to share more with you and other moms! Please subscribe to my blog to get updates on new posts. Excited to get connected again! =)

    1. Hi Maggie,

      Thanks for dropping by and this means so much to me. Please subscribe to get the latest updates and posts from my blog.


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