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From $0 to Your First $1000 a Month: The Step-by-Step Guide to Selling on Amazon

By on August 14th, 2018 Reading Time: 12 minutes

With the new Printful + Amazon integration you can now easily sell your products on the world’s biggest marketplace.

I know what you’re thinking:

That’s the freakin’ best thing since all-over printed t-shirts!

And you’re totally right!

With over 197 million unique visitors a month, Amazon is an ecommerce giant. In 2017 company’s net revenue was 177.87 billion U.S. dollars (106.11 billion U.S. dollars was earned in North America), and now you can get a piece of that pie, too.

However, just because your products are listed on Amazon doesn’t guarantee they’ll sell. Besides you, there are over 2 million other merchants who sell on Amazon. It means you must compete with all these sellers for shoppers’ attention.

And while that might sound like a challenge, don’t get discouraged. Today I will reveal everything you need to know to succeed on Amazon.

I will share my best kept tips and tricks, and valuable lessons I learned from selling Startup Vitamins products on the world’s largest marketplace. And I’ll show you how you too can get from making $0 to your first $1000 a month on Amazon. Step-by-step.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Choose the right products

First things first:

Once you’ve got your Amazon account up and running, the next step is choosing which products to list. You may want to be a bit picky here because not all products are made for Amazon – some products just sell much better than others.

Here are three tips for choosing the best-selling products for Amazon marketplace:

1. Choose products that are lightweight

Extra costs is the most common reason why online shoppers abandon their carts. In fact, 61% of people won’t finish their purchase if the shipping’s too high.

The heavier the product, the higher the shipping costs, and the more you risk your potential customers won’t finish their purchase.

And it gets worse:

More than a half of all Amazon shoppers, a total of 63 million people, are Amazon Prime members, and expect free shipping on all orders.

So, if you want your products to sell, make sure they are lightweight and have low shipping costs. For example, apparel is a good choice, while canvases and framed posters – not so much.

2. Choose products with the biggest profit margin

Selling on Amazon comes with some added costs. There’s the $39.99 monthly fee for Amazon’s Professional Seller Account that you must use to sell with Printful. And then there are referral fees for each of your orders. Referral fees mean that Amazon will charge you a percentage of each product sold, which is calculated from your product price and varies depending on the product category.

Because of these fees, choosing products with a low profit margin can leave you with very low or even no profit at all. So, if you’re on Amazon to actually make some money, you want to choose products that you can ideally sell with at least 50% profit.

However, you should still have a price people are willing to pay. Let me explain:

You can print a t-shirt through Printful for $13 and then easily sell it for $26 on Amazon. Because $26 is a reasonable price for a tee, and other brands on Amazon sell their tees for a similar price. Your profit would be around $8.45.

Here’s how profit is calculated (not counting in the Professional Account’s fee):

Customer pays: $26 for the shirt + approx. $4.30 for shipping = total $30.30

Amazon referral fees: 15% from $30.30 = $4.55

Your profit ($8.45) = total payment ($30.30) – referral fees ($4.55) – shipping ($4.30) – Printful production costs ($13).

Now, you might have a more difficult time with canvases:

Let’s say you want to sell 12×12 inch canvas with a 50% profit margin. Printful’s price is $30, that means your Amazon listing price would need to be $60 + shipping. And that’s where people start to have second thoughts: $60 for a 12×12 inch canvas may seem expensive, so they need more time to think before finishing a purchase.

3. Choose products that people buy again and again

When someone buys a canvas, he or she won’t probably need another one for a very long time, if ever.

On the other hand, when a person buys a t-shirt or other apparel product, he or she might want to buy another one or a new t-shirt sometime later.

So you want to choose products your customers will buy once, then come back after some time to buy them again. And again. And again. That way you’ll be making money on repeat purchases.

The best part?

75% of purchases come from repeat customers. So either on your own store or on Amazon, your loyal customers are your gold mine.

Bonus tip: Choose products that don’t break easily

Here at Printful we pack products like mugs or framed posters very carefully. And most of the time all orders arrive safe and sound.

However, between a t-shirt and a mug there’s still a bigger chance for the mug to arrive broken than the shirt, right?

So if you’re selling only t-shirts, there will be fewer returns, fewer unhappy customers who receive damaged orders, and less hassle for you when it comes to managing return requests.

But this is an additional tip for a reason:

For Startup Vitamins, mugs are the best-selling product. Mugs are also one of the products from Printful that you can sell with a good profit margin. We are able to sell our mugs for $16 + shipping, and are proof that people just love coffee mugs with awesome designs.

That being said, here’s a list of top 5 Printful products for Amazon:

  1. Apparel (t-shirts are your best bet)
  2. Embroidery (hats)
  3. Phone cases
  4. Mugs
  5. Unframed posters

Step 2: Get discovered on Amazon

When you’ve decided which products to sell, you can easily push them to Amazon from your Printful dashboard. And just before you do it, make sure to change titles and product descriptions. This is your chance to optimize the copy to get your products discovered on Amazon faster.

(P.S. You can also edit and optimize your titles and descriptions later directly on Amazon.)

Amazon ranks products based on their relevance factors like keywords in product titles and descriptions, and performance factors such as conversion rate, price and more.

While you’re just starting with Amazon and haven’t had any orders, well-written titles and product information is your best way to get found.

1. Write descriptive product names

Your product name not only tells people about your product, but it’s also the most important place to include keywords.

Amazon product names can be up to 50 characters long. This means that you can include as much relevant information (and keywords) about your product as possible.

Here’s how to write effective product names:

  1. When writing your product name, start with your most important keyword that you want it to be found for.Put simply: if you want to be found by your brand name, start your product title with your brand name. If you want to rank for ”blue t-shirt,” start your product title with ”Blue T-Shirt.”
  2. Think how customers might be searching for your product on Amazon, and include information people want and need to know about your product.

    Same thing: if your customers are searching for t-shirts by the material it’s made of, you want to include this information in your product name (e.g. 100% cotton t-shirt…).

This how Amazon suggests constructing product names:

  1. Your brand name
  2. Department (eg. mens, womens, unisex, kids)
  3. Your product name
  4. Product material or key feature (eg. 100% cotton)
  5. Product type (eg. t-shirt, hoodie, leggings etc.)
  6. Product color
  7. Product size

And here’s an example how it looks on Amazon:

descriptive product names

2.2 Write detailed (and hard-selling) product descriptions

After the product title comes the product description and key product features, or so-called bullet points. Think of your product description like your sales letter, and your key product features as your main selling points.

The truth is, most people will only read your key product features and never get to the product description since it’s placed under the fold. Besides, bullet points seem to have bigger influence on search rankings than descriptions.

detailed (and hard-selling) product descriptions

Therefore, here I’ll focus on how to write effective product bullet points that not only help you better rank on Amazon, but that also sell your product.

So, here’s how to write effective key product features:

  1. Include relevant keywords. Think of product-specific keywords you want to be found for, and include them in your bullet points. These are your main selling points, the most important features you want customers to associate your product with.
  2. Write for the customer. Remember that bullet points are more for selling the product than ranking in search, so don’t just write a line of plain keywords. Use your chance to highlight what makes your product different. I also like to think of questions and concerns customers might and include answers in my bullet points. For example, when I listed Startup Vitamins’ products on Amazon, I thought that people might have questions about their quality. Many other unknown brands are selling low-quality products, and I knew I had to the shoppers that it’s not the case with our products.

So I included specific information that shows quality:

SV_shirt_bullets

3. Use search terms thoughtfully

After you’ve added product description and bullet points, the next step is to add search terms:

using search terms

Search terms are additional product-related keywords you can add. Additional means that you should think of unique keywords and phrases that are not already used in titles, descriptions, and bullet points. Repeating the same keywords here won’t improve your results.

Here are some key things to keep in mind when filling this out:

  • One search term can be up to 1000 characters long
  • You can add up to 5 search terms
  • There’s no need to repeat words or include common misspellings – Amazon’s search engine compensates for common customer misspellings
  • Using synonyms helps
  • Word order matters, so when entering several keywords, try to group them in the most logical order (e.g. ”blue men’s t-shirt”, not ”t-shirt men’s blue”)

Putting this all together:

You want to use as many relevant keywords as possible, group them logically, and use all 1000 characters as long as your keywords don’t duplicate.

This is how it looks for one of the Startup Vitamins’ hoodies:

using search terms 2

Step 3: Sell with visuals

Amazon’s research found that images improve the shopping experience by making it easier for customers to find, evaluate, and purchase products.

When shopping online, people can’t touch products or try them on. Visual commerce, which means enriching the customer shopping experience with visual content, helps people get familiar with the product they’re about to buy.

Besides, 67% consumers say that high-quality visuals are more important than product description or customer ratings.

Here are the best practices when it comes to product visuals on Amazon:

1. Use high-quality images

Amazon requires the main product image to have a white background and be at least 1000px wide, so people can zoom in.

If you’re selling with Printful’s integration, we’re already taking care of this for you – when you push products to Amazon, we automatically generate product images that meet these requirements. And if you want to take photos of your product yourself, I’d suggest you to check Amazon guide to creating product images.

2. Add customer photos as your additional images

Customer product photos are a great way to add social proof to your product when you don’t have any reviews on Amazon yet. Studies found that people trust the opinion of peers and unbiased 3rd-parties 12x more than brands.

Moreover, it was discovered that Instagram-style user photos increase conversion rates by 25% over professional brand photos.

So, add product photos that your customers post on social media as your 3rd or 4th image. You can do it through Amazon – find the product in your inventory list, click ”Edit,” and you’ll be able to add more photos under ”Images.”

P.S. Don’t forget to add the customer’s username on the photo for authenticity and credibility.

customer photos as your additional images

Step 4: Promote your products

Now that your product copy and images are in place, you can start thinking of promoting your listings to attract more visitors. As an Amazon professional seller, you can advertise your products with Sponsored Products and Headline Search ads.

Amazon Promote products

Note: Your products have to be Buy Box eligable before you can start promoting them. It means that your products need to get purchased, shipped on time, get good reviews, etc.

What is Amazon Sponsored Products

Amazon’s Sponsored Products are keyword targeted, cost-per-click ads that highlight Buy Box eligible products on Amazon search.

Wait… what?!

Okay, let me break down this for you:

  • Keyword targeted means that you place bids on product-relevant keywords. If your bid wins and your ad matches the search, it appears in the results listing. You can add up to 1000 keywords (or use Amazon’s automatic targeting option.)
  • Cost-per-click means you pay only when someone clicks on your ad. You set the bid you’re willing to pay for one click. You are charged from your seller account when the campaign is finished, or from your credit card once a month or when you’ve reached your credit limit.
  • Buy Box eligible product means that the product has to earn the Amazon’s Buy Box. It’s important for sellers who are not creating and manufacturing their own products. 

Your ads will appear on the bottom of the first page of search results:

amazon ads showcase

And in product detail pages:

amazon ads showcase 2

What is Amazon Headline Search Ads

Headline Search Ads, too, are targeted by keyword, and operate on a cost-per-click basis. These ads are shown to anyone who searches for products with exact or similar keywords that are also used in the ads by the sellers. 

Headline Search Ads are targeted at shoppers who use search to discover products on Amazon. Your ads are shown at top of the search results page, and can include:

  • a brand logo or other featured image
  • a custom message with up to 50 characters
  • up to three distinct products

Amazon Headline Search Example

If a customer clicks on the logo or headline of your ad, he or she is redirected to a custom page where three or more product listings of your choice are featured. And if shoppers click on a specific product displayed on your ad – they’re taken to a detailed product page.

Pro tip: Advertising on Amazon is not the only way you can promote your products – you can also drive outside traffic to your Amazon listings. Experiment with Facebook Ads and Google AdWords that link to your products on Amazon, or promote your products on blogs, forums, and other places.

Step 5: Take care of your customers

Now that your products are listed and you’re driving traffic with Amazon Sponsored Products Ads, and other marketing tactics, receiving your first order is a matter of time.

But it doesn’t mean your work is over. To be a successful seller, you’ve got to take care of your customers and keep up with Amazon’s performance requirements.

In short, here’s what you should keep your eye on:

1. Buyer messages

All messages, as well as return requests, must be answered within 24 hours. The late response rate can’t exceed 10%.

2. Late shipment rate

The late shipment rate can’t exceed 4%. For all products pushed through Printful’s integration, the default production time is 6 days so we have time to fulfill and ship orders in time. We don’t suggest changing that, because we can’t guarantee that we can fulfill products faster.

3. Customer reviews

Nearly 70% of online consumers look at a product review prior to making a purchase. So keep an eye on your product reviews because they can make or break your business.

If you see customers leaving negative reviews, find out why. Make sure your product descriptions are accurate, and people are not expecting something different from your product. Contact Printful support if there are reviews about quality – if it’s something we can fix, we’ll do it. If you keep receiving bad reviews, it might be a good idea to discontinue that product on Amazon.

Make sure to read our recent blog post that goes over tips on how to keep up with the Amazon requirements, manage your customer support, and more.

Why is your performance important at all?

Amazon cares about their customers, and that’s why people trust shopping there. To make sure this trust is lasting, Amazon punishes sellers who don’t meet their performance requirements.

The worst punishment you can receive is your account being blocked. (We went through this once, and believe me – you don’t want to be there!)

When your account gets blocked, you will first need to prepare a step-by-step plan how you will address this issue, and what you’re about to do to improve your performance results. Then, you’ll need to contact Amazon, and they’ll decide whether or not they’ll unblock your account.

For us, it took an entire month to unblock our Amazon account. So you better keep an extra eye on your performance results.

Final words: Be patient!

For most sellers, success on Amazon doesn’t come overnight. It takes patience and time, from one day to a month and longer to make the first sale. But don’t get discouraged, keep optimizing your listings and experiment with ads and new keywords.

”But what if I’ve tried everything, but my product just doesn’t sell?”

Break the rules.

Lower your price as long as you stay profitable. Test other products, like posters that people might only buy once. Just because something didn’t work for Startup Vitamins doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.  When you find out what works and what doesn’t work for your brand, come back to this article, and share your experience in the comments!

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    1. Giedrė Kronberga

      Hi Nigel. You can sell on Amazon even if you don’t have a bank account in the United States. Amazon supports bank accounts from many different countries, including Germany, Hong Kong, Canada, and many more.

  1. Marksilvester

    Oh! What a great piece of information, thank you so much Krista Krumina you have literally explained each and everything making it absolutely clear. The article is written in a manner that it seems as if it is written to make things clear and not just be reading.
    Thank you for such an informational article, looking forward to reading more of your work.

    1. Giedrė Kronberga

      Hi Niki! You need to apply for GTIN exemption if you want to sell Printful products on Amazon. That’s because Printful products are unique and they don’t have GTIN. The application is one of the steps in Printful’s Amazon integration, so if you don’t have this already it’ll get done during our setup process.

  2. Dror

    Hi. Can you reference here some amazon links for sellers who integrate their printful account? Just to see some real life examples …

    Thanks

  3. TJ

    Hi,

    Thanks for your useful article. About advertising on Amazon for newbies, Which advertising method do you suggest “Sponsored Products” or ” Headline Search Ads” ?

    Thanks

  4. Spas

    Hey there! Nice post. May I ask if a seller needs to print the product and ship it to an amazon warehouse or you can order the product when you get the order from your buyer and then start printing it and ship it without going throu amazon warehouse etc?

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