Selling on Amazon?
June 16, 2010 12:06 PM   Subscribe

How to be successful as a professional Amazon merchant and how to limit one's risk?

How to successful as a professional Amazon merchant and how to limit risk when one’s business operates in a single sales channel?

I’m interested in importing products for resale on

I’m not sure if it’s true, but I have heard some seller complaints about having their accounts suspended inexplicably when their volume gets beyond a certain point. There's also the risk having one's reputation damaged due to bad feedback from a competitor or one angry customer.

1. What can you tell me about how to be successful as a professional Amazon merchant?

2. How I can protect myself against the inherent risks of having one’s livelihood resting on a single sales platform? What would you suggest as ways to limit this risk or branch out beyond Amazon? (I used to sell on ebay too but I haven’t been very impressed by the percentage of auctions that have been resulting in sales.)

3. What products do you like to buy online? Are there any hard to find items that you’ve been looking for or would like to see listed that you don’t see currently?
posted by mintchip to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
3. I tend to buy beauty supplies on Amazon that are hard to find locally. I know that it's a truism among a lot of women that as soon as you find a product you love, the store stops selling it. So if I can't find it around town, I look for it online, and Amazon is usually my first stop.

Since you're looking to import, maybe you could find beauty products that women from other cultures used in their home countries, but can't find where they're living now?
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:29 PM on June 16, 2010

I've never sold volume on Amazon, but sold a number of used books on there. The drawback of Amazon that I found as a sales platform was that it doesn't really encourage positive feedback enough, so though I sold many items to happy customers, the one complaint I received made it look like I'd only pleased 3 out of 4, and I found it much harder to sell after that. I don't know that there's much risk limiting you can do, besides not maintaining a large inventory, so if something does go wrong you aren't stuck with a great deal of merchandise.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:46 PM on June 16, 2010

I am a merchant on far I've gotten 10 positive feedbacks and a negative one...out of 200 total sales. That one negative for some reason makes my store look really bad though I still have a mostly positive rating. My advice:

1) Make sure that the item description is underwhelming. Never exaggerate and try to be as exact as possible. The one negative rating I had was due to a "new book" that to the customer didnt appear "new".

2) Ship on time and develop a relationship with the post office.

3) That is all. Selling on amazon is extremely easy but unless you are selling at a extremely high volume you wont be able to make a living.

memail me if you have any questions.
posted by The1andonly at 1:29 PM on June 16, 2010

As someone who frequently buys from Amazon merchants, I'd say:
1. Ship on time.
2. Package intelligently (I feel insensibly irritated at shippers who use a lot of styrofoam)
3. If the item contains instructions in a foreign language, a slip with translated instructions would be incredibly helpful -- I would certainly go back to the store of such an importer.

As to products, I was just today looking for Italian chicken bouillon cubes (and came to MF looking for information on them, actually). Foreign markets often have reformulated versions of things like instant coffee or soup that are tougher to find in the US than the weird stuff, just because there are so many local substitutes. I love the Nescafe they sell in Europe, and can't stand the stuff they sell here. But pay attention to expiration dates!

I once got a short list from a book seller saying, "Hey, if you like this book, we also have this, this, and this by this author." Not sure if that's actually allowed, but I thought it was a nice touch.
posted by Dolohov at 5:12 PM on June 16, 2010

To address your concerns about the risk of putting all of your sales on Amazon, you could try other Marketplaces such as Marketplace at Disclaimer is that I work for Sears, but I am not a salesperson. Here is a link to more information and where you can sign up and start selling on their Seller Portal . They've just recently launched this so sales will not likely be as robust as Amazon - yet - but they get a lot of traffic (more than Walmart) and it's likely this will grow, and it seems very good for the vendors who are selling. Good Luck!
posted by j810c at 8:51 PM on June 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

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