Have you ever gone cliff jumping?
If you have, you’ve felt the exhilarating rush as your body soars through the air and then plummets toward the water below.
But even the most adventurous among us will take at least a quick look at their surroundings before they jump to make sure they aren’t heading face-first into deadly rocks and shallow waters.
In a sense, starting your Amazon seller journey is a little like jumping off a cliff.
It’s scary but exhilarating… and the smart ones take a minute to check their surroundings to ensure their fledgling new business doesn’t smash into the rocks shortly after take-off.
While many exuberant new sellers may hurriedly jump onto Amazon to create their Amazon Seller Account the moment they decide to pursue their most recent business idea, there are actually quite a few steps you should take before you create your account.
The clock starts ticking the moment you create your Amazon seller account and – seeing as account setup and maintenance both come with several costs – it is much better to get all your ducks in a row before formally registering your account.
There are questions you have to ask, information you need to gather, goals you must set, calculations you need to run, products you should select and source, and logistics you must work out before you set up your seller account.
Account setup should only occur when you’re ready to hit the ground running.
To help you get to this point, we’ve created the Amazon Seller’s Account Checklist – an exhaustive list of all the tasks that you should complete before you create your Amazon seller account or be prepared to execute upon creation.
1. Select the right product
It’s no mystery that the key to success on Amazon is having a quality product that people want to buy.
We recently discussed how to find your first Amazon product and everything that goes into selecting, designing, and sourcing the product that will become the base of your Amazon brand.
Before you set up your account, you should not only follow the instructions in that article but also ask a few pertinent questions about your product.
For example, is your product in a category that Amazon has gated?
Amazon restricts – or “gates” – who can sell products in certain categories.
You can apply to have your product “ungated” but this is information you should research before you create your account so that you can quickly go through the “ungating” process once your account is live.
You should also have a clear understanding of your competition. This is a standard component of the research phase of product development. Before you create your account, go back and review:
- Who is selling in your category?
- What prices are they charging and are they too low to compete or make a profit?
- How many items are your competitors selling a day?
- Does Amazon retail already sell your item? (If so, it may be best to stay away.)
You can learn more about how to stay on top of the competition from day one of your launch with our Ultimate Guide to Amazon’s Best Seller Rank.
2. Be prepared to handle inventory demands
You should be prepared to handle worst and best-case scenarios.
Amazon sellers may not think that selling all of their stock is a bad thing, but if your product sells well and you do not have a system in place to quickly restock, you could hurt your business with lengthy stockout periods.
You should establish a solid relationship with your supplier from the very beginning and ensure that you have a reliable delivery system so that any fluctuations in inventory can be met with standard operating procedures that will ensure you can fulfill inventory demands.
3. Know your business basics
As with any business, basic business sense goes a long way when it comes to making money on Amazon.
Separate your personal finances from your business finances, have a specific bank account and credit card for business use, and understand the overall cost structure of your new business.
Not all Amazon sellers understand the basics of SKU-level profitability.
Know how to calculate which products are driving profits and which are costing you money and should be discarded.
4. Get your paperwork together
The actual registration process for your seller account will require that you provide important information about your business.
Be sure to prepare this information beforehand so that it is readily available when you sit down to formally register your Amazon business, including:
- Your legal business name,
- Your business address and contact information,
- Your email address,
- A valid internationally chargeable credit card,
- A working phone number (where you can be contacted during the registration process)
- Your tax ID (either your SSN or your company’s Federal Tax ID number)
- Your state tax ID (often determined by physical presence such as company offices, warehouses/3PLs, and/or call centers).
5. To FBA or not to FBA?
Another big question to address before you create your account is how you will fulfill your orders: FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) or FBM (fulfillment by merchant).
We would strongly recommend considering FBA.
It is the most hassle-free option and, though it may cost you in fees, it will save you from having to handle many time-consuming details like packaging, shipping, and even customer support.
If you decide to use FBA, you will need to decide if you will allow your products to be co-mingled with FBA inventory from other sellers – the “stickerless” option.
If you prefer not to go this route, you will need to activate your account to become “stickered” before your first FBA shipment to Amazon.
Some sellers may find FBM to be a better option, especially if they are only selling a few items per month. If you decide to do your own fulfillment, you will need to figure out the details before you create your account and list your products.
Invest in a quality printer to create your own shipping labels, a scale for accurate product measurement and shipping calculations, and good packaging materials to ensure that products arrive in perfect conditions.
You should also determine how you will handle returns and customer service.
Will you handle the returns yourself or send them to a company that will perform the service for you? Do you have someone on your team who can handle customer service? Do you have backup if they can’t provide the service?
These are all questions that you will need to answer before you turn on your Amazon seller account or you will quickly feel like you’re heading toward the rocks and not an ocean of success.
6. Be prepared to build a successful product listing
When you open your account, you’ll want to get your product listings up as soon as possible to start making money to cover all the overhead costs you will incur by opening your account.
While you won’t have to pay until the end of your first month, you will have to pay eventually, whether or not you have made any money.
You won’t want to waste any time on creating your listing and there are several steps you can take before you open your account to ensure that the process will go quickly.
In this video we have covered the details of a powerful Amazon product listing, but here are the main points you don’t want to miss:
- Optimize for keywords on the front and back end;
- Create a powerful product title;
- Invest in impeccable images;
- Highlight product features by using bullet points;
- Create a description that sells.
7. Have a launch strategy in place
The quickest way to crash your fledgling Amazon business into the rocks is to ignore the importance of marketing and fail to create a solid launch strategy.
There are numerous ways you can successfully market your product, with discounts and coupon codes, email marketing, Amazon lightning deals, bundling, upselling and cross-selling, buy-one-get-one-free sales, and social media marketing.
You’ll want to have a plan in place before you create your account since you’ll want to list your products and start selling them as soon as possible.
Once you have begun selling, you can always adjust your strategy according to what works best for your product, but you should be prepared to launch your product to the top of Amazon’s lists from the beginning.
Account Creation Tasks:
Once you’ve put all these pieces into place, it’s time to create your account and start the ball rolling. Here are the three most important tasks to make this happen:
1. Set up your account
If you don’t know how to set up your account, you can check out our beginner’s guide to selling on Amazon where we explain the process in detail. However, the process is relatively easy, especially if you have followed all of the steps above.
The biggest choice you will face upon registering for an Amazon seller account is whether to become an Individual or Professional seller.
The Individual plan costs $0.99 per item sold while the Professional plan costs $39.99 a month. Both plans come with other fees.
If you are planning on selling more than 40 items a month, we strongly recommend selecting the Professional plan as it gives you the most bang for your buck.
2. Get familiar with Seller Central
Once your account is set up, spend some time familiarizing yourself with Seller Central – the dashboard from which you will be able to manage and list your products on Amazon.com.
There is a wealth of information and tools available on Seller Central that many sellers never utilize simply because they have not taken the time to discover them.
You will certainly be able to learn things as you go, but give yourself a boost and learn about some of the tools upfront.
For instance, Seller Central gives you access to inventory reports, current sales promotions, the replenishment alert tool we mentioned before and more. The more you know about these tools beforehand, the better you’ll be able to use them once your product listings are live.
3. Launch your product & then analyze your metrics
If you’ve set up a solid foundation before creating your account, all that’s left to do after registering your account is to hit the ground running and get your listings up so you can begin selling and following through on your launch strategy as planned.
Once you’ve begun selling your products, schedule some time at least once a week (if not more) to really dig into the different reports and resources available in Seller Central.
You can also invest in other tools that will aid you as you analyze a product’s performance. We have gathered a list of the best tools for Amazon FBA sellers that can make your life easier along the way.
There are so many metrics available to Amazon sellers to help you understand what is and is not working.
As you become familiar with and use these metrics, you will be able to make better decisions about how to improve and successfully execute many of the steps above for each new product you bring into your growing Amazon empire.
Checked it all off?