Selling on Amazon: everything you need to know!

Amazon logo

You can buy pretty much anything on Amazon, and have it delivered the next day, but you can also sell items on Amazon. It works in a similar way to eBay but there are distinct differences, primarily not having the option to sell in an auction. If you’ve got a collection of goods to sell, it’s worth swatting up on the tips and tricks for selling on Amazon. Here we look at everything you need to know including how it works, the charges for selling on Amazon, and a step-by-step guide to get you started.

How selling on Amazon works

Amazon has grown massively in the last few years and in lockdown many relied on it to order next-day items when the supermarkets were running low. There are around 300 million members worldwide and 150 million have signed up for Amazon Prime, which allows them next-day delivery in return for an annual fee.

It sells pretty much everything you can think of, from books, toys, and clothes, to food, furniture, and freezers. 

Crucially, individual sellers - as well as companies - can also sell items on Amazon. 

There are different options for sellers, from paying a fee for each item you sell, to monthly plans. You’ll also be able to sell across Europe if you want to, although you do need to keep on top of tax rules and costs as these vary depending on where you selling to.

So, whatever it is you’re looking to shift, here we answer some of the most common questions and list our top tips for selling on Amazon.

Amazon on phone
Source: Christian Wiediger / Unsplash.

Explained: How Amazon fees work

First things first, let’s look at how much the selling on Amazon fees are. 

There is one big choice to make - whether to use pay-as-you-go, or a monthly subscription.

  • Selling on Amazon Pay-as-you-go

    This lets sellers list items one at a time and no fees are due unless the item sells. If it does sell, you will be charged 75p by Amazon per order, excluding VAT costs if they are applied.

  • An Amazon selling monthly subscription

    You can also opt to pay a monthly subscription of £25 for a professional account if you have more items to sell. Here, you pay the monthly cost no matter how much you sell (or don’t sell).

There is a pretty simple calculation here. If you think you’ll sell fewer than 34 items per month, then Pay-as-you-go works out cheaper. If you sell more, it would be more efficient to pay the £25 subscription (but slightly riskier, as you’d still pay it if you sold far fewer items)

On top of these charges, there are a couple more fees payable regardless of which route you choose.

  • Referral fees

    Every item attracts this fee. It is usually around 15% of the total selling price, although the exact cost depends on what you are selling. For example, for beauty items the referral fee is 8% when the price is up to £10, and 15% for products that sell for more than £10.

  • Closing fees

    Every item sold that falls into the media category - books, music, DVDs, video games or software - also face a £1 closing fee.

Everything you need to know about selling on Amazon

Before you get going, familiarise yourself with how selling something on Amazon works, and how it differs to other sites such as eBay.

  • The words you use are as important as what you sell

    The ‘product title’ or what you decide to call the item you are selling is really important. This is because it not only is the first thing potential buyers will see, it is also searchable. This means if you have lots of keywords in your title, it will be pushed up higher when people search for it online increasing the chances of it being seen and bought.

    You have a 200-character limit, but Amazon suggests only using 60. It says the title should be as close to the description on the physical packaging as possible.

  • Pick your photos wisely

    You’re only allowed six photos per Amazon listing so make sure they are well-lit and clearly show the item you’re selling. Show all sides of your item, including close-up details of packaging or unique identifying numbers or symbols.  If there are any damages or faults – make sure you show these too.

  • Be careful when selling valuables

    If you make a sale on Amazon for something valuable, such as a mobile phone, make sure you take photos of the product before it’s sent and record any details of it.

    Our member Gogosteve said: “Be aware of the buyer claiming item not as described and sending you back their broken phone. 

    “Record the IMEI number before you send it and take detailed photos of the exact condition it was in as sold.”

  • Time your sales to get max traffic

    Throughout the year Amazon has special sales days - such as Amazon Prime Day. There were $3.5 billion reported sales by third-party businesses during ‘Prime Day’ in 2020. On these days traffic to the site increases so you may have more chance of your items being sold if they are listed during these events.

  • Don’t forget to add search terms

    You can add search terms to the items you sell and these should only be generic words and not words like brand names. If you’re selling headphones, for example, you should use search terms like ‘earphones’ or ‘earbuds’ instead of ‘Bose’ to make it easier for buyers to find your item.

  • Delivery rates are set for you by Amazon

    Unlike with eBay, Amazon sets the delivery charges for you, based on where the item is going, what it is, and how you want it sent.

    You can then decide to either add these costs onto the price for the buyer or choose to offer free delivery.

  • You set a minimum and maximum price

    When you list an item, you set the minimum and maximum price you want it to be sold for. You can change this, and you’ll also be shown what other sellers are pricing similar items at.

    It’s worth being aware that only competitively priced items get the ‘Buy Box’ added to the page by Amazon - a quick option to purchase which can help you boost sales. It seems to be a bit more art than science working out how to get one.

  • Trade in old products for credit

    There’s also the option of trading-in older items in return for an Amazon discount off another purchase. Our member, Spyke 3003, says: “After I put details in of my trade-in product and accepted the terms I went to check out where they applied the 20% discount and told me I had a certain amount of time to send in my old tablet. Once they received my tablet they emailed me a gift card for the amount offered.”

How to start selling on Amazon

There are different ways of selling on Amazon if you have an individual or a professional account. The professional account, for those selling more items on a regular basis, also gives you access to extra selling tools. Amazon’s ‘Selling University’ is a series of videos to help you when listing your first item or setting up a company selling account.

Selling on Amazon FAQs

How does selling on Amazon work?

You can use the website or free app to sell on Amazon and you can list individual items for free or pay a monthly subscription if you have more to sell. There are lots of charges though, including a flat-fee for selling something and a referral fee which is a percentage of the overall price.

Is selling on Amazon free?

Can selling on Amazon be profitable?

Is it better to sell items on Amazon or eBay?

Will I pay tax on goods sold on Amazon?