With nearly 50% of U.S. internet users starting their product searches on Amazon in 2018 (compared to just 35% who started on Google), it’s no wonder you want to sell a product on one of the internet’s most profitable sites.
But the wide assortment of products available on Amazon likely makes you apprehensive. Amazon sells over 12 million products — which products in particular are most likely to provide you with a high ROI? Clothing? Kitchen items? Cat-shaped socks … ?
Fortunately, choosing what to sell on Amazon, and how to sell it, isn’t as hard as you might think. In fact, most of your research can be done for free on the site itself.
To ensure you choose a low-risk, high-return product to sell on Amazon, we’ve created this guide — keep reading to learn about top selling items, what you should sell, and how to conduct research to ensure whatever you’re selling is a safe bet on the e-commerce giant.
First, for inspiration, let’s take a look at some of the top-selling products on Amazon.
Amazon itself curates a list of current best-sellers, ranging from toys to books to video games — and the list is updated hourly. Here are some of the top picks of the moment:
Books is an incredibly popular category on Amazon, particularly as physical book chains continue to go out of business. You’ll find new releases and best-sellers, as well as older classics, all typically on sale for less than $20. As a seller, books is a viable option because you can typically buy them in bulk and then sell them on Amazon for an impressive profit.
From exercise clothing to sunglasses to jewelry, the Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry category is undoubtedly a popular one — but it’s also oversaturated with items, so it’s critical you ensure you’re able to offer something unique, and for a good price. People don’t turn to Amazon for expensive brand items — instead, they look for the discounts. Right now, the top items are all below $17, and include a basic sleeveless tank top, blue-light blocking glasses, and high-waisted leggings in a range of 25 colors.
Electronics is another category on Amazon that displays impressive prices on some of the world’s most popular electronics, including a Fire TV Stick and an Echo Dot speaker with Alexa (both for under $50). Again, this is a promising category if you’re able to buy electronics in bulk.
You might be surprised with the lack of sophistication of some of the top-selling games on Amazon — the third best-selling item, for instance, is a simple $6 deck of Monopoly Deal cards. Toys typically do well if they’re already popular, or if they’re offered in bulk — Play-Doh, for instance, is on the top-selling list in a 10-pack.
Along with individual items, you’ll also want to examine which categories perform best on Amazon. Here are three popular categories sold on Amazon and the Marketplace, in order of popularity:
Of course, like anything, the more popular the product category, the more intense the competition. It’s important you find your niche to ensure you’re not competing with the 300,000 other search results for “white t shirt”.
To narrow down your options, let’s explore how to know what to sell on Amazon.
It’s important to note, you’ll want to do your research on shipping costs and Amazon seller fees, so you know how much you’ll need to spend depending on your item. This information can help you narrow your decision — for instance, a two-to-three pound item will be lightweight and easy to ship, which can help lower your shipping fees.
Along with weight, you’ll want to consider products that aren’t easily breakable when you’re transporting them.
Additionally, most products on Amazon vary between $10 and $50 — so you’ll want to choose items you can sell for relatively cheap, while still making a profit.
Once you’ve determined you’re willing to pay shipping costs — and that your product likely falls within a fair price range — here are five ways to figure out what to sell on Amazon:
To manually research popular products on Amazon — which can help you decide which product you want to sell — you’ll want to start with Amazon’s best-selling items in a certain category. Ideally, once you explore a category, and sub-categories, you’ll narrow down on a niche.
When you check out Amazon’s best-sellers list, you might also look at the “Customers also bought” section to get ideas for similar products.
Once you make a list of items, check Google keyword planner to see whether those products have search volume, which indicates a level of demand. Alternatively, you could use Sellerapp’s product intelligence tool specifically for Amazon. Sellerapp offers a seven-day free trial, which allows you to begin investigating popular products on Amazon via keywords to further narrow your list.
There are two popular chrome extensions to help you conduct keyword research on Amazon — Jungle Scout, which shows you monthly sales volumes on products, displays products with low competition, and allows you to save products to track them over time. Undoubtedly, Jungle Scout’s analytics can help you quickly and efficiently narrow down on a product or an industry in which you could excel. However, Jungle Scout is relatively pricey, particularly if you’re just starting out.
Unicorn Smasher is Jungle Scout’s free alternative — while the data isn’t as accurate as Jungle Scout, and it lacks some of Jungle Scout’s sophisticated features, it’s nonetheless a helpful free option to gather estimated monthly sales and estimated monthly sales revenue for Amazon products.
You might come across a gap on Amazon through simple organic search — for instance, when I search “women leggings” there are over 100,000 results, but when I search “cycling leggings women pink” there are only 1,000.
This is a simplified example, but sometimes you need to narrow down your product search to find a place to make an impact on Amazon. Plenty of people are already selling leggings, but there might be a certain style, color, or type of legging that is missing on the site.
Alternatively, you can find a gap in the market by reading customer reviews in your product market niche. Even if there are plenty of products similar to yours already, you might find that customers are unsatisfied by the current brands and want something you can provide.
If you’re trying to sell a product that currently has 100,000 search results, it’s likely going to be very difficult to stand out against the competition and achieve the sales you want. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to find a niche within a larger market that has less competition, which ensures your product is more easily found by searchers — best of all, those searchers are likely more willing to buy your product, since they needed to search a more specific keyword.
For instance, let’s say you want to sell cookbooks. “Cookbooks”, as a search term, has over 70,000 results.
Alternatively, the search term “Cookbooks for instant pot cooking” has only 3,000 results. Not only is your product more likely to become a best-seller in this category, but it’s a more targeted keyword — if someone searches “Cookbooks” they could mean anything from “Kids cookbooks” to “Holidays cookbook”. If someone searches “Cookbooks for instant pot cooking”, however, they’re more likely to be satisfied with your product.
Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank (BSR) reflects both recent and historical sales of an item — so a high BSR indicates that the product is in-demand, which is critical. However, if you find just one product in a category has high BSR, and none of the other items are best-sellers, it’s not a good sign.
For instance, let’s say you want to sell sports products, but you find “soccer balls” has only one item with a high BSR. Upon further research, you find “basketballs” as a category has multiple best-selling products on the first page.
This is a good sign — it means there isn’t one “best” product, and demonstrates a user’s willingness to peruse different products before choosing one.
Ultimately, you want to see that a product has high BSR because it signifies a demand for that product — but you also want to see multiple items with high BSR in that category, which tells you that there’s still room for your product to succeed, as well.
Undoubtedly, you can obtain an impressive profit from selling products on Amazon — but it’s critical you’re able to offer unique, budget-friendly products with minimal competition to truly succeed on the site.
Over-saturation on the platform proves it’s more difficult than ever to stand out, so it’s not smart to sell on Amazon for the sake of selling on Amazon. Instead, you want to ensure you’re truly able to offer something of value.
If you have a product in mind, follow the tips above to refine your strategy and find a niche segment within a larger demographic. If you don’t have a product in mind, start with the basics — what are the most-searched keywords on Amazon, and which products are most successful?
Once you have a list based on keyword research, consider similar products the user might find more compelling or useful than the ones currently listed on Amazon.
Amazon offers two selling plans — Professional and Individual. The Professional selling plan costs $39.99 per month, plus per-item selling fees, which vary by category. Alternatively, the Individual selling plan allows you to pay $0.99 per item sold plus other selling fees, which vary by category. The Individual selling plan doesn’t have a monthly subscription fee, so if you plan to sell less than 40 items, this is likely the smarter choice.
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