Opportunities to start and grow a business on ecommerce platforms have never been as high as they are now. Following the Covid pandemic in 2020, there has been an unprecedented surge in online shopping, and the trend keeps rising.
Sellers from all over the world, even small-scale business owners have begun to set up websites and digitize their offerings, in a bid to stay ahead of the curve. Every business now requires some form of an online presence in order to thrive and grow.
In the previous lesson, we talked about how selling on Amazon works and what the advantages are to becoming an Amazon seller. Now we’ll walk you through the steps involved in actually getting started on the platform. In this article, we’ll cover how to set up an Amazon account and register as a seller on the website.
The truth is, anyone, even a small home-based business owner can set up shop at Amazon and start selling online. You can always start with little baby steps and test how things work out before you make any big moves or major decisions about going forward.
In essence, the Amazon business model enables even start-ups and small-time brands to sell, grow and become major players in the market. The only prerequisite is that you have a product.
With that being said, let’s start with the basics and break down how to set up an individual Amazon seller account and start doing business on the platform.
The two major seller account types
There are two ways to go about creating an Amazon seller account: registering as an individual seller and registering as a professional seller. Let’s break down what each one means before we go any further.
Individual seller account
An individual seller account is a standard seller account that doesn’t come with any set-up charges, but you’ll have to pay an amount of $0.99 for each sale you make on the platform. This is before you take into consideration the various referral fees and shipping charges. The referral fee is charged based on the product category you’re dealing in.
Professional seller account
A professional seller account entails a $39.99 fee every month for unlimited sales. Additionally, there is a certain amount required as referral fees and closing fees that varies depending on the sale. The major advantage of having a professional seller account is the access to insightful inventory reports and promotional opportunities on the Amazon platform.
Professional sellers are allowed to run promotions and offer products in bulk. You can also give account access to multiple users, which comes in handy when you’re running a business with staff and employees. The most important benefit of all is that it allows you to create your own, new product listing categories. All of these advantages aren’t available to individual sellers.
Switching between seller plans
It is pretty easy to switch from one type of seller account to another. All you need to do is log in, navigate settings (at the bottom of the page), select account info, then proceed to click manage (under your services).
Here, you’ll find your account type alongside an upgrade option. Simply click on it if you want to switch from an individual seller account to a professional seller account.
The registration page is easily accessible
There are a few different ways within the website to sign up. There are options that take you to the registration page in the services page, the seller central page, and also the Amazon homepage. So it is pretty easy to access the sign-up page wherever you are on the website by simply navigating through it.
What works for you: Professional or individual seller?
The next step is deciding what kind of seller you’d like to be. An individual seller plan is for entrepreneurs who are just starting out with a small inventory. It works great for people who want to sell on Amazon as a one-time thing or sellers who are apprehensive about starting. It is a smart way to make a quick buck off of used products, without selling them locally.
The professional seller plan, on the other hand, is for regular sellers who take the business seriously and intend to grow through the platform.
Differences between an individual seller and a professional seller
Here are some of the key differences between an Individual Seller Account and a Professional Seller Account:
Product listing charges:
Amazon charges referral fees on each item, regardless of the sellers’ account type. This means that individual sellers will have to pay a certain amount as a referral fee for each item they sell, in addition to the $0.99 per unit charge.
This is why we say if you run a steady ongoing business where the average sales each month are higher than 40 units, then it’s best to consider a professional seller account. If you intend to use Amazon as a one-time platform for making a quick sale, however, individual seller accounts are the best choice.
A quick tip: It is worth noting that sellers can switch between the two seller plans as they wish. This can come in handy if you don’t expect to make any sales for a while and would like to downgrade to an individual seller account from being a professional seller account. A move like this will help you save up on unnecessary monthly charges when your business isn’t running at optimum levels.
Individual sellers are charged $0.99 per item sold whereas professional sellers are charged a monthly fee of $39.99 regardless of how many sales they make. In other words, professional sellers will have to keep paying the monthly fee no matter how much money they make, just to keep their accounts active.
Setting your own shipping rates:
Professional sellers have the privilege of setting the rates for shipping at their own discretion. If your business heavily depends on shipping products and you’d like to profit from it, it’s important that you get a professional seller account. One point you should note is that the referral fees will be determined based on the combined price of your product and the shipping rate you’ve set.
Creating your own listings:
Professional sellers can also create their own listings and add products to them. Individual sellers resort to listings that already exist on Amazon.
Once the registration is complete, you can become a launched seller by listing products (you can do so even by listing a single product). If you are registered and haven’t listed any products yet, Amazon might email you frequently, encouraging you to do so.
What do you need to create an Amazon individual seller account?
Creating a new Amazon seller account is pretty straightforward. It is better to have all the required documents in hand before you begin registration. This will speed up the process and help you get started faster.
Incidentally, if you do have to stop the registration halfway, don’t worry. You can come back and finish it right where you left off whenever it is convenient for you.
The following are the documents and information you’ll need to have ready:
Name of your business and address:
You need to provide both your legal name, address, and your business name. The legal name is strictly for Amazon’s database whereas your business name is going to be made public so that customers can recognize you.
If the location you’re shipping the product from isn’t the same as your business address, you need to provide that separately.
Email id and contact info: It is much smarter to have a separate email id and contact number for your business. In the long run, this will save you a great deal of confusion and help you maintain a work-life balance. Make sure you provide an active, working number because Amazon will be using it for verification.
Credit card details/ Bank account info: Pay special attention to this section because it is the account where your sales proceeds arrive. Amazon updates payment every two weeks (14 days). If you’re a seller based in the U.S, you have to provide your social security number or the federal tax ID number in which your company is registered.
Make sure that your credit card can be charged internationally and has a valid address. Otherwise, Amazon will cancel the account.
Do note that Amazon only collects your tax ID information. Sellers will have to pay taxes based on their earnings to the respective authorities.
Identification: You’ll need a document that proves your identity, issued by your government.
Where do you sign up?
Once you make sure that you possess all the above-mentioned information, you can create your own account by visiting sell.amazon.com. You’ll find a list of seller plans that you can opt for.
If you want to create an individual seller account, you can do so by clicking on the “sign up for individual” button. Once you’re redirected to the account page, you can fill out all the relevant details.
How to create a seller account on Amazon: Key steps simplified
Let’s give you a brief and simplified overview of all the key steps we’ve covered so far.
Visit the services webpage on Amazon
First things first. Visit the services.amazon.com webpage. This is the registration homepage for signing up as a seller. Scroll down and click on the title “Become an Amazon seller”. Now click on the signup button to get started as a professional seller..
Note: If you’d like to compare pricing and advantages of the individual seller option and the professional seller account, simply click on “see pricing”. This way, you can also choose from either option. Otherwise, the default setting is a professional seller account.
Choose your account type
We’ve already discussed some of the key differences between individual and professional seller accounts in the previous lessons. The average benchmark for professional sellers is anything above 40 items per month. If your sales are anywhere below this mark then it’s best to stick with an individual seller account, at least until your sales average starts to pick up the pace.
Provide contact info and verify
Once you select your seller plan, you now have to provide your business email address and a password of your own choice to get your account started. Hit next and enter the OTP that Amazon mails to you on the email address you provided. Once they verify the email id belongs to you, you can now start updating your account with information.
The first thing you have to fill out is your business location, alongside the business type. The location refers to the country where your business is located. The business type is to specify whether its state-owned, public-owned, private, etc
Next, you’ll have to fill out your full name. Make sure all the information you provide is accurate and based on verifiable personal identification documents.
Upload personal documents for proof
You’ll have to provide certain personal information documents to prove your identities, such as your passport number or any other valid documents.
Choose your location
Different markets for Amazon have slightly different variations for the URL addresses. As soon as you’re done with filling out all your personal information, specify your location on the checkbox.
Enter your bank details for billing
Your credit card details are crucial information that Amazon uses to bill you and make payments to your account as you earn money in sales. Be extra cautious when you fill out the name of the cardholder, expiry date, and number that’s printed on the credit card.
Upload product info and company details
Once you provide credit card information, Amazon will validate it to make sure the account exists. In the next section, you have to fill out deals with information about your business and the product you’re selling.
Here, you answer questions about the name of your store, product trademark, and ownership, etc.
Validate your address
Finally, you’ll have to validate the address you’ve provided earlier in the personal information section. At this point, you just need to give it a proper read-through to make sure everything is in order and accurate. Once you do that, you can confirm.
Amazon sends a postcard that displays a verification code to the address you provided. Once you receive this, you can complete registration by entering the code and clicking next. And that pretty much wraps it up!
The Amazon seller registration process undergoes certain changes from time to time. The information we’ve provided here might differ slightly from the most recent updates.
Clarifying Amazon charges
Amazon referral fees:
The referral fees are charged on each product in exchange for selling on the Amazon website. The percentage may vary depending on the category. This may be anywhere as low as 12% to anywhere as high as 40%. A lot of products come with a referral fee of 15%, as a general rule.
Individual seller fee: As we’ve discussed earlier, $0.99 is the seller fee charged on each item in addition to the referral fee.
When sellers opt for the FBA program, they have to pay the cost of handling and shipping on behalf of Amazon. The fees are largely determined based on how heavy or large the items are. Smaller items weighing less than a pound might be charged up to $3.00.
Additionally, if your inventory uses the storage space for longer terms, then you get extra inventory storage fees charged to the FBA.
Setting Up Your Seller Profile
Once you become registered as an Amazon seller, you can easily access your profile at https://sellercentral.amazon.com. There are a few settings you need to configure when you’re getting started. You’ll find the menu on the top right corner of the Seller Central page. Here are some points we think you should note:
Seller Account details
Click on Account info to make sure that all the contact information you’ve provided is accurate. If you need to make any changes, there is an Edit button on the right-hand side. This is also where you can alter your business name (display name). This is the name your customers will see when they browse the platform.
Also, ensure that you’ve provided a proper return address. Sometimes customers might return products back to Amazon. If you’re a seller using the FBA service, you might want to get those products returned back to you. So make sure the return address you provide has adequate storage space to house those products. Offering your home address might not be the best idea if you don’t have enough space to hold inventory.
You can also change your credit card information under the Charge Method. However, it might take up to 24 hours to fully update, during which your account is put on hold.
Notification preferences are the tab that helps you prioritize which emails you want to read and notifications you want to receive immediately. Remember that Amazon sends you a lot of emails of varying importance. So you need to be able to sort through them in order of which ones are urgent and which ones can be addressed later.
You can even separate certain emails, such as order notifications from the rest so that you don’t miss or lose out on customers.
Login settings help you manage your username and password. You can change both of them right here.
Selecting your return address
Amazon takes care of returns wherever FBA is involved. However, if you’re fulfilling an order but want the returns to be directed to Amazon’s warehouse or would like the FBA returns sent to another address, you can manage all of that right here.
Specifying your shipping rates
Professional sellers can choose to set their own shipping rates through this option if they themselves are fulfilling the product orders. However, it would be a good idea to make sure the prices you set aren’t higher than a competitor’s price because this might make you lose customers.
Tax settings are the section that deals with how much taxable earnings you have. State taxes are charged on any shipment that’s delivered into another state where your business is physically operating. Of course, you’ll need to clarify this with a professional tax consultant.
Establishing sales tax nexus with the state includes states where you have your own business presence, meaning offices, warehouses, storage centers, etc.
It is worth noting that you can have Amazon collect your taxes for you, but the onus is on you to pay them off. You’ll have to send your tax ID to the respective state in order to get such an arrangement.
User permission is where you decide who gets to access your reports and certain another seller central information from your account. It allows you to allow people access to specific sections, reports, and other kinds of information that they need to know while excluding them from the rest that is irrelevant.
This is where you manage employee access and conveniently decide which sections are pertinent to them. Also, make sure that once an employee leaves your organization to terminate their access to the seller central.
About the company
There is a section called your info & policies where you can describe your company to customers. They can view the content you add here under the “About Seller” section when they browse through the products you’ve listed.
It is basically a space to give your audience a brief overview of what you do and give them a compelling rundown of how you stand out. Sellers should focus on making the content brief, catchy, and easy to read without being too elaborate about particulars. To get a general idea of how to achieve this, check out some of the other sellers on Amazon who you look up to or find really impressive, and give their “About Seller” section a read-through. This will help you learn plenty by example.
This is also the section where you upload your business logo, which will then appear alongside the company’s name on all the product information pages.
If there is anything special or unusual about your products that a customer needs to know, mention that in the FAQ section. However, if you’d rather leave it blank to gauge what the actual customer response and concerns are, that’s up to you.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)
If you’ve opted for FBA, this is where you specify the return address where you want products to be sent back.
Listing your very first product
As soon as you’re done setting up the seller account, you can now start listing products on the platform. Remember, if you’re operating an individual seller account, you have to find an existing product page to list.
Here’s how it works. Browse for your product on the site. Once you find the relevant listing, click on “Sell on Amazon”. The next page requires you to fill out the following info:
SKU: This is an Amazon-generated code for your inventory.
Pricing: Find the possible prices and set the optimum price for your product.
Quantity: Depending on how much inventory you have and how much you’re willing to sell at the moment, this number will vary.
Used or New: Specify the product’s condition, whether it is a first-time sale or a secondhand product.
Finally, you get to determine the method of fulfillment. This might be FBM or FBA depending on which works for you. We’ve discussed these different modes of fulfillment in previous lessons.
What to know before you start listing your products
There are a few key things you need to know before you start listing your products on Amazon. These are usually ignored by most new sellers, which is why we feel the need to mention them separately.
Selling in gated categories
There are certain categories on Amazon that require special approval if you want to list your products on them. So if the products have to fall under these categories, you need to request for the updating process to start, as soon as you complete registration. There is a first 30 days free program that professional sellers can take advantage of for this very purpose.
Now let’s say your ungating request is rejected. That gives you just enough time to decide whether or not you want to continue your account. If you are unable to secure permission for the gated categories and the majority of your products fall under them, then it wouldn’t be wise to go on any further with your account.
Automotive items, jewelry, and collectibles are some of the gated categories where Amazon requires you to apply for special permission in order to list products under them.
How to find gated categories?
All you need to do is sign into Seller Central. Go to the search bar and look for categories and products requiring approval. Under each category, you’ll find links that take you to the ungating request portal.
Amazon might require you to answer certain questions, provide documents and other information to determine whether or not they should give you permission to sell in the ungated categories. You just need to make sure that the information you’re submitting complies with Amazon’s requirements.
Remember, the process is thorough. So you need to make sure you have all the required documents and information before you submit the application for approval.
Meanwhile, you can still list products in the ungated categories as your application is being processed.
So far we’ve outlined the entire Amazon registration process for first-time sellers as they take the very first step into the world of major ecommerce selling. As long as the information you provide is accurate and you stay up-to-date on the latest requirements, there’s nothing to worry about. You can get your business set up on Amazon in no time.