It has been about a year ago since I started my eCommerce journey on Amazon and eBay, and I have learned A LOT. My intention with this blog post is to share the most important knowledge I have received this far, which may help you, my readers, get a jump start and become successful eCommerce sellers in no time.
I will touch base on questions such as:
» What eCommerce business model is the best from my experience and will offer you guaranteed ROI?
» What are the possible issues I have been facing on the respective marketplaces; Amazon and eBay?
» Do you have to have your own eCommerce store/web shop to succeed as an eCommerce business?
I will also introduce the business model that I am focusing on right now, and that I think is the FUTURE FOR ANY AMAZON SELLER WHO WANTS TO MAKE THE BIG “BUCKS”: ONLINE RETAIL.
Lesson #1. It Takes Money To Make Money
The first thing I have learned from experience is – it takes money to make money!
What the dropshipping “gurus”, offering training courses in dropshipping are saying about not needing to have a start up capital, is, bluntly speaking, bullshit!
You have to have a start up capital of, I would say: $2000-$3000 to get going and to cover fulfilling orders, Amazon/eBay fees, possible returns etc.
I have invested a great deal more, but I started my eCommerce journey with private labeling, and of course it will cost extra to manufacture your own private label product.
When I started researching dropshipping as eCommerce model, I got the simplified and glorified introduction to it by those “please take my class” gurus.
It was explained as simple as: When a customer purchase a product from your eBay or Amazon product listing, you just take the customer’s payment to dropship from a cheaper seller/supplier and then ship the product straight to the customer. You take the in-between difference, the profit, and do not need to invest a single cent for product inventory or order fulfillment.
Hmmm, let me correct this from my real life experience. It is true that you do not need to purchase any inventory, which is a huge benefit with dropshipping.
However, when dropshipping on eBay, PayPal is withholding the money until the customer has received the item, or until you have a long history and perfect track record of successful transactions and deliveries with eBay and PayPal, since they are cooperating.
Sometimes adding the tracking number may be enough to release the payment, but you will not get hold of the tracking number until the seller, you dropshipped from, is shipping the item.
If you want to know more about dropshipping, check out:
Lesson #2. Amazon’s Unavailable Balance Is Withholding Funds
Furthermore, when dropshipping on Amazon you should know that Amazon only pays out earnings from sales every 14 days. As you probably understand by now, you have to invest money with this business model before you start getting money back.
From what I have experienced, it takes a good while before you are on the right side of the coin and are actually getting the money you invested, plus possible profits, back.
Amazon also keeps a rather big chunk of your earnings for possible returns. Amazon cannot risk you not having enough funds on your account to cover customer returns. This is listed in payments as unavailable balance.
Even worse, this balance increases with your sales, and Amazon does not release these funds until you cancel your seller account.
Lesson #3. From A Seller’s Perspective eBay Is A Disappointment
I am so disappointed in ebay and how they hardly ever protect their sellers. eBay, more or less, always, favors the buyer when it comes to disputes. I can understand that it is important for eBay to ensure a good and safe shopping experience, but there has to be some kind of protection for sellers as well.
Basically, PayPal withholds your money as soon as a customer is getting concerned their item is not arriving on time and puts in an “item not received” request on eBay. The funds will not be released until the customer admits receiving the item and closes the request with eBay.
Sometimes, customers so conveniently forget to close the eBay request, and you end up with a lot of extra work, time, and effort to get your funds released again.
Even worse, an eBay customer can claim they have not received their item at all and get the money back with eBay’s 30 day money back guarantee, EVEN that you, as seller, have evidence of delivery from the shipping carrier.
This Happened To My Partner And I More Than Once, Which Resulted In Us Basically Giving Away Products For FREE To Customers Misusing The System
I was so upset!
eBay’s flaky answer to this dilemma was that we should try and send the customer another message and ask for their confirmation on receiving the product.
Here comes the absurd part of it all.…the customer has to personally admit he/she received the item, or it is not valid according to eBay. The tracking number, showing both date and time when the product was delivered, is not enough evidence.
Why would any customer admit they received the product when they can get it for free?! From a customer perspective this is great, and you can make your way as a lying, thieving, scum bag getting products for free, but for sellers this is a BIG issue.
eBay needs to take a look at their seller protection and customer regulations. To their defense they state, that after noticing a customer is doing this more than once or twice, they block the customer. It sounds nice, but it hardly helps you, as seller, from losing out on payment for those sales.
You are literary giving away products for free, and even worse, still have to pay eBay their commission for the sale on top of it.
After one too many events like these, we are hardly using the eBay marketplace as sellers anymore.
Lesson #4. Having Your Own Web Shop/ eCommerce Store Does Not Automatically Equals More Sales
A natural step when starting a business is a website. Luckily, since I am a web designer, it did not cost us lots of capital getting an eCommerce store developed. I created a web shop using WordPress: gethappyedeals.com.
Choose the design you like and complete it with text copy and images, and just like that, you have a good looking competitive website – in a heart beat.
A website is good because it makes your business look professional and established online. It is out there on the web and people can visit it, read about your company, and get accurate contact information.
The era using the Yellow Pages (meaning the actual printed catalogue) to search for business contact information is basically gone. If you do not have a presence online, you basically do not exist.
However, just because you have an eCommerce store/web shop, you will not automatically get more sales. It takes time for search engines to rank your new site, and you really have to market your site for customers to find it.
People searching the World Wide Web, does not look past the first 1-3 pages on Google, and to get there, takes time and good SEO work. In the meantime, you need to use marketing strategies such as; Google Shopping ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads etc., and that, of course, costs money.
Now, we are getting back to the starting capital needed to get an eCommerce business going. You see what I mean?
There are some Amazon and eBay sellers that do not have a website. They are just referring to their Amazon or eBay shops. However, I have noticed that all authorized distributors/suppliers we have been in contact with (applying the online retail business model – more about this below) want you to provide your business website as proof of a legitimate business.
If you need help with a nice, modern and functional eCommerce store/web shop, you can always hit me up at and I will give you a good price: [email protected]
What Is Online Retail?
Why Do I Recommend This Business Model?
I do not know if you feel it too?…That the private label and dropshipping models are getting over-saturated. There are just too many sellers using these models, and too many of the “same products” in slightly different versions from all private label:ers to compete with.
Private labeling used to mean that you actually invented your own product, made sure you had copyright on it, and then sold it as your own product. Nowadays, when everyone is sourcing from China, you just pick a product not recognizable as a “big brand” item – that will be profitable – and make your own copy of it.
This is what I did as well. It definitely works, but I do not believe it is where the big bucks are. It takes time to research and find profitable products that are worth private labeling.
You also have to focus on only one product at a time (if you are not already a big company with many employees, of course).
Moreover, the negotiation process with manufacturers in China can be long and frustrating. Far from all Chinese people speak good English, so it can be quite difficult getting your instructions and requests through to them.
The shipping process, whether to use shipping by boat or air, and dealing with a custom agent for custom’s bond, and so forth, also takes a bit of effort looking into.
Basically, we ended up paying as much in shipping expenses sending our product to the different Amazon warehouses, as the product itself, even that our product was rather light weight.
The market for our product was also pretty over-saturated with lots of competition from other private label:ers, so it took us about 7 months to sell only 500 units. Not the best investment, and not worth the time and effort to me. However, I am now one experience richer from trying private labeling.
If you still want to private label your own product and want to know the exact steps to take, you should check out:
The Principle Of Online Retail
Moving on from private labeling. What is online retail about, and why is it the eCommerce business model to focus your intention on?
Online retail is basically regular retail online. The whole idea is to buy low and sell high.
The extra “flava” to this business model is to only sell brand products that are already a high demand for, and are selling good.
Why Try To Find Products That MAY Sell, When You Can Sell Already ESTABLISHED Brand Products!
There are even more advantages with selling brand items:
No Need To Spend Money On Marketing
When private labeling a product, you will need to spend money on marketing to get your product out there, or pushed forward in the rankings on Amazon.
With online retail as eCommerce model, you do not need to spend a single cent in marketing. The products you are selling are already marketed and tested by the brand owners.
Instead Of Inventing The Wheel, You Jump Straight On It!
What Do You Need To Be Able To Sell Brand Products On Amazon?
The first answer to this question is; a Professional Seller Account on Amazon.
With a Professional Seller Account, you can list as many products as you want in three different countries: the USA, Canada and Mexico. You can also become an Amazon seller in Europe, but for that you need an additional European seller account.
A professional Amazon seller account costs: $39.99 per month. It is well worth the investment, and after a while you do not even feel it, since it automatically gets withdrawn from your sales pay-outs.
Second, to sell brand products on Amazon, you have to go through their brand approval program, found from the seller central (your seller dashboard) on Amazon. This may sound a bit scary, but I can ensure you it is not.
What you need in order to get approved selling a brand item is an invoice from an authorized supplier/distributor of the respective product you wish to sell, and have it written out to your company’s name and address, with a valid product EAN or UPC number.
The brand approval process can look like this, using my favorite sneakers from Adidas Originals to showcase a tutorial of the approval process:
In the upper left corner, you can search for the product using the ASIN number. When the product listing shows up, it will say: Listing limitations apply.
Click on: Request approval.
You will be directed to the next page looking like this. Click on: Request approval one more time.
Now you are coming to the page where you have to upload an invoice of the brand product from the manufacturer or distributor/supplier. Note, that it HAS to be from an authorized brand distributor for your application to be approved by Amazon.
This is an indication for Amazon you are authorized to sell the specific brand product. The authorized distributors/suppliers have already gotten permission from the brand manufacturer to sell their brand, hence why you have to show they are legit.
After getting approved by Amazon, you just add your business and price to the product listing, and watch the sales roll in.
Very easy, and absolutely the best way to make money on Amazon!
About The Author
Stina Pettersson is originally from Sweden, but have resided in the U.S. for the past 6 years. She started her American journey in Miami, Florida, and recently moved to Austin, Texas.
Stina was active as a professional dancer for 21 years, but after ACL surgery in both knees, she was forced to slow down her dancing. She is now back to her roots, with her beloved horses, and also enjoys every day out in nature with her two adorable dogs, Max and Abigail.
Stina has the gift of being able to receive communication from the spirit and extraterrestrial world, which she also loves sharing with her readers.
“My main goal is to always maintain a flexible lifestyle, where I set my own schedule. Even that I work hard, I love what I do every day and have the opportunity to help other people, which is a huge gift.”