This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Read my full disclosure for more information.
Have you ever wondered about how to make money selling on Amazon? How do you get started selling on Amazon? What is Amazon FBA?
Since I am not an expert on selling on Amazon or Amazon FBA and had questions myself, I decided to reach out to Jessica from The Selling Family to answer them.
Jessica and her family have done over a million dollars in sales on Amazon (yup!) and she is going to share her tips in this interview!
Let’s dive right into my interview with Jessica!
Can you give us a brief intro into who you are and what made you decide to sell on Amazon?
I’m Jessica Larrew and I’ve been selling on Amazon FBA since 2010.
In 2008, I was laid off from my “secure” full-time job. I spent my last paycheck buying thrift store items to resell on eBay.
I quickly realized that I had no interest in ever going back to a full-time job! But I also realized that selling on eBay was exhausting.
In 2010, I heard some eBay sellers talking about the Amazon FBA program and how it had allowed them to grow their businesses.
I gave it a shot and I was hooked! Suddenly I was making more money with less effort. By 2011, I was able to retire my husband Cliff from his full-time management job and we’ve been running the business together ever since.
For total newbies, what exactly is Amazon FBA?
Amazon FBA is Amazon’s fulfillment service for third-party sellers.
A lot of people don’t know that not every item sold on Amazon is sold by Amazon. Amazon allows third-party sellers (including regular folks like you and me) to sell products on their website.
And if you take advantage of their FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) program, they’ll even handle all of the fulfillment on your behalf.
So as a third-party seller using FBA, I’m responsible for finding items, setting my prices, and shipping my products to one of Amazon’s many large warehouses. Then Amazon is responsible for storing my items, locating them when they sell, and shipping them to the customer. They even handle customer service and returns.
How much of a time and money investment is needed to sell on Amazon FBA?
Amazon FBA is a really flexible business model. You can invest as much time or money into it as you want and make it work for you.
I think it’s ideal if new sellers have about $1,000 to invest in an FBA business. This would cover the cost of supplies, training, and your initial inventory.
For the time investment, I’ve seen students do this full-time 40 hours per week while others have just worked on it nights and weekends. Some people only do Amazon in November and December to take advantage of all the holiday shoppers.
If you really want to try to make Amazon work as a side hustle, I think it’s good to have at least 5-10 hours per week available to look for inventory and work on your business.
Are there any specific tools or equipment I would need to start selling?
You’ll definitely need a computer, a smartphone, and a printer. Then you’ll need supplies for getting your items to Amazon. I usually buy small and medium moving boxes from Home Depot.
If you have those things and some basic office supplies, you’ll be off to a good start!
Where do you find items to sell?
I find most of my items in regular retail stores. Places like Walmart, Big Lots, Walgreens, and Grocery Outlet. This is called Retail Arbitrage and it’s the easiest way to get started as an Amazon FBA seller because you can just buy a few items at a time.
Sometimes I buy my inventory online instead. But I’m really still going to retail websites like target.com or bestbuy.com.
You’d be surprised what “ordinary” items from drug stores will sell for on Amazon!
What should one look for when looking for items to sell? Are there certain items that sell quicker or for higher profits?
As an Amazon seller, your smartphone will become your best friend. You’ll want to get the free Amazon Seller App right away and the app will show you which items are profitable and which ones sell quickly.
I try not to make assumptions when I’m looking for inventory. You might think that no one would pay a high price for toothpaste or toilet wands, but you’d be surprised!
My advice is always use your phone to check as many items in stores as possible. That’s the only way to know for sure if you’ve found a profitable item.
Personally, some of my favorite categories to resell on Amazon are grocery items, beauty products, toys, and hard-to-find household items.
How do you determine the price when selling an item?
I set my prices based on the current selling price on Amazon. I always want to be priced competitively so that buyers will pick my item.
Prices fluctuate frequently on Amazon, so the price I first pick might change over time. I reprice my inventory regularly to stay competitive.
Does Amazon FBA have any fees associated with it?
Yes. Amazon makes money from third-party sellers by charging fees. Most of the fees are deducted from your final selling price.
Like I said earlier, Amazon does a lot of the heavy lifting (literally!) on storing and shipping orders. So there are fees to offset their warehouse, shipping, and employee costs.
They also charge a referral fee (basically a commission) for allowing us to list products on their website. That’s fine by me considering that Amazon has hundreds of millions of customers who are all ready to buy!
I think the fees are really reasonable considering how much of the work Amazon does. Plus when you use the Amazon Seller App on your phone, you get to see the fees before you purchase any inventory.
How much money have you made on Amazon so far and how long have you been selling?
Since we started selling on Amazon, we have done over a million dollars in sales. After subtracting fees and inventory costs, that’s left us with hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit. It’s been incredible, especially because we rarely work on our Amazon business more than 20 hours per week.
Any tips for newbies?
Feel free to test the waters to see how you like selling on Amazon. There’s no reason to invest thousands of dollars and quit your job right away.
That’s the good thing about using the free Amazon Seller App on your phone and using the Retail Arbitrage method. You can “practice” on items in your house or just start checking items at your regular grocery store.
If you really enjoy it, you can start to take it more seriously and work on the business side of things. If it’s not for you, you didn’t waste a lot of time and money figuring it out.
Where can one learn more about selling on Amazon FBA?
When you create a selling account on Amazon, you’ll have access to their Help and Support documentation. But it’s not the most organized resource out there.
I put together a free FBA Starter Course for sellers who are interested in testing the waters with Amazon FBA. The training will walk you through the first stages of starting a reselling business on Amazon. You can get more information about the free course and receive your first lesson here.
Anything else you want people to know about starting an Amazon FBA side hustle?
If you enjoy shopping or have an eye for deals, you’re probably a good fit for Amazon FBA. For me, I can’t imagine anything more fun than being paid to shop at Target!
With any side hustle, don’t push yourself straight towards burnout. You have to find the balance of doing enough with Amazon to make it worth it, but not too much that you start to resent the side hustle.
Over time, you’ll find a schedule that works for you and your lifestyle. Some of my students quickly turned their FBA side hustles into their full-time job, but you’ll never know if it’s right for you unless you get out there and start looking for inventory!