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Recently I have seen a lot of online courses about how to become an Amazon seller. They promise a huge monetary gain but it looks very strange to me.

Can someone gain a lot of money only by selling stuff on Amazon or is this just a way to sell an online course?

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    Some Amazon sellers have found it more profitable to sell courses about selling stuff on Amazon than actually selling stuff on Amazon. Anyone who is promising huge profits is lying unless you have a unique well-positioned product. The dropshipping space is oversaturated and has very thin margins when properly accounting for risks. – amon Feb 4 at 14:32
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    Rule of thumb. Whenever someone tries to offer you a way to get rich quick, then that way either requires a lot of work, a lot of special skills, is a risky gamble or does not work at all. – Philipp Feb 4 at 15:55
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    This reminds me of the Get Rich Quick With Real Estate courses from 12-50 years ago. (Did they all dry up after 2008?) Then there were the Get Rich Quick On Ebay courses, and now Get Rich Quick With Amazon. – RonJohn Feb 4 at 16:55
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    anecdotally I knew a couple who did Amazon Selling as part of their income, the gist of their experience was that it was a lot of work, and didn't end up quite being enough to pay their bills, but it did give them the flexibility to move into contracting positions for jobs they enjoyed – Bitsplease Feb 4 at 17:02
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    @amon Once one has established a well-deserved reputation, selling digital courses based on that reputation (compared to selling physical products or even YouTube episodes) is going to be like printing money, meaning that even by taking the most optimistic view of the course author, selling courses is likely to be more profitable than the business covered by the course. And that makes sense: why else would a successful business owner teach their competitors? – jpaugh Feb 4 at 17:32
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You have to pick the right products and find a niche nobody else sees.

It's worth a course, because kitting out as an Amazon seller is technically complex. You need to set up a seller account and create listings (not really any harder than eBay). But then, you'll want to seriously consider shipping your items into the Amazon Fulfillment warehouses so your items ship with Prime. That's complicated - do you ship to one warehouse or many? Do you commingle your stock with other sellers, so your buyer gets the nearest item, or do you barcode YOUR specific items so the buyer gets only your stock? How do you analyze whether it's worth paying to keep slow moving items in the warehouse? How do you get them back (or do you, even)? All that to say, it's complicated.

Examples of niches that are swamped:

  • Buying cheap crud off Alibaba in 1000 quantity and selling it in singles. Frankly the people doing this are mostly large Chinese operations, and you could never compete with them.
  • Buying stuff at Trader Joes by the crate and selling it in 1-6 quantity. Everybody does that and margins are razor thin.

So it really depends on what product area you're good at, and whether you can offer something special that people will want.

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    Also, if a product takes off, Amazon usually has a replica made under their AmazonBasics brand. – Simon Richter Feb 4 at 17:29
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    @Simon Richter: Or they would just buy the item from the manufacturer and sell it themselves. Or the manufacturer would sell direct on Amazon... – jamesqf Feb 4 at 19:52
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    @jamesqf: Some resellers have managed to carve out a niche where they undercut manufacturers on their own products by buying lower-priced imports at volume. This mostly cannot be done purely via online purchase (because when it's that easy, either everyone does it or the manufacturer blocks it). This requires a ton of work, since the inventory where this is feasible is constantly shifting. It's typically only possible on high margin items (e.g., make-up). Interesting Example. – Brian Feb 4 at 20:38
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    @Brian "buying imports at volume" which are counterfeits. And then this happens to the OEM. Best you can hope for is employees at the OE factory dumpster-diving factory rejects. More likely you'll find a factory who says they are the OEM but are making counterfeits. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 4 at 20:46
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    @jamesqf manufacturers (esp. of technical products) often like to leave some airspace below their direct-mail pricing so there's room for a dealer network to exist and have a role. Dealer networks are some of your best advocates and also offload a lot of support tasks (not least, by being an "idiot filter" so factory support only sees questions worth escalating). – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 4 at 21:01
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You probably have things backwards. You start by having products you want to sell, and then if you think Amazon may be the right way to sell it, then you try to find out how Amazon works, and that's where courses may be useful (or not).

There's no magic "I become an Amazon seller and I suddenly make money" formula. You need to find products to sell. You need to find people to buy them from. You need to buy them (i.e. pay them). You need to have the stuff shipped to Amazon. If it comes from abroad, you need to handle taxes and duties and be sure they comply with local regulations. You have to create your seller account. You have to create listings for all products, with pictures, description, all sorts of details. You need to select prices, and possibly adjust them constantly. You have to handle support requests. You probably need to do some advertising (either on Amazon or elsewhere) to bring customers in. And of course you have all sort of tax-related stuff on top of that, including probably setting up a company and a bit of accounting.

It's just a business like any other. A combination of a good idea, good execution, and hard work could make you rich. Or could swallow all your money if you're not prepared or try to sell the wrong product, or sell it at the wrong price or forgot about many of the small details that can make or break a business.

Amazon just simplifies a lot of things for you: it lets you relatively easily be present on one of the biggest stores in the world (if not the biggest), they will handle payments, they can handle shipping out to customers faster than you could ever do it yourself. But you'll be just one of millions of sellers, selling a few of the millions of products on the store.

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  • It's not as backwards as you think. I work for a company that develop tools for online sellers and the majority of our users enter into business the way the OP describes - they want to sell online so they open an Ebay/Amazon account and then they look for products. The large majority of online sellers don't even care what they sell – slebetman Feb 5 at 6:43
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    @slebetman I think what jcaron means is that, people who do things that way are actually thinking backwards. As in, Amazon is a tool among many others for people who want to sell online. But people see it as "becoming an Amazon seller" (it's not the tool anymore, it became the job itself). It doesn't change the end result, but on a personal point of view, this answer allowed me to think from the bottom up. – Clockwork Feb 5 at 10:56
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    Like any other business, you won't become rich by doing exactly what everyone else is doing! – user253751 Feb 5 at 15:16
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    @slebetman And are those actually successful? Your company is probably paying affiliate commissions to the sellers of those online courses and e-books :-) – jcaron Feb 5 at 15:35
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The other earlier answers are correct about having a business selling stuff on Amazon.

But also consider this:

The true value of such a course is if (and only if, IMO!) it offers detailed instructions on how to obey the rules of the Amazon markeplace. Amazon enforces all of its rules whether you know them or not - ignorance is not an excuse! - and there is very little ability for a seller on their marketplace to appeal, even less chance for it to be a successful appeal. Then, if you're kicked off or suspended temporarily for breaking their rules and you try again even with a different name, or account you'll get kicked off permanently with no appeal.

If you already know what you want to source and sell, and if you've already worked out the economics and want to give it a go, then the Amazon marketplace can be profitable for you. Then, if the course teaches the Amazon-given rules so you use it correctly, the course might be valuable.

(My claims about rules, Amazon's enforcement of them, and the penalties - possibly permanent - for breaking them, can be easily confirmed by anyone browsing the Amazon seller forums. (You may have to create a seller account just to look at the official Amazon seller forums - I forget - but there are plenty of unofficial ones around too for you to look at. Actually, it would be a good idea to find some of these and browse them for awhile just to get an idea of what you're getting into.)

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