What Should I Sell On Amazon? – Part One

by Skip McGrath

What to sell on Amazon?

I probably receive more emails on this subject than any other. Buyers read The Complete Amazon Marketing System and they want to start selling, but just can’t figure out what to sell, or how to get started.

If you are a new seller, my first piece of advice is to clean out your garage or attic. You need to gain some experience selling before you go off and purchase a large lot of wholesale merchandise. (Yes – Used products do sell on Amazon if they are in good condition)

Start by selling small appliances, wedding gifts you never use, old books (non-fiction ones are best), used sporting goods, clothing items (that great leather jacket that doesn’t fit you any more or that pair of cowboy boots you bought on your business trip to Dallas, but never wear).

Next turn to your hobbies and interests. Too many sellers think the only way to make a fortune is to buy large quantities of the latest hot-selling items and put up dozens of listings. The problem is, the really large sellers with deep pockets are doing the same thing.

(If you don’t believe me do a search for diet pills, or cell phone cases.) As you gain experience you can move into larger markets, but this area is fraught with danger for the new seller. There are plenty of companies with enough money to import these items directly by the thousands and undersell anyone who buys through an importer or distributor. So avoid looking for the hottest products -as there is so much competition that margins are really small.

Sell something you know something about. Almost everyone collects “something.” If you are knowledgeable about a certain type of merchandise, then you have the ability to do the research to find the products at prices you can resell.

Once you gain experience, try to focus on larger dollar items. If you only make $2.00 profit per sale, you have to sell 1,000 items per month, to make $2,000. But, if you make a $15 profit on each item, then you only have to sell 133 items per month to make the same amount.

Everyone wants to sell computers, software, movies, DVD’s, digital cameras and all sorts of consumer electronics. The sad fact is that Sony, Panasonic, Canon, and others don’t sell their latest hottest products to small dealers who work out of their home. (In fact, they don’t sell anything except through their master distributors.) Even the big stores have trouble getting a large allocation of really hot products.

It is possible to get into this business if you have a lot of money, market and product knowledge (such as you get by working in a computer store), and you have the contacts to buy the merchandise.

The problem is that you are competing with major retailers on both eBay and Amazon, some who sell under their own name, and others who sell under blind usernames (As well as some manufacturers and distributors who set up direct accounts).

One way you can succeed selling consumer electronics is with overstock and closeout merchandise. Millions of dollars’ worth of consumer electronics, computers and software are sold by closeout dealers every week. The trick is to really know what you are buying, work on small margins and turn your inventory over often. Unfortunately, it takes at least $2000 to $3000 capital investment to compete in this arena. (Be careful of buying restricted brands. Here is an article on that )

Drop shipping is another strategy used by new sellers. I hesitate to recommend working with drop shippers because so many of them are not very reliable -and most of them are virtual dropshippers. Those are essentially middlemen who do not actually stock the product. Also – you should know that Amazon has a long-term plan to ban drop shipping on Amazon except for furniture and appliances

Another problem with dropshippers is they sell a lot of fake merchandise -and that can get your account cancelled permanently.

The problem with drop shipping is that your feedback is on the line. If the drop shipper is temporarily out of stock, or somehow screws up your order -it is your feedback that will suffer. When you are starting out, just one or two negative feedback comments can set your back months. Also the merchandise available from most drop shippers is being sold by hundreds of other sellers.

If you are really strapped for cash, you can use a drop shipper temporarily. As soon as you can afford it however, I would start buying wholesale from direct wholesalers and/or distributors. You will make more money and have greater control over your business.

I’m often asked, “What should I sell?” I am usually also asked what are the best selling items on eBay, in other words what are the hot sellers.

Go here to see a list of hot selling items on Amazon -but remember these are the products with the most competition and lowest margins

Here is a list items that are easy to sell on Amazon This is not a recommendation of what to sell. Each of these product areas is fraught with its own perils.

  • Diapers (Both baby and adult)
  • Small kitchen appliances, kitchen tools, gadgets and utensils
  • Cell phone accessories
  • Pheromone scents
  • Health & Beauty aids
  • Candles
  • Children’s games & puzzles
  • Chess & Backgammon sets
  • Fashion jewelry
  • Fishing gear
  • New toys (Be careful – many brands are restricted)
  • Gun holsters and other hunting accessories such as rifle slings and gun bags
  • Plus-sized clothing for women
  • New and Used Western wear such as cowboy boots, belts, shirts, leather vests, etc.
  • Software (including closed-out or last year’s software programs and games)
  • Power and hand tools (If selling used be sure to clean them up so they arrive in pristine (and working) condition
  • Older used cell phones if in good working condition
  • Packaged food i.e. not fresh or frozen. (One of my best-selling products are canned tuna and sardines)
  • Perfume (But forget the famous designer brands)
  • Religious books and Bibles (Bibles are always a perennial seller)
  • Non-fiction books on hobbies, sports, nautical subjects, history, military science, popular textbooks, and art & photography. Also books containing maps and art prints that can be broken and sold individually.
  • Maps and old prints of ships, flowers, animals (horses and dogs are tops)
  • Used auto parts for specialty automobiles (Porsche, BMW, MG, etc.)
  • Automotive models and car collectibles
  • Sports collectibles (Currently a restricted category but you can apply for permission)

I could go on, but these are some of the better (and easy to sell) items on Amazon today. (I am sure I missed a few).

If you want to know what to sell, the single best piece of advice I can give new sellers is to be unique and to specialize. Find a niche market, learn everything about it and work it over and over. Once you master it, then move on to a new niche. For example – our best-selling niche is kitchen products

See Part II of This Article