Should My Business Be On Amazon

For eCommerce merchants, a new venue is always an exciting possibility. However, there are so many possibilities and opportunities, how do you decide which ones are worth your time and effort?

The first criteria, of course, are do they have a customer base. Amazon hits it out of the ballpark on this one. Although specific figures are held tightly in the Amazon world, some have been given out and they are pretty impressive. Currently Amazon has over 121 MILLION customers and their fourth quarter revenue exceeded $17.43 BILLION. This is definitely a marketplace worthy of your time and effort just based on those numbers.

The second thing to consider when looking at a possible new marketplace is whether it is a fit for your products. There are a few products that cannot be sold on Amazon at this time (one never knows what the future may hold). These prohibited items currently include: Items not intended for distribution within the US, Illegal Items, Offensive Material, Nudity, Advertisement Listings, Counterfeit Merchandise, Unauthorized or Unlicensed merchandise, Recopied Media, Transferred Media & Promotional Media.

Amazon also has restricted categories where you must have special approval to sell in: Automotive, Clothing, Collectible Books, Industrial & Scientific, Jewelry, Shoes, Sports Collectibles, Toys & Games (during the Holiday season) and Watches. In addition, there are some categories where you will need approval to sell certain products. Those categories include: Camera & Photo, Electronics, Software, Toys & Games (additional approval may apply) and video games.

Now, approval for these products and categories can be as simple as asking, and it can be as difficult as setting up a website that meets Amazon’s specifications, providing pictures that meet their requirements and implementing prices changes on your other venues. If your main product line is in one of the gated or restricted categories, you will be better off doing some research before signing up.

However, if you are selling a variety of items or have plans to source a variety for your Amazon presence, please don’t let these lists deter you. There are over 30 categories on Amazon and most are happily accepting new sellers.

The next thing to understand about selling on Amazon is that Amazon is NOT to be considered a ‘customer acquisition channel.’ Amazon is very clear that the customers who purchase from you on Amazon are a customer OF AMAZON and not of your business. Any attempt to solicit these customers to your website in any way will result in having your account banned on Amazon. They do not play around here. Even an accidental website link in email correspondence, or a business card thrown into a package is a very serious breach of contract here. EBay is proprietary with their customers to some extent but still allows you to place marketing materials in the packages, solicit them for an off-eBay mailing list and even off eBay links on your “About Me” page. Don’t try that on Amazon!

To balance the negatives I just pointed out, let me again emphasize the humungous, constantly growing audience your products will have on Amazon. Remember 121 MILLION customers? Remember the $17.43 BILLION dollars in sales during Q4 2011? These are amazing numbers and the Amazon growth curve shows no sign of slowing. Amazon customers are very loyal. There are many customers who prefer to shop on one site versus any other method. However, Amazon customers, particularly their Prime Shipping customers, are almost fanatically loyal. I recently heard the Amazon Prime program being referred to as an addiction. The blazingly fast delivery of items ordered through that program always impresses the buyers and only increases their loyalty.

So should your business be on Amazon? Not only Yes, but Heck YEAH! Get your piece of this growing eCommerce pie today.


This guest post is by Kat Simpson. Kat is a respected as a trusted eCommerce speaker, educator, and entrepreneur, Kat Simpson has been a successful eCommerce merchant for over 10 years; is a Certified eBay Education Specialist and Gold Level PowerSeller, who also maintains stores on Addoway, Bonanza,, and iOffer. Currently Kat is the co-host of popular weekly eCommerce Podcast eCom Connections with Karen Locker of Luna Jardin and Mommysbazaar.

3 Responses to “Should My Business Be On Amazon”

  1. Dana Says:

    eBay is not spelled Ebay. It is always spelled as eBay.

  2. KathyS Says:

    Thanks Dana – Sometimes spell-check gets the best of us!

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