EDIT 12/30/16 - Decided to close my Handmade at Amazon account. I'm not happy with the platform - it's turned out to be even less "handmade" than Etsy. I will continue selling on Etsy instead as I have good business there!
Amazon recently opened up an all handmade marketplace on their site called Handmade at Amazon. As someone who has been selling embroideries and jewelry for years through Etsy, I was excited to try another marketplace.
Throughout the years I've tried several other handmade marketplaces, but none of them have the traction OR traffic of Etsy - many of the ones I've tried have been completely erased from the internet already. Online stores for handmade goods always seem to come and go, while Etsy has continued to grow throughout the years.
But Handmade at Amazon is different - think about the audience Amazon already has! Many publications have declared Handmade at Amazon an "Etsy killer" already. I know loads of folks are going to be excited to have an alternative to Etsy due the fact that Etsy has turned into a free-for-all for every reseller under the sun. :P
In this instructable I'll go over the basics of applying for and selling on Handmade at Amazon, and any tips and tricks I've learned in all my research! Sadly, life has been too crazy for me get loads of products listed, but I'm ever so slowly chipping away at it. In the meantime, here's my making jiggy Handmade at Amazon store. :)
Interested in selling your products online on Etsy? Or just learn more about selling handmade products online? Check out my "How to Start Selling on Etsy" instructable for loads of information to help you start to build an online store. :D
Step 1: Pros and Cons of Handmade at Amazon
At first, I felt a little unsure about Handmade at Amazon.
Firstly, would I even get in? I am truly a one woman operation (well except for when Tyler runs packages to the post for me) and I just can't churn out products like many Amazon buyers would expect.
Secondly, how will it really be any different from Etsy? As it turns out, it is VERY different.
Pros of selling on Handmade at Amazon:
- Every seller application is reviewed extensively. Handmade at Amazon even ordered items from sellers to attempt to verify they weren't mass produced. This will limit resellers and wholesalers, which levels the playing field. Mass produced items run rampant on Etsy.
- Selling professionally on Amazon normally costs $39.99 a month, but by signing up now for Handmade at Amazon, you may be able to sell until 8/1/16 for free.
- Extremely large customer base - Amazon is a #1 name in online shopping, so you're upping your chances of being seen. They have around 250 million customers!!
- You have the option to let Amazon ship your items for you if you're doing well enough to send them loads of products at once - perfect for those of you who make printed items! This will allow you to take advantage of Prime shipping/free shipping as well, which may draw in more customers.
- Ability to do all shipping through the site - you can buy and print labels from their interface.
- Smaller amounts of sellers and items. Last I looked, Handmade at Amazon has about 250,000 products listed, while Etsy (at the end of 2014) had 29 million products listed. Less competition.
- Ability to create and sell custom products - their interface for customization of products is much nicer than Etsy's in my opinion. Much easier to use!
- They handle year end tax paperwork for you, whereas on Etsy you are in charge of your own tax destiny.
- If you live in a place where you can participate in the Amazon Associates program, you can list your products on your site and take a cut of any purchase made via clicking that link. Sadly it's not available in Colorado! noooooooooooooooooooo
- Actual seller help from Amazon - Etsy has always been slow to respond to seller issues and does not offer phone support, but with Handmade at Amazon you can call them up and get the support you need.
Cons of selling on Handmade at Amazon:
- Higher fees. Whereas Etsy fees are $0.20 a listing and 3.5% for each listing that sells, Amazon takes a flat 12% fee from every listing that sells. However, your listings never expire, and it doesn't cost money to list items.
- Amazon's notoriouslybad treatment of their employees. This made the decision trickier for me. In the end, I decided to go for it, but keep myself in charge of every facet of my business so that I'm not outsourcing work to Amazon's warehouse employees.
- Customers are sure to expect different things. Amazon customers are used to getting very cheap products VERY fast - the opposite of handmade. It will be interesting to see how Handmade at Amazon is accepted by the larger community of buyers on Amazon.
- Amazon is still allowing "collectives" of up to 100 people to sell their products in a "handmade" store, which sounds dangerously close to the way Etsy has turned out. I only hope that their rules for sellers aren't made more lax and that no loopholes are created, because I've watched how quickly resellers have taken over Etsy and it is not a good situation.
- Having to open another store if you're selling on Etsy already is a an exercise in frustration. Also a time suck. But I'm trying to make the best of it by getting all new photos and organizing myself.
- Because Amazon is such a large marketplace, any changes made to your inventory, shop or shipping will not be instant. It can take up to 15 minutes for changes to take effect, so it's important to keep that in mind. :)
Step 2: How to Apply for Handmade at Amazon
Unlike Etsy, Handmade at Amazon has a fairly strict vetting process to go through before they accept you as a seller. You can't just sign up and start selling immediately!
The application process is fairly painless - just need to answer questions and supply information about your products and yourself. At this point, you'll do better applying if you've been selling online already, as they are reviewing all the stores of the folks who apply.
I applied back in early October, but didn't receive confirmation of my acceptance until late November, so it may take a little while if they're still as backed up with applicants. :)
Step 3: Getting Started on Amazon Handmade
Once you've been accepted, you'll receive an email explaining how to get your account all set up. I'm not going to go over this in detail since you'll have all the information there - but I can definitely try to help if anyone has questions!
Getting started on Handmade at Amazon means essentially filling out loads of forms, so it's not very exciting. If you have your business registered, make sure you have all that info on hand.
If you've never sold on Amazon before, you'll have to set up a seller account. If you have an individual seller account, you'll have to upgrade to a professional one. Don't sign up for the professional selling account before you've been accepted to sell at Handmade at Amazon, though! Selling on Amazon professionally normally costs $39.99 a month, but if you get accepted into Handmade at Amazon, they will waive that fee until 8/1/2016. Do keep in mind that if you sell more than 40 items in a month, you will have to begin to pay the $39.99.
Go through all their steps and fill everything out and you'll end up on your seller page. Now you'll be able to start on the fun parts - getting your shop up!
Step 4: Review the Handmade at Amazon Style Guide and Getting Started Guide
The Seller Guide is amazingly helpful when it comes to styling your photos, artisan profile, and creating your listings. It's a really basic and quick guide to read. :)
The Getting Started Guide is much more in depth, and should answer nearly any question you have about being a seller on Amazon.
Because Amazon has put together these fantastic guides, I'm not going to spend much time going over these in detail. It's better you read about it from them, anyway. That way you know you're getting all the correct information. :D
Step 5: Create Your "Artisan Profile"
The first thing you'll want to do is create an Artisan Profile for yourself. Head to your seller page to find the link to do this. This is essentially your store front, and will be what you can link your customers to.
Here's my artisan profile so you can see at a glance what it looks like. :)
There are three sections within your artisan profile, so make sure you're filling it out completely. Keep in mind that you have no control over the text spacing on this page! If you're a rambler like me you'll end up with bigger blocks of text.
Try to get some clear photos of your workspace and your items, and also put up a nice image of yourself if you're comfortable with it! I fully understand not wanting to take photos or put yourself out there and it's hard for me too! But it'll make customers feel more comfortable to see you're a real person!
Bonus points for photos of you making your products! I'm hoping I can get some of those soon.
Step 6: Setting Up Your Shipping
Handmade at Amazon actually suggests you post listings first, but I am an eternal worrier. I wanted to make sure everything on the back end of my store was in good shape before I plunged into putting products out there. :)
If you scroll down to the bottom of your seller page, you'll see "shipping settings" - click that and get started!
First, set your shipping location using the top box.
Then, head down to the next shipping module. You can choose to do per item/weight based shipping OR shipping that scales with the total cost of the order. Click the "Change Shipping Model" button to check out those options.
After that, you'll need to click "edit" and choose which regions you want to ship to and what shipping speeds you'd like to offer. After you do this and click "continue" you'll see a list where you can input your shipping prices for each region. Keep in mind that you'll have to click "continue" and then confirm again on the next page or it won't save your changes. :)
In order to figure out your shipping prices, you'll want to get estimate from the website of the carrier you've chosen to use. I always ship USPS First Class, so I went to their website and grabbed the international and domestic rates so I could calculate it. Make sure that you're factoring in the cost of shipping and packaging - you don't want to lose money when you mail out your products!
Step 7: Creating a Handmade at Amazon Listing
Amazon, like Etsy, allows you to "copy" a listing once you've made it. If you have lots of similar items, this will make populating your shop easier. :)
Creating a listing on Handmade at Amazon is very similar to Etsy, though I actually find it to be a little easier!
There are two things you should be aware of when listing:
- Handmade at Amazon has far less categories to put your products into - I'm having to put my embroideries in "artwork / mixed media" because there is not a fiber arts section so far. Keep that in mind and try to hunt around for the right category!
- Like the artisan profile, you have no styling options for your text on your listings. It will be one big block of text, so keep that in mind - spacing is completely out the window!
My favorite features of the Amazon listing editor are the customization options and the fact that you can input a processing time for every listing.
Because the process of listing an item on Amazon is so similar to Etsy, please refer to my "How to Start Selling on Etsy" instructable for more information over it, and make sure to consult the Getting Started Guide, too!
Step 8: Managing Orders and Shipping
Handmade at Amazon is very similar to Etsy in the way you manage orders. I suggest downloading the Amazon Seller app (iPhone version here, Android here) and turning on notifications just so you can stay on top of it. :)
Once a customer places an order, you'll see the date the item needs to ship by. Make sure to adjust your processing times as necessary so you don't ship orders out late! As I've stated before, you're able to buy and print shipping labels directly from the site, so it makes it super easy.
Amazon tracks nearly everything you do, customer service-wise. This information is available to your customers, so it is even more important to stay on top of orders and communicate well with your customers.
Step 9: Managing Your Inventory
I really like Amazon's inventory system. You have easy access to so much information at a glance, and you're able to edit, delete and copy listings.
Neat things to point out here:
- Amazon assigns a SKU to each listing, which will be beneficial when talking to customers if they have any issues!
- You can see how much in fees you're going to pay for each listing.
- The right hand drop down menu on each listing line will be the one you'll use primarily for editing your listings.
- You can edit prices right from this screen.
Step 10: Comments / Questions
If you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the comments below!
I'd love to hear from other sellers with any tips and tricks you guys may have. Since this is such a new marketplace it will be exciting to see how it goes. :)