Step 9: Selling on Amazon Marketplace

Like eBay, Amazon Marketplace lets small outfits get noticed by millions of users. There’s also different levels of service when it comes to setting up shop.

As with eBay, you can ‘sell one like this’ as a private trader or you can set up a Pro account and get a better deal for selling more items.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already familiar with how to sell the odd item on Amazon as a private seller – namely you ‘sell one like this’, Amazon takes a fee for each item sold, and it processes the payment for you. It even collects the postage costs and credits these for you to post the item on. So far so good (if you’re selling physical items that can be sent via post).

For a business looking to sell higher volumes than the odd AC/DC Deluxe singles CD Box Set (no idea if this is a real thing), it may pay to look at an Amazon Professional account which charges a monthly fee (around £25 + VAT) instead of per item. Because you’re benefitting from the passing traffic of Amazon’s millions of users (so to speak), you’ll also be charged a ‘referral fee’ depending on what you sell. For example, if you sell computers, you’ll be charged 7% while jewellery is 25%. There’s often a minimum referal fee of 40p. On top of that there’s something called a ‘Variable Closing fee’ but only for high volume stuff like books, DVDs (remember them?), music and video.

Amazon provides the following example:

Book sold: £10

Domestic shipping cost: £2.80

Total: £12.80

Amazon Referal fee: -£1.50

Amazon Closing Fee: -£0.43

Total fees: -£1.93

Total credited to your account: £10.87

Granted, the referal fees might be more than you expected but – and it’s a big but – sell via Amazon and you’ll be visible / able to sell your goods via five of Amazon stores including,,, and

Find out more at


Step 8: Selling on eBay

So you’re thinking about opening up an eBay store rather than just list items yourself under your own profile.

That makes sense – an eBay shop can look very professional and do wonders for your credentials when it comes to new customers. Depending on what you’re selling, customers can feel more at ease when browsing through an official looking store. You might happily take a risk buying cheap unwanted protein milkshakes from a guy in Swindon –  but would you buy a big ticket item like a £500 iPad Pro from a private seller? Compare that to a computer and tablet store with lots of products and a dedicated page on customer satisfaction.

All that passing traffic on eBay (millions visit the website each day) is a huge incentive – but remember you’ll have to pay for it.

An eBay store can cost over £20 with fees for each sale not too far off a private seller (unless you sell fixed price items – these don’t incur an insertion fee). Then there’s something called a Final Value Fee which is a percentage of your product’s (potentially up to 10% but often lower if you’re a business selling via a basic shop and depending on what you sell). Then you need to add Paypal payment processing fees (usually over 3%), postage etc.

How does that compare to the set-up and ongoing fees of an ecommerce website like Shopify or Bigcommerce?

It sounds obvious, but makes sure you spend some time doing a bit of digging and estimate what your costs would be based on a typical (realistic) month’s sales. Do all this before you commit to see which platform best suits the product / service / tool you want to sell.


Step 7: Stress testing your online business idea

So you’ve finally managed to whittle down your list of ideas for an online business down to one or two potentials. First things first – well done you! Just getting to this stage is an achievement in itself!

Now the *really* tricky bit: digging a little deeper to see just how viable your online business really is. In other words ‘stress testing’.

Stress test to avoid a mess (er, later on)

How complicated or easy is your idea to explain? You’re customers are likely to be stressed, time-poor and have the attention span of a goldfish thanks to be being bombarded with scatter-gun, non-targeted and irrelevant interuptive ads. Every. Day. Of. Their. Waking. Life. (I’m one of them, clearly). With this in mind, you better make sure your idea or ‘proposition’ is as easy to understand as a Jack and Jill story. If it takes you five minutes to explain what you plan to do, then you need to think again.

Cashola. Moola. Dinero.

The real biggie is cash. How much money can you really make from this idea? If you’re selling smartphone covers, you’ll know that this is a highly competitive market to enter. The cost of making them will be low, but the profits will be too, given that the high level of competition will probably drive down your prices, meaning you’ll not make that much money – unless people buy lots and often (unlikely – if someone needs to replace their phone cover three times a year, something’s probably not right with the phone covers you’ve been selling them – meaning they won’t buy from you after the second one).

Repeat fees

Talking of buying lots and often – just how many products do you think your customer will buy from you? Just the once or will they repeat purchase? If you can figure out how many times a customer might buy from you, it’s then possible to work out how much each customer is worth over time. Is it worth your time and effort if each new customer only spends £5 a year with you? If so, that low level of income per customers means you’ll need to attract 000s of customers a year to make any decent money. Marketing is expensive and you can’t sustain a business if it costs you £5 to get a customer to spend £5 on your website. On the other hand, if each customer is likely to spend over £100 over the course of a year, then you could be on to something.

If you want to find out more about setting up a blog, improving your social media campaigns or how to drive more sales online, get in touch.