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Million-Dollar Sellers: 7 Things You Can Learn from Them

Amazon sellers tend to set out on their ecommerce journey for similar reasons. Many want to become their own bosses, others seek the flexibility that remote work offers, and some are simply curious enough to try it. Success as an Amazon seller is accessible to very nearly everyone — 85% of Amazon’s third-party (3P) sellers are profitable — and 3P brands come in all sizes.    

In Jungle Scout’s survey of nearly 5,000 Amazon brands and sellers, we found that 19% have made more than $1,000,000 in sales since starting their Amazon businesses, and 58% of those sellers did so in fewer than five years. We got curious: what makes high earners different, and how do so many of these sellers ascend to their millionaire status so quickly? 

We spoke directly to highly successful Amazon sellers to get their tips on how to transform your business, and identified common traits and behaviors of Amazon’s millionaire sellers to see what game-changing strategies our data reveals. Let’s dive in. 

 

1. Regardless of age, gender, and location, anyone can be an Amazon millionaire

To get a complete picture of how million-dollar sellers get ahead, we compared them to those who hadn’t yet cleared $1 million in lifetime sales — the latter being a larger group comprising 72% of sellers (9% say they don’t know their lifetime sales total). In terms of demographics—age, gender, location, etc.—there don’t appear to be any major differences.

  • Age: The most populous age range among both million-dollar sellers and non-million dollar sellers is between 25 and 35, but there are sellers from ages 18 to over 65 in both groups
  • Education: Sellers tend to have similar educational backgrounds, with 73% of Amazon millionaires and 70% of non-million dollar sellers holding at least a Bachelor’s degree
  • Location: While sellers in both groups are located all over the world, a slightly higher percentage of million-dollar sellers come from the U.S. (61% vs 44% non-million dollar sellers)
  • Gender identity: Roughly 65% of the sellers in each group identify as men, and 32% as women 

To uncover the real differences, we have to look at how they actually run their businesses. 

 

2. Amazon millionaires have more time, information, drive, and ambition

Million-dollar sellers credit three main reasons why they’ve found success on Amazon.

  1. 60% of million-dollar sellers say they have the necessary time to commit to their Amazon business, whereas only 47% of non-million dollar sellers say the same.
  2. 51% of million-dollar sellers — versus 40% of non-million dollar sellers — told us they have the tools and information they need to succeed. 
  3. 54% of million-dollar sellers told us they have exceptional drive and ambition. Just 44% of non-million dollar sellers shared the same sentiment.

Additionally, Amazon millionaires are more confident in their seller expertise. When asked about their overall seller knowledge of Amazon, over half (53%) of the million dollar sellers told us that their level of Amazon knowledge is “advanced.” 

And while 42% of non-million dollar sellers believe they have at least “intermediate” Amazon selling knowledge, only 6% considered themselves advanced.

Million-Dollar Tip: Foster a growth-oriented mindset

Dan Vas, an Amazon millionaire and founder of the FBA course Ecom Freedom, credits much of his success to having an entrepreneurial mindset, which involves believing that you’re capable of success as an entrepreneur. 

“One of the biggest battles that you face as a new entrepreneur is you’re always trying to fight off these fears that you have and these limiting beliefs that you have about yourself,” says Dan. “If you want to succeed, you have to believe it’s possible for you.” 

Dan knew that his first 9-to-5 job would be his last: “I thought that I was one of the luckiest 21 year olds because I had secured a job at one of the big banks in Canada. Three weeks later, I was miserable already. I always felt like I could do so much more, like I was destined for greatness. If you felt that way, that is such an important indicator of potential future success.”

He says that seeing himself in the highly successful Amazon entrepreneurs he stumbled upon via YouTube as a 21-year-old was a “massive epiphany,” and encourages other sellers to approach their businesses with fierce determination. “There’s only two things: either success, or a lesson. The only reason that you can make failure exist for yourself is if you quit.” 

You can learn more about Dan’s entrepreneurial mindset on his YouTube channel or check out the clip below. 

 

Carlee Peszko, Jungle Scout’s Manager of Insights and Operations, shared similar thoughts on what it takes to reach millionaire status: “you have to have grit and perseverance.” 

Carlee was “always destined” to sell on Amazon, and has been running a business with her brother since 2016. Having entrepreneurial parents helped spark her passion — she says it was “ingrained in us to start a business.”

As Carlee explains, being flexible and tenacious is key to long-term success. “I am a person who will find a way to make it work no matter what. I also like teaching myself things, so it was fun to learn by doing. I am geared towards delayed gratification. In this business, you don’t see the fruits of your labor right away, and you have to be ok with that or you’ll get bored and give up,” she says. 

 

3. Amazon millionaires didn’t hesitate to start their businesses

Millionaire sellers tend to launch their businesses more quickly and with more startup investment than non-millionaire sellers. 

  • 44% of million-dollar sellers have their Amazon businesses up and running in six weeks or less. By contrast, 27% of non-million dollar sellers say the same. 
  • 47% of million-dollar sellers told us they were able to turn a profit in less than six months, versus 39% of non-million dollar sellers who say the same. 
  • 42% of million dollar sellers told us that they spent at least $5,000 to launch their businesses. Meanwhile, only 35% of non-millionaires spent over $5K. 

Million-Dollar Tip: Launch your idea quickly

Dan’s journey is an example of what one can achieve with a quick startup time: he launched both his Amazon business and his entrepreneurial coaching company within the same year. 

“I started making videos about what was working for me in my amazon FBA business and then I made a course, and that’s how Ecom Freedom was born (my coaching company). About nine or ten months after I found out about Amazon FBA, I already made my first million in combination with my course. So I became a 21 year old millionaire.”

Amazon sellers are people with day jobs, families, and responsibilities, and not everyone has the time and finances to commit to a six-month time-to-profit. But regardless of their resources, most sellers wish they had started selling on Amazon sooner (49% of millionaires and 74% of non-millionaires). Carlee echoes this sentiment: if she could go back in time, she “would have started sooner and invested more time and money in the early days.”

 

4. Million-dollar sellers overwhelmingly use the private label business model 

Of all Amazon business models, private label is by far the most popular among millionaire sellers — it’s used by 81% of them, followed by the wholesale model at 64%. The same is true for non-millionaire sellers: 64% sell private label and 23% sell wholesale. 

Amazon millionaires are also more likely to use dropshipping than non-millionaires (12% versus 8%). This may explain why high earners are able to offer so many products — dropshipping products are created on-demand and don’t require investing in existing inventory. 

Fewer million-dollar sellers use retail or online arbitrage (25% versus 39% of non-millionaires). Non-millionaires’ greater use of arbitrage may account for their relatively longer time-to-profit, since it can be time-intensive to develop consistent arbitrage sales, due to variations in inventory and demand.

Greg Mercer, Jungle Scout’s founder and CEO and million-dollar seller, explains the magic of the private label business model: 

“Private label businesses are so successful on Amazon for three primary reasons. First, you don’t need to compete with other sellers for the Buy Box; you’ll have the listing to yourself. Second, unlike arbitrage business models, you have an unlimited source of inventory, and you don’t need to hunt for new inventory continuously. Lastly, you’re building a real brand and with that, valuable brand equity.”

Million-Dollar Tip: Drive external traffic to your listings

The private label method provides the opportunity to use your creativity and vision to build a brand from the ground up, with truly unique branding and product offerings. On the flip side, this also means you’ll need a bit more hustle to pull it off. Whereas wholesale or arbitrage sellers benefit from existing brand awareness,  private-label sellers have to generate notoriety from scratch. 

The solution? “Utilize social media,” says millionaire seller, ecommerce expert, and branding whiz Joshua Crisp.  

As he built his own ecommerce business in 2016, Joshua noticed that his Amazon pay-per-click (PPC) advertising efforts had hit a wall. He needed to drive new traffic from outside of Amazon to his listings — a move that “helped catapult” his brand’s ranking on Amazon.

“Amazon loves exterior traffic,” says Joshua. “When you’re sending traffic outside of Amazon into Amazon’s ecosystem, not only are they making money off of the purchase of your product because you partner with Amazon, but they’re able to get [the customer] into Prime and get them to buy Alexas and so forth.”

Joshua advises sellers to establish a strong brand presence on social media as a powerful but often underutilized strategy for “efficiently and effectively” growing and scaling an Amazon business. 

As Joshua notes, building brand notoriety through social media pays off in the short and long term: “Down the road, if you choose to sell your company, something that a venture capitalist or an investor is going to ask you is for these digital assets. So this is going to help you with the valuation of your company.”

Joshua explains more about promoting your brand in the clip below — you also find him on his YouTube channel. Learn about social media marketing best practices for Amazon sellers in our guide.  

 

5. Million-dollar sellers are more likely to sell a higher volume of products 

On average, we found that Amazon millionaires list more products than non-millionaires. 

  • 72% of million-dollar sellers have 20 or more active product listings on Amazon. By contrast, 70% of non-millionaires have 10 or fewer 
  • 34% of million-dollar sellers have 250 or more products listed on Amazon. Only 5% of non-million dollar sellers told us the same

To reach $1 million in sales for her business, Carlee “started adding more products and discontinuing those that were no longer successful.” She sells between “40 to 50 products at any given time, but a solid 20 do the bulk of the business.” 

More products means more opportunity for sales, which could account for the difference in earnings. But millionaire sellers know that expanding a product line needs to be a strategic, value-enhancing move. 

Million-Dollar Tip: Out-deliver your competitors

Tatiana James is an ecommerce expert and influencer who launched her own million-dollar private label brand on Amazon in 2014. She says selling on Amazon isn’t a passive, get-rich-quick scheme; in order to be successful, you have to do research and innovate. 

She says, “failure to innovate the product is a very common mistake that I see. This method of slapping your brand name on the same product doesn’t work anymore. There’s a lot more competition on Amazon, and the products are higher quality now. You want to add more value — you want to change the product or add value in some way.” 

To make sure her products earned and retained their best-seller status, Tatiana took the following steps:

  • She purchased the best-selling products in her niche to use as a reference for her own product 
  • She read reviews for competing products to find out what customers loved and hated, then asked her supplier to make corresponding changes to her product 
  • Each time she ordered more inventory, she made improvements to her product — changing the shape, improving the quality of the materials, or using a new color

You can learn more about Tatiana’s strategy on her YouTube channel, or by checking out the clip below.

It’s also important to note that having more products isn’t essential to success as an Amazon seller — Jungle Scout’s Million Dollar Case Study is a testament to this idea. Since 2015, Jungle Scout has launched five products on Amazon to take viewers step-by-step through our startup process. Our ultimate goal was to make $1 million in sales to donate to charity, which we reached in 2020, proving that selling a limited product range can pay off.

Greg breaks down the math for earning $1 million in sales with just one product: “A million dollars per year in revenue equates to $83k/month or roughly $2800/day. If your product sells for around $25-30, that’s only 100 sales per day.” 

“When you think about it that way,” says Greg, “the goal is very attainable. One home run would get you there. Five products selling 20/day would get you there. You can see how the sales add up pretty quickly and you don’t need a ton of products to do it!”

Your success may depend on where you sell your products as well. 91% of Amazon millionaires have listings in the U.S. Amazon market, compared to 76% of non-millionaires.

Here’s another tip: millionaires tend to expand to other ecommerce marketplaces. Compared to non-millionaires, they’re far more likely to list products on sites like eBay, Shopify, Walmart, or Facebook in addition to Amazon. 

Off-Amazon Marketplaces Millionaires Non-Millionaires
eBay 27% 16%
Shopify 18% 8%
Walmart 17% 3%
Facebook Marketplace 14% 9%

 

6. Amazon millionaires spend more time each week on their Amazon businesses

Amazon millionaires put more time toward running and building their businesses. Over half (53%) of millionaires say they spend over 30 hours each week working on their businesses, whereas only 16% of non-millionaires say the same. 

Millionaires’ ability to spend more time maximizing their Amazon earnings may come down to their employment status. While both groups have similar levels of part- and full-time employment outside of Amazon, millionaires are far more likely than non-millionaires to be self-employed or work exclusively on their Amazon businesses (54% versus 40%).  

Million-dollar sellers are also more likely to be focused on growth-oriented areas of their businesses, like marketing their products on and off Amazon, monitoring their finances, and getting more customer reviews. Non-millionaires are more likely to focus on finding products to sell.  

Amazon Sellers Areas of Focus Millionaires Non-Millionaires
Optimizing my product listings 74% 55%
Managing my inventory 74% 52%
Finding products to sell 61% 68%
Managing my Pay-per-Click (PPC) bids 60% 46%
Getting customer reviews 53% 46%
Monitoring and managing my expenses, revenue, and other financial metrics 52% 45%
Managing cash flow 41% 29%
Running promotions for my product(s) 38% 24%
Marketing/promoting my product(s) off Amazon (search engines, social media, etc) 25% 19%
Hiring and vetting freelancers to support my business needs 21% 10%

Million-Dollar Tip: Be patient — ecommerce is here to stay

It may be the case that millionaire sellers are able to focus on different things because they’ve been selling longer; 78% have at least two years of Amazon seller experience. For non-millionaires, 79% have been selling for two years or fewer. 

Millionaire sellers also fared better during the COVID-19 pandemic than non-millionaires. 61% of millionaires say their Amazon business performed better because of the pandemic, while only 35% of non-millionaires say the same. Interestingly, 36% of non-millionaire sellers say they don’t know if their sales increased or decreased during the pandemic, whereas 96% of millionaires gave an up or down answer

Here are a few quotes from our seller survey about COVID-19’s effect on millionaire sellers’ businesses: 

“My Amazon FBA business performed exceptionally well because of Covid-19. I anticipate no change with my Amazon FBA sells if the pandemic is widely over. Covid or no covid, ecommerce is booming because of Amazon.” – Stephen, 25, selling in the U.S. Amazon marketplace

“Our business performed really well because our products are at-home activities. Since this product wasn’t created specifically for COVID and we saw growth beforehand, I don’t expect that our sales will go down after the pandemic is over.” -Kimberly , 32, selling in the U.S. marketplace

“Amazon business did very well. After Covid, I expect to continue to grow my ecommerce business, but may need to do more advertising and promotions.” – Sue, 58, selling on Amazon in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada marketplaces

If you haven’t reached the level of success on Amazon you aspire to yet, keep at it. Three in four Americans believe online shopping is the future of retail, and Amazon is their most preferred shopping destination. As more consumers shift to ecommerce, your business has that many more opportunities to earn loyal customers.

 

7. Million-dollar sellers get unstuck

Feeling “stuck” in your seller journey is a common phenomenon — 66% of all Amazon sellers find themselves bogged down by analysis paralysis at one point or another. 

Between finding products to sell, negotiating with suppliers, wrestling with PPC campaigns, and monitoring their progress, sellers are tested. 

Common Challenges for Amazon Sellers Millionaires Non-Millionaires
Getting support from Amazon/Dealing with Amazon changes 58% 45%
Protecting my business from black hat tactics, counterfeiters, and other risks 54% 33%
Getting customer reviews 48% 57%
Finding a product to sell 35% 53%
Managing PPC bids 33% 46%

Million-Dollar Tip: Get a bird’s-eye view of your business

To get past obstacles, Greg recommends taking a look at the big picture. “Zoom out and ask yourself, ‘what’s stopping you from scaling your business’?” says Greg. “You can think about it in two categories: do you need to optimize your current products more, or do you need to add more SKUs? After figuring that out, build the plan to execute on that.” 

At the end of the day, it never hurts to seek support in running your business — after all, millionaires are twice as likely to hire freelancers. The Amazon seller resource industry has exploded in recent years, meaning that in addition to paid tools and services, there’s more opportunity for free education, mentorship, and collaboration than ever before.

Dan Vas is a big proponent of using books and FBA courses to educate yourself before and throughout your selling career. By the time he decided to launch his ecommerce business, he had read “over one hundred entrepreneurial and success books.” 

“I found every single [FBA] course that I could find and I told my friend the next day about Amazon FBA (he also wanted to quit his job and he also shared this entrepreneurial dream). We decided to invest in courses and to both learn. Three months later, we were both successful — mind you, he was successful with his first product, I was successful with my third product,” says Dan.  

Greg emphasizes taking advantage of all available resources: “Remind yourself that all business problems have solutions. For example, don’t know how to optimize further? Get on YouTube or hire a consultant. Short on cash for inventory? Look at financing options or negotiating better terms with your supplier.”

You can find how-to guides for every aspect of running an ecommerce business through Jungle Scout Academy, on the Jungle Scout blog, and within our free Resources center. You can also source advice and strategies from successful Amazon veterans like Greg, Tatiana, Joshua, and Dan — check out the speakers from our recent virtual conference, JungleCon, to start.

 

Adopt a million-dollar seller strategy

Not every seller wants (or needs) to be a million-dollar seller. But everyone can learn something from these high earners. Whether it’s building their seller knowledge, focusing on growth, or diversifying their brand, million-dollar sellers follow winning strategies. 

How will you change your business approach? Let us know in the comments if these insights inspired you. 

 

6 comments on “Million-Dollar Sellers: 7 Things You Can Learn from Them

    1. Hi William,

      You can do either or! I like to start with a broader search of multiple categories so you have a good chance of finding something worthwhile. Then, I niche down into just one or two categories.

      If you have an idea of what you’d like to sell, then search in one category.

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