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why sell on Amazon

Top 9 Reasons People Sell on Amazon (and 3 Reasons They Quit)

There are as many unique reasons for starting a business as there are entrepreneurs. But for Amazon sellers, startup stories tend to align around common themes. Ask a seller why they launched their FBA business, and you’ll likely hear about building financial freedom, bucking the 9-5 status quo, and earning extra money to care for loved ones or chip away at a bucket list.

These possibilities are what make selling on Amazon so exciting—you can explore self-employment through ecommerce, thereby sidestepping overhead expenses of brick-and-mortar retail and lowering some of the barriers to success in business. 

Jungle Scout surveyed more than 1,000 Amazon sellers to understand why they got started, and received some inspiring responses. If you’ve been thinking about launching an ecommerce business but haven’t yet taken the plunge, let their stories motivate you to take action! 

Here are the top reasons why Amazon sellers got started, in order of popularity.

 

Top 9 reasons people start selling on Amazon

1. To replace their current job

43% of sellers said they started their Amazon business because they were interested in a new form of employment or income stream to replace their current job or salary. Working for yourself has a lot of benefits, and sellers commonly cite the ability to make their own hours as a big motivator in their decisions to become entrepreneurs.    

I recently decided to let go of my previous business [that] I ran from home. It was very time-consuming. I also homeschool my children and want to have more enjoyable, quality time before my time with them is gone. A friend introduced me to Amazon FBA. I started learning all I could about it and knew, right away, that my first step was getting Jungle Scout. It was a tool I couldn’t do without! -Amanda T.

Working for yourself offers the freedom to pursue quality time with family and loved ones. 

I wanted to get out of the typical 8-5 job and spend time with my son as he grows up. -Ian W.

 

2. Remote-work flexibility

On a similar note, 41% of sellers cited the desire for flexibility to work anywhere or travel. 

For instance, some sellers want the freedom to work while they travel, and take vacations on their own schedule. 

I want to have independent business with flexible hours and spend more time with my friends, family and enjoy life, sports, and travel after COVID. -Racha P. 

Others are limited in their ability to leave home, and need to have the option of working remotely.  

I have health issues that make it very difficult for me to work outside the home. Plus, I have always wanted to and intended to own my own business. -Michaelle S.

 

3. Curiosity

24% of sellers say they started out of curiosity about ecommerce. And what’s not to be intrigued about? Between impressive profits, the digital nomad lifestyle, and vibrant seller community, FBA holds a lot of exciting potential for newcomers. 

Some sellers approach their FBA business as a way to indulge their love of learning. 

I wanted to learn how to manage a business and have money to start to invest. -William M.

Selling on Amazon even attracts veteran bootstrappers. 

I am a serial entrepreneur & I ran across the idea on YouTube. I couldn’t resist! -Kristen M.

It’s easy to justify taking a chance on FBA, given that Amazon’s market value tipped just over one trillion dollars this year. 

I’m a numbers guy. Anyone that doesn’t want a piece of a trillion dollar pie is a fool. -Mark G.

 

4. To build their existing business

For those with an existing product line, Amazon is an obvious place to begin or expand ecommerce operations. With 300 million customers, annual revenue in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and 12 global marketplaces serving the largest national economies on the planet, listing on the Everything Store is essential to a comprehensive ecommerce campaign. 20% of Amazon sellers joined to add a new sales channel and broaden an existing company’s customer reach. 

Our company wanted to explore e-commerce opportunities and Amazon seemed like the best place to start. -Carl B.

 

5. As a side hustle

Some folks want to expand their earning potential, but not by climbing the corporate ladder; 18% of sellers run FBA businesses as a way to make extra money on top of what they earn through their primary employment. 

For example, a freelancer might want a fallback in case of inconsistent contract work. 

I am an IT contractor so I want secure my monthly income even if I lost/ended my contract job. -Saqib M.

FBA profits are also a source of relief for costs related to education, healthcare, and outstanding debt. 45% of sellers use their Amazon earnings to support dependents like children, aging parents, or loved ones with special needs. 

I wanted to earn extra income for my family since I am unable to work outside of the home due to being a stay at home mom to a son with special needs. There are so many financial expenses that go along with having a child with special needs and I wanted to help. We also have a son who just started high school and will be driving soon! -Tiffany R. 

It’s also a great way to build a college fund for aspiring scholars…

I wanted to earn extra income so I could pay for my kids education. -Tatyana B. 

…or to build a nest egg for an early and comfortable retirement. 

I want to retire early. – Eve R.

 

6. To save for big purchases 

Financial freedom doesn’t just mean building savings and paying off debt—sellers want to afford the finer things in life, too! 16% say they began selling to finance luxury purchases or travel. 

For aspiring digital nomads, that means jet-setting across the globe without interrupting their earnings. 

I wanted to make a passive income in hopes that one day it could take over my regular job. The goal is to be able to travel and still make money. -Ravi C.

I want to travel the world freely and I will not have that opportunity with an office job. -Lia S.

For others, that means funding travel opportunities for their growing families. 

I was looking for a way to make extra money and not rely on my paycheck anymore. Having [a] new born changed everything for our family. Having the extra income will help us live better life, have less debt and be able to take vacations again. -Bander B.

 

7. To escape their current job

14% started selling because they disliked their job and wanted a change. Selling on Amazon offers freedom from some of the aspects of work we just can’t stand. Take it from this seller, who grew tired of their monotonous office job. 

After multiple mergers and corporate restructures I decided I no longer wanted to sit behind someone else’s desk. With Amazon FBA I have achieved that and really enjoy the flexibility and varied nature of the work. -Julia P.

Sellers sometimes find that retirement just isn’t for them, and occupy their time instead with entrepreneurship. 

As I am getting close to retirement and I have lot of free time, I wanted to raise a business that gives me extra money and [keeps] me very busy. -Jorge G. 

 

8. They just needed money 

Out of work or underpaid? It happens to the best of us—at least 14% of sellers say they launched their Amazon business because they had little to no income and wanted better earnings.

I needed a way to earn more money. -Tre R. 

Amen, Tre! Amazon profits can supplement insufficient earnings from other jobs, or help smooth the transition from one career path to another. 

I was in the process of changing my career from teacher to freelance writer and editor. Therefore, I needed to earn extra income so I could pursue my goals as a writer and entrepreneur. -Karina C.

 

9. To explore a new hobby

Selling on Amazon doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Around 10% of sellers pick up FBA as a way to pass the time, and stick around once they’ve found success. 

This includes some who’ve found that traditional retirement just isn’t for them, and occupy themselves with entrepreneurial endeavors. 

As I am getting close to retirement and I have lot of free time, I wanted to raise a business that gives me extra money and [keeps] me very busy. -Jorge G. 

I retired from Higher Ed. last fall and rather quickly became tired of being retired. I enjoy staying busy and engaged. -Ron C.

 

Top reasons sellers quit

Selling on Amazon isn’t all rainbows, butterflies, and easy conversions; sometimes, the obstacles are too great to overcome. When you’re starting a business, it’s important to know what’s at stake—an accurate prediction of how much money, time, and effort you’ll need in order to succeed will help you sidestep the common issues that lead sellers to quit. 

Fortunately, Jungle Scout has tons of tools and resources to keep typical disruptions at bay, and our team of expert sellers stays on top of Amazon developments and other seller news to make sure we cover new concerns, too. 

Here are the top three reasons sellers throw in the towel, plus links to guides and features to help you beat them. 

1. FBA is too expensive

86% of Amazon sellers are profitable. Nearly three quarters earn over $1,000 each month in sales, and 39% earn over $10,000 monthly. On top of that, the private label model—by far the most popular way to do business as a third-party Amazon seller—generates some of the highest profit margins among all Amazon business models. 

Average Monthly Sales

 So what went wrong for sellers who quit FBA due to prohibitive cost? 

Perhaps they listed a product that had little chance at profitability, and had to eat the cost of inventory that never moved. Products that are large, costly to produce, or seasonal can present this issue (though there is a way to take advantage of seasonal demand). Data around popular Amazon product categories, robust tools for product research, and tips for finding profitable product niches are there to help sellers get back on track with a winning listing. 

Or maybe their profits simply aren’t large enough to keep their business going, and they need to explore cost-cutting strategies. Many sellers aren’t as familiar with Amazon’s fee structure as they should be, and are being overcharged as a result. 

Not everyone knows how to find an overseas manufacturer suited to their product and budget, or how to negotiate with suppliers to lower their sourcing costs. 

Opportunities to overspend aren’t just limited to procurement—sellers often waste money on marketing that doesn’t generate conversions. When done right, Pay-per-Click (PPC) ad campaigns can boost sales to new heights, but managing PPC proves challenging for 42% of sellers. And tracing traffic generated by off-Amazon marketing was trickier to do before programs like Attribution came around. 

Experienced sellers know that the best-made listing won’t perform well without plenty of positive reviews. Tools, strategies, and Amazon programs can help drive customer reviews and ratings so your product can climb in sales rank. 

 

2. Selling online is too time-consuming (or profits don’t occur quickly enough)

Everyone’s situation is different, and not all sellers have time to grow an FBA business alongside their other responsibilities. But for those struggling to find a balance, it may help to understand the average seller’s time commitment, startup costs, and time-to-profit, as well as utilizing some strategies for working smarter —not harder. 

Time-strapped sellers, take heart: you don’t have to make FBA your full-time job to be successful. Many profitable sellers don’t even devote part-time hours to it. 

In fact, only 18% of sellers spend 40 hours tending their businesses. Most sellers (54%) run their Amazon business on the side of full- or part-time employment, with 57% spending fewer than 20 hours per week on FBA. A solid 13% spend just over half an hour each day on their Amazon work. This flexibility is what makes selling on Amazon a great outlet for people looking to switch careers or make money while running a household.

Like any new business, starting out on Amazon requires an up-front investment of time and money, but this varies.

59% of sellers spend less than $5,000 in startup costs, which includes the cost of inventory, fees, and promotion. Well over a quarter (28%) spend $1,000 or less. You can make an even smaller investment by starting out with the arbitrage model. By reselling discounted brand-name items, you can spend as much or as little as you want on inventory, while taking advantage of customers’ existing brand awareness.

No matter how many hours or dollars you devote to launching your business, you should expect some time to pass before you turn a profit.

Time to Profit Percent of Sellers
Fewer than 3 months 22%
3-6 months 22%
6 months-1 year 23%
1-2 years 13%
More 2 years 3%
I don’t know 3%
I’m not profitable 14%

While 44% of sellers see profits within six months of starting their business, it’s likelier to take up to a year or two to begin making a return on your initial investment. So don’t worry if you’re not raking in revenue a few months into selling—that’s normal!

 

3. There’s too much to learn about selling

We get it: there’s an information overload for how to sell on Amazon. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. 

35% of sellers say having the necessary tools and information is an important factor for success as an Amazon seller. There are countless free resources available online to help sellers get going, including many developed by Jungle Scout’s expert sellers. Build your skills with:

Importantly, it doesn’t matter whether sellers have existing business experience or knowledge. 60% of sellers say their current Amazon business is their first experience as a web entrepreneur, and there are success stories at every education level

At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of sellers say Amazon entrepreneurship takes effort and intent. But the amount of time, money, and brainpower you devote to it depends on your preference.

 

Create your own startup story

What will be your biggest reason for starting out as an Amazon seller? Starting a business on Amazon is the solution for countless parents, career changers, and freedom builders—it can work for you, too. 

For a comprehensive guide on getting started, check out How to Sell on Amazon FBA.

Did any of the seller quotes resonate with you, or do you have a different startup story? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

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