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What to sell on Amazon: Advice from a successful private label seller

by Mark Scott Adams

As everyone knows, importing private label items from China has become extremely popular in the last few years.

Until now, importing was only for huge corporations. But as technology has advanced, getting private label items has become cheaper, easier and faster. Importing now makes sense for even the smallest of companies.

As a private label merchant for well over two decades, I’ve about heard and seen it all.  But through all of the changes and advances, there is one thing that people still struggle with…

Finding the right products to private label.

I have always wondered, why? It’s not expensive to go to China and go to an event like the Global Sources exhibitions.

The prices will always be less expensive in person, the relationships better and the experience invaluable. The manufacturers always seem to be friendly and willing to accommodate the buyers.

So why do people struggle with what to sell?

By now you’re waiting for some pearl of wisdom. But the reality is I don’t know. For me I have bought and private labeled thousands of items over the years. For me it is always fun and fortunately for me a process I enjoy and comes naturally.

But I accept that it is not that way for everyone. Although I import my own line of items, I also teach people how to sell on Amazon and lead buying trips to China for private label merchants. So I created a product checklist for my students so they could make better decisions on which products to buy.

The checklist is not an absolute, but only a guideline. I created everything that I thought would help you determine if that product you have chosen will be successful.

Download the checklist here and let’s dive in and go over what it shows you.

You have to first determine if an Amazon market is suitable, then find and determine if the product ticks all of the boxes so you can maximize your profits.

1.     Competition

Within a market you’re looking for a something that has enough volume, but not too much competition. Wow…that’s revolutionary…I know, I know, but it’s amazing how many people gloss over this most important point.

You can measure competition by number of reviews. As the Amazon market matures, products are accumulating more and more reviews. Many markets will have several hundred reviews. Ideally you looking for less than 300 reviews on the top few items.

This simply means there is enough volume but not so much that you can’t carve out a place at the table.

2.     Sales volume

Next how are the items selling on that page/market? I want the BSR or Basic Sales Rank to be under 10,000 for similar items that I want to sell. For this number, 1 is the highest ranking item in that category. 

Items under 100 BSR can sell hundreds maybe thousands of item a day. By the time you get to a sale rank of 10,000 they may still sell 5-10 items a day.

3.     Keywords

As a seller I would also like to know if I can sell this item in other similar keyword markets. Each keyword a buyer types in is a market. We want our product to show in as many different markets as possible. Obviously, the more, the better.

4.     Product durability and ease of use

Is the product an item that is durable and easy to understand? Simpler items always seem to have less issues and if the product is intuitive enough to use without instructions, then you’ll get more positive reviews.

5.     Product availability and use

The market/product is not a commodity that could be purchased anywhere, locally or online, but better yet some type of accessory for a more expensive item.

I really like markets/products that people would purchase for themselves, but also as a gift.

6.     Product size and weight

What about size and weight of the product? As we all know, shipping can be more expensive than the product. So I like items that are less than a pound and no bigger than the size of your hands held together.

7.     Retail price

What about retail price? Until now, many sellers have concentrated on items that were in the $10 -$15 range.

I’m starting to see more money made with $19-29 and up items. There is actually less completion the higher you go up in price. The higher the retail price, typically the higher the wholesale price. This eliminates many with limited wholesale budgets. But if you have the budget, $19-29 per item is the sweet spot.

8.     Minimum order quantity

Speaking of wholesale purchases, I am looking for an MOQ of only a few hundred on the initial order and then scale later. I am a big believer in optimizing my inventory with high inventory turns and frequent orders.

9.     Profit

I like a profit percentage of 40-50 percent. Amazon will take roughly 30 percent of your retail price and if your item and shipping account for 20-30 percent you’ll be OK. So net, 40-50 percent.

This is much higher than drop shipping or other traditional methods. We’re not mass marketers with a point or two margins. We’re small companies. We have to make that type of net margin.

That’s about it. I would encourage you to add up the points of your market and product and see what you get. It’s that easy.

I hope this exercise has been helpful. For those who are ready to private label, it has never been easier.

To download a copy of the checklist go to

Mark Scott Adams is a serial entrepreneur who has started, built and sold six businesses. He is also a full-time Amazon seller, author, speaker and creator of the popular Amazon training course FBA HeadStart.


0#Ismail Davids2015-11-12 13:29
I'm interested in purchasing products from China however I need a wider range to view
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