Anthony St. Clair
Anthony St. Clair is a business copywriter, author of the Rucksack Universe travel fantasy series, and a craft beer writer specializing in Oregon. Learn more at anthonystclair.com.
12 min. read
Updated February 7, 2024
When figuring out how to turn eCommerce into your side hustle or primary business, Amazon FBA can be your ticket to starting a small business on Amazon. With over 4.1 billion products sold by independent sellers on Amazon in 2022 alone, Amazon’s marketplace for online sellers is growing, competitive, and full of opportunity.
In order to take full advantage of everything Amazon’s ecosystem has to offer your business, you should create an Amazon FBA business plan. Your Amazon business plan can help you think through your vision, understand the competition, identify opportunities, and foresee challenges. The better your plan, the better your chance at success as an Amazon FBA merchant.
When your business sells products to a customer online, those orders go through a fulfillment process, such as:
A business can manage this on its own. On a small business or solopreneur scale though, that can mean figuring out logistical steps that take up a lot of time. For example, where will you store the products you sell? Warehouse space can be costly—and there’s only so much room in your apartment or garage.
Plus, once you have the products ready to go, they need to be securely packaged, including padding to protect during bumps and drops during shipping. You’ll have to figure out how the order gets on its way to the customer. Do you schedule regular pickups from UPS or FedEx? Are you making lots of trips to the post office, waiting in line, or setting up the customer’s shipping address and shipping options to generate labels?
Or, Amazon can do it all for you. The “FBA” in Amazon FBA is short for “Fulfillment by Amazon.” Instead of you taking care of the fulfillment steps above, you can pay a fee to Amazon, typically a flat monthly fee plus a per-order fee. Instead of managing orders, you can focus on sales strategy, suppliers, marketing, and the nitty-gritty of building, expanding, and profiting from your Amazon FBA eCommerce store.
As you develop your business plan, you can review Amazon’s FBA program, see how it fits your business goals, and evaluate the program’s costs and opportunities in your planning.
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For starters, focus overall on your business. Amazon FBA is a way to solve a problem and fulfill a need in your business, but it isn’t the entirety of your business. As you start working on your Amazon FBA business plan, think through what sort of business you are building. Amazon FBA can have a role, but so might other sales and distribution channels. Here are five things to keep in mind as you write your Amazon FBA business plan.
Your business will be selling products online. So, what products will you be selling—and what sort of seller will you be? Depending on the types of products you want to sell, you’ll make different decisions about choices such as product sourcing and your overall business model. Here are three models to consider: Reseller, Private Label, or Proprietary.
A reseller sources products from other companies and then sells them to customers on Amazon. Being a reseller can be the easiest and cheapest way to get started in Amazon FBA. Startup costs can be as low as $500, depending on the products you are purchasing for reselling.
However, the downside is that other companies can just as easily follow the same model (and sometimes Amazon itself sources or creates products that may be the same as yours). It may also be challenging to figure out how to stand out in the market. If focusing on a reseller model in your Amazon business plan, examine competitors, similar products currently on the market, and what sort of marketing and promotional strategies can help you build sales and a customer base.
If your focus is on building a recognized product brand and growing customer loyalty, while primarily sourcing pre-made products you can resell, a private label Amazon business model could be a good fit for your business. Manufacturers worldwide specialize in creating unbranded products that other companies can brand and sell. Also known as a “white label” product, building your business around private label sourcing can help you develop a distinctive product brand that customers look for.
Consider focusing your business plan around the characteristics you want your brand to embody. That can help you identify white label products that are a good fit. A private label Amazon FBA business model may also require more capital, for investing in labeling, packaging, brand development, and marketing.
For the Amazon seller who wants to go all-in on business, marketing, product development, and commerce on Amazon and beyond, developing and selling your own proprietary products can have both the most work and investment, but also the best chance to stand out and profit in the market.
Developing your own product will require the most up-front investment and capital. Your business plan can discuss the risks and challenges your business might face during product development and getting products to market, and how you are prepared to meet those challenges.
Creating your own product also opens up opportunities to patent that product. Plus, it can be easier to sell your product in other stores or channels beyond Amazon.
As you make your business plan, examine each type of seller and its impact on your value proposition. How can you use a seller type to offer value to the customer and win sales? What problem will you be solving in the market, and how will one model help you more than another
Between Amazon and its third-party sellers, combined Amazon carries over 353 million products. In 2018 alone, Amazon sales accounted for 49.1% of all US online retail spending, and over 20 million people visited the site each month.
While being an Amazon FBA seller can be an easy way to get your eCommerce business underway, it is also extremely competitive. As you develop your business plan, examine:
Key to your business plan and your chances for success are figuring out a certain sweet spot of what products you can sell that will make you the right amount of profit. When evaluating products to offer, also take a look at how much that product is searched on Amazon, how much competition there is for it or similar products, how easy it is to source your products from suppliers, and the right price point.
Inside Amazon FBA, you can estimate the fees Amazon will charge you, but there will be other costs to account for in your business plan too. From social media to paid advertising, there are many ways to get the word out about your products. Your business can pay for keyword-based advertising on Google and Amazon. You can also work on posting to social media, as well as advertising or paying for influencer content creation on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest.
As you develop and implement an ads strategy, keep an eye on your average cost of sale (ACOS): Aim to keep it low enough to preserve profits, usually with an ACOS of 10% or less.
Also consider your overall sales strategy not just for Amazon, but beyond. What other retailers would be a good fit for your product? Will you have your own in-house eCommerce store on your business’s website? Having multiple sales channels can make your business more durable and help your operation weather ups, downs, competition, or other problems.
Another part of your sales strategy is sourcing. Many Amazon FBA sellers source products from other countries, such as China. Understanding your suppliers and the cost to acquire your products can help you make out your business’s costs, revenues, and financial forecasts.
Depending on factors such as your business model, startup capital, and what products you plan to sell, you can then use your business plan to understand the financial path your business can take. As you develop the financials portion of your plan, try to find good estimates for costs such as:
Combined with an understanding of your profit margins and product costs, you can map out realistic financial projections as you start the business and begin operating it day in and day out. Running the numbers in your business plan can help you determine if your Amazon FBA business could be financially profitable. It can also help you evaluate if you need to take a fresh look at your idea to see what you need to change to make the business more viable.
You’ll need to consider sales and fulfillment milestones that help ensure that you are appropriately anticipating demand and not overspending or overestimating need. Outlining who you’ll be partnering with (vendors/3rd party fulfillment and quality assurance providers) will also be necessary here.
Succeeding in your Amazon FBA business also depends on knowing what goals you want to meet, and who you will be working with. Some of those milestones might be quantitative, such as an amount of gross revenue achieved or an overall number of sales.
Other milestones can speak to factors that can help you optimize your Amazon business. For example, if your business increases sales to a specified level, you might be able to reduce your unit costs by ordering more products at a time. Those volume discounts can add up quickly to significant additional net revenue on your bottom line.
Your overall business decisions throughout the year also depend on understanding market conditions, supply chain pressures, upcoming trends, and more. The key is to figure out how to best estimate demand, stock levels, pricing, and other costs, while overspending on inventory or advertising, and also not overestimating the market’s need or desire for your products.
Along with Amazon, your business will also rely on other stakeholders or third parties. If you are running the business with partners, or if you have employees or work with independent contractors, you’ll need to take into account their costs, compensation, and expectations. Noting your partners, such as suppliers, quality assurance providers, retail partners (in addition to Amazon FBA), and other service providers such as attorneys and accountants in your business plan helps keep those relationships top of mind.
As you work on your business plan and get your startup off the ground, there will be other questions to answer, challenges to meet, and opportunities to evaluate. Here are a few Amazon FBA tips that can help you get more out of your business and your Amazon business plan.
Amazon is a powerful retail channel, but they are not the only game. Plus, having only one sales channel makes your entire operation dependent on only one company, which can put your profits or business at risk. Amazon can be a vital part of your eCommerce strategy. You can better weather business ups and downs, and potentially draw on more revenue streams, by having sales and marketing channels outside of Amazon. Develop active social media presences, partner with other retailers, and also look at selling directly through your own website. When you diversify your sales channels, you can spread risks and potentially grow sales more than with Amazon alone.
Just like online content can be optimized for search engines such as Google, your Amazon product listings can be optimized to better fit customer expectations and Amazon’s own algorithms:
In your packaging and online correspondence, ask customers to leave an honest review about your products. You can learn a lot about how your product is or is not meeting their expectations. Plus, customer reviews can be gold mines for other product features or benefits to include in your Amazon description.
From Amazon Ads to enhanced A+ content, Amazon has a diverse range of features that sellers like you can put to work for your business. As part of your business planning, estimate a budget for advertising on Amazon, and also for creating visual and text content that can be incorporated into your product page’s A+ content. These are just a few of the many features that can help your Amazon FBA business sell more. Also check out Amazon’s global selling, multi-channel fulfillment, FBA customer service.
Get started by downloading our free Amazon FBA business plan PDF can give you the template you need to start setting up your Amazon FBA business—and start building sales and customers around the world. This Amazon business plan is just one of hundreds of free sample plans that have been time-tested by our team and by thousands of entrepreneurs all over the world.
Amazon is a competitive marketplace used by hundreds of thousands of sellers around the world. However, barriers to entry are low, and there is an opportunity for new sellers to find their niche in this market as well. Your Amazon FBA business plan can help you think through the challenges and opportunities that you’ll face in today’s eCommerce environment. You’ll also be able to identify potential business challenges—as well as milestones and opportunities that can help you both monitor your business’s progress and see where you can grow.
Whatever you want to sell on Amazon, get going: Get your free Amazon FBA business plan today.