Introduction - Amazon Seller Account
Sooner or later, all ecommerce sellers will start thinking about the giant in the room, Amazon marketplace. It can be intimidating to start with the world’s biggest online marketplace. And non-US entrepreneurs especially might have concerns about possible hurdles. The good news is that it’s really quite a simple process to set up an Amazon seller account. This to-the-point guide will show you how and answer the most common questions.
What exactly is an Amazon seller account, anyway, and why do I need one?
If you’re here you probably know what you want, but for those in need of a brief recap, here’s the deal. An Amazon seller account is the 100% necessary prerequisite to start selling commercially on Amazon. It’s a business step, not designed for those looking to make an occasional sale of excess household goods or the like. Once you have an account, you are officially considered a merchant or third-party seller on Amazon.
A popular reason for setting up a seller account is to make best use of Amazon FBA with all its benefits, such as warehousing, packing and dispatch. But with or without FBA, a seller account gives you other advantages such as better terms with Amazon (lower percentage fees), faster payments, and a centralised console to control your prices and inventory. It also ensures easier unified branding for all your products on Amazon.
I’m already registered on Amazon...do I already have a seller account?
No. An Amazon seller account is a special and separate account with no connection to your regular customer account. You’ll be using the subdomain sellercentral.amazon.com for your console rather than simply Amazon.com. There are requirements and fees specific to the seller account.
What’s the difference between Individual and Pro Merchant Accounts?
When you start the sign-up process, you’ll be asked to choose between Individual and Pro Merchant account types. The main difference is that a Pro account requires a monthly payment of $39.99, while the Individual account has no monthly fees. Instead, each item sold under an Individual seller account attracts a flat fee of $0.99. It’s ideal for those who intend to sell only the occasional item on Amazon. You will save money with the Pro account if you intend to sell more than 40 items per month. That will include most people who intend to make a business selling on Amazon.
In addition, note that there are percentage fees for each item which vary per category, from approximately 7% to 21%. If you're using FBA, you'll need to check the storage and related fees as well. Warehouse costs for unsold inventory are reasonable, but can add up if you are not actively moving your stock.
What Is Needed To Set Up My Account?
Firstly, you will need a credit card. This is essential as at the end of the setup process a payment will be made for the first month. As mentioned, the monthly charge for the Pro Merchant account is $39.99. Please note that PayPal or other payment systems are NOT currently accepted – you will need to have a valid credit card.
You will be required to specify your deposit method – this refers to your bank account where you will receive all the income you make from Amazon. If you need to set up a bank account in the USA, there are a number of solutions, such as the service offered by MoneyNet in opening American bank accounts.
What About International (non-US) Applicants?
Applicants from any country can register. There are different tax declaration procedures for US and non-US applicants, however there are no barriers for those outside the United States. As long as you have a valid credit card and a bank account, you’re all set.
How To Set Up Your Account
On to the nitty-gritty. Here’s what to expect when you take the plunge and set up your account.
Firstly, go to the registration page which you’ll find at https://sellercentral.amazon.com, and create your new account, entering your name, email and password of choice.
Second, you will need to enter your address and choose a business name. This is the name which will appear on your pages everywhere on Amazon, so choose wisely. It is often a registered business name such as an LLC, but it doesn’t have to be.
In addition, Amazon will verify you at this stage by sending a one-time PIN to your mobile number, anywhere in the world. It may take a few minutes to arrive in some cases so sit tight.
Just enter your PIN and you’re all set.
Next are the financial details. Two parts here – your credit card details, and bank account. You will make payments using the credit card, and receive funds to your bank account. No PayPal!
If you click “see plan details”, you’ll see the following checkboxes - “Fulfillment by Amazon” and “sell onAmazon Business”. By default, it’s set to Fulfillment by Amazon only. You can choose either or both, but don’t worry too much if you are not sure. The monthly charges are the same for one or both, and you can change your preference later.
Just in case that was all too easy, now comes the boring stuff. You will have to provide your tax information to satisfy Amazon’s requirements. This comes in two forms – one for US residents, and one for non-US residents. Actually, non-US residents get off easier at this stage as they don’t have to satisfy the IRS with as much detail as US residents do.
The Tax Information Interview should only take a few minutes to complete. Amazon has created a guide to filling it out which you can see linked on the top right. You may not need to refer to it all that much but it could be helpful.
You’ll simply need to enter your address and mailing address.
Non-US persons will end up completing the W8-BEN, while most US citizens will complete the W-9. Just as well Amazon will guide you every step of the way so you don’t have to be an expert on these matters. Half-way there already!
This is a legally binding document that will need to be signed, whether digitally, or by hand. If you choose the latter, the whole process will pause at this point while you print out and sign the documents, mail them in to Amazon’s offices in the USA, where they process your application. Obviously, this is going to slow things down considerably, possibly for weeks depending on where you are in the world. With that said, why not just go ahead and do it instantly using the electronic signature.
Now you’re getting there and well on the way. After processing your signature, the tax interview is over. Then you will have to inform Amazon of a few details regarding your business, the type of items you sell, and so on, and you’re all set. At this point, right at the end, your initial payment of $39.99 will be processed.
Taking it from there
After you’ve set up your seller account, you will be able to dive into the Amazon Selling console, where you can set prices, do research on your competitors, and establish the look and layout of your store. It’s a great tool to explore and with careful use will give you an advantage over your competitors. You’re now a registered merchant on Amazon and their support services at Seller Central are also available for your use. Setting up your account is straightforward and open to anyone ready to pursue the powerful marketplace that is Amazon.
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