Can you sell generic items on Amazon?
As the biggest online marketplace, Amazon has opened new avenues for entrepreneurs to make money by selling on the platform. Currently, there are over 2 million sellers registered on the platform. What that means is that competition is very high. A major question remains, however: can you sell generic items on Amazon?
To succeed on Amazon, you have to create a unique brand and take the necessary measures to grow it. Unfortunately, generic and white box items will no longer cut it. Years ago, selling generic products on Amazon or any other online marketplace was not a problem. Today, things have changed.
To start selling and even succeed on the platform, you must build a fully functioning brand. Private labeling is a great way to create a unique and trusted brand.
Why is Amazon so concerned with reputation?
Amazon is a business at the end of the day, and they need to protect their reputation to remain at the top. Because of that, Amazon is extremely customer-centric. With millions of people visiting the online platform daily, Amazon focuses on creating the best customer experience. Amazon already enjoys some monopoly in the e-commerce space, with 300 million active customers, 160 million of whom are Amazon Prime members.
Because of the standards Amazon has set, every customer who visits the platform expects the best. Therefore, selling white box and generic items in this day and age could mean a negative customer experience and attract bad reviews. And these are things that Amazon wants you to avoid.
Why doesn’t Amazon encourage the sale of generic items?
You can sell generic items on Amazon, but you will be on your own if you decide to pursue this strategy. For instance, many sellers buy generic products from other e-commerce stores and resell them on Amazon. But here is the thing: drop-shipping and other similar strategies might work, but they are not sustainable in the long run.
If you sell generic items on Amazon, you might find your account in hot water
At some point, these strategies might get you in trouble with Amazon and have your account suspended or your seller rights taken away, and there won’t be anything you can do about it. Some other problems that might arise if you sell generic products on Amazon include:
- Any seller can sell a different version of your generic product on the Amazon marketplace: Generic items are just that; generic. No branding, nothing. Because of that, any other seller can get on your listing and sell a different version of the product, usually, at a much lower price. This creates unnecessary competition that reduces your sales margins. If your items were branded, it would be difficult for someone to create copycat versions of the product and sell it on Amazon.
- Other sellers can duplicate your listings: Generic products leave you susceptible to other sellers duplicating your product listings. There’s very little you can do when that happens because your product is not branded. Ideally, when someone duplicates your listing, it means they are selling a product they don’t even have and can’t fulfill.
- Difficulty resolving customer complaints: Customer complaints will happen to every seller at some point and most sellers get to review these issues without any negative consequences on their accounts. With generic products, it’s a little different. When a customer raises a complaint, Amazon requires you to provide invoices for authentication. If Amazon can’t match the brand name to what is on your invoices, it will open a can of worms. Amazon won’t hesitate to shut down your listing or, worse, your whole account. While you may appeal, most cases involving these issues don’t get anywhere.
How can you start selling branded items on Amazon if you already sell generic items?
If you’ve decided to start a business on Amazon, why not go all the way and build something sustainable? Sure, you can try and sell generic pro1ducts and white box items on Amazon, but it will only get you so far and can potentially lead to problems that get your account or listing suspended. Selling branded items is a much better and safer alternative in this age and time.
There are two ways you can sell branded items on Amazon:
- You can obtain branded items from wholesalers, manufacturers, or distributors and sell them on Amazon.
- You can create your own branded items from scratch
Private labeling is a concept you will hear a lot when building a brand on Amazon. Basically, private labeling is where you buy products from manufacturers and label and market them using your brand. Private labeling gives FBA sellers an incredible opportunity to build a trusted brand that can last a lifetime.
Why is selling branded products a better alternative in 2022?
The good thing about Amazon is that the marketplace is leveling the field for everyone. If you build a good brand, you can be up there with the biggest brands in the world, but you must put in the effort. Here’s why:
- No brand restrictions: Usually, Amazon has restrictions regarding selling products from other brands. This is not something you ever have to worry about when you create your own brand.
- Little competition: When you sell generic items, you will compete with products of the same brand. With private labeling, you will only be in competition with yourself. Because of that, you never have to worry about rival sellers undercutting your listing and even stealing your customers.
- Amazon A+ Content: Enhanced Brand Content is a feature Amazon makes available to only brands registered on the platform. The feature allows you to customize your listing with high-quality multimedia content. Such premium features enhance user experience, leading to more traffic and conversions.
Overall, like with any business you build from the ground up, establishing a brand and seeing results will take time. However, you can look at private labeling as a long-term investment into a business or asset you can cash in later. However, it will be a waste of time and resources when done wrong. Research and find products worth investing in and then build a brand.
Things to look out for when branding items
Say you’ve been selling generic items but now want to build a sustainable business you can call your own. If you are creating branding from previously generic items, you must have your brand appear on the product and the packaging.
Because of that, the product you are selling must be manufactured under your brand. Putting a sticker on an existing generic item and claiming ownership will just not cut it. In fact, it might attract negative reviews on your account and ruin the brand you’re trying to build before it even takes off.
When building a brand, you must remember that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. In short, you don’t have to create a whole new product because let’s face it, that will require you to have a significant amount of money and even your own manufacturing plant.
You just need to find a product you want to sell, research your competition and find out how you can improve the product. Tools like Helium 10 and Jungle Scout can help you research products that can sell.
For instance, say you want to sell beard growth oil under your brand.
- Who are your top competitors on Amazon?
- What pain points have their products not addressed?
- Is the product even profitable; in short, how many searches for the product are there in a month?
- What things are customers complaining about regarding what your competitors are selling?
Once you’ve addressed such things, you can go on and create a much more improved product, brand it, and watch your sales grow.
Selling generic products on Amazon might work for some time, but sellers who want to grow must focus on building a brand instead.
Generic products have many downsides, including getting your listing and account suspended. Focusing on building a brand instead is a sustainable model that will see you scale your business and even break into top brick-and-mortar stores. Building a brand will take time and resources, but in the end, you will be building a business that will last a lifetime.
Do you have a generic item that has gotten suspended or led to a suspension of your account? Riverbend Consulting can help. Contact us for a quote
Kelly Johnston is the glue that holds Riverbend Consulting together and was with the company at its founding. She survived 10 years in the digital salt mines of Amazon Seller Performance. Before that, Kelly held other e-commerce roles where she worked in content, sales, and operations. When not helping clients, Kelly is a talented artist. Collage and up-cycled assemblages are her current passions.
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