Selling things online has become big business and is a great stay at home mom job, a way to earn extra money, or even leaving your 9 to 5. There are a few different platforms where you can sell products, but Amazon FBA stands apart as the largest online market place.
When I first heard about selling on Amazon, I was so intrigued about selling online. My only hold up was that I had no idea where to start and I had an Etsy shop in the past that wore me out when it came to getting products to the post office.
I started doing some research and came across Jessica Larrew and “The Selling Family.” She and her husband have built a business online selling products on Amazon, and now they teach other families how to do it, too!
Today I’m excited to share Jessica’s experience selling with Amazon FBA and she’s answering some important questions for anyone who is interested in starting their own Amazon FBA business!
Before we jump into Jessica’s interview here are 2 things you need to know about how Jessica sells with Amazon FBA.
What is Amazon FBA?
Amazon Fulfillment by Amazon is a program that allows sellers to ship their products to an Amazon facility where the products will be stored and shipped by Amazon. You don’t have to worry about storing your products, going to the post office everyday, or handling the customer service. Amazon takes care of all of that!
What is Retail Arbitrage?
Retail Arbitrage is the purchasing of products from retail stores (Big Lots, Target, Walmart, etc) and then selling them for a higher price online.
Interview with Jessica Larrew from The Selling Family
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your Amazon business.
I’m so excited to share my story with you and your readers, Ashleigh.
I live in California with my husband Cliff and our son Aiden. The three of us make up “The Selling Family” which is the name of my website where I blog about selling on Amazon.
Everything changed for me when I was laid off from my job in 2008. Cliff and I were newly married, hoping to start a family, and not ready to live off of just one income!
Luckily, I had been selling on eBay for “fun money” as a side gig. So I took every last dollar from my last corporate paycheck and spent it on eBay inventory at thrift stores.
It actually didn’t take me all that long to replace my modest salary with eBay earnings. But by then, I was wanting more.
With eBay, I was exhausted from spending all day buying inventory, creating my own listings, taking photos, packing up individual orders, and then driving back and forth to the post office.
If I wanted to make more money on eBay, I would have had to put in a lot more hours – this was time I didn’t have!
So when I heard some eBay sellers chatting about Amazon’s new FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) program in 2010, I was intrigued.
I read all about it, studied every resource that was out there (there weren’t many!), and switched my business over to Amazon FBA.
If you’re not familiar at all with Amazon FBA, I’ll try to sum it up. Basically, with Amazon FBA, I am responsible for buying inventory and choosing my selling price. Amazon does most of the rest of it!
Once I’ve bought enough items to resell, I pack them up all together and ship them off to an Amazon warehouse. Then Amazon stores my items and even packs them up and ships them off to customers when they sell. Amazon also handles customer service and product returns.
You can get all of the details in my Beginner’s Guide to FBA blog post to learn more about it.
It’s a lot less work than selling on eBay and it’s what allowed me to scale my business to six figures in my first full year. Because of this, I was able to retire Cliff from his stressful corporate job and he now works right alongside me!
There are actually a lot of different business models that work with Amazon FBA. But the one that Cliff and I do ourselves is called Retail Arbitrage.
With Retail Arbitrage, we’re buying our inventory from regular retail stores like Big Lots, Walmart, and CVS. We try to buy items on clearance so that we can resell them for a profit on Amazon.
It’s actually a really fun and interesting business model. When I walk into a retail store, I see infinite possibilities. You never know when you’ll find a hot toy or even something ordinary like laundry detergent that has a huge profit!
And because I can use Amazon’s warehouses instead of having to keep items in my home or garage, I can buy as much inventory as I can afford. It also means that I can take the whole family to Disneyland and still have sales coming in on Amazon.
2. There have been changes to Amazon over the years since you first started and an increase in new sellers, is it still possible to make money selling products on Amazon?
It has definitely changed a lot since I got my start. But honestly, I think it’s changed for the better.
As you said, there are a lot more third-party sellers now, but there are also a lot more buyers. Especially Prime customers who are the very best buyers for Amazon FBA sellers. Last I checked, Amazon had just surpassed 100 million Prime members!
Not only are there more customers but there are also more products for sale. This is great for sellers because now customers want to buy everything on Amazon. When I started, Amazon was still considered an online bookstore, and I don’t really sell that many books.
But now, customers are coming to Amazon for toys, clothing, groceries, household goods….seriously everything.
Really no other online marketplace can compete with Amazon these days, so it’s still the best place to make money selling products online.
PRO TIP: Follow The Selling Family for awesome tips on finding great deals to sell in your Amazon FBA business. Check out this video from Cliff about finding products at Big Lots and how they made $890 in profits!
3. How long does it take to build a successful Amazon business? What is the learning curve for a beginner?
Selling on Amazon isn’t complicated, but it can take a little while to get the hang of it. I think that the best trait a new seller can have is patience.
The first few shipments you put together may be really frustrating, but then it starts to get so much easier.
It’s the same on your first few shopping trips looking for inventory. It may seem like there’s “nothing profitable” in your town, but then all of a sudden it clicks and you start finding good stuff everywhere!
This is why I ended up creating a course on how to get started as an Amazon FBA seller. It’s not that selling on Amazon is hard, but you do need to follow the right steps to get started.
Your success as a new Amazon seller will depend on a few factors: 1) how much money you have to spend, 2) how much time you’re committing (side hustle vs full-time), and 3) how much money you can reinvest back into the business.
I know that everyone’s situation is different, but I think that $1,000 is the ideal investment for a new seller who wants to take it pretty seriously. That would cover inventory, education, and supplies.
I also recommend that new sellers try to reinvest all of their money back into the business for the first 3 months. If you can go longer than that without needing to pay yourself, then your business will grow that much faster.
In my Amazon Boot Camp course, I have a Facebook group for all of my students. What I love about that is that I get to see how long it’s taking students to get started.
Of course, for some students, it may take a few months to get going, but I just had a student share that she did $1,600 in sales in her first month. Another new seller just hit $1,000 in sales in 2 weeks.
It’s not a “get rich overnight” thing, but if you put in the work, you can see success pretty quickly!
At the end of the day, you can put as much or as little into an Amazon business as you want. There’s no right or wrong way – and that’s one of my favorite things about it!
If you only have a few hundred dollars and a few hours a week, you can still earn some fun money. But if you have some capital saved up and time to spend, you can turn it into a full-time business fast.
4. What does your work at home mom schedule look like/ what did it look like when you first started?
I’ve always done Amazon on a super part-time schedule, even when it was earning us a six-figure salary.
When Aiden was a baby, we had to work around his schedule. We were able to take him to his Nana’s every Monday, which became our one day to get the most work done.
That meant that I really did need to do all of my retail sourcing on Mondays. So we would source all day and then bring all the inventory home. Then I could spend the rest of the week prepping the shipment and sending it off to Amazon.
Now that our son is older, the schedule is a little different – although it’s still around his needs! Mornings are our homeschool time so we’re just focusing on that until about 2:00pm most days.
In the afternoons we get to work on either the FBA business, our websites, or creating course materials. And it’s not like our son disappears in the afternoon! We actually keep him involved in the FBA business and that’s something we’ve done since he was a toddler.
Evenings are more my own work time where I enjoy working on my blogs.
I should mention that the one time of the year that our schedule is different is around the holidays. We often make 50% of our Amazon income for the year in November and December alone. That does require that we work a little harder than usual to keep up with the demand from Amazon customers!
5. What makes selling on Amazon a great side hustle for stay at home moms?
Amazon is the perfect side hustle for moms!
I have so many thoughts on this that I wrote an entire blog post about Amazon for stay-at-home moms.
But let me cover some of my favorite reasons for all the moms who are here today.
The first and main one I already hinted at. I get to do this job from home, with my husband, and with the help of our son.
Amazon FBA is great for kids of all ages. Little ones can help pack items up in bags or remove sticky labels from products. Older kids can help pack up heavy boxes or even invest in their own inventory.
Aiden is 8 now and just picked out his first inventory using his allowance. He turned a $20 investment into $132 profit! He was excited and Cliff and I were SUCH proud entrepreneur parents. 🙂
Selling on Amazon is also good if you are a mom with weird hours. You can do it the way I did it by going shopping just once a week. You can even buy inventory online once you learn the basics of reselling. It’s great that you don’t have to do it during 9-to-5 hours.
Unlike some other business, there’s no need to go all in as a beginner. You can test the waters by just shipping out 20-30 items. There’s no such thing as a shipment that’s “too small” for Amazon. This will give you time to learn the processes and gain confidence that you’re making smart, profitable purchases.
Amazon truly allowed me to fulfill my dream of providing for my family while getting to spend time with them. It changed my life and I’ve seen it work for so many other moms, too.
If you’re interested in a work at home business that offers flexibility and infinite growth, definitely check out reselling on Amazon FBA!