You did it – you’re finally making enough from your side hustle on Amazon to quit your day job and be your own boss! For some people, this dream becomes a reality as they turn their evening hobby into extremely profitable businesses. Becoming a full-time Amazon seller is a potentially-lucrative career choice as people take advantage of the world’s largest e-commerce site.
It’s probably impossible to say how many people and businesses end up as full-time Amazon sellers. In 2018 an average of nearly 3,000 new sellers joined Amazon every day, bringing the marketplace to 5 million sellers. No doubt that many of those are either individuals or entities that have grown to base their businesses around sales on Amazon.
And it’s easy to see why. It’s common to hear criticisms of Amazon for stifling or killing small business, but it offers considerable opportunities to third-party sellers. The Amazon marketplace is an enormous platform that serves a worldwide audience, giving small businesses the potential to reach an infinitely larger customer base than they ever would have on their own. And these businesses are taking notice. Third party sellers now account for 50 percent of the sales on Amazon, totaling about $43 billion in 2018. By taking advantage of Amazon’s ready-made infrastructure, existing brick-and-mortar businesses have utilized Amazon to stay afloat by smoothly moving into internet sales, keeping businesses alive through the e-commerce challenge. But it’s even easier than that. Sellers quite literally just need a computer and an internet connection to build a profitable business. Some people begin on Amazon as a side gig for extra money and make enough to quit their day jobs, making them full-time sellers. It’s an enormous opportunity, but it comes with plenty of risk.
Mostly, the risk is that Amazon sets the rules. By making yourself dependent upon Amazon for your income, your run the risk of getting penalized for knowingly or unknowingly violating one of Amazon’s numerous policies. This is Amazon’s territory and you have to abide by those Terms of Service entirely to continue selling. Any violations – and I really mean any – can be met with a suspension notice. Amazon is coy about how many sellers get suspended and doesn’t make those numbers public, but this number likely reaches thousands every year. Unless you’ve read every single word of Amazon’s policies, it’s very likely you’ll get hit with a violation at some point. Most sellers would probably gladly just fix the violation and get back on with selling, but Amazon doesn’t make that easy. Suspension notices are often incredibly vague, leaving the seller trying to figure out what exactly their violation was. And sellers have to figure out their violation before they can recover their account.
Who does this process hurt? Mainly smaller sellers. Larger accounts have much more experience and resources behind them to appeal a suspension. Amazon also makes more money through fees with larger accounts, and Seller Support is often more willing to get those sellers reinstated unless there is a very serious violation. Smaller sellers don’t make Amazon nearly as much money, and Seller Support is much less inclined to work with them. Yet these are exactly the sellers who need their Amazon accounts – the smaller sellers who rely on Amazon sales for their livelihood. An Amazon suspension can mean weeks without pay while your account and inventory are frozen. There are small businesses that stay afloat with their Amazon seller accounts. People support their families through their Amazon sales. For these everyday people, losing Amazon selling privileges would be devastating.
Undoubtedly selling on Amazon is a great opportunity, and tons of people make a living doing it. But if you end up reliant on Amazon for your income, a suspension could be your worst nightmare. Remember to reach out for help if you find yourself in this situation.