What to Sell on Amazon FBA in 2021: Four Best Methods

by | Feb 6, 2021

Are you wondering what to sell on Amazon in 2021 and beyond? If so, you’re in the right place!

If you’d started an Amazon FBA business ten years ago, the world was your oyster.

Sure, there was competition, but finding a profitable product to sell that didn’t have a thousand competitors was easy.

Now the cat’s out of the bag, and it seems everyone’s looking for ways to milk the Amazon cow.

And just when you think you’ve found a winner, after further research, you find that the competition is streets ahead of you in bringing the product to market.

You might find yourself asking then ― ‘Am I too late to the party? Or ‘haven’t all the ‘good’ products already been taken?’

Am I too late to the party?

No! There are lots of ways to make money selling via Amazon FBA in 2021. This post explains a few of the best methods and gives examples of the kind of products you should be looking to sell.

Let’s get right to it.

Four Different Approaches to Selling via Amazon FBA.

Amazon, at the time of writing, has around 12 million products on sale via their website. Jeff Bezos has a vision for Amazon to become ‘the everything store,’ following the realization that he could sell more than just books from his website.

 The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon – book by Brad Stone

So as a third-party FBA seller, you are only limited by your imagination when considering products you’d like to sell on Amazon.

Let’s consider four approaches you might take for selling on Amazon. We’ll look at selling products you find in high street stores, flipping items from other online shops, and getting a product manufactured on your behalf. But, first, let’s look at an excellent route into FBA selling ― used books and other thrift items.

#1. Selling Used Books, Toys, and Technology.

Selling used books and other second-hand items on Amazon is an excellent entry point for familiarizing yourself with the Amazon selling platform.

In particular, used books are a great product to start with because there’s plenty around, they don’t easily break, and they are cheap as chips to buy. Also, some second-hand books are worth a good deal of money.

It’s the law of supply and demand. Hard to find and out of print books can sell for hundreds of dollars. Some people even make a handsome living selling only used text-books on Amazon to college students.

How To Find Used Books

An excellent place to start your book hunt is in your local charity shops and thrift stores. Most modern books have a barcode on them, which you can scan with the Amazon smartphone app. The app will tell you how much the book is selling for new and used on Amazon.

In most cases, it only costs you a couple of dollars to buy a used book in a thrift store, but many of them can sell for $20 or more on Amazon. You need to do some work scanning every book’s barcode, but after a while, you start to get a sense of what kind of books potentially have value and can speed up the process.

Here are a couple of examples.

This book is currently a hot item; thanks to the recent Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit, chess is trending. If you found it in a thrift store for $2, you could resell it on Amazon; it’s currently selling for $18.90.

CHESS: The Ultimate Chess Tactics and Strategies! - by Aleksandr Smirnov

There are still Amazon fees to pay for the sale, and it costs you to ship it into the Amazon warehouse, but after all that’s accounted for, you’ll profit around $10.

Also, note that the selling price used is only about $1 less than the Amazon new price. The third-party used seller has not priced the book incorrectly; there are plenty of shoppers who will buy a used book over a new book to save $1.

Here is a more extreme example of potential profits from used books.

This is a famous marketing book that has been out of print for some time. It’s a book that is still relevant today, and copies change hands for $100s.

 Breakthrough Advertising Hardcover – by Eugene M. Schwartz

This is not an isolated example either. Many used books can sell for $100+, text-books in particular.

Of course, not every used book is valuable, and only a few you scan will be a winner. You’d be doing very well if one in twenty is a profitable book. Successful Amazon booksellers dedicate time to methodically scanning each book on the shelf in a thrift store to find the best ones.

The pros who do this full-time also velcro a tiny barcode scanner to their smartphone and link it to a special app that can quickly check Amazon’s prices.

A popular one is Neatoscan, and you can also find out more information about the used book business from The Book Flipper.

Used Tech and Games

Other second-hand items that sell well on Amazon are technology and collectible toys and games. Again, it’s the law of supply and demand in play.

Take a look at this old DVD VCR combi below ― there is still a hot market for this technology type. Though not any old VCR will do. You have to find the right models. But if you do land lucky in a thrift store, you can usually pick them up second hand for $10-$20.

Ensure it works properly before you ship it to Amazon to sell (Buy an old videotape off eBay).

Sony SLV-D100 DVD-VCR Combo

Another item that sells well in used condition is games. Special editions of popular perennials like Monopoly can have value, and some old console video games can sell for a great deal if you find a rarer title.

Selling used goods on Amazon is a great way to build up capital to invest in other products to sell via FBA. Next, we’ll look at Retail Arbitrage.

#2. Reselling Store-Bought Goods with Retail Arbitrage.

Amazon FBA retail arbitrage is a simple business model where you buy a product from a retail store and then resell it on Amazon for a profit.

How To Make Money With Retail Arbitrage

You may think, ‘but Amazon is cheaper than the high street, that’s why many stores are going out of business!’

In the main, this is the case. But, it’s the old law of supply and demand in play again. Retail arbitrage exploits differences in the price and stock levels across a whole region or country.

For example, in one town, you may be able to buy a frying pan for $7.50. But in the rest of the region, it’s only available in the shops for $24.99. This means you could buy the pan (buy more than one if you can) and ship it to Amazon to sell at $23.99.

frying pan image - a potential product to sell on Amazon

You can still resell the item as new as long as you keep it in the original retail packaging.

Finding items to sell follows a similar process to the bookselling model. You need to go into stores and scan stock that has been reduced in price for whatever reason and compare it to Amazon’s selling price.

People who sell using this arbitrage model full time have a shopping route they drive around every week to check the clearance and sale sections in large stores and supermarkets.

There is always a little excitement, as you never know what you might find, and many people enjoy the hunt. But, don’t forget, there are Amazon fees to pay, so you should always check with the Amazon app first to see if you can make a profit.

Retail arbitrage differs from used books in that you usually buy multiples of the same item when you find it on sale. It’s more usual to expect a profit of $3-$5 per item, so you do need a little bit of initial capital to invest in multiple products to earn a full-time income.

Before you head to the shops, though, there are a few things you should be aware of;

Brands. Not all brands allow their products to be resold on Amazon, or if they do, only by a select group of sellers.

Categories. New sellers on Amazon don’t have permission to sell in all the product categories. Amazon wants you to build up a track record first in some categories before they allow you to sell in more lucrative ones like Cosmetics, for example.

The Amazon Seller app will let you know if you can sell a product when you scan it to check the price. Don’t invest in a product to later discover that you can’t sell it!

Amazon Seller on the App Store

What products should you sell on Amazon with Retail Arbitrage?

Anything that has a good profit margin and is a hot selling item. You can see if an item is a hot-selling one by checking the Amazon Best Seller Rank (BSR). For more information about BSR and Amazon FBA fundamentals, read my in-depth post.

Many of the bread and butter items sold by retail arbitrage sellers are everyday consumables. You may come across 20 packets of Scrubbing Bubbles for $1 each that you can resell on Amazon for $8-$9.

Scrubbing Bubbles on Amazon

After Amazon fees, these sellers are getting a return of about $4.50 less the cost of their purchase price. It may not be glamorous, but the item should sell quickly for a good ROI.

Here’s another example with a value product.

The third-party FBA sellers below are taking advantage of Amazon’s lack of stock to sell items above the RRP. And it’s an item you could quickly come across in the sale and clearance section of a local store.

Revlon hair dryer for sale on Amazon

A sale price of $45 gives the Amazon seller a return of $31.30, so if you can find them on sale for $20 or less, then it’s worth the quick turnaround.

One point to be aware of is picking up products at national chain stores. Sometimes large chains reduce an item across all their stores. Multiple retail arbitrage’s pick up the stock, and then they all send it to Amazon.

This sudden glut of stock can result in a temporary price crash, as each seller undercuts the others to win the sale. Before long, the sale price for the item can fall below your purchase price.

You now have to choose between liquidating your stock at a loss or waiting out all the other sellers for the price to recover, which ties up your working capital.

Before you jump into the retail arbitrage model, do some further research. Jungle Scout has a comprehensive guide to retail arbitrage if you want to go deeper.

#3. Reselling Web Purchases With Online Arbitrage.

Another model that exploits the price difference between products is called online arbitrage.

Instead of driving around bricks and mortar stores looking for bargains, you look to profit from price differences you find online.

The process is as follows ―

  • You spot a deal on a website, then check the price and sales rank on Amazon to see if it’s a profitable deal.
  • You then buy the item and wait for delivery.
  • You process the item at home, adding a label that identifies it as your stock, then ship it to the Amazon warehouse.
  • Price the item for a profit.
  • Wait out the sale.

At first glance, it seems preferable to retail arbitrage; you can surf the web for deals while lounging on the couch in your pajamas!

If only it were that easy! Online arbitrage is not as simple as it sounds. There’s lots of competition because of the low barrier to entry.

You often find that the most successful retail arbitrage sellers use advanced software that constantly trawls the web looking for price differences. You also have to factor in any additional shipping costs to your home.

Much of the time, you’ll find that online arbitrage deals return a lower margin. So to make a lifestyle income, you’ll need a fair amount of capital to get started.

Some online arbitrage sellers use shopping clubs or credit cards that give cash back to buy their stock. A small amount of cashback can add a little more profit into the deal.

If you’re interested in the online arbitrage method, check out Tactical Arbitrage who provides the software required to succeed using this method.

TacticalArbitrage - online arbitrage software

Now we’ll look at the final method I’ll cover in this post, which also happens to be the most lucrative.

#4. Private Label FBA Products.

For a few bucks a month, Amazon Prime locks shoppers into the website with the promise of fast, free delivery. Throughout the COVID pandemic, the rate of new memberships of Amazon Prime has accelerated.

US vs. Non-US Amazon Prime Day Retail Ecommerce Sales, 2016-2020

Infographic source – www.emarketer.com

Amazon Prime registration is expected to continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

Registering as an Amazon third-party seller, then, means you can access this hungry market of consumers who can’t stop shopping.

While the previously discussed methods in this post are an excellent entry into the world of Amazon FBA, the best way to leverage Amazon’s vast shopping traffic is to create a brand, design a product, and have it manufactured somewhere like China.

This is known as the Amazon FBA Private Label business model. And it’s not too late to enter this market: there will always be space for entrepreneurs who can spot a gap in the marketplace.

But what products should you sell?

The first place you might think of looking is Amazon’s top-selling products. You can take a look at the page here and see what the current best-sellers are.

At the time of writing, these are the best selling products in the Electronics & Photo category.

Best sellers in Electronics & Photo category, Amazon.com

The top-selling products are either Amazon products or brand name batteries.

If you look deeper into the category, most of the products are either more of Amazon’s, like a Kindle, or types of batteries from other well-known brands.

Are these the best products to sell on Amazon in 2021?

Only for Amazon itself.

The top-selling products on Amazon are not the best products to sell as a small third-party seller.

There are a few challenges in trying to compete with the top-selling items in each Amazon category ―

  • Some of the biggest selling items are Amazon-branded.
  • In other categories, the top sellers are often other brands like Nike, Disney, and Apple (Don’t ever think about infringing on another’s trademark).
  • The Electronics category has some of the top-selling items overall on Amazon. But when you sell electronics, you need to provide an after-sales service too, for when products invariably break.

There is a better approach, and if you get it right, you can earn thousands of dollars a month.

I’m talking about niche products. Products that you’d never think would be popular enough, but the sheer size of Amazon means there is enough demand for them.

Here’s an example:

This product is a tiny latex condom for sealing an open bottle of wine to maintain freshness. Manufacturing costs can’t be more than a dollar per unit, but the seller has 2500 reviews and a current sales price of $17.97.

example of what to sell on Amazon - Wine condom

Many Amazon sellers say that around only 10% or so of Amazon shoppers leave reviews on average. So we can conservatively estimate that this seller has sold at least 15,000 units.

After all fees and production costs have been accounted for, this seller should be profiting around $10 per unit.

They have succeeded with this product because they spotted a niche market gap and moved quickly to fill it. These are the sort of niche products that you should aim to sell.

Why Niche Private Label Products Are the Best Items to Sell on Amazon FBA.

The product you choose to design and manufacture to sell on Amazon should meet the following criteria ―

  • Target a niche category.
  • Ideally, be priced between $20 – $70.
  • Cheap and easy to manufacture with no complicated parts.
  • Small and light.

Let’s take a closer look at each criterion.

Niche Category

The riches are in the niches. This corny phrase is correct because when you sell on a marketplace as large as Amazon, you can target your product at a small sub-section of society and still make thousands of sales.

Another argument for ‘niching-down’ is that you don’t want to compete with products found on any national store chain’s shelves.

Finding a sweet spot small enough so that the supermarkets aren’t interested and large enough to have thousands of buyers is where you need to be.

Priced Between $20 – $70.

Avoid falling into the trap of thinking more expensive products equal more profits. This is not always the case. Higher ticket items can be more costly to manufacture, have less demand, and have higher performance expectations from buyers.

A cheaper product has fewer expectations and is more likely to be bought as an impulse purchase.

However, you don’t want to go too cheap. Selling products under the $20 threshold means that Amazon fees and shipping to the Amazon warehouse make up a larger percentage of the overall selling price.

Sometimes you’ll need to reduce your product’s sale price to compete with similar items or avoid long-term storage fees. If your profit margins are already slim, reducing your selling price may turn your product into a loss-making one.

Cheap and Easy to Manufacture With No Complex Parts.

This criterion leads on from the modest selling price. A lower selling price means a cheaper manufacturing cost, which requires less initial investment to bring an item to market.

Ideally, your product should not require a complex manufacturing process nor contain any intricate fragile parts ― the finished product needs to be shipped from China, so you don’t want your stock damaging in transit.

Plus, once you’ve sold a product, you don’t want to face a cascade of customer returns and refunds when the product breaks during everyday use.

Be Small and Light.

Aim to sell products that are small enough and light enough that shipping from China is not expensive. So, whatever you design should ideally be a size and weight suitable for air freight.

Many private label sellers face an immediate problem of running out of stock if their product is an instant hit. To maintain your market advantage and win more sales, you need to replenish your stock quickly.

But if your new stock is literally on the slow boat from China, you can lose this momentum or even get your unique product cloned by a competitor.

Examples of What To Sell on Amazon in 2021.

So now you know what the best products to sell on Amazon are.

  • Small, light, cheap, and niche products that are easy to manufacture.
  • Products that don’t infringe any trademarks, nor are dominated by any big-name brands.
  • A product that can’t be found in many high street chains and won’t easily break when the customer starts to use them.

Here are ten examples of the kind of products I’m talking about;

Silicone Pastry Mat

example of what to sell on Amazon - Silicone Pastry Mat

This silicone pastry mat is simply a thin piece of printed silicone. It taps into the popular baking niche and has over 5000 reviews. Manufacturing and materials will be cheap, and the cost to ship should be inexpensive.

It ticks all the boxes of the private label criteria.

Yoga Mat

example of what to sell on Amazon - Yoga mat

You might think that the market for Yoga mats is all sewn up. But here’s an example of someone adding value to the product.

Balance is always tricky for the Yoga novice, so helpful lines marked on the mat will help them enjoy their new hobby.

The product is a little larger than what you would ideally look for, but the increased sales price, thanks to an inventive USP, provides ample compensation for the air freight.

Booty Band

example of what to sell on Amazon - Booty bands

This product is a fresh spin on the multitude of rubber fitness bands and targets the people who want to firm up their thighs and behinds.

The product is merely four big elastic bands. But the packaging and the creation of a program to use them, coupled with model photography, create a compelling impulse purchase.

Pet Grooming Brushes

Pet grooming brush

Pet owners are happy to spend bundles of money on their furry friends. So the pet niche is one that is ripe for creating your own brand and selling multiple products.

A pet brush is a cheap, light, and easy to manufacture item ideal for selling Amazon FBA.

Water Bottles

example of what to sell on Amazon - Water bottle

Water bottles and travel coffee mugs are ideal products for selling via FBA. They are light and cheap to make, and as in the example above, with the right branding and polished listing, they can become a big selling item on Amazon.

Bamboo Toilet Trainer

Bamboo Toilet Trainer

Out of nowhere, it seemed that Bamboo products suddenly became a thing! This seller takes a product that many families with young kids find necessary and makes it out of Bamboo.

It also taps into the eco-niche, is light, and sells for a price that I’m sure earns the seller a tidy profit. With over 4000 reviews, it seems to be a hot selling item too.

Water Balloons

example of what to sell on Amazon - Water Balloons

Don’t overlook seasonal items. Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are all times where shoppers spend cash on impulse purchases. This water balloon set sells well for summer fun on hot days.

Sports Knee Support

Sports Knee Support

Here is another example of a relatively common product on Amazon, but the seller has upgraded the item with additional features.

One tip is to think of a product you regularly use at home yourself that you’re not happy with. How might it be improved? Could it be a product suitable for selling via Amazon FBA if you improved the design and had it manufactured yourself?

Sushi Making Kit

example of what to sell on Amazon - Sushi Making Kit

This product is an excellent example of a private label FBA product. It takes a famous national dish and provides an easy way for people to make it themselves.

The product itself is just simple molded plastic. Cheap to manufacture and light to ship. At the $40.99 sale price, the seller is making a tidy margin here.

Winter Gloves

Winter Gloves

Many people need a warm pair of gloves when winter comes. And unlike a pair of jeans, shoppers are less concerned about brand names and more about performance.

If you can create a pair of gloves that perform as well as the big-name brands like North Face for half the price, then you could be onto a winning product.

Gloves are less likely to be returned than other clothing items, and they tick all the boxes for being a light and simple product.

Toys

example of what to sell on Amazon - Gamle staking cups game

Toys are among the best selling items on the Amazon platform. But you don’t need to be a big named brand or tie in with a film or TV series.

This seller has taken a popular viral challenge and turned it into a game. The cost to manufacture the simple plastic cups will be pennies, and the cards and packaging are likely the most expensive part of the manufacture.

Conclusion

I hope you find the above examples useful. As a small seller, these are the best types of products to sell on Amazon in 2021.

When you start selling on Amazon, you might look at selling used books or other thrift items to build up some capital. And, whenever you are out shopping, it’s always worth checking the sale section to see if there are any bargains you could resell via Amazon.

But the most considerable profits to be made via Amazon FBA are with the products you design and have manufactured on your behalf.

Finding a product in the sweet spot of $20-$70 that is light, won’t easily break, and is small enough to ship by air could be your ticket to a good lifestyle income. Can you come up with a list of ten ideas right now?

Please share with anyone you think this might benefit. Thank you 🙂