How to start selling online in 2024

Here are a few tips to start selling online and how to succeed.
4,900 JPY a month (excluding tax) + selling fees
team reviewing business analytics

Simple steps to start selling online

Follow these steps to start selling online.
  1. Develop a business concept and business plan, and come up with products that meet the needs of customers.
  2. Analyze customer needs and the situation of other companies in the same industry, and consider what kind of products to sell.
  3. Purchase products by obtaining inventory or manufacturing your own products.
  4. Choose an online sales channel that includes Amazon, your own website, or both.
  5. Open an online store and register products.
  6. Establish how you’ll handle fulfillment (a process that includes managing orders, packaging, product delivery, etc.) when selling online.
  7. Grow your business by implementing online sales marketing and promotions.

Starting an ecommerce business can feel overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be.

Yes, there are a lot of considerations, but you’ve got this. As you’ll soon see, many currently well-known online businesses started out small, selling just one or two products online and growing from there.
Example of an Amazon storefront using Amazon Stores

How Anker grew from a side business into a global brand with Amazon

Did you know that Anker Technologies, a global sales company known for its mobile phone chargers and mobile batteries, started out by selling online on a small scale via Amazon? Steven Yang and his wife initially ran a dropshipping business that didn't require inventory or delivery management, and that sparked the idea of selling portable charging devices; this became Anker. As sales took off, the couple went full-time with their business. Today, Anker is a global enterprise.
Man looking at graphs and charts on a computer

Is it too late to start selling online?

No, it's never too late to start selling online. The ecommerce industry is expected to continue growing as customers get used to buying products online.

If you’ve thought about starting to sell online, there’s no need to feel apprehensive about it. Start small on Amazon and try to see if your ideas have potential now and in the future.

With the Individual Selling Plan, there’s no fixed monthly subscription fee. Instead, you pay a per-item fee each time you sell an item. It’s an ideal plan for sellers who are still having trouble deciding which products to sell.

If you are a business owner or an upcoming entrepreneur, you can gain access to various sales promotion tools by choosing the Professional Selling Plan. By paying a monthly subscription fee, you can take advantage of features that affect views and revenue, such as advertising and promotions.

The profitability of selling online

When selling online, your sales tend to continue to grow year-on-year. For aspiring entrepreneurs and growing companies, selling online can be a highly profitable model, either as the sole purpose of the business or as an additional selling channel.
cork board with product ideas pinned to it

How to start selling online from scratch

Here, we’ll explain the steps involved for beginners who want to start selling online from scratch, from developing an idea to actually operating online sales.

Step 1: Develop a business concept and business plan

Before opening an online store, think about your business concept, such as what issues you want to solve and what kind of audience you’ll be targeting. There are several ways sellers decide what products to sell or build. Here are some important decisions to make when you’re trying to start selling online.

Find a pain point or challenge worth solving

What problem or challenge are you seeking to solve with a business selling online? Who feels that pain point the most? Who would be most excited about solving this challenge?

Finding a problem to solve for a specific audience is crucial for successful ventures. Some ideas—however innovative—can fail when they don’t have customers to support them.
For example, do you seek to make high quality kitchen utensils? Then people who enjoy cooking meals might be loyal customers. Are you selling thicker and more durable yoga mats? Then yoga practitioners and instructors will be your best advocates.

Points to focus on when searching for product ideas

The easiest place to start thinking about your business idea is within your immediate surroundings. Find out the goals, aspirations, or challenges of people around you, then find products to help them. Making observations may lead to an online sales business.
  • What pain points or problems do you have that you wish to solve?
  • What flaws or complaints do you have with products you currently use?
  • What comments do you hear from friends or family members around products they use?
  • What activities do you enjoy doing? What products would help improve those activities?

The product already exists, now what?

Even if your idea or product is already in the market, there are several ways to successfully sell online. These include offering the same product at a more advantageous price point, or providing a better alternative product.
woman and man looking at product

Step 2: Validating Your Product Idea

The more time you put into validating the product, the better your chances of succeeding. Once you’ve decided on a business concept, analyze customer needs and the situation of other companies in the same industry, and consider what kind of products to sell online.

Consider what products to sell through market segment research, based on the following three perspectives.

・ Customer: Customer needs and behaviors
・ Company: Business strategy and company strengths
・ Other company: Relation to other companies in the same industry

If you read Amazon's best-selling product reviews, you can analyze customer needs in more detail.

6 tips for choosing the right product to sell online

Although you can sell almost anything on Amazon, a good place to begin when first starting to sell online is with the following kinds of products.
  1. Products that are easy to pack
  2. Products that are affordable
Here’s some products that may be difficult for first-time online sellers to sell.
  1. Heavy or bulky items, or products that are expensive to ship
  2. Products that have already saturated the market
Here’s some products to avoid.
  1. Patented or trademarked products (unless you own the patent/trademark or are certified as a reseller)
  2. Restricted products. Depending on the online selling channels you use, there may be restrictions on the types of products you can sell. We recommend checking the Restricted Products list before starting to purchase inventory in order to avoid unexpected situations.

Step 3: Sourcing your products

Once you've decided which products to sell online and who to sell them to, it's time to procure the products.

Good products will help you thrive when selling online. It’s important to not only choose the right product, but also the right source for products. Here are a few options for sourcing products when selling online.

How to procure products


Purchase existing products
How to purchase products from makers and wholesalers
Create or build products
How to manufacture original products made by you or your company
It’s relatively easy to start purchasing and selling, so they are popular options for first-time online sellers. Building products gives you the most control over quality and design. Compared to purchasing and selling, it’s easier to differentiate from other companies' products, which also increases your advantage.

Amazon has prepared various programs to support the launch of original brands. Once you’ve acquired a trademark and are enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry, you can launch an original brand using a program to build and protect your brand

Tips from pros

What online customers are looking for in products

Amazon Best Sellers is a list that helps you research your products so you can figure out what customers like in a particular niche. By digging deep into these categories, you can find patterns for selling opportunities, promising products, or top sellers in your listing category.

Step 4: Choosing a channel for selling online

You have many options for selling products online. Set up a website and host an online store on your own domain name, or sell products on an existing ecommerce website like Amazon—or choose to do both.

Sales channel comparison

Own website

(existing EC website)

Costs to launch
Tends to become a relatively large
Profit margin
Tends to be lower compared
to own website
Ability to attract customers
Tends to be lower
compared to existing EC website
Attracting repeat customers
Easy to do
More difficult than own website
Ease of starting sales promotions
Can be difficult
Easy to get started
Launching your own website with a unique domain name requires creating a website and doing marketing to attract customers, so the initial cost tends to be high. On the other hand, unlike an existing EC website, in many cases the profit margins are high because there are no selling fees.

By using an existing EC website that already has many customers, it is possible to start selling online faster and at a lower initial cost. If you’re selling online for the first time, we recommend going with an existing EC website.

Selling on Amazon

Since Amazon is an online sales channel with over 300 million customers worldwide, it’s earned a reputation of being the best when it comes to attracting customers. Also, it’s easy to start sales promotions with new seller benefits and the sales promotion tools provided by Amazon.
Here are some benefits of selling online on Amazon.
  • Speed: Since it’s possible to set up a store with minimal effort, you can quickly set up and operate a store.
  • Reach: A listing in Amazon stores has the potential to reach more than 300 million active customer accounts, including the 150 million Amazon Prime members who prefer to shop on Amazon.
  • Sales promotions support: Use Amazon’s tools for processing payments, collecting reviews, and running promotions, etc.
  • Community: You can learn how to successfully sell online for free at Amazon Seller University. You can also ask questions and view other sellers' posts on Seller Discussion Forums, which is an online forum for Amazon sellers. These resources are valuable sources of information for online sales support and troubleshooting on Amazon.
  • Awareness: Many shoppers tend to start with Amazon when searching for products.

13.26 million unique visitors (on desktop) ¹, 43.06 million unique visitors (on mobile) ² per month in Japan

This ability to attract customers will enable you to appeal to a wide range of customers, and acquire new customers. First, let's take a look at how selling works.
Here's how it works

You sell it,
we ship it

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service that helps businesses grow by providing access to Amazon's logistics network.
Get details

Help increase awareness and sales with Amazon ads

Generating ads can help you to increase product awareness, reach more customers, and improve sales.
Get details
¹ March 2019 Nielsen Digital Content Measurement: Brand Level - Home and Workplace Access
² March 2019 Ranking by Nielsen Mobile NetView Brand
4,900 JPY a month (excluding tax) + selling fees

Step 5: Setting up your online store

Once you’ve figured out what to sell and who you’ll sell to, it’s time to start selling online.

Come up with a store name

Your store name represents you or the company you run, so choose something that’s simple and memorable to your customers.
Also, if you’re going to be selling original products, it is better to choose a brand name that’s simple and easy to pronounce.

Choose a sales channel and register

If you want to set up your own website with your own domain, you’ll first need to create a website and set up a storefront. Next, move onto marketing and registering products to attract customers.

If you start selling online via an existing EC website, there’s no need to create a website or do marketing to attract customers. Once you've created an account, you can register products and start selling right away.

You can start selling right away on Amazon with a few simple steps.

Click here for a comparison of sales channels

Creating attractive product listings

Product descriptions are what customers will read to decide if the product will fit their needs. With selling online, it's important to write a thorough description that will convince a customer to make a purchase.
Product titles, images, product specifications, descriptions, and keywords are all important factors that get customers to make a purchase. product detail page with enhanced brand content
two people on laptops talking to eachother

Launching and operating things when selling online

Once you’ve started selling online, it’s time to take care of operating your business. Having accurate product descriptions, a fast checkout experience, timely delivery, and great promotion offers is a great start. A good amount of reviews from customers who’ve bought the product is important, too.

Fulfillment: storage, shipping, return processing

For customers who’ve purchased products online, you will need to carry out tasks like product delivery and returns/exchanges. This process is called fulfillment. Online fulfillment not only involves taking orders, arranging delivery, managing inventory, handling returns/exchanges and other related tasks, but it can also involve communication up to and including customer support.

If you want to manage fulfillment yourself, make sure you have a place to store your inventory. You’ll also need to establish a process for receiving, packing, and shipping orders from customers, and determine how to handle returns and customer inquiries.

There are also services that let you outsource fulfillment when selling online. Make sure you choose the right fulfillment method for your business.

Did you know that you can store and sell products through Fulfillment by Amazon?

By using Amazon's FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), not only can you save time when storing, shipping, and returning inventory, it also leads to an increase in customer satisfaction. Businesses send products to Amazon fulfillment centers and when a customer makes a purchase, we handle receiving, packing, shipping, customer service, and returns for those orders. Sellers can focus on marketing and work related to product development/purchasing in their spare time.

Analyze sales performance for your online store

Analytics lets you see how online store visitors are interacting with products. Commonly, channels selling online have analysis tools and reports, or have an option to install a third-party analytics program.

Analyzing performance on a regular basis is critical to successfully selling online. Analytics is also where you can evaluate account performance by tracking orders, assessing customer service and returns, running promotions and advertising, and beyond.

If you are a registered brand owner selling on the Amazon store, you can access advanced reports like the following with Brand Analytics.
  • Products winning the most clicks on strategic search terms
  • Products or brands that customers are reordering (repeat behavior)
  • Top products most commonly purchased alongside a product

Get reviews

Reviews are an important factor for online shoppers making purchasing decisions. To get reviews, it’s necessary to pay attention to various things, such as careful packaging, speedy delivery, well-organized and easy-to-understand product pages, and post-sales services after purchasing.

Amazon automatically requests customer reviews on behalf of sellers who are selling online. Additionally, brand owners who’ve completed Amazon brand registration can also use the Amazon Vine tool to get feedback on new products from Amazon’s official certified reviewers.

When you’re starting a new branded product, these reviews can help drive initial sales. These reviews in turn can help customers make informed buying decisions.
Man leading a business meeting about building an online store

Marketing and product promotion when selling online

When selling online, marketing is vital to helping you start and grow your business. Implementing marketing and promotions will help you reach more customers no matter which online selling channel you use.

Here is a brief introduction on each of the promotions available for selling online.

Advertise your online store and products

Advertising campaigns boost the visibility of your brand and products. Amazon offers a variety of programs to help you promote your products and attract customers.
  • Sponsored Products show up within Amazon product listing pages and can give new products a boost in visibility to Amazon’s 300 million shoppers.
  • Sponsored brands (available to registered brand owners) show a headline, logo, and up to three products at the top of a product search results page.
  • Stores (available to registered brand owners), have customized pages for individual brands where you can showcase the brand story and products.

Social media marketing

Since the majority of customers frequently use social media (or social networking services) every day, you can use them to raise brand and product awareness. Build a social media strategy, such as creating accounts for yourself or your brand, posting regularly, interacting with social media users, and using social influencers to promote your product.

Start selling online on Amazon

Up until now, many sellers have relied on Amazon to drive business growth. Amazon's selling programs are designed to give customers the widest possible choice. Why not consider starting selling online with Amazon?
Icon of hand holding a coin

Start now and get up to 7,875,000 yen back

Start your journey with a little less risk. To help you succeed, we offer New Seller Incentives, including up to 7,875,000 yen back from branded sales, credits to try cost-per click (CPC) advertising or kickstart your product reviews, and more—plus discounted Prime shipping, storage, returns, and more with Fulfillment by Amazon.
Shipping icon, airplane on top and truck on bottom

You sell it,
we ship it

Shipping operations take more time than you might imagine. With FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), you can leave the shipping operations and customer service to us. Amazon helps you easily and quickly deliver products to a large number of customers through the FBA service.

Q&A on selling online

SEO: What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of enhancing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic (non-paid) search engine results. Users use search engines to find what they are looking for online. There are many factors involved when it comes to SEO; see SEO on Amazon as an example.
What are the advantages of selling online??

Here are three main advantages.
・ Being able to conveniently purchase products 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
・ Possible to reach a wide range of customers across different regions/countries
・ Possible to operate at a low cost compared to opening a new physical store, and being able start small with a fewer number of products and less inventory
Can I sell online on my own?
Yes. Corporations, sole proprietors, and individuals can sell on Amazon.
Please check here for instructions on how to register your account
Do I need special skills or knowledge to run an online store?
If you’re planning to opening a store on Amazon, you’ll be able to run it as long you have computer or internet-operating skills. Templates are available for adding products, filling out forms, and creating a store. Since various data and business reports are also provided, you’ll also be able to analyze brands and products that you’ve sold.
If you are setting up your own in-house ecommerce website, you may need skills like such as website design and web marketing if plan on doing it on your own, or ask a production agency to do them for you.
What are the advantages of selling on Amazon?

The advantage of selling on Amazon is being able to tap into Amazon’s strong capability to attract customers.
・ No. 1 in monthly visitors - over 52 million users per month¹
Also, by using a fulfillment service called FBA, you can leave it to Amazon to take care of all the ordering, shipping, and customer service, so it’s recommended if you’re considering doing this as a side business.
Furthermore, by joining the Amazon Brand Registry, you can create an online store for your own in-house brand within Amazon while keeping the advantage of attracting customers, even if it’s an original brand, which makes it possible to introduce brand stories and brand products.

¹ Source: Nielsen Digital Co., Ltd. “Digital Contents Audience Rating, April 2020, Monthly Total Report”
Is Amazon B2B? Or is it B2C?
While Amazon is typically thought of as a B2C channel, over 1 million businesses source their products through Amazon’s stores, including 55 of the top Fortune 100 companies.

Think about it. If you use Amazon for your private needs, wouldn’t it make sense to leverage that product discoverability for your business as well? Businesses of all sizes—from sole proprietorships to large enterprises, government organizations, schools, and healthcare organizations—find the products they need on Amazon Business.

Small businesses have achieved success with Amazon Business and account for 50% of the $10 billion in B2B annual sales through Amazon. For B2B vendors, implementing Amazon in your sales strategy can help you reach a wide pool of legal entities/sole proprietors.

Start selling today

¥4,900 a month (excluding tax) + selling fees
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