Thanks to Amazon, starting a business online is not as difficult as it once was. And selling shoes from the platform is not a bad place to start.
The largest online retailer generated $177.9 billion in revenue in 2017 with 15% percent of its top sellers being shoes, clothing, and jewelry. The company has even surpassed Nike as a retail destination for men’s shoes.
Now even you can take a piece of that action by selling shoes on Amazon.
Like in any business, however, you’ll find yourself competing with other players in the market. People are catching on to how lucrative it can be. And the more sellers there are, the fewer chances you have of making it to the top.
But don’t you worry. We’re here to help. If you want to sell shoes on Amazon, read on so you can get started.
Determine the best selling shoes
To make the most out of your shoe-selling business, you must sell footwear that people want to buy. And you can’t just pick a shoe from the lot to sell on Amazon and expect orders coming your way.
You must approach choosing the shoes you need to resell strategically. For starters, you need to check out the Amazon Best Sellers page and see shoes that are generating the most sales.
Go to the Clothing, Shoes, and Jewelry subcategory and work your way down to display just the shoes.
At the time of this writing, these are the most popular shoes on Amazon.
Reasons for the popularity of these shoes
The top-performing pairs are not from the big-name brands. But they’re doing really well nonetheless. So why is that?
It’s simple – seasonality and comfort.
Seasonality has a big effect on what sells. Winter boots are the strongest performers because we’re nearing winter at the time of writing.
Comfort, however, is another important factor. A quick look at the men’s shoe category will show that two of the top four sellers have memory foam features.
Expanding our selection to the top eight, you’ll find shoes with waterproof or quick-dry features. Buyers are prioritizing shoe features and comfort over style and brand recognition.
There are other factors you should consider, of course. Items labeled as for men and women have a tendency to pop up in the top 8. This is true at least for the Crocs Men’s and Women’s Classic Clog.
The Crocs clog manages to hit most of the key factors we’ve discussed. While it’s certainly not a winter item, it does appeal to crowds looking for comfort. It also refers to itself as a casual water shoe, an added bonus customers appreciate.
Lastly, the shoe caters to both men and women as seen in the item description.
Therefore, when choosing shoes that you want to sell on Amazon, use the two indices mentioned above while browsing through Amazon’s best sellers list. Doing so will give you a good idea on what shoes people want and need right now so you can sell it to them.
Check out the price history chart
Once you’ve figured out the shoes you want to sell, you must find someone who can supply them for you. The idea is to purchase the shoes at low prices and mark them up when selling on Amazon for maximum profit.
However, manually finding suppliers that sell the lowest price for the shoes can be difficult.
Fortunately, there are tools for you use and research for a product’s pricing viability.
The purpose of CamelCamelCamel is to track product pricing and alert you when those prices drop. That way, you can buy at the best time possible.
There are some perks for signing up for the service like tracking prices for wishlist items and tracking multiple price types. However, you can simply paste the Amazon product’s URL and get results instantly.
Let’s take the Crocs clogs, for example. CamelCamelCamel shows us how Crocs pricing has changed from since its Amazon debut in 2008. At its lowest, the cogs sold at $13.95 while it sold at $35 at its peak. The graph clues you in on months when prices have dropped or increased.
Keepa requires you to sign up for an account before you can track Amazon products. However, you wouldn’t be disappointed given the information made available to you once you’re in.
In Keepa, you’ll be able to see pricing information for all similar products. The tool also gives you access to Amazon’s best seller list only here, lists are sorted by sales rank. It lets you access the top seller list, providing you a list of the site’s biggest merchants. Keep also set price increase alerts so Keepa can notify you when a product reaches your threshold.
You need all these data to assess when it’s best to increase or decrease your prices. By looking at the competition’s numbers, you can set competitive prices.
You can also keep your eyes on upcoming shoes that you can sell in the future. See what prices these shoes are selling at and calculate the cost of shipping, customs, and other fees. If selling those shoes seem like a profitable venture, that’s when you should go and make your move.
Research profitable keywords to optimize for in Amazon
Once you’ve decided on which products to sell, it’s time to research keywords for Amazon. Finding the right keywords is important because these will help users find your product when they search Amazon for shoes.
But you don’t want just any keyword. You want profitable keywords, i.e. transactional search phrases with high monthly search volume.
Sites like Keyword Tool can help you find the best keywords for your shoe products.
Keyword Tool requires users to sign up and subscribe to get full access to its features. It will provide you with keyword ideas as well as the search volume for each. It will also show you the level of competition on Google AdWords.
Customers are no longer searching by category. A high percentage of Amazon users shop through the search box. Some queries can be short and to the point. Others are much more specific and long-winded. A keyword tool would be able to provide you with keywords that can cover both types of queries.
In an article for SEMRush, Shannon Roddy stresses the importance of understanding A9, Amazon’s proprietary search algorithm software. The same article pulls a quote from Joseph Hansen, the CEO of Buy Box Experts.
Joseph states, “Optimizing for customer conversion first while including important keywords will help with the A9… how you optimize your titles and bullets plays a key role in what off-Amazon customers see.”
Here are a few more ways to nail your Amazon keyword listings every time.
Get deeper In your product research
The tools we’ve mentioned are meant to get you started. Pretty soon you’ll need more powerful tools to help you get deeper researching for your product.
Unicorn Smasher is more than a cute name. It’s a powerful Amazon product research tool that can do great things for your shoe business.
Like Unicorn Smasher, Jungle Scout is also in the business of optimizing Amazon pages. It has the tools to find niche products, spy on your competition, as well as find and manage keywords for your listing.
Both tools are important for they validate your product. As your business chugs along, you will need a resource that aggregates your ratings, reviews, opportunity score, estimated sales, and more. Both of these sites promise to deliver these and more.
Product validation will determine the future steps you need to take to grow your Amazon shoe business. It’s through this process that you’ll be able to figure out the demand for the shoes you plan on selling.
As pointed out in a post in Entrepreneur.com, “At the product level, each item is given an ‘Amazon Best Sellers Rank’ within the subcategory. By analyzing the reviews from products at the top, middle and bottom of these lists, sellers can gain invaluable insight into consumer preferences and concerns.”
Become an Authorized Seller of the shoe brand
Bad news for big brand resellers: you can’t just resell shoes from an established shoe company. You need to apply to be a shoe distributor.
As a new business, you’d need to come up with a business plan. Therefore, you need to be upfront with your goals. Know your numbers — start-up costs, monthly overhead, the works — to better develop your plan.
You will also need to visit your local state taxation and revenue department office. This is where you’ll get your resale tax ID number. This is required by shoe companies so they can sell to you at wholesale. This piece of documentation proves to the state that you are a tax-paying business.
Assuming that you are a new business, you need to be issued a business license. You can do so by marching down to your municipal office, filling up an application, and paying a small fee. Shoe companies need to see your business license before they can work with you.
You’ll also need to apply for a federal tax ID number otherwise known as an employer identification number (EIN). This can be accomplished by going to the IRS website. This will mark your business as a federal taxpayer. This too is something a shoe company would require you to have before you can start working together.
Once done, you can now determine which shoe brands you’d like to work with. Based on your research, you need to pick a company that you think would best fit the Amazon ecosystem. If you know your target demographic, your shoes should match their needs.
Do you want to focus on athletic shoes or dive into niche shoe categories? Ask yourself these kinds of questions to determine which brands would be able to meet your needs as an entrepreneur.
Contacting the shoe wholesaler would be the last step in the process. Check to see if the company you chose to partner with has an online application process for wholesalers.
BizFluent was able to enumerate some steps you’d have to take to be an official shoe reseller.
Get approved to sell on Amazon
Some of the best-selling shoes on Amazon come from restricted brands. If you’re keen on selling shoes from the company’s restricted list, there might be a way.
You can only sell shoes on Amazon if you are a Professional seller. So you need to take care of that first. A professional Amazon FBA plan will set you back $39.99 a month plus referral and variable closing fees.
The restrictions in place prevent random people from selling shoes from major brands like Nike and Under Armour. However, there are ways around that. You can, for example, work with someone who’s already been approved to sell them.
Or you can try your luck doing it on your own. You just have to meet some guidelines set by Amazon. It’s a pretty extensive list that you can check out yourself at Amazon’s Services page.
Here’s a brief version of Amazon’s checklist:
- Shoe products from major brands must be listed using the manufacturer’s UPC code.
- All shoes must be new. We do not allow any used products.
- All products must be authentic.
- Images must be of the shoe only and not the shoe in or near a shoe box
- Only one shoe per image
- Pure white background
- The main image should be at a three-quarters view, from slightly above, with the toe of the shoe facing right or left
- Images must be in color, not black and white
- Images must show the entire shoe, be tightly cropped, and have the shoe represent 80% of the image area
In addition, they also released a list of prohibited items. Here’s a summary of what’s in the list.
- Brand tags or packaging
- Second hand or slightly used products
- Sketches or digitally created images of the product; real images only
- Colored backgrounds or lifestyle pictures
- Other products, items, or accessories that are not part of the product listing; only include exactly what the customer is buying
- Images containing multiple products
- Image placeholders (such as, “temporary image” or “no image available”)
Remember that this is not the full list. I encourage you to see the full list yourself.
Create Amazon Listing of your shoes
Once you have everything sorted out, you can start with your product listing. There are three major things you should look at: your product image, your pricing, and your product descriptions. Let’s start with the image.
You need to be aware of Amazon’s image requirements. The size needs to be set at least 1000 x 1000 px (square) and the product itself should fill up 85% of the image. The background needs to be white. It needs to be in JPEG, TIFF, or GIF format and saved as RGB color space.
When saving the file, remember that file names should consist of the product identifier. This could be Amazon ASIN, 13-digit ISBN, EAN, JAN, or UPC. It must then be followed by a period then the appropriate file extension (like .jpg or .tif).
Amazon will not entertain product images that do not follow the file name convention they have in place.
You may have noticed that Amazon makes use of a number of images when presenting a product. Let’s look at the different image types that are made available to customers:
- Primary product image – often referred to as the Parent SKU Main Image, it’s the first photo everyone sees.
- Child SKU images – used when a product has more than one color or size.
- Alternate product images – Used to depict your products in action. You can use them to highlight the things it can do. In your case, you’d want to show off your shoes being worn or you can use it to highlight details you want your customers to notice.
Work with Amazon long enough and you just might qualify for enhanced brand content. This opens up your product listings to having 30-second video clips.
You can take the photos yourself if you have at least some photography experience. However, it would be better if you could invest in a professional so your products are well-represented online. The better looking your products are, the more likely people would be interested in what you’re selling.
There are a few things you need to keep in mind as you figure out your shoe prices. You want to determine what your expenses would be after it’s all said and done. You don’t want to find yourself selling shoes at prices that’ll leave you in the red.
There’s also a need to look at your intended audience and see if they can afford your shoes. While there might be a demand for high-end footwear, it may not be a fit for your intended customers.
Check what your competitors are doing by searching for them manually or by using the tools I’ve mentioned earlier. Seasoned online resellers would be the best people to learn from. Watch their every move and pay close attention to their pricing strategy.
Prices will change as the weeks go by. Be ready to make adjustments to your pricing at a moment’s notice. There are many factors that affect the price of shoes on Amazon. If a new shoe model is announced, for example. That would drive customers to wait for the new kicks and stop buying the older one.
Your pricing strategy should also take holidays and seasonal sales into consideration. Such occasions are the best way to get fresh eyes on your product offerings. This would be a good time to price your shoes a little lower and push out old inventory while you’re at it.
When done well, product descriptions can result in improved sales. We’ve talked about the importance of inserting the proper keywords. But there’s more to it than that.
According to Channel Reply, “Amazon does look at your product descriptions when deciding whether to rank your product for a specific search… what you don’t want is a description like this, stuffed full of keywords in an unnatural manner”
Keyword stuffing is frowned upon at Amazon. Instead, write helpful product descriptions while inserting just the right amount of keywords. As long as there’s a natural flow to your copy, you should be good.
And since Amazon products turn up on Google searches, you should optimize your content for Google as well. How do you do that? By creating product descriptions that make people want to engage your content. Think of the end user while you’re writing your copy.
Amazon has guidelines on acceptable writing listings. Here are the highlights:
- Comply with the relevant style guide for the product you’re listing.
- None of the following are allowed in the product detail page titles, descriptions, bullet points, or images:
- Pornographic, obscene, or offensive content.
- Phone numbers, addresses, e-mail addresses, or website URLs.
- Details of availability, price, or condition.
- Links to other websites for placing orders, or alternative shipping offers, such as free shipping.
- Reviews, quotes, or testimonials.
- Requests for positive customer reviews.
- Product titles must not have more than 200 characters, including spaces. This upper limit applies to all categories. Some categories might have a limit of even fewer characters.
Sell shoes via Amazon FBA
Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) takes care of packaging, shipping, and delivering your product to customers. You can, therefore, focus on increasing sales to your products as Amazon’s fulfillment services take care of the rest.
So let’s say you find a particular type of shoe that’s selling really well based on your product research. You can go and find a wholesaler, buy in bulk, and send them to an Amazon Fulfillment Center.
From there, Amazon will pack and ship the shoes for you. You don’t have to physically ship the orders out yourself. Amazon will do it for you. It’s an easy way to maintain orders and gives a platform to find new customers.
To start, head on over to Amazon Services and click Start Selling. You will be prompted to create an account where you’ll be asked for some basic information as well as your business details and tax information.
Once you’re done providing all the details asked of you, you’ll be registered and can start creating product listings.
From the dashboard, go to Inventory > Add a Product > Create a New Product Listing. The search bar lets you find a category which in this case would be shoes.
Amazon will return different categories that are related to your search query. Choose the category that best fits your product.
You will be then be brought to a page where you can provide your product information. Go ahead and fill the form out.
At a certain point, you may be asked for a GS1 UPC code. You have to buy those outside of Amazon. Once you have that, you’ll have to register it with Amazon so you can proceed with creating your product listing. The GS1 UPC is basically a barcode for online retailers.
You will also have a chance to upload images, add keywords, and insert other relevant product information.Once you’re done, hit Save and Finish. It will take a couple of days for Amazon to review the listing. If you don’t receive any notification that the product is restricted, you should be good to go.
Here are some things you want to keep in mind before you set off in your shoe business journey.
- Shoes eat up your capital – Bear in mind that shoes are expensive. You have to buy in different models and sizes. But as the old saying goes, you have to spend money to make money.
- Shoes are not fast movers – It takes a while for shoes to sell out. You need to have patience. The returns are great but selling every pair could take months.
- Look at the reviews – You can learn a lot from reading reviews. You’ll find customers commenting on what colors and sizes they fancy. Reading reviews will give you insight on which types of shoes to order.
- Know what sizes work for your customers – Men usually order anything from 9 to 11 while women order 6 to 9. But that’s not the case for everyone. Know your audience.
There’s a lot of money to be made from selling shoes on Amazon. And while the process can be intimidating especially for first-time sellers, the rewards are huge. As long as you follow the tips above, making money as an Amazon reseller should be a shoe-in for you!