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How to make money on Amazon in South Africa

Amazon is FINALLY settling on SA shores, and if you’re looking to make any kind of income online, you’d be foolish not to capitalize on the biggest thing to happen to South African eCommerce since the dial-up modem. This multinational company previously opened its doors (a crack) to SA citizens by letting us register as vendors for Amazon Europe, meaning that we could only fulfil orders to European customers. However, as of October 2022, it’s been confirmed that full Amazon operations are being implemented in South Africa. We finally get the convenience and opportunity of having such an established order fulfilment system running within our borders.

As a business owner, you probably feel like someone just handed you the golden ticket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And you wouldn’t be wrong there. However, that same golden ticket just got handed to every single other South African business owner, and the aspirational ones, too. To get into that success factory, you’ll need to make it to the gates first and prepared. FGX is here to help. Using what we know about how Amazon works, we’ve outlined five methods to making money on Amazon when it launches here. If you want to know how to make money on Amazon in South Africa – this blog is an excellent place to get started!

1. Start your own store on Instagram.

This one’s the most obvious and probably has the most growth potential, but we’re sure it hasn’t occurred to at LEAST one of you: it’s time to start your own Amazon store! The fantastic thing about the platform is that it’s incredibly varied, so you can really lean into selling interesting things as a vendor. For example, if you’re really into making novelty vampire t-shirts, we know this marketplace is way more likely to accept and sell your wares than your local home industry store. You don’t need those elitist koeksister aunties anyway, and they shouldn’t have been so mean about your Nosferatu crew neck.

When choosing what to sell on Amazon, it’s imperative to strike a balance between 3 factors: demand, industry competition and product availability. If everyone wants it and loads of people are selling it, for example, you might not be able to get a foothold in the market as a new seller. Conversely, suppose there’s tons of product availability and absolutely zero competition for the item you want to sell. In that case, you should consider why and whether people are actually interested in this offering. Once you’ve decided what products you’re basing your soon-to-be Amazon empire around, our Ultimate Amazon Sellers guide will outline your next steps. You’re welcome. Call us when you’re rich.

2. Sell wholesale goods through Amazon FBA

“FBA” is not a misspelt government organization that taps your phone calls when you do a shifty Google search. It stands for “Fulfilled by Amazon,” and is a process in which Amazon warehouses (or fulfilment centres) stock your inventory and send it out to your buyers so that you don’t have to handle those logistics yourself. You can choose to use this service at an extra cost as an Amazon vendor, and it’s a neat way to cut out the time you would’ve spent doing it manually. A great way to use this service to your advantage is to buy and sell wholesale products, letting Amazon handle the fiddly bits.

How this works is simple: You invest a lump sum of your cash into a significant quantity of high-demand, fast-moving items. Then, you optimize their listings on Amazon so that your version shows up above your competitors’ (FGX offers Amazon Listing Optimisation Services to help you make that happen.) Now, slap a mark-up on those items, ensure you’re maintaining your listing’s SEO, so it stays on top of the product search results, and sit back to watch your money multiply! You don’t even need to figure out the age-old mystery of how the South African Post Office actually works because Amazon FBA will be doing all those logistics for you. Look at you go, you eCommerce magnate!

3. Become an Amazon Affiliate and influence conversions

Do you fancy yourself something of a wordsmith? Maybe you’re influential amongst your group of friends, or you’re what one would call “an Insta baddie”? Amazon will pay you to put those skills to good use when you become an Amazon affiliate! Basically, if you advertise Amazon products effectively through your own personal referrals, the platform will reward you for doing so. When you sign up to become an affiliate, they give you special product links that only you can share. When a purchase is made from those links, Amazon keeps track and rewards you for directing that sale their way with a portion of the money earned. Cool, huh?

The commission you can earn from signing up for this program usually caps out at around 5%. However, if you’re effective in your strategy, you can drive a pretty significant number of conversions, all without ever actually handling any inventory or products. If you thought you were building your loyal following of devoted digital acolytes in vain, you were mistaken. Now you get to tell to tell your mom that Instagram IS a real job, and you’re learning this dance routine to a soundbite from Spongebob for WORK. Because finally, it is, and you are!

4. Take advantage of retail arbitrage

Imagine we offered you a glass of water right now. How much would you pay for it? Maybe R5? Maybe nothing, because you’re not thirsty? Now imagine we made that same offer, but your sleeve was currently on fire. We bet you’d hand over a crisp R200 without any hesitation (but probably a fair share of flailing.) That’s essentially how the concept of ‘retail arbitrage’ works. You head to a retail outlet and purchase a bulk amount of a high-demand product. Then, you list it on Amazon at a mark-up so that when last-minute shoppers realize they NEED that specific product and they can’t grab it in stores, they have no choice but to buy from you and that mark-up becomes instant profit.

The trick to successfully pulling off a retail arbitrage business is choosing the right products. You don’t want to add mark-ups to products that are always readily available and in endless supply, because WHY would anyone buy expensive toilet paper off Amazon when there’s literally a shelf of the same thing, but cheaper, in every store? Similarly, you don’t want to go so niche that your target resale market is tiny. Just because an item is rare doesn’t mean it’s valuable. There’s no demand for your grandma’s terrifying porcelain doll set from 1928 online, so stealing them from her display cabinet and trying to resell them in your Amazon store won’t make you money; it’ll just make you a lousy grandchild.

5. Join the Mechanical Turk (MTurk) program

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk program doesn’t just have a great name – it’s a great concept, too! Basically, it’s a marketplace, but not for products. Think of it as a flea market for crowdsourcing, where businesses can easily outsource their virtual tasks to individuals around the globe. These tasks could be as simple as data validation and research, or as involved as survey participation and content moderation. The Mechanical Turk program can sort out tasks that used to involve the laborious hiring of a temporary workforce, and you could lend your brain to that. Think of this as a “Rent-a-crowd” for digital people! As explained by Amazon themselves, “crowdsourcing is a good way to break down a manual, time-consuming project into smaller, more manageable tasks to be completed by distributed workers over the Internet.”

When you become an Amazon Mechanical Turk, you can go to work without having to put on pants (don’t tell your roommates we told you this). Though this work might not pay as much as working as an Amazon rep or in one of their fulfilment centres, it makes for an excellent side hustle if you’re looking for a more passive way to earn a bit of extra cash. Your hours are on your terms, which means you get increased work flexibility if that’s what you’re into. Also, and we’re repeating this bit because the value of this cannot be overstated: pants are optional here.

So… when can I get started earning money with Amazon in South Africa?

The bad news is: we don’t actually know yet. At the time of publishing this blog, we haven’t been given an official start date for Amazon’s launch in South Africa, even though we know it’s coming. This is some M Knight Shyamalan-level suspense.

The good news is that FGX is here to help you get ready to hit the ground running when the platform launches. We’ve developed a series of service offerings to prepare you to optimize your earning potential the moment the opportunity arises, so you can get a head start on your competition and dominate the Amazon market early. From store setup to product listing optimization and launch strategies, all the way to high-level marketing campaigns, we’re here to launch your empire with you. Don’t hesitate to contact us to get the ball rolling and jumpstart your eCommerce business today.