When venturing into the Amazon marketplace, sellers must decide whether to operate as an Amazon Privately Owned Business or as an Amazon Individual Seller, each with its own set of advantages and requirements. The choice hinges on the seller’s goals, scale of sales, and the level of commitment to the platform. For individuals selling sporadically or in small quantities, becoming an Amazon Individual Seller is a simple, low-cost entrance into e-commerce. Meanwhile, more serious sellers aiming to sell high volumes or establish a broader business presence might choose to operate as an Amazon Privately Owned Business. This decision impacts everything from fee structures to marketing capabilities, influencing the seller’s potential for growth and profitability on the world’s largest online marketplace.
What is the Main Difference Between Amazon Privately Owned Business and Amazon Individual Seller?
The main difference between Amazon Privately Owned Business and Amazon Individual Seller lies in the scale of operations, fee structure, and intended use. An Amazon Privately Owned Business typically operates under the Amazon Professional seller plan, catering to higher volume sales and offering more selling tools and options, with a monthly subscription fee and additional selling fees. This option suits those who plan to sell more than 40 items per month. In contrast, an Amazon Individual Seller is aligned with a more casual selling experience, ideal for those who sell fewer than 40 items per month, without a monthly subscription fee, but with a per-item fee upon each sale, providing a cost-effective solution for smaller-scale sellers or hobbyists.
Differences Between Amazon Private Businesses and Individual Sellers
What Is an Amazon Private Business and What Is an Amazon Individual Seller?
An Amazon Private Business typically refers to an independently owned company that operates on the Amazon marketplace to sell products in larger volumes. Such businesses often have established brand identities and may sell across multiple channels, including their own websites and physical stores. They usually register on Amazon as professional sellers, which involves a subscription fee, but provides a suite of tools and services designed for higher volume selling and business management.
Conversely, an Amazon Individual Seller is someone who sells products on Amazon on a smaller scale. These sellers often use the platform to offload a few items here and there, rather than consistently running a full-scale business operation. Individual sellers do not pay a monthly subscription fee but are instead charged a per-item fee each time they sell a product. This option is attractive for those who are just starting or do not predict a high volume of sales, as the overhead costs are relatively minimal.
Key Distinctions Between Amazon Private Businesses and Individual Sellers
- Volume of Sales: Amazon Private Businesses are generally set up to handle a higher volume of sales compared to Individual Sellers, who typically have lower sales volumes.
- Subscription Fees: Private businesses usually opt for a Professional Selling Plan with a monthly subscription fee, while Individual Sellers often stick with the Individual plan with no monthly fee but a charge per item sold.
- Brand Representation: Private businesses are more likely to develop and sell their own branded products, whereas Individual Sellers may sell a mixture of unbranded or third-party items.
- Access to Tools: Amazon provides Professional sellers (private businesses) with advanced seller tools and reports, which are not available to Individual Sellers.
- Inventory Management: Private businesses might use sophisticated inventory management systems to keep track of their stock levels, a feature that may be unnecessary for Individual Sellers with less inventory.
- Shipping Options: Professional sellers have access to Amazon’s fulfillment services like FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), while Individual Sellers may fulfill orders themselves or use FBM (Fulfillment by Merchant).
- Customer Services: Private businesses often have dedicated customer service teams or processes, unlike Individual Sellers who manage customer services on a smaller scale.
- Marketing Strategies: Private businesses might engage in comprehensive marketing strategies, including Amazon-sponsored ads, whereas Individual Sellers are less likely to invest heavily in marketing campaigns.
- Long-term Goals: The goals of private businesses are often centered around growth and scaling, whereas Individual Sellers might use Amazon for occasional sales or supplemental income.
- Regulatory Compliance: Private businesses might face more stringent regulatory compliance requirements, including tax and legal considerations, compared to Individual Sellers.
Key Similarities Between Amazon Private Businesses and Individual Sellers
- Marketplace Platform: Both private businesses and individual sellers utilize the Amazon platform to list and sell products.
- Amazon’s Fees: Aside from subscription fees, both types of sellers are subject to various Amazon fees, including referral fees and potential fulfillment fees.
- Customer Base: Both have access to the same vast customer base on Amazon’s marketplace.
- Review System: Both rely on Amazon’s customer review system to build trust and credibility with potential buyers.
- Payment Processing: Amazon handles payment processing for both private businesses and individual sellers, ensuring a secure transaction process.
- Amazon Policies: Both must adhere to Amazon’s seller policies and guidelines to maintain their selling privileges on the platform.
- Selling Categories: Private businesses and individual sellers can sell items in multiple categories, although certain categories are restricted and require approval.
- Performance Metrics: Amazon tracks the performance of both private businesses and individual sellers, evaluating metrics such as order defect rate, cancellation rate, and late shipment rate.
Pros of Operating as an Amazon Private Business vs. Amazon Individual Seller
- Higher Selling Limits: Owners of an Amazon private business typically have higher selling limits compared to individual sellers. This allows for a greater volume of sales and the ability to expand the business more effectively.
- Eligibility for Amazon’s Buy Box: Amazon private businesses are more likely to win the Buy Box, which prominently features their products and typically leads to higher sales volumes, as opposed to individual sellers who may not qualify easily.
- Access to More Categories: Private businesses on Amazon are allowed to sell in restricted categories that individual sellers can not access, thus broadening their potential market.
- Use of Amazon FBA: While individual sellers can also use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), private businesses tend to benefit more from it as they can scale their operations and handle large inventories, which FBA facilitates effectively.
- Ability to Register a Brand: Amazon private business owners can register their brand with the Amazon Brand Registry, offering protection against counterfeiters and unauthorized sellers, an option not available to individual sellers.
- Potential for Wholesale Purchases: Privately owned businesses usually have the necessary credentials, like a resale certificate, to make wholesale purchases, which can lead to better margins than the typically smaller-scale purchases made by individual sellers.
- Professional Seller Tools: Amazon offers a suite of tools for professional sellers that are not available to individual sellers, which includes detailed analytics and advertising options to drive sales and manage the business effectively.
Cons of Amazon Privately Owned Business vs. Amazon Individual Seller
- Monthly Fees: Amazon charges private businesses a monthly subscription fee, whereas individual sellers pay per item sold, which can be a more affordable option for sellers with low sales volume.
- Complex Tax Obligations: Privately owned businesses have more complex tax reporting and payment obligations compared to individual sellers, who may have simpler tax affairs.
- Initial Setup Complexity: Establishing a private business requires more upfront work such as incorporation, obtaining business licenses, and possible state tax registration, which is not as extensive for an individual seller.
- Long-Term Commitment: Running a private business on Amazon implies a long-term commitment and the need to maintain inventory, manage relationships with suppliers, and handle customer service, which can be overwhelming compared to the more casual approach of an individual seller.
- Greater Responsibilities: With business ownership come greater responsibilities, including managing employees or contractors, which isn’t typically a concern for individual sellers.
- Higher Risk Exposure: As a private business, there’s a higher risk exposure to legal issues and financial liabilities, especially when compared to individual sellers whose personal assets are less likely to be at stake.
- Inventory Management: A privately owned business on Amazon is likely to deal with larger inventories, which can be a challenge to manage effectively and may require additional storage space and logistics planning.
Benefits of Selling as an Individual on Amazon Over a Private Business
- Lower Upfront Costs: When you start selling as an individual on Amazon, the initial costs are significantly lower than setting up a private business. There is no need to pay for business registration fees or invest in bulk inventory at the onset.
- Simplified Processes: Individual sellers benefit from a simplified selling process on Amazon. There are fewer administrative tasks, such as tracking inventory for accounting purposes, which can be advantageous for someone just starting with e-commerce.
- Flexibility: As an individual seller, you have more flexibility to test the waters with your products without committing to the formalities and structure of a private business. This makes it easier to pivot or adjust your strategy based on market response.
- No Monthly Subscription Fee: Unlike private businesses that opt for a Professional selling plan, individual sellers are not required to pay a monthly subscription fee. You only have to pay per-item selling fees when you actually sell something.
- Easy to Get Started: The process to start selling on Amazon as an individual is straightforward and quick. You can start listing products almost immediately, without having to go through the comprehensive set-up required for a business account.
- Ideal for Small Volume Sellers: If you’re planning to sell less than 40 items per month, the individual seller account is best suited as it aligns with low-volume sales without incurring the extra costs associated with a Professional account.
- Personal Commitment: Selling as an individual on Amazon can be less daunting when it comes to personal commitment. It can often be managed alongside other personal responsibilities without the pressure of maintaining a full-scale business.
Drawbacks of Selling as an Individual on Amazon as Opposed to a Private Business
- Restricted Access to Amazon Programs: Individual sellers may not have access to all of Amazon’s programs and tools that are available to private businesses, limiting growth and scaling opportunities.
- Higher Selling Fees: Individual sellers pay a $0.99 fee per item sold, which can add up and become more costly than the fixed monthly fee for private businesses if the volume of sales increases significantly.
- Limited Product Categories: Certain product categories are restricted to professional or business sellers on Amazon, which means individual sellers are limited in what they can offer.
- Scale Limitation: There’s a cap on the number of items you can sell as an individual on Amazon, typically 40 items per month. To sell more, you would need to upgrade to a professional account, which requires a private business.
- No Bulk Listing and Inventory Tools: As an individual seller, you lack access to bulk listing and inventory management tools, which can become a drawback as your inventory and the number of SKUs grows.
- Branding Challenges: Individual sellers often face more challenges when it comes to branding. They miss out on Advanced Brand Content features which can set a business apart from the competition.
- Ineligibility for Prime: Individual sellers on Amazon are typically not eligible for Amazon Prime, meaning they cannot offer the same fast shipping options, a significant disadvantage when competing with businesses that can offer Prime.
Situations Favoring an Amazon Private Business Over an Individual Seller Account
- Volume of Sales: When the number of monthly sales consistently exceeds 40 items, a private business account benefits from a fixed subscription fee instead of paying a per-item fee, which is costlier for an individual seller.
- Inventory Management: For sellers with a large variety of products, a private business account provides access to advanced inventory tools and bulk listing services, which can streamline operations significantly compared to the basic tools offered to individual sellers.
- Brand Building: Amazon private business account holders can register with the Amazon Brand Registry, gaining powerful tools to build and protect their brand, something that is not available for individual sellers.
- Advertising Options: Private businesses have access to a broader range of advertising and promotional tools on Amazon, including Sponsored Products and Amazon Stores, allowing for more effective marketing strategies.
- International Sales: Those who wish to expand their business globally will find that Amazon’s private business account facilitates selling across multiple regions, which can be cumbersome or even off-limits for individual sellers.
- Reporting Insights: A private business account holder receives more detailed analytics and reporting features, which are crucial for making informed business decisions and scaling operations beyond what is feasible for an individual seller.
- Access to Programs: A private business can qualify for programs such as Amazon Business and Amazon Prime, enabling them to reach premium and business customers, an option that individual sellers do not have.
Situations Favoring an Amazon Individual Seller Over a Private Business Account
- Low Sales Volume: For those expecting to sell fewer than 40 items per month, the individual seller account avoids the monthly subscription fee, making it a budget-friendly option.
- Testing The Waters: New sellers just starting or trying to assess the viability of their product in the marketplace can do so with less financial commitment by choosing an individual seller account.
- Simplicity: Individual sellers benefit from a simpler setup process and fewer requirements, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer a straightforward selling experience.
- Fewer Products: If a seller only has a small selection of products, the advanced listing tools and inventory management provided by a business account may not be necessary, making the individual account more suitable.
- Minimal Overhead Costs: Without the need for a subscription fee, individual sellers can operate with lower overhead, which is crucial if profit margins are narrow.
- Ease of Closing Account: For those who are not sure about the long-term commitment to selling on Amazon, individual accounts are easier to close or put on hold without the worry of ongoing subscription fees.
- Flexibility: An individual account offers more flexibility with no long-term commitments or upfront subscription costs, which is ideal for casual sellers or those who sell seasonally.
How do the sales volumes typically compare between Amazon Private Businesses and Individual Sellers?
Amazon Private Businesses tend to handle higher sales volumes due to the scale and resources available to them. Individual Sellers usually have lower sales volumes as they are often smaller scale operators or hobbyists who sell fewer than 40 items per month.
Is there a difference in how Amazon Private Businesses and Individual Sellers pay fees on the platform?
Yes, there is a difference. Amazon Private Businesses generally operate under the Professional seller plan and pay a monthly subscription fee alongside additional selling fees. Individual Sellers, however, use the Individual plan which does not have a monthly fee but instead incurs a per-item sold fee.
Can Amazon Individual Sellers use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)?
Yes, Individual Sellers can use FBA services. It allows sellers to store their products in Amazon’s fulfillment centers, and Amazon directly handles packing, shipping, and customer service for these products.
What advantages do Amazon Private Businesses have when it comes to branding and selling in restricted categories?
Amazon Private Businesses have the ability to register their brand with Amazon’s Brand Registry, providing them with brand protection and greater control over their brand’s product listings. They also generally have the opportunity to sell in restricted categories after receiving approval from Amazon, which can significantly expand their product range and market.
Why might some sellers choose to remain as Individual Sellers rather than becoming Amazon Private Businesses?
Sellers may choose to remain Individual Sellers if they prefer the simplicity and lower upfront costs associated with this type of account. If they sell fewer than 40 items per month, the pay-per-item model can be more cost-effective, and they may value the flexibility and ease of managing a smaller scale operation.
How do marketing strategies differ between Amazon Private Businesses and Individual Sellers?
Private businesses are more likely to engage in comprehensive marketing strategies on Amazon, including the use of sponsored ads to increase product visibility. They may have a more extensive budget and resources to invest in marketing. Individual Sellers, on the other hand, may utilize basic marketing or rely on organic search results due to budget constraints or as a result of operating on a smaller scale.
What challenges do Individual Sellers face when selling on Amazon compared to Private Businesses?
Individual Sellers face limitations such as scale barriers (can only sell up to 40 items per month without upgrading), restricted access to certain product categories, lack of advanced seller tools, bulk listing abilities, and branding opportunities. They’re also unable to take advantage of certain Amazon programs that could help them expand their reach or streamline their operations.
Amazon Privately Owned Business vs Individual Seller Summary
The e-commerce landscape on Amazon offers two distinct paths for sellers, each suited to different business models and goals. The right choice between an Amazon Privately Owned Business and an Amazon Individual Seller account depends on the seller’s volume of sales, access to advanced tools and services, and long-term business aspirations. While privately owned businesses endure higher overheads with monthly fees and face more complexity in operations, they gain the capacity to scale, access restricted categories, and avail professional selling tools. Individual sellers, on the other hand, enjoy a cost-effective, flexible, and lower-risk entry point to Amazon’s vast marketplace, though they do so at the expense of growth potential and advanced features. Ultimately, aligning your Amazon selling strategy with your business objectives will position you for success within this competitive digital economy.
|Amazon Privately Owned Business
|Amazon Individual Seller
|Volume of Sales
|Intended for high volume, more than 40 items/month
|Best for low volume, fewer than 40 items/month
|Monthly subscription fee plus additional selling fees
|No monthly fee; Pay per-item fee upon each sale
|Tools and Access
|Access to advanced seller tools, eligible for FBA, can sell in restricted categories
|Basic selling tools, limited access to services like FBA, restricted from certain categories
|Can register with Amazon Brand Registry, suited for developing brand identity
|Generally doesn’t utilize Brand Registry, varied product sources
|Comprehensive marketing strategies and advertising options
|Limited marketing, less likely to invest in campaigns
|Likely has customer service processes or teams
|Handles customer service on a smaller scale individually
|Tax and Legal
|Faces more complex tax and compliance requirements
|Simpler tax and compliance obligations
|Higher selling limits, eligibility for Buy Box, access to more categories, wholesale purchasing options
|Lower upfront costs, simplicity and flexibility in operations, no commitment to monthly fees
|Monthly subscription cost, complex initial setup and tax obligations, higher risk exposure, inventory challenges
|Limited access to Amazon programs, branding challenges, potentially higher fees with increased volume, capped scale
|Scalable operations with consistent high sales volume, aggressive market expansion, long-term business growth
|Low volume sales, testing the market, minimal overhead concerns, desire for flexibility without long-term commitment