There's currently two types of seller accounts on Amazon. You can choose the individual seller account, or you can choose to sell as a professional on Amazon.
This doesn't mean you're not a "professional" if you choose the individual seller account, any form of selling on amazon is a legit, professional business, right!?
But what it does mean is there are differences in not only cost, but the features that you get as an Amazon seller.
In this article we're going to review what having an individual or a professional seller account actually means, how they are different, and why you should choose one over the other.
Key Differences - Amazon Individual Seller Account vs Professional Seller Account
Many new Amazon sellers like to start out as an individual account due to the fact it does not have a monthly subscription fee like the professional account does.
But as with anything in life, going "cheap" isn't always the best option. You do get a lot more from the professional seller account, however, it still may not be right for everyone.
Let's start by reviewing the individual seller account costs and features.
Individual Seller Account
For those just starting out as an Amazon seller, or those doing a low volume of sales, the individual plan might be the best choice.
Here's a breakdown of the main individual Amazon seller account features:
- It's "free", meaning you don't have to pay a monthly subscription
- You have to pay a $0.99 fee for every sale you make
- Advertising on Amazon is not available to individual seller accounts
- You can't apply to sell in additional categories
- Unable to rotate into the buy box
- One user account only
Ok so perhaps it's more of a limitations list than a features list, but you get the idea. It is important note that on top of the $0.99 per sale fee, you will still need to pay the regular fees associated with selling on Amazon which include a referral fee, and storage and shipping fees if you are selling using Amazon FBA.
The different types of fees can vary, depending on many factors, but we've written about this in great detail in our Amazon FBA review.
Professional Seller Account
If you think you'll be selling more than 40 units a month, which isn't hard to do once you get the hang of it, then the professional seller account is for you.
Let's take a look at the features of the Amazon professional seller account:
- It costs $39.99 per month, but you don't have to pay the $0.99 per sale fee.
- Professional sellers can win the buy box
- Apply to sell in more categories than individual sellers
- Create listings in bulk
- Unlock advanced feeds and reporting
- Run promotions and participate in advertising on Amazon
- Connect and use third-party applications and software tools
- Calculate US sales tax in your Amazon account
What Categories Can I Sell With an Amazon Professional Seller Account?
There are multiple categories on Amazon that are restricted, often referred to as being "gated". In addition to all of the categories available to individual sellers, Amazon professional sellers have access to additional categories that they may apply to sell in.
You can apply to sell in the following categories if you have a professional seller account:
- Music & DVD
- Streaming Media Players
- Video, DVD, & Blu-ray
- Grocery & Gourmet Food
- and more
The key word to note here is "apply". If you currently have a professional seller account, you may apply to sell in the above gated categories that are otherwise restricted to individual seller accounts. This does not guarantee approval as there are other factors involved in getting ungated on Amazon.
What is the Buy Box, and Why do I Want it?
We've already established that individual sellers cannot win the buy box on their listings. The buy box is a highly sought after buy that appears on listings, with the "Buy Now" and "Add to Cart" buttons inside it.
This makes it much easier for a customer to make a seamless purchase, but it is not something that appears on all product listings. Hence why it's sought after by Amazon sellers.
Here's the general rules around how to win the buy box:
- You need to be a professional seller
- Sellers using the FBA program seem to have a higher chance of the buy box
- Pricing needs to be competitive, but not necessarily the cheapest
- Your seller account needs to be in good health
If you want to learn all about this topic, we did a deep dive on how to win the Amazon buy box.
Sell as a Professional on Amazon with Third Party Tools
Another huge benefit of using a professional seller account is the ability to integrate third-party tools with your seller central account.
Repricer tools are a hugely popular option used by many Amazon sellers. They help automate the re-pricing process of your product listings so you can stay competitive, maximize profits and win the buy box.
In addition to repricer tools, professional sellers can use the following types of third party tools for their Amazon business:
- Online arbitrage sourcing tools like Tactical Arbitrage
- Product research tools like Jungle Scout
- Amazon seller scanner apps like ScanPower or Scoutify
- Customer service tools like SageMailer
Advertising on Amazon
SEO plays a big role in the success of an Amazon seller, but many also opt to participate in Amazon's CPC (cost per click) advertising program.
When a customer searches on Amazon, the top row of product listings are often sponsored listings. These sellers are paying for ads on the Amazon platform.
There's a few different types of advertising that Amazon offers:
- Sponsored Products - as seen above
- Sponsored Brands with Amazon Storefronts
- Sponsored Display - on and off Amazon
Running paid ads on Amazon is not really something we talk about much here at Clear The Shelf, we use and teach a lot of other skills in our online arbitrage challenge, but there are a plenty of advantages to using ads if you have the budget to do so and if it fits your business model.
To reiterate our point, running paid ads on Amazon are only available to sellers that have a professional seller account.
Selling Plan FAQs
Yes you can. You can upgrade to a professional seller account anytime you like.
Inside your Amazon seller central account, go to settings, account info, seller account information and finally, select your services. In here you'll be able to manage your subscription.
It costs $39.99 per month for a professional seller account on Amazon.
Marketplace Pulse estimates that there are over 6 million Amazon sellers worldwide as of the end of 2021 with about half of those selling in the US marketplace but Amazon themselves state that around 2 million small and medium sized businesses sell on Amazon. 89% of sellers use the FBA program.
Which Amazon Selling Plan is Right for Me?
We haven't covered each and every difference between the individual seller account and professional seller accounts in this article, but the main ones to consider have been mentioned.
For us, and most of our colleagues in the Amazon space, the professional seller account is a no-brainer.
It's only $39.99 per month and it just gives Amazon sellers so many features and benefits.
We also realize that this amount may not be insignificant to some people so if you are just getting started with your Amazon business, and selling less than 40 units a month, then perhaps the individual plan is a better fit for you.
Selling used books on Amazon is a great business model that might be well-suited to someone on an individual seller plan. You can't run Amazon ads to used books and they are also not eligible to have the regular buy box on the product listing, so those benefits of a professional seller account are lost.
Used book sellers that sell more than 40 books a month will benefit more from a professional account, obviously.
Wrapping Up - Amazon Seller Account Types
Those that are new to Amazon generally want to avoid a monthly subscription fee, which is understandable. Choosing the right account type can often be a daunting process for new sellers, but it really doesn't have to be.
Because you can always change your subscription later, you are not locked in to a pro account if you start selling with one for example, so there is no harm done if your needs change down the track.
Our advice is to review the different features we've covered in this article and start with what you feel comfortable with.
Selling just a few items a month to start with? Then go for the individual seller account.
Buying a wholesale haul and launching straight into an Amazon FBA business? Sounds like you've got big kahunas so the professional seller account is the one for you.
We all start selling on Amazon at different levels, so just do what is right for you and grow at whatever pace is comfortable for your current situation.
Thanks for reading, until next time!