By Princess Jones

Amazon Prime is a service offered by the shopping giant that includes access to TV, music, and expedited shipping on millions of items. Although Amazon is notoriously secretive about its business practices, it’s been estimated that nearly 46 percent of American households have access to Amazon Prime.

Amazon fulfillment is a program that partners with retailers to provide expedited shipment for Prime customers. For small business owners looking to take advantage of those built-in customers, working with the Amazon Prime program as a vendor might be a smart way to grow your customer base.

Is Amazon Prime Right for Your Business?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of setting up an Amazon seller account, let’s go over some of the perks of working with Amazon Prime. First, you get to piggyback off of the reach of Amazon and specifically its Prime customers. They’ve already set up an audience that pays monthly for the service and actively looks for opportunities to use it.

Another reason small businesses might use Amazon fulfillment is to cut down on labor. Instead of shipping to each customer that orders from your website, you can ship one box of your products to Amazon whenever stock is low. Amazon will also handle the returns and customer service for your listings.

But keep in mind that it also takes a lot of options out of your hands when it comes to dealing with your customers who order through Amazon. You have very little control over how your product is displayed and you may have little access to the information of those who order from you. Building email lists or compiling stats for marketing efforts may be much more difficult..

And finally, it’s not free. Depending on your type of account and the seller fees you rack up, it may cut into your profit margin. Make sure you crunch the numbers to see if this makes financial sense.

Setting Up Your Amazon Fulfillment

If you’ve decided that Amazon fulfillment is for you, start by setting up an Amazon Seller Central account if you haven’t already done so. Just go the Amazon Seller Central homepage and click register to get an account. (Note that you’ll have to choose between an individual and professional account. You also don’t have to use Amazon fulfillment services to use Amazon Seller services.)

Now that you’ve got your account, it’s time to set up some products. That’s as easy as clicking “Inventory” on the top menu and then clicking “Add a product.” Just finish follow the prompts to input the information about the product, including a description, photo, and specs. When you get to the section about shipping, choose the option to have Amazon handle your fulfillment.

The next step is to send in the products. Pack your items and use the mailing label provided. Amazon has several fulfillment centers around the country so where your product goes really depends on a few different factors. When the inventory has been received, you’ll get a notification. You’ll also get notifications when your items sell, when there are customer questions, and when stock is low. Just supply more products to the fulfillment center to start the process all over again.