Why You May NOT Want to Sell on Amazon for Back to School

By Tinuiti Team

Amazon is the number one destination for online shopping around the year, so it’s no stretch to imagine Back to School shoppers on Amazon purchasing markers, pencils and Frozen lunch boxes.

What many Amazon sellers may not know is that many back to school items aren’t worth your time to sell on Amazon. 

Amazon Back To School Items to SellAmazon back to school selling

Amazon is designed to provide the best experience for online shoppers. Amazon’s product page design is different from most online channels with a product focus, and Amazon encourages retailers to compete for a share of the buy box- which translates to better prices, shipping and customer service for Amazon shoppers.

Amazon’s shopper based guidelines encourage Amazon sellers to offer the best products and services they can. For certain items however, Amazon’s design means certain products aren’t worth the time for Amazon sellers as they aren’t going to lead to profitability.

When determining whether to list a product on Amazon, you need to look at the following variables to decide whether its profitable for you to sell that item on Amazon.

Should I Sell It on Amazon?

Follow the formula below to determine whether you should sell an item on Amazon.

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When deciding whether to sell you back to school items on Amazon, be sure that you are maintaining a profit with product variables such as fulfillment, margin, and competitor pricing.

Because of Amazon’s pricing structure, it is likely not profitable for you to sell back to school items on Amazon which are less than $15.

What NOT to Sell on Amazon for Back to School

Amazon charges sellers a percentage of each sale they make on the marketplace. Depending on the merchant category that referral fee percent ranges anywhere from 6-25%.

For lower priced products, which incur a seller percentage fees lower $1 (for example pencils), Amazon charges a minimum referral fee of $1.

A product category referral fee is replaced on Amazon by a minimum referral fee for items which are below a certain price- or when the commission percent will be less than the minimum fee.

For example, pencils that retail for $5 may have a category based commission of $0.75, based on Amazon’s referral fee (% of cost per aquisition). Since the fee is lower than the minimum fee- $1, the seller in this case is defaulted to pay the minimum fee for this product sale.

For Amazon sellers, products that are less than $15 should be analyzed to determine if the product profitability exists with Amazon’s fees, fulfillment costs and associated profit variables.

Back to school products such as pencils and pens which are low cost may not be profitable to sell on Amazon. Amazon sellers should consider the above variables, as well as Amazon’s Add on item status, and whether Amazon is one of your competitors for those products.

Here are 19 Back to School items which may not be profitable for you to sell on Amazon:

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*Amazon Add on Item– Requires $25 purchase to ship.

Higher priced items like Backpacks and clothing are likely good choices for Amazon sellers, pending the profitability variables which influence that product.


What are you selling on Amazon for Back to School that’s eating your profits?

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