Amazon FBA: Selling Grocery and Replenishables

amazon.FBA.solosparkAfter selling mostly media when I first began selling Amazon FBA, I began experimenting with selling some replenishable grocery items.  Some call this the Holy Grail of FBA, for replenishables can earn income for a lot less work.  Many aspects of this are tricky, but it is certainly worth the time to learn.

Replenishable items are not always food.  Food is considered a replensihable because it is consumed and there’ will always be a need for more.  However this also applies to health and beauty items like soap, lotions, toothpaste, etc.

The listing process alone for multiples is much smoother.  Creating the listing and entering a number like 10 in the quantity box is WAY simpler than individual items, which can be very time consuming.

Replenishable items to beware:

1)  Chocolate can only be sold for about six months out of each year on Amazon.   Can you guess why?  Because it melts in hot weather during shipping.  There are no climate controlled warehouses nor delivery trucks, so if you are tempted to go for chocolate, do it between about November and March in the US.  Some candy items like jelly beans have also been known to melt and congeal into a huge mess, so being the Easter Bunny supplier may be risky.

2)  Potato chips and cookies have been known to arrive in crumbs.  There’s no rule saying you cannot sell them, but it may risky.  Extra attention to packing detail needed.

3)  Close expiration dates:  Amazon pulls the item at 50 days prior to the expiration date.  Best to invest in grocery items that have four or more months or more before they expire.

4)  Amazon has restricted items that cannot be sold at all, and among these are items that might contain hazardous materials (often called HazMat). Fingernail polish is one example of a Hazmat item (due to chemicals).  Other items can only be sold by ‘approved’ sellers, such as wine, jewelry, clothing, auto parts and even more.  Before investing in any volume of items for resale, alert Amazon restricted items as this list tends to change and grow frequently.

Shipping Grocery Items:

Most grocery items require some extra prep before shipping to Amazon.   The expiration date must be labled clearly and most items must be bagged in a polybag.  If you group a set of 2 or 3 items, it is best to label them so workers do not separate the pack.  I use labels saying “This is a set, do not separate” for this and place it on the outside of the bag or bundle.

In seller central, under ‘manage inventory’ there’s a place a seller can set alerts in order to know when it is time to restock.  Look to left of each individual item and click the dropdown under the ‘Actions” tab to find it.

Bundling related grocery items.  One way to rise above the competition is to create a new unique listing for say two or more related grocery items that are bundled as one item with one price.  Possibilies include ingredients for a popular recipe or maybe a cake mix with icing – items likely bought together.

Sales Competition:  It’s not difficult to find popular products, however there are also likely many other Amazon sellers listing the same items.  Even when you find an item that did not have a lot of seller competition initially, if it becomes popular that will likely change.  Remember the movie line “if you build it, they will come”?   Weary smiles at this truth.  If it sells well,  other sellers will notice your item rising in rank, and the competition may become fierce.  However sellers often enjoy regular sales for a year or two before that happens AND there are ways to create listings that discourage this.  Always be on the lookout for new items to replenish.

Learn more about selling grocery replenishable items.  Listen to this video spreecast with Jessica Larrew.



Carolan Ross

CFO(Chief Fun Officer) at SoloSpark
Freelance writer, creative soul, solopreneur and former teacher who networks with rebels, visionaries, artists and other square pegs in round holes. I support solopreneurs with copywriting and juggling life and business to SHINE ONLINE!


  1. Christie says

    Hi Carolan, this is a great article, thank you! When buying raw spices in bulk to re-sell on Amazon, do you know if there are any special regulations since the seller is handling a food item?

    • Carolan Ross says

      Good question, Christie. I notice that there are sellers of spices on Amazon that appear to have been purchased in bulk. There are certainly regulations regarding selling spices and herbs you’ve made yourself (legal kitchen required). However it sounds like you mean buy in bulk then redistribute in smaller quantities rather than make them yourself. I do not know about that, but assume there are likely some regulations. You might find one of those bulk spice sellers on Amazon and ask them direct.

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