Inside the Reality of the Amazon Profitability Trap

Inside the Reality of the Amazon Profitability Trap

You’re an Amazon seller with dreams of turning a profit, but you’re starting to feel like you’re stuck in an Amazon profitability trap.

You’ve put in the work and followed all the tips and tricks to promote your products. You have great reviews, but you can’t seem to reach the level of success that other sellers have experienced. And every time you try to increase your prices, you lose out on potential customers.

So why can’t you make a profit? What is keeping you in an Amazon death spiral of lower prices and offering deep discounts just to stay competitive?

In this article, we take an in-depth look at the reality of the Amazon profitability trap—what it is and why it keeps happening—and offer seven tips for getting out of it for good.

What Is the Amazon Profitability Trap?

The “Profitability Trap” is a common issue for Amazon sellers. This phenomenon involves increasing costs, stagnant profits, and difficulties in scaling the business, which can be caused by aggressive competition and price wars. This leads to margin erosion and forces sellers to increase prices to offset losses, resulting in lower sales and a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break. Aggressive marketing can also put small businesses in debt, leading to inconsistent monthly profits and a “death spiral.” It’s essential for sellers to recognize the Profitability Trap and seek expert guidance to differentiate themselves and maintain profitability.

Identifying the Components of Amazon’s Profit Problem

When it comes to the Amazon Profitability Death Spiral, it’s important to identify the components of the problem. According to various experts, three main elements contribute to the trap:

  1. Low Margins – Because Amazon competes on prices, there is often little room for profit margins, as Amazon carries a wide range of products and competes fiercely with other online retailers.
  2. High Advertising Costs – Amazon’s advertising costs have risen substantially in recent years due to increased competition from other online retailers and Google Ads. Moreover, many sellers are forced to increase their ad spends in order to win the Buy Box or stay competitive on product listings.
  3. Fulfillment Fees – The fees charged by Amazon for handling and shipping orders have also skyrocketed recently, resulting in a significant portion of profits being swallowed up by warehouse costs.

When all these factors are combined with rising competitors, it’s not hard to see why an aggressive pricing strategy from Amazon can cause a death spiral for small margin businesses who don’t have the means or resources to compete.

The Role of Seller Central in Profitability

Many Amazon sellers reach a point of diminishing returns when attempting to increase profitability. The main culprit of this phenomenon is Seller Central, Amazon’s suite of tools for third-party sellers. Although it helps to streamline the process of selling on Amazon, it also has a few drawbacks that make it difficult for sellers to make a profit.

Using Seller Central can:

  • Increase your costs in fees, providing less value for money over time.
  • Make it difficult to scale up sales, as only certain products and categories are accepted by the platform.
  • Limit the options you have for customizing your store, meaning you may miss out on key opportunities to increase visibility and sales.

The lack of control over pricing on Amazon also plays its part in preventing sellers from turning a profit. There is no easy way to adjust prices without risking negatively impacting your sales data and potentially triggering penalties from the platform. This means that even if increasing the cost per sale may improve profits in the short term, it could have an adverse effect in the long run.

Ultimately, Seller Central can be a great way to enter the world of ecommerce but is not always conducive to sustained profitability if not managed correctly.

How You Can Avoid Amazon’s Profit Death Spiral

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Get to Know Your Customers

The key to success on Amazon is knowing your customers – what they want, what their buying habits are like and how you can help meet their demands. With this knowledge, you can create targeted campaigns that draw in more customers and boost sales.

Develop Your Own Brand

Amazon is a giant marketplace filled with competition – it pays to differentiate your brand from the competition. Developing unique, high-quality products and creating an effective marketing strategy will help set your brand apart and attract more customers.

Leverage Data Analysis Tools

Leveraging data analysis tools such as Amazon analytics can help you better understand customer behavior and optimize your market strategies accordingly. You can also use these tools to automate tasks such as pricing decisions or identify areas of opportunity where you can increase sales. By taking the time to analyze customer data and develop an effective marketing strategy, you can avoid falling into the Amazon profit death spiral – and turn a profit instead. ttract more customers.

Looking Beyond Amazon Profitability Solutions

The Amazon Profitability Trap is real, and savvy business owners are looking for ways to break out from the never-ending cycle. Fortunately, there are some strategies that can help.

Control Your Costs

As we have seen, one of the major problems with Amazon is the cost of selling there. With rising storage fees, shipping costs, and other overhead costs associated with selling on Amazon, you need to make sure you are managing your costs carefully. Take the time to evaluate each item in your inventory, and determine if there are more cost-effective options available.

Utilize Automation Tools

Having one sales channel may seem like a safe bet but it could be setting you up for disaster. Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket (i.e., Amazon), try diversifying your sales channels so that you have more control over pricing and other factors that affect profitability.

Diversify Your Sales Channels

There are a number of automation tools that can help streamline your operations and maximize efficiency. These tools can help you better manage inventory levels, track shipping costs, and more – all of which can help reduce operational costs and improve profitability. By taking the steps above to look beyond Amazon profitability solutions, business owners can find relief from the ever-shifting rules and regulations associated with selling on Amazon’s platform.


Upon analysis of the Amazon profitability trap, it is clear that competing in the eCommerce market comes with several obstacles. To achieve optimal profitability, sellers need to identify the reasons behind low sales and implement strategies that increase sales while considering business costs. Cartkaboom can aid in identifying these factors and creating effective sales-boosting plans for Amazon retailers. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to get started.
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Krystel Borg

Krystel possesses a unique expertise in transforming company sales, thanks to her knack for devising strategic blueprints and fostering high-performing teams. Throughout her career, she’s been at the helm of businesses that have burgeoned from mere startups to eight-figure giants. She boasts two notable exits in the CPG sector, with one being the acclaimed Swander Pace Private Equity Group.
Her profound understanding of product-centric ventures spans the entire lifecycle—from conceptualizing brands to overseeing logistics, supply chain management, and devising robust digital marketing initiatives. One of Krystel’s standout accomplishments in sales is her tenure with QVC, where she not only celebrated over 100 on-air appearances but also clinched a nomination for their coveted “Rising Star” award, sharing the limelight with industry titans like Sephora.
With a proven track record of scaling startups to monumental heights—like achieving $1.5M in revenue within a year and subsequently doubling it—and salvaging firms from deficits to enjoy $1.8M profits, Krystel’s prowess is undeniable. She masterfully steered a company to emerge as an unrivaled leader in its sector by multiplying its sales from $4M to $18M in half a decade.
In recent years, Krystel has channeled her vast experience into mentoring, playing pivotal roles as a consultant or board member to embolden fellow entrepreneurs. Her versatility is further accentuated by her engagements across diverse industries

Navin Williams

With 11 years of leadership experience in Business Management, Navin Williams has consistently delivered transformative results. His leadership has championed small businesses on their path to accelerated growth, steered large enterprises towards a surge in efficiency by up to 40%, and provided strategic direction to e-commerce companies navigating the dynamic digital marketplace.
His toolkit of expertise encompasses spearheading organizational transformations, enhancing business agility, and driving process efficiency across a spectrum of domains and frameworks, with a particular emphasis on Lean principles. Understanding the unique challenges and opportunities presented by both brick-and-mortar operations and digital storefronts, Navin is adept at crafting strategies that align with specific business objectives.
His commitment to rigorous reporting ensures transparency and data-driven decision-making, solidifying his reputation as a versatile and results-driven business leader.

Jane Sampson

Jane Sampson boasts over 15 years in the Apparel & Home Fashions sector. Throughout her career, she’s demonstrated a depth of knowledge in areas like Design, Product Development, Global Sourcing, and Market Research. Her business acumen is backed by a proven record in Procurement, Business Planning, and Sales.
Central to Jane’s professional journey is JANEEN HOME LLC. This company, under her leadership, specializes in introducing new textures, designs, and prints for bedding and soft home lines. Her brand’s presence is felt in prominent retailers such as Macy’s, Ross Stores, Hobby Lobby, Bealls, and Belk.
Beyond her corporate achievements, Jane shares her industry insights as an Adjunct Professor at Baylor University. She remains committed to fostering growth and nurturing future talents, ensuring they’re equipped for success in the dynamic world of Apparel & Home Fashions.

Archana Reddy Williams

From the corporate world to the dynamic world of Amazon, Archana’s journey has been nothing short of transformative. As a seasoned management consultant, corporate leader, and a 7-figure Amazon seller, she founded CartKaboom with a vision to demystify the Amazon maze for brands.
What drives Archana? Her passion for ensuring every brand gets a fair shot at success on Amazon. CartKaboom works tirelessly as a partner, acting as a true extension of brands, ensuring they shine in the Amazon marketplace. While she cherishes working with all types of businesses, Archana’s heart holds a special place for family-owned and women-led brands. Drawing from a wealth of firsthand insights and tailored strategies, she’s had the honour of propelling many of these businesses to 7+ figure successes on Amazon.
At the heart of CartKaboom, it’s not just about metrics. Archana delves deep into a brand’s narrative and core values, designing Amazon-focused strategies that amplify their presence. From listing enhancements and keyword optimization to effective advertising campaigns, Archana ensures that brands don’t just survive, but thrive in this ecommerce behemoth. Outside the world of ecommerce, Archana is active in real estate. As an Accredited Real Estate Investor and a CRE General Partner, she oversees diverse commercial real estate ventures, bringing the same dedication and business acumen to this vertical.
At the core of it all, Archana’s faith in God and her family remain her pillars. She resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband and three kids. For relaxation and fun, she enjoys travelling, hiking, and exploring nature, seeing it as a reflection of God’s beauty. She’s also active in local church initiatives, emphasising community growth and unity.