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166 Fetcher and the Future of Amazon with Shane Stinemetz Part 3 of 3

The Future of Amazon 2017

The future of Amazon is going to be challenging for Amazon sellers. Products are becoming more competitive and this making the Amazon space more congested than before. Therefore, people need to find a way that they can assert creativity in their sales by creating something original or by adding something original to the already existing products. Continue reading

164 Amazon Sales with Shane Stinemetz Part 1 of 3

It is important for any business to measure its profit and loss as this helps in determining the direction of the business. It helps in understanding if the business is headed in the right direction or if there are changes that need to be implemented. Continue reading

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#97 Adam Hudson on Selling on Amazon FBA Part 1 of 4

Adam Hudson

Adam Hudson

You are selling on Amazon FBA now – but  what was your start in entrepreneurship?

Adam has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years.  

Adam got started right out of high school. He knew he didn’t want a boss and was captivated by the idea of entrepreneurship. He has had several businesses but not focuses solely on Amazon. He has had online and offline businesses including a flight simulator business, hair salon, and a finance company. He has a very diverse background, to say the least. Selling on Amazon FBA came more recently. 

How did you come to be selling on Amazon FBA?

Adam got into selling on Amazon FBA part-time while he was running an animation business. He sold that business last year and moved away from service businesses in order to start a product business with Amazon. Part of the allure of products is that it gets away from the “selling your time” type job where you make more money the longer you work. With products, once you do the hard work and develop the product, you can sell it all over the world and get paid over and over.

His animation business was growing and financially successful but he had a lot of people and a lot of moving parts. With products, it so leveraged and you can get away from that. 

What made you decide to sell things on Amazon FBA specifically?

As a business guy, Adam found Amazon very impressive. It’s a phenomenal company. In terms of their growth and numbers you know they are doing it right. He really loved that you didn’t have to build a website, that you didn’t have to find the customers because they were already there and that they handle fulfillment and shipping. FBA just changed the rules of product distribution. It was appealing to sell into the biggest markets in the world from wherever you were. To get more of Adam’s thoughts on the Amazon opportunity, CLICK HERE

Do you think it’s too late to get started with selling on Amazon FBA?

It definitely isn’t according to Adam. He did an experiment this year. He started with 6 products that launched in February or March to test what it would be like for a newcomer. They are currently around a million dollar a year products at this point. So it isn’t too late. There is a lot of opportunity to those with the necessary education.

Where do you think the opportunity is? Is it still in .com in the US, or has it shifted to somewhere else? How about selling on Amazon FBA UK?

It’s interesting because right now his European business is doing about 70% of his US business. What’s truly amazing is that his cost-per-customer (CPC) in Europe  is about ⅓  of what it is in the US. Also, Europeans give more feedback than Americans. He has automated emails that go out and he gets about twice as many emails from UK residents than the US.

Are you only in the US and European markets or are you in others?

Adam is in .com and then Spain, Italy, Germany, France, and the UK.

What are the big pros and cons of the US market versus Amazon FBA UK and the other European markets?

The US is always appealing because it’s so big but because it’s so big means there is a lot more competition. Also, America is home many of the Amazon course gurus that have pumped out a lot of courses to those wanting to start an Amazon business. The challenge is that there are a lot of sellers that have been educated on the same strategy at the same time. So America is still a great opportunity if you have the right education and the right lens. You can’t beat the US market because it’s so big and broad.

However, if you live in the UK and feel more comfortable working there, Adam would recommend starting in the UK. It’s a fantastic market, much easier to access, much easier to rank, and a much more appreciative group of consumers. However, if you don’t live in the US or the UK Adam recommends starting in the US because it’s much easier to get started. The regulations for foreign sellers are a lot tougher in the UK and it’s a lot easier to get your account set up in the US.

Another issue is that not everyone is registered for VAT and many people won’t until Amazon requires it because it will add 20% to your prices and put those that register at a disadvantage.

You mentioned before how everyone was educated in the same flawed strategies for selling on Amazon. How were they flawed and what should be done differently?

One of the biggest promoters put out a course telling people to sell items for under $40 with high Best Seller Ranking. When they first launched they recommend being in the top 100 of any category. Once they began selling this idea they realized they needed to expand because they had 5000 people looking to be a top 100 in about 15 categories.

One of their flaws was the emphasis on BSR because it doesn’t really matter. That only measure who sells the most. But in business, it doesn’t matter how much you sell, rather how much margin you make. That’s the difference between turnover and leftover. Adam is looking for higher margin, less contested spaces. People don’t realize how massive Amazon is. Over 2 million sellers with hundreds of millions of products. There are a lot of unsophisticated sellers that have two images with ten reviews and are on page one. There are a lot of small sellers that looked for cheap products with high turnover where anyone can get into it. What Adam looks for is something that is difficult for people to compete and isn’t as obvious.

What are some things you would suggest in order to put a moat around things? If you have $5000, $10,000 and $20,000 to start.

Adam cover a lot of this in his course at reliable.education. His first product was $160 retail. But it was costing him $40 a unit. So there was an $80 margin which gave him options someone selling a $12 product just doesn’t have. He could spend more on advertising. Even if he spent $20 per sale he was still making $60. He was completely out of the top sellers and in his subcategory there was around 45,000 and he was nowhere near the top. He still came in and started making $15,000 a month in sales and $8,000 profit.

Differentiate your product to sell stuff on Amazon

The first thing people need to think about is that whenever you look at a market for anything, you need to think about it from a consumer’s point of view. Why will a consumer notice you? And why would a consumer buy from you and not someone else? It can’t be something they need to read about. Don’t expect them to read your copy and find some feature. Think of Amazon like Tinder. People put in a few details about what they are looking for, then go through the pictures and start dismissing them. You need to have good photographs, but you also need something good in the photograph. So try to get something that is visually different. Some key detail or feature that will grab the buyer’s attention.

For example, if you look up desktop calculators on Amazon, they are all black or grey except for one that is green. Now if you look at car covers, they are all black or grey or blue. But if someone came with a car cover that had a cool saying, or was bright pink, it’s going to stand out. The question is, how can you innovate, visually, at the core design level. It’s not about the best title or description, anyone can do that. The big thing is to think like a customer. Just follow Jeff Bezos advice, “Be in business for the customer.” In the end, the best products are going to win.

To get more advice or free training from Adam, just go to reliable.education

128 Why Your Amazon Business is at Risk

I am going to be talking about something that, I think, doesn’t get talked about enough. That is the reality of what you’re dealing with in an Amazon business. I don’t want to be negative, this is a reality check and reality is not a negative thing if you deal with it in the right way. This can lead to a long-term, genuine, sustainable business. The key to that is dealing with reality and not a fantasy of what you would like to have.

Realism is Good for You Amazon Business

The first thing I want to mention is that it’s positive to be realistic. Some Amazon coaching can cast being realistic in a bad light. They are a little to happy, happy for my taste. Not that being positive, confident, and optimistic is a bad thing. Rather, it is important to face reality head on.

Caveats aside, Amazon is treating me well right now. I have several products doing well and I’ve sold almost 800 units in that past few weeks at a decent profit margin. I say that, because what I’m about to tell you may shock some people because they aren’t thinking clearly about what they’re doing. This has become clear to me after working in great detail with mentoring clients. I usually have about 6 – 8 clients and many of them are just starting out. Also, if that interests you, please take a look at my mentoring program. Many of these clients are well-experienced yet have some delusions about how Amazon works.. A couple have doctorates, some have been selling online for years, and some are in financial industries. Even they, don’t really get the nature of Amazon.

Business as Investments

Any investment and/or business is to get some kind of return. Whether you invest capital or your time, you are looking for a return on your investment. There is some sort of ratio between the return you expect and the risk you’re prepared to run. If you want low risk, low reward, you might look into government bonds. If you want a greater return, but are willingly to have more risk, the stock market is where you turn. Or you may decided to be a venture capitalist and invest in startups. These are very high risk investments, but if you do it right, it has very high rewards.

Now your Amazon business, a business that primarily depends on Amazon’s sales and marketing channel; how would you rate that in terms of risk/reward? Just because you’re building a business doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think of it as an invest-able asset. Likewise, for any investment you should treat it as a business and look at the underlying assets. If you are wanting to invest it Coca Cola, look at their business. Look at their competition. Consider legislation that is fighting against them, and any potential expansion possibilities.

Bringing it Back to Your Amazon Business

If a venture capitalist were to look at an Amazon business, one that has a proven market traction, they would see it as a very high risk, but a very high potential reward investment. Having a business with only one sales channel where Amazon is pretty fussy and can shut your account down over small things, is a very high risk thing. The rewards are very high, as I am seeing for myself, and they are real; just like the risks.

This has profound ramifications for how you deal with Amazon. For example: is running your own Amazon business a viable replacement for your full-time job? If you’re tired of your corporate job and want to strike out as an entrepreneur and spend more time with your family, is Amazon a good replacement for a paycheck? Often times it is advertised as such. My answer: NO.

Diversify Income

A paycheck, from a full-time job is relatively secure. It’s not completely secure, which is good to understand, since you can lose your job or whatnot. But I would never recommend trading a secure form of income for one as tumultuous and uncertain as Amazon. I don’t think you should ever replace your day job with just Amazon. I still do some music coaching and I make no apologies for have an off-line and off-Amazon income that is solely under my control. It is a good strategy for risk diversification. I also make money from mentoring as well as the podcast. Even though these are very closely linked to Amazon, they are not the same thing. I also have some property. If you want to give up your paycheck for Amazon, make sure you have other sources of income.

At the very least, you will need to have an income source to pay for inventory. Even if it only costs you $1 per widget, you still need to have enough inventory to cover sales, if you are doing private label. An alternative is retail arbitrage, which was exclusively covered in my mastermind group. Also, if you want access to exclusive content like that, join the London Mastermind.

This may sound like doom and gloom, but I don’t think it is. You have to understand that Amazon is an amazing place to grow your capital, but it can’t be a swift replacement of your income. I don’t think Amazon should be the sole replacement of your income.

Risk Management

Once you understand the risk of your Amazon business, rather than burying your head in the sand, you can mitigate risk. You can increase your reward while reducing your risk. With Amazon, what are the biggest risks?

Account Suspension

Therefore take care of things that can affect your account. You have to play within the rules. Years ago, some of use sellers pushed the rules quite hard and Amazon gave us a slap on the wrist. Now, they are suspending accounts. For example, if you are using incentivised reviews, take care not to look like you’re buying reviews. Another example is Amazon’s crazy policy around “defect” rate. What Amazon rates as defects are too many returns, refunds, or 1 star feedbacks. Once you’re suspended, it is a long and difficult process to regain access to your account.

I was facing an issue recently in regards to the feedback rating. Long story short, the buyer had left a product review under feedback rather than an actual review. This was an account that didn’t have much in the way of sales and only had 58 reviews. Since there were so few feedback reviews, that was a high rate of 1 star feedbacks and Amazon did not like that and I got a message saying account at risk.

What Can You Do?

For me, it was simple. The buyer had left a product review as a feedback which goes against Amazon’s policies, so we were able to get it squared away. What that told me was that I need to be more cautious about how I get feedback. Not as a way to increase reward, but as a way to reduce risk. Like an insurance policy, it’s not very sexy, but you will be happy you have it if you ever need it.

What I started doing is having a follow-up sequence in my email asking for feedback. A lot of which will be product review which I will ask them to do a traditional product review. This also encourages feedback from customers, more so than you would get otherwise. Which is a great way to improve your service, but also, you can then ask them to submit that as feedback on Amazon. This will allow you to build up a cushion of positive feedback and help you take care of issue away from Amazon. This way, if you ever have a 1 star feedback, not product review, you will have a large amount of positive feedback to outweigh the negative.

Recap

  • Recognize that you are dealing with a high-risk, high-reward way of making money
  • Diversify your income sources so you’re not ruined if something happens with Amazon
  • Once you recognize your risk, mitigate and reduce them while keeping your rewards

There is a lot here, too much to go into great detail. If you are serious about getting started, I recommend getting into the mastermind and really exploring these opportunities.

126 What Really Makes Ama­zon Shoppers Buy

I wasn’t planning on recording any podcast for a few days but I just had an experience as an Amazon buyer that is very important for Amazon sellers to understand.

Psychology is very fascinating to me and it should be to you as well. There are different parts to the Amazon supply chain and psychology plays a major role in many of these. The aspects that I am most fluent in are negotiations and selling/marketing. What makes consumers buy and what makes consumers attracted to your projects?

Recently we talked about message to market match and that if someone is looking to buy a red dog bowl and you are specifically selling a red dog bowl then they are much more likely to buy your product. This is a very powerful concept. This can be the basis for an incredible business. The other thing we talked about was Know, Like, and Trust.

Seeing this from the Buyer’s Perspective

The other day, I was going to print some music from my Brother printer and I was getting an error telling me to change my toner. I didn’t want to deal with this but I knew I had to take care of it and not be lazy. Notice, I’m reacting to a problem. I’m not thinking this through like a business transaction. It’s a consumer purchase, I’m not a print shop, I’m just a musician that occasionally prints some stuff. I didn’t plan it, I didn’t know about it and I didn’t want to do it but it’s a necessity. I was motivated by urgency.

Urgency as a Driving Force

That’s often the case with consumers on Amazon with all types a products. From things as mundane as a printer cartridge or as urgent as forgetting to get a birthday gift for your spouse. If I had more time I would go down to the shop and buy the cartridge or item I needed. However, I just so busy, I need to buy it quickly on Amazon and get on with my day.

In my urgency and need to be done with this quickly, I almost missed the mental processes that took place. So, I get on Amazon, search for the printer cartridge I need and scroll through the listings. I got to about the fourth one down and immediately decided that’s the one I want, almost missing what was going on in my head.

The Value of Bundling

The first listing was £9 and it looked like a compatible item, but I scrolled past it until the fourth or fifth which really caught my attention. It was such an intuitive process that I had to slow it down and ask myself, “why am I about to but this?” First off, I’m not in a price comparing mood. It was way cheaper than I was expecting. I was expecting £40 or £50 for an actual Brother cartridge and the listings were in the £9 to £15 range. My price resistance was way down because I was prepared to pay almost 5 times that amount and move on. Since it was so much cheaper, I wasn’t going to sit there and compare prices.

What set the listings apart, and what won it for me, was the one offered a two-pack. If I were to reverse engineer my buying thought process, the first thing that got me was that it was a two-pack and bundling brings out the value thinking. The price compared to the top listing. I could see that it was a value to get the two-pack over the one pack. The my frustration of running out. Since I didn’t want to be in this situation, I would want to buy the two-pack so I wouldn’t have to go through this. This is true for a lot of stuff. If you are selling anything renewable, bundling them brings value to the buyer because they don’t want to run out in a month or two.

The Value of Message to Market Match

The next thing thing that won me over was that it specifically said it was for a Brother printer. The listing said exactly what I wanting to see rather than almost what I wanted to see. That helped push me over the edge and buy it.

Psychology of Sales

Even as an Amazon seller, I was almost taken unaware with the way selling works. If I didn’t spend my life working on Amazon and teaching others how to sell on Amazon, I would have completely missed how the psychology of this process works. It came down to three things.

  1. The price, relative to the other listings
  2. The bundling value
  3. The exact match of what I was looking for

The last thing I noticed that influenced my decision want the ratings. The top listing had 39 reviews and 4.5 stars. It was that little bit of imperfection. Whereas the one I bought had 16 reviews and a 5 star average. If I were being objective, I would calculate it. The one listing had many more reviews and likely had just as good overall satisfaction. Some buyers will do this, so it is a very important aspect to be aware of. However, in these urgent situations, consumers tend to be irrational and see 4.5 stars compared to 5.

#100 Adam Hudson on Amazon Basics Pt. 4

To find out more of Adam’s own strategies and tactics, CLICK HERE

Reviews are a major part of any strategy and you mentioned earlier that you want enough reviews to seem viable. Is that correct and could you expand on that?

Yes. It hard to seem credible if you have five reviews and everyone else has 100, so you have to work for those reviews.

How much is enough? And what do you do now that incentivised reviews have been removed?

How many depends on the product. It depends on what page one looks like for you products’ search terms. There is still opportunity out there. There are a lot of products with low reviews that are still dominating. Adam would use ilovetoreview.com, which he also owns, to get 25 reviews for products in the UK and 50 in the US.

Find out more of Adam’s latest thinking HERE

It’s only in the US that incentivised reviews are gone and it’s only compulsory reviews. There are other services that never guarantee the review but would push out your products at a discounted rate or for free. It’s not clear how it works, but it seem that after you get around 25 or 30 sales in a day then you products get a jump start and the sales keep rolling in. So even if you’re not getting a guaranteed review, there is still value in pushing your products out at a discounted rate.

Adam can only speak to his community at ilovetoreview.com, but the reviewers have been doing this for three years where they use the coupon, get the product, and write the review. So, they will probably continue to do so even though it can no longer be required.

Companies will continue to do this even if the review rate drops in half. Adam’s company has a review rate of 87% meaning 87% of products that were pushed out came back as a review. With these new rules, that will likely drop. And if it drops in half that means you will just have to send out twice as many products. This is a one-time investment for something that can generate income for life.

Another tip from Adam is to follow up with you customers via email. Especially in the UK, they are very responsive to this. Zonguru (which Adam also own) has this automation built in.

Every time you make a sale it can send an email when it ships, six days later following up with any issues,and 14 days later asking for a review.

Not only will this help in getting reviews, but it allows you to get ahead of any issues with the product, say if the box was damaged or the product wasn’t right, allowing you to take care of the issue without before going through Amazon’s return system.

Adam tries to casual in his style in his emails. Just a quick “Hey, how are you doing? Just wanted to make sure everything is good with the product.” He doesn’t try to sound like a big company with huge copy in the email, just a quick message like you would send to an acquaintance. 

The bogeyman in all this, as Adam puts it, is that Amazon can change this against this type of thing. They have already sued a bunch a review companies last year. All they have to do is make a change in the algorithm that scrutinizes those reviews that have reviewed an above average amount of products, and out of those, how many used a coupon and just wipe out those reviews. They can just remove reviews of people who are just reviewers.

No one knows how things will work out, but sellers will just have to adjust. They will still have to do product launches, just like every company in the world when they launch a new product. You just have to follow up and encourage your customers to leave a review. You only need 25 – 50 –  if you need more than that you’ve gone into the wrong niche.

As you say-  Amazon has the ability to wipe out these reviews if it chooses. It just drives the point, that at the end of the day it comes down to organic reviews and organic sales.

Yes. Just make great products that people like. It’s that simple. And don’t be impatient. Adam likes the way this is because it knocks out all the people that think they can get rich quick on terrible products. It’s about putting in the work. Putting in the effort. That gives him the freedom to sit around all day, and look at his seller account and see that he made $3,000 in  a day.

You mentioned earlier that you teach this stuff. How do you do that? Is it live webinars, live courses, group training?

He has a company called Reliable Education. The aim is to give people a realistic expectation going in and tell them the truth.

On the website, you can enroll in a free training program that is four videos where he shows you his home and drives you around where he lives in Australia.

He educates you on what the Amazon opportunity is, how to find products and his criteria for that. He teaches you about “Velicity Retailing” which is how to compound your capital over time.

All this leads to a paid programme which is an online course where you get access to about 90 videos that show you Chinese factories and how a 3D printer is made and a lot of very cool stuff.

It includes a private Facebook community and will link you with a mastermind group that they cap at seven people. Everyone signs a NDA so they can freely talk about what their companies are doing and talk on Google Hangouts or in person, and they’re all trained with the same philosophy of not being opportunistic, not get rich quick. They are solid people that want to build solid businesses.

They also have 12 coaching webinars with each member of the course. They have an onboarding program for every new member. There are two guys whose job it is to call every new member and talk to them and get a feel for them. They also have a program where they loan money to a 3rd-world entrepreneur, interest-free, and gets paid back over time. People seem to find a lot of value since their refund rate is less than 5%.

How do listeners get hold of you or find out more about you?

Just at reliable.education. Adam doesn’t really use Twitter etc. so you can’t catch him there – sounds like he’s more likely to be on his boat!

#99 Adam Hudson on Amazon Basics Pt. 3

So you mentioned you started with $20,000 when you started your first company and I often tell people that you need at least $5,000 to start, which is a manageable figure for many people, but is that a viable number for people to start out with?

It is. You just need to do a lot of research. Adam uses Zonguru, which he owns, which is similar to AMZ Tracker and Jungle Scout if they had Feedback Genius built in. You need to track something like 100 – 200 products.

Spend hours tracking products and going to Amazon and Alibaba.com Use Pinterest, that is a great resource. If you want to sell coffee cups, just do a search for cool coffee cups, and people have built boards with all these designs they like. They are literally giving you the products they want to buy.

Adam isn’t interested in tracking the number 1 product. He’s is looking at the number 4 or 5 listing and he sometimes goes to the second page. He doesn’t like tracking products with a lot of reviews. He prefers niche products where if you were to count all the reviews for every product on page one, he wants the average to be below 60 or 70.

You can LOOK HERE For more detailed training from Adam. 

In the UK, you would probably adjust those numbers down. Simply put, it’s not worth it to go into the huge niches with a lot of competition and products are doing $20,000 or $30,000 a month. He is more interested in a smaller portfolio of products where each product is doing $5,000 or $10,000 a month. He’s happy having ten products doing $3,000 a month. A more stable business with lower, but consistent sales day in and day out.

Some sellers in the US have found their products have a life cycle of about three to six months. Have you found similar results? And how do you defend against competitors coming in, driving the prices down and advertising costs up?

Adam hasn’t found that in his experience. Most people want quick success and they aren’t willing to do the labour that he does. He will labour over a logo and package design and he will take a month to get another sample and other people just aren’t willing to put in that kind of work.

One unique thing he does when he gets a quote from a supplier is to offer them more money. If they tell him that it’ll be $4 if will ask if they can do it for $5 and explain that he wants the best possible product. The best quality control and the best possible outcome. No cutting corners. Taking that extra step to make the product the best it can possibly be.

The response he gets is remarkable because that extra dollar could double their margin and it’s only a dollar that he has to get back on the retail end, and he could get $10 because of the superior quality.

One thing you have to be wary of with these gurus is their ability to misrepresent their earnings. They could talk about how much of a margin they’re making but leave out the cost of acquiring new customers. Sometimes they may be losing money whenever the get a sale from an ad because the ad costs are so high.

Find out more about how Adam gets these results.

In the US many sellers aren’t making any money from sales that come from ads, and it seems like the only money they’re making is coming from their organic sales. So, tell us about what needs to be measured, and once you measure it, how do you deal with it?

The first step, with any business, is to write down what kind of life you want to have. You may want to make as much money as you can. But that means you will be working as much as you can.

Adam made his decision early on that he didn’t want hundreds of products because it’s too much stress. He also didn’t want hundreds of keywords that he was bidding on in PPC because he didn’t want to spend his day going through PPC reports and optimizing his keywords. For his products, he bids on 10 words, exact match. He doesn’t do any broad match advertising.

He is aware that he is missing sales but he doesn’t care because it will be eating into why he got into the business. Because of that, his ACoS is really low he hardly spends anything. Be sure to read Adam’s blog post about how advertising costs can eat into your margin.

You cut off everything that doesn’t make a profit, so how do you drive sales volume? How do you drive traffic to your listing?
Amazon does it. He has twice the conversion as everyone else because he only does exact match keywords, so if someone sees his listing they are looking for that exact product. Lke he mentioned before, he is charging twice as much as he next competitor. Therefore, it is better for Amazon to drive traffic to him because they can send have the amount of customers and get the same conversion and make the same amount of  money per sale. It all comes back to having the best product.

(More of Adam’s insights are at reliable.education)