Episode #7 is the 2nd of 3 episodes addressing Sourcing Products, i.e., finding suppliers and ordering and receiving products.
It is also part 5 of the 10-part “Amazing FBA Startup System” series of podcasts.
The steps in this episode are in part reiterating previous steps but in more detail.
The first thing to do once you’ve found up to 20 suppliers is to create an email template, then copy and paste and send it to each supplier (obviously changing the supplier contact name!).
Try to do it in one -two work sessions if possible – it’s much more efficient.
Dear Supplier Name,
I am the Buying Manager for Mike’s Cookware Ltd. We sell Cookware products, mostly online on Amazon in the USA. Here is our company website www.mikescookware. com if you wish to find out more.
We are looking to add Silicone Spatulas to our product line and your product Model SS2 might be perfect for us. Please can you answer the following questions about your product?
2. What is the cost of a sample?
3. How long does it take to receive samples?
4. Do you accept paypal for samples?
5. Do you accept paypal for orders?
6. Do you use DHL, Fedex or UPS for delivery?
7. If so, What is the cost DAP/door-to-door with DHL, Fedex or UPS to [Warehouse address] in USA for 200 pieces? for 500 pieces?
8. How many days between your receiving the deposit payment and you finishing manufacturing? [manufacturing lead time]
9. How many days between shipping product from your factory and receiving product in USA? [shipping time]
We have contacted several potential suppliers and will choose 3 suppliers to get samples by X date [in about a week].
I would be grateful for your quick reply.
Thank you very much in advance for your help.
Buying Manager, Mike’s Cookware Ltd.,
Registered Company: 12345678
33 Any Road, Anytown, POSTCODE, United Kingdom
Tel: 0208 1234 567
Do not come across as brand new to business! Use phrases like “we are looking to add this product line” and “our company”. Don’t say “I’m thinking of” nor “new to business” nor “new to Amazon”.
Use simple language but don’t use slang. Keep sentences short (I struggle with this! Edit your message after you draft it).
Format properly with Capitals, check spelling, neat layout (come across as professional – even if your supplier doesn’t do any of these things.) Remember that email is easier to read with plenty of white space compared to printed letters.
Address supplier contact by name if you have one
Say you are the Buying Manager or Purchasing Agent or Procurement Agent for “Your Business” Ltd. Even if you don’t yet have a limited company, give your business a name.
Ask questions with numbering
Sign off with as many company/business credentials as possible, including registered company number (if you have registered a company yet), website address, dedicated tel. no. etc.
Size matters! It’s all about appearing bigger and more established than you are yet!
Setting up a receiving/inspection warehouse in the USA:
FBA Inspection – based near Los Angeles in California
Earth Class Mail (ECM) – based very near Portland, Oregon
International Payments for samples
Paypal – the simplest, quickest way of making international payments. It also gives you buyer protection. Not all suppliers will accept this because of the cost to them (ca. 4% of sum received) but it is worth offering to pay half of this cost or even all of it.
Otherwise, use your bank and do a “Wire Transfer”= T/T – Telegraphic Transfer.
Yes, there is small potential for fraud but when dealing with a small amount like $30-80 USD, I wouldn’t worry about it – keep the process moving above all. You can’t control delays due to samples being manufactured or their freight, nor due to actual products being made or shipped, so don’t add any other delays!
Details on payments and fraud prevention for actual orders are here in Episode #8.
Until you have your sample, you can’t actually get photos done yet, but you can start the process of looking for and negotiating with a suitable photographer.
My Photographer: Brian Cottam of Brian Cottam Photography. He has done product photography for various UK companies that household names. Mid priced so not the cheapest, but the shots are of very high quality. High quality photos are seriously important for Amazon listings. He has an excellent eye and takes great care over the details. Also fast and very friendly.
Equally, you can’t design packaging until you have decided on your supplier and got the packaging details from them.
However, you can a. choose a designer
b. get a professional logo made. This can immediately be used on your business’s website to give a more professional look.
Also, the logo will be ready to send to your supplier to print onto your product when you are at that stage.
Ask your designer to give you two forms of logo: one ready to screen print onto products and the other web-optimised. Also, ask for black on white and vice versa. If you’re using colour, you may want to also ask for black and white versions.
My Designer: Amanda Reid of Clear Moon Studios – UK based designer with a very good eye and very broad experience, including having lived in the USA She has done design work (using templates from Chinese manufacturers)for me and several friends with Amazon businesses so she knows the routine. Very friendly and efficient.
She also does website design. I haven’t used her services for this yet but I’m planning to upgrade our company website soon and she will be my first port of call.
Other websites for design and photography
www.fiverr.com – probably the cheapest and easiest.
www.99designs.com – probably offers more choice and better end quality. You basically run a mini “Design competition”. A favourite of some internet business gurus like Tim Ferriss, so not to be sniffed at.
48hourslogo.com – specifically for logo creation, again, probably the cheapest and easiest.
Confession – I haven’t used any of the above for design or photography as I have my own trusted people. But I do know people who have had good results with all of the sites listed.
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