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#71 – 7 Amazon Myths for Private Label Startups

  • Amazon Myth #1 Startup capital : $1000 is enough.

    • The first Amazon myth is that you can start a Private Label business with $1000 or so. Reality: $1500 is an absolute bare minimum; $3000 is more realistic for private labelling. 
    • Of course you can start making money on Amazon with just a few hundred dollars – but not with Private Label, unless you get very lucky. You’ll be looking at models like Retail Arbitrage, Online Arbitrage or flipping generic products from Aliexpress to Amazon. That’s all cool – go for it! Just be clear that that’s a different way of doing things.
  • Amazon Myth #2 Simplicity: It’s simple to run an Amazon private label business. 

    • Reality: Amazon is highly automated. But product ordering and freight are not. The business of finding products that will actually sell at a profit is not that easy. And ordering from China the first time takes some experience and willingness to learn a lot fast. 
  • Amazon Myth #3 Speed of ROI: you can get your money back fast (say 2 months)

    • Reality: In theory, you can; in practice, it could take 6+ months. From idea of starting this to reality of PL product live in Amazon usually takes at least 4 months at a minimum.  
  • Amazon Myth #4 Scalability: You can just grow this to any size without adding to your business

    • Reality: Amazon will scale selling and fulfilment- but your capital is not going to grow so fast as to organically expand aggressively with private label because your money will only turn over 3-4 times a year.
    • If you scale up your scales 10X, then you increase your capital requirement 10X. Expecting to 10X your capital in one year, or even a few months, means a 1000% ROI per annum. That’s pretty unlikely unless you get very very lucky. And luck is not a strategy you can depend on.
  • Amazon Myth #5 Systemisation: Amazon takes care of nearly everything

    • Reality: Amazon takes care of sales & Fulfillment. But you need to Select product niches and find/work with suppliers. Of course you can – and should – create automated systems and delegate. But that takes quite a bit of time, experience, money and effort. 
  • Amazon Myth #6 Saleability: It’s easy to sell your business after 12-18 months if wanted.

    • Reality – actually can be true. But you are looking at 10-20X monthly cashflow – it’s not about sales volume so much.  And you will need to have built a sustainable business – see Coran Woodmass’s excellent interview for more guidance on the reality selling an Amazon business. 
  • Amazon Myth #7 Sustainability: Amazon is growing; commerce is growing, therefore there is room for lots more Private Label sellers and it’s easy to make sales and profits.

    • Reality: Yes Amazon is growing and dominates ecommerce; However, there are many PL sellers – it’s now competitive. To make sales and profits, you need to look HARD and move Fast and expect your products to have a shorter lifespan than previously.
  • Extra Myths:

  • Time Needed – Myth: You can work this on a few hours a week & Succeed
    • Reality: You can and should work it part-time. But it’s going to take many hours a week (probably 20+ hours/week)
  • Skills – Myth: It’s quick and easy to learn the necessary skills
    • Reality: You can learn anything but you’re going to need to work hard and keep working
  • “It’s Easy” – Myth
    • Reality: If it looks too good to be true, it normally is! Real things require real work. By all means work smart, but expect to work hard at least upfront.

Creating an Private Label business is much much easier and lower risk than a brick and mortar retail business. And it is still a huge opportunity. But it’s good to go in with your eyes open. That’s actually one of the key ways to maximize your chances of success.

#62 How to do The Canton Fair with Danny McMillan – Part 2 of 2

Danny’s recent article on the Canton Fair for www.webretailer is here

What are the 5 biggest mistakes people make attending the fair for the first time?

When people don’t plan at all and they get lost and lose their time. Once a phase is over, it’s over. So if you don’t plan out where you need to be you very well may end up missing out on what you went there for. By taking 10 minutes to plan out where you need to be at what time, you can save yourself hours.

Continue reading

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#58 Kevin King Interview – Part 2 of 3 – Finding a Private Label product, Keyword Research & Profit

What would your advice be to someone just starting off with, say $10,000 and 20 hours a week, but still has a day job? How can they get started?

The general advice is to start small. Most people would say to start with something that can be air-shipped and fits in a shoebox. Kevin believes that is the wrong approach because that’s what everyone else is doing. Instead you should go where others aren’t. The items may be a bit larger therefore you might have to ship them by sea to reduce costs, but there will be less competition which means more potential for success.

Kevin has products in the kitchen category – he’s actually doing things that go on the stove, weigh 3-4 lbs apiece. Can sell for $10-20 profit per sale rather than $4-5.

Kevin is very emphatic about ensuring the quality of the products. Never, and he means never, ship products from China without an inspection. Whether it’s the first time working with the factory or the 6th. Always get an inspection.

Ensure that you take all these costs into consideration, and then make sure you can mark it up at least 3x. Preferably 5X Also, avoid any item that has been used as an example in a training course because there will be many people that will try to replicate it which in turn means more competition. Like Greg’s bamboo sticks or Manuel Beaver’s example product.

Finally, get good images. Pay to have high quality images of your items because it will make a difference and it will pay for itself through additional sales. Use all 9 images, at least 1500 pixels a side so they are zoomable.

Even if you spend $500 for great photos, and you sell one extra unit a day at $10 profit, you have your money back after a month and a half.  A lot of people don’t read your copy. Kevin has put codes for 100% off in the description and only one person used it out of 50 orders. A vast majority of people will based their decision on the title, price, and picture.

A lot of this has to do with the fact that 60-70% of sales in the US are from mobile devices which limits how much copy people actually see. So you need to make the first little bit compelling. You have the first 200 characters of your description, and the first 3 bullet points (they have to click a button to see the others) . Make them count.

Make sure you have good packaging. Your logo should be everywhere you can put it as well as instructions for the product that prompts the customer to register the product.

Put an instruction sheet in with your packaging, that asks for a review on the back.

What advice can you offer about product launch?

Product launches are very important. Don’t skimp on product quality. You may get away with it for awhile but eventually the returns and negative reviews are going to catch up to you. Make sure to test the product yourself to ensure a high quality. The more you know about, the easier it is to market. Especially if you develop a product yourself.

As soon as there are 10-30 units of product ready (whatever fits in a case), he gets those sent over and then goes and looks for top reviewers – like Review Sniper, AMZSuite has something to look up top 10,000.

Or Google: Take competitor’s ASIN,  Search string is something like:

URL=amazon.com  ASIN “top 500”

Reach out – let product speak for itself. Customise it to person – send out 15 emails to top 500 reviewers – Kevin gets say 11 out of 15 to respond.

Don’t say “It’s great”; customise e.g. Milo is dog’s name, so put in “Great new product for Milo” in subject line.

Email:

Hi Michael

We’ve got a great new product that Milo might be interested in trying out. 

Here’s the link:

www.amazon.com/B00ABCDEF

Let me know if you’re interested in receiving one in exchange for your honest opinion.

Thanks, Kevin

Don’t try and sell them on it. Let them click on the link – if they like it, they’ll get back to you.

Some of them get 200 emails a day. Some of it is garbage!

Kevin doesn’t chase them. Maybe 6-8 will write a review. He might do one follow up a week later.

Follow-up email:

Hi Michael 

I hope the item arrived okay. Let me know if you have any questions.

Looking forward to your comments.

Thanks, Kevin

Don’t say things like “I sent this to you for free – why haven’t you reviewed it?

The next step would be to invest heavily in pay-per-clicks for a few days.

He will bid say $5 a click for a few days on an Automatic campaign. Then dial back pay per click to say 50 cents a click. This will boost your visibility on Amazon. Any sales are just gravy.

All you really need is 5-10 reviews.

It will boost the SEO value of your product which will lead to high conversion rates. You may be losing money on these sales but it will establish you in the search results. At this point you will want to incrementally increase the price back to where you intend to sell it.

Reach out to your competitors customers. Look up top reviews of competing products and contact the top reviewers about your product with a personalized email. You can offer them the product for free for their opinion on it. This will help validate the product and get the ball rolling. The best would be to get a video review. Kevin recommends hiring a service that can connect your with reviews. He recommends getting two or three reviews per variation of your product.

It’s critical to have a good video review, on the first page. If you get one down the road, it may get buried. If you get it early on, it’s likely to stick to the first page. Kevin uses a service that has keen video reviewers. Even if it’s a boring simple product, a 45 second video makes a big difference.

Once he has several reviews,  he’ll discount the product say $45 product down to $19,  and go for PPC aggressively. He’ll start getting lots of sales for say 4-5 days, any reviews will be verified reviews. Low price boosts conversion rate. Losing money on each sale but cost of entry to market. Run for 200-300 units. It goes into algorithm.
Then raise to $24.95, $29.95 back up to $45 and that’s where it will stay.

If you go “out of range” (too high) with your price, you’ll lose the buy box, even if you are the only seller! Amazon flags it as an error. 

Kevin looks at first shipment of say 1000 units as a cost of entry to a market. You have to buy your position. It’s an upfront investment. He’s got onto page 2, Kevin will spend a bit more to get to page 1, after which he will be into big profits.

You can have a product that is not in a competitive category so you don’t have to do much advertising. Just run a low bid ad campaigns.

Kevin had a sports category  product that sold only 1-3 units a day, he played with various things till it took off. Now it sells about 20 a day at $14 profit per unit after advertising cost.   Kevin recommends “Hello Profit”.

The importance of cost analysis (esp. advertising costs)

Kevin explains that the number of sales doesn’t matter. Profit does. People who run Facebook groups who boast about sales numbers don’t interest Kevin.

A lot of people have cashflow but they aren’t making profit. You can have 100 sales a day, but if you don’t factor in advertising and other expenses into your cost, you might just break even or actually be losing money.

Kevin uses spreadsheets to track his costs, once he has the data, he builds Advertising costs into Cost of Goods Sold. Kevin adds up what the overall cost of advertising is over all units sold. He knows therefore what his maximum spend on Amazon Ads can be to break even or to make a profit.

Don’t use ACoS to work out real ad costs.

EXAMPLE: Kevin has a custom product made in china for $20 each, $1.50 to ship, a few other fees, so hard cost is about $23. He sells it for $59. Amazon takes about a third roughly.

SO Amazon is roughly paying him $40 cashflow. Now he knows how much PPC costs – he can spend $7 a unit sold on advertising to make $10 per product. If say his PPC sales are ⅓ of his sales, he could spend $21 per PPC sale and still break even. 

Don’t go off ACoS to work out true Ad cos per sale – you need to break it down. Export search term report into Excel or Google numbers etc. and create a pivot table.

Brian Johnson (PPC expert) shows you how to do it in this video …and Greg Mercer (of Jungle Scout) wrote a blog post about it.   

You need to factor in COGS and changes of sales price. Lifetime ACoS is almost meaningless.  You need to see what you’re making on every single sale: how much you made and how much you spent on Ads.

If you can’t or don’t want to do this analysis, hire someone else to do it.

  Kevin recommends Hello Profit .   It is a great tool that will factor in the advertising costs, manufacturing costs, refunds, fees, and everything else that affects your profit. Kevin logs in 3-4 times a day and it will automatically calculate COGS, Amazon ads, Returns etc.

It’s not perfect or as good as Xero or Quickbooks but it’s the best thing to do to keep an eye on what’s happening. Kevin uses it to adjust PPC. If you have more than one product, at least try their 21 Free or $1 trial. Don’t forget to factor in Refunds!

What is your process for keyword research?

Do it before you order. Once Kevin decides on his product,  he does the research. Before he places his first order. Using Keyword Inspector and Scientific Seller , he will do research on his competitors to collect keyword data. Google Keyword planner is good for research, as is  Merchant Words, but some of the words are not associated with your product.

Taking all the data gathered he uses Helium 10 to makes sense of it all to find the best keywords. It de-dedupes it [removes duplicate keywords]. He’ll use this tool to build out his listing. Kevin doesn’t repeat keywords in his listing.

Amazon is always changing so it’s important to stay up on the trends. Right now the title is very important. Everything in the title will get indexed by Amazon. If you have a title like “Blue Garlic Press”, it will also index you for “Garlic Press” – some are giving away 200 units to rank for 10 keywords.

The next thing to get indexed are the bullet points. Amazon tells you they don’t index those but that’s BS.

In most categories, they do not index The description doesn’t get indexed completely. Only part of it so you need to make sure that your strongest keywords are in the first or second line.

You can type in your ASIN in the Amazon search bar next to a keyword and see if  your listing is getting indexed for that keyword

e.g. into search bar, put:

B00HEZ888K Soft-handled Garlic Press

Trust but verify!

#56 Marketing Mastery Mini Course: Principle 3: optimize!

Problem #3:  Low Conversions

Result: Wasted Ad dollars, lower sales, lower profits.

Solution: OPTIMIZE!

To find your conversion rate for each product on Amazon, there are two sources of info:

  1. Overall Conversion data:
    1. Go to “reports” on top menu
    2. Click on  “Business Reports”
    3. On left find “By ASIN”
    4. . Click “Detail Page Sales and Traffic”.
  2. For Amazon ads conversion data:
    1. click on “Reports”,
    2. from drop-down menu click “Advertising Reports”,
    3. at the top middle, click on “Search Term Report”.
    4. If needed, click Request Report button
    5. Under “Check Report Status & Download” if needed on the right click “Refresh” button
    6. on the right, click on “download” button next to latest report
    7. Open report as a spreadsheet
    8. Search for “Conversion percentage” .

Analysing Amazon ads data is a big topic in its own right. If it’s overwhelming you, just start with the global conversion data.

    1. PHOTOS
      1. Main product shot is CRUCIAL!
        1. try to differentiate from competition main shots
      2. use the first 7 shots (including the main) for most important things as last 2 are hidden unless shoppers click on them
      3. Have at least 2, maybe 3 shots with a model using the product, preferably in a logical sequence, or if it is is not totally obvious how to use a product.
      4. If you have more than one product, have the 7th shot show a composite picture of your other products, preferably with the ASIN code under each and a little text telling shoppers to put the code in the search bar
      5. Use the last two shots for little product details
      6. Many sellers also put text on their images, effective mini bullet points. It may be against ToS – but it seems to help. Your choice how far you want to push it!
    2. KEYWORDS
      1. For Amazon’s algorithm
        1. This matches customer searches to keywords in your listing
        2. Use Amazon Ads data if you have it: which keywords give best ACoS? Best sales in absolute volume? 
        3. If just starting out, use AMZTracker or other to examine the competition.
        4. Also keep an eye on competitive listings
      2. For Humans:
        1. Make sure the relevant keywords are woven into the copy
        2. Try to focus on those words that convert well if you have data
        3. If no data yet,
      3. Three places to optimize:
        1. Title (obey Amazon’s rules eg 80 character limit
        2. Bullet points – bear in mind features into benefits
        3. The Keywords tab in Seller central>Manage inventory>[Product]>Edit
    3. TITLE:
      1. Get most important keyword first
      2. Ideally get your product title in next
      3. Your brand is least important as most people have never heard of you!
      4. Check Amazon’s latest ToS – including length (may now be limited to 80 Characters)
      5. If you have data:
        1. you can match up best converting/least expensive/most sales keywords with your title. It may not be what you think.
        2. Your best converting keyword may not be the one that makes you most sales. Likewise it may not be cost effective ie profitable
        3. SO analyse your data carefully!
    4. BULLET POINTS
      1. Turn Features into Benefits, e.g. This light has Xenon 214.B lenses – so the light is more focussed, brighter and more visible at night.
      2. Keep sentences short. Keep words short. Assume 8-10 year old reading level!
      3. Be clear! Always answer the “So what?” question.
    5. DESCRIPTION
      1. Flesh out your bullet points
      2. Use simple HTML if possible: <b>bold</b> etc.
      3. Again features become benefits
      4. Don’t spend too much time on this because
        1. The Amazon algorithm doesn’t index it any more
        2. it appears below several offers from Amazon of your competitor’s products! It’s too late!

Product Example A

Sales Price  $15

Total Landed Cost $5

Amazon fees $5

Gross profit $5

Amazon ads costs

100 clicks @ $0.50 a click=$50 ad cost

Relationship between conversion rate and profit per unit

example A1 (sales price $15, gross profit $5)
At 20% conversion rate:

20 clicks out of 100 result in a sale.

Ad cost total=$50

20 sales @$5 gross profit=$100 gross profit

Profit after advertising (for 20 units)=$50

So profit after advertising per unit=$50/20=$2.50

Example A2 (sales price still $15, gross profit still $5)

At 10% conversion rate:

10 clicks out of 100 result in a sale.

Ad cost total SAME= STILL $50

10 sales @$5 gross profit=$50 gross profit

Profit after advertising (for 20 units)=ZERO!

So profit after advertising per unit= ZERO!

Relationship between price, conversion % and profit

In practice, conversion rate is strongly affected by price. The lower the price, the higher the conversion rate tends to be.  NB This is not always true if higher price gives a perception of a better quality product- test your prices!

compare with example A2 above.

Product example B1 

Sales Price  $14

Total Landed Cost $5

Amazon fees $5

Gross profit $4

Amazon ads costs per 100 clicks (average): $50

At 15% conversion rate: (Sales price $14 , gross profit $4)

15 sales @$4 gross profit=$65 gross profit

Overall Profit after ads costs=$65-50=$15

Profit per unit=$15 overall profit ÷15 units=$1
Although the price is $1 lower ($14 instead of $15), the profit is actually greater per unit ($1 a unit average over zero) and greater overall (15 units sold at $1 profit per time instead of 10 units sold at no profit)

Split testing

To find the price at which you optimise overall profit, you will need to do some form of split testing.


Simple/primitive method: You can just run the listing at one price for 7 days (or longer) then change the price and repeat. Then compare results. Without software, that’s the best you can do on Amazon.

All other things being equal, that will tell you what effect price has on conversion %, overall sales and overall profits.

However, all other things may not be equal e.g. if the demand for your main keywords happens to drop off that week due to say a national holiday, good weather, etc.

To get a more reliable result, you need to use split-testing software. In the USA, I’ve just started using Amzsplit= Splitly

Sadly it is not yet available for the UK, although they keep promising jam tomorrow! I’m exploring a UK equivalent – if it works, I’ll let you know in the Facebook group – don’t forget to join if you haven’t already!

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST

A podcast is a free downloadable audio show that enables you to learn while you’re on the go.  To subscribe to my podcast for free, you’ll need an app to listen to the show from.

For iPhone/iPad/iPod listeners – Grab your phone or device and go to the iTunes store and search “Amazing FBA”.

This will help you to download the free Podcasts App (produced by Apple) and then subscribe to the show from within that app.  Every time I produce a new episode, you’ll get it downloaded right away.

For podcast enthusiasts – If you already listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher that you prefer, the feed you’ll need to add is: http:// amazingfba.com/feed/podcast.

For those who don’t have a mobile device – You can always listen to the show by clicking the audio file at the top of this page.

If you have any queries, just go to www.amazingfba.com/ask

 

#50 Product Process, Suppliers, Freight and Amazon Future with Anthony Lee Part 2

NEW PRODUCT PROCESS

So a product jumps out at you from the universe.

Can you talk us through your process with a new product (from selection to re-ordering)?
(from product selection, via supplier selection, freight/supply chain, getting products to Amazon, product launch)

What are your criteria/ numbers?

Look for main KW “The thing that it is” on page 1 – using Jungle Scout, Anthony wants to see at least 60% of sellers doing $15,000 sales each. He wants a handful under 250 reviews. They’ve probably been there under a year, so there’s room for AL to take some market share.

He’ll glance at BSR – a number between 2000-4000 =mid competition. Anthony is confident he can easily get on page 1.

80% of all factories in the world are in China – it has lots of real estate, dedicated to factories. Everything AL sources is located in China.

Next step is to find a supplier using Alibaba, Global Sources,. Global sources is his go to place. HK is an easy place to reach and many of their suppliers go to their trade show. HKDTC (never had much success so far) and Made in China as backups.

Criteria: Gold Supplier for 3 years – they have to pay for that. Make sure they take some kind of secure payment -they’re probably not trying to rip people off.

Send out your enquiry. Ask for samples first – if it’s crap, cost doesn’t matter! 3-4 samples generally.

You pare down – send emails. certain %age come back; ask for samples; certain %age respond.

Whittle down to highest quality then  pit them against each other for quotes.

“I really like your quality and I personally would like to work with you. But my partners would like to work with your rivals because of price.”

ALWAYS make custom modifications. Put logo on product not just package, have the product itself your brand colours. Better for brand and for hijackers etc.

Give them design specs, place a 30% deposit but have them send you a sample of your design.

Use that to check quality and for photos.

How do you deal with Quality control?

Have an inspection co. like Asianinspection or Richforth. Contract them for a man day (unless it’s electronic in which case you might need a week) 300 USD for one man day.

Have it set against a margin of error. So you know it’s good to go before you leave the factory.

You tell the factory they won’t get 70%

You can work with a sourcing agent. It’s just hard to find someone you can trust. Most of them are very much making a deal with the factory and you. Get paid on the front end and the back end. It turns out AL has 15 years’ experience as an importer and AL is now communicating with him. That will help with QC – they can check factory, batch inspection.

The real low tech way/cheap way to do it – find someone on Upwork to go to the factory and send a Skype video or pictures of the production line or products. Have them toggle switches etc.

What are the biggest issues you’ve met with suppliers? What are your best solutions?

AL has been “lucky” but that’s because he has a lot of hoops to jump through before he’l work with them. He’s heard the horror story e.g. sample quality not real quality or jack up prices last minute etc. Not experienced yet.

The best way is to very very thorough about selection process.

What other hoops do you make them jump through?

Communication. How responsive are they? If it takes 2 days to get an email back, am I a priority?

When we get to a certain point, what’s your Skype? how about your mobile/cell phone?

I have them send pictures of the production facility. Because

  1. see the factory. 2. How willing are they to do it?
    The factory is your biz partner – they’d better act like it! If you were gong into  biz with someone in your own country how you would you want them to act?

How do you handle freight? Supplier’s carrier?

How do you deal with inventory management?
It’s a big area of confusion! AL does not have a courier account with DHL etc. because he doesn’t do much air freight. He just uses supplier’s courier account for samples – he  even has a standard template for samples.

For everything else he uses sea freight as it is significantly less expensive. Generally he shipped LTL (Less than a Truckload /LCL (Less than a Container Load) although now mostly 20-40 foot containers.

Because the closest US coast to China is the West coast, and the most common port is Longbeach, he specifically looked for a Freight Forwarder in LA. So that is freighting by sea and delivered the shortest distance. Then he does LTL pickup by Amazon who picks up palletized and labelled units ready to go to Amazon.

SO you’re looking for a one-stop shop for warehousing and freight?

Yes, wanted to make process as easy as possible. They contract with a customs agent to handle the customs clearance. AL just gets an email with the bill. They make it really easy.

An alternative is to use Asia based Freight Forwarders – they get amazing deals on fast boats out of China. So you need to go through the same process.

Amazon decided that everything is going to Moreno CA so West Coast made sense. However, every time they have a strike, his products get stuck. The absolutely best way is to go out and get as many quotes from FF as possible. As lots of questions and get one that will take the time to educate you. One of them might say “Well our clients do it this way” and make a suggestion.

Tell us about inventory management – when a product is selling, what then?

What about “Killing off” products with low sales or low profit?

AL doesn’t yet use inventory management software – doing it manually is a pain. It’s tricky because you base reordering decisions on two weeks’ sales; then you get a spike in sales and you will run out of stock. The other danger is demand drops off instead and you buy too much inventory so you pay high warehousing fees. That’s when supply chain management evolves.

You need to look at warehousing deals so at some point you can bring in whole containers and bring  only a couple of pallets to Amazon.

Every product is seasonal. You need to be in the game before you learn that pattern for a particular product. A store manager might be your first hire – a necessary one if you’re going to have and grow a business based on importing.

When to let go of products?

A lot of people come in thinking they need to make lots of sales or it’s over. If the product is still making you a profit, you should maybe reconsider. Even if it’s only a small amount. If you get 5% return, it’s worthwhile.

What’s your approach to cashflow management?

Al is just starting that conversation – chances are you will run into this soon enough. The solution is not in the system itself. Cash injections become important.

AL’s short term solution has been credit. Will Tjernlund uses Amazon outside of PL to make cash faster – wholesaling ideas are fantastic. When you’re in this business, you’ll make a lot of connections. It could be someone in your local area who doesn’t have product on Amazon or it’s not selling well. You probably have more Amazon experience than they do. SO soft sell – let me help you with this – good way to make extra cash. AL has recently been working out profit share deals with people who want to

Leverage whatever skills you have. A lot of people want this skill but don’t have time to develop. A lot of retailers are on a 36 month contract and paying whether they make sales or not. You could come in with a solution  and make them extra money.

You can work out a wholesale deal. You can do consulting. Whatever comes your way.

Bigger picture

What’s working well right now in your business (that you can reveal)?

Finding great margin deals by establishing relationships with factories and suppliers. Then get on page 1 for main keywords.  AL has one  product only selling 2 a day which will kill it in Q4.

What are the most successful sellers you know doing right now?

One person is leveraging Facebook advertising for both Amazon and Shopify sales.

Either learn an avenue really well, or pay someone else who knows it really well.

Another friend takes advantage of every single offer. Every beta programme they do, she takes it. She’s got someone at amazon who answers her email. She is killing it!

Find an area where you can get visibility for your products and get really good at it.

What do you see coming in terms of changes that we should be thinking about adapting to… In the next year?

Predictions are mostly wrong! But a focus of unique products is coming – we’re in the middle of a Kickstarter crowdfunding craze. SO AL assumes that Amazon will get a lot more of untested unproven concepts coming out. This might be the next generation of sales. The marketplace has proven they like this kind of thing. There will be a lot less competition for those products.

If you have an idea, this will be growing, -there are prototyping companies out there, go for it.

In the next five years, there will be other marketplaces – whatever teenage girls are doing now will become big! App based – right now, teenage girls are buying products on App based programmes like Wish etc, which are basically like eBay

Do you have any parting words of advice?

The most important thing is: understand you are serving a marketplace, a niche, not just selling a product. Treat it like a business – it’s an investment – go at it with a calm pulse, understand that it takes time. The growth curve is never easy, it’s never in a straight line but stick with it.

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST

A podcast is a free downloadable audio show that enables you to learn while you’re on the go.  To subscribe to my podcast for free, you’ll need an app to listen to the show from.

For iPhone/iPad/iPod listeners – Grab your phone or device and go to the iTunes store and search “Amazing FBA”.

This will help you to download the free Podcasts App (produced by Apple) and then subscribe to the show from within that app.  Every time I produce a new episode, you’ll get it downloaded right away.

For podcast enthusiasts – If you already listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher that you prefer, the feed you’ll need to add is: http:// amazingfba.com/feed/podcast.

For those who don’t have a mobile device – You can always listen to the show by clicking the audio file at the top of this page.

If you have any queries, just go to www.amazingfba.com/ask

 

#49 Amazon market research, credit & margins with Anthony Lee Part 1

How did you come to be selling on Amazon?

Working as a waiter! Not really. AL saw a video on PL on Amazon and that was it!

How come Private Label?

AL was taught only PL and that’s what he’s done. He only knows about wholesale from Will Tjernlund.

Do you sell only on amazon.com or also in the UK and/or Europe?

Currently in the USA. Everyone expands their business in their own way. AL has decided to focus on building off Amazon rather than expand Amazon internationally.


How do you find products?

The “Standard” answer: try to find things that you use. Walk around kitchen/dining room and when you see something that you use, you will able to ID with target demographic because you are in it! (About 2 products found this way). Makes figuring out Customer Avatar much less complex.

Then check the numbers to see if other people are making money with the product. If they check out, go deeper.

The “real answer”: Decide on a Category e.g. kitchen. Then look in the relevant dept at the shops, in your friend’s cupboard – become mindful and the universe will show you a product! [Then check the numbers]

Do you believe in staying in one Amazon category? Or do you pick each product on its own merits/just follow the numbers?

Start with product on own merits. Then plan to expand into the category with your brand.  Then start thinking of the implications – what are complementary products?

How do you deal with the increased competition in the Private Label Amazon market( esp. USA)?

A lot of people look at the competition – there is a lot of “sky is falling” thinking!

The days you could trip over something to make $100K a month are over but that was always going to be short lived. Now it’s just levelling out.

BUT The idea it’s too saturated is silly. More people starting on Amazon leads to new products on Amazon which create new markets – also if you intro a new product, you’re the only seller!

You don’t sell a product and have an Amazon business; you have a physical prods biz and Amazon is just a channel.

Do you use other sales or marketing channels?

Took a while to learn that FBA is the most affordable fulfillment centre. AL spend 6 months looking for alternatives but Amazon is the best!

The next was finding companies to connect Amazon FBA to other channels. AL has put products on Jet – long approval process – eBay templates are being built. Next month going on Sears, Rakatan. Shopify site is nearly up. 

Tell us more about a “Customer Avatar”?

If you sell anything, you always have an ideal customer/target demographic. Person most likely to see, love and buy your product. Focus on them and don’t go broad – you will miss easily sales if your message is too diluted. Focus language- when you’re writing bullets/description e.g. if you sell male enhancement, the language is men “he/him”etc. – refine that ever deeper the more you know your avatar.

Ask” by Ryan Levesque (on Smart Passive Income podcast) uses surveys for this.  Do you do this?

It’s hard to do this because Amazon’s customers are not your customers. But once you have an email list, it’s very powerful, yes. But until you have that, just pay attention to your data.

If you run FB ads, look at the demographics and over time build a picture.

Gender, age range etc. e.g. Baby market – AL started with idea of just mums but gradually got more specific.

Surveying your own audience/buyers really does give you amazing results.

Yes, it is very important who you’re hitting

[Andre Chaperon the email marketing “guru” is obsessed with Customer Avatar].

Dealing with increasing competition – from moderate to tough. How do you deal with this?

Before AL used to say: “Find a product and do it really well.”  Now it’s: “He who has the most SKUs wins”. [SKU=Shelf Keeping Unit, i.e. a product line]

When you start out,   “failing” may be that your listing is buried in page X.  Once you get to the point where you know what you’re doing, “failure”=selling only 5 a day of a product.

But if you have 300 product lines doing 5 sales, that’s a living!

Having a fleshed out catalogue is  great for your brand. if you approach wholesalers you’re better placed. there are many benefits. It’s a very capital intensive approach but all of Amazon products business is capital intensive so you just have to be very intelligent with your product choices of inventory and expansion.

How do you make intelligent choices i.e. use of capital?

Most people come in thinking “If I can make $8000 sales/mo at 45% margin i could quit my job.”

AL says: “Keep your job and reinvest your money for 5 years.”

With a traditional business, you would give it 5-10 years before you give up on it. So why not with Amazon?

It’s a tough sacrifice but if you reinvest everything repeatedly, you’ll really build out your cat and have more options. That and intelligently using credit. Business credit cards are building AL’s credit and opening new SKUs.

Where would you advise using credit and where avoid?

If you can afford to make 3X the minimum payment per month, then using a credit card to expand your brand is okay. So in the end, that won’t hurt your credit. What you do have is new inventory to make new money off. This is a strategy if you have  couple of products doing pretty well.

If you’re starting out, it’s more of a risk. AL did max out 3 credit cards to start because he had no capital. It’s a personal choice. But it’s not a good idea to take out credit for a highly competitive product.

What sort of margin would you aim for in general?

Aim for 50-55%. It never works out that way because of competition and price wars. AL has an average across all SKUs of 36%. But the wiggle room is there now.

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST

A podcast is a free downloadable audio show that enables you to learn while you’re on the go.  To subscribe to my podcast for free, you’ll need an app to listen to the show from.

For iPhone/iPad/iPod listeners – Grab your phone or device and go to the iTunes store and search “Amazing FBA”.

This will help you to download the free Podcasts App (produced by Apple) and then subscribe to the show from within that app.  Every time I produce a new episode, you’ll get it downloaded right away.

For podcast enthusiasts – If you already listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher that you prefer, the feed you’ll need to add is: http:// amazingfba.com/feed/podcast.

For those who don’t have a mobile device – You can always listen to the show by clicking the audio file at the top of this page.

If you have any queries, just go to www.amazingfba.com/ask

#48 Differentiating your product on Amazon – PART TWO of the Marketing Mastery Mini Series

Master Marketing Principles Mini Series:

SUMMARY SO FAR

  1. Problem: “all things to all people” Principle ONE: NICHE MARKET
  2. “Same as everyone else” Principle TWO: DIFFERENTIATE
  3. Listen for the next episode!
  4. Look out for the future episode.
  5. Look out for the future episode.
  6. Look out for the future episode.
  7. Look out for the future episode.

2nd PRINCIPLE: DIFFERENTIATE!

Problem: Same as everyone else

Result: No sales, or shopped on price

Solution: DIFFERENTIATE

    1. Customize the Product itself:
      1. Existing issues:
        1. look at products with average 3* reviews but good demand
        2. look at the 1 and 2 star reviews
        3. if you can find a problem you can fix easily, then do that.
    2. Product Variations (parent and child relationships)
      1. If you see that certain variations eg Pink colour etc (Child Variations) sell well, order some of these and test the market.
      2. Bear in mind that usually one variation characteristic eg colour(Child Product) will result in most of the sales of that kind of product (Parent Product)
    3. Bundles
      1. Amazon Rules:
        1. They must be physically packaged together before they get to Amazon
        2. They must have a separate ASIN (Amazon product ID number) to the single packs
      2. Multipacks- simplest type of bundle but can be most effective
        1. If you notice your product selling in 2s, 3s or 5s for example,
        2. First experiment by setting up  a promotion (on Amazon Seller Central) on your product with different “tiers”. So give a different discount for buying say 2, 5, 10 products together
          1. Note that your Discount applies to the ORDER as a whole NOT to each individual unit
          2. For example, 1 unit costs $10; discount on promotion for buying 2=$2. So value of order =2X$10=$20. Discount=$2. Total price to customer: $18.
        3. you can bundle multipacks of the same products together. Notice:
        4. One simple starter trick (market test) here is to have your warehouse hold back a number of single items and package them together into bundles.
        5. If this proves enough demand, go back to your supplier and ask for new packaging for 1, 2, 5, 10 etc. packs
      3. Different products bundled together
        1. For example, if you sell Tennis shoes, you could bundle it with a packet of tennis balls.
        2. Same Amazon rules apply as per Multipacks.
        3. You can also use the same idea with your warehouse to test this.
    4. Packaging
      1. This doesn’t help your product on Amazon sell so very much (although it helps)- but it greatly boosts organic Reviews and Repeat buyers
      2. Getting really great packaging done may cost 30-50 cents more per unit but can mean you can charge dollars more on the sales price
      3. It can be best to find a separate packaging factory/supplier in China if you want to be sophisticated
      4. Use a designer who is familiar with this and if possible a Supplier who uses industry standard files (eg Adobe Illustrator) 
    5. Customer Service
      1. If there’s a problem, respond fast, courteously
      2. Offer a refund or replacement without customer having to return product
      3. If you can go even further and offer some  other light  products for free etc. or any other form of “Wow” experience, so much the better!

#46 Will Tjerlund on Suppliers & Amazon Future Part 2 of 2

Episode #46  Will Tjernlund Interview Part 2 of 2

Suppliers

Many people worry about getting ripped off by a Chinese supplier but it doesn’t make business sense – there is a lot more money to be made selling repeat orders!

What are your main tips for beginners on finding suppliers?

You can find them on Alibaba or via a China Sourcing Agent.
On Alibaba, just make sure they’re a gold supplier and so forth.
If you need peace of mind, Asia Inspection will do a factory inspection for $100.

Have them send pictures of the packaging and product while they are being produced.

Any main dos and don’ts for working with suppliers?

Choose a product that is as simple as possible – that way, it’s hard to mess up making it! A hunk of rubber, wood, plastic. So: very few moving parts, no electronics, hard to break, etc.

Keep it simple! That’s how Will is able to travel the world with a laptop!  Don’t follow weird passions like Robotic toys! Many people overcomplicate Amazon. Don’t try to make it as hard as possible; make it as easy as possible!

How do we make it as simple as possible?

Think of everything that can go wrong. If you can’t think of anything, that’s a good product choice!

Will likes to sell (mostly) to Needs not Wants, e.g., Polka Dot underwear vs. a bolt.

It’s not just about price.  If you sell a 10 inch bolt for $8 instead of $12, most people will buy it because all bolts look the same. They’re not saying “Some day I’m going to buy this 10 inch bolt”!

Also if you need to liquidate such a product, there’s a clear market for it, to reduce your risk.

How can you build profit into that for yourself?
Email the supplier and ask how much would it be for 1000 units of this product?

If they say, $1 a unit landed cost, do some quick math[s]: If selling for $8, paying $3.60 or $4.50 in  fees, so still making $3 each. So for every one dollar invested, he’s getting $3 back.

Do you have a minimum or max selling price?

No it’s more like a timespan to profit ratio. Also it’s about time you’re spending for what return. If you’re spending all day on something with a 15% return, that’s not  as good as something with a 33% return where you simply reorder every 3 months.   


So it comes back to cashflow?
If I gave you £10 million now, could you make $2 m back in a year? Yes! 
If I gave you $500K, could you? No. [But if you returned 20% every 2 months on it, you’d end up with $1.492 million – Michael]

So it’s all about getting cash back as fast as possible.

Compounding interest is the 8th wonder of the world, so you need to take advantage of it!

How do you deal with increasing competition in Amazon Private Label?

As competition grows in a niche, Will sends his products directly to Amazon, and Amazon gets nearly 100% of the Buy Box. The margins are lower but Will gets the sale nearly all the time.

Vendor Express (where you can apply) and Vendor Central (invitation only) are the places that Amazon will do that.

If you have some kind of sales history, Just go to Vendor Express, tell Amazon “I want to sell these items directly to you”, you offer a price, they tell you if they accept that or not-they often will. If they accept, they will start placing Purchase Orders and you sell directly to them.

You’ll have to keep some inventory to hand, [and you’ll have to accept getting paid 59 days in arrears!-Michael]. But if it’s a Private Label product, Amazon will outrank all others for the product for that keyword.

Is that open to everyone?

Vendor Express is – just google it and sign up!

Is that what you do when PL is not viable for profit any more?

It’s not normally a price war – it’s usually if someone else optimises their listing etc. (Private Label sellers) and does giveaways. Will has too many SKU’s to watch any individual listing.

How do you manage 2000 listings?

It’s manageable because Will has only about 20 suppliers. He uses software like Stitch Labs and Restock pro, which will alert him when (according to his presets like lead time) a product line needs restocking. When he has built up a big enough order of products from one supplier, he’ll go to the supplier. Will has good knowledge in his mind of  which suppliers have short or long lead times

Are you literally keeping it all in your head Like a chess game?

Often it’s triggered by writing a cheque. Or you can just go down a checklist by supplier. It doesn’t take long.

If you’re ordering 100 SKUs from one supplier, you can just order say 50 units of each and still fill a container.  So Will gets economies of scale but doesn’t risk much in any individual SKU. Also you’re turning that cash around quickly.  “Cashflow is everything”.

Where do you see the relationship between Amazon and Private Label sellers going over the next year or two?

Competition is growing but a lot of the time the competition are doing the same dumb things! So over the next 2 years, there will still be profit to be made.

Within 5-10 years, for anything that is a semi-commodity, China is just going to sell directly to Amazon. Amazon is opening training centres in China. So you’ll need to stay in low-competition niches and fly below the radar.

What sort of commodity products would that be?

Everything in the top 100 BSR that is not a real US brand name. Shopping on needs will be taken over by Amazon: eg silicon spatula – if Amazon can source it and sell it profitably for $2.99 and PL sellers have to sell at $9.99 to break even, Amazon will win the sale every time and therefore build massive numbers of listings. Amazon Basics is only going to get bigger and bigger.

How do you see yourself dealing with this increasing competition?

Will partly depends on the US brands to keep growing their businesses with their own marketing, product research and sourcing.

If you have 4 SKUs total and one gets de-ranked because a bunch of Chinese sellers come in, you’ve lost 25% of revenue.  Will has his risk much more diversified. Also he can see trends coming from a long way off via his many SKUs. He will be able to pivot at this point if needed.

Will follows the investment principles: Diversify and get cashflow.

How can  people who are starting out take advantage of this?

It’s not one size fits all! That’s why so many courses out there don’t make sense.

If you have $500 [£342] to invest, flip stuff from AliExpress, drop ship or get a second job and save more cash. Will suggests find a successful Amazon seller and work for them for $15 an hour and learn how it works.

$5000 [£3422] to invest is on the border. Will says it’s hard to order just $2500 of stuff from China (you’ll need to keep $2500 in cash). Maybe you can find a small retailer or do some Retail Arbitrage or find a wholesaler who will allow you to drop ship their larger products – eg, a fireplace manufacturer (big, bulky stuff). It’s not quite enough to start a business! 

If you can go to AliExpress, lead times are so much quicker [than on Alibaba] -you can have a  product in your hands within 10 days. If you find something profitable on Alibaba, see if you can air freight it and still make a profit.

If you can invest say $3000 [£2,053] to make $700 back after a month or so, that is a very good start [23%return-Michael].

As you order more, the profit margins will only get bigger over time. The rich get richer on Amazon. The more you sell, the better you rank; the more you sell, the more you can buy, so the price you buy at gets lower and your profit margin gets bigger. As you grow, it gets easier.

$10,000 [£6843] to invest is enough to order from China [by sea]- a $5000 order will get you somewhere – you could Private Label or find a Mom and Pop shop that does say $10m a year in revenue or less (spend half of inventory and keep the cash back).

if you have $50K [£3,4216] to invest, you can just call up wholesalers off the bat and say you have £10K to invest.

Once you get bigger and bigger, it becomes ever more important to save money.  For example, if Will can increase profit by 1% by saving money, when turning over $10m a year, that’s $100,000 extra profit.

At a 20% margin, that would be extra sales of $500K a year to make that profit number up. So it’s a lot easier to make more profit by saving money than extra sales.    

Try to just sell as much as possible as the beginning, but at some point you will need to lower your costs. 

How can people find out more about you, Will?

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @wtjern

Website: www.amzhelp.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tjernlund

What is your parting advice for someone wanting to get started?

Don’t go after your passion, go where the cash is. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake, more times than not you can liquidate and get your money back. Keep moving forward! 

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST

A podcast is a free downloadable audio show that enables you to learn while you’re on the go.  To subscribe to my podcast for free, you’ll need an app to listen to the show from.

For iPhone/iPad/iPod listeners – Grab your phone or device and go to the iTunes store and search “Amazing FBA”.

This will help you to download the free Podcasts App (produced by Apple) and then subscribe to the show from within that app.  Every time I produce a new episode, you’ll get it downloaded right on yt sentence.

For podcast enthusiasts – If you already listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher that you prefer, the feed you’ll need to add is: http:// amazingfba.com/feed/podcast.

For those who don’t have a mobile device – You can always listen to the show by clicking the audio file at the top of this page.

If you have any queries, just go to www.amazingfba.com/ask

 

1

#45 Amazon Master Seller Will Tjernlund Part 1 of 2

Episode #45 Show Notes: Will Tjernlund Interview Part 1 of 2

How did you get into Amazon Private Label Selling?

Will’s brother started selling on eBay around 2003 and ordering from Alibaba.  Will was 13 asking million Qs. Aged 16 he did different forms of RA selling on eBay using his dad’s CC! He started selling on Amazon Full Time about 3 years ago.

Where are you at today with Amazon Private Label?

Will has sold $10m in 3 years. He’s outsourced the part where he has to be there. He’s travelling and running his business from his laptop (like Greg Mercer! – see episode #42)

How did you do that?

Some wholesaling from US brands and Canadian brands and Private Label. If he can see a risk free dollar to invest for $1.20 in a couple of months, that’s where he’ll go. Basically he’ll follow the cash! 

How do you know where the cash is?
Two paths
1. People do a bunch of research for 2 months, order a sample, test it, brand it, get logos made, finally get nice packaging, get 2000 units into amazon, give away a few hundred units.

2 Will might call a US based brand, lots of products on Amazon, 100+ reviews but they’re not Prime.

He’ll call them, say, “Your account is not being well run,  so most of your customers have to pay for shipping. We can run it better.”
He’ll order lots of product. He can see if that they sell $50k, he can buy $5000 worth and flip it in 10 days and make $2500 while the other person is still doing their research!

Do you just go after individual keyword opportunities or build a brand?

If you see a wholesale company where say 10 of their 100 SKUs sell like crazy -Will often will Private Label one of those so as to offer the illusion of choice to the customer. But he will sell both the wholesale product and his Private Label product.

So it’s going after a microniche?

If you can take over all the listings on one page, it’s very valuable. Make all the listings individual rather than Parent-Child IF it is a low-competition keyword.

Do you just not bother with Parent-Child relationships?

P-C makes a lot of sense if you’re after a competitive keyword because you’re trying to drive all your sales to one listing. But if you have a low-competition keyword, it makes more sense to own the first page. 

Does that take a lot of capital to invest?

If Will sees that a brand sells $50k a month, the first order was still just $5K to return $7.5K. Then you reinvest for $11K and then keep doing that. Turn the cash around as fast as possible. Go after their hottest sellers and this is much easier. 

Example: One brand Will bought from recently had an average selling price of $150 for its products.

He ordered about 50 of their hottest selling products and sold those out within 5 days.  It’s all about turning your cash as fast as possible.

For those just starting on first product, how can you use this approach?

Fake it till you make it! Find products sold by a wholesaler that  are not being presented properly on Amazon. Make a free one week Shopify store, put in pictures of products and prices. “willsshovelstore.com” and an email.

Email them and say: “We’d love to sell your products. I’m looking to Place an order for $5000 right now. “ If it’s a $5m company,  that’s over 1% of revenue so you’re a salesman’s dream.

Then on to the next?

Yes! You cut so much BS out: creating the UPC, photos, listing creation etc. because they already exist! So you just accept products in, send them back out to Amazon and then move on to the next brand.

If Will calls the brand and spends 2 hours on the phone and ends up making $40,000 profit in a year, that’s $20,000 an hour income!

He’s not wasting his time building a brand. Getting cash in, not spending 2 months to make a logo.

Michael made a similar mistake starting out, which took 5 months to go live. The competition goes crazy, you don’t know if it will sell out- it’s all risk, little reward. Will takes little risks and gets rewarded multiple times: the aim is to make 20% return 6 times a year[=around 300% annual ROI- Michael] instead of trying to find one home-run product that will make you a million a year. 

It’s a lot easier to sell  1000 products once a day than 1 product 1000 times a day.

Isn’t the downside of that getting cash tied up in inventory?

So just order a week’s worth of inventory. A lot of US brands will have just 3-10 day lead times. 

So a really different model than everyone is teaching?

It’s hard to teach Amazon in general because everyone has different education, cash, cash flow, they have different responsibilities in life…it’s hard to write one course that suits everyone.

Are you basically saying you would do wholesale first and Private Label afterwards?

More times than not, it’s super obvious. Say Will buys a product from a wholesaler for $40 and they want him to sell it for $150. If there’s that much margin, it must be bought from manufacturer for $10-15. Will goes Alibaba and confirms his suspicions. Then he’ll source it and sell a Private Label version for half the price. A lot of the time, customers want the half price product as much as the named brand version. So you’re selling it on price not brand.

For those just starting on first product, should they go for wholesale or Private Label (ie look on Alibaba etc.)?

Alibaba can be great, Will advises going after the lower-competition products. If you’re making $10 profit and selling 10 a day, that’s amazing, that’s $36K a year.

It’s so much easier to go after a lower competition product than after a product selling $50K a month. A lot of the time they are being sold by someone making a loss to keep the competition at bay. 

Will likes to see one listing with 300-400 reviews (shows demand) and lots of listing under it with 20-40 reviews (competition is low). With giveaways Will can get that number very fast and get the 2nd Place spot. The 2nd listing down can sell as many as the 1st. The 1st may just have been there longer.

What are the biggest problems you see with people launching their own Amazon business?

Just not getting started in the first Place! Analysis Paralysis on research.  Working on the business without making cash.

The other thing is cashflow. If they have $5K to invest, they order $5K of product, that means they don’t have enough cash to order new inventory before running out of stock. If they have a 30 day lead time, and invested all their cash in inventory, selling too much too quickly can be a problem.

What’s the solution?

The solution is to only put half of your investment cash into any order.

For example, Will and his brother ordered a container of knee scooters for $40K. That was 210 units.  The lead time was 60 days from ordering to in stock at Amazon.

On the first day, they sold 7 units. If you do the maths, that means 210 units would sell out in 30 days (no. units/units sold per day)  So they had to go back to the supplier that week and place another $40K order.

 If you only had $40K in the first Place, you’d have to wait until you’d sold ¾ of your inventory before placing an order, which means you would be out of stock for 2 months.  If you sell 20 units on the first day, do your multiplication!

While generally taking out a loan to start an Amazon business is not good, when you have proven sales, and you need to get back in stock, this is a good time to get a loan from family or friends.

Will has been talking to private equity firms who want to lend to Amazon businesses because they love proven cash-producing products because they are tired of investing billions in startups with no turnover!

What are the other big mistakes do people make when launching their products?

Not thinking through:

  1. How will you get on page 1?
  2. How will you stand out? What will make the customer buy your product over someone else’s?

Will will often do it via price but also it can be being differentiated. 

What are others tips on differentiation?
Size – if everyone is selling a 10” pan, sell a 6″ or 12” each

Colour – If everyone is selling a black product, sell a pink one. Even if the demand is lower.

Will sometimes stands over his mother’s  shoulder to observe her buying style.
She doesn’t really care about 3 vs 5 bullet points,  she doesn’t know about all the reviews- she’s not in an Amazon bubble! She takes about 2 seconds before hitting the one-click checkout button.

You need to stand out quickly via something visual – people aren’t interested in reading text. 

What other big mistakes do sellers make?

That’s about it. Either sellers  don’t have enough cash or they try to sell a product they can’t rank for. There are few other problems. Getting ripped off by a Chinese supplier is very very rare- but Will gets many emails saying “I sourced this super competitive product and I have 5000 units, what should I do?”

If you recognise you’ve got into an over-competitive product, there isn’t much you can do. You could try giving out lots of units and spiking the sales rank but otherwise, sell them as a job lot on eBay! 

You should have started smaller or tested demand some other way. So the mistake has already been made.

Be “Young Dumb and Stupid” – a lot of smart people try to over-complicate Amazon – just sell a good product at a good price, then move on to the next one.

The biggest things to differentiate yourself are product selection and good cashflow management. 

Will listens to no Amazon podcasts and instead reads general business books and applies general business principles to the Amazon model and it “turns out pretty decent” [$10m in sales!]

How can people contact you, Will?

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @wtjern
Website: www.amzhelp.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tjernlund

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST

A podcast is a free downloadable audio show that enables you to learn while you’re on the go.  To subscribe to my podcast for free, you’ll need an app to listen to the show from.

For iPhone/iPad/iPod listeners – Grab your phone or device and go to the iTunes store and search “Amazing FBA”.

This will help you to download the free Podcasts App (produced by Apple) and then subscribe to the show from within that app.  Every time I produce a new episode, you’ll get it downloaded right on yt sentence.

For podcast enthusiasts – If you already listen to podcasts and have a podcatcher that you prefer, the feed you’ll need to add is: http:// amazingfba.com/feed/podcast.

For those who don’t have a mobile device – You can always listen to the show by clicking the audio file at the top of this page.

If you have any queries, just go to www.amazingfba.com/ask

 

1

#42 Amazon Product Research with Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout Part 1 of 2 [REPOST}

Episode #42: Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout Interview (Product Research – PART ONE)

(Note: all links to Jungle Scouts are affiliate links).

How did you come to be selling on Amazon? & Why Private Label?

Greg started with a day job as a civil engineer. About 3 years ago, he started buying items wholesale and sold them on Amazon. As that got more competitive, he switched to Private Label products.

What is difference between Private Label vs. Wholesale model? 

Wholesale: buy welk known brands from wholesaler, then sell on existing listings and rotate through the buy box, which is normally about the lowest price. 3 years ago that was okay, but it became very competitive.

With PL, you own the listing;  since it is your product, you can justify work getting reviews, nice photos etc. Greg never did the Retail Arbitrage (RA) model because it is not scalable. Greg was looking for a system, not exchanging hours for dollars

Why develop Jungle Scout?

The biggest bottle neck in Greg’s business was finding more products. At one point he had a team of 8 VAs in the Philippines who would look at ideas, fill out a spreadsheet. This is when he created the Jungle Scout Chrome extension is the same as the VAs – instead of 30 minutes, it takes 2 seconds.

Greg was trying to scale fast, so with a list of 200 keywords, one person (VA) could only get through 20 a day.

What is Jungle Scout and how do you use it?

Two tools: Chrome extension and Web App. (Chrome is a free browser you can download)

Extension integrates into browser – look on Amazon, click on JS button – pop gives you the relevant data to make decisions on products or sales. Data like price, how much you nett after fees.

Web App: Web based software that runs on the Jungle Scout website. It has several features – the most popular is the product Dat abase. It’s a rebuild of Amazon’s catalogue  for Sellers, rather than buyers (which is what Amazon.com is designed for), with filters  with your criteria -for example:

Sales: over 300 a month; and under 50 reviews; priced over $20, under 1 lb weight” .

What are your criteria for product selection?

This is for the USA store but a variation would work in UK etc. For example for keyword “Glass cups”-

Demand: 3000 units a month of demand [on page 1 of search results]. If doing manually, add up all the sales of “glass cups” (eliminate irrelevant results).

 That is a good number if you are aiming to sell 10 a day yourself (300 a month) – which is 10% of the total market. That’s easy to find but we want lower competition. 

Competition: 1 or 2 sellers in top 5 listings with under 50 reviews.  And in top 10 sellers, 3 or 4 listings with under 50 reviews.  This tells you it’s not too mature a niche. IF competition has hundreds of reviews, you’ll find it hard to compete.

Big picture: it’s a small %age of all listings on Amazon – but there are 100s of Millions of products on Amazon so that’s a lot of items!

Price: $20 or more. The smaller the simpler the better- easier for storage etc.

These are just rules of thumb – it can be good if it’s a bit less demand but a bit Less competition.

Every time I found a product I liked using the Product tracker, it looked hyper competitive.  How can I use the Chrome extension to find lower competition products?

The best tool is actually not the Extension, it’s best to use the Product Database on the Web App.

You can put in your criteria for products with under 50 reviews and min 3000 units sold a month.

You can do this with the Chrome Extension. Once you HAVE an idea, the Extension is the best tool to have.

But if you don’t already have product/ Keyword ideas, it’s not the best tool . 

In every category it looks like it’s good to PL. What are the other criteria for selection?

If every opportunity looks good, your criteria for competition is too lax. There are tons of opportunities with high demand but they have a lot of competition. Look for something with under 50 reviews in some of those top spots – easy to do with the Extension.

Only add up the demand for relevant listing results. Eliminate irrelevant searches.

What are the costs of the Chrome Extension  and Web App?

The Extension is for $90 or $150 (more features) one off costs

The Web App at the monthly $40 level is good for most people but goes up to $100 a month.  There is a free trial – and you can find lots of products.

Are there plans to make the Web App available in the UK?

The Extension already works in the UK.  The Web App will be built for UK in the near future.

But UK or Germany based sellers still use the Web App for the USA to get product ideas – you could then search in the UK store and verify that. A lot of the times you’ll find a good opportunity in the USA and it will be in the UK.

“There seem to be three schools of thought with product selection – 1. find & build a niche brand of related products so you can sell over and over to the same customers, 2. hunt for single superstars / hidden gems, 3. gut instinct. perhaps you find/invent a product you think would do great, or it’s selling in another venue and has no rep/history on amazon to give informed decisions.

Jungle Scout and tools like it seem to be targeted at product selection style 2 [Superstars], how can it best be used to help with styles 1[Niche] & 3 [Instinct], or indeed does Greg believe in these styles or have a different view entirely?”

For Greg, gut instinct is out because it’s risky- he likes to use the data. It might work for some people!

GM has about 3 dozen items – When Greg first started, he was advised to create a whole line of products to get better sales [cross sales]. Greg didn’t find that to be true. He did it start with but didn’t see increase in sales.

When people shop on Amazon, they are not looking for particular brand, they just want the best reviews at the best price. So now Greg just finds opportunities and sells them.

However, If you wanted to find products similar to your existing products, in the Web App, you could select the product category.

The marketplace has given feedback that “finding gems” has worked better than Niche market approach. Maybe in certain categories, brand Is more important; just not in Greg’s market.

People are searching for the item and then getting one of the top 3 depending on reviews and price.

How do you deal with the competition? Especially how do you avoid a price war?

Greg never competes on price – he always works on pictures, the listing; improvements to product. If his competitor lowers price, he doesn’t. When launching new products, get into area that isn’t too competitive. Then by the time competition comes in, secure the top spot with lots of reviews.

Lots of people think they are too late to the party. Not true. It’s still a great opportunity. Greg is still launching new products. BUT You just have to be good with product research. If you pick an item that’s in a very competitive niche, it’s very hard to get anywhere.

You can’t fix a product at the marketing stage if the product selection is wrong!

If sales volume is dropping, Instead of lowering your price, do some giveaways and keep sales rank and overall, it will make you more money.

BUT Product selection is so important that lots of people get hung up on it. How do get round the selection deadlock (Paralysis analysis)?

Use the criteria that Greg gave – it’s proven, including a case study 

Once you’ve done lots of research, you will have a better feel for a particular market.

If in doubt, if you’re worried and just beginning, just choose even lower competition product even if you just sell say 5 a day. And or place an order for fewer units.

I know the Pro Extension will give extra info like FBA Fees, FBA Fulfillment category (eg oversize), net price after fees and so on. Is this available for Amazon UK? 

Yes, it is!

How about .de (Germany) or other European marketplaces?

Not yet, but this summer (2016), it should be available.

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