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#39 Thinking like your Amazon Customer

Episode #39 Show Notes

This is another bigger-picture podcast. Yes, we all need to measure our numbers and do analysis. But always remember that any number is a measurement. Behind it is a customer’s actions and ultimately feelings!

It’s all about Your Customer:

1. their motivations to shop and buy

2. Emotions driving them: Inspiration (desire) or Desperation (solve a painful problem!)

3. Extrinsic motivation (other people) e.g. peer pressure vs. Intrinsic motivation (inner, personal reasons) e.g. desire, curiosity

4. They start with an image (or sound or feeling) in their mind

5.  THEN they try to find the words for that

6. Only then does the customer start to connect to your marketing with

Keywords.

Your customers are not searching for your product. They are searching for the image they have in their mind.

If your product image chimes with this (or is better), that’s when they will click on your listing (if the reviews etc. look right).

In order to show up in response to a search, though, you need to get your product showing. That means optimizing your listing for, and advertising for, keywords.

This is biggest area to explore.

Most customers are not expert. So the keywords your customers may use are NOT necessarily the “correct” or “logical” words especially if they are not very expert in that product type or area.

So think like a customer. Preferably actually BE a member of your target market.

Every week or month, search for products LIKE yours as if you are an ignorant but desperate customer!

You’ll stumble across important keywords to test out. Crucially, you’ll also be in touch with your customers’ mindset.

We’re aiming for a blend of your instinct & feel for your customers and the analysis of numbers.

Upcoming Guests on the show:

Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout (Product selection)

Will Tjernlund (Strategy)

Manuel Becvar of Import Dojo (China sourcing & Freight)

Mark Carpenter of Avalava (US Sales tax)

Penny Lowe of Wellington Consulting (Accountant)

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

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#37 How Vision is the key to your Amazon Business

Episode #37 is a wide-ranging, 50,000 foot view of business. It is a mindset episode and not necessarily for beginners if you are finding it hard to focus on step by step actions. But it could be for you if you feel that you can’t see the wood for the trees!

Amazon is an amazing vehicle for achieving your business goals; but it is just a vehicle. Be prepared to use other vehicles (eg eBay, Shopify website) as appropriate. 

Long-term, you need to have a clear Vision of the life you want for yourself. And how your business is to serve that vision. 

Also you need to have clear financial goals e.g. income goals like £2000 a month personal income to replace the day job. By the way, personal pay (dividends if you are a company owner) is not the same as Profit! Which is not the same as Revenue (=Turnover=Sales) either!

But that is not the same as your “Reason Why” – for example, becoming financially independent; buying your mother a new home; sending your children to university; etc.

This gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you motivated through the tough times. So it needs to be individual to you, real, and strong. And you need to remind yourself of it every day. 

Also be clear: as well as what your business will give you, what do you want to give? And most importantly, who do you want to help? (your customers).

Connect with your customers/clients! Find out what they want – then go get it for them!

If you take the same path to your goal as everyone else, it will be very crowded! This is so true for Amazon Private Labelling now. Ultimately don’t just try to follow an existing roadmap. Everyone is copying the obvious routes.

Instead, be your own cartographer – try to find uncharted territory and then create your own roadmap. This is the ultimate entrepreneur’s job! Be courageous and use your imagination and find your own routes to your ultimate goal. 

The clearer you are about why you’re in business – what you want to get out of it and what you want to give, who you are in business to help – the clearer that will be to your customers. 

Resources mentioned in the Podcast:
Survey Monkey for doing a survey of your customers (SO worthwhile, I wish I had done lots more and much earlier).  Surveys of up to 10 Questions are free.

André Chaperon’s Autoresponder Madness for really sophisticated Email Marketing (I’m just beginning to plot this out for my own business).  Not for beginners but fascinating and powerful. I’ll be exploring this over the coming months so I’ll let you know how it works out!

At least sign up for his email lists. Read every single one. (really!) And analyse what he’s doing. They are an education in themselves on marketing. Very clever stuff.

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

 

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#35 Amazon Sourcing – Big Picture Strategies with Peter Zapf of Global Sources (interview part 2 of 2)

 Peter Zapf of Global Sources has 15 years’ experience of sourcing from his hot seat in the action in Hong Kong.  He spoke with me at the end of March about all things China Sourcing related. In Episode 34, he discusses tactics. But in this half of the interview, he discusses some big picture strategies with huge implications. Required listening for the ambitious Amazon Entrepreneur!

SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE #35

1)      Product strategies: 

a.       commoditized light vs. differentiated heavy 

Many people are using the same Criteria for product selection,  e.g., light, small, can be air freighted, etc.

The problem is that if everyone uses the same product criteria, you end up with huge competition.  Yes, they’re easy products to start with, but the space ends up crowded.

There is  nothing wrong with starting with RA (retail Arbitrage)  or commoditized products – it’s a great way to learn about importing, working with Chinese suppliers, creating a product listing, PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising etc.  It just doesn’t seem like a long term business to Peter.

If for example you choose large, heavy products, you have to use ocean shipping, which means there currently is a lot less competition.

You’ll order need to place a larger order to make the logistics make sense.  So there is more capital needed upfront and it is tied up for longer sitting on the ocean.

These are problems to solve but they are also barriers to entry.

  Your own design is the next step as an even bigger barrier to entry.

In retail Arbitrage, you’re competing for the buy box with the exact same product.

With private labelling, at least you are not competing for the buy box. But If the supplier designs the product, you are competing for ranking with essentially a commoditised product that others can sell.

Your design will protect you more from the competition if it is harder to copy. For example, a longer or thicker yoga mat is not a very hard difference to copy.  Often this depends on the amount of money you have or are prepared to invest.

If you need for example to use a designer, get regulatory compliance checks done, use lawyers and legal contracts with manufacturer, the supplier needs to make a new mould…this all adds to the cost and complexity and makes it harder to duplicate.

This then becomes more about how to minimize your upfront risk. Say if you create 8 new products, how can you set things up such that you only need 4 to succeed to break even, rather than say 5?

There was a famous example of a company called “Quirky” which went out of business recently.  They spent $400,000 ( http://www.theverge.com/2015/4/24/8488531/quirky-invention-powered-by-quirky) designing a blue tooth speaker – and then sold 30 units!!

Trademarking and Patent protection can be complex.

But Trademarking is much easier, faster and cheaper than patents. It might be that you can get a U.S. trademark something for a few hundred dollars. Worth checking with a company like Legal Zoom

How to minimize your risk/reduce costs

Think about reducing supply chain costs:

  Logistics:  use ocean shipping to improve your price competitiveness (or have more margin to put into advertising).

How can you fill a container to make the max use of the space?

Can you spend $200 to have the pallets of goods delivered from US port to an Amazon warehouse in California rather than $hundreds to go across the US?

Reducing supply chain costs by removing a step:

Flexport recently explained to Peter there are two options:

Option 1: Have freight forwarder take freight all the way to a specific Amazon warehouse (so set up on Seller Central BEFORE setting up freight from CHina) or

Option 2: Freight Forwarder will usually have own warehouse, so get it sent there rather than FBA Inspection etc. then on to the various Amazon Warehouses.

Ocean shipping: If Amazon asks you to send products to say 3 different USA warehouses, if you set that up before finalising your freight/shipping, you can get your supplier to break it into the right number of pre-packed pallets. This means your consignment won’t need reworking inthe USA.

This saves a step/time but also reduces costs: Your supplier is likely to do this at no/low cost.

Order quantity: Order large enough quantities to get a reduced price per unit and economies of scale in the supply chain.

Packaging – can you reduce the costs?

3)      China Suppliers competing with you on Amazon:

There are manufacturers already selling on Amazon. That’s the bad news. The good news is that most of them don’t always want to commit a lot of money and energy to it because they are used to getting paid upfront; on Amazon, they have to wait a longer time for their money! Also, they are not usually so good at listing copy and photos, custom service and the other marketing functions.

HOWEVER there are a lot of domestic China Private Label Sellers (not manufacturers) selling from China.

Peter has talked to them and they say their disadvantage is that they don’t understand consumer needs.

BUT they are very good at commoditized products e.g. Power Banks for mobile/cell phones. So be wary of commoditized products!

Some are creating their own brands and competing on price.

You advantage is understanding your local (national) consumers better, so you know what product changes are needed. To the extent you can take advantage of that, you have an advantage.

Knowing your own customers helps greatly with product selection.

Also you have native speaker language skills, knowledge of good product listings, photography etc.

4)     Differentiating your  products: 

Basically you may need to make some kind of upfront investment to really differentiate your product (time and/or money). Then the key becomes mitigating risk.

Here’s a possible strategy:

1. Crowdfunding- get a design then post it up in Kickstarter or Indiegogo. This validates the idea and you can get the money upfront for an initial production run.

2. Make sales on Amazon to prove product acceptance, margins, sales volume and customer response (reviews)

3. Sell to brick and mortar retailers, leveraging feedback from Amazon volume, revenues and reviews to convince the retailer it’s a great product.

Retailers will also need to know you can replenish inventory within say two weeks. So you would need local warehousing (as your supplier would probably need about 3 months to manufacture and deliver a new consignment of product if you are shipping by ocean).

Parting words:

Don’t let setbacks hold you back. Learn from them, then move on.

For example, an “incorrect” product selection can be frustrating.

But  you’ve still learnt so many skills: product research and selection, finding suppliers, communicating with suppliers, setting up supply chain, creating Amazon listings, PPC marketing, keywords etc., etc., etc. So you can take those skills and move on to the next product.

If looking for products, try Global Sources!

For more help with the sourcing process: go to www.smartchinasourcing.com, which is another website run by  Global Sources.

Global Sources is also running a Smart China Sourcing Summit co-located with their Hong Kong trade shows.  Danny McMillan will also be speaking there.  Information at http://www.globalsources.com/summit

There are many guest posts – look at the links to the authors and follow them, to get more info on particular topics.

For actionable tactics from this first half of this interview, go to Episode 34.

To ask Questions for Peter for his follow-up interview,  go to our Facebook Group.

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.

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.

#33 Amazon Entrepreneur – 3 Essential Character Qualities

This Episode, #33, is a quick “In-between-isode”. This is when I share some thoughts on the business while on the road.

SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE #33

To be an Amazon Entrepreneur, you need more than just the right tactics, or even the right strategy. You need to develop the right mindset. But even more basic, you need to develop your fundamental personal qualities.

Get outside the “Amazon Bubble” – get other business people’s perspective. Also get outside the Startup world and get wisdom from the other people in your life.

The 3 main qualities you need are:

Courage- above all, to cope with uncertainty. There’s nothing wrong with having some certainty of income, but you need to deal with uncertainty. 

  • Amazon lowers the danger of launching a product type with no demand. And you can see competition.
  • It reduces uncertainty a great deal but it never eliminates it.
  • It also reduces but doesn’t eliminate risk
  • Confidence and self-belief are very powerful but it needs to be based on evidence!
  • Courage comes first- going for it before you have the evidence. You need to have a certain belief in yourself and in the business model.
  • Believe in your ability to become a great entrepreneur over time

Honesty- with your customers but above all with yourself.  Don’t delude yourself! Confront reality (again, courage is needed for this):

  • Read your reviews- is the product really liked by your customers?Don’t exaggerate one bad review! But notice trends
  • Look at the Amazon ads numbers- are they working?
  • Look at the costs and income – are you making profit? Don’t judge by a bad day or week, but look at the overall picture.
  • Above all, be guided by the numbers.

Wisdom – which is a very unsexy word for Entrepreneurs but crucial. This develops with experience and I think is the hardest quality to get. But long-term, probably the biggest differentiator between success and failure.

  • When is courage more needed? When is more action needed?
  • When do I have to accept that I can’t change something (e.g. the time it takes to make and deliver a product)
  • Get a sense of proportion. Is this one star review actually the end of the world?!
  • Remember common sense: if everyone else (your competition) is doing the exact same thing, will you stand out if you also copy them?
  • Learn “strategic quitting” (Seth Godin’s concept) : When should I abandon this product as unprofitable? When do I accept this Facebook ad campaign won’t make sales?  Should I tweak and test this campaign more or abandon 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 on your iDevice.

For Android listeners – Download the Stitcher Radio app (free) and search for “Amazing FBA Podcast.”  Or, if you have already downloaded a podcasting client, follow the directions in the next 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.

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#31 Amazon Ads Specialist Danny McMillan Interview – PART ONE

This Episode, #31, was prompted by our very own Facebook members! They said in a survey that Amazon Ads were the area they most wanted expert help with. Danny McMillan responded by giving many golden nuggets to our listeners.

This is the first of two episodes containing this interview.

Continue reading

#26 Peak Productivity Principles for Amazon FBA Business

This Episode, #26, is all about Productivity!

There are 16 Principles for Productivity, with the 80/20  being the most important!

SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE #26  – Productivity Principles for your Amazon 2016 Business 

      1. Keep your 5 BIG Goals for the Year in front of you (literally)
      2. 80/20 everything. What 20% of activities will produce 80% of results. Do these first!
      3. Differentiate Urgent from Important
      4. Accept that you’ll never do MOST of what You “Should”
      5. Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available. Shorten the time!
      6. Be true to yourself
      7. Get it Right First Time
      8. Don’t reinvent the wheel -Copy and adjust
      9. Schedule Time “A Schedule Defends against Chaos and Whim”
      10. big picture when other people are asleep
      11. don’t overthink
      12. Eliminate before you Automate
      13. Automate before you Delegate
      14. Differentiate Working IN Your Business from Working ON your Business
      15. Test & Measure – Time, Money, People, Systems
      16. Become Self Aware-  Effort, Emotion, Reactions

TOP THREE PRINCIPLES:

  1. 80/20 analysis – limit tasks to the most urgent or powerful
  2. Parkinson’s rule – limit time to the minimum need for any task 
  3. Differentiate between Urgent & Important Tasks

Authors/Business Thinkers Mentioned in the Podcast:
Tim Ferriss: The Four Hour Work Week

Richard Koch: The Star Principle (episode #24)

Ben Cummings was a star student of Amazing Selling Machine as sold by Jason Fladlien.  He now works with Jason and runs his own courses, masterminds, etc.

Perry Marshall wrote “80/20 Sales & Marketing” & is also publisher of the best-selling book ever on Google Adwords (let me know if you would like to know more about this book).

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 your iDevice.

For Android listeners – Download the Stitcher Radio app (free) and search for “Amazing FBA Podcast.”  Or, if you have already downloaded a podcasting client, follow the directions in the next 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.

#25 Setting BIG 2016 Goals for Your Amazon Business

This Episode, #25, is the big one! It’s about setting big goals for 2016, and taking your learnings from 2015 forward into the new year.

The start of a new year is a natural point at which to think about big-picture strategy and overall approach to business and business building.  If you like this approach, let me know in the Facebook Group and I’ll give more summaries of powerful business strategy books I’ve been reading.

SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE #25  – Setting your BIG goals for your Amazon 2016 Business 

GOALS

      • Principles
        1. 80/20 everything. What 20% of activities will produce 80% of results. Do these first!
        2. Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available. Shorten the time!

    Tim Ferriss: The Four Hour Work Week

        1. The reason for goals: Inspiration, Energy!
          1. inspiration
        2. don’t worry about the how yet!
        3. the purpose of planning
          1. process vs. big plan
          2. process more than goals!
        4. Look for your Star!

    Richard Koch: The Star Principle (episode #24)

        1. 80/20 everything, always
      1. Overview:
        1. Review Your 2015 Results
        2. Set your 2016 Goals
      2. Reviewing 2015 Results:
        1. top 3 wins in 2015
        2. top 3 learnings in 2015
        3. top 3 frustrations in 2015
        4. SWOT analysis
        5. top 3 assets you’re not using
      3. 2016 goals
        1. 3 financial goals for 2016
          1. turnover
          2. profit
          3. other
        2. stop, start/keep in 2015
          1. 3 things to stop
          2. 3 things to keep
          3. 3 things to start
        3. Where is no. 1 a threat?
        4. top 3 goals for 2015
        5. 3 Learning goals for 2015

    Other people mentioned in the podcast:
    Liz Gerrera, US Amazon Seller

  •  Ben Cummings was a star student of Amazing Selling Machine as sold by Jason Fladlien.  He now works with Jason and runs his own courses, masterminds, etc.

  • Perry Marshall (who is an excellent Adwords expert and teacher) interviews Richard Koch here in a very extended, natural interview. Totally worth viewing.

  • Perry Marshall is also publisher of the best-selling book ever on Google Adwords (let me know if you would like to know more about this book).

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 your iDevice.

For Android listeners – Download the Stitcher Radio app (free) and search for “Amazing FBA Podcast.”  Or, if you have already downloaded a podcasting client, follow the directions in the next 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.

4

#24 Richard Koch and the Star Principle for Amazon Business Owners

This Episode, #24 ,  is another “bonus” episode that is a little less formal than usual episodes. Again, I hope you can forgive the more casual style and above all the lower audio quality – this was another episode squeezed in between visits to relatives and loved ones!

The start of a new year is a natural point at which to think about big-picture strategy and overall approach to business and business building.  If you like this approach, let me know in the Facebook Group and I’ll give more summaries of powerful business strategy books I’ve been reading.

This episode is about The Star Principle,  as espoused by the wonderful business strategist, Richard Koch (who is a fellow Brit!). This principle is behind Richard going from £3 million to above £150 million in net worth, with 8/16 investments making money, one with an astronomic return! (venture capitalists expect 1 in 10 to make money). This is almost unheard of – this guy utterly walks his talk!

SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE #24 -Richard Koch and The Star Principle  

American Amazon strategists mentioned:

  • Jason Fladlien was (and probably still is) the biggest single affiliate seller of Amazing Selling Machine
  •  Ben Cummings was a star student of Amazing Selling Machine as sold by Jason Fladlien.  He now works with Jason and runs his own courses, masterminds, etc.

Perry Marshall (who is an excellent Adwords expert and teacher) interviews Richard Koch here in a very extended, natural interview. Totally worth viewing.

Perry Marshall is also publisher of the best-selling book ever on Google Adwords (let me know if you would like to know more about this book).

Richard Koch worked for the Boston Consulting Group and although he didn’t enjoy the job, he learned a business strategy  that was a simple but incredibly powerful strategy:

THE STAR PRINCIPLE

Star Principle 2X2 matrix graphic

There are just 4 types of business and 4 actions to take:

  1. STAR business: High growth and Market Leader.  Action: INVEST!
  2. Cash Cows: Low Growth Market but Market Leader: Protect!
  3. Question marks: High Growth BUT not leader: Drive to leadership or Sell.
  4. Dogs: Low Growth and Follower: Exit or Run for Cash.

So how does this work for an Amazon business?

Researching new potential product niches

  • Find & monitor trends in your industry or market:
    • Be a member of your target market & be consistently observant of product trends
    • Follow your industry/market magazines,  websites; go to meetings, conventions, etc.
    • Use Google Trends if it helps but use a variety of keywords
  • Go after markets where there is an upward trend overall

Reviewing/Reflecting on your own business

Once you have had a product or products live for a time, review your products. Aim: Determine whether you have found a Star, Cash Cow, Question Mark or a Dog!

MARKET SHARE

  • Monitor your position on Amazon in response to main keywords for your product(s).
  • If you aren’t yet within the top 4-6 positions for the most important KWs:
    • give away product until you have at least 50% of the reviews of the no. 1 or 2 player
    • spend aggressively on Amazon ads in launch phase BUT monitor profitability like a hawk so you know what the breakeven price will be.
    • Try to be as differentiated as possible in title, photos and bullet points (main photo is the no.1 thing!)
  • If you are within that, aim for no. 2 or no. 1  on main keyword
  • Above all, focus on being no. 1 for any keyword that has a certain amount of demand and is profitable!!
  • #6 in main market is nice; #1 in a niche is better IF it is still profitable.
  • Aim to be the dominant player in your product niche, however small 
  • If you can’t get onto page one after aggressive promotion, could it be that you have a Dog?? If you have, discontinue the product:
    • Reduce Amazon ad spend to a minimum. Discontinue Facebook Ads, Google Ads etc. if used.
    • Don’t order any more inventory
    • If you need the cash back out to invest in a product that has proven to be a Star or a Cash Cow, consider lowering the price to sell out faster and get the cash back out faster.

COST CONTROL

Direct Costs

  • After your launch phase (so you have hit 50% of the no. of reviews of the No.1 product and have got onto page 1 for top 2-3 keywords), scale back costs  so you make profit!
  •  Amazon ads are often the no.1 place to cut back
  • ACoS under 100% does NOT mean you’re making gross profit!! ACoS needs to be substantially less than the gross profit margin. E.g., if your gross margin is 33%, ACoS MUST be under 33% to be making a profit.
  • Don’t rely on  ACoS; add up all your amazon costs INCLUDING AMAZON ADS for a particular period; add up all the amazon sales for the same period – and determine gross profit and loss
  • A star business or a cash cow should have decent profit margins after launch phase.
    • If it’s only breaking even, see if you can reduce your costs. Above all, monitor and reduce your spend on Amazon Ads!!
    • If it still won’t be profitable, consider discontinuing the product

Four formulas to stay a star business (these need to be discovered and turned into routine and repeatable sytems):

  1. Customer Attraction Formula (to ever more customers and ever more sales)
  2. Commercial Formula (to lock in fat margins)
  3. Delivery Formula (to deliver consistent, high quality products)
  4. Innovation Formula (to stay ahead of rivals)

These are things that at first you probably can’t neatly formulate – but you should be using your experience to build these formulas  over time and then refine them based on reality, not theory!

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 your iDevice.

For Android listeners – Download the Stitcher Radio app (free) and search for “Amazing FBA Podcast.”  Or, if you have already downloaded a podcasting client, follow the directions in the next 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.

#19 Amazon FBA Seller Interview with David Aggiss

This Episode, #19,  is a very exciting first for the Podcast: our first interview!

David Aggiss was one of the first to join our Facebook community and has been a very active member, including taking the initiative to reach out to me and meet up in person at a conference.

David took some great training, and has been very committed to working his business. As you would hope, that has resulted in some very quick successes. Here, David shares his journey, what worked, what challenges he has had to overcome.

** REVIEWS CONTEST!**

The first 25 people to review the show on iTunes will be entered into a draw. The winner will receive a £50 Amazon Voucher from Amazing FBA!
Head over to iTunes now and leave your review! If you haven’t  already, you can also subscribe through iTunes to get all the info you need to start your own successful Amazon business!

CONTEST EXTENDED to the end of November or 1st 25 reviews, whichever comes first !

SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE #19 David Aggiss Interview

  • David’s Background: got into property as an investor then moved into mortgage broking.
  • Was drawn to Amazon FBA private labelling model because it offered Passive Income.
  • Passive Income is important to him as a way to get to spend time with his young family and to escape office culture.
  • Also it can be as hands-on or hands-off as you like (Amazon handles sales and can do customer service – you can outsource a lot as well)
  • David started with Amazon training in April this year and his first product went live in September.

GIVEAWAYS and REVIEWS

  • He allocated 200 units to dollar giveaways, targeting 100 reviews (because of the psychology of triple digits of reviews, and because biggest direct competitor has 200+ reviews)
  • Aim was to give away 10 units a day for two weeks
  • Put in three batches of 50 codes to AMZTracker
  • Turned on PPC Amazon Ads after about 20-30 reviews
  • He actually gave away just 150 units, for about 100-110 reviews (so about 66% converted to reviews) as he was running out of stock and had hit his target no. of reviews.
  • David was able to be selective as his product was popular, so he tried to select reviewers who had reviewed similar products, had given a few video reviews and gave decent length reviews [i.e., not just one short sentence!]

SALES

  • Sales got quickly to 10 a day, then went up to 15, then 20, then up to 25 sales/day
  • Sales: Month 1: including $1 giveaways, $5000
  • Month 2: $6000 but that includes running out of stock!
  • PRODUCT SELECTION:
  • Don’t overanalyse
  • Avoided oversize items because of upfront costs and cost of Amazon fulfilment
  • Went for something that could be bought for about $2 a unit
  • Did due diligence and made sure the numbers stack up
  • Not too competitive
  • Happy to go for 10 sales/day

SOURCING AND FIRST ORDER

  • Manufacturer’s MOQ was 1000  to have his logo on product plus customised packaging
  • David negotiated down to 700 units only with custom packaging (no logo on product)
  • But then after firming up the order, he said to supplier he was going to be ordering more, so negotiated including logo on product on the 700 unit order

CAPITAL and CASHFLOW

  • David has only used his capital for stock ordering. Other costs e.g. Amazon Ads etc. are on the Credit Card for cashflow reasons.
  • He needed about £2000-3000 upfront to order inventory and launch the product

AMAZON ADS

  • David turned these on after about 2 weeks and about 20-30 reviews
  • He ran a manual and auto campaign alongside each other at the start
  • He put a $20 daily budget to Manual and $10 to Auto
  • The auto campaign only produced 1-2 sales and those were for a Keyword he knew already was important
  • He then paused the auto campaign
  • He launched with bids of about $3 a click to get onto page one with ads while product was on page 14 or so of organic search results
  • He then gradually reduced the costs per click over time.
  • ACoS (Advertising Cost of Sales)  started off over 100%; then it went down to about 65%; last month it was around 45%.

BIGGEST CHALLENGES AND HOW DAVID OVERCAME THEM

1. Stock management

  • running out of stock happened because he didn’t expect sales to take off so fast
  • The solution is that he will over-order (now has 1500 units in transit either in China or in the USA) and have 3-4 months worth of stock of his first product so he can focus on buying and launching product no. 2

2. Quality issues

  • These weren’t so terrible but there were higher returns than David wanted.
  • He is having the returned units shipped to him in the UK
  • He will then inspect these and then ship some on to China
  • David uses Viabox to receive returns, which gives a free USA Address. They’ll also store packages for up to 30-60 days and arrange shipping pretty cheaply.
  • David’s shipping 18 units for $40 (1.6 oz weight/unit). I make that 1.8 pounds in weight, so that’s about $22 a pound of weight or £14.75/lb (or about $49 a kg=about £33)

3. Reseller on his listing

  • One of David’s buyers for $1 (giveaway for reviews) listed his product for sale.
  • David had saved the URLs of the profiles of all of his reviewers
  • So he was able to track down the reseller and sent them a stern email
  • The reseller on his listing disappeared!
  • David had been prepared to just buy the product to get rid of the reseller anyway.

4. Time management

  • During the set-up phase, because of doing the Amazon business on top of having a full-time job and a young family, David was having to work evenings and weekends, sometimes 2-3 hours late evenings.
  • His solution is to commit to the business, and to try to fit in an hour whenever it’s possible, even if that’s 11 pm after a full day of work and family life!

BEST THINGS ABOUT THE AMAZON FBA BUSINESS MODEL

  • It can take off very fast
  • It requires very little input to maintain once set up
  • The money to be made is very substantial

ADVICE FOR NEWCOMERS TO THE BUSINESS

  • “Jump in and get going!”
  • Don’t over-analyse. For example, in his first batch of products, David had no inserts and no instructions. He’s just sorted both out for his last (2nd) batch.
  • If start-up capital is an issue, you can do what David did and use capital for stock but put the recurring costs on a credit card.
  • Have enough stock to not run out if you can!

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 your iDevice.

For Android listeners – Download the Stitcher Radio app (free) and search for “Amazing FBA Podcast.”  Or, if you have already downloaded a podcasting client, follow the directions in the next 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.

2

#16 How to Deal with Increased Amazon Private Label Competition

This Episode, #16,  deals with another hot topic area: How to deal with Increased Competition among Amazon Private Label Sellers. It’s  a topic that intimidates  some, but it’s a reality you need to deal with if you want to develop a real business and actually make profits in 2015 and going into 2016.

**STOP PRESS** REVIEWS CONTEST!

The first 25 people to review the show on iTunes will be entered into a draw. The winner will receive a £50 Amazon Voucher from Amazing FBA!  
Head over to iTunes now and leave your review! If you haven’t  already, you can also subscribe through iTunes to get all the info you need to start your own successful Amazon business!

CONTEST EXTENDED to the end of November or 1st 25 reviews, whichever comes first !

SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE #16

The 7 Mistakes Amazon Private Label Sellers make that let the Competition beat them – and 7 Strategies to Overcome Them!

Mistake #1: Going for Individual Products not a market.

Strategy #1: Go for a niche market of people you understand, and to whom you could potentially sell a whole host of products – including training or informational products

Mistake #2: Not differentiating your product/ Copycat products

Strategy #2: Be clear about who your customer is: the Person and their Problem – and find a solution to their problem – don’t just copy everyone else’s products.

Mistake #3: Expecting “easy money”; Not planning for and then putting in Time, Money & Focus

Strategy #3: Prepare to put in serious money (See Episode # for details on this), Time and Focus.

For full details of what it takes to run an Amazon business, see Episode #13 show notes, and listen to the podcast episode.

Mistake #4: Over-committing to one product initially; Relying on Research not Testing

Strategy #4: Test every assumption! Two tactics:
1. Get  MOQ of unbranded product, Market it normally and see if it sells; if yes, go and get a branded (Private Labelled) version.

2. When you go back to your supplier for new inventory, order an MOQ of an  (unbranded) additional product to test.

Mistake #5: Relying on one Traffic Channel (Amazon!)

Strategy #5: Develop new Traffic Channels –  e.g., YouTube videos, Facebook Page/Ads, Google Ads, Own Website (more a brand reassurance than a traffic source).

Caveat – one at a time! Don’t spread yourself too thin. Firstly,  Test properly what works, then systematise what works. That includes eliminating time and money wasters (campaigns that bring little or no result), automating (e.g. using software to post content), and eventually delegating to VAs etc.

Mistake #6: Not building your own customer lists

Strategy #6: Build your own customer lists- mostly email

Tactic: put in inserts in your product packaging “To activate your Warranty, go to www.yourbusiness.com/warranty. Then set up a Landing page aka opt-in page with say WordPress on a Bluehost hosting or Leadpages, and an email autoresponder, e.g., aWeber. If you don’t have the know-how, outsource this, e.g., try fiverr.com. I’m about to create an episode dealing specifically with this. Stay tuned!

Mistake #7: Having a Small Back End! Trying to make all your money in the first sale to a new customer

Strategy #7: Create a suite of products that you could sell to existing customers. Especially aim to create and/or sell digital (information) products because each sale of those is  nearly all profit!

You can sell other people’s products initially (try clickbank.com) as an affiliate if you don’t have time/inclination to create your own products at first.

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 your iDevice.

For Android listeners – Download the Stitcher Radio app (free) and search for “Amazing FBA Podcast.”  Or, if you have already downloaded a podcasting client, follow the directions in the next 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.