"Build" Guide - how to Build your Private Label Business
Today on the show, I have one of the first contacts I made when starting this show, David Aggiss. I had him on, all the way back in November of 2015. Since then, he has given up the day job and is his own full-time boss. He has a few business, one of which being an Amazon business. We’re going to dive in and find out David’s strategy for selling on Amazon.com.
David started learning about Amazon in April/May of 2015 and began receiving some training. In about four months, he started selling his own product. He took off quite well in Q4. At the time, incentivised reviews were still allowed so he made that a large part of his strategy. His sales exceeded his expectations going from 10 units a day to 30 on average. He launched his second product in Q4 last year and focused on his listing since incentivised reviews were no longer available.
There are a lot of techniques for finding products. David decided to simply look through Amazon. This is a great technique for finding good products. Look for lower prices and low competition items when first starting out. If you find a good product and the listing isn’t optimised, then there is definitely an opportunity for you to sweep in and take over. You can use Google Trends, Merchant Words to help you find what popular and what people are looking for.
David didn’t use any tools to find products, like Jungle Scout etc. He didn’t know what his products would be so he wouldn’t know what to search. Once he picked the products, he verified through Jungle Scout that there was a demand. Now he has about 5 products he’s working through launching.
He search Amazon to find his products. He narrowed his search to products between $15 and $50 and looked for products that interested him. If you are interested in the product then it’s easier to relate and figure out what those buyers are looking for. Then you can tailor your listing to those shoppers.
Getting reviews has become much more difficult since Amazon banned incentivised reviews. With this new world, you have to pay more attention to reviews since you can no longer give products away in exchange for a review. One thing to pay attention to when getting started with a new product is the number a reviews your competition has. If they have thousands of reviews, it’s going to be much harder to compete because it is more difficult to reach a competitive level.
Make sure you competitors only have a hundred or so reviews so you can better compete. Then you can use other services to help get legitimate reviews. You can also try to get traffic coming in from off Amazon.Ads on Facebook, Google, and Bing are great places to start.
There are also ways you can use Amazon to boost your listing. Spending heavy on PPC at the beginning is a good way to drive traffic when selling on Amazon.com. Once your listing gets going, then you can cut back to where it’s profitable. One thing David mentioned was participating in Lightning Deals. These deals on put on by Amazon that offers their shoppers very good discounts for a very limited amount of time. There is a link underneath your Advertising tab on the main screen of Seller Central. It’s not all the time, but Amazon will offer you a Lightning Deal when it’s relevant. This is a great way to drive a lot of sellers to you listing and gives a nice boost to new products.
Amazon sets the parameters. They will tell you the time slot, the minimum number of units, and the sale price which is based on your sales history. David, for example, recently got a time slot for 1am to 7am. Not the best time as many people aren’t looking at Amazon so early in the morning. Despite that, he had an additional 40 sales from the deal.
There are a few things to remember with an Amazon product launch. You need to get as much traffic and sales velocity for your product as quickly as possible. This is a given in any sales capacity. Also, you need to high rankings early, as in on the first page, using an important key word related to your product. Run a promotion when your product goes live which will get people talking and stimulate sales velocity. You can make your products even more visible by turning on the automatic sponsor ads. Lastly, go after some reviews and use family and friends, who will be sure to help your product out in the early days.
It goes without saying, you need to find the primary and most relevant keyword for your product. This is something that people will be able to identify and make the connection to you as the one selling said product. You should make sure the keyword(s) are in the title of your product AND inside the URL address. People can be very lazy so when they are looking for something they are overjoyed when they can find it with relative ease. You can run Facebook ads, external ads and even banner ads from Amazon Marketing Service. Aside from Anthony’s launch too, Zonblast, you can also use Keyword Inspector and Merchant Words.
This has a lot to do with the total views your product actually gets during an Amazon product launch. If you have a low number of searches in a month, say under 20,000, you could see sales velocity stimulation in one day, see some solid movement, as opposed to over several days. However, if you only spike with search hit one hour of each day, your average will be lower. It would be much better for you to spread it out over a number of days for better results. Anywhere from 4 to 7 days seems to be a good time frame in which to work from. It’s all about averages. If you can spread your views and sales over a longer period of time, it will average out to a total that will look much better to you as the seller and to a potential buyer as well.
Make sure you understand Amazon’s new Terms of Service. ‘Free’ sales or giveaways are now considered product manipulation. The big reason the Terms of service were put into place was to stop people from operating multiple accounts and thus being able to receive ‘sales’ of the same product anywhere from 50 to 100 times during an Amazon product launch. Specifically, Amazon are trying to stop buyers from receiving codes to allow them to do this for free. You can now have your product suspended for this. Always remember this and you’ll be fine: Real sales are unique sales to an individual.
Great customer reviews are always welcome but you should not depend on them to help boost sales of your product. While Amazon won’t remove or stifle a review if a customer got a discount on your product (remember though, no coupon codes for free) they can take down good reviews, paid in full by the customer, if they have been attacking the buyer accounts. There is also some unpredictability overall in terms of the reason or reasons why Amazon removes some reviews. All you can do is turn the review machine on, have a great follow up sequence in place, and get reviews as naturally as you can. The best way to success is to have a great quality product and then you can worry about everything else.
Optimising your Amazon listing basically means setting up your listings to get the most traffic and the most sales. This is especially important because you want to be set up in the best possible position for success. Optimisation does not happen instantly but it is a process emanating from having the right foundation set up. Your optimization before your first product listing is actually the laying of foundation for your products or business.
Your images are the most important part of this process. First, understand the direction to which you are driving. The first goal is to increase traffic and the image is the first thing that people see. It’s the image that causes people to click on your product. You want to use the best, most captivating picture as you main image.
You need to optimise your image for all browsers and ensure it is captivating. On mobile, you want to use portrait images because they appear bigger on mobile devices. Use various shots from different angles. It is highly recommended that you use staged shots. These are the images where the product is shot where it can be found in real life. For example, if you are selling kitchen knives, have images of them in a kitchen next to a cutting board. Include images with people using the product because then the buyers can imagine themselves using the products.. Use infographics if you need to include complex information in a simple form.
When optimising your Amazon listing, a good title has to be keyword rich and feature oriented. It needs to be keyword rich because if has to be found by the Amazon algorithm. But it has needs to be easily read by humans. Your title can give the targeted buyers a brief description of the benefits and what the product does. Ensure the most important information is captured in the first 80 characters as this will ensure this section shows in all browsers. Don’t be too specific if your product has multiple uses. If you are selling a cat brush, it is likely that it can be used on dogs and other animals. Rather than saying “Cat brush” in your title, use “Pet brush.” This will attract owners of all types of pets rather than limiting yourself to a specific type.
Description and bullets play an important role in SEO as they are indexed by Amazon. The bullets give details on the uses of the product. The first three points are always the most important since those are the one that show up in mobile. The description area is important; put the most important information in the first part as this is what shows on mobile devices. Description also gives technical specification and makes your listing more professional.
As buyers understand the details of the product through the product image they become more comfortable with the price you set for the products. Ensure the image design justifies the price set for the products.
It’s no surprise to anyone that sales with Amazon in 2017 will get more complicated. There is more competition. It will probably weed out those that aren’t committed and aren’t willing to invest the time and money needed. It’s going to get more sophisticated. The person just throwing something up on Amazon probably isn’t going to make it. The ones that put in the effort, and work to make sure it’s a good product to sell will excel.
We’re going to need better listings now that there is enhanced brand content. More people will start using that making it more difficult for those who don’t.
Email follow-up sequences will become more important. They’ve always been important, but now that they are the only real way to get reviews, they are that much more important.
Inventory management will become more important. It’s not secret that Amazon’s distribution centers are bursting at the seams. That can’t really hold more products. So we will likely see stricter inventory control. Whether that’s higher storage fees, or they don’t allow to send in shipments on products that they already have a lot of inventory for.
It’s seems obvious hearing that, but I didn’t really think about it. A couple months ago we were trying to ship products to Amazon. We were warned against sending new products until after the holidays. And it’s fantastic that you were able to talk to Amazon lawyers. It’s reassuring to know that JumpSend is sound and don’t have to worry about getting flagged or banned for using it. I’m definitely going to use it with my next launch.
Greg has first-hand experience with this as he has launched six or seven products since October; three or four in the last few weeks. An Amazon product launch is very different after this updated Terms of Service was released.
Let’s take a 10,000 ft. look at this. In order to rank organically on Amazon, you need to have sales. There are a few ways to get sales. You can make your products really cheap, you can try to drive outside traffic, you can use deal sites like JumpSend. Without sales, you can launch your product but it will end up in the deep dark hole of Amazon and no one will find it. As Amazon sellers, we need to be thinking about how we can get sales on a product that is not organically ranking and doesn’t have any reviews so there’s no social proof.
Greg utilizes his JumpSend tool. It’s a deal site where about 30,000 people are visiting and looking for good deals. It’s no longer a place to get reviews, it’s a place to get sales. It still works, and it is completely within the Terms of Service of Amazon.
So Greg puts his products on JumpSend. Then he offers it at a price people want it, which can vary. He offers about five coupons a day, maybe ten if it’s competitive. From this, he is getting sales. He will do this for about a week. After that time, the product will be ranking very well. From those sales, a few will end up resulting in a review. He will also turn on pay-per-click advertising (PPC). It’s costly, but it does get you sales. That’s what you need to get started; you have to have these sales.
Where most people go wrong, is that they get scared of spending the money. Usually, Greg has to turn PPC so high that he is losing money on that sale. If he is offering 70% off, then he is likely losing money. People seem to get shy about losing money. However, that’s a part of doing business but you will recoup this money in the long-term. A big problem for people is that they’re afraid to bid the PPC that high, or they’re afraid to give that big of a discount because they’re afraid of losing money.
That’s the gist of it. To do an Amazon product launch, you have to force sales somehow. The easiest way is deal sites and PPC. Then you’ll start ranking organically, and start getting reviews. Another thing is that you definitely want to have an email follow up sequence turned on. You can use any tool for that, but keep in mind that JumpSend is also a follow-up email service as well as a deal site. It’s nice that it is a full launch package. No matter what you use, before you do your first giveaway, you need to have some sort of email follow-up that asks for a review.
The first email will thank them for the purchase. The second may let them know that they can contact you if you have any issues. The third could ask for a review. With an email sequence you’ll see that you can get 10-15 reviews out of 100 compared to the 3 out of 100 you may get without one.
Going back to the coupons. Amazon forbids any action that tries to manipulate the sales ranking, and in a way, giving out coupons does that. It’s not so much following the letter of the law but how Amazon sees that. If you give coupons to only JumpSend users but not to the general public, is that potentially violating the Terms of Service?
There is a clause in the ToS that was release in the first quarter of 2016 that said something to the effect that purposely manipulating sales rank is against the rules. It comes down to, what does this mean? It is a bit of a grey area. Greg’s personal opinion is that Amazon put that in because, at the time, sellers were doing these massive giveaways, especially in the supplement category. They were giving away about 100 units everyday for a couple days. That is probably what that clause was looking to prevent.
So, is giving away a couple coupons a day considered manipulating sales rank? All Greg really cares about is making sales and ranking organically in the search results. Since those Terms of Service were released, there hasn’t been anyone, that we’re aware of, that has gotten in trouble for manipulating sales rank. Some have gotten in trouble for some review type infractions. They have been big sellers doing about $500,000 a month. One seller, their VA got in touch with a top reviewer, didn’t ask for a review but it might have been implicated that they expected one, and their account was suspended for two months.
Some sellers have mentioned that some of their reviews were removed if the discount was too high. The sales were legitimate and organic in every way, but if the discount was over 50% off the regular price, then they were removed. You mention that you might give 70%-80% off, does that create any issues, as far as Terms of Service?
Amazon’s ToS are really vague, so Greg bases his knowledge off data and what people are actually experiencing. Whatever you do, do NOT imply that they are getting the discount in exchange for a review! That is a clear violation of Amazon’s ToS. If a person uses a coupon to buy a product, you’re just giving out coupons to make sales. Since October, Gerg has noticed that some of the reviews have been marked “unverified”, so he assumes that those are the ones bought with a coupon.
There is no way to know since you can’t track a review to an order. It seems that, for now, they are sticking. They might not stick a year from now. For the short-term, they are nice to have since, when you do an Amazon product launch, you won’t have many reviews. So even though they are unverified, it’s better to have them than little to no reviews.
They’ve done a lot of testing, and there is no one number, say 30% off, that will get a product verified. Some products, you can give a 50% off coupon and it will show verified. You can give 20% on another, and that will result in it being unverified. Even if you post it publically in the listing.
It’s reassuring that you’re not hearing about people getting their accounts suspended for giving away coupons and that, if you have a follow-up sequence, you can still get reviews. Since you have so many JumpSend users, you have a good amount of data. Also, that Amazon doesn’t seem as trigger happy with this as they seem to be with reviews.
Greg gives away about 5-10 units a day. That isn’t really manipulating sales rank. If it was 100 units a day or 500 units a day, it is probably more likely that Amazon will come knocking on your door. You just have to be mindful.
With the reviews, it’s worth repeating, you CANNOT give a coupon with the purpose of getting a review, or expect a review, or require a review. There is no more incentivised review.
Greg and some others that were running review sites had the chance to speak with Amazon lawyers. At first it was a bit scary but in the end it was a great experience. The lawyers were willing to work with them because they were looking to make the whole industry more legitimate and do away with the whole incentivized reviews.
There were a few things that aren’t in the ToS, but they did put it in writing. Big picture, you can’t incentivise anyone you’re giving a coupon to, in any way, to leave a review. An example of this, is that there were a lot of Facebook groups that had implied reviews with each other. They were saying that you don’t have to leave a review, but if you do you get more coupons. That’s not okay.
They’re not cool with you checking their review profile to see if they left a review. You may not require a review, but maybe you could check to see if they left one or not, and kick them out of the Facebook group.
Offering them more deals or giving them more coupons if they left a review is something Amazon is not okay with.
Basically, anything you do to check up on reviews, or anything link to reviews at all. That was when ReviewKick was relaunched as JumpSend. It’s totally legit and by the books. They have the lawyers blessing. You give out coupons to these people, but you have no idea who they are, you can’t follow up to see if they left a review. They don’t get more coupons for reviews. You’re just giving away coupons in the hopes of getting more sales.
Another thing that was surprising, Amazon’s not dumb. They are very in the loop. All these Facebook groups with the implied reviews, there is probably an Amazon lawyer in the group. Amazon is very attuned with what sellers are doing.
It’s surprising that people think they can fly under the radar. Amazon is one of the biggest companies in the world, and third-party sellers account for ⅓ of their sales.
I am going to be talking about something that, I think, doesn’t get talked about enough. That is the reality of what you’re dealing with in an Amazon business. I don’t want to be negative, this is a reality check and reality is not a negative thing if you deal with it in the right way. This can lead to a long-term, genuine, sustainable business. The key to that is dealing with reality and not a fantasy of what you would like to have.
The first thing I want to mention is that it’s positive to be realistic. Some Amazon coaching can cast being realistic in a bad light. They are a little to happy, happy for my taste. Not that being positive, confident, and optimistic is a bad thing. Rather, it is important to face reality head on.
Caveats aside, Amazon is treating me well right now. I have several products doing well and I’ve sold almost 800 units in that past few weeks at a decent profit margin. I say that, because what I’m about to tell you may shock some people because they aren’t thinking clearly about what they’re doing. This has become clear to me after working in great detail with mentoring clients. I usually have about 6 – 8 clients and many of them are just starting out. Also, if that interests you, please take a look at my mentoring program. Many of these clients are well-experienced yet have some delusions about how Amazon works.. A couple have doctorates, some have been selling online for years, and some are in financial industries. Even they, don’t really get the nature of Amazon.
Any investment and/or business is to get some kind of return. Whether you invest capital or your time, you are looking for a return on your investment. There is some sort of ratio between the return you expect and the risk you’re prepared to run. If you want low risk, low reward, you might look into government bonds. If you want a greater return, but are willingly to have more risk, the stock market is where you turn. Or you may decided to be a venture capitalist and invest in startups. These are very high risk investments, but if you do it right, it has very high rewards.
Now your Amazon business, a business that primarily depends on Amazon’s sales and marketing channel; how would you rate that in terms of risk/reward? Just because you’re building a business doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think of it as an invest-able asset. Likewise, for any investment you should treat it as a business and look at the underlying assets. If you are wanting to invest it Coca Cola, look at their business. Look at their competition. Consider legislation that is fighting against them, and any potential expansion possibilities.
If a venture capitalist were to look at an Amazon business, one that has a proven market traction, they would see it as a very high risk, but a very high potential reward investment. Having a business with only one sales channel where Amazon is pretty fussy and can shut your account down over small things, is a very high risk thing. The rewards are very high, as I am seeing for myself, and they are real; just like the risks.
This has profound ramifications for how you deal with Amazon. For example: is running your own Amazon business a viable replacement for your full-time job? If you’re tired of your corporate job and want to strike out as an entrepreneur and spend more time with your family, is Amazon a good replacement for a paycheck? Often times it is advertised as such. My answer: NO.
A paycheck, from a full-time job is relatively secure. It’s not completely secure, which is good to understand, since you can lose your job or whatnot. But I would never recommend trading a secure form of income for one as tumultuous and uncertain as Amazon. I don’t think you should ever replace your day job with just Amazon. I still do some music coaching and I make no apologies for have an off-line and off-Amazon income that is solely under my control. It is a good strategy for risk diversification. I also make money from mentoring as well as the podcast. Even though these are very closely linked to Amazon, they are not the same thing. I also have some property. If you want to give up your paycheck for Amazon, make sure you have other sources of income.
At the very least, you will need to have an income source to pay for inventory. Even if it only costs you $1 per widget, you still need to have enough inventory to cover sales, if you are doing private label. An alternative is retail arbitrage, which was exclusively covered in my mastermind group. Also, if you want access to exclusive content like that, join the London Mastermind.
This may sound like doom and gloom, but I don’t think it is. You have to understand that Amazon is an amazing place to grow your capital, but it can’t be a swift replacement of your income. I don’t think Amazon should be the sole replacement of your income.
Once you understand the risk of your Amazon business, rather than burying your head in the sand, you can mitigate risk. You can increase your reward while reducing your risk. With Amazon, what are the biggest risks?
Therefore take care of things that can affect your account. You have to play within the rules. Years ago, some of use sellers pushed the rules quite hard and Amazon gave us a slap on the wrist. Now, they are suspending accounts. For example, if you are using incentivised reviews, take care not to look like you’re buying reviews. Another example is Amazon’s crazy policy around “defect” rate. What Amazon rates as defects are too many returns, refunds, or 1 star feedbacks. Once you’re suspended, it is a long and difficult process to regain access to your account.
I was facing an issue recently in regards to the feedback rating. Long story short, the buyer had left a product review under feedback rather than an actual review. This was an account that didn’t have much in the way of sales and only had 58 reviews. Since there were so few feedback reviews, that was a high rate of 1 star feedbacks and Amazon did not like that and I got a message saying account at risk.
For me, it was simple. The buyer had left a product review as a feedback which goes against Amazon’s policies, so we were able to get it squared away. What that told me was that I need to be more cautious about how I get feedback. Not as a way to increase reward, but as a way to reduce risk. Like an insurance policy, it’s not very sexy, but you will be happy you have it if you ever need it.
What I started doing is having a follow-up sequence in my email asking for feedback. A lot of which will be product review which I will ask them to do a traditional product review. This also encourages feedback from customers, more so than you would get otherwise. Which is a great way to improve your service, but also, you can then ask them to submit that as feedback on Amazon. This will allow you to build up a cushion of positive feedback and help you take care of issue away from Amazon. This way, if you ever have a 1 star feedback, not product review, you will have a large amount of positive feedback to outweigh the negative.
There is a lot here, too much to go into great detail. If you are serious about getting started, I recommend getting into the mastermind and really exploring these opportunities.
To find out more of Adam’s own strategies and tactics, CLICK HERE
Reviews are a major part of any strategy and you mentioned earlier that you want enough reviews to seem viable. Is that correct and could you expand on that?
Yes. It hard to seem credible if you have five reviews and everyone else has 100, so you have to work for those reviews.
How much is enough? And what do you do now that incentivised reviews have been removed?
How many depends on the product. It depends on what page one looks like for you products’ search terms. There is still opportunity out there. There are a lot of products with low reviews that are still dominating. Adam would use ilovetoreview.com, which he also owns, to get 25 reviews for products in the UK and 50 in the US.
Find out more of Adam’s latest thinking HERE
It’s only in the US that incentivised reviews are gone and it’s only compulsory reviews. There are other services that never guarantee the review but would push out your products at a discounted rate or for free. It’s not clear how it works, but it seem that after you get around 25 or 30 sales in a day then you products get a jump start and the sales keep rolling in. So even if you’re not getting a guaranteed review, there is still value in pushing your products out at a discounted rate.
Adam can only speak to his community at ilovetoreview.com, but the reviewers have been doing this for three years where they use the coupon, get the product, and write the review. So, they will probably continue to do so even though it can no longer be required.
Companies will continue to do this even if the review rate drops in half. Adam’s company has a review rate of 87% meaning 87% of products that were pushed out came back as a review. With these new rules, that will likely drop. And if it drops in half that means you will just have to send out twice as many products. This is a one-time investment for something that can generate income for life.
Another tip from Adam is to follow up with you customers via email. Especially in the UK, they are very responsive to this. Zonguru (which Adam also own) has this automation built in.
Every time you make a sale it can send an email when it ships, six days later following up with any issues,and 14 days later asking for a review.
Not only will this help in getting reviews, but it allows you to get ahead of any issues with the product, say if the box was damaged or the product wasn’t right, allowing you to take care of the issue without before going through Amazon’s return system.
Adam tries to casual in his style in his emails. Just a quick “Hey, how are you doing? Just wanted to make sure everything is good with the product.” He doesn’t try to sound like a big company with huge copy in the email, just a quick message like you would send to an acquaintance.
The bogeyman in all this, as Adam puts it, is that Amazon can change this against this type of thing. They have already sued a bunch a review companies last year. All they have to do is make a change in the algorithm that scrutinizes those reviews that have reviewed an above average amount of products, and out of those, how many used a coupon and just wipe out those reviews. They can just remove reviews of people who are just reviewers.
No one knows how things will work out, but sellers will just have to adjust. They will still have to do product launches, just like every company in the world when they launch a new product. You just have to follow up and encourage your customers to leave a review. You only need 25 – 50 – if you need more than that you’ve gone into the wrong niche.
As you say- Amazon has the ability to wipe out these reviews if it chooses. It just drives the point, that at the end of the day it comes down to organic reviews and organic sales.
Yes. Just make great products that people like. It’s that simple. And don’t be impatient. Adam likes the way this is because it knocks out all the people that think they can get rich quick on terrible products. It’s about putting in the work. Putting in the effort. That gives him the freedom to sit around all day, and look at his seller account and see that he made $3,000 in a day.
You mentioned earlier that you teach this stuff. How do you do that? Is it live webinars, live courses, group training?
He has a company called Reliable Education. The aim is to give people a realistic expectation going in and tell them the truth.
On the website, you can enroll in a free training program that is four videos where he shows you his home and drives you around where he lives in Australia.
He educates you on what the Amazon opportunity is, how to find products and his criteria for that. He teaches you about “Velicity Retailing” which is how to compound your capital over time.
All this leads to a paid programme which is an online course where you get access to about 90 videos that show you Chinese factories and how a 3D printer is made and a lot of very cool stuff.
It includes a private Facebook community and will link you with a mastermind group that they cap at seven people. Everyone signs a NDA so they can freely talk about what their companies are doing and talk on Google Hangouts or in person, and they’re all trained with the same philosophy of not being opportunistic, not get rich quick. They are solid people that want to build solid businesses.
They also have 12 coaching webinars with each member of the course. They have an onboarding program for every new member. There are two guys whose job it is to call every new member and talk to them and get a feel for them. They also have a program where they loan money to a 3rd-world entrepreneur, interest-free, and gets paid back over time. People seem to find a lot of value since their refund rate is less than 5%.
How do listeners get hold of you or find out more about you?
Just at reliable.education. Adam doesn’t really use Twitter etc. so you can’t catch him there – sounds like he’s more likely to be on his boat!