Introducing Amazon Accelerate: A Free Virtual Conference for Sellers Sept. 1–3

Attention all Amazon sellers and those interested in starting their own online business! 

Amazon is hosting Amazon Accelerate, a free-to-attend virtual summit taking place from September 1–3. Amazon boasts the conference as the “biggest-ever U.S. event dedicated to seller success.”

Sellers can expect to discover insights, strategies, and techniques from experts to help their small business thrive. 

The biggest name in e-commerce has set two unique agendas; one for current sellers, another for those just starting or interested in selling on Amazon. More than 60 sessions hosted by Amazon pros covering all aspects of the platform are currently scheduled throughout the three-day event.

Packed with helpful resources, conversations with successful sellers, and educational walkthroughs covering nearly all aspects of selling on Amazon, this summit is a MUST-ATTEND for anyone serious about getting started on Amazon or taking their existing online business to the next level.

“Amazon is deeply invested in empowering small businesses, and this is an important time for us to come together and learn from each other as we navigate new economic realities,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO worldwide consumer at Amazon.

Third-party sellers make up 50% of all sales on Amazon, and it appears the company realizes the health of its small businesses is a catalyst for their success.

 “It’s our good fortune at Amazon to partner with a large, vibrant community of sellers,” Wilke said. “Accelerate will help small businesses find new ways to grow and expand while also creating new connections.”

Wilke is one of four featured Amazon Accelerate speakers and will kick off the event with a fireside chat. Fellow speakers include Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide customer trust and partner support, Devesh Mishra, VP of Worldwide Supply Chain, and Amazon fashion group leader Christine Beauchamp.

Sellers can expect content centered around what’s new and the latest in online selling tools, programs, and services. Timely information about how to adapt and prepare for a successful holiday season is anticipated to be provided, along with a Build Your Business Toolkit.

Don’t miss out on the Amazon Accelerate summit! Sign up and confirm your virtual seat here to be a part of the seller spectacle. You can create your schedule ahead of time with their Agenda Builder once signed up.

If you’re unable to join the action live, don’t fret! All keynotes and breakout sessions will be available on-demand for registered attendees the day after they air through September 30th. At that point, the materials will be migrated to Seller University.

For additional resources on how to get your Amazon business off the ground or take your existing one to the stratosphere, subscribe to our YouTube channel, where we have content for every step of your Amazon journey!

We’ll be covering the event, so come back next week as we’ll be summarizing and breaking down all the big happenings from the seller summit!

Amazon News and Updates: Business Name and Address To Be Publicly Displayed

Recently, Amazon announced that business name and address will be displayed on the public-facing seller profile page beginning September 1, 2020.

Amazon states the change has been made to “help customers learn more about the businesses of a seller and the products that they are selling. We are making this change to ensure there is a consistent baseline of seller information to help customers make informed shopping decisions.”

The change is the latest in a series of moves to increase accountability and deter the sales of counterfeit or unsafe goods on their platform.

For third-party sellers, this is significant as many don’t operate from a traditional office location. Seller Central requires an address when registering for an account, and it’s common for third-party sellers to post their home address.

All sellers, but especially third-party sellers, should take a few minutes to make sure their account is set up to their liking for this impending change.

While this change is new for the US Amazon marketplace, it’s consistent with practices for international markets such as Europe, Japan, and Mexico.


This screenshot, taken from a Seller Profile page on Amazon.co.uk, is an example of what to expect for American sellers beginning September 1st.

The address will be available to be seen by any shoppers, but customers would have to do a bit of digging to find it. Your business name and address will only be displayed on your Seller Profile page, which for most sellers generates sparse traffic.

To find this page, a customer would have to click on the seller name in the Buy Box or under the Additional Sellers if an item has more than one seller available.


At the point of purchase, customers can view Seller Profiles by selecting their name in the Buy Box, or by selecting a seller’s name after viewing other sellers for that listing.

If you sell from home but don’t want your home address listed, you may be interested in registering for a PO Box or setting up an alternative such as a UPS Mailbox to maintain personal privacy.

Seller Central added in the advance notice that customers remain advised to use Buyer-Seller Messaging to communicate electronically, so an influx of mail to your business address is extremely unlikely. Still, it would only make sense that sellers may be interested in establishing a line of demarcation from public and private information such as a home address to avoid any potential complications.

To ensure your information is up to date and what you want publicly displayed, Amazon recommends taking the following steps:

1. Login to your Amazon seller account.

2. In the Settings menu at the top right corner of Seller Central, click Account Info to view the Seller Account Information page.

3. In the Business Information section, click the links for the information that you want to view.

4. To change your business name, click Display Name and to change the address, click Business Address. Enter the new information or edit the current information.

5. Once completed, click Submit to save.

Be sure to stay posted on the latest Amazon updates by monitoring the Announcements section of Seller Central and checking our blog for those updates and how they affect you!

Amazon Sellers: What to Do About Coronavirus

Being an Amazon seller has always come with its hurdles, but as the world grapples with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, sellers face a new kind of challenge. This guide will walk through what changes have arisen, how all of this affects you as a seller, and what you can do about it. 

Jump to our recommendations.

The Coronavirus has caused lawmakers at state and local levels to encourage and enforce that citizens stay inside their homes for anything other than essential activities. As the world works from home out of necessity, the eRetailer is the go-to source for delivered goods (the eCommerce giant already owned 52% of all online sales in 2019). Household staples and medical supplies are running low, and Amazon is racing to keep their digital shelves stocked to meet surging demand. “Getting a priority item to your doorstep is vital as communities practice social-distancing, particularly for the elderly and others with underlying health issues,” said an Amazon representative in an Operations blog post.

Amazon has recently made a few drastic changes that impact millions of third-party private label brands. While it’s something to definitely understand, don’t lose hope. There are still options, and you can get through this. You are an entrepreneur, after all. And we are relentless. 

Changes that Amazon has made amid COVID-19

With its origins in China, Coronavirus has been on Amazon’s radar since mid-January 2020. The company announced changes to its fulfillment network and workforce in mid-March to address growing concern and meet surging demand.

1. Sellers cannot initiate a new FBA shipment for non-essential products

Amazon sent the following notification to all active sellers: 

Temporarily prioritizing products coming into our fulfillment centers
We are closely monitoring the developments of COVID-19 and its impact on our customers, selling partners, and employees.
We are seeing increased online shopping, and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock. With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and deliver these products to customers.
For products other than these, we have temporarily disabled shipment creation. We are taking a similar approach with retail vendors.
This will be in effect today through April 5, 2020, and we will let you know once we resume regular operations. Shipments created before today will be received at fulfillment centers.
You can learn more about this on this Help page. Please note that Selling Partner Support does not have further guidance.
We understand this is a change to your business, and we did not take this decision lightly. We are working around the clock to increase capacity and yesterday announced that we are opening 100,000 new full- and part-time positions in our fulfillment centers across the US.
We appreciate your understanding as we prioritize the above products for our customers.
Thank you for your patience, and for participating in FBA.

For third party sellers, this means that you cannot create shipments to be received at an Amazon fulfillment center in Seller Central until at least April 6th. Only essential items will be accepted as inbound shipments. Essential items are listed within the following categories (but not all items are considered essential):

  • Baby
  • Beauty & Personal Care
  • Grocery
  • Health & Household
  • Industrial & Scientific
  • Pet Supplies

If your inbound shipment was created before March 17, Amazon will check it in. For existing non-essential inventory in Amazon’s warehouses, you can still expect Amazon to pick, pack, and ship your products, but the process will likely be delayed as essential items are prioritized and shipping carriers race to keep up with increased demand.

If you do sell essential items, beware that Amazon has a zero tolerance policy for price gouging. The marketplace has removed thousands of listings and even threatened legal action against sellers seeking to profit from a global pandemic. 

2. Amazon is strengthening its workforce to meet demand

With the surge in online shopping, Amazon is experiencing unprecedented labor needs. Because of this, the company is opening 100,000 new full-time and part-time positions in their fulfillment centers and delivery network across the U.S. Amazon extended an employment invitation to those who have been economically impacted in industries like hospitality, restaurants, and travel. 

Amazon will also pay their employees an additional $2 per hour worked from their current rate of $15/hour or more, depending on the region, at least through the end of April. The company seeks to keep health and safety a top priority. “We continue to consult with medical and health experts, and take all recommended precautions in our buildings and stores to keep people healthy. We’ve taken measures to promote social distancing in the workplace and taken on enhanced and frequent cleaning, to name just a few,” said an Amazon representative.

How Coronavirus is Affecting Amazon Sellers

Amazon sellers have mixed feelings about the recent changes. Some are angry with the eCommerce giant, convinced that the moves will put them out of business. Others respect the decision and see all of this as an opportunity to pivot and grow. And most are somewhere in between, hoping for the best and making operational changes with each announcement.

Here are a few of the varied Amazon seller comments posted in response to Amazon’s inbound shipment freeze:

  • Amazon just put tons of businesses out of business. Destroyed thousands of jobs amidst a crisis. Horrible joke. Absolute joke. No warning. Expect major lawsuits coming from sellers who now will go bankrupt.
  • This virus is not a joke, and I am sure Amazon didn’t take the decision to suspend FBA shipments, just because they felt like it. Have you considered the fact that the Amazon employees are affected also? Some of them might even be sick, quarantined, have kids at home because of closed schools? It is not about you, it is not time to be selfish. This is a matter of life and death for many people around the globe.
  • It is not doable. Most of us do not have the infrastructure in place. We do not have the boxes or packing material to do this. Amazon should have had the basic integrity to give us a few days notice so that items that were low or out of stock could be sent.

Overall, it seems that Amazon sellers are unsure of how the future will play out. With online sales rising but no opportunity for non-essential products to reach their normal fulfillment avenues, there will definitely need to be pivots made in the short-term for sales to continue. 

Many sellers are calling on Amazon to pause inventory loan payments and selling plan fees for those who are ineligible to fulfill through FBA. But because Amazon’s focus is always on the customer, it’s unlikely (though not impossible) that this will be prioritized. 

What Amazon Sellers Can Do Now

Because there seems to be new developments every few days, it’s important that Amazon sellers keep an eye on the news and Amazon announcements in the coming weeks. Just as we are all making decisions based on the information we have, Amazon’s executive team is pivoting as needed. 

For now, here are a few action steps you can take to sustain your business and prepare for the future. 

1. See if your products are still eligible for FBA shipments

Many products in the following categories are still eligible to be sent into Amazon’s fulfillment centers: Baby, Beauty & Personal Care, Grocery, Health & Household, Industrial & Scientific, Pet Supplies. If you sell within these categories, head to your Shipping Queue within Seller Central and attempt to create an inbound shipment. This way you’ll know what products you need to enact (or create) a Plan B for. Please note that many sellers are experiencing hang times when creating shipping plans because of the increased number of people trying to do this in a short period of time. 

2. Outline your path(s) forward

Whether it’s pivoting your sales strategy for your existing business, planning for your future product, or even exploring options like dropshipping, you need to understand your options so that you can make an informed decision on how to move forward. It’s okay to wait and see how things unfold in the next week or so, but outline your possible paths forward so that when it comes time to make a decision, you’re ready to act. Big changes like this affect everybody, and someone is going to come out on top. But it’s going to take a dedication to the process and pushing through obstacles for you to be that one. 

3. Pivot your fulfillment method

For those of you with non-essential FBA products, you’ve got three options when it comes to fulfillment: find a Prime-eligible third-party fulfillment partner, switch to Fulfilled by Merchant, or pause operations until Amazon opens their fulfillment centers to your products. Again, do your research now so that you can make the best decision for your business. You may find that a third party fulfillment partner is just as cost effective as FBA was, or you may discover that it’s best for you and your family to wait out the storm. 

4. Prepare your next product

Although Amazon is only allowing certain products right now and there have been disruptions in the supply chain, this won’t last forever. Now, especially if you have some extra time on your hands, is the perfect time to use historical data to research which product you might bring to market. If you’re an existing seller, keep an eye on how your competition is handling the situation using Competitor Intelligence. And if you’re a new seller, begin the process of sourcing your very first product. The first step of the Amazon seller journey is finding a product that sets you up for success. Product Discovery makes that process incredibly easy, and it can be completed during this time. That way, your product is ready to stock when the shelves are ready. 

We’re in This One Together

The fact that this blog post exists means you are not in this alone. There are a lot of uncertainties right now, but there are also new opportunities to take advantage of. Maybe the excuse used to be, “I don’t have time to work on my business.” Many of us now have time, but the circumstances have shifted. If there were ever a time to buckle down and figure it out, it’s right now. 

Find out how your products have been affected. See how sales are trending in your market. Map out your options. Dig in and figure it out because that spirit is exactly what got you into this business in the first place. We’ll be here for you along the way updating you of the news. If you want to see how other Amazon sellers are handling the situation, get advice, and stay up to date on the most recent changes, join our community on Facebook: Amazon FBA Data Hunters. We’ll see you in there. 

How Viral Launch can help

Amazon Terms of Service: A Quick Recap

When you signed up to be an Amazon Seller, you agreed to a long list of seller policies and terms of use. Over time, the Amazon Terms of Service can become a distant memory and as Q4 ramps up, you may be looking for tactics to push your sales. In the flurry of the holiday season, it is easy to make a rash decision that might fall on the wrong side of the rules, risking future sales or your entire Amazon business.

 

 

Luckily, we are here to give you a quick refresher on the important policies and regulations to help keep your account safe. We have compiled an overview of Amazon Terms of Service, including code of conduct, selling policies and prohibited actions to jog your memory and help you avoid any questionable tactics.

Let’s get started!

Seller Code of Conduct

Amazon strives to provide a safe and trustworthy online marketplace for millions of customers across the globe. They require sellers to adhere by a strict code of conduct to ensure shoppers trust their purchases and continue to return to the site. This code of conduct also protects you as a seller in that it keeps your competitors from using unfair tactics to outsell you and other rule-following sellers.

If Amazon discovers that you have violated their Code of Conduct, they typically take quick action. This can include suspending your seller privileges and/or removing you from the entire Amazon Marketplace.

Amazon Selling Policies

In order to protect consumers, Amazon has rules and requirements on what types of products can be sold on their site. Be sure you are not planning to sell any questionable items on the marketplace. Amazon does not allow you to list products that:

Prohibited Seller Actions

Amazon prohibits certain actions by sellers in order to protect both sellers themselves and shoppers. The site does its best to keep the playing field level for all sellers, so any action that gives you an unfair advantage over your competitors is not permitted. Chances are if you are worried whether a tactic you are considering using may be against the rules, it probably is. Here is a quick recap of some prohibited actions:

1. Diverting traffic from Amazon

Sellers are not permitted to use any sort of language or web links that push traffic away from the Amazon website. This includes any advertisements, special offers or calls to action that encourage shoppers to leave the site.

2. Unauthorized business names

All business names must accurately identify the seller, must not mislead shoppers and must be a name that the seller is permitted to use (i.e. it cannot be a brand or trademarked name that you do not have appropriate permission to use). Business names cannot contain an email suffix (i.e. .com, .biz, .net, etc.).

3. Inappropriate email communications

Sellers are not allowed to send any unsolicited emails to customers other than those needed for order fulfillment or customer service. Marketing emails to customers are not permitted.

4. Improper use of customer phone numbers

Customer phone numbers are provided to sellers who fulfill their own orders so they are able to comply with carrier label requirements. These phone numbers must be handled in accordance with Amazon’s customer personal information policy, which can be found in the Seller Agreement.

5. Multiple seller accounts

Sellers are not permitted to operate and maintain multiple seller accounts. If you have a legitimate business need for multiple accounts, you can apply for an exception by visiting the Contact Us section of your seller account. Click on Selling on Amazon, then select Your Account, then Other Account Issues. You must provide an explanation of your need for multiple accounts in your submission.

6. Misuse of the Amazon seller service

Sellers that upload excessive amounts of data repeatedly or use the service in an excessive or unreasonable way may face restricted or blocked access to product feeds or any other function they are misusing. Amazon decides what constitutes this misuse at their own discretion.

7. Misuse of ratings, feedbacks or reviews

Sellers are strictly prohibited from engaging in any action that may manipulate ratings, feedback, or reviews. This includes offering incentives to customers for their reviews or ratings, posting feedback to your own account, etc. You are allowed to ask for reviews in a neutral manner, but you are not allowed to ask for positive reviews. Sellers must also comply with Amazon’s Community Guidelines when dealing with customer reviews.

8. Misuse of sales rank

Sellers are prohibited from engaging in actions that manipulate sales rank. This includes soliciting or knowingly accepting fake orders, placing orders for your own products or providing compensation to shoppers for buying your products. Sellers are also not allowed to make claims about their sales rank in their product information.

9. Misuse of search and browse

Any attempt to manipulate the Search and Browse experience of shoppers is prohibited. This includes artificially stimulating customer traffic through internet bots, etc., providing misleading catalog information about your product, or adding product identifiers to hidden keyword attributes. Follow Amazon’s guide to properly optimize listings in order to write your listing in compliance with Amazon’s rules.

10. Misuse of product customization

Those products that are listed as being customizable must be able to deliver on this claim. Any attempt to manipulate custom functionality in a manner which bypasses existing Amazon policies or misrepresents customized products is prohibited.

Know the Rules, Follow the Rules

Amazon does not take violations of their terms of service lightly. At best, you may get flagged and temporarily suspended. At worst, you could be banned completely by the online retailer, stopping your cash flow and dashing all hopes of future sales.

Though it may be tempting at times to try questionable tactics to boost sales, it is not worth the risk. You may see some of your competitors breaking the rules to get ahead, and while they may not get caught immediately, Amazon almost always catches up to sellers who are abusing their terms of service.

We at Viral Launch are here to provide TOS compliant solutions to help your listing pick up speed and generate sales. From professional photography to optimized listings, we have a team of experts ready to get to work for you. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you!

There’s a (Web) App for That: The Top 6 Best Amazon Seller Apps and Tools

When it comes to selling on Amazon, there’s always an abundance of items on the to-do list. As many brands are made up of just one person or a small team, there’s a lot to keep track of from picking a product and managing inventory to creating a listing and advertising… and everything in between. So how do you keep track of everything? Luckily, there’s an Amazon web app or tool for nearly every step of the selling process.

Here’s a list – in no particular order – of some of the best paid and free Amazon seller web apps designed to help you take your e-commerce business to the next level.  

Take your Business On-the-Go with the Amazon Seller App

Before we get started, we should first mention one smartphone app every seller should have.

This might be pretty obvious for more seasoned sellers, but it’s definitely an important one. This is essentially Amazon giving sellers a free tool to help make their selling experience a whole lot easier and organized even when you’re on the go. You’d be crazy not to take advantage of it, right?

  • What it does: In short – a lot. This is essentially Seller Central in your pocket. With this app, you can analyze sales, quickly make pricing changes, view fees, create listings, upload photos, manage orders, respond to messages and much, much more.
  • Why we love it: For starters, we love it because it’s free. It’s also great because it has many of the major features and functionality of Seller Central available to you at any time. With this app, you’ll be able to manage your business from just about anywhere.
  • How to get it: This app is available for free in the Apple or Android app stores.

Ok, now that we’ve covered the Amazon Seller app, lets get back to the best third-party web-based apps and tools for sellers!

1. Take the ‘Ew’ Out of Reviews with Feedback Genius

Amazon reviews are a touchy subject to say the least. That’s why finding any tool that helps sellers manage and gather reviews within Amazon’s terms of service is like coming across an oasis in the middle of the Sahara. One of the most popular review apps is Feedback Genius from Seller Labs.

  • What it does: Reviews serve as social proof on Amazon, and they’ve got a major impact on clicks and conversions. Therefore, reviews are extremely important, and sellers must have a solid review-gathering gameplan. Feedback Genius is a powerful Amazon seller tool to help sellers gather and manage reviews as well as communicate with buyers through automation and helpful notifications.
  • Why we love it: Feedback Genius is great because it takes a lot of the legwork out of review aggregation and management. This app allows sellers to automate the bulk of their messaging to buyers and set up notifications so you never miss a review or feedback.
  • How to get it: Visit the Seller Labs website and create an account. New users can also try out a 30-day free trial!

 

 

2. Track Inventory and Run Ad Campaigns with Teikametrics

Making sure you’re on top of your inventory and successfully managing your advertising campaigns are extremely important aspects of selling on Amazon. Knowing how much product you have left and when to restock helps you to maximize profits and maintain ranking. And getting in front of shoppers through sponsored ads expands your sales potential. Luckily, there’s an FBA-focused tool out there that can help you keep track of inventory and advertise your products called Teikametrics.

  • What it does: This tool helps Amazon sellers create and follow smart inventory systems and sponsored ad campaigns. Manage your investments, track replenishment, and find your true profitability with Teikametrics’ FBA platform. You can also automate your sponsored ad campaigns to increase profitability. It’s all in one place.
  • Why we love it: Teikametrics is great because it’s designed with the FBA seller in mind. You get help managing inventory to reduce stock-outs while also learning valuable strategies to improve sales velocity and ranking. And when it comes to PPC, Teikametrics’ automated bidding allows you to get the best placement for max profitability without lifting a finger.
  • How to get it: Visit the Teikametrics website to create an account and get started.

 

 

3. Utilize Viral Launch’s Suite of Tools to Launch your Business into the Stratosphere

Here at Viral Launch, our mission is to provide sellers with the best information and tools out there for their selling journey – whether it’s from us or not. So with that being said, please forgive us for this shameless plug. Our Viral Launchpad (see what we did there) is based around 4 main tools:

  • Product Discovery: Our product finding tool allows you to find individual products that meet your criteria, review initial keywords, discover successful brands, and search subcategories for up-and-coming products. It also has advanced filters allowing you to customize your research process to get personalized results.
  • Market Intelligence: Once you’ve used Product Discovery to find a few products you’re interested in, it’s time to use Market Intelligence to verify your choices. This tool lets you verify demand for products by showing you estimated sales numbers, keyword search volume, trends, market conditions and much more.
  • Keyword Research: Like we mentioned earlier, finding the right keywords to include in your listing is huge. Our tool allows you to search a general keyword associated with your product and then presents you with a list of other possible keywords. Along with the keyword list, you’ll also get data like Search Volumes, Priority Score, Relevancy Score, Opportunity Score, Trends and more.
  • Launches: Also known as giveaways, launches are a great way to help move your product up in keyword ranking. At Viral Launch, our clients work with one of our Amazon Seller Coaches to target a major keyword for their product with a lot of search volume. Then, we determine what number of units to give away at a discounted price and for how long. Amazon recognizes these sales which in turn moves the product up in rankings for the major keywords, getting it in front of the eyes of more shoppers.

 

 

4. Own Your Taxes with Avalara

Is there anything more fun than doing your taxes? Oh, wait, there is? That’s right, unless you’re a CPA or an Excel whiz, taxes are tedious at best and massively confusing at worse. As an FBA seller, taxes can get even more confusing as changing legislation makes things increasingly difficult. Not to fear, Avalara is here with tax tools designed specifically for the needs of Amazon sellers.

  • What it does: Among other tax solutions, Avalara software automates sales tax compliance. Amazon sellers can easily understand how much they owe in each state that they have nexus. Avalara can even prepare and file your returns according to a filing calendar. It’s like having your very own accountant on your payroll!
  • Why we love it: Avalara provides real-time rate calculation and automatic return filing. No more manually entering data and other tax information… with Avalara’s sales tax engine, the right rates and rules will be applied every time!
  • How to get it: It’s simple, visit the Avalara website, sign up and get started!

 

 

5. Make Accounting Easy with Quickbooks

Whether you’re a solo Amazon seller or part of a small team, there’s a lot to keep track of. From expenses to taxes and everything else, that’s a lot of work to put on the shoulders of one, or in some cases, a few people. But with Quickbooks Online, you can keep track of all the important aspects of your business all in one place.

  • What it does: It might be better ask what Quickbooks Online doesn’t do. Sellers love this tool because of the wide range of services it offers. With Quickbooks Online, you can keep organized books with everything in one place. Automatically import and categorize your transactions, and you can even share your books with your accountant for seamless collaboration. This way, when tax time rolls around, you’re set up for a painless experience.
  • Why we love it: To be successful in any business, you need to know how much cash you’ve got on hand and how much cash you’re spending. Quickbooks Online allows you to see in real time how much money you’re making and spending… all in one place.
  • How to get it: Visit the Quickbooks website and sign up for the plan that best fits you and your business! There’s also an option for a free 30-day trial. If you’re having trouble setting up Quickbooks for your Amazon FBA business, get help from the pros. Find a bookkeeper like CapForge Bookkeeping Pros, who specializes in FBA, and they can help you set up your books correctly. After a free consultation, you’ll understand how CapForge can simplify your Quickbooks for peace of mind.

 

Bonus Round: International Sellers

6. Take Your Business Worldwide with WorldFirst

One of the main reasons Amazon provides sellers such a massive opportunity is because of the sheer size of their user base. Millions of shoppers from around the world are browsing Amazon every single day. But with different rules and regulations in each overseas economy, selling worldwide can be tricky. With the help of WorldFirst, you can build your business overseas and easily bring your money back home.

  • What it does: Amazon requires you to open a bank account in any country where you sell products, which can cause logistical headaches and great confusion. WorldFirst allows you to set up Amazon receiving bank accounts in overseas marketplaces like USD, JPY, CNY, GBP, EUR and CAD.
  • Why we love it: One of the best things about WorldFirst is that it’s extremely cost effective. For starters, it’s free to open an account which makes it easy to get started. There are also no fees for receiving money and no monthly charges.
  • How to get it: All you have to do is visit the WorldFirst website and sign up for an account.

 

 

Combine Amazon Web Apps and Tools with Hard Work and Dedication

While the tools and apps listed in this guide are great resources, they aren’t the end-all-be-all for whether or not you’ll be successful on Amazon. By that, we mean that merely signing up or using these tools won’t ensure success. It’s also completely possible these or other popular tools just aren’t right for you and your business – and that’s fine!

The best way to maximize your chances of successfully selling on Amazon is to combine tools like these with hard work and plenty of research. It’s also important to make sure you stay up to date on any changes that may be taking place within the Amazon marketplace.

The great thing is a lot of this information can be easily found online, it just takes some effort on your part to find them. Like we mentioned above, Viral Launch hopes to be your source for information about all things Amazon. We encourage you to subscribe to our blog, check out our Youtube channel or listen to our podcast Follow the Data.

Video on Amazon Listings: An Experienced Seller’s Perspective (Follow the Data Ep. 16)

Video on Amazon Listings: An Experienced Seller’s Perspective (Follow the Data Ep. 16)

Join Amazon Seller Coach, Cameron, as he discusses the effects of video on Amazon listings with special guest Kyle Goguen of Pawstruck, an experienced Amazon seller. Kyle shares insights gained from testing out video on his own products, and together they speculate about the future of video on Amazon.

Listen on iTunes

Follow the Data Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:

Hey, guys, what’s up? We have Kyle with us today. Kyle has been a seller on Amazon for a little while. Kyle, can you just say hello and intro yourself a little bit?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Hey, everyone. Yeah, Kyle from Pawstruck.com. I’ve been selling on Amazon – I think it’s been two-and-a-half, three years now, and prior to that launched the company in 2014. We sell on our own website, obviously Amazon, eBay and a few other channels. But as of late we’ve been focusing a lot on Amazon.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay. So I actually – I always love asking people, sellers this when we bring them on and when I’m talking to them, but from your perspective how much has Amazon changed? How much has the Amazon game changed since when you first started?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, so you figure it’s only been a couple years, but things have changed drastically since I started. I would say in the beginning I didn’t really know what I was doing on Amazon, to say the least. And then it’s like as soon as you learn new strategies on how to launch products and promote products, it all seems to change, which I think is a good and bad thing. It definitely pays off for people who stay on top of the latest trends and strategies. Kind of sets yourself apart from the competition. So I like it, and overall I think we set ourselves up well for growth here in 2018 and in the future.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, that’s really good. And that actually kind of leads into something that we’re talking about today. So our topic today is all about video and video on Amazon. And this is something that’s – video on Amazon is something that’s super interesting that not too many people are talking about right now. It did get some buzz a little back when the beta was first announced and when people first found out about it, that Amazon was bringing video to sellers on Seller Central. But we’re focusing on video today, and Kyle has been a user of video on Amazon. He’s been – and correct me if I’m wrong, but you were part of the beta. I’m not actually quite sure how soon you were able to get in with video. How long have you had video on Amazon?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

I don’t remember the exact date, but it’s got to be – I would say over a year, at least. I was in the Amazon Exclusives program, and that’s how I initially got access to it through some contacts I made through that program. And since then I’ve actually left Exclusives, but I still have access to some of the tools, which include video.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Gotcha. But so baseline you’ve really had some decent time to see how to work with video on Amazon, see what it’s done for you, right?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, definitely.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay. So first question, first question for you, for all of our viewers; how – just generally speaking, how has video affected your listings?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Sure. So I guess the first thing I want to go through is all the places that we currently are using video, just to explain that for the listeners, and then I’ll let them know what I think it’s done for our sales and listings. So the first place we have it on a listing would be in the thumbnails. You’ll see it kind of right next to the photos. I’m sure everyone’s seen that before. It’s got a play button, and when you click on it it will play a video just in place of where the main image is. That’s one place. The second place we have it is about halfway down the page. You’ll see video under a related video short section. So we also use that. And the third place we upload video is on our Amazon storefront, which is fairly new, and we’ve got kind of a whole, almost like our own website within Amazon built out. And on each of those pages we’ve used video to show off our products in use. So on – I guess when you’re asking how has it affected our listing, it’s a tough question to answer.

 

CAMERON YODER:

I know, I know, I know.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, like most things on Amazon, they don’t give you a whole lot of data, which is too bad. You wish you had access to it, but it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to share it with the sellers.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Right.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

So I can’t tell you how many people have viewed videos, how long they watch our videos or anything like that. And unfortunately when I did upload the videos, you know, we were making a lot of changes to our listings, so I wasn’t even really able to say like A/B test, you know, conversion rate before a video or post videos because we changed so much it really wouldn’t be a fair way of measuring success. So I basically just have to give you my gut feeling.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, yeah.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

And my gut tells me that it’s definitely helped. Our conversion rates based on my research and talking to other sellers are equal if not much higher than other sellers or people in my industry. So I definitely think it can’t hurt you. It can only help you if you do it the right way.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So these three locations for videos – so you said in the thumbnails and kind of halfway down the listings and then on your Amazon storefront. Is there one – are all of these videos in each of these places the same, or have you created unique content for each of them?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

So for us we had our videos done kind of all in bulk, so product videos, for example, they would shoot just one single product video, and we would upload the same video in all the places. So we didn’t customize it necessarily, but you absolutely could, depending on your needs. You can – it’s not like they’re all connected together, I guess. You upload them separately, so they can have different versions if you felt like one was better.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay, so you basically have the ability to customize putting a unique video at the top in the thumbnails, for example, or like a unique video halfway down?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, absolutely. And my gut also tells me that the video at the top I would assume gets a lot more views than the one halfway down the page. It kind of gets lost in all the other product recommendations and reviews and everything down there. But since we have the ability to do it, we upload it there, too, and so more people can see the video.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Sure. And that seems consistent with the, I mean just photos in general and thumbnail photos and EBC all in kind of the same way. With your videos that you’ve implemented have you found any customers giving feedback, or have you gotten any direct feedback from customers that have bought your products or looked at your videos?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, all the time. So we definitely try to interact with our customers as much as possible. We send out automatic emails after every purchase and every delivery and shipment. We definitely get a lot of responses that reference our videos.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Interesting.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

So we sell dog products, and so our videos show, you know, dogs chewing our products or using it. So a lot of times we’ll get comments about how adorable or cute the videos were, or how helpful they were, or maybe just a follow-up question, something that we didn’t clarify in the video. They’ll mention that they watched the video and they had a question about X, Y, and Z. We also see it in our reviews. A lot of times people will reference the videos on the listings for whatever reason. So we definitely know people are watching them. We don’t know how many.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Do you think – right, unfortunately. Do you think there’s a little bit of a wow factor when it comes to videos on listings because it’s still – honestly it’s beginning to get standardized kind of, but it’s still pretty new? Do you think people still have that wow factor when they watch videos?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, I would think so. I would think it’s definitely a way to set yourself apart from your competitors and other listings if you have video and it’s well done and they don’t. That’s a great way to set yourself apart, especially if you have a really high priced product, or something really technical, or one like ours that requires a high level of trust to purchase. I think video can be a way of kind of earning that trust or really showing people why they should trust you to spend that kind of money on a product because sometimes photos don’t do a product justice.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Right.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Or people don’t want to take the time to read a description to understand how it works or what it does. So our products are pretty simple. We don’t do any how-to videos, but I could definitely see where a how-to video would be helpful for a technical product in setting yourself apart.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good. So technically speaking, I mean again you’ve had experience in setting up videos with your listings. Is it easy to do? Is it just easy to upload like an MP4 into Amazon and just like oh, there it is straight into my listing, or is it kind of complicated?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

It is pretty basic. Assuming that you have a normal video file and that your video is compliant with Amazon’s requirements – so definitely look into that. Like I’m sure you can’t – you know I couldn’t run videos saying like go shop on Pawstruck.com. You know, so you have to make sure your video actually complies with Amazon’s terms of services for videos. But assuming you do all the right things there it is just a matter of hitting the upload button and entering, you know, a title and so on. So it’s pretty basic.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Interesting. Well, that’s good to know. So as a whole – again, just generally speaking video is a little bit newer, and it was in beta. Again, it was in a beta program that you had to get accepted into, and it kind of got rolled out to people that were brand registered. And now it’s beginning to have more of a mass adoption with sellers that are brand registered. Do you think that video specifically is something that sellers should be putting their time and energy into right now?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, absolutely, especially if you have an off-Amazon presence in any way. If you’re running any sort of off-Amazon advertising campaigns, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, something like that, or you have your own website, it definitely makes sense because the money you invest in video is obviously going to help you on Amazon, but you can also repurpose a lot of those videos. So something I haven’t really mentioned yet, but from our videos we have dogs using our products, and we are able to take high res screenshots or screen captures from various frames. So we’re able to get photos of the dogs using the product. And we use those photos as our secondary images on the product. So it’s kind of serving as both a video and a way to generate really good, high-quality photos.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Interesting.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

And we’ve also had the company that we use to produce the videos make shorter versions that are used for advertisements. So you can repurpose the videos in a different way, maybe to optimize for Facebook ads, for example, or Instagram. So you can get a lot of use out of them, and that helps a little bit with that upfront cost that I’m sure you’ll have to pay.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Gotcha. So you talked a little bit about focusing off of Amazon. Have you found really good – I mean you’re able to – people generally are able to track attrition, I guess, or if people convert better outside of Amazon just because you can track, I don’t know, consumers a little bit better on something like Instagram or Facebook. Have you found really good conversions from using these videos on something like Facebook, or YouTube or Instagram?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

So we use those videos on our ads, and they’ve been pretty successful, but I wouldn’t really be able to compare them to anything else we’ve done previously because these are the only videos we’ve had. But one thing I can do – maybe we can put it in the show notes or [somewhere 0:20:09.1] because I don’t know off the top of my head, but on our website we definitely saw a huge conversion boost once we added our videos to our product pages. So I can look that information up, and maybe we can throw that in the show notes what exactly happened because that we were able to A/B test, which was really great. And we have all the information, obviously, how many people are viewing it and all of that.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Gotcha. Okay, and so we talked briefly about this, but I think it’s something that people should know. It was – we mentioned it just a little before, but I want to reiterate that this video thing was available only to people in beta, like an invite basically. But now seemingly it is starting to get rolled out to everyone that is a part of the brand registry program. And so just for everyone that’s looking to get into video, it would be a good idea if you aren’t brand registered yet to just get brand registered. And brand registry involves a lot more outside of video. It involves a lot of different things. And potentially being brand registered just kind of opens the door for being able to be invited to things quicker or earlier than other people that aren’t brand registered. Seemingly Amazon takes preference to people that are brand registered. And I’m not sure if you could touch into that a little bit. Have you seen – in your time being brand registered have you seen early rollouts or just other things, including video, that have benefited you?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, so I was part of the beta rollout of brand registry 2.0 so I was able to get in there pretty early and talk to some of the people on Amazon’s brand registry team and give them feedback as they built out the program and everything, and it’s definitely an emphasis of Amazon moving forward. For brand owners they want people to be brand registered, and they’re going to continue to build out features that are specific to those in that program. So like you already mentioned, any seller that has the ability to be brand registered who is not brand registered at this point in time, I absolutely recommend getting registered even if you don’t plan on doing video soon or ever. It doesn’t really matter. There’s just so much that the program offers, and there’s going to be some feature at some point in time that you’re going to want that you won’t be able to get unless you’re in the program. And I have a lot of colleagues and friends who are Amazon sellers who some of which are unable to get brand registered, and it definitely hurts. And they have a lot more issues with counterfeiters and people who are hijacking their listings, and they can’t really do a lot from a protection standpoint. And a lot of those people were in the original brand registry program and just because of some changes aren’t able to get in 2.0 at this point in time, and they really wish they could.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, so taking a look at – talking a little bit about brand registry, or taking that even further, what do you think Amazon is going to do next for listings in general? And we’re talking about video, which was a pretty big deal, honestly, to add to your repertoire of things available on your listing. What do you think Amazon is going to do next?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Sure. So when talking about product listings in particular, I think the next thing they’re going to do is build in some sort of augmented reality option for listings, probably on mobile I would assume. And the reason I kind of bring that up is because every time I talk to, you know, family members or friends about shopping on Amazon the one thing they always bring up as a negative – basically the only thing they can bring up as a negative is that they wish sometimes they could go to the store because they want to touch and feel the product. And a lot of times it has to do with apparel specifically, which makes sense, and Amazon is doing a lot of things to combat that with their fast shipping and return policies and even video, right? So being able to see the product kind of in use really helps the customer understand what they’re buying. So I think if you’re able to work in some sort of augmented reality into a listing that could take it even a step further. So, for example, if you wanted to buy some T-shirt, you’re unsure how it looks. It looks on a model. It’s like well you don’t really know how it’s going to fit on you. Or it’s on a white background that’s really hard to tell, but with augmented reality they have the possibility of, you know, you basically turning the camera on yourself kind of like a selfie and the T-shirt or clothing being put onto your body to see what it’s actually going to look like when you receive it. So my guess is they’re going to do creative stuff like that. I think that’s coming to e-commerce in general. People are going to keep innovating, basically removing that barrier or that one hiccup that makes some people want to shop in-store versus online.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Sure. That makes sense to me. I mean there was an article put out not too long ago about how Amazon owns, I think it was about seven clothing brands on Amazon specifically and how Amazon is moving further or deeper into the fashion market. We also have that fashion camera. It’s a camera that helps you pick out clothes, basically. So seemingly I would totally agree with you. I think that’s an argument that people have for classic retail stores, right, is that you can go and you can touch and feel everything. And so for them to implement technology like that would be huge for the space. I could definitely see that happening. What does the inclusion of video tell you about what Amazon is moving towards with their overall website experience and aesthetic? You touched on this a little bit with the idea of that VR AR idea. But do you think that is going to carry through to their website as a whole?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, I think so. I think video is just kind of an indication that they want to really show customers what they’re buying before they’re buying it. And like I said before, like photo can only take you – photos can only take you so far. So I think they’re – I’m sure they’re going to add video all over the place, or some of these new technologies, even maybe into somehow in, you know, search results or somewhere else maybe. I think it’s something that they’re definitely focused on doing. You see like if you go through your Facebook feed these days it’s almost – to me, at least, it’s like 95% video is what people are sharing. So I think Amazon understands that. I mean I think that’s part of why they rolled out the related video shorts portion to listings. They’re trying to compete with YouTube influencers and product reviewers. They want that ecosystem on their own website. So I think they’re going to continue to encourage video and other types of content. I mean they’ve already done it with enhanced brand content. I think they’re going to allow brand owners to really build out their brand on Amazon.

 

So with the storefront and video content, enhanced brand content, really nice photos, and I even think on listings they’ll – right now you only see really big brands, but you see the brand name. Instead of it being text you see a logo there for some of the really big brands. My guess is that they’re going to roll that out to people who are brand registered, that that might be something they’re going to have for everyone because it seems to me that Amazon wants people to build out their brand on Amazon, and that’s something they can set them apart from Walmart, Jet, other places like that is all the sellers are taking the time to build out a brand presence on Amazon. They’re probably not doing that on other platforms. So they can kind of really separate themselves there.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Well, one final thing for you. And Kyle, I want to thank you so much for taking time out of your day just to be here and talking to us about video and what’s next potentially for Amazon when it comes to creatives and everything in between. For our listeners, what piece of advice, what one thing do you think that our listeners should focus on? We’re getting close to the new year right now, so what do you think that sellers should focus on at the beginning of next quarter, and what are you going to focus on at the beginning of the new year?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Okay, so the first one, first piece of advice I’d have is kind of a trick that I’ve been using that I forgot to mention earlier, so I’ll take this opportunity to mention it. So with video what we’ve also done is in our follow-up email sequences that go to customers, we let them know that they can click a link to go watch videos to learn more about the product that they purchased, and where we’re sending them is to a page on our Amazon storefront. So that is within terms of service since we’re sending them within Amazon’s own website. So it’s just a great way to get people to see your own videos if they haven’t already. It also gives the opportunity to cross-sell some other products within that video or maybe on the same page. And I think a really great use, which we don’t do because we don’t need to, but like I said with a technical product if you have a how-to video and you have it on your storefront and you send people there, you’re going to prevent all kinds of negative reviews, or returns or questions. You can send them there and explain exactly how a product should be used. That’s just going to be a great customer experience and help kind of your whole product overall. So I recommend doing that if you’ve got video already and aren’t doing that right now.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

And for I guess your second question was what we as a company are focusing on the beginning of next year. So the main thing we’re going to be doing is just really ramping up product development. So we’re going to be trying to launch between two and four new products every month and really kind of set up a system where we are constantly finding, launching and kind of adding products to our catalog in a very consistent way and successful way because right now we’ve kind of done it piecemeal as things come up. So I really want to get more focused on that and set up the systems that will allow us to kind of scale that process.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Sure. Well, hey, that’s good to hear, and that’s good advice. Kyle, you’ve been awesome. You’re in such a good spot, and you’ve had such great opportunity really to know video, number one, but get a lot of good and early experience with a lot of these things that honestly not a lot of sellers have had experience with. So thank you so much for sharing your own experiences with us and for giving your advice. It’s been awesome.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, of course. I’m happy to do it. Thanks for having me.

 

 

7 Tips for Your FBA Business from Casey Gauss (Follow the Data Ep. 15)

Follow the Data Episode 15: 3 Tips for your FBA Business from Casey Gauss

Merry Christmas listeners! We’ve got a present for you: 7 tips for your FBA business courtesy of our CEO, Casey Gauss. As you set your business goals for 2018, these tips will help you focus on what will take your business to the next level. Looking to sell for the first time? Even better. Listen closely for advice about what pitfalls to avoid and what will set you apart from other Amazon Sellers.

Listen on iTunes

Follow the Data Show Notes

  • Check out this brief overview or this longer walkthrough of Product Discovery to learn more about how Product Discovery leverages data to help you find the most profitable Amazon products to source.
  • Not sure how to use Market Intelligence? Here’s a full Market Intelligence walkthrough about how to get the most out of the tool.
  • Reinvesting your Q4 profits is the best way to get the most out of your extra earnings. Think about what seasonal products you might be able to turn around in time for upcoming Q1 holidays.
  • Looking for more reliable information from the Viral Launch? Check out our Dispelling Myths Series. Viral Launch takes on 4 common myths in the Amazon FBA community.
  • Want to be on the show? Have your own story of entrepreneurial success? We’re working on an episode that features our listeners! Leave us a voicemail at (317) 721-6590 with stories or questions about your Amazon business.

 

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
Merry Christmas, everyone, and happy New Year. It’s the holiday season and the end of Q4 2017. As we head into 2018 we want to help you focus on what’s going to make your business as profitable and successful as possible.

CASEY GAUSS:
Today I’m giving out seven tips to grow your FBA business to help you get in the success mindset heading into the New Year. I am Casey Gauss.

CAMERON YODER:
And I’m Cameron Yoder, your hosts for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 28,000 product launches and our experience working with 6500 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and, more importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller. Let’s dive in.

CASEY GAUSS:
Cool, guys. So we’ll start kind of in the source, launch, dominate order. Tip number one coming to you through the kind of source perspective, tip number one is pay attention to the sales-to-review ratio when entering a market. Really what this means, you know, we call this the ROI ratio, but really what sales-to-review ratio is, it’s just a very simple calculation, estimated monthly sales divided by total review quantity, and really this is a calculation that does two things for you. One, it is showing you kind of what the reward is versus the amount of work you have to put in. So if I want the reward of selling 1000 units of this widget per month, then the amount of work I have to put in is to get to, you know, X number of reviews. So let’s say 100 reviews, right? So if I only need to get 100 reviews to sell 1000 units, that’s a sales review ratio of 10. And that sounds like a pretty awesome scenario considering or assuming that all the other metrics are good, so price point, margin and so forth. But you know that’s far better than having to get 10,000 reviews to sell 1000 units, right? So the sales-to-review ratio, just a really simple quick calculation to, you know, as this kind of litmus test for should I consider this market or not.

CAMERON YODER:
I’m still amazed at how many people don’t take this into consideration when entering new markets. And it’s a really simple concept. Like it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Really it makes sense if you’re looking at a market and you see a bunch of sales and a ton of reviews, then of course you’re going to have to, in order to compete well, have to get that review count up to match what the market’s at. But if you’re in a market with a low number of reviews and high sales, obviously that’s opportune for you to enter and do well.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah. Thanks, Cam. So tip number two, go wide, not deep. So a lot of people are always looking for that home run product that is going to, you know, make them wealthy overnight. We have a guy named Brock Johnson coming onto the podcast. In six months he sold like $6 million worth of one product. That’s a unicorn. It’s very tough to find unicorns if you’ve never seen one. So anyways, you know, it’s so much more practical to be able to go really wide and not very deep. So what that looks like is, you know, if I were jumping into selling on Amazon this is the strategy that I would take because this is what I see kind of a lot of people having success with. Anyways, what this looks like is going after products where maybe the maximum sales potential for that market is $10,000 or $15,000, $20,000, some fairly low amount. I guess it’s all relative because for a lot of people $10,000 a month is insane. But essentially what you’re looking to do is enter markets where competition is not very high and you know, there’s lessons in it for the big players with the big budgets who are going to, you know, maybe use black hat tactics against you or whatever to come into the market and try to hurt you and your business.

I see this all the time with supplements and cell phone cases and beauty products. You know, what happens is people end up – competitors will buy your products. They’ll say that they’re getting the products – you’re selling it new, but it’s coming used, you know, the seal was broken, or they up-vote your bad reviews, or they leave a bunch of bad reviews, or they leave a bunch of unverified five-star reviews to make it look like you are going and soliciting these reviews. There’s so many things that competitors will do, and it’s just such a headache to fight in these markets, especially if the markets are mature. It takes a lot of time, a lot of money to reach maximum sales potential versus going in these, you know, markets that are not very deep where you’re making, you know, $10,000 a month top line.

The nice thing about it is you don’t really have to worry about competitors if you find the right markets. It’s extremely easy to enter. You don’t have to spend that much time, that many resources, like achieving success with these products. It’s so easy to do that. And so I would much rather sell 10 products that do $10,000 a month than one product that’s doing 100 K a month, and the reason being, again, competition, ease of entry. A lot of the time going for these, you know, smaller products, it takes 30 days to reach maximum sales potential, or maybe 60 days to reach maximum sales potential and boom, you’re off to the next product. And you can just continue to iterate from there versus going after these $100,000 a month markets generally assuming that there is some degree of maturity around it. It’s going to take you quite a long time.

So I see plenty of people just going – you know, the biggest account that I know of these people that are going, you know, in these wide markets, or going wide versus deep is $30 million a year just in Amazon US. So these guys have a killer business, and they’re just going after all the, you know, low-hanging fruit opportunities. And I would highly suggest anyone jump into there that can or is looking to start sourcing in a different strategy or whatever. I think this is probably the fastest, simplest, you know, lowest headache opportunity to growing your business quickly.

CAMERON YODER:
I would even say – I would add to that a couple years back I think this looked a little bit different just because the market, the Amazon market as a whole, was pretty different where competition with the deeper markets was a little bit less than it is now. Not to say that going deep was better than going wide, but even now since competition is so fierce, especially in those deep markets, going wide is going to let you really look into those markets that people haven’t discovered yet and/or are definitely not as competitive as the deep ones.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, completely agree. Awesome. So we will move on to the launch phase of your FBA journey. Tip number one, you know, I would still – we’ve been trying to, you know, kind of preach this so sorry if you’ve already heard this, but so many people still have not, and I think it is just a very, very simple hack to potentially dramatically increasing your sales. And what that is is you need to include both plural and singular forms of your words in your listings title. So in Amazon’s style guides or guidelines they say you don’t need to include both singular and plural forms. And they say that Amazon, you know, they already account for this in their algorithm, but it’s absolutely untrue. You know, just one quick anecdote. Someone is running a launch for grill gloves. I believe they had gloves in their title, but they were running a launch for a grill glove, and for a grill glove though, the key word that they’re targeting, they hit page 2 like top of page 2 for the launch and they were, you know, kind of disappointed that they didn’t hit page 1. But if you went and looked for the plural form, grill gloves, they were like in the top 10 on page 1 even though they weren’t targeting that word just because it was in the title. And so basically that just goes – and we see this all the time. So this just goes to show that, you know, Amazon does treat singular and plural forms of words differently. I mean if you want to go prove it or test it out for yourself literally search grill glove. Search grill gloves. There’s going to be different search results or in different orders. If there’s not, go try other words, fish oil, fish oils. Just go try a few singular and plural forms of the same word and you’ll see different order of words, different results, and the title has a lot to do with this. So it’s a very quick fix. But like, you know, seriously, the difference in ranking or the amount of keyword power that you’re driving to one word could be the difference of thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of dollars in revenue every month.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s an easy action step, too.

CASEY GAUSS:
So easy.

CAMERON YODER:
To simply go over, go over listing and see if you have both plural and singular forms of your main keywords.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yep, and then the second part to that tip is just don’t repeat words. So you know, let’s say this grill glove seller, they have grill glove then grill gloves and barbecue grill gloves in their title. You don’t need to repeat all those words. It should be in phrase order. So ideally as much as possible, right, so it would be something like, you know, grill gloves, best glove for grilling, or you know something like that. That was just off the top of my head, so probably wasn’t the best. But anyways, you kind of get the gist there. But anyways yeah, you have to have – even if it doesn’t make 100% sense, you know, let’s say you’re selling one glove. You should still have “gloves” in your title because people are searching gloves. Or let’s take a grill brush for example. People are inevitably searching grill brushes, right? Even though you’re only selling one brush you have to have the plural form because people are searching brushes, and by having that in your title when sales are driven through your listing you’re driving that much more power to the ranking for that plural form.

CAMERON YODER:
And by not you’re missing out on all that opportunity.

CASEY GAUSS:
Right. And competitors are. And then second tip for the launch phase is just being aggressive. We just see so many people kind of, you know, tiptoeing to success or waiting kind of for the success to come to them, and it’s just less and less likely every day as competition continues to increase. You really have to go after that success, and I mean really looking at opportunity costs. If you are taking six months to get a product up and, you know, hitting maximum sales potential you’re missing out on so much opportunity. If you did that and if you were more aggressive, hit maximum sales potential in three months you would have twice as much time to go after that second opportunity. And so now you have, you know, let’s say you repeat that with a second product, and so then within six months you have two products at maximum sales potential versus the one. So by going slow, yes it is probably more cost-effective or more cost-efficient, right? So you don’t spend as much money going and achieving that success, but by spending that money and being aggressive you have the opportunity to make that much more money.

CAMERON YODER:
We’re getting into the New Year now, and we’re going to touch more on New Year tactics later. But really this aggressiveness, this tip to be aggressive is a great one to hold onto moving into 2018, even to now, and understand it’s getting close to the end of 2017 and everyone’s going to be spending time with their family and the holidays and whatnot. But planning ahead for 2018, to actually sit down and plan how you’re going to be aggressive is honestly a great strategy, just to even plan it out and see what it looks like for you specifically. Again, reevaluating your goals and setting new goals to just flat out be aggressive among other things. But Casey, let’s move on to dominate. What have you got?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so three tips under dominate. First one, just reinvest your Q4 profits. I mean hopefully Q4 has been, you know, an amazing experience for you. Hopefully you broke some records and are just super, you know, proud of yourself and excited for what you’ve been able to accomplish. But you know, at least for my personality and if you, again, really look at the opportunity that still exists in the market, I think you really owe it to yourself and, you know, all the people that you are planning on helping with what you’re achieving here with your Amazon FBA business to just go super hard and reinvest those profits. You know, delay getting that Lamborghini or going on, you know, these month-long vacations. You still have so much opportunity. The last thing you want to do when you look back five years from now, 10 years from now is say dang, you know, that was a gold rush and I went to the Bahamas for a month while everybody else is panning for gold and hitting all these opportunities and, you know, I missed out. So anyways, reinvest your Q4 profits. The amount of success that we are seeing on Amazon is just insane, even to this day, and I just really want to encourage you to continue to take part in it. Delay the, you know, instant gratification, the short-term gratification for the long-term goals. So yeah, just reinvest your Q4 profits. Kind of a little reminder there.

Tip number two is go international. So we are planning on having some guys on the podcast that I met recently, and these guys did – in their first year of Amazon they did $10 million.

CAMERON YODER:
They’re killing it.

CASEY GAUSS:
And some other fun facts for you is one of them, still in school full time, and they are both 20 years old. And the other fun fact for you is that they have never sold anything in Amazon US, only international. There is so much opportunity internationally. You know, these guys, you know, they’ll share their story and everything, but there is just so much opportunity internationally. The competition is a fraction of what it is in Amazon US, and I really think that you need to take your resources, you know, hire someone, bring someone on your team to be general manager of internationalization or marketplace director. I don’t know, somebody to go manage your international business.

But there is so much opportunity, and you really want to get in on the ground floor. I mean a lot of the like really successful folks in Amazon US that I know are all people that jumped in in 2014 or maybe 2015, and they went super hard when Amazon was so much easier. And now that Amazon has, you know, really dramatically increased competition and there’s so many additional sellers here, a lot more money going into driving success, it’s so much more difficult. But if you go look in the international markets, in the majority of these markets it’s Amazon 2014 still. And so you need to get in on the ground floor when, you know, Amazon is still – you need to ride that wave of success. So you know you’re on the ground floor. Revenue or revenue potential is just going to continue to increase internationally, but so will competition. And if you’re in, you know, on the ground floor you already will be ranking. You’ll already have the review quantity, and you can just ride that wave up.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s going to be – granted, it’s going to be a little bit different. I don’t think you should go into international markets expecting the same exact process as the United States, but these guys that we’re going to bring on later are examples that, guys, there are no excuses. At 20 years old they are killing it. They’re making bank, and they haven’t sold a single thing in the United States. So if that’s not proof as to what can be possible in international markets, then I don’t know what is. But that, I think that should be part of your long-term strategy, planning, right, to sit down and if international is something you’re interested in, find out more about it, do your research, and then dive in. All right, Casey, what’s tip number three?

CASEY GAUSS:
Tip number three, so basically just never go out of inventory. We see so many people make this mistake, and you know, sometimes it’s inevitable. Sometimes your projections are way off, which is a good thing hopefully. But anyways, there can just be a lot of, you know, downside to going out of inventory. So essentially, you know, just make sure that you are planning accordingly. You know, look at something like market intelligence where you’re able to see kind of the market trends and understand to what degree sales are increasing, decreasing and, you know, how long the increase or decrease will sustain just so you have a really accurate, you know, indication of what to expect or how the market will perform over the, you know, coming X number of months that you need to plan inventory for. And then secondly, like so it may be too late, or it’s probably pretty close to too late if it’s not already.

CAMERON YODER:
Honestly, actually yeah, by the time this podcast is out it’s probably going to be too late depending on the production time for your product.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, I mean so the Chinese New Year is coming up, and I think it’s like early February to early March. Factories are closed down for a month, and before and after that, you know, it’s like, it’s just crazy production because they’re trying to fit everything in before and after for all the people that missed out. And so hopefully you’ve already ordered your inventory in preparation for Chinese New Year, especially if you’re wanting to launch new products. If not, like that can delay your time to getting that product up and running, you know, so far. But yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
This – it’s Friday, December 22nd, and I do know that a lot of manufacturers are taking orders this week in order to get products to you before the Chinese New Year. But with this area specifically, talking about inventory, guys, I honestly think it’s much better to play safe than sorry with this. And so it’s better to overcompensate for inventory here. And sure, you’re going to spend maybe a little bit more money, and you need to figure out how much money you have to play around with ordering inventory and different strategies with that. But it’s better to order a little bit more inventory than it is to run out of inventory and have to wait maybe a week to two weeks before you get your next shipment in. So plan ahead. Plan accordingly. Play it a little safe on this one.

CASEY GAUSS:
I think that’s pretty much all for me.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, well okay. That’s all for this week. Thank you guys so much for joining us here on Follow the Data. For more FBA tips and reliable information that will help take your Amazon business to the next level, subscribe to the podcast and check out the Viral Launch blog at viral-launch.com.

CASEY GAUSS:
Guys, we’re all Amazon sellers. We know the most difficult part of your Amazon business is getting reviews.

CAMERON YODER:
So hard.

CASEY GAUSS:
So hard. Please help us get reviews. If we could we would go review your product, but we don’t want to get you shut down. But by you reviewing this podcast we will not get shut down, so we would love your help on this. I mean really at the end of the day if you know anything about me or the company, like we just love honest feedback. So whether it’s in a review or whatever, any feedback just so we know how are we doing, what do you guys want to hear, you know, maybe our approach isn’t the best. Maybe you want us to use voice changers because you don’t like our voice, I don’t know. Anyways, we just love feedback. So yeah, thank you so much.

CAMERON YODER:
We’re also doing – we’re currently doing weekly webinars where we’re going through, walking through product discovery and different strategies that you can use to take advantage of the tools. So if you haven’t seen those yet keep an eye out for those. We do it every – typically every Thursday. But again, we just wanted to say thank you so much for listening. Happy holidays. We hope everyone has a great New Year. And don’t forget if you want to be featured on the show, or if you have an Amazon-related question or an idea for an episode you can leave us a voicemail. Our number is 317-721-6590. Until next time, remember the data is out there.

Best Practices: Inventory Planning for the New Year

As the calendar year comes to a close and holiday sales start to slow down, sellers should be ramping up for 2018, whether that’s ordering more inventory or sourcing a new product for your brand.

So when’s the best time to order for early 2018 selling? Immediately. If you haven’t already, getting those orders in as soon as possible is critical to having enough inventory to last you through early spring.

Why the rush? Three words: Chinese. New. Year.

The Chinese New Year is serious business, workers get at least 7 days off and factories close for up to a month. Yep, you heard that right, most factories will be closed for an entire month, beginning as early as two weeks before the New Year (which lands on February 16th this year) and lasting through the remainder of February.

Want to order samples for a potential new 2018 product offering? Now’s the time to order those too. Waiting until after the New Year means samples won’t arrive until mid to late March.

If you choose to move forward with the product, you’re looking at sometime in June before you’re FBA ready with stock available. That’s months of unproductive capital and less time to get the product ranking and selling before next year’s Q4.

 

Before Chinese New Year

Every factory does not follow the same closing schedule, but a good rule of thumb is to order inventory (for new or existing products) at least 45 days before Chinese New Year, although closer to 60 would be a safer bet. If you have a product that takes longer to manufacture, the earlier you place your order, the better. Because many factories will close before the holiday, waiting until a week before the 16th to order will leave you empty-handed.

You don’t just want to factor in the time it will take to manufacture your goods either. You should also consider how long it will take to be shipped, and know that cargo companies also close down for a period around Chinese New Year.

Although many Chinese cargo and shipping companies do not close until 3-4 days before the holiday, you’ll want to make sure your merchandise is ready to ship at least a couple weeks before this in case any issues arise. You do not want your goods to be stuck at port over the long holiday, most likely leaving you without the inventory you need and with a nice holding fee from the cargo company.

If you do get your order in and shipped before Chinese New Year, make sure to also run a thorough quality check over the items. As the rush to get orders completed before the holiday presses down on manufacturers, quality control may be more difficult to manage on their end. While it’s always smart to quality check, this time of year is especially important and could save you loads of customer service headaches later.

 

After Chinese New Year

The schedule for factories returning to work after the holiday varies as well. Most manufacturers will be back to handling administrative tasks within 5-10 days after Chinese New Year. That means they will answer your email, but they may not be back in the full swing of production.

Once production starts up again, work is likely to be slow and loads of orders will be backlogged. Don’t expect a timely turnaround or consistent communication, as being gone for that long causes delays and backups. Some manufacturers raise prices after Chinese New Year as well, so don’t be surprised if your costs increase when they return to work.

Not only will manufacturers be backlogged around this time (late February-early March), Amazon likely will as well. Loads of orders will flood into fulfillment centers after the holiday, causing backlog and delays.

 

Source and Order Now

If you’re looking to order fresh inventory for existing products, contact your manufacturer immediately to place your order. And, keep in mind you may want to order more than usual to maintain stock during the Chinese New Year.

Looking for a brand new product to source with your Q4 earnings? Want to kick 2018 off right? Check out our game-changing product finder, Product Discovery, and find your next great product in mere minutes.

You no longer have days or weeks to look through Amazon or check local stores for product ideas. If you’re looking for new merchandise to add to your brand’s arsenal and want it by early next year, you need to source now and place your order before you miss the window.

In a matter of hours, sellers are finding highly profitable product ideas using Product Discovery, drastically trimming down the sourcing process and putting sellers on the fast track to profitability. Taking your time could mean the loss of a couple months worth of sales, so don’t wait, check out Product Discovery today.

 

 

 

Sourcing: Manufacturing Lessons from a High-Level Seller (Follow the Data Ep 12)

Follow the Data Episode 12: Sourcing: Manufacturing Lessons from a High-Level Seller

The manufacturer you choose to parnter with can have a huge impact on your Amazon business. A lot can go wrong: from late or damaged inventory shipments to having your supplier compete directly against you on Amazon. But there’s also huge potential for benefits like credit terms, discounts, and more time to focus on your business. Join co-host Cameron Yoder as he talks to a high-level seller about the experience of finding great manufacturing partners.

Listen on iTunes See All Episodes

Listen on Stitcher / Listen on Google Play

Follow the Data Show Notes

  • Never sourced a product before? Check out this Forbes series that walks through the process of sourcing from China
  • Want to learn more about negotiating terms with your supplier and getting yourself in to a more favorable financial situation? Check out Business Victoria’s quick overview of the systems you should be putting in place when it comes to your relationship with your supplier.
  • Looking to source a new product to source but can’t find the right market? Check out our latest tool Product Discovery. It’s the fastest and most accurate way to find opportunity-rich products that meet your exact standards.
  • Want to be featured on the show? Have a question about today’s episode? Leave us a voicemail at (317) 721-6590

 

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:

What’s up everybody. Cameron here. Today we are going to get some insight into a topic that just about all sellers are involved in: that’s manufacturing. So I jumped on a call with a top-level seller that has been in the Amazon space for a good amount of time and has been in the ecommerce and manufacturing space for even longer. So we talk about everything from how is the manufacturing journey started to what he’s learned since then and is implementing now. There’s honestly a lot of great info here, so let’s get started.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay everybody so we have Adi here with us, nad he is here today to talk about his manufacturing journey. Adi, how are you feeling?

 

ADI:

I’m doing great Cam, just gearing up for Q4 and launching a bunch of new products.

 

CAMERON YDOER:

That’s good man. New products are good. Especially in the craziness of Q4. So just to give everyone a little bit of perspective, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself, like how long you’ve been selling and what kind of the beginning of your journey has looked like, just with selling.

 

ADI:

Yeah, so I’ve been selling online for 4 or 5 years now. I started right after I graduated from university, and I actually got into the whole selling on Amazon thing only about a year and a half, 2 years ago. So most of my business actually happens outside of Amazon, and so I’ve got a different perspective on the whole selling on Amazon thing.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s interesting. So you said a majority of your selling is outside of Amazon.

 

ADI:

That’s true, yes. That’s right.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good. That’s good. That gives … that’ll give … So you have kind of a really good picture of both then, and that definitely provides value. I would say you’re a master at both, and so you would be able to provide … I would consider you a master at both at least.

 

ADI:

Well I’m trying to do my best.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. So we’re talking about, we’re talking about manufacturing, specifically, and so again your unique background, your unique perspective is just really really valuable in these cases, especially for a lot of people listening. So touching on, let’s touch on Amazon specifically. How did you find or when, when and how did you find your first manufacturer? Do you remember that?

 

ADI:

Yes, for Amazon specifically it was a simple search on Alibaba, which lead me to finding, for the niche that I’m in, probably 20 or 30 suppliers, out of which I had to narrow them down to 6 or 7, and so it was just a simple search in Alibaba, started Skyping with them and you know, got samples and then took everything from there.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay, so how long in your ecommerce and your manufacturing experience journey was Amazon? Where along your selling line did Amazon come into play? You had already been selling a couple years before then?

 

ADI:

That’s right, so I had been selling for a couple years already and then I launched into Amazon just about 2 years ago. So I’d been doing this for a couple years before I got into Amazon.

 

CAMERON YODER:
So what then was your very first manufacturing experience like? Do you remember that far back?

 

ADI:
Yeah, I remember I … in the beginning I was primarily just concerned with the cost of the product, which I learned over time is not necessarily the best thing to do. So I tried just finding the cheapest supplier that I could because I thought that that would bring in the best return, and that was the first mistake that I made. So you know, really, the mistake I made was finding a supplier that was not the highest quality that was willing to cut corners. And over time I’ve just kind of learned what things to look for rather than just price.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, how did you feel going into all of this for the first time? So putting yourself back in your younger shoes when you were finding a manufacturer for the first time, what were you feeling?

 

ADI:

That’s true. Okay, I guess at that time I … it was really new. I mean, I’m gonna talk when the first time I actually looked for suppliers. This was before my Amazon days. At that time I didn’t really know where I would be getting the supplier so you know, I asked around friends, and I was told, you know, look on Alibabab because China is where the, most of the stuff is made. So went on Alibaba not knowing anything about what to expect. So set up my account and just started talking to these people from across the globe. And it was actually my first time talking to somebody from China. And there was some communication barriers, and it was a steep learning curve. But in the beginning I was a bit apprehensive just because I didn’t know what to expect. I just thought it would be better to manufacture stuff locally because I can trust the person. But you know, I quickly found out that you can actually source in China, and there are some very good factories there. Sure there’s gonna be scammers in pretty much every country that you work with, but if you really dig deep, you can find a really solid supplier. Ever since then I haven’t looked back, and I’ve just been sourcing from China.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Where you, would you say you were, when you first started, where you pretty confident in yourself or do you think you were more just apprehensive or scared or?

 

ADI:

I was pretty confident that I was gonna be able to run or like start a business and then grow it. I definitely was apprehensive about working with the Chinese suppliers just because I never heard of anybody or knew anybody who had worked with one. So that definitely took some time for me to get used to and get comfortable with, but I kind of just took it one day at a time and acclimiatized myself to working with the Chinese suppliers. Once I received their products and tested it compared to what a US supplier was providing, it was essentially the same product, and in a lot of the cases, the US supplier that I was working with, they were importing it from China and just being a middle man. So you know, I just realized quickly it’s best to work with the Chinese suppliers.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, okay. Now, so you touched on this a little bit, but talking about your … again we’re still kind of talking about your beginning phases of when you started out, but what were your criteria for finding your early manufacturing partners or did you have any criteria at that time. So you talked about what the first wanting to get products that were a little bit cheaper, right? To save on margins or just because that’s what you thought would bring you, bring in a lot of sales, so what were your early, what was your early criteria for finding these people?

 

ADI:

I mean, it was pretty simple. I just wanted something really cheap, and I didn’t want anybody to screw me. So that that was it. You know. So at that time that was basically it. I did not care about the quality of the product, which in hinds sight was just an absolute mistake. At that time it was just you know get the product over quickly, start selling it, and start making sales, which did happen, I did make money, but you know if I had to use the criteria that I have now for picking a supplier I would have done a lot better.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay, and we’ll touch on that soon, on your criteria now and what you’ve learned since then. But one last question on kind of the start of your journey: did you ever have a moment where you thought, “Okay, this is going to work.” You mentioned before that you, yes you did make money, but when was the moment when you knew, okay this is big, this is going to be big, I know this is going to work, and I’m going to keep on doing this. When was that?

 

ADI:

Well, you never really know if it’s going to work or not until you put it out into the market, right? So it could be the best product, in your opinion, in the world, but until you put it out in front of the customer, and the customer decides to take our their credit card and purchase, you haven’t really done squat. So the moment for me was when I actually did put up the product on Amazon and you know, I made my first sale. And it didn’t really even take a lot of effort. I worked on optimizing it and got the first bunch of reviews. I made my first sale within 6 or 7 days of going live. That’s when I knew I had something going, and just double down and invest into a bunch of other products.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So you kind of, just after that initial point in time, you kind of realized oky I’m gonna go all in

 

ADI:

Yeah

 

CAMERON:

Because I recognize that what I’m getting from this and that it works. Right?

 

ADI:

Yeah, and you know just compared to my previous experice selling in ecommerce, it’s a lot easier to sell on Amazon just because the traffic is already there and you’re just tapping into Amazon’s power and putting your product in front of the customer, so speed of execution to me is probabl the #1 thing that I would emphasis. I mean if you see something that you even have and inkling that it’s working, double down on it, I mean, do no wait around because if you’re gonna wait around, someone else will double down, and you’re just going to be left behind. And you know, as soon as I started seeing some sort of traction, I just doubled down. I air shipped a whole bunch of other products. I did not care about that immediate margin that I was losing out on by air shipping, but I wanted to get in front of the customers get my rankings up and so yeah that’s what I would say about that.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Did you test the market a ton while you were … so you said follow the inkling, right? And so did you just see a market and because of your experience with selling before say “Okay, I know this is worth the risk, like maybe it’s not going to work,”

 

ADI:

Right.

 

CAMERON YODER:

“But I see these metrics and I know that the market’s going to work.” Did you test that market out physically, like did you order a small amount of products at all, or did you just jump straight in, ordering a decent amount of inventory in the market full force?

 

ADI:

Yeah, the product that I picked cost only about a dollar a unit, so I was able to order 1,000 units so it was a small thousand-dollar order. And so in terms of the risk, I hadn’t really taken a huge amount of risk. Yeah, and the product was light also so I didn’t really need to wait for sea shipping. I just air shipped it over for a couple hundred bucks. You know, essentially from the moment I had placed the order to the time when I was live on Amazon was, I would say, 30 to 35 days.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Wow.

 

ADI:

Yeah, and because this product takes 15 to 20 days to manufacture and then after that the air ship did it after which it went to Amazon, so like I said it was just speed of implementation and had I sea shipped it, who knows how much further that would have delayed everything.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Do you think that’s still possible for sellers now? Like do you think that ability to just go head-on, straight-on into a market is still alive today?

 

ADI:
It’s alive, yes. I mean, it really just depends on … it comes down to you as a person. If you are willing to just execute quickly and not wait around, you might stumble along the way but you’re gonna be that much further ahead than somebody that waits 6 months and then finally gets a product out. It just comes down to your risk tolerance. If you are willing to take a bit of risk and know that the reward is gonna be waiting for you the sooner you get there … Like if I told you that the next 10 products that you launch on Amazon, there’s gonna be one that generates $100,000 a month for you. How fast would you want to get to that? Right?

 

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah

 

ADI:

That’s the thinking that I had is, you know, I could wait 3 years or I could wait 4 months. And I just decided to take the approach that I’m just gonna go all in because sooner or later I’m gonna hit my homerun. And in my case the first product wasn’t the homerun. The second one was, and that product didn’t end up getting to 80 to 90 thousand dollars a month in revenues. And how I just waited around, that wouldn’t have happened.

 

CAMERON YODER:

I think that’s interesting because we do, I feel like a lot of sellers hear about successful sellers who made a homerun with their first product and then because of that first product, they were able to carry through and keep going. But you, you kind of kept your head up and you kind of kept going until you opened that 10th door or that 20th door that had that good product to sell.

 

ADI:

Yeah, I mean you just have to believe that it’s gonna work out for you, and if you’re being smart about it, if you’re following the data, as Cam says, you know, you’re eventually going to run into a product that’s going to make you a good amount of money. And now it’s just your choice whether you want to get there sooner or later. And in my case I am willing to double down on what I’m doing and try to open all those doors as fast as I can. So that’s what I would encourage everyone to do as well. See what your risk tolerance is, make an educated decision, and then just dive in.

 

CAMERON YODER:
That’s good. I love it. So kind of moving back a bit to manufacturing. So since you’ve started your journey, what are some of the biggest road blocks that you’ve run into, considering everything to do with manufacturing.

 

ADI:

Yeah, so since I’ve started the biggest roadblock that I’ve run into for my business has been related to running out of stock. The absolute worst thing you can do as a seller is run out of stock because, you know, it takes a lot to get a product into Amazon and get all the rankings and reviews and optimize the product. And if you run out of stock for any reason that is just not acceptable. And for me that happened for a bunch of reasons. It was just mis-planning. I had the funds available. I just had so many skus that I was dealing with that I lost track of which products were in stock and which products weren’t. And so that lead me to hiring somebody who their only job is to make sure that we are fully in stock all the time. I would say the biggest roadblock in my case has been that. I’ve had some other roadblocks. I’ve dealt with some suppliers that tried to screw me that were just scammers. I’ve even had a supplier who tried selling my product on my listing on Amazon because they had the artwork, and so I’ve dealt with a bunch of issues. The way I look at them is they are just temporary setbacks. You just kind of have to work one of them at a time.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s interesting. So talking about the amount of skus that you handled. When, was there a specific amount that everything started to get super overwhelming that you couldn’t necessarily handle it yourself?

 

ADI:

Yeah, I would say as soon as I was at a dozen products at that time, it just becomes a lot for you to juggle everything just in your head. The room for error is just a lot smaller at that point. It also depends on how many units you’re dealing with. If you’re selling a higher priced item—if your item retails for $60, to make the same amount of revenue, you don’t need to sell the same amount of units in which case you’re not going to need to watch your inventory as closely, but in my case I’m moving a lot of units because the price points are lower, and so for each product, at any time my initial orders with suppliers are anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 units. That adds to the lead time; that adds to inspection of the goods and everything. So it really also depends on which niche you’re in and what your product portfolio looks like in terms of retail pricing.

 

CAMERON YODER:
So as you continued to grow, as you added skus to your list, and again kind of expanded on capitalizing, or bringing someone on to your team to handle all of that inventory and timing, but on top of that, as you started to grow your sku count, I’m guessing that you started to increase the number of manufacturers that you were also in touch with. Is that right?

 

ADI:
Well you would think that, and initially it did happen. But what I’ve learned over time is to cut down the number of suppliers that I work with. For example, last year I was working with 8 suppliers. This year I’m working with 3 suppliers with actually double the amount of skus.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Oh wow.

 

ADI:
And you know there’s really a handful of reasons for that. One is it just saves a lot of time. You know, you’re not communicating with 8 or 10 different suppliers at any time on What’s App and Skype and email. So it reduces a lot of the communication, which the communication can delay a lot of the stuff as well. The other thing is they can consolidate everything for you. So when you’re shipping, rather than shipping from 8 different locations, now I’m having only to ship from 3, which also saves on customs and duties and handling and everything. And for me the biggest benefit has really been—because I’m ordering such volume—I can go back to these suppliers, the 3 I’m working with and say “Hey, I’m getting a lot more business. What can I get in return. And you know, it just comes at a price at that point. So I’ve been able to cut down on price by as much as 30% per unit just by consolidating my volume with these 3 suppliers. Because at that point you become a bigger client for them.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So do you think that a seller’s goal should be to establish themselves in … let’s say they’re selling skus across multiple different niches, right? If he or she has a supplier or manufacturer that only focuses on kind of one specific niche, then should he or she try to focus on finding a manufacturer that is pretty wide spread and will be able to manufacture an array of items if that’s what they’re interested in?

 

ADI:

It would be hard to find that kind of a supplier. For example if you are in, for example Beauty category, and you are working with a supplier, it’s going to be really tough to get that same supplier to make electronics products for you. What I would do in a case like that is I would find an agent, which I’ve also done. If you find an agent, you will … the obvious biggest reason of finding an agent is you will save a ton in terms of communications. That one person will be the contact for you and all these suppliers, especially if you have different categories you’re selling in. So in terms of communication, it’s gonna cut down a lot of time for you. Second is, you’re never going to be able to negotiate as well as a local Chinese person will be able to. Because that person will get on the phone and they will just hammer it out and they will bring down the pricing by as much as 20 or 30 percent. Generally agents will charge you 5% of the order fee, so if you’re order is $100,000 they’ll charge you a $5,000 fee, which might seem like a lot, but if you compare it to what they are saving you, it’s actually not a lot. So if a person is in that situation where they’re not tied to any particular niche, I would prefer to go just with an agent because they will save you a whole lot of headache.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Was there … would you recommend … is there any specific time that you think would be best to bring an agent on in terms of the level of sales that they’re at or just in general at any time if that’s what they’re interested in, which would be kind of diversifying in many different niches.

 

ADI:

I would say today is the best time. Because you know the great thing about a lot of these agents is they only charge you based on the order. So if they do a whole bunch of work for you and you don’t actually go through with it, you don’t have to pay them anything or at least that’s the case with the agents that I’ve found. So I’m only paying them if they’re able to save me money, and you know, in that case you’re not losing anything out of your pocket, even if you’re starting with a small order of $2,000. 5% of $2,000 is like, what, $100? Right, so you’re saving yourself a whole lot of time and money. So I don’t think there’s any wrong or right time in terms of bringing an agent on. It just depends on your own preferences. Personally I find that with an agent, if you find them and you trust them they’re going to have your back; they’re going to save you time; they’re going to save you money. And overall, there’s just no reason to not have an agent.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good. That’s good. Changing gears a little bit, there are sellers that do swear by traveling to meet their manufacturers in person, and so my next question to you is a.) have you traveld to meet your manufacturers and if you have what was your experience like? Was it a positive one? Was it a negative one? What benefits did you both receive from that experience?

 

ADI:

I have gone to China, although I don’t think you need to make a trip down to China to source a product. You don’t need to do that at all. I went there because just this year I was placing a significant order of a product, it was like 400,000 units, and I just wanted to go there in person, make sure everything was going fine, and you know, in terms of going there, you don’t need to be there. But the reason I would go there would be, once you have a sizable amount of orders coming through, let’s say you’ve been working with a supplier for some time, and you’re placing a decent amount of volume with them, going there has a couple of benefits. First for me, I just wanted to go there, check out the factory, and just see the working environment is, how the workers are treated and things of that nature. Second, meeting in person as far as the business is concerned … you’re going to have a much harder time trying to get credit terms with these suppliers just over Skype or What’s App than if you were to go there, not only meet the suppliers, the agent they are working with there, but … You know, when I went to see these factories, in pretty much all the cases I ended up going and meeting the President of the company, and when the president of the company has met with you and they tell the sales person, “Hey, let’s give this guy some credit terms.” That’s a lot more effective than you asking for credit terms just as a blind face over the internet.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah. Yeah.

 

ADI:
So in my case, I didn’t really go there expecting this, but this was just one of the benefits that came out of it was … generally when you’re placing an order with a Chinese factory, they are going to want you to pay everything up front before your goods ship out. The next level to that, which you should always try to do, is have them extend credit terms until the goods arrive at your port, so if you are shipping out the goods today, and the goods are going to arrive at LAX in less than 20 days, let them know, “Hey, can you ship out the goods and I’ll pay you in 15 days.” So that’s like the second version, but at this point the credit terms that I have with my supplier, simply because I was able to go to China, are: I pay them 15 days after the delivery in the US, which just again saves so much capital for me. I’m able to invest that into growing the business. Overall it’s just … why wouldn’t you get credit terms if you can?

 

CAMERON YODER:
Right. Are there any other credit terms that you think would really benefit sellers?

 

ADI:

In terms of suppliers?

 

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, in terms of suppliers.

 

ADI:

I mean, in reducing that whole initial down payment, some suppliers if you’ve been working with them for some time they will bring that down. I think originally when I started out they were asking for 40% up front. This time I only give 20% up front. And that’s an extra 20%, and let’s say my order is $100,000 that saves me an extra $20,000 that I can put into launch a couple of new products. And so I would say there’s a couple of things, you can ask for a lower deposit, the second thing you can do is try to see if they will let you pay before the goods arrive at port, so you’re not paying everything up front. Most of the Chinese suppliers will not do that, just because that’s just their rule and things like that, but if you’ve been working with them for some time, which is another reason to just stick with a supplier if you can, rather than just switching around, is because you build that solid relationship with them. And in, especially in China, relationships are everything. If they have no need for … even a year, that might not be enough. But even working with them for a couple of years, that’s when they really start to warm up to you. And you know, if you get the chance to go down there, definitely try to negotiate terms. Tell them, “Hey, I’m willing to sign and negotiate a contract that you might want that I will pay you on time.” But I would say, just in terms of the delivery dates, try to see as far as you can extend the credit terms.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, that’s good. I think that information is really beneficial, actually for … just across the board. For people starting or people in the middle or high level. It’s good for people to know because often times I feel like many people don’t necessarily think about it. Or they don’t even necessarily think to ask when really all they have to do is maybe ask in a strategic way. But also, just kind of put it out there.

 

ADI:
Yeah, like I mean think about it, my whole trip to China probably cost 2 or 3 grand. And in terms of going there, not only did I get further discounts because I straight up asked the president of the company, I was like, “Hey, look: I started with you, my first order ever was $20,000, this year I’m placing order in excess of $200,000, don’t you think me increasing your volume by 10 times should allow me to get some sort of discount?” And right away, she was like, “Hey, give this guy 10% off.” So on that sizable order, you know, I paid my trip off 6 or 7 times over, just by being there.

 

And that would not have happened had I not stuck with the supplier for awhile, with this supplier, I’m probably manufacturing 20, 25 different products. And had I dispersed all of that amongst 3 or 4 different suppliers I wouldn’t have that buying power to negotiate a deal with her. And that’s why, if you find a supplier that you can trust, that you’ve been working with for some time, that you know is going to be around for awhile, try to consolidate as many of your orders with them because it’s … at the end of the day it’s going to be a win-win relationship for both of you.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Right. No, that’s good. So kind of moving on a little bit, let’s move on to a different question, let’s keep on going. How is—just broad overview—how is your sourcing process, your manufacturing process, different now than from when you first began.

 

ADI:

Yeah, so in terms of when I started versus today, my criteria has changed significantly. When I start talking to suppliers now I have a very strict criteria. First is they have to be very honest and transparent with everything they’re doing. So the first thing that I ask them is—before even pricing and anything like that—is are they willing to have inspection done? Are they open to factory visits? Are they open to signing agreements with me, confirming delivery dates? Because if they’re not willing to do that, then they don’t trust their ability to deliver or they might just be a trading company, which I’ve actually run into that issue too where it was just a paid factory, and they were just talking as though they are the actual manufacturer.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So before you even talk about money or prices or anything like that you ask those questions?

 

ADI:

I ask those questions, and those questions are more important to me because I have friends who lost 50, 60 grand just on an order that was a faulty product because they forgot to get the inspection done. And if … you know I may not get inspection done, but I’m going to ask the question in a way where it sounds like for sure I’m getting inspection done. I give them a date, I say “Hey look, if I place an order with you by the end of this week, 35 or 40 days from now, my agent, which is this and this company, is going to be coming to your factory to inspect. So I may not actually send the agent, in most cases I don’t, it’s almost like a bluff. I’m calling their bluff to see if they’re gonna be okay with that. And you’ll find that the good ones they’ll say “Hey no problem. You can send anybody in.”

 

And the other thing like I said before, running out of stock is probably the worst thing you can do when running your business, so you want to have things in writing with these suppliers. Where … I basically at this point tell them, “Hey look, you tell me when you’re going to be ready to ship by because based on that I’m going to send you by down payment.” If you tell me it’s going to take 30 days, I expect to [inaudible] in 30 days. If you don’t think it’s going to be 30, if you think its’ going to be 45, just tell me. And as soon as they confirm that, I put it into a written agreement, send it to them, and they agreement outlines that if you’re late by a day, every day that you delay by, you have to reduce the cost of the product by 2%. And you know, that really gets them going in terms of get prioritize my shipment or somebody else’s who doesn’t have an agreement like that in place.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Has anyone ever, any manufacturer, ever refused to sign a document like that?

 

ADI:
Yeah, yeah they have.

 

CAMERON YODER:
In that case, would that be another factor, another filtering factor for a manufacturer? Like okay, if you’re not going to sign this then, I don’t want to work together.

 

ADI:
For sure. I’m not telling you to sign something you … like you’re telling me the days that you’re going to take, like if you think it’s going to be 60 days, tell me 60 days, but stick with that. All I’m asking for is transparency.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

 

ADI:

And I’m not saying you have to manufacture in 30 days, I’m asking you what it’s going to take. And if they’re not willing to sign that, I mean, that’s just a red flag for me. Like if for example, I have Q4 coming up and this guy can’t really promise me that he can deliver in time, I’d rather order from somebody else who will. And the legitimate suppliers who know that they’ve got enough man-power in their factory to be able to produce the order in time, they will say yes to that question.

 

So you want to ask them up front, “Hey, are you … I’m going to be sending an inspector, is that okay? I’m going to be coming in for a factory visit, and are you willing to sign the agreement for delivery date?” So those are the initial questions. The couple of other things that I look for is the product portfolio. It is so much easier to work for a supplier who can supply you with a whole range of products, for example if you’re selling supplements and you’re selling Vitamin C, if this supplier can make Vitamin C and also Vitamin D and Vitamin B, that’s so much easier than trying to go through that whole process of negotiation and seeing how good they are. So just seeing what their catalogue is … one of the first things I ask them is just show me your entire catalogue. I might not be ordering all of them, I might be ordering 2 or 3 products, but I just want to see what you have so for down the road, it’s going to make my life easier. I’ve often times gone with suppliers who had a bigger and better catalogue than the suppliers who were giving me better pricing because a lot of people don’t factor the cost of time into all this, and it can just take up too much time to work with multiple suppliers.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s a long-term strategy. I do feel like it is, it’s hard for people to think longer term. And finding a manufacturer with a large portfolio like that is definitely a long-term move, which I think is very important if you’re very serious about the Amazon selling game, then that would be a move to think long-term instead of short-term.

 

ADI:

Yeah, I mean if you’re not thinking 2 or 3 or 5 steps ahead, you’re not planning for success. If you just want to be a 1-product seller, that’s completely different than actually wanting to build a brand that is long-term. So you don’t just have to think about this product, you have to think about okay what is the company that I’m building? What is the portfolio going to look like? You have to walk backwards from that, and if your partner, which in this case would be the supplier is able to supply your entire portfolio, guess what, you just saved yourself a whole lot of time because when it comes time to re-order the second product, you’re not gonna have to go on Alibaba again and do all of that again. You can basically just message your supplier on V-Chat or Skype and say, I also want to order this product: here is the artwork for it. So you definitely want to think at least a couple of steps ahead because that again will save you a whole bunch of time and really that’s a real way to build a company is not to look at product by product, but to look at what you’re building and plan backwards from there.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good. That’s good.

 

ADI:

And then in terms of … that’s the criteria that I look for now, but another thing that I’ve noticed recently in terms of what’s going on with the manufacturers, I’m seeing a lot of factories are coming directly to consumers on Amazon. And I touched on this earlier, but I had one of my suppliers who I am no longer working with obviously now; they took my products and shipped the to Amazon under my account. They started competing with me. So that’s another question you want to ask them right away in the beginning is “Do you guys happen to sell on Amazon?” And you want to ask it in a way where you’re not being suspicious, you know, because you dono’t want them to lie to you. And if they say “Yes, we’re selling on Amazon,” you know, you want to be careful with that. You want to make sure they’re not going to come and sell on your listing or I even had my friend who was also selling in the same niche as me, I offered to tell them who my supplier is. She contacted the supplier asking what the dye line for the product would look like so they could make their own packaging, and this guy sends my artwork over to my friend.

 

He had no idea that I’m related to this person, so he’s sending my artwork out to my competitors. So I messaged him right away, I was like, “Hey, what the hell is this?” So you don’t want somebody like that. You want somebody you can trust. If somebody is willing to do that behind your back, it’s just one strike and you’re out. So ask them if they are selling on Amazon already because that is what I’m seeing a lot happen lately too. They’re just going directly to customers, and essentially what you’ll be doing is—they’re already selling on Amazon—is you’re sourcing from your competitor. And you know, that competitor may not have your best interests in mind. So if they say they sell on Amazon, I’d try to find another supplier.

 

CAMERON YODER:
So I feel like. So the market has kind of changed. As Amazon has increased in popularity, I would say that the door just for ecommerce in general has opened up to a lot more people than probably maybe 3 years ago even. It’s a very short period of time, but a lot more people are in the game now, and so as a result I do believe that maybe as a result or part of a result of that is manufacturers selling products that they produce on Amazon. But in the manufacturing market as a whole, from what you’ve seen—because you’ve been in the game for a long time—how has everything changed? Like how has manufacturing and the process of someone from here selling online, being in touch with a manufacturer, how has that whole game and the market changed over time.

 

ADI:

Like here in the states, you mean?

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, speaking from the perspective of people here in the states, how has the game changed?

 

ADI:

Yeah, I mean 100% you’ll find that if you reach out to a supplier they will have clients who sell on Amazon, and this was not the case 2 or 3 years ago. The whole business of selling on Amazon has kind of just exploded, as you mentioned, and pretty much every category that you can think of, sellers have gotten in and so you know, that’s been a big change for better or for worse. But that’s also lead overseas suppliers to come in as well because they can see the opportunity, and they say “Why shouldn’t we go directly to consumer?” But I mean, the competitive landscape has definitely changed. And it will continue to change. Every year that somebody waits to get into the selling on Amazon game, they’re only shooting themselves in the foot because, guess what, next year it’s gonna be harder than today. It’s a great opportunity today, like it might be more competitive than it was last year, but I’m seeing guys get in today, starting to make a killing 2 or 3 months after they get in. So even though it might be more competitive, there’s a bunch of different niches where you can get in, and obviously Viral Launch has all the tools for that. It’s never too late to get in I would say.

 

CAMERON YODER:

I would agree with that. It might be more difficult, it’s probably going to be more difficult down the line, but it’s not going to be impossible.

 

ADI:
Think about it just like this. A simple way to think about competitive landscape is, if you take for example Vitamin C, right? Two year ago, the average review rate, or the review count for the top 6 people when you search Vitamin C, may have been 1,000 reviews or 800 reviews or 600 reviews. Today that’s … that average has gone up to 3,000 reviews or 4,000 reviews. Guess what. In 2 years from now that might be 10,000 reviews. And to be able to get in as a new seller, it’s just going to be that much harder. So what you want to do is you want to find those niches where the average review counts are not as crazy high. And you can establish yourself as a top dog in a couple of years from now. And there’s still a lot of products and niches that you can get into where the top dogs don’t have a whole lot of reviews, so that’s just like 1 tidbit I would say, when sourcing products, try to avoid products where you’re seeing a whole lot of sellers already that have been established for some time.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Of course. That’s good. So talking broad overview again, what—because we’re kind of narrowing down here, we’re kind of ending, getting close to the end of our time but—what would you say are 3 key practices that sellers can start implementing right now to help their manufacturing and just selling process in general right now?

 

ADI:

Okay, there’s a bunch … I would say first: know who you are working with, and try to find somebody who is going to be a long-term partner. Try to figure out, is this going to be somebody I can see myself working with for the next 2 to 3 years? And you know, ask the right questions to determine that. Then negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Try to negotiate as hard as you can on the price because that extra 30 or 40% savings that you see, and you know you would be surprised, you can get 30 to 40% off on top of what they quote you in the beginning. Because that’s just their listing price. And there’s a few ways to do that. I’ve even gone as far as creating V-Chat groups with a couple of different suppliers and just let them butt heads. And I’ll see who comes out on top and go with that. The best way that I’ve found though, if you happen to have a friend who speaks Mandarin, get them on a Skype call with a supplier because they’ll do a lot better in terms of like negotiating. Another way to do that is just to find an agent in China. That again is a little bit harder if you’re just starting out, but you maybe will find one when you go there and you visit them in person. In my case what I’ve done is I’ve actually hired an ex-supplier to become my agent. So I had somebody who was working for the company that I used to source from, and you know, she was moving to a different province and whatnot, and she was going through a bit of a different period, so I asked her, “Hey why don’t you just come work for me?” And eventually she just started doing everything in terms of creating my FBA shipments from China, ensuring all the carton labels are put on properly …

 

CAMERON YODER:
Smart. That’s smart.

 

ADI:

She actually, because I mean, you know one thing I’ll tell you is these guys work way harder you’ll be able to find here in the US. Second is they are so used to getting paid on commission, so they’re base salary generally start from like $400 to $700 a month, and they make only on top of that what they’re able to help you in terms of like profits or orders. So you’re actually saving a lot, and you’re finding somebody who’s just a gem, who knows the Chinese market inside out, who knows the whole selling on Amazon situation, and they can be trained on it. Like creating a new shipment and putting carton lables on and things like that, you know if you can find somebody who’s already there, who knows it, that was one of the things that’s really helped me as well. And then you know beyond that I would say make sure to have some written agreement with the supplier, especially when you get into bigger orders, you could really … I mean at this point I get insured for every shipment that I get from overseas because I’ve had a couple of shipments where the goods got damaged in transit, and you know, I just lost 8 or 10 thousand dollars because of that. So I get insured for that. You may not need that right at the beginning. But definitely have an agreement in writing for when they’re going to be shipping the goods out because the last thing you want is delays on your end because that affects your business, not theirs. And you know, another best practice, I guess this would be for more the medium term, ask for credit terms, and all you have to do is ask for it. Even if that means they extend 15-day credit terms, which means you pay them before the goods arrive at the port, that can really go a long way.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good. Final question here. This is touching on you. Final question, and then we’ll take off. What are you specifically looking to do next when it comes to manufacturing and what are your next steps as a whole in the selling process in general?

 

ADI:

I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve put a good system in place, so I don’t have to go around looking for suppliers and do the whole find-a-supplier thing. I have suppliers at this point who can make any product that I tell them, you know, I basically have to tell them, “Hey, these are the ingredients that I want in the product,” and they can formulate it because the 3 factories that I work with now, they’re really large, and they can, you know, they have the capability to do that. That’s one system in place. The other system in place is I have somebody on the ground working in China who helps me do basically everything I need. They schedule the shipments, they will coordinate everything with … through the suppliers. And you know, the whole sourcing from China thing for me at this point is just … it takes maybe an hour a week because I deal with this person that I have there. She does all the work. I just have my employee. I let her know what needs to be ordered and how many units, and she handles the rest in terms of like placing the orders, creating the shipments, packaging and cartons and everything. So I think it’s a sweet spot that I’m in, and it can definitely be achieved by anybody.

 

CAMERON YODER:
That definitely takes a lot of trust. It takes a lot of trust. I’m sure you’ve built that trust and that experience with that person, but I’m sure it’s a hard spot to get to but again since you are in such a sweet spot, I’m not going to say that you haven’t worked hard to get there. Like you’ve gone through a lot to get to this sweet spot and where you’re at right now.

 

ADI:

That’s true. You know, I’ve actually made 3 trips down to China. This person is actually my friend now, so I mean we talk about stuff other than business too. So you know, and just it does take time, so you’re not just overnight just going to find this person that’s going to be able to do everything for you on the ground there. But just start with small steps. Try to find a good manufacturer, and if they can meet all the criteria that I just mentioned, I think that’ll hopefully save you guys time and some money too.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Well Adi, thank you—seriously—thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for talking about your experiences, what you’ve learned. You’ve obviously been in the game a long time, and you’ve learned a lot. So thank you so much for sharing everything with us.

 

ADI:

Hey thanks Cam, it’s been an honor, and I mean a lot of stuff that I’ve learned is directly from you guys at Viral Launch, so I … it’s my honor, and hopefully I was able to help out.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Hey everybody thanks again so much for joining us here on Follow the Data. As always if you had any questions about what we talked about with Adi, leave us a message at (317) 721-6590. If you’re finding value in this content at all it would mean the world to us if you would subscribe and leave a rating or a review. Until next time, the data is out there.

Dispelling Myths: Diversification (Follow the Data Ep. 5)

 

Follow the Data Episode 5: Diversification

Selling your product on Amazon alone is a bad business model. Or is it? Join Viral Launch CEO Casey Gauss and Amazon Seller Coach Cameron Yoder as they discuss whether diversifying your business efforts across multiple ecommerce platforms is really worth it.

Follow the Data Show Notes

  • Amazon is the go-to online retailer today, and Prime shipping is a huge incentive for shoppers. According to RetailWire, “The average Prime program participant spends $1,300 per year,” and Prime membership is only increasing, which means the potential for third-party sellers continues to grow.
  • Check out this recap of 2016 Amazon third-party sales. With 2017 shaping up to be an even bigger year, there’s no denying that Amazon offers third-party sellers a sales opportunity like no other online retailer.
  • Another great recap from last year is this infographic by Visual Capitalist, depicting online market share.
  • Take a look at these Viral Launch Case Studies for a few examples of sellers who decided to double down on their Amazon businesses and saw huge results
  • Don’t forget to check out our redesign of Market Intelligence. With a brand new look, a built-in FBA calculator, and the most accurate sales estimates in the galaxy, Market Intelligence has everything you need to streamline your sourcing process. Check it out at viral-launch.com/newMI
  • Want to be on the show? Leave us a voicemail at (317) 721-6590

 

Podcast Transcript

Casey Gauss:                      

Approximately 55% of online shoppers start their product search on Amazon.  As an online retailer you know Amazon is the place to be.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

But is selling strictly on Amazon the most profitable approach?  I’m Cameron Yoder.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

And I’m Casey Gauss, your host for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success.  In this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 20,000 product launches and our experience working with 5,500 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to selling on Amazon, and most importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

The first four inaugural episodes of Follow the Data are all part of our Dispelling Myths series in which we explore topics that have garnered a lot of conversation among the Amazon seller community but until recently have not been proven or disproven using factual evidence.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

We’ll talk about why these Amazon theories make sense and what the data is saying about what’s actually happening.

 

Cameron Yoder:

Today we’re talking about diversification.  Now there’s this conversation happening among sellers, whether to focus solely on Amazon or whether to diversify and sell on other platforms.  We’ve heard a lot of people talk about this at conferences.  For example, some sellers are listing their products on eBay or Walmart, Shopify, BigCommerce, Squarespace or other big names  that others are talking about. But this is the conversation today.  The conversation is whether it’s worth it or not. Casey, you’re passionate about this.  Take it away.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, so I mean it’s pretty much like public knowledge at this point that – or general consensus:  Okay, I need to diversify away from Amazon as soon as possible because Amazon is going to ruin my business.  And I totally get it, right.  So everybody assumes it is like okay, I have a business on Amazon.  I have to diversify right away.  And there’s just a lot of issues with that.  So basically – but I get it, right.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

But why do people think that right away?

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, yeah

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Why is that?

 

Casey Gauss:                      

I mean it totally makes sense.  At the end of the day if you are amazing at Google PPC and/or Facebook ads and this is just a talent that you have, then it completely makes sense.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Sure.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

And I totally get it, right.  So the area of seller that we see this happen the most are the guys that are doing, you know, they hit that million dollar a year mark, or maybe the 1 to like 3, maybe 1 to $5 million a year mark, and then they really, really want to protect what they have.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

You’re saying diversify – like those are a lot of people that you see consider diversifying?

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  So once they get to this mark they’re like wow, I really want to protect what I have, and so what is the biggest threat?  Well, the biggest threat is that I’m on the Amazon platform.  I don’t control the customer, which is a totally valid consideration, right?  Those are definitely – I totally see where you’re coming from.  But there’s a few issues with that.  

 

So what I typically see happen is that those sellers that try to begin diversifying – one, they’re paying all this money for these courses teaching you how to diversify, which generally don’t work.  But the thing is that people forget what got them to that 1 to $5 million a year mark, and what got them to that 1 to $5 million a year mark is launching more products on Amazon and/or really just figuring out that launch process on Amazon.  If you’re doing, you know, $2 million a year, you know how to launch products on Amazon.  And so how do you go to $4 million?  How do you go to $10 million?  Well, you just launch more products through that same exact process you’ve already established.  The answer is not to go and diversify.  Anyways, so –

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Well do you think having – do you think having a presence on these other platforms does contribute to extending your – as other people would say – brand reach?

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, so I think that you should have at the very least a Shopify store.  I think that you should go and have – you should have somebody on your team go and list your products on these other platforms.  I mean just by happenstance, you know, if you are the only vitamin C serum – which isn’t the case – but if you’re the only vitamin C serum on Walmart, yeah, you’re going to get some traffic.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Sure.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Right?  But you – I don’t think that you should be consid — spending a considerable amount of time on these other platforms.  But again, we’ll get into that –

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Sure.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

– in a minute.  So basically at the high level people want to protect what they have.  I totally get it.  There’s a lot of gurus that are pushing for people to diversify.  We’ll get into that in a minute.  But again, you know, if this guru that is, you know, absolutely killing it is telling you that they’re doing this or that you should be doing this, no, you know I totally understand why you think that.  And again, logically it makes sense.  Okay, I’ve had this success on Amazon.  People like my brand or whatever.  Brand is in quotes.  Then like I will be able to go and replicate this in these other platforms.  And the answer is just no.  It just doesn’t happen that way.  So, yeah.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Let’s take a look at – so one main aspect of what other people are saying in this argument for diversifying is that a seller can control the buyer experience more, right?  So in Amazon – you touched on this at the beginning, but when a seller is on Amazon the control of the buyer experience is not – it’s not that much.  You can’t control it as much as you would in your own website, for example.  So people, again, are saying, right – and correct me if I’m wrong – but people are saying that oh, my argument for diversifying is that I can control my buyer experience.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, and I totally get what you’re saying, but my answer to that is, for how many people, right?  Oh yeah, you can go and control the conversation for 100 new customers a day.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Right.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

But I’m going to go sell 5000 units a month on Amazon, right?

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Right.

 

Casey Gauss:

The problem is yeah, you get to control the buyer experience, but for how many people?

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Yeah.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

You know what I mean?  Like sure you can have control of 100 people a month that are coming and visiting your Shopify store or that you’re paying an insane amount of money to get to your Shopify store or wherever.  But I’m going to be on Amazon selling 5000 units a month while you’re selling 100 units a month on Shopify.  We’ve seen, you know, we’ve seen this happen so many times where basically sellers, they’re doing really well on Amazon.  Again, these are the guys doing that 1 to 5 million, sometimes a little bit more, but then they try to diversify.  They try to get into retail, or they try to push heavily into Shopify, and they spend all of their time or a good portion of their time not growing their Amazon business.  And so what happens is yeah, maybe you grow revenue by 5% or something, but what we see happen a lot of times is in the meantime their Amazon business starts to lose traction.  It starts to lose market share. They get out of tune with what’s working.  And they’re just, you know, out of touch.  And so competitors just start to pass them by.

 

So yeah, they started making a little bit extra money on their Shopify store or whatever, but they’ve really started to lose out on their Amazon business.  They are trying to avoid the very situation they end up creating, which is they are trying to protect their sales for the long-term by diversifying, and calculating opportunity costs they lose out on sales in the long term.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Right.  Other arguments that people have, which I think there is kind of one main answer and you already touched on it to all of these, a couple reasons that sellers opt into listing on different platforms, there’s a pretty comprehensive list.  One is a lower barrier to entry.  So again, Walmart is an example.  Walmart has a much lower barrier to entry than Amazon.  There’s less competition. There’s no monthly fees or startup fees, lower listing or product fees, and you own your own storefront, right?  But, but like you said, I feel like all of these arguments can be honestly just like crushed with the fact that all of the traffic is on Amazon.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, okay.  Lower product fees, okay, yeah.  I’ll pay – versus paying let’s say it costs $5 to ship my widget and sell on Amazon.  But it only costs $1 to sell on Walmart.  No, that’s great, but you’re still only selling 100 units.  And so –

 

Cameron Yoder:              

But dude, you don’t have a $35 monthly fee.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Those things just don’t make sense.  So really I mean we’ve worked with over 5500 brands.  I have really good relationships with guys that are doing 100 million a month.  Whoa.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Holy –

 

Casey Gauss:                      

100 million a month would be insane.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

I’d like to meet them.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, me too.  100 million a year, 50 million a year, guys that are doing – plenty of guys that are doing around 20 million a year, and everybody in between, right?  And the thing is is I do not know – I’m not aware of any seller that has successfully taken their success on Amazon and then brought or built a considerable revenue stream outside of Amazon from their private label business.  Like it just absolutely doesn’t make sense.  These guys that have a major $35 million brand, it’s the third-largest brand in their category, in the top-level category: I’m talking cell phones and accessories or beauty or health and household.  Like these guys have the third-largest brand by volume, and their sales on their website, they’re spending – they have a huge team, and they’re spending a good amount of money trying to drive those sales on their website.  And they’re just not seeing the volume.

 

So what – you know I have some friends that they do 50 million a year, and they tried pushing on their website, and they realized it just didn’t work.  And they saw a dip in revenue when this happened like two years ago.  And now they’ve just doubled down on Amazon because they know exactly how to launch products when it comes to Amazon.  So they just doubled down on that.  

 

The opportunity is on Amazon, and if you are spending, you know, a week – let’s just say a day.  You’re spending a day out of your week trying to build these other sales channels.  Well that’s a day a week that you’re not building your Amazon business.  And so for every dollar, you know – these are arbitrary numbers, but it’s something like for every dollar you spend building your Amazon business you get $10 back, let’s just say.  But for every dollar you spend building your Shopify business you’re getting like $1.50 back.  Maybe you’re getting $2.00, but probably not.  You know, net net across your Amazon sales in everything you’re seeing maybe $1.05, or you’re seeing $0.95 out of that dollar spent.

 

And so, you know, I do think that you should diversify.  Like I said at the beginning, you know, if you have the team or you have the skill set – if you have the skill set to drive an insane amount of Facebook ads or whatever, yeah, definitely check out that model.  But you still need to run the math and calculate: Do I make so much more money when I’m spending that same amount of time and that same amount of money pushing my Amazon brand?  Well, then do that.  You know, like – and again –

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Keep on going

 

Casey Gauss:                      

So the other argument for diversifying is everybody’s afraid of getting banned from the Amazon platform, and now their revenue stream dries up.  That’s what these guys that are selling $1 million, $5 million a year, that’s what they’re so afraid of.  And the thing is is we’ve worked with 5500 brands, right, and we know of a lot more, of course, right?  I only know – we only know of one brand that has actually gotten banned from the platform, and these guys were asking for it.  Like these guys had gotten suspended so many times.  They just kept doing, you know, whatever it was that was getting them suspended, and they were pushing the envelope in every direction.  And you know, eventually Amazon said no, we don’t trust you guys to reinstate you because you’re just going to keep doing this stuff.  You guys are banned.  You guys are not able to sell on the Amazon platform.

 

And so at the end of the day, again, thousands and thousands of brands – we’ve definitely seen people get suspended, but they get pushed right back up.  And so I don’t know how legit that fear of getting banned is.  I understand why you’re afraid, of course.  I totally get it.  But at the end of the day, how likely is it to happen?  Well, according to our sample size –

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Not very.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

– one in 5500, which is pretty low. I would like to think that it’s more. And again, the thing is is sure, you can go spend a ton of time trying to diversify.  But in reality will you be successful at it?  You know, I really doubt it.  The data just does not show us in the 5500 brands that we have worked with. That it is likely that you can take your Amazon success and turn it into external success.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

I like to relate, I like to relate this subject to – and Casey, you’ve heard this before – I like to relate this, the idea of diversifying, to the gold rush, right, like the classic American gold rush where once people heard that there was a ton of gold in one place they all rushed to it, right?  I feel like Amazon is that source of gold right now. More and more people are starting to hear about it, and not that – I mean there was a limited amount of gold, right, and not that Amazon is going to run out or go out of business or anything, but the game is changing as time goes on.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

And it’s getting more difficult.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

And it is getting – it is.  It is.  The gold has not run out yet at all.  If you see this huge mine of gold that you know is there, it’s Amazon, then why would you go to another gold mine, like Walmart or Etsy, that you can’t see the gold?  Like sure there’s some benefit there, and there will be benefit in the future. I think, just in terms of taking advantage of the moment, that’s the best thing.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, you know, I think maybe if you have that 1 to $5 million brand and you have a team, then maybe you can hire somebody that’s great at customer acquisition or digital advertising or whatever.  And they can try to build those sales, and you know, they can be compensated accordingly.  And you can have them focus on that, but what you need to be focused on is on what you know how to do really well, and that is selling on Amazon.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Right, right.  And opportunity cost, right?

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Yes.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Like it’s going to cost something.  If you choose to focus on another platform, it’s going to cost time

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah, and again, every minute that you’re spent focused outside of Amazon, a competitor is focused on Amazon, and they’re just going to steal that opportunity or that potential from you down the road.  But I think that people are really underestimating the value of the Amazon business right now.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Yeah, I agree.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

I think that time will show us that your brand is actually more valuable than you think.  And again, going back to Cam’s comment of reviews being the currency, like this is the way to go.  Yeah.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

It is.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

So basically to sum everything up, Amazon is huge right now.  It’s still growing.  It’s supposed to be growing an insane amount. They’re just snagging such a big portion of the e-commerce sales.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Remember.  Remember what got you here, right?

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Yeah.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Remember what got you here and triple down on it.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Right.  Yeah.  So yeah, basically at the end of the day we don’t know anybody—doesn’t matter if they’re doing 100 million a year, 50 million a year—it doesn’t matter. We don’t know anybody that has successfully gone and diversified.  Does it mean it’s not possible?  No, it’s definitely possible.  But that’s not what’s happening.  That’s not where you should be focusing.  You need to be focusing on building your Amazon business.  Are we biased in saying that?  Yes.  Is it the truth?  Is that what the data is saying? Yes.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Yes.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Does it make logical sense?  No, not really, but it’s the truth.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

Well hey, that is all for this week.  Thank you so much for joining us on Follow the Data.  For more reliable information about what’s really happening on Amazon subscribe to the podcast and check out the Viral Launch blog at Viral-Launch.com

 

Casey Gauss:                      

And don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you like the podcast.  We really appreciate your feedback.  We love, love honest feedback.  We love to hear what your thoughts are.  And if you enjoyed the podcast and want other people to hear it, please share.  Reviews also help other people to understand how good or terrible of a job we’re doing.

 

Cameron Yoder:              

We’ll link to all of the information and sources that we referenced in this episode in today’s blog post.  Check out the blog and subscribe to our email list to stay up-to-date on all the latest Amazon updates and best practices.

 

Casey Gauss:                      

Want to be featured on the show?  Leave us a voicemail and tell us your thoughts on today’s episode, or ask us any of your Amazon questions.  Our number is 317-721-6590.  Join us next week when we dispel the myth of suspension.  Until then, remember, the data is out there.

Cameron Yoder:

Hey! I wanted to let you know about a webinar that Casey and I hosted last night where we made an exciting announcement. We’ve updated our product research tool, Market Intelligence, with a brand new look, easier navigation, and a built-in FBA calculator. If you missed us last night, you can find our announcement and our walkthrough of the tool on our YouTube channel. The calculator feature is super slick, essentially calculating how much it costs to break into a market showing you upfront costs, month expenses, monthly profit, and total profitability.

 

Market Intelligence offers sellers the most accurate sales estimates in the galaxy and up to 2 years of historic sales data so you can see big market trends like price and overall sales. With the newly integrated FBA calculator, this latest version of Market Intelligence really does have everything that you need to research your next product. Visiti viral-launch.com/newMI to check it out and to start your free trial.