How does one pave their way into the world of e-commerce? We spoke with Ashley Armstrong to find out.
Since the beginning of 2020, the popularity of e-commerce has skyrocketed. Finding Success in E-Commerce can be as easy as one, two, three.
After years of steady growth, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated online businesses to new heights. With increasing interest from media to shine a spotlight on the industry, even more people have recognized the limitless potential that comes with selling on Amazon.
But not everyone is jumping right in, even after conducting the research. Why?
Undoubtedly, fear of failure is a leading reason and one that’s entirely fair. But how do we overcome that fear, and what steps should be taken to mitigate risks?
We dialed up Ashley Armstrong, an e-commerce rockstar with 10+ years of experience in online businesses, to discuss these issues.
Loyal listeners of the Follow The Data podcast may recognize Ashley, as this isn’t her first time on the show. Last time, we honed on the topic of how to grow businesses through virtual assistants. This time, we focus the conversation on more big-picture ideas.
Tune in for an in-depth discussion on overcoming fear, the importance of building a support system, and how she’s taking on a leadership role to bring together women in e-commerce.
Get to know Ashley Armstrong and what she’s been up to since we last spoke. (0:00)
With more than a decade in e-commerce in a variety of roles, Ashley’s one of the best resources in the Amazon selling space. We check in on what she’s been up to over the pandemic, with so many changes in e-commerce in such a short span. Finding Success in E-Commerce can be done.
As more people recognize the tremendous opportunity that comes with selling online, what’s the number one reason people don’t make the leap into e-commerce? (6:39)
With so many green lights for the industry, why aren’t more people taking the leap into e-commerce? Fear. Fear of failure or the doubts that come with learning something new can create the devil on your shoulder, telling you all the reasons not to do something big.
Amazon sellers come from all types of backgrounds, with each one providing valuable lessons to guide them to success. How did Ashley’s background in athletics work to her advantage? (8:49)
One of the beauties of e-commerce is that it’s open to people that from diverse backgrounds. And people are able to use their life experiences as resources that fuel them to success. With a background in sports, Ashley explains the crossover of the athlete’s mindset and how it applies to e-commerce.
We’ve talked about how fear can be your worst enemy when it comes to starting an online business. From the perspective of a potential entrepreneur, how do we overcome that fear? (20:09)
Unfortunately, you can’t separate the determination for success from the fear of failure regarding e-commerce. Cam and Ashley break down how to cope with fear and certain opportunities to consider before taking that step forward.
How can you turn your losses into lessons that fuel long-term e-commerce success? (32:57)
While we can work with fear and take strategic steps to mitigate risk, failure is not something that can be eliminated entirely. In fact, some of the more prominent names in e-commerce have experienced failure at some point. Ashley tells us about a time she took a loss and used it to her advantage.
Why has Ashley pivoted to running a seller community for women? (39:04)
Throughout our discussion, we’ve mentioned how important it can be to have a support system. Whether it’s about product research, strategy, or personal support to take care of our mental and emotional health, it’s crucial to be around people who have your back.
Online, it can be very much a lone wolf mentality. Additionally, finding female representation in the Amazon selling space can cause someone to feel like even more of an outcast. As the Amazon seller community grows larger, Ashley’s looking to fill the gap for representation from women in e-commerce. Finding Success in E-Commerce is great.
With her extensive background and great knowledge, we look forward to seeing that community grow.
While we typically talk more nuts and bolts of Amazon, such as product research or PPC, understanding the barriers that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from achieving their dreams and how to overcome fear and doubt is an essential conversation worth having.
As always, a huge thanks to Ashley for taking the time to share her vast knowledge with us. You can stay in touch with her on her website or by joining her network for women in e-commerce.
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Are you getting started on Amazon or thinking about launching your own online business? We spoke with Ecom Dave to discuss how to kickstart an Amazon business in 2021 and how to avoid common mistakes that get in the way.
Over the past 18 months or so, the Amazon marketplace has made plenty of waves. Whether it’s been about record-setting numbers, expansion into new countries, or competitors such as Shopify or Walmart looking to duplicate its success, there’s plenty of buzz on the topic. Here are some tips to getting started on amazon.
To anyone who likes making money (and who doesn’t?), this may seem like your signal to get in on the action. There’s plenty of opportunity on Amazon and the industry is still growing rapidly.
But before jumping in headfirst, there are plenty of considerations to make.
As with most things that go through massively evolving growth, things change quickly. As recently as 5 or 10 years ago, just starting an Amazon business may have been enough to fast track your success.
With a more mature marketplace, new sellers must enter more strategically than in the past.
That’s why we spoke with Ecom Dave, a superstar seller and seller mentor in the Amazon community. He takes us through his journey as a seller, how Amazon has evolved over the years, and how sellers can build their business the right way.
Tune in to the whole conversation for a free-flowing conversation packed with plenty of helpful Amazon tidbits!
Get to know Ecom Dave and his experience with e-commerce. (0:00)
If you aren’t familiar with Ecom Dave, take a second to learn his fascinating journey from bartending and failing at his first attempt at selling on Amazon to launch a successful online business and becoming one of the biggest names in the Amazon seller community.
What mistakes are the new wave of Amazon sellers making? (9:31)
When learning a new skill, knowing what not to do can be as critical as knowing what to do. Steering clear of common missteps can make the difference between a dud and a stud, with thousands of dollars at stake. Dave walks us through his process and thinking while assisting new sellers and where many are going wrong.
How getting started on amazon impacted Dave’s lifestyle? (13:25)
Let’s be real. Most of us don’t work because we love the work. We work to afford the best lifestyle we want.
One of the main allures of selling on Amazon is the ability to be your own boss, build your business, and live the life you’ve always wanted. That’s certainly the case for Dave, who walks us through his daily routine compared to before he began selling on Amazon.
Dave walks us through what aspects he believes have personally contributed to his Amazon business? (22:10)
A seller’s mentality at approaching their business plays a tremendous factor in the outcome of the business. When running your own business, your business’s success or failure and overall imprint becomes inescapably related to person running it.
The Amazon seller community is quite diverse in terms of mentality and approach, so while there certainly is no “one-size-fits-all” mentality, each person’s strengths or weaknesses can make an impact on their business. Getting started on amazon can have a large impact. Dave explains how his personality and experiences played a role in his ultimate success.
Before we say goodbye, Dave offers some final advice for Amazon sellers who are kicking off their FBA careers. (27:00)
If we were to dive into all the aspects that go into selling, the Follow The Data podcast would be longer than an episode of the Joe Rogan show. So before the conclusion of this conversation, we asked Dave what other tips or topics he’d like to cover that hadn’t been covered already.
A huge thanks to Dave for taking the time to share his valuable expertise. For more tips and tricks to starting and succeeding on Amazon, check out his website! You can also connect with Dave on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
As always, drop your email below to receive the latest Amazon seller news and updates!
In this episode of Follow The Data, John Cant of Rising Sun Commerce joins Cameron for a deep dive on tips and strategy to jump into Amazon Japan.
Amazon Japan is quickly becoming a hotspot for Amazon sellers to diversify online sales.
As international e-commerce sales continue to spike, more sellers are recognizing the massive potential of expanding their online business in additional marketplaces. The Amazon seller community continues to mature, and for many sellers expanding internationally may be a more profitable expenditure than adding another product or increasing marketing spend.
When it comes to selling on Amazon Japan, nobody knows it better than Rising Sun Commerce. Host Cam Yoder chats with John Cant of Rising Sun Commerce to discuss the pros and cons of expanding your business to Japan, best practices for finding success selling in Japan, and what NOT to do
This episode covers a handful of essential tips to consider when jumping into Amazon Japan (as well as any international marketplace). John, who has years of experience selling in Amazon Japan, shares his biggest tips and strategies for catering products, listings, and experiences for the Japan marketplace.
If you’ve ever considered going international with your Amazon business, or would consider Japan as a possible extension, this is a great starting point.
Find out John’s story and learn Rising Sun Commerce’s history (0:00)
To kick things off, John explains his e-commerce experience and how Rising Sun Commerce began. With the U.S. Amazon marketplace doing much of the company’s heavy lifting, why pursue Amazon Japan?
One common mistake from sellers is to assume customers act similarly across marketplaces. How does buyer behavior in Japan vary from other countries? (3:22)
Customer behavior changes depending on where you’re selling, so selling isn’t a One Size Fits All approach for expanding internationally. John breaks down what distinctions exist with Japanese customers in comparison to American or European customers.
Where does Japan rank in priority for seller consideration? (5:09)
When considering expanding your brand internationally, selecting the ideal country to start selling in is often the first question. With Amazon continuing to expand internationally, John explains why Amazon Japan is such a promising opportunity.
A top-selling product in the United States doesn’t guarantee similar success abroad. Continuing the conversation on buyer behavior, what categories perform better or worse in Japan? (7:02)
While finding out if Amazon Japan is right for you, market and product research is a necessity. Get an expert’s perspective on what products tend to do well and which ones fizzle out in Japan.
What are the first steps a seller can take to start selling in Japan? (15:14)
You’ve done the research. Selling in Amazon seems like an opportunity worth pursuing. You’re ready to take the next steps. But where do you even start? John lays out the step-by-step gameplan for expanding to Amazon Japan.
These important questions and answers are only a fraction of the valuable insights from a proven expert. Be sure to tune into the entire show to find out if Amazon Japan is right for you!
As always, we greatly appreciate John’s time and expertise. If you have any questions for John, reach out to him directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit his site to jump straight into Amazon Japan strategy.
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Follow The Data host Cam Yoder chats with Greg Elfrink, Director of Marketing at Empire Flippers, about the growing trend of buying or selling Amazon businesses.
The topic of how to sell an Amazon business dominated discussions in the FBA community throughout 2020 and persisting into the first quarter of 2021.
As companies centered around buying Amazon businesses raise hundreds of millions in venture capital funding, it’s apparent the market is growing for buying or selling online businesses. And with every massive funding round announcement, a brighter spotlight is placed upon how profitable FBA can be.
Emerging markets like this are often flush with unanswered questions that lack trustworthy leaders, so we spoke with Greg Elfrink of Empire Flippers to find out the facts about buying or selling online businesses.
With nearly a decade under its belt, Empire Flippers serves as one of the first marketplaces for e-commerce businesses, and they’ve been an industry leader ever since.
During our discussion, Greg lays out the landscape of e-commerce business transactions in 2021, what goes into a valuation of an online business, and much, much more.
Expect to walk away from this episode knowing what steps you need to take to set your business up for long-term success and to get insider-perspective from one of the top Amazon brokerages in the world.
Get up to speed with Greg and his unique journey into e-commerce. (0:21)
Like many sellers, Greg had an interesting background before making the leap to e-commerce. Learn how Greg went from working on an oil field in Alaska to helping Empire Flippers make its mark as an industry leader.
Empire Flippers were one of the first online marketplaces for Amazon businesses. What was it like being an innovator at the start, and how has the industry changed lately? (3:01)
The Empire Flippers team has overseen the transformation of the Amazon business marketplace. While Greg wasn’t with Empire Flippers at the start, the practice of buying or selling online businesses has taken off during his tenure. Greg shares his perspective on his experience and how much things have changed in a brief amount of time.
Cam asks the burning question: is now the right time to sell your business? (15:45)
With more capital than ever behind the companies buying up small Amazon businesses, it’s never been a better time to sell an e-commerce business. With this in mind, is now the time to sell and cash in? Is it just the beginning?
Greg breaks down the questions you should be asking yourself to deduce if selling your business is right for you.
How long should your Amazon business operate before considering selling? (22:48)
The markedly increased flow of venture capitalist money invested into e-commerce businesses validates the unbound potential of starting an FBA business. The prospect of flipping an Amazon business invites a new type of Amazon seller, who may be looking to start fast, sell off, and repeat. But the life cycle and growth of an Amazon business provides a wrinkle in that strategy. Greg masterfully explains how long an Amazon business should be active before selling.
Before we say goodbye, Greg leaves us with some last words of advice (42:32)
Although we put Greg on the spot for wisdom on demand, he didn’t disappoint. When it comes time to sell an Amazon business, it’s understandably difficult to do so. After all, these successful Amazon businesses provided life opportunities, and it’s only natural that emotions get in the way. As Greg explains, be sure to fall in love with the process, not the business.
A special thanks to Greg for his time and valued expertise on the show! Additionally, if you have any questions for Greg or want to reach out about selling your Amazon business, you can get in touch with him at email@example.com.
Lastly, if you have an Amazon business, be sure to check out Empire Flippers’ freeValuation Tool! It makes finding out the value of your business quick and easy.
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Fernando Campos talks through lessons learned developing a wildly-successful Amazon agency, and how Amazon sellers can adopt the same strategies in 2021+ to grow their own e-commerce businesses.
In our latest conversation on how to effectively grow and scale online businesses in 2021, Follow the Data host Cam Yoder chats with Fernando Campos, co-founder of MarketplaceOps, an agency that helps e-commerce brands maximize their potential.
Fernando is a true Amazon success story, and has progressed from a part-time Amazon seller to starting an agency that helps e-commerce brands accelerate their growth through proven seller practices.
Fernando’s sophisticated understanding of the processes that go into building a brand based on his years of experience is extraordinary. With a background in tech and specializations in operations, product development, and finance, he is certainly a thought leader in brand growth.
Tune in for expert advice, advanced seller strategies, and areas of emphasis to get an edge on your competition!
Get to know Fernando, who’s evolved from a part-time seller to helping run a successful eCommerce agency. (0:18)
Welcome back, Fernando! We had Fernando on the podcast way back in 2018, and much has changed in three years. Since then, he’s found even greater success in e-commerce as the industry continues to revolve. Find out Fernando’s history and why he’s an authority on elevating eCommerce businesses on a massive scale.
After building successful Amazon brands of his own, why make the leap to starting an agency? (2:13)
Likely, we’ve all heard the adage, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” So why make the switch from running your own business to helping manage and promote others? Fernando walks us through his experience and why he decided to start an agency for online companies.
Knowing what Fernando knows now, what advice would Fernando give himself before starting his agency? (12:28)
Hindsight is 20/20, but unfortunately, we have to gain experience before gaining the insights. In e-commerce, few are willing to share details about their success and failures. Luckily, Fernando lets us in on some lessons he’s learned since he was a beginner in e-commerce.
The importance of generating traffic from outside of Amazon has fluctuated over previous years. How and who should focus on external traffic? (18:05)
There are many conflicting thoughts regarding the importance of driving external traffic in the Amazon seller community. As selling on Amazon continues to be more nuanced, sellers should be aware of this hot topic from trusted minds. Hear Fernando’s tips and advice not just on how to create external traffic, but who should be emphasizing this practice.
Based on current trends and habits, what do the next few years of e-commerce look like? (27:31)
If the last year has proven anything, it’s shown how difficult predicting the future can be. However, those with a finger on the pulse regarding the past and present of e-commerce have a distinct advantage on what lies ahead.
Of course, we are grateful for Fernando hopping on the show and sharing his expertise. We hope his tips, tricks, and strategies help you take the next step to scale your Amazon business. You can get in touch with him through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to check out MarketplaceOps to learn more about their management and strategy offerings.
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Ashley Kinkead has incredible experience hiring a virtual (AND in-person) team to scale her Amazon business and eCommerce operations.
Loyal Follow The Data listeners may have noticed growth and scaling are a steady topic in 2021. While “solopreneurs” are undoubtedly a major part of the Amazon seller community, hiring others to help run your business is necessary for large-scale growth.
Often times, the entrepreneurial mindset comes with a penchant for independence. For beginner sellers with a brand or two on Amazon, this can be a perfect opportunity to harness that competitive drive for success to execute your visions.
However, the bandwidth required for mass scaling is just too large for one person to sustainably handle. Luckily, sellers can grow their team to assist with the growth of their business. But the process of building a team for your Amazon business is one most sellers aren’t quite familiar with.
Ashley and Cameron dive deep into the world of hiring to scale in this episode of Follow The Data.
When turning your solo business into a team, who’s the first person you should bring on?
So you want to grow your team? Where do you even start? As aspects of Amazon become more sophisticated, elements that go into running an online business become more specialized. Ashley walks us through her recommendations for laying the foundation for building your team and reveals her first hire.
When you should consider first hiring for your Amazon / eCommerce business?
While we often speak in generalities that cover most of the Amazon seller community, no two businesses operate the same.
Find out how to properly scale your team as you grow.
Doing too much too soon, or doing too little too late can doom your attempt at growth. The relationship between scaling your team and scaling your company can be a complex one. Ashley provides her insight based on her years of e-commerce experience.
What can you do to help your employees AND your business grow together – how to properly support and pour into your employees?
Leading a team is about more than just growing profits, it’s also about helping your team grow. In addition to the monetary compensation, a part of the value for employees is personal and professional development. As an employer, investing in your team members can be a mutually beneficial opportunity for your business and the individual success of your team.
With much of 2021 ahead of us, what strategy tips and advice does Ashley have for the remainder of 2021?
After a hectic 2020, the opportunity for success selling on Amazon has never been greater. Along the way, pick up helpful tips and tricks to accelerate your online business in the year ahead.
“If you’re going to sell a business, this is the best business in the world to sell.”
The concept of buying and selling Amazon businesses is becoming a hot topic in the FBA community. We chat with an expert on the topic to learn more.
Ryan Gnesin, a purchaser of countless Amazon businesses and brands as the Founder and CEO of Elevate Brands, comes on the show to talk through top-level advice when it comes to selling your Amazon business and increasing your total valuation to make more money!
In this episode of Follow The Data, Ryan breaks down the different methods of selling, advice in going through the entire process, how to prepare, and what to expect. It isn’t too often we have a guest come on the show to talk through Amazon business valuations, and this couldn’t come at a better time than early 2021.
Whether you’re just starting to sell on Amazon or looking to sell your Amazon business, this is a must-listen for anyone looking to maximize the worth of their online business.
What do you think the business of ‘selling Amazon brands’ will look like in 2021 and beyond?
In the last few years, the buying and selling of Amazon brands has exploded. Companies like Thrasio and Heroes are receiving massive funding from venture capital firms to expand and buy more Amazon brands from sellers. Ryan breaks down what the subject may look like for the near-future.
Many current sellers are unaware of what the process actually involves. So what does a sale actually look like?
Since the prospects of selling an Amazon business have raised considerably in recent years, many sellers have no idea where to start with what the selling process entails. We ask Ryan for a brief summary of what the process looks like to help build expectations on where to start.
At what point should a seller actually consider selling their business?
On top of how to sell an Amazon business, knowing when to sell is equally important. Especially for sellers who built their brand from scratch, it can feel impossible to master the timing. It’s an age-old dilemma. When business is booming, why sell it? When sales are down, the offers likely aren’t at their peak. Ryan offers insight on when sellers should consider selling.
What are the core foundational principles you look for when purchasing Amazon businesses?
While buyers of Amazon business appear to be buying more than ever, it’s not without foundational principles. Of course, these businesses are looking for key elements when deciding on if a business is worth buying and evaluating its worth. Ryan lets us in on what buyers are looking for when making an offer.
What can sellers do early on to set themselves up for long-term success?
Whether looking to sell or not, building a healthy foundation is crucial for sustainable success. As someone who evaluates Amazon companies, Ryan gives his perspective on mistakes to avoid and tips to get your brand off on the right foot.
A special thanks to Ryan for joining us and sharing his wealth of expertise. You can check out his company website to learn more about buying and selling Amazon brands.
As the life cycle of Amazon businesses evolves, we’ll be there speaking with the experts to help you stay informed from trusted minds.
Lastly, drop your email below to receive the latest tips, tricks, and news about selling on Amazon!
On the centennial episode of Follow The Data, host Cam Yoder chats with Amazon ad expert Destaney Wishon from BetterAMS to discuss PPC tactics to crush holiday season and 2021.
Amazon advertising strategy is frequently cited as one of the most challenging aspects of running an FBA business. But this difficulty should be viewed as an opportunity, not a roadblock.
As the importance of advertising grows more consequential, knowing the tips and tricks to turn what is an impediment for many sellers into a sales and growth accelerator for your product catalog.
Not many have a handle on the latest Amazon advertising strategy hacks than Destaney Wishon, CEO and Co-Founder of BetterAMS. Thankfully, Destaney sat down to chat with us to share her extensive knowledge of PPC strategy.
With timely advice on what you should be doing right now, how to handle the holidays, and what the near-future of Amazon advertising may look like, you’re not going to want to miss out on this invaluable information!
3 Key Holiday Season Differences for Amazon Sellers in 2020 (2:25)
On and off Amazon, 2020 has been a year like no other. If you’re an experienced seller, using reports from 2019 can be helpful. However, there are a few major differences to consider when strategizing for the rest of the year and into 2021.
Is your Amazon advertising strategy outdated and in need of a revamp? Destaney gives her valuable insight on why narrow ad spend isn’t enough anymore.
How to steal traffic from big-name players (11:10)
More and more major brands are coming to Amazon, but this doesn’t spell defeat for third-party sellers. On the contrary, it presents strategic opportunities to steal traffic and sales from major retailers.
On using remarketing post-Black Friday for sustained gains (14:20)
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in the rearview, but you can still capitalize on that traffic! Destaney presents the strategy to boost sales from the exposure supplied by Black Friday and Cyber Monday throughout the holiday season.
Using new headline search policy to attract sales (17:08)
As any experienced seller knows, Amazon is continuously changing and evolving. In the busy day-to-day process of selling on Amazon, some of these changes will be overlooked by the competition. Staying up with the latest Amazon updates gives you an edge over your competition. Destaney explains a recent advertising update, and how you can use it to your benefit.
Over the past year, Amazon has provided even more advertising tools for sellers. As these tools mature, advertising figures to be even more prevalent in the marketing mix. Destaney breaks down a few critical advertising elements that all Amazon sellers should be implementing into their foundational advertising.
A special thanks to Destaney for joining the show and sharing her Amazon advertising strategy expertise! Keep up with BetterAMS on their website or Facebook for even more helpful information and solutions.
On this episode of Follow The Data, host Cam Yoder speaks with Michael Begg, founder of AMZ Advisers. Together, they identify key roadblocks through the rest of the year and discuss the best seller strategies to overcome them.
For Amazon sellers, the grind never stops!
With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday in the rearview, we look ahead to help you conquer Christmas and New Years. This week’s Follow The Data podcast details strategies to end 2020 on a positive note and pick up momentum for 2021.
Not many people are on top of the Amazon game quite like Michael Begg, founder of AMZ Advisers. AMZ Advisers is a full-service agency that drives remarkable results for Amazon sellers. With years of running a full-service agency under Michael’s belt, he’s seen it all and specializes in staying prepared for every situation.
Amidst a holiday season unlike any other, we appreciate Michael sharing his expertise on the show. Cam and Michael tackle topics such as what roadblocks can sellers expect in the upcoming months, best offensive and defensive strategies, and what to expect in 2021.
If you have any questions for Michael or Cameron from today’s episode, let them know by dropping a comment on the video. Huge shoutout to Michael for coming on the show – let’s crush the rest of the year!
Lastly, be sure to stay in touch, as we’ll continue pumping out content to keep you informed to help you end 2020 with a bang.
As an Amazon Seller, the hunt for great ways to expand your business never stops. Not many sellers in the Amazon community have considered, let alone heard of, licensing as a possibility. In this episode, we break down what licensing looks like and the great opportunity it holds as an addition to an Amazon storefront. Paul Miller, a successful licensor on Amazon, walks through how licensing has changed his business and how it can do the same for yours. Licensing isn’t for everyone, but simply considering it as an option is well worth the time.
Many sellers are looking for ways to expand their Amazon storefront. Some consider expanding their product line, others consolidate their product line to focus on true revenue-drivers. Not many have considered licensing as a viable option for expansion.
Paul Miller has experienced incredible growth due to licensing. Locking in a licensing deal with Nickelodeon has helped fuel this growth, as well as his drive to dig his heels even deeper into what licensing is able to provide.
Licensing isn’t for everyone. There are a handful of factors to consider before jumping in.
Licensing is a great step for sellers that have driven into Private Label
Paul talks about the Licensing Expo as a great first step to get into licensing. Check it out!
Paul also offers a FREE course, walking you through licensing in greater detail. Head here to sign up.
Shoot us a response, question, or comment on Facebook for anything we talked about on today’s episode!Facebook
Give us a call, and you could be featured on the podcast. Our number is (317) 721-6590
The opportunity that Amazon’s FBA program provides is incredible, allowing so many people the financial freedom to live where they want, invest in their passions and spend more time with their families.But the opportunity does not stop with private label products.Licensing is its own incredible opportunity for Amazon sellers.I’m Cameron Yoder, 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 30,000 product launches and our experience working with more than 8,000 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.In this episode Casey and I sit down to talk to Amazon seller, Paul Miller, about licensing and how it’s changed, honestly changed, his Amazon business.Paul Miller has been expanding his e-commerce brand since 2015 and says the best piece of advice he’s ever received was to seek out licensing opportunities for his product.He locked in a licensing deal with Nickelodeon in 2017, which had skyrocketed his brand and culminated in a global mass-market distribution deal, which is crazy.Now Paul teaches others how to follow his path, growing their businesses to a size they’ve only dreamed of.And he’s here to talk to us about how to reach new heights through the power of licensing.Let’s jump in.
What’s up, everybody?We have Paul Miller with us.Paul, how are you doing today?
I’m outstanding.Thank you.
Outstanding.That is outstanding in itself.Before we get started, before we get started with who you are, where you’re from, what you’re doing, can you just, since we’re talking about licensing today, can you tell the listeners what licensing is, just in general?
Sure, I’ll be happy to.So licensing is when one party basically rents another party’s intellectual property to use on their product.For example, a great example might be a kids’ play tent.Let’s say you manufacture a kids’ play tent and you go to Disney and you license, or rent, the opportunity to put the Disney characters on your tent.That’s a perfect example of licensing.
Okay, got it, got it.
And what are the basic mechanics behind that?Does Disney get the majority share of the sale, like just really basic mechanics so people can kind of understand?
It has to do with a licensing contract that you do negotiate with a licensor, or the, you know, intellectual property holder.In this case talking about the Disney Princess, for example, that would be – the Disney Princess would be the property.The property owner is Disney, and they’re going to negotiate a right with you to use that property.And in general that royalty rate is negotiable, but it’s probably in the area of 8% to 12% of sales.
So Paul, can you give us the specifics surrounding licensing?Like what does the agreement look like?Just for sellers to understand, maybe even before they start getting into it if they want to, what an agreement looks like.
Sure.So I kind of call this the anatomy of a license, and I’m going to talk to you about a license from the licensee perspective.That’s the one, us as product owners, we’re licensing someone else’s character or intellectual property to put on to our product.So again, back in the case of the Disney play tent, we’ve got the play tent.We’re going to license these images or characters from Disney.Probably the first big consideration is what’s called the minimum guarantee, and that’s the minimum guarantee dollars that Disney would want from you over the lifetime of that contract, which may be three, four, five years that you have to deliver as basically a mandatory royalty.So there is the minimum guarantee.
If you don’t fulfill that guarantee what happens?
You’ll probably get the sheriff knocking on your door one day.
No, it’s a – I mean it’s an obligation just like a long-term commercial lease is.So it’s an enforceable contract.Doesn’t matter if you, you know, fall on hard times and can’t produce the product.That’s a contract.You owe the minimum guarantee no matter what.I mean unless there’s a clause in the contract that says, you know, the factory burned down or something like that.But that’s an obligation that you need to take very seriously.So there’s the minimum guarantee, and that minimum guarantee is based on the royalty rate.So the royalty rate is typically a percentage of sales, and that percentage of sales, as I mentioned before, could be from 8% to 12%, could be 5%, depending on the sales channels that you’re selling in and how you’re selling it.So if you’re selling for wholesale, which is typically 50% of retail, that royalty percentage may be different than if you’re selling direct to consumer.So it’s 10% on wholesale 5% direct to consumer.Then there is even FOB terms, for example.If you’re selling your product FOB to some big retailer you may even have a different royalty percentage on that.
So there’s advance – sorry, there’s the minimum guarantee, there’s a royalty, and then there’s the advance.This just keeps getting more fun.So the advance is usually the amount of money that the licensor wants when you sign the contract, and that’s a portion of the minimum guarantee paid up front upon signing of the contract.Now that’s not in all contracts.In my case it was, and I had to pay a third of my minimum guarantee up front.Now you kind of earn that out in royalties later on.So it goes against your total royalties, but they do want that as a basically a show of good faith from you and know that you have skin in the game and you’re not going to just sit on that license and not make it because that’s basically an asset that they have that’s not working with some other product.It’s working with yours.So they want to make sure that you have skin in the game through that advance.
And then finally, I would say the other big kind of negotiable on this is the term of the agreement that is, you know, how long it’s going to be in effect for.In my case it was three years.And also, the different marketplaces that you have a right to sell in.They’re not all going to be the same.Some licensors, for example, may not want you selling in Amazon, and if that’s the case then that’s something you might want to reconsider.Or at the same time you may be required to present that product to retail distributors in your contract.So that’s another thing, sales channels that you definitely want to look at and make sure that those terms and conditions fit your business objectives.
So that is – I think that’s a pretty good base to establish even just a basic understanding of what licensing is before we get into more details around how it is involved with Amazon.But before we get to all those details, Paul, can you tell us just a bit about yourself?So basically tell us about you first, maybe where you are, where you’re at and how you started selling on Amazon.
Okay, great.I am in Virginia, if that’s what you meant by where I’m at, but started selling on Amazon about three years ago.I was actually a multi-store restaurant franchisee running a group of restaurants that were having hard times at the time.
Paul, could you share what that restaurant was?
No, I’m not going to.You know what it is, Casey.
I know what it is, and it was really delicious.I really loved that place.
I’m afraid I might be violating some sort of confidentiality agreement if I was to –
Got it.That’s okay.
–say what it was.
So all you need to know is it was a delicious restaurant that I was very sad when it went away.
Yeah, that’s right.So business got pretty tough for me.I went from three restaurants down to one, and I was looking for a plan B, and that’s when I came across Ryan Moran’s basically podcast,Smart Passive Income.Heard him on that podcast, and from there signed up for his email list.Eventually signed up for Amazing Selling Machine through his affiliate program.Joined the tribe, his tribe, and developed my products over the past basically three years, and along my way I was given some very good advice to seek out licensing opportunities as a way to kind of protect and expand my products, and through that developed a level of expertise by hiring lots of consultants, spending lots of money and working with licensors.So today I have a license with Nickelodeon representing about four of their properties, and it’s been an amazing, amazing part of my business.
Now so when you started, when you started even just thinking about Amazon the intent was to, I guess, drop your franchises, right, and maybe move into Amazon as something full-time.Is that right?
Yeah, that’s right.It really started as kind of a plan B as I was mentioning before.I was really on my last leg with the restaurant business, had a restaurant 2 ½ hours from my home.It had kind of been neglected over the years as I had opened others.So we decided to close the other ones and then focus very much on that one.And so I was really, you know, concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to make it in that store.So I was really looking for some plan Bs and came across Amazon.And you know, what was a plan B quickly turned into a plan A and probably the best, best plan A I could have imagined.
Now where – you mentioned that you kind of – you were given some great advice into moving into licensing.I feel like most sellers maybe actually even haven’t really considered licensing.Where were you at in your Amazon-specific journey when you even started, first started considering licensing as an option?
It was about a year into my Amazon business when I discovered a category on Amazon that was doing very well.I basically took one product that was for one specific market and kind of redid it for children in another market.And it was on fire, basically.I was having great success with it, but I was kind of terrified that somebody was going to try to rip me off or duplicate what I was doing.So I was seeking the advice of everybody I knew in the industry who could help me figure out how to grow and protect my brand, and I actually spoke to a guy called – or a guy named [Mark Hirsch 0:12:12.5], someone who I had known from a podcast, and Mark gave me the advice if I were you I’d look into licensing.And at that time I had no idea what he was talking about.It took me a while, took me some research to figure it out, and we just made great progress.
Can you tell us about how – can you tell us about your first licensing deal?Like did it just kind of fall into place?Did you have to work really hard for it?Like what was that first one like, and then maybe how did the pieces fall into place after that?Like was it really easy after you started establishing a licensing relationship, or do you still have to work really hard at it?Like what was that kind of first spark like?
Well, I’m glad you asked that because licensing is not easy when you get into kind of major licenses.But it can be easy if you start small.And that takes me back to my first license.Mark’s advice to me was to check out the licensing show in Las Vegas, and that was I think it was about this time of year then, about March, and the show was coming up in May.That’s basically the world’s biggest conferences for licensing.And I think if you look up Licensingexpo.com you can find out more about that show.But what I did is went on and registered for that show and built a profile about my company, and they kind of have a matchmaking service there.And I immediately matched up with an author of a kids’ book.That kids’ book was called The Whatif Monster, and she reached out to me and asked me if I would be interested in licensing her character.It was a perfect fit for our product.So I basically immediately replied to her.We got on the phone together.She was a children’s book author with probably 30,000 fans.And I had my product.That was a very easy deal to do.We put together a simple agreement, and that was a first licensed product.So as a point of entry going with kind of a smaller property, a smaller influencer is a really nice way to start.
Real quick, do you think that same process with kind of how you entered into licensing, do you think other people can do the same thing, or do you think that competition has kind of increased in this space where maybe it’s a little more difficult, or they have to find other avenues to enter into?
Well, I think it’s absolutely a great way to enter, and it does depend on your product whether or not something like, you know, a children’s book author or a character would work for your product.Licensing is dominated by children’s brands and entertainment brands, but it can also – you can also do licensing with an influencer, for example.So let’s say that you have a kitchen product and you have a high-level influencer in the cooking space.Well, that person may not be world-renowned, but also may have 100,000 folks on their YouTube channel.And if you basically license their brand or their name, put it on that product, they’re going to be incentivized to go out there and market your product for you.
Interesting.Now after your first licensing deal did everything just fall into place?Like did you continue to just do that same process over and over again, or did you find it to be more difficult?
The first licensing deal, as I mentioned, was kind of a smaller level deal.But it gave me a lot of experience, and it gave me some credibility in licensing.So when I was contacted later on by a major licensor, a major property owner, I could show this license that we already had as a case study.We didn’t end up doing a license with them, but just going through that negotiation process and understanding the different components helped me in my search for a better license.And that’s kind of how we got to the stage of speaking with Nickelodeon.It is a complex process, though, especially when you’re talking about, you know, working with a, you know, world-class company.
So overall what would you say has been kind of the net effect or net benefit of licensing, in general?It sounds like a lot, but the more I guess you could quantify it the easier it will be, I think, or the more tangible it will be for like our listeners.
The reason I’m talking about licensing is because we, as Amazon sellers, are always looking for a way to protect our products, differentiate our products and then reach new audiences.So for me the net benefit is I have a unique product that has Nickelodeon characters on it, which even though I don’t have an exclusive, no one else can do that product without the license.So competition-wise it makes for very good differentiation.And again, it helps that audience who likes those products relate to my product.And also from an IP protection standpoint, while people may have been willing to knock off my product from a little-known brand, they’re going to be much more leery of trying to knock off a product, you know, held by Nickelodeon.
For sure.And so can you kind of talk through what, you know, the launch process is on these products?Like I just, from my perspective, if you have Nickelodeon characters on,you know, whatever it is that you’re selling, it’s got to be so much easier to drive sales.It’s got to be so much easier to, you know, get these products off the ground and really start moving them.Would you say that’s the case?
Yes, I would say that’s the case.Now while I love Viral Launch, it wasn’t necessary for this Nickelodeon product.I actually was able to take, to launch the Nickelodeon product as variations of my well-selling products and just by having the visibility next to my, you know, Page 1-ranked products, they took off.I was on Page 1 within a couple of weeks.
So during the Amazon seller journey would you say there is a point in time for a seller when he or she should most consider entering into something like licensing, or do you think anyone can start or enter into a licensing agreement at any point in time, like beginner to advanced?Should they wait until a specific time, or can they even start thinking about potentially licensing with their first product?What are your thoughts?
I think understanding licensing from the beginning is good to have in your pocket so that you know as you’re, you know, going through your Amazon journey that that’s one route that you can go.But a licensor is looking for someone who has sales.It’s going to be very unlikely that as a new seller, someone that doesn’t have sales on a product that you’ll be able to obtain a license because they are – they don’t want to tie up that property for someone who is already unproven.So I would say the time to consider licensing is after you really are doing well in the marketplace and you have something unique because the licensors are always looking for that unique product to team their property with.
So is there like a specific sales mark that means that you’re doing well enough to talk to this brand or whoever, or is there like, you know, you have to be number one in your market?
I would say that no, you certainly don’t have to be number one in your market.And I think the level of sales that are required by the licensor depends on who you’re talking to.Again, the folks who maybe have smaller brands or smaller properties are going to be much more willing to work with you than some giant.I started working with Nickelodeon when we had about $2 million in sales.
Gotcha.$2 million in sales annual, over the course of a year, or in total?
That was about a year’s worth of sales.
Okay, but you’re saying you don’t necessarily have to be at that level.So if someone is doing $10,000 a month, let’s say, is that enough for them to now start talking with maybe some smaller brands, some maybe YouTube influencers like you had mentioned?
I would say absolutely, yes, and depending on who you’re working with on the licensor side, and you know, we spoke with Disney, Hasbro and Nickelodeon, the folks at Nickelodeon were much more entrepreneurial, and they could see the opportunity, and they were willing to embrace a unique product.And they could really get the vision of, you know, what it would look like to combine their property with our product.So it also depends on who you’re working with.
Has your experience as a whole with licensing, with licensees, been overall positive?Like you talked about the difference between Nickelodeon and Disney, but even with smaller licensees, maybe in even your beginning, the beginning of your journey, would you say that everyone has been somewhat easy to work with or people are kind of gung-ho about it, or it’s just generally a mixture of appeal?
Well, for me it’s been an amazing, amazing story.Even from – I still have a relationship with the author, Michelle, who we probably chat a couple times a week, and she really enjoys it when I send her a big fat royalty check.And I really enjoy it when she’s promoting my brand to her audience.So that has been amazing.On the Nickelodeon side it really has opened up new doors for me.Just to give you an example, very soon after our relationship, when our products were still in development, Nickelodeon invited me to an event out in Bentonville, Arkansas, you know, which you probably know is the home of Walmart.And you know, we got to participate in this Walmart presentation, which was absolutely amazing for me.How would I have been able to get to Walmart at that level without that license?The licensors have an incentive to help you do well.So a lot of times they’ll have teams who support Walmart, Target and big retailers, and their job is basically to try to get you into the door.That’s pretty amazing.
Yeah, yeah.Oh, yeah.
Now what – let’s say – I mean we have a lot of different sellers at different points in their journey, right?Different levels of selling on Amazon, so beginner to advanced level, right?What information would you say, would you want to tell them to consider to decide whether licensing is right for them?What information do people really need to know to consider licensing in general?
Well, you really need to understand the pros and cons before you jump in and spend a lot of time and energy because there is definitely a tremendous benefit to it, but there’s also a cost.So on the cost side you have your time and energy, which is very important, shouldn’t be undervalued, but you also have attorneys’ time.You have a completely different development cycle that you have to go through with approval of products.Many times you’re going to have to – you may or may not have to hire a licensing consultant to help you along with that.And you may even need some specialized design work.So you need to understand both the benefits, as we talked about, and the costs that come along with it.
And where they’re at, their resources, their time, opportunity costs, right?
So is there – maybe in your experience you’ve run into this.Obviously you yourself have had a great experience.Is licensing for everyone, or are there, you know, particular, I don’t know, categories, types of products, types of sellers where this just doesn’t make sense?
One of the ways that I teach people to think about licensing is take a walk through the store in your category.Go to a big box store.If you’re in outdoor, for example, walk the outdoor aisle and see what licenses are there.And you’ll be surprised to see how many products in your category already have licenses on them.So that’s one way to find out.But there are some categories, certainly, that would be much more difficult to add a license to.As I mentioned before, the, you know, children’s, entertainment is very big.I think kitchen is also very big.One of the pieces that I talk about in my course is the George Foreman grill, for example.You know, kind of a really great example of a licensed product.We all know that George doesn’t really make grills, but he does endorse them and put his name on them, and that’s, you know, that’s a famous, big licensing deal.
Under what circumstances would you discourage someone from entering into licensing?
I would say that if you’re just getting started or if you’re really thin on resources it’s not really a good time to get started in licensing because, as I mentioned, it does take some other costs.You really should have an attorney review your agreement.One of the components of a license is a minimum guarantee, and that minimum guarantee is enforceable whether you sell zero products or a million products.
If listeners are listening and are feeling overwhelmed, because that is a lot, like licensing is an incredible opportunity, that’s a lot of – those are a lot of factors to consider for getting into licensing.
Not to mention capital needed.
Of course, right, capital needed and everything else that goes with it.
If someone is feeling overwhelmed and just heard all of those things to take into consideration and just instantly says that’s too much; I can’t do it, what would you tell them if someone’s feeling overwhelmed?
I’d just say send a text message to Casey.No, no, you know, it’s like anything else.I didn’t know anything about licensing when I started, zero.I showed up at the first Licensing Expo with not a clue.In fact, I’m quite sure that some of the licensors that I talked to probably shook their head as I walked away going that guy doesn’t have a clue.So I would say, you know, enter the world, jump in the water and start learning.And you can learn by going to the Licensing Expo.You can take my free course, which I’ll be happy to give you the URL to, start digging around, do some Google research.It’s not that hard.It gets more complicated as you go up the ladder of licensing with the big properties.But again, starting out simple may be a great way to start.
Got it.Paul, is there anything else that you would like to tell our listeners?
I would just go back and say that, once again, don’t be intimidated by it.Look at the opportunity, understand the opportunity, and try to make a decision of whether or not that’s a good direction for your business to go in and see if it fits.Understand the pros and cons before you take the commitment.
Yeah, and off of that – I think Paul has mentioned this – you know, one thing that I don’t want to happen is that there’s always that get rich quick scheme just over the hill, right?And so this is that, but isn’t that, and so in such that there is plenty of opportunity in licensing, but it may not be for everybody, or it is at the least not for everybody in their current state.So please don’t see this as a hey, I’m going to get rich quick opportunity, but at the same time it may be just that.So I think that it’s worth at least considering looking into and learning a lot more about.But don’t, you know, if there’s – you have terrible photos, you know, you have a bad listing, you’re not ranking for you know any keywords, this is not going to be your saving grace.
I’m going to back you up on that 100%, Casey.This is an advanced move, I would say, and not for the beginner and not for someone who is working on a shoestring.It’s more of a strategic business move than anything else.
Yeah, and you know, Paul had done like $2 million in a year on his product before he went through this.So yeah.Paul, thanks so much.
Yeah, thank you so much, Paul.
And so you know, I want our listeners to know – I had forgotten that you had a course.For those that may be interested in checking it out, you know, we’re obviously not getting any commissions nor would I want any commissions, but I do think it is a cool opportunity, so if people wanted to like learn more about the course, where would they do that?
Well, thanks.Well, we don’t have to worry about commissions because I don’t have anything for sale yet.
But I have been asked by so many folks in our sector, and you and I talked the other day about friends of ours who went with me to the licensing show last year and came out and actually executed licenses right out of the show.And that was Liran Hirschkorn and Andy Slamans.And you know, they really encouraged me to put a course together, so I did put together basically an intro to licensing completely free.You will get on my emailing list, so when I do have something to sell I will hit you up.But it’s at nextlevellicensing.com/followthedata.
Oh, nice.He was prepared.
How do you like that?So we made a special landing page for you guys.
And just check it out.It really is, I believe, licensing is the next level of private label, and that’s why we called it that.I also have, you know, once you finish the course we have a private Facebook group where we’re putting together licensing people with product people, just trying to make people aware of the opportunity.When you do sign up I’ll probably put some emails out about the licensing show, so looking forward to meeting a bunch of folks out there.That’s coming up in about the middle of May.And look forward to seeing people out there.
That sounds great.We’ll put the link to that, to the course, in our show page, but hey, thanks, Paul, for being here, for answering questions, just for being available.
I appreciate it, guys.Thanks a lot.
All right.Thanks, Paul.Take care.
What’s up, everybody?I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Paul.I was actually pretty interested to dive into the conversation of licensing since I haven’t heard many other sellers even talking about it.For any questions that you have for Paul or for us around licensing, we would love to hear from you feedback around licensing or feedback from the show.To submit any questions or responses that you have, feel free to hit us up on Facebook to shoot us a direct message and/or you can also leave us a voicemail.Our number is 317-721-6590.We’ll answer a couple of the questions, or maybe even on the next show in next week’s episode or the week after.Your feedback is super important to us, too, and if you’re listening on Apple Podcasts please feel free to leave us a review and/or rating.We love to hear from you guys.All you’ve got to do is head to our show page, scroll down to where it says ratings and reviews and tap the star rating you think that the show deserves.Then if you’ve got a minute leave us a review and tell us what you think of the show.And if you know a fellow seller who might be interested in licensing send them this episode and tell them about the show.We want to be a resource for those people, for you, for sellers and the information source in this space specifically, so please tell your friends, spread the word and share the show.Thanks again for listening.Really, we appreciate all of you and appreciate your time.Until next time, remember, the data is out there.