7 Takeaways After Selling Millions
We’re hearing from Andy Slamans while he is in China sourcing products. And we’re talking about what he would have done differently and also where he’s won BIG on a brand that’s generated millions of dollars in sales over the past few years. Andy shares his 7 Takeaways after selling millions! All coming up in this episode of the Amazon Seller Podcasts.
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You’re listening to the Amazon Seller Podcast and as we hear from Andy straight from China on some very important lessons learned, I want to remind you to head on over to AMZProfessional.com to take care of your Amazon reimbursements.
If you’re a seller who uses FBA, you need to be on top of your reimbursements in account management. It really is super important because at AMZProfessional we have literally helped some sellers recover tens of thousands of dollars in reimbursements.
Liran was actually just talking with the seller last week, who uses the service who has had over 75,000 lifetime recovered by AMZProfessional. Which is a lot of money that would be 100% loss if you wait over nine months for FBA shipment reconciliation or 18 months for lost or damage or similar issues. And then much shorter time period for some other types of reimbursements and issues. So at AMZProfessional, it’s a completely manual service that will reconcile your inventory back to 18 months by default when you sign up and submit cases to help you recover the money that’s owed to you. As well as help you with negative seller feedback, removal account, health reports, and other critical issues.
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(02:34) Recent Seller News: The chatter around the seller landscape community is that FBA orders are losing some more of the information and data that we have been accustomed to receiving.
(04:15) – Andy’s journey so far in China
(05:20) – The importance of visiting your manufacturers’ factories
(06:51) – Meeting up with US Sellers in Hong Kong to visit the Canton Fair in Guangzhou
(07:49) – What Andy learned while visiting an authentic Chinese custom mold factory
The 3 Mistakes I’ve Made That If I Could Go Back, I Would Do These Differently.
- Make sure you secure your domain name with that brand.
- Begin building out your social presence once you get a decent amount of sales.
- Don’t give up on your ASIN when competitors come in.
The 7 Takeaways I Know I’ve Done Well!
- I NEVER go out of stock!
- I double down on my best sellers. I don’t get caught up in the “shiny object” syndrome!
- I got my trademark!
- I created great images! WHY? Because it stops the scroll!
- I monitor my listings on a daily basis.
- I visited the factory for this brand! Because of that, I was able to provide ways for them to increase product quality.
- I’ve outsourced all of my negotiating and work in China!
We’re hearing from Andy Slamans while he is in China sourcing products and we’re talking about what he would have done differently and where he won big on a brand where he’s generated millions of dollars in sales over the past few years. All coming up in this episode of the Amazon seller Podcasts.
AMZPro Ad: (00:35)
You’re listening to the Amazon Seller Podcast and as we hear from Andy straight from China on some very important lessons learned, I want to remind you to head on over to AMZprofessional.com to take care of your Amazon reimbursements. If you’re a seller who uses FBA, you need to be on top of your reimbursements in account management.
It really is super important because at amzprofessional.com we have literally helped some sellers recover tens of thousands of dollars in reimbursements. Liran was actually just talking with the seller last week, who uses the service who has had over 75,000 lifetime recovered by AMZProfessional, which is a lot of money that would be 100% lost if you wait over nine months for FBA shipment reconciliation or 18 months for lost or damage or similar issues and then much shorter time period for some other types of reimbursements and issues.
So at AMZProfessional, it’s a completely manual service that will reconcile your inventory back to 18 months by default when you sign up and submit cases to help you recover the money that’s owed to you as well as help you with negative seller feedback, removal account, health reports, and other critical issues. So don’t wait to get on top of cleaning up your account head to AMZProfessional.com and get set up. There are no extremely high commissions of 15 or 20% like you’ll see other services. It’s just a flat plan that can go month to month as needed. That’s AMZProfessional.com.
Welcome back to the Amazon Seller Podcast. My name is Nathan Slamans, joined today by Andy Slamans from across the world. Andy, you are actually currently in China right now. I believe it’s about 11 in the morning for you there across the world. I have been in China for I think about a week now over a week and still have several more days to go, in Guanzhou and we’re going to hear all about that in just a moment.
Before we get into that, I wanted to go over quick seller news. It seems like the chatter around the seller landscape community is that FBA orders are losing some more of the information and data that we have been accustomed to receiving. It sounds like getting rolled out that customer names and addresses are going away. This is something that the writing was kind of on the wall as far as what I’ve been seeing is a lot of people saying now that sales tax is something that Amazon is finally having to basically take over.
There really isn’t any reason for Amazon to continue to give out the names and the addresses for FBA orders. And so it’s kind of a frustrating from a seller standpoint, definitely because any data that we can use is valuable. Whether it was trying to collect that information to retarget with Facebook ads, which is, which was never a kind of white hat as far as what Amazon wanted us to do in the first place. So they definitely don’t mind that going away. But then also from things like being able to try to identify customers who have left a negative review that’s been getting harder and harder over the years.
And this just makes it, you know, almost impossible if you’re doing FBA to match up a, a customer review with the customer name in any, in any form. So kind of frustrating that standpoint but is something that we’ll just have to continue to adapt. There are definitely were some sellers who were abusing even the FBA orders. You know, I’ve heard of people sending out a direct mail to, you know, the FBA customers, things like that. So in the news, something that we’ll see you kind of what it ends up with, but it does appear that that might be rolling out a kind of across the board. So Andy, why don’t you tell us, you’ve been in China for several days now, I’m sure we’ll hear more all about it in future podcast episodes, but maybe you kind of take us through your journey so far since you’ve been there at least briefly. Like I’m, you know, kind of what you’ve been doing the last few days and where you are at right now.
Sure. So this is, I believe this is the fifth time I’ve been in China over the last two years. My business has definitely progressed. If you’ve listened to the podcast at all, you know that when I first started selling on Amazon, I connected with all of my manufacturers through Alibaba, did that for the first three years and got to the point as the business grew that I realized that it was a needed a necessary evil I guess I don’t necessarily like traveling and being away from my family, but I knew I needed to come to China to connect more closely with manufacturers and just to understand the manufacturing and importing business a little better from the Chinese perspective. So that’s what I’m here again the fifth time.
The first week of my trip here was spent visiting multiple factories that I currently work with as well as visiting a few potential factories that I may work with going forward. So one of the things that I’ve learned doing this now for five years of visiting the factories that you currently manufacture with is super important. Being able to build better relationships. Just going there and seeing their systems and processes as well as and just happened on the trip. When you visit a factory, you’re going to see potential products that maybe are very new not been put in the factory’s catalog yet. And that actually just happened with me. Saw a product, a brand new one that they rolled out which has different, there’s no product like this on Amazon. And this product is actually not sold in the USA. It’s sold in another country. And so talking to my sales rep, walking through the factory, talking to the big boss that’s what the manager or the sales rep is called, was able to say to him, “Hey, look, I really like this new design you have. I would love to be the exclusive seller of this in the USA”. And he said, “sure, no problem”. So that’s the kind of thing that you can accomplish by coming here. And so that part of the trip is very exciting.
Then we went to Hong Kong, so we actually are hosting a group here. And we were in Hong Kong for two days and now we’re in Canton, which is the largest trade show in the world. We’ll be here for three days and then we’re going to go to Iwu for a couple of days. So a great group of Amazon sellers that are with us, some that already private label, some that want to learn how to private label. And so the energy and the synergy that you get from being around other sellers have been very positive. And I’m excited again, every time I walk the floor at Canton, I see something I’ve never seen before. And so you might hear a little background noise actually that’s cause I’m in a, I’m in a hotel right now near the fair complex and a conference room just right. Trying to get away to it, to a quiet space.
Hey, I want to go back real quick and that’s okay. We’re, we’re hearing like authentic China in the background. We’re living vicariously through this podcast with you. But I wanted to go back real quickly because when you were visiting your manufacturers, you actually got to do something really cool that you’ve never done before. Something that you told me was probably one of the coolest experiences of the trip so far. And that was you actually got to visit like a, a mold production factory. I don’t even know if that’s what you call it, but you get to like see how some of these molds are made, which is important. I know for a lot of people that are kind of working for new products and we just walk us through kind of what that experience was like and why it felt so much different than some of the other stuff that you’ve done in China before.
Sure. So if you’ve been probably labeling for any amount of time, you know that to get to the next level you really have to create something that’s unique and that it really differentiates you from the other products in your category or in your niche. And one of the main ways to do that is to get a custom mold made of your product that is different from anything else that’s in the marketplace.
And so through working with a manufacturer, we are able to send him design and he’s actually in the process of building that mold. Now when you get a mold made, they don’t make that mold at the factory. So there’s a specific shop that makes molds and you know, I’m sure there are thousands of them all throughout China. And, but this particular one driving with, with my sales rep, my sourcing agent it’s about a half-hour out of the city and you just, we’re kinda going in the middle of nowhere and then you get to the shop. And this is on a Sunday afternoon at about 3:00 PM. So China generally, Sundays are like the day off, but not, not in the mold shop. And so we, we pull into to the most often it’s just full of these huge, you know, molds that they’re making, big ones and small ones.
These things are solid steel. And so like the mold that I’m getting produced, I couldn’t pick up. But that’s all these guys do. So they are literally, they are master mold makers. All they do is make most weld in design these molds every day. And this is what China has become so good at. So for the mold that we’re having made, like if we were to try to get that mold made in the USA designed and made, because that’s what we did, it would cost 40, probably 35 to $40,000. But we’re able to get a mold made here in China for around $2,000. So huge cost savings there. I’m so super excited to see that.
Now the downside to that is if you don’t have IP on your mold, unfortunately, it could be shared or it could be copied. So that’s always the risk, you know, that you’re gonna take in China. However, even if you have the IP, like if I were to bring a product into this mold shop, these guys are so good, they can look at that product. They could have their designer that’s at that mold shop create an exact replica just by having the product. They don’t need design plans. They don’t need any, you know, AI drawings, they can, they can create and design that right there in the shop.
So, you know, that’s something that, you know, we, we started talking about more, I mean, to really differentiate yourself, you need to have the ultimate goal, right, is to have a utility patent. But if you’re creating something that’s unique and having a mold made, you want it to at least bare minimum, have a design patent to try to defend it. You know, if somebody does, you know, have a mold shop, just like I’m in creating copy and then try selling on Amazon,
Right? Yeah. We’re kind of getting into one of the worldwide challenges and, you know, some of the political stuff going on with just, you know, some of the stuff that goes on with copying. But like you said, kind of taking it to the next level patents and utility patents, it’s still valuable to get a mold made and do what you can to protect it. But I think that’s a good lead in to what we wanted to talk about today.
And this is some of the things that you’ve learned over the years, some of the things that you maybe would have done different in your business. Obviously now looking back being in China, this is a good time for you to kind of look back over the past couple of years of your private label journey. And I think you had a couple of good really good points put together of things that you maybe would have done differently in hindsight. And then also some things that you did really well that have been able to get you to the point where you are today. If you want to, if you want to start with either one of those, whether it’s things that you wouldn’t have done different or things that you did well.
Yeah, sure. So I’m just gonna I’m gonna rip through these and hopefully I think people will find them beneficial. This is basically kind of summarizes my five years of experience of working with a particular brand that I still have. And these are some things that I’m going to start with the things that I wish I would’ve done differently with this brand.
I still currently sell this brand. I’ll sell about $600,000 total of this year of this brand. Now let me, let me step back a little bit and preface the things that I should have done better. So this is one of the brands I’ve been selling since the beginning. But about two years in, I started to create another brand and unfortunately I lost some focus on this current brand because the second brand that I started to build really took off.
And so you know, all of these things that I’m going to say, I want to preface it with that that brand is actually done fairly well. With the fact that I’ve kinda took my eyes off. It started building this other brand and I actually sold that other brand. And now I’m kinda moving back to this original brand. But these are some things that I would have done different.
So the first thing that I’d made a mistake on is when you begin building your private label brand, make sure you secure your domain name. So before you try to get a trademark, make sure that you can get a decent domain name with that brand. It’s just common sense. Again, that’s something when I started early on I failed to do, but if I could go back, that’s what I would do.
The second thing I would do is I would begin building out my social presence. Once you have a product that is doing decent. So if I could go back, as this brand started to sell and as it started to generate of revenue and income, I, I would take out probably between 1200 and $1,500 a month and I would hire somebody to build out my Instagram, somebody to build out my Facebook, somebody to build out my YouTube, my social media presence with this brand. And that’s something that I failed to do. So as you are building out your brand and as you, you know, hit some products that start to be successful, don’t neglect that piece. Super important. Building out brand and marketing presence.
The third thing that I did is I had some really good selling ASINs early on and unfortunately I started to have a competition come in. And so I had to drop my price but I gave up too soon on those ASINs. So instead of being more competitive and instead of differentiating those ASINs from my competition, I gave up on them too soon. And the reason I say that is I have competitors that started two years after me who are absolutely crushing it with very similar products. And what did they do? They didn’t give up and, and they kind of figured it out. So if I could go back, I wouldn’t have given up so early on those three ASIN’s. And so those are the three things that mistakes probably that I made that if I could go back, I would, I would do those differently.
Now here’s some things that I think I’ve done really well with this brand on. And as you’re building your brand and products, you want to do these things too.
#1 – number one, you never want to go out of stock. So I am hyper vigilant about not going out of stock on my products in a fat if it looks like cause I’ve mismanaged my supply chain, I will air ship product over which helped which means I basically break even on those sales. But because of that I’ve been able to stay ranked really well on that first page. I think Amazon likes the fact that they know they can depend on my brand on my ASINs of never stocking out. So that’s something I did well.
Second thing I think I’ve done well is I started doubling down on my best sellers so I figured out what was selling well. Then I started to build out similar products and as well as I started to create bundles and multi-packs. So again, once you have those ASINs that are selling well, don’t get caught up in the shiny object syndrome. If you have something selling well, figure out how you can sell similar or make that listing or a bundle help that to sell better.
Third thing I did is early on I got my trademark. So super important. And now Amazon actually just rolled out a new program, which is cool. You can get your trademark really quickly. I think it’s within a couple of weeks and it’s a Amazon specific program. But for me early on I understood that that was going to be important. And I spent, I think it cost like $1,000 and if you do it the old fashioned way, it takes about nine months. But that’s really helped me because now it allows me to get EBC
That new that new program by the way I believe is about $1,100. And I think actually once you get set up for it, it might’ve, it might actually be only a matter of a few days before you can get you know, brand registered set up. So definitely something to look into.
Yeah, that’s awesome. So the fourth thing that I did is I understood that creating great images on my listing would make a huge difference in stopping the scroll. So that’s our number one goal is now probably 45% of purchases are made on mobile. I want to stop the scroll with my main image and I kind of understood that early on. So I was able to create some really good images that I think led to conversions. So that was something I did well.
Another thing that I think I’ve done really well is just monitoring my listings on a daily basis. So, you know, I usually check my phone four to five times a day and basically just go into my Amazon account, takes me about five minutes. And as well as I’ll do visual checks on my listings. Now, I probably could have a VA do that. I haven’t outsourced that yet. I still do that manually, but but I, but I, I think that’s really good and you need to do that as an Amazon seller. You know, you need to kind of get in a routine where you’re checking your account, checking your listings on a daily basis.
Another thing that I did really well with this brand is I visited the factory. That was my first trip that I took the China. This was a product I’ve been selling really well, spent two days at the factory. And not only that, but I was able to really pinpoint how they could provide better quality product for me by visiting the factory and seeing their processes. And they were very open to that and that’s led to really good reviews, which helps me stand out from the competition.
So as soon as you get your brand going, as soon as you get those sales rolling in, you getting your product made in China, you really want to try to make a point of visit your factory just to get a better understanding as well as you know, possibly help out the process of your manufacturing process.
Th Seventh thing that I’d done really well that I’ve done really well and I’ll end on this, is I outsourced all of my negotiating and work in China. So working with manufacturers and doing it right, doing a well, it’s not easy. And so I made a connection with a sourcing agent. Her name is Cynthia Chen, I actually just spent a week with her and her husband and she really handles everything from A to Z when it comes to working with my manufacturer. And so her husband will go there. He does the inspecting, she helps me as well when it exports by contacting the freight forwarder, she helps me with negotiating, working out terms. And so by me handing that over to her, now I’m paying a little more per piece, but for peace of mind it’s absolutely worth it. And it’s another thing that can be taken off of my plate. So those are quick seven things that I think that I did decently
Oh, for sure. Those really, really valuable insights. And I mean some of those things apply basically to any, any and every type of private label brand that you could be building. So very valuable. And I know this is a really important time of the year for you and your business specifically just being there in China and trying to maximize it. So we definitely appreciate you taking some time to take a break from the Canton fair in the endless number of booths that are there to check out. So we definitely appreciate that. We’ll let you get back to that and we’ll catch you guys on the next episode of the Amazon Seller Podcast.
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