Category Archives: Uncategorized

China Closed – What to Do in Mean Time

Now What?

Captured from letterstotheexiles.com

I got asked this all this week with the Chinese New Year
practically here. If you didn’t prep and get stock to last you
not only during the period but also enough time to cover your
lead time once they do return, don’t worry, now is the perfect
time to consider some of the following:

1. Research! Maybe you missed your chance to replenish or even
start your PL product, but now is a great time with no loss of
any kind to research and validate your PL ideas

2. RA – Personally, I’m not a fan, shopping gives me a great
bit of anxiety, (though many have offered to shop with me in
the event I panic in the aisle 6), but it’s a great way to make
your money work for you and put you in a better position to
place your bulk PL product(s)

3. Test! Test your ideas with non branded items you can buy
wholesale or in lots off eBay. If it is branded, try your luck
at not STATING THE BRAND IN YOUR LISTING and seeing how it
sales (if you’re going to do this, do not, I repeat, do not
piggyback, not that I suggest piggybacking at all, but
especially not in this case)

4. Bundle your products with well known brands and nonbranded
items to see if the leverage proves profitable

5. Get legit! Register your LLC or C/S Corp. Get an EIN/TIN, bank account, etc.

6. Get a hobby!! Yep, not kidding, in my spare time I make
music and guess what I had to MAKE THE SPARE TIME (guess it’s
not really spare then huh?) but ironically remember it can’t
always be about business, or private labeling, or Amazon has
actually increased the results of all the efforts I make

7. Consider selling items not requiring importing. I am testing out short reads/stories in erotica. I have never sold a Kindle book in my life, but after finding out how similar the research process is to that of PL, I’m finding myself more and more confident about giving it a go. I’m even 2/3 with my raunchy book, go me!

So there ya go, 7 things I would be honored for you to consider as the Chinese celebrate the new year. Oops, almost forgot. CONSIDER IMPORTING FROM OTHER COUNTRIES! India and a few places in Europe are my fav! Check them out same as you would any other supplier and see what gold you can dig up while others wait for the Chinese holiday to end.

Hope you enjoyed and are motivated to take action. Please share this with someone you feel would find it helpful.

Myths Your Competitors Want You To Believe

Back from the dead and with zombie like knowledge I hope you’ll find helpful. I’ll save the cliches for another day and jump right to it…

Myth 1

“Low searches means there’s no money to be made”

Correction, low conversations from searchers to buyers may indicate there is little money to be made. Which is more appealing, a product searched 1000x a month converting at 10% profiting $10 or a product searched 10,000x a month converting at 1% profiting $10? The answer…you’ll make the same amount even though one is searched 10x as much. Makes you think, right? If the product searched only 1000x a month made $11 profit, you’re literally in the lead in comparison to the product searched 10,000x a month.

Myth 2

“The profit is in small and lightweight products” 

Nope, not true. Usually it’s an easier item to import for sure, but heavier products can still be profitable.

1. Usually competition is slim
2. If you are willing to be patient and ship via sea, it’s usually more than affordable.
3. You’ll want to always do your numbers. Sometimes you’ll pay just as much to have Amazon to fulfill as you would to ship yourself, meaning the Prime members
can look towards you to buy vs the abundance of Merchant fulfilled sellers that usually dominate the page for heavier items.
4. The hassle to send back larger, heavier items can lead to a lower return rate…Amazon likes low return rates

Myth 3

“I need thousands of dollars or hundreds of products to invest or get started”

Nawwwww, with a little patience it can be far less. Aliexpress is making it easier for people to test. You can also work with potential suppliers to get test orders for your “team” and a team can consist of 10 people or a dozen people.

You can send all to Amazon to test or even do a merchant fulfilled listing to test, though results may differ depending on your competition and their offer. You can also work with your supplier to get a credit toward your first bulk order grant it you go with them so that your sample investment isn’t made in vain.

If you can find a generic duplicate on eBay with a seller selling multiples, you can buy in bulk and of course reach out to them to see if you can get a discount for doing so. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BUY HUNDREDS OF UNITS TO GET STARTED!

When PL Ideas Aren’t Already Being Sold

You’ve find the idea private label product. You’ve done research to validate it’s something that’s consistently being searched for, it’s profitable, and you have supplier options via Alibaba, Trade Key, and the like. There’s only one issue…it’s not currently being sold on Amazon.com. Is this good, bad, or something in between? Well, it can certainly be a great thing or it could be a heartbreak waiting to happen. To further confirm which your particular private label idea is, consider the following:

In addition to the normal check points in verifying an idea (profitability, competition, etc.) I’d ask myself WHY is it not on Amazon and go from there or verify that it’s not on Amazon, but the term/keyword phrase I am identifying the idea with is a term/keyword phrase recognized by Amazon’s buyers. Item to consider:

1.) Is item restricted?
2.) Does item go by another term?
3.) Does item have US patent and/or designate authorized users to sell it?
4.) Is it being sold on eBay? If so, hit ‘completed listings’ to left and see if there’s proof by numbers in green indicating a sale.
Now not be upset the excited, but keep in mind that at the end of the day, both here in the US and by Amazon’s customer base, sometimes the simple fact is no one cares to buy the item…period. If that’s the case, you’ll want to take a hard pass and keep researching new ideas.

 

Apply These 3 Legal Marketing Hacks To Your Amazon Biz

lawSo I may know a thing or two about Amazon, but me and the law have no relations. That’s why I was happy to get insight from Aaron Kelly, Founder and Senior Partner at Kelly / Warner Law.

As a seasoned, top-rated internet marketing focused attorney, Aaron prides himself on assisting entrepreneurs market better & keeping it all legal.

Find out more about Aaron at www.kellywarnerlaw.com and enjoy the following actionable insight into leveraging the law, selling online, and marketing!

—————————

The e-commerce private label industry is exploding — in a good way! Experts predict that by 2020, online shopping will be a $523-billion business, in the U.S. alone. And guess what? A giant chunk of that $523 is coming from private label entrepreneurs who are molding multi-million-dollar companies by leveraging Amazon’s FBA program and other third-party-selling, e-commerce platforms.

Yes, my friends, there is money to be made! The time has come to dip your toe in the private label pond. So, let’s take a few minutes to chat about some “legal hacks” associated with the niche.

Someone Left A Bad Review. Now What?

A big headache for online sellers is bad reviews. Sometimes they come from competitors, other times from legitimate customers — of both the sane and “implacable” variety. So, the question is: Can you get a bad review deleted? Sometimes. Let’s review a few scenarios.

Competitor Posts Fake, Negative Review On Your Product Page

reviewSure, free speech is free speech; in the U.S., censuring opinions is unlawful. However, purposefully and publically lying about person, product or business, to the point of harm, IS against the law. If you catch a competitor doing this, there is a solid chance you can a) win a lawsuit and b) get the post removed. Click here to read more about appropriate actions if you suspect a competitor is dabbling in some subversive black-hat marketing.

Legitimate Customer, With A Gripe, Posts A Bad Review On Your Product Page

Yikes! Someone posted a scathing review on a listing and it has decimated sales. Help!

First thing to do is breathe. This problem has been overcome by thousands of people; you, too, will get through this.

Now, consider the problem post. Ask yourself: Is it true? If yes, respond politely and publicly to the complainer. Consumers love to see customer service. Often, a polite, genuinely concerned response to the negative post can completely cancel out a scathing rant. So long as you confront the problem and offer solutions, all is forgiven in the eyes of many consumers. After all, nobody is perfect and the majority of people on this planet understand that mistakes happen. It’s how the mistake is handled that matters.

If, however, the post in question isn’t true, several scenarios may apply. Counterfeiters, who are leaching off your listing, may be to blame. If so, there are ways to alert Amazon of a possible fraudster, which can result in their account’s termination and deletion of related elements, including misplaced reviews — ultimately solving your problem. Also, if a consumer leaves a review that contains false statements of fact, you may be able to get a court order and have it removed — depending, of course, on the details.

Someone Hijacked A Listing. Options?

hijackAnother online selling headache? Listing hijackers who run rampant on open catalog platforms, like Amazon. (If you’ve never heard of “product listing hijackers,” bookmark this page, quickly jump here for an overview, then come back.)

You know the culprits; pirating counterfeiters who prey on listings. At best, they’re a nuisance; at worst, they can kill a legitimate listing — and associated profits — by disseminating inferior-quality products. So, it’s important to strike back hard and quick.

So, how does one go about shaking a hijacker?

  • Contact the culprit. Be polite. Who knows, it could all be one big misunderstanding. And believe it or not, this is often the case. Someone new to the niche clicks the wrong button and presto, they’ve inadvertently taken over another listing. In such cases, the newbie usually apologizes profusely and everything goes back to normal. No harm, no foul — and most importantly, no headaches or solution investments.
  • If you contact the culprit to no avail, it may be time to enlist a lawyer to send a strongly worded letter on your behalf. Typically, the buck stops here and hijackers jump off. After all, they’d rather leach off people who aren’t lawyered up. But believe it or not, the cost of getting a professional letter is probably a lot less than you may assume.
  • Sometimes, the best life hack is good old fashioned investigating. And that’s certainly true in the online private label game. As simple as it may sound, the best — albeit not foolproof — way to avoid a hijacking / counterfeiting tangle is by vetting your supply chain. And when we say “vetting” we mean VET-TING! Spend 100% more time on the task then you anticipated. Quadruple check everything. Get references and follow up with them.

Avoid FTC Fines By Getting A Marketing Audit

finesMarketing mistakes can cost a bundle. Attorneys General and the Federal Trade Commission have the authority to sue and fine parties that engage in “unfair and deceptive marketing.”

So, what constitutes unfair and deceptive marketing, you ask? The list is long and detail-dependent; what’s A-OK for one marketing campaign may be a NO-NO in another. That said, here are some ballpark guidelines:

  • Don’t Lie. Basically, don’t try to be tricky with consumers. Regarding marketing copy, don’t try to trick them with fancy language and lies of omission; don’t wizard statistics and studies out of thin air.
  • Material relationships and partnerships must be disclosed to potential buyers before the payment stage of a transaction. Additionally, brands must disclose marketing elements that affect the overall perception of a promotional piece.
  • Say No To Fake News Sites. Once upon an unregulated time, fake news sites were all the rage. Now? Not so much. The FTC thinks they’re “unfair and deceptive,” plus, fake news sites often come with intellectual property baggage.
  • Don’t exaggerate findings. Weight loss product marketers often get trapped in embellished-claims quick sand. And it’s little wonder; it’s an exceptionally competitive niche! So, marketers may sometimes fins themselves highlighting an atypical result as if it’s the norm — or drawing false, but great sounding, conclusions based on questionable scientific studies. Avoid this at all costs. The FTC hates it and dolls out hefty fines to those who dare do it.

If there were ever a profitable opportunity, it’s the online private label space. Experts predict the niche will be generating revenues in the multi-billions by 2020. Last year, Amazon FBA sellers, alone, shipped over 1 billion items to people in 185 countries!

Profitable private label operations safeguard their operations with a rock solid defense. Hopefully you can use the above tips to tighten up your ship and react more effectively in the face of a business threat.

Rocky Mountain Reseller Conference Take-A-Ways

Woah!! I thought jetlag was something to get over, but this weekend will certainly live with me and the way I do business forever!

I met some incredible people and learned things I’m immediately applying to my business this week. Below is what I thought might be worth sharing with my fabulous readers.
Read Time 3-4 Minutes

Firstly, if you have yet to take action, be honest with yourself and ask why. Don’t let the unknowns be the reason. How to do this, what do you do if or when this happens, you KNOW it works and that’s the first and only thing you need to be certain of if you’ve yet to take action.

doubtHowever, if you have doubts this works though you’ve seen the growth and success in local meet-ups, Facebook communities, blogs, podcast, and/or forums, then find something else. Don’t waste your time with anything that doesn’t feel right, no matter the possible reward. Your peace of mind is priceless!

Ok so if you’re still reading I’m guessing you’ve already started and are wanting to grow or you’ve admitted to yourself you were making excuses or talking yourself out of taking actions with “what ifs.” Fair enough. Now because you’re clear on the why and have chosen to move beyond it, I’m going to share a secret with you.  Addressing the unknown is so much easier when you can specially state your predicament (which as of now doesn’t exist) to people who have been there PLUS (you’ll like this next part) it’s less hassle to find solutions with resources from $100/day sales being active vs. making $0/day and feeling the need to get answers to questions that don’t even apply to you yet…maybe never.

So to sum it up, take action and if you doubt it all, move on to something you will take action on.

And now for the actionable tips from my notes! Ready??

1. Cynthia of suspensionprevention.com is a superhero! She saves asses (and suspended listings & accounts). She made it clear we are all at risk and we need to be aware at all times of our compliance score (returns, negative feedback, defect rate, etc.). Don’t take anything from another listing or manufacture site. And be mindful of how you do review blasts. Be sure they state that they received a discount (if they did)…and don’t have them review BEFORE they get the product. Now honestly, how does that even work?

2. The Expert Panel featured heavy hitters, Andy Slamans of ecombros.com/, Robert Rickey & Stephen Somers of marketplacesuperheroes.com, Scott Voelker (a.k.a. The Amazing Seller) of theamazingseller.com/, and Brad DeGraw of videohost.leadpages.co/azdoneforyou/. Oh and one of my favorite people ever, Mr. Jeff Cohen from Seller Labs (Feedback Genius, Snagshout, etc). Some key takes include:

  • Always order a sample…even better get into the habit of ordering production samples (sample of first item made in your run)
  • If in the states and seeking domestic suppliers, go to your library (it’s a place that holds a lot of books and computers that you pay for via taxes lol) and ask a librarian for their manufacture reference source. From my experience it’s usually behind their desk or in the reference section.
  • If you’re truly building a brand, invest in it. Get a more unique look, take the time to redesign to address common complaints, and more importantly TRADE MARK!
  • Consolidate shipping when receiving samples from multiple suppliers
  • Try and get as much done via your manufacture as possible, they have connections ya know (inserts, packaging, labels, etc.)!?
  • Stop talking, stop asking, and START taking action!

Okay that’s my Cliff Notes for Saturday’s festivities. I would love to meet more people who read this blog or listen to the podcasts, so be sure to share what ecommerce or importing conferences YOU’RE attending 2016. I want to be where you are! Share where you’ll be this year or give me your thoughts on this post by commenting below 🙂

Notes for Expert Consult #1

So I had my first 20 minute call with someone who teaches how to do $10K+ a month…here are the results:

READ TIME < 2.5 Minute

I’ll be honest guys, wasn’t impressed at all by the first person I consulted with. I took steps to share concerns before hand, but we jump on the call and he seems to not understand them, though the reason for sharing days before was to avoid this. It was obvious very soon in the call that he may not be too much help in reviving listings.

Here is what I got from the call, I hope you’ll find something helpful (note these are not my suggestions/thoughts):

When starting/launching, your focus should be reviews. It will be the factor to help increase conversions, thus lead to more sales (in addition to optimizing your listing/offer of course). Take advantage of autoresponder sequences asking about
satisfaction and asking for review.

Competition should be vetted by reviews. Multiple competitors with 1000s of reviews with an average of 4.5+ will take a lot to beat out. Instead consider review counts in low hundreds preferably lower than 4.5 star average.

When building your PL brand build your presence off Amazon as well through influencers with a following. Bloggers, Vloggers, etc.

Hacks like clicking competitor product, then yours (or even better buying both), searching for your product and clicking it in results vs direct link, having questions asked, and adding your product to one’s wishlists can help build ranking and relevance.

Removing bad reviews can be done for really one of two reasons, harsh language or a review not relevant to the product. You can reach out to reviewer, however it can be difficult if they are using a nickname, in that case you’ll want to comment through your buying account and doing your best to resolve the issue centered
around the review. Next focus should be to building additional positive reviews.

Auto campaigns for PPC is great for one reason…ideas for more keywords via the reports. It usually will be higher. Running auto for a week, then turning the successful terms to a manually campaign is more beneficial. Sellers should also consider sponsored banner ads that can show on competitors listing (note you have to have a vendor express account).

8 Ways To Make You Look Like a Huge Biz

Okay so maybe not huge, but big. Like a “real biz.” A lot of us are operating out our home, but no need for any of our customers to know that and possible deem us any less valuable. So here are 8 ways to make yourself look like a big bad business worthy of others’ hard earned moolah!

8001. 800#, phone.com can make it possible for less than $10 and guess what? You can forward calls to your cell (or home phone)

2. Get a domain (web address) and start using your email via the domain…john@domain.com vs ryaniscool@gmail.com

3. Phone greeting, you can get a great greeting on Fiverr, I’ve done it. A professional clean voice with background music (or no music) announcing your company name or brand and asking them to hold while they are connected to a representative (WANT TO APPEAR BIGGER? Use the menu and extension option and simply have calls forward to same number or possibly some to a phone and some directly to a voicemail box)

4. Actually go ahead and incorporate or from a LLC

5. Branding helpful content on your site and shared elsewhere. Photos, informational graphic art, videos, etc. Be sure to post a logo, watermark, etc and if video, introduce the company at the start and end (example, Ryan here from XYZ Company bringing you 10 yoga tips to make life easier…thanks for listening and don’t forget to stay updated for more helpful tips at XYZCompany.com)

team6. Take pics of your team and put it on your site. Take a pic of your office, your warehouse (which may be the corner of your garage), a fun picture of you working (maybe just you packing a box). Get creative and show your customers you are human too and can be trusted to deliver a product that they’ll appreciate

7. On website post “badges of accomplishments.” Did you attend a conference? Grab their logo and post in a section with other logos and title it something like “Who we’ve connected with…” anything that connects you to them and of course keep it honest! Think about those sites that like to post the logos of CNN, ABC, FoxNews, etc when selling a good, you can do the same with other trusted sources you’ve worked with.

test8. Incorporate testimonials in your product/service. Example: On an insert, “5 reasons you’ll love product XYZ as told by 5 of our past customers” then share their comments. If you don’t quite have any, get some product testers and record feedback accordingly (this can be a craigslist ad stating free XYZ in exchange for honest feedback and/or constructive criticism)

Refunds for Returns Test

Latest update as of 4/12 below titled ‘UPDATE 4′

Update as of 4/12. I got reimbursement for $47.40.

Test Day 1

Alrighty so got my hands on Rocket Refunds from Elaine over at http://www.thechocolatelabapps.com/ where she blogs about her Amazon growth. She has a course called Rocket Refunds and another called Rocket VAS. One details how to find missing money you may have not even noticed was gone (get paid for refunds, destroyed goods, etc) and the other is how to use VAs or virtual assistance to expedite your business growth and manage your biz.

Now to put what she teaches to the test, day 1.

Here’s what I did and day 2 I’ll share results if not on the bottom of this page at time of reading:

I had 5 items that may have qualify for reimbursement since April 2015 (smaller test). I followed Elaine’s step to reaching out to support. Fingers crossed I get me some moolah! Oh and so far the video instructions are simple easy to follow, with my attention span, that’s a huge plus! NOTE: Contacted support in 2 o’ clock hour on March 23rd.

Test Day 2

It’s the 3 o’ clock hour and I’ve heard back nothing 🙁 I put in a new ticket with a new concern of mine regarding a possible refund adjustment. Fingers crossed one of my tickets gets answered and results in a refund.

At 5:46 I got an email from Amazon, yay regarding first inquiry. Basically they told me what they wouldn’t refund, but asked me to allow the time to research the rest of my concerns. This was one of the smaller test that would result in me getting reimbursed for 5 items. So far, 1 declined and 1 I must wait a certain time frame before disputing (which Elaine said…I just neglected to listen).

Test Day 3

Got me a follow up email, seems the case was escalated or transferred and now I’m asked for a bit more specific details regarding 27 items I’d like money back for, but no worries, I have a report with all the details the need. I replied at 5:46PM EST (Note I was out and they responded earlier in the day at 12:42PM)

UPDATE 1…5 units will be reimbursed in the form of cash to my account, yay! Got the email Sunday 3/27 at 4:41PM

UPDATE 2…2nd message was a money maker y’all check out the response (it’s a bit blurry, sorry but $179 is mine!!):

shot

UPDATE 3…Haven’t sent anymore messages to Amazon though there are a good 5-6 methods to attack. Now Amazon has replied saying that they have already reimbursed me for some things (I’ll just take their word). Today and maybe the other day I got me some more money. Today $48.47!

48

UPDATE 4…Got the confirmation email that I’ll be getting back $47.40, woot woot! Being told the massive amount of goods I thought I may be reimbursed was already returned back to my inventory 🙁 Well there goes my huge payday, but for now I’ll take my $47.40.

47 40

 

Let’s Chat March 17

All day 3/17/2016 I’m going to be on Snapchat sharing my adventures at The Pet Expo in Orlando AND I will be answering your questions you snap me. You can ask via text or a video and I’ll respond. Ask anything importing or Amazon related. ONLY 3/17.

Snap user is FBARyan

snap

Add me and send your questions March 17th regarding importing and Amazon.