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GOLD! Ask me anything about eCommerce (Ongoing)

Discussion in 'Business Models, Niches, Industries' started by biophase, Aug 28, 2015.

  1. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    "what mistakes try your hardest to avoid?" - I would not sell what everyone else is selling. Personally I would not go this route, BUT it is still working, so if you want to make a quick buck, the current Amazon methods that everyone is doing still work. This is not the path to building a company though, but it can make some money.

    This is hard to do, but I'm trying not to brand just to brand. If you just slap a sticker on a product, people can hijack your listing easily. I'd like to make it so that my brand is somehow designed into the product. So others can't listing under you, and if they do, the customer will know that they got a fake.

    "What areas would you of focused on in your business instead?" - I am focused on being different. I'm not launching a knife because there needs to be another knife for sale out there. If I could make a super undulable knife, then I'd go that direction. I am launching a new business right now. In fact my first shipment shipped on Friday. The product in this business is nothing special actually. What is special about this business is where the proceeds are donated.

    I don't know if $2000 saved will get you anywhere. You are talking about 500pcs of a $2 product. A $2 product is likely to be shit. Not saying it can't be done, but you need to do some research.

    There are tons of Amazon progress threads on this forum. I would read them all. It doesn't take alot of time.
     
  2. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    You can use this concept alot. Watch from 44 seconds.



    My friend was competing in a space where everyone was selling 1 and 2 packs of the product. So I told him to do a 4 pack. Guess what, it worked! Sometimes the answer is easy.
     
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  3. MoneyDoc
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    MoneyDoc Gold Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    To be honest, I think a lot of sellers on Amazon are overreacting to the new TOS. A lot of rumors spreading, "My sisters-best friend's- Dad's-Cousin got banned for giving away 50 units."

    The new TOS is extremely vague. From what I've heard from Amazon reps and fellow sellers with designated amazon reps, the whole point of the TOS is to target those nasty sellers that are using other "blackhat" methods, which I can't discuss, sending hundreds and thousands of fraudulent orders to their listings ranking them extremely quick. It's usually those products that are ranking 1-5 for main keywords and your're wondering how they're there with a crappy product/listing. I think amazon is doing us all a favor.

    Anyways, sorry to hijack the thread biophase! I have this bookmarked for the near future.

    Thanks.
     
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  4. putinwork
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    putinwork Read -> PUT.IN.WORK Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Good to have an update on the topic as the landscape has changed drastically.

    I've been selling on AMZ for 2.5yrs and it's just like Pre-Panda right now.

    A few questions for you:

    1) Can you give us a rough % of AMZ sales VS your own eCommerce? The reason I ask is because as you know, AMZ has been banning people left and right and this is the problem with AMZ- No Control. Is this something you see as a big problem, and just riding the AMZ wave as long as possible? I think I would be more comfortable getting 60% of sales on my own platform and missing 40% of sales and always looking over my shoulder.

    2) How do you plan on protecting/hedging against the possibility of losing the ability to sell on AMZ?

    Sometimes most sellers get banned for no fault of their own (customers input wrong data, competitors play dirty etc). I'm almost at a point of fearing Amazon controlling my life because unfortunately at this point, I'm all in on AMZ - but looking to diversify as we speak.

    My thoughts on AMZ is quite simple, it's a good platform for either highly recognized brands to get the best deal, or non-loyal brands that customers don't really care too much about (like silicone gloves or whatever). I think the way to succeed if you aren't on Amazon is to have a product that can be easily targeted to customers and show them a solution to a problem they didn't know existed.

    The problem with Amazon is you have to know what you want before hand, which is why Wal-mart and other big B&M will always dominate. Another reason why I would be headed towards B2B sales in niche speciality stores for my product.

    Here's a good example: when you buy milk,toilet paper,whatever at Wal-mart/Target etc you will always end up with another item you never planned on getting. This is something Amazon cannot dominate YET because their weakness is lack of visualization. Would you agree?
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
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  5. nbe
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    nbe New Contributor

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    What strategy would you advise in a small market for example Netherlands population 17 million?
     
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  6. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    I don't know the exact number but it's over 50% and it's growing every year. Yes, it's a big problem, but it's better to have that problem than just losing sales to others on Amazon.

    I keep building my brand. That's about all I can do. Niche ecommerce stores have a tough road against Amazon. I think it's mainly due to shipping speed of Prime.

    I should say that I have been selling online for 8 years now and 4 of them were not on Amazon at all. So it's not like I can't make money without Amazon. But for those people who only started on Amazon, they have no experience selling on their own stores and that may be a problem if they got banned.

    I don't agree with this because you are talking about brick and mortar sales vs online sales. Yes, when walking in a store, B&Ms have the opportunity to advertise everything in the store as you walk the aisles. Right now, people go into grocery stores because it's not as convenient as online and at the same price.

    But at some point, when people STOP walking into Walmart because toilet paper, milk and oranges cost the same online as in the store, you will see a tip over to buying everything online. It's just saves time. If I could get a gallon of milk to my house for $1.99 shipped, within a day. Why would I go to the store. I can just sit at home and click away. We just aren't quite there yet.
     
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  7. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Not really sure on this. But, I'd probably go with a small product that people need every month or every few months. When you have a small customer base, you need repeat buyers.
     
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  8. RisingStars
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    Hello biophase,

    First of all thanks for doing this.
    I would like to ask you what you think about outsourcing especially when starting out?
    You said that you improve your products yourself and let your manufacturer produce it.
    Do you hire a designer or do you make the drawing yourself?
    Do you let someone else do the CAD animation if necessary?
    Do you hire web developers and graphic designers to build your ecommerce stores (or do you use a shopsystem with template or program yourself)?
    Do you take product photos yourself or do you hire professional photographers?

    My situation is like this: I am just starting out and dont have that much money to invest (I invest everything I got).
    I could hire a professional photographer now to make my product photos or I could invest in equipment and learn photo skills and do it myself.
    Wouldnt be that expensive because tutorials/guides are free at the internet and I can borrow a high quality cam from a friend and so on.
    I am just wondering what you think about that? Better to learn a skill you need for your ecommerce business or hire a professional who does it for you?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  9. SeanyHang
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    SeanyHang Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    This is probably considered a hand-holdy question - but I would imagine a lot of guys here might be thinking the same thing.

    If I'm going to try and make a better knife, the first thing I'm going to be thinking of is the metal used to make it (then maybe the shape, the wood used in the handle, etc.)

    So then, I go to Google and type in "Best type of metal used in knife" where I find a page that tells me that the "ultra premium" type of metals are going to be " CPM S90V, M390, ZDP-189, Elmax and CTS-XHP".

    After I searched this I realized that this particular page is talking about pocket-knives. I figure the metals in pocket knives and kitchen knives probably differ due to their different uses and do another search for "the best type of metal used in kitchen knives".

    I then get a bunch of different results and pages with information that all differ and possibly contradict one another. But I read through and find that -DUH- not only are pocket knife alloys and kitchen knife alloys going to be different.. but individual knives in your kitchen set are going to have different alloys than one another.


    As I read through, I still have no idea which metals are actually going to be the best. As matter of fact, after these simple google searches I realize that there is a PLETHORA of information on knives that I've never even thought about before.

    As somebody who isn't a cook or a knife enthusiast, the only things I've ever thought about a knife was that they were sharp, had a blade and a handle. But then out of the corner of my eye I notice a chart on knife anatomy.

    [​IMG]

    Holy crap. There's a lot more to knife anatomy than I EVER would have thought.
    And then...

    [​IMG]

    Mother of God.... LOOK AT ALL THAT STUFF THAT I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS!! This obviously isn't a kitchen knife.. But should I know what this stuff is in case I want to be able to incorporate it into my kitchen knife?!?!

    Stainless steel? Non-stainless? Hell, I may even want to look into ceramic knives.. And I know even less about ceramic than metal!




    MY CONCLUSION

    So after my 20 minutes of research (This post wasn't hypothetical.. I actual did the searches and then posted what I was thinking) I found that I know even less about knives then when I started.

    This is a PHENOMENAL thing and I think drives home the point of why @biophase 's process is superior to just finding shit on amazon and alibaba and then importing that.. Barrier to entry. Most sellers are not going to even do the 20 minutes of research I just did.. They're going to find something that's selling on amazon, find it on alibaba, change the logo, and import/sell the exact same thing that 48 other guys are selling. With a bit of research you'll be able to stand out from the competition and sell a better product.


    ***But my question is***

    How do you determine when you've researched enough? Do you spend weeks researching how to make the best knife? Do you buy books and spend months on knife forums to become a knife expert?

    Maybe you just do what I did and utilize simple google searches - But that's also a rabbit hole that could take forever to get the answers that you're looking for AND result in analysis paralysis.

    There is obviously a point when you've spent enough time doing your research and it's time to get the ball rolling and start making some sales. When is that time for you @biophase ?

    (Also - I'm aware that this is the type of question with an answer that is probably something along the lines of "it depends" depending on the person, the product, the complexity, etc... But maybe give us a small glimpse into your mind to see how you might put in the research and determine what changes need to take place.)


     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
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  10. SeanyHang
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    SeanyHang Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    ** Funny Coincidence - Not meant to Hijack thread **

    I had a really strange sense of deja-vu as I was writing my last post on researching knife quality.. I felt like I dreamed about writing it or that I was supposed to write it or something. Weird. Whatever. (Whether or not you believe in a higher power, alternate realities or deja vu just being random neurons firing off and enticing feeling of doing things before is up to you. I'm not trying to start a philosophical debate, I just wanted to mention the feeling of deja vu.)

    But what was really funny was after this post I went upstairs to talk to my dad and see how he's feeling (he got sent home from work with a neck spasm and I'm home due to a broken fibula). I start talking to him about the forum and this post in particular when I notice that the kitchen sink is full of dishes.

    I hate that crap - I like things to be in order and can't stand eye sores like full garbage cans or sinks. So I start emptying the dishwasher to make room for the dishes in the sink, all the while talking to my dad about this thread in particular and how he really should start checking out the forum (he hates his job with a burning passion).

    What's the very first thing I randomly pull out??

    [​IMG]

    A knife with some crappy a$$ metal-quality apparently!

    Hahaha... This thread is MEANT TO BE!:notworthy:

    I'm loving it so far @biophase .. Thanks so much for all the knowledge and the future Gold Thread.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
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  11. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    I still do everything myself. So I draw stuff on paper, hire a fiver guy to make it look nicer. I haven't had to do any CAD animation. I build all my own ecommerce stores, I buy templates and modify them.

    I take all the photos myself. Back in 2010 I knew nothing about photography. I took a few courses and now I have a full studio at the warehouse. As you can probably tell, I am a hands on person. I do all my own photo editing. The only thing I outsource are logos because I am not that creative.

    I don't mind learning skills. I know people here like to outsource because time is money, but you can ask me about any aspects of my business and I know it inside and out.

    Oh, the other things I outsource are payroll, taxes and importing stuff. I know nothing about customs and duties and ISFs.
     
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  12. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Thanks for the post. It was a great example of the process. So guess what... if you emailed a few people in China now, you can at least talk intelligently about a knife.

    When you get 2 quotes back of the same looking knife and one is using metal rivets an the other is using silver plastic ones, you will actually know what they mean. Whereas before, you probably would have just glossed over that fact and picked the company that gave you a cheaper quote.

    I think you will know when you have researched enough. Think about it, you are launching a business. You just did 20 minutes of research. How much research do people do before opening a restaurant, or buying real estate. How much knife knowledge would you have in 3 days?

    Then go on Amazon and look at the top selling knives. Read the reviews, especially the 1-2 star reviews. The reviews should mean much more to you now. Find out why some knives are shitty and see if you can fix them. Maybe people like heavier handles? lighter handles?

    Also, another thing to do is to research how each knife is used. I have a kitchen set of knives but I use whichever one is clean. I have no idea what the big knife is used for vs the skinny knife. They all cut apples fine. :) Once you know why something is designed the way it is, you will understand it alot better.

    I'd probably keep going until I found a new to improve the knife. I don't know how or what it will be, but it has got to be possible!
     
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  13. DrkSide
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    I like that I am not the only one here that operates like this.

    So if you were going to launch a new brand would you start with Amazon, your own store, or a combination of both?
     
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    Redify PARKED

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    Any recommendations for someone whom is starting out with around $1k capital. Would you do drop shippping, private label?
     
  15. SeanyHang
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    SeanyHang Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    When you walk into a phenomenal thread and see that a new user asked what type of business to start with a monetary limit.

    [​IMG]

    My thoughts are with you, dear friend.
     
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  16. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    I would go Amazon first, then open your own store in about 3-6 months.
     
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  17. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    I would go Amazon with $1k. You just need to improve the right product. I would not do dropshipping or private label. You would not have enough money to do those effectively.
     
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  18. Lukebrisbane
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    Ok, so action guide. Would you recommend saving 5k minimum, picking 1 product to start with. Read everything you can about it, how its made, different materials, best selling in that section, worst selling. Spend a good month or so just understanding everything about it. Then get a CAD design done up and send it to a few Chinese manufactures and get some feedback before proceeding further? I'm sure its a zillion times more complicated then that, I just wanted to get a general direction.

    Thank you for taking the time out of your business to help us.
     
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  19. JAJT
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    JAJT Ha Ha! Business Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Bio - how often do you have to deal with Amazon's "control issues"?

    I have to say, I've been selling on Amazon now for about 2 years and I'm not going to lie - I've been considering throwing my hands up at it. I'm ALWAYS fighting SOME sort of battle with Amazon over frivolous, silly things that are out of my control.

    I have a product right now, for example, that was selling wonderfully for 1.5 years now. One of my first products. It has 132 reviews on it, 4.5 stars. The product is good - maybe not "great" but considering it was like my third product ever it's pretty spiffy. I actually got it selling really well recently with some refocused effort on it and what happens? A SINGLE complaint from ONE customer about it being 'inauthentic' and BOOM - listing locked. This is my own brand and I'm the only seller.

    I call support, they say it's not within ther power to look into it, that I have to email some other department. So I email some other department - no responses. It's been over a month now. More support chats, no help. More emails - no response.

    I deal with stuff like this regularly with Amazon. It seems there's no end to it. I put out one fire and another pops up a few weeks later. And I don't even have a ton of products and I run a fairly legit and high-customer-service business.

    So do you deal with this often? Are you always fighting uphill battles with amazon support or am I just seriously unlucky with this?
     
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  20. PopEmersen
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    Which company did he use?
     
  21. RisingStars
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    Thanks for your great answer! :)
     
  22. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    I would talk to a Chinese manufacturer before you do any CAD drawings or design changes. You need to talk to them first and see what they can do and how much it costs. You don't want your changes to make the product cost double or triple.
     
  23. biophase
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    biophase Legendary Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    I have not had any of these issues. Maybe I have been lucky. But I am also in very noncompetitive niches.
     
  24. MJ DeMarco
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    Admin Post
    Tagged GOLD. Thanks @biophase for the new AMA and stepping up to the plate with some awesome answers!
     
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    In your opinion, how would you define a competitive niche vs noncompetitive?
     

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