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GOLD! Ask me anything about eCommerce (Ongoing)

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

  1. pkom79
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    pkom79 Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    I deal with it quite often. I had two of my product taken down for months. I exchanged a lot of messages with Seller Support and the most annoying now thing was that in 90% of cases they responded with unhelpful generic email template. I had a copyright infringement claim against one of my product (it turned out that a generic product name everybody used was trademarked). After discussing the case with the attorney that filed the claim and meeting all of their demands it took Amazon over a month to reinstate my listing.

    I guess it's a cost of doing business on Amazon.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  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 usually tell by the quality of the Amazon listings on the first 2 pages if a niche will be competitive or not. You can tell if the other sellers went to Amazon school. :)
     
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  3. James Thornton
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    James Thornton Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Love the focus on quality to add value. That's my goal with whatever I work on: create scarce quality.
     
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  4. ddall
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    ddall continuous self-improvement Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I've had a listing blocked as well, once for title violation (this was easily corrected by an amendment) and a second product went under manual review. I had no idea why, was selling 40 units plus a day at $59 each so was not to happy. Ultimately it was revealed the item was flagged by a negative review. Yes, a negative review, left in the seller feedback area, flagged a manual review. The looked at all the items in the warehouse and advised I needed to write a letter detailing how I was going to correct the problem (which I was never made aware of). The product I might add had a 4.7 rating at the time.
    So I start writing the letter, and as I'm compiling my argument in detail, I have the 1 star feedback removed as it was a product review placed in seller feedback area (which is for shipping speed, etc)...anyway that instantly unlocked the entire thing. Listing was frozen for a week. Never submitted the letter.

    On a side note, despite the high volume of sales I pulled that product once I ran out of stock as I plan to get it completely redesigned from the ground up which is going to cost a lot but I know I can make something just fantastic and the demand is there. Laving a lot of money on the table, was a tough choice but have to gear up other products for Christmas.

    Also, with this knife analogy, Im actually somewhat involved in this space and I will say it is ruthlessly cut throat (pun intended) and unbelievably saturated. I blink and the space is filled with new entrants giving all their product away.
     
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  5. napier
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    napier New Contributor

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    Biophase,

    First, thank you for this AMA you have provided a wealth of information.

    I am assuming since you have been in this game for some time that you have established contacts with various overseas manufactures? For someone just getting started in the world of ecommerce do you recommend just contacting suppliers through sites like Alibaba? Do you use any U.S. manufactures? I know this has been talked about in several other threads, but I wanted to get your take on it.
     
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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 think that being in the game a long time does anything for you in terms of relationships. You always have to look for new factories and such. The factory you've been using for 4 years cannot make everything that you need. I do use alibaba alot. I just go with the email and get samples and the back and forth. I actually went to China and have now met with all the factories that I'm using. The only manufacturer I haven't met yet is in Pakistan and I'll probably never meet them.

    I don't use any US manufacturers because they just can't make the products I want at a low enough price to compete.
     
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  7. SeanyHang
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    SeanyHang Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Extremely interesting response. So does this mean that you don't mind products/niches that have a lot of sellers as long as those main sellers have listings you know you can blow away? I personally have been using Jungle Scout to do product research just to give me a general idea of the competition.

    I've been trying to come up with product ideas lately that solve pain points - and thus I sit in front of my computer and just think "uhhh...COUGHING! YEA COUGHING SUCKS!" and then do an amazon search for "coughing" and see what long tail keywords/ products show up... From there I find products that look like I may be able to PL (at this point just in a "me-too", sense) after searching and drilling deep and maybe looking at seller accounts to see what products they're selling. Basically I'm trying yours and @Vigilante 's approach to finding products rather than looking at amazons top 100, movers and shakers or ebays top selling items to find goods. I'm doing this because I completely agree with you guys that the top selling products that are also cheap and light are wayyyyyyy too saturated and competitive now... I'd rather find something that not EVERYONE is after for a quick buck.

    So anyway while I was doing one of my searches, I came across backseat organizers. I hadn't seen one before and I thought that they were pretty nifty! They definitely solved a pain point for parents who have to deal with their kids crap all over the place in their cars. If I wanted to go all out in true @biophase fashion I could figure out which fabrics and materials are going to be the most durable so they don't rip if the child really messes with it. I could make it not smell like shit (on one of the products there were several 1 start reviews that said the material STUNK). I could also figure out a way to make them more efficient with pocket placement and maybe secret zipper pockets. Maybe you could put a mirror on it - whatever there's tons of ways that you could modify this product to make it unique to you if you take more than the 10 seconds I just took to brainstorm random differences.

    But then I typed in "backseat organizers" in amazon in the "ALL" category and found this.
    [​IMG]

    Now 987 sellers is enough to scare me off. I honestly wouldn't even try messing with this product.. But then lets take a look at Jungle scout.

    [​IMG]

    This search is filtered by the Sales rank.. I like that they're all pretty low relatively speaking.. And I also like how most of them dont have THAT many reviews. The two top guys have 914 reviews and 447 reviews which I don't love (especially that 914) but I think I can manage to get more than 100 reviews which might boost my rank somewhere near these guys... Still I don't like this product much becuase there are too many sellers.

    Then...

    [​IMG]

    I filter the next search by estimated revenue. I've heard jungle scout can be hit or miss with this - but regardless I like to use it as a tool just to give me a general idea. The main thing I don't like about this is that the two guys on top seem to be generating almost all the revenue.. 23k, 18k, and then the third is all the way down at 8k... That could mean that those top two guys are some name brand product that will be extremely hard to compete with even with a better product.

    Finally.

    [​IMG]

    I sort by seller. Amazon is simply a seller on too many of these products. I'm not comfortable with that. I'm officially out and looking for another product.




    Now honestly.. the work that I just put in with brainstorming and jungle scout wasn't horrible at all. It took a few minutes of my time, yes - but now I know that I definitely don't want this item and believe it's competitive.

    Biophase - do you not even bother with this research? Would you look at something like back seat organizers and just check the guys listings to see if you can make a better listing? 987 sellers is a LOT of sellers - but some of those listing on the first page are absolutely garbage and you can undoubtedly do better. My suspicions are that you wouldn't do this product for a variety of reasons - but I'm curious to know why.
     
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  8. VegasMan
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    VegasMan Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER

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    After you get a manufacturer to customize a product for you is there any protection from a competitor going to that same manufacturer and ordering your new product? Is copy-catting something to even worry about or do you just keep customizing and moving on?
     
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  9. exclusives88
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    exclusives88 Silver Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    @SeanyHang I don't think 982 results is that competitive. What is not competitive for you? I do think that the sales amount is low - i'm not sure how accurate that is. merchant words say that the monthly search volume is around 154k.
     
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  10. MoneyDoc
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    MoneyDoc Gold Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    My niche has 2k listings in the "all categories" search. However, the top 3 guys are doing 1k+ sales a month. When I was entering this niche, I told myself "I just need 10% of their combined sales and I'll be happy". Turns out, I get about 30% of their combined sales.

    So my key determinant in entering a niche or not is that the top 3 listings (PL listings) are selling 3k+ units combined monthly.

    So as Exclusives said Sean, <1k results is barely competitive.
     
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  11. DrkSide
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    DrkSide Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    I have been looking at setting up Stitchlabs for my inventory control as I am going into other markets. It seems that it is the most recommended.

    I saw that you are using FBA to fill item sales from your website. Is there any issues with Stitch updating the inventory twice as it sees the sale from your website and again after Amazon ships the item?

    Also, for sales outside of Amazon are you having Amazon use non-descript boxes and tape for packages? (IE. no normal Amazon logos on boxes/tape)
     
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  12. exclusives88
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    exclusives88 Silver Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    This is exactly how i do my research. As long as the top 5 or 10 total sales are over 3k units then I am happy to be another competitor. Just 10% of the combined sales will be equal to 10 sales a day.
     
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  13. Paul David
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    Paul David Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    @biophase I'm intrigued on how you successfully set up other amazon accounts through completely different businesses and locations etc.

    Does that mean you have them businesses actually running from different physical addresses or do you just use a different address on paper to get around amazon?

    I was looking into the idea of separate amazon accounts by setting up completely different businesses but I know they can track your ip on logging in so I don't think it's possible to log into seller central from same location.



    Sent from my D5803 using Tapatalk
     
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  14. OperationMyWay
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    OperationMyWay Bronze Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    This thread should be of some help. Click Here.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2018
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  15. Paul David
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    Paul David Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Great stuff thanks.

    Sent from my D5803 using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2018
  16. SeanyHang
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    SeanyHang Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Hmmm. You know what? If i'm going to be honest about it, I don't actually have a number for what the right amount of competition is. Less is better. More is worse - but that's obviously completely relative and I now realize that I need to come up with something more quantifiable. I probably got that type of mindset after I read @Ecom man 's thread (and many other ebooks/programs on importing) and would see a lot of what he did (after reading that thread is when I took the jump into importing).

    That's talking about only having five competitors - but I'm sure @Ecom man has his own way of doing things completely different than the rest of us... it'd be awesome if we could create a separate thread (I don't want to hijack @biophase 's ) and have all of the guys who are successfully importing and selling on Amazon/ebay/ecommerce talk about their individual processes.. I'm sure there's a bunch of similarities but the differences in philosophies and processes would be fascinating.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2018
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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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    You know I look at your research and I'm thinking I would do this product. First of all, I don't believe Jungle Scout's numbers. Someone sent me some research that they did. Number 8 is one of my products. I sell maybe 1-2 a month. It's got 1, 3 star review. I don't know why JS thinks I sell 28 a month. I can't even give it away at $13 now! lol

    11421617_393551954165534_1448702080_n.jpg
    This is how I look at those products. They look pretty easy to make. They are definitely easy to modify and improve. I would take on the #1 and #2 competitor. They don't even have different colors to match my car. Why isn't there a gray, beige and black colors. Those 3 colors are the most popular interior car colors. You can do so many things to this product to make yours different and better.

    You don't even know how much one of these costs to make and you are tossing the idea away? What if each one costs $2 to make? Why did you decide not to do this product?
     
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  18. 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 worry about this. But if your manufacturer sells to someone else, then it's time to find a different one.
     
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  19. 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 use FBA to fulfill my ecommerce store orders. I fulfill those myself.

    Stitch labs bases their inventory on Amazon's inventory numbers not the sales. So if you did use FBA to fulfill a store order, it would get reflected by a lower FBA inventory. I think you can tell it that it was shipped by FBA so it does not lower your warehouse inventory, but I'm not sure about that.
     
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  20. 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 think you need to just do it. Like I said, if your backseat organizer is 100% better than the current #1 on Amazon, why would you give a shit about the number of competitors? Why would you care if your product only does $8000 a month, profiting you $2500 a month? Is this number too low for you? I launch stuff that does $250 a month. That's a measly $5000 a month. I don't care that it does $250, I just launch 20 more. If you never launch you will never get anywhere.
     
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  21. Lukebrisbane
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    Lukebrisbane Contributor Speedway Pass

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    what % profit are you aiming for? I've gone on and looked up 1 star reviews of products and started writing down what I can improve on, I'm guessing you do that for the positive reviews too. So what your saying is to just don't worry too much about making everything perfect, just get launching and testing.
     
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  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 don't have a particular % profit. I really do not concentrate too much on all that stuff. I just make a good product and sell it. You have to be comfortable with whatever profit you make per sale or per dollar you spend.
     
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  23. Jake
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    Jake Platinum Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Do you feel it's at all detrimental to price low and work your way higher? Instead of the common wisdom where you can lower your price but not raise it? You've stated in this thread that you'll price low then go higher on amazon so I think I know where you stand but what about on a luxury product?

    I'll be offering a luxury product soon but it isn't as perfect as I'd like it to be. I'll have to wait up to 2 months+ to get the pieces in to make it exactly how I want it. I'm thinking about running with what I got and price it lower than I'd like and then raise prices once I get the other piece in that sets a higher standard of luxury. I guess I can make it a different offering but then I'd risk people dropping down to the lower priced offer.

    I'll mainly be selling this from my own site but will have some products under the same brand on amazon.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2015
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  24. DrkSide
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    DrkSide Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    From my experience it is the opposite of this. You can price lower initially and raise it without complaining from past buyers since they got it cheaper. If you lower the price you open yourself up to past buyers contacting you wanting a refund for the price difference since they paid more.
     
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  25. Jake
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    Jake Platinum Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Cheers. You're probably right. I'm just thinking if I want to compete in the luxury arena I need to stick with a luxury pricing model. My products still won't be cheap by any means so I guess there isn't much risk of starting on the slightly lower end and tweaking my products.

    I just don't want to appear "cheap" which will put off my target audience.
     
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