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GOLD! Ask me anything about eCommerce (Ongoing)

Tommo

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I never promise anyone anything. They probably get promises like that from people all the time. Nobody ever asks how much I'm going to order anymore. I don't know if it's because these companies on alibaba are vetting me by typing in my websites or searching Amazon. Once they get my logo or insert card information I'm sure they google it. I know I would.

If anyone ever asks how many I would order, I just say I don't know. When they ask for the MOQ, I just tell them how many I want. I won't move my MOQ up if it doesn't make sense. Remember, this is a business so your orders have to make sense. If you can get 1000 for $5 and 2000 for $4, but you can only sell 1000, then what good is the extra 1000 pcs to you even at $1 off?
Just sent you some rep for the advice.
Thank you.
 

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biophase

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How do you deal with shipping and chargebacks?
What do you mean. We ship via usps and fedex. We deal with chargebacks when they arise. Usually we just refund them.
 

Fritz.dvl

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How do you tried out a new product on a niche if I cannot deliver the product?
If I would sell on Amazon I cannot receive feedback or talk to my costumers. Is possible to create an extra web page where I describe the product and run some simulations to test the idea and then add a link to Amazon where they can find the product. Still the problem of not getting people to tried the product but I cannot think on anything else right now.

I'm still new in this world but I would appreciate any other help or resources.
 

MattPo

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Hello everyone,

what do you think about producing and selling online in the niche: jewelry, especially personalized or customized by the client itself?

Is the market too crowded online? Where do you see scaling problems here?

Looking for your feedback.
Cheers
Matt
 

NewManRising

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Looking for a little feedback.

A few months back I added a few items on my ebay account to test the market (all dropshipping). One item in particular sold like 12 pieces in about two weeks. Because these were coming from China, and I did not want the long ship times, I decided to buy a bunch of the stock and ship it myself. Of course, this cut into my margins.

Anyway, when I got the item in my possession I raised the price slightly. A few sold here and there. I decided to change my description a little bit and pictures and it seemed to perform the same. The thing is, by this time I noticed quite a bit of people selling the same item. Some were even direct from China.

I sold most of it locally through Craigslist. But I had about 10 pieces left and during Christmas everyone bought it up fast.

I can think of several modification I can make to this product. I am wondering if I should pursue it. I can even think of an add-on. Have a his and her version and possibly package them together.

Based on my performance do you think this product could be worthwhile? I did absolutely no paid traffic and did not list on Amazon. I am just thinking if I modify it and perhaps list on Amazon and/or use paid traffic to a landing page it might be worth it.

BTW, the item falls into the "gag gift" niche. However, the item can be functional for more than a gag. But I think people buy it more for the humor/gag element.
 

NewManRising

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How do I find a product to sell?



How do I go about choosing a good product to sell? Could anyone give me some direction? Again, I realize I should remember CENTS and should be PULLING rather than PUSHING -- but again, alas, I am still having trouble find a product.

I'd appreciate anyone's help with this.

Cheers!
I am having trouble too. In brainstorming, I am first trying to think of things I like and enjoy. Or, at least knowledgable about. Then I will think of a broad category and try to segment it further. Think in terms of, if you could change 3-5 things about a current product it is worth a shot. Also, get creative. What other USP could you offer?

It really is hard when you have no experience. My struggle is, I don't know if I have enough to invest in a product up front. I only got about $1000 I am willing to throw at it right now. I keep thinking, should I wait and get more cash or just go ahead with the $1000.
 

biophase

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Hello everyone,

what do you think about producing and selling online in the niche: jewelry, especially personalized or customized by the client itself?

Is the market too crowded online? Where do you see scaling problems here?

Looking for your feedback.
Cheers
Matt
Well, all personalized jewelry is different so if you have some creative edge somehow it's worth doing. Anything where you have an edge tilts success into your favor.

Everything is crowded online. Scaling issues would be where you personalizing everything.
 

biophase

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Looking for a little feedback.

A few months back I added a few items on my ebay account to test the market (all dropshipping). One item in particular sold like 12 pieces in about two weeks. Because these were coming from China, and I did not want the long ship times, I decided to buy a bunch of the stock and ship it myself. Of course, this cut into my margins.

Anyway, when I got the item in my possession I raised the price slightly. A few sold here and there. I decided to change my description a little bit and pictures and it seemed to perform the same. The thing is, by this time I noticed quite a bit of people selling the same item. Some were even direct from China.

I sold most of it locally through Craigslist. But I had about 10 pieces left and during Christmas everyone bought it up fast.

I can think of several modification I can make to this product. I am wondering if I should pursue it. I can even think of an add-on. Have a his and her version and possibly package them together.

Based on my performance do you think this product could be worthwhile? I did absolutely no paid traffic and did not list on Amazon. I am just thinking if I modify it and perhaps list on Amazon and/or use paid traffic to a landing page it might be worth it.

BTW, the item falls into the "gag gift" niche. However, the item can be functional for more than a gag. But I think people buy it more for the humor/gag element.
Honestly, there's no way for me to know. I don't know if the data says anything and the fact that you noticed alot more people selling means that it's probably going to be saturated on Amazon also.

But I don't think I'd build a business around a gag gift. There's no brandable business there unless you become a Spencer's.
 

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Smuggo

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Do you think that newbie, like me, new to eCommerce, can start selling on Amazon or is it too crowded now?

I don't know but I have this feeling that I am too late for eCommerce party.

Edit: Nvm. Found answer in other thread. NOTABLE! - My opinion of the Amazon Marketplace.

I guess it's still possible but now branding is the way to go.
 
Last edited:

NewManRising

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I know this has probably be answered a lot. But what is some general indicators that the market is "good enough". Meaning, the niche is fairly profitable. Also, what are good indicators that a small time newbie won't be crushed by competition. In other words, how should they analyze competition.
 

MaxKhalus

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Alot has changed since my Ask me about Ecommerce AMA from 2012, so I thought I'd do an updated AMA as some of the answers in the previous thread are now outdated. The online marketplace has shifted greatly in the past couple years. Some examples of what has changed:
  • Google Shopping is now at the top of your search results, so ranking #1 for a specific term is not as valuable as before. I don't do anymore SEO.
  • Big box stores like Amazon, Walmart and Target now dominate the results whereas before smaller niche stores did.
  • Amazon is now the place to be in Ecommerce.
  • A huge shift has happened from dropshipping to importing and branding.
So go ahead and ask away!
Ok, let me ask you something about FBA Advertising.
As you already know is pretty easy to spend hundreds of thousands if not millions into PPC. What 'strategy' do you recommend, specially for a so-so competitive market? (I mean top 12 sellers around 100 reviews, 300-500 sales average)
 

biophase

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Ok, let me ask you something about FBA Advertising.
As you already know is pretty easy to spend hundreds of thousands if not millions into PPC. What 'strategy' do you recommend, specially for a so-so competitive market? (I mean top 12 sellers around 100 reviews, 300-500 sales average)
I generally run my PPC costs at break even. So if my profit margin is 40%, I bump up bids as high as possible until I hit the 40% ACOS. My budget is essentially unlimited as I will hit a spend limit due to low CPC bids.
 

biophase

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I know this has probably be answered a lot. But what is some general indicators that the market is "good enough". Meaning, the niche is fairly profitable. Also, what are good indicators that a small time newbie won't be crushed by competition. In other words, how should they analyze competition.
To be honest, I think that small time newbies will get crushed nowadays in any market unless you picked one that has such low traffic that there are a few competitors.

Good enough is subjective, how many sales a day is "good enough" for you? 2, 5, 10, 20?

Here's the thing, all niches are profitable. The top 5 listings on Amazon selling protein powder are killing it. So how come you can't launch a protein powder just like them? It's because they have the sales ranking, reviews, PPC, repeat customers, brand awareness, etc... going for them. You don't have that when you launch your new protein powder. You will start from page 50 and work your way up. So it's going to cost you time and money to work from page 50 to page 1. Are you willing to do this? Are you willing to put in the time and money?

The difference between the protein powder niche and underwater pens is that you may start on page 5 for underwater pens so it's easier to get to page 1. But once you are there, you may get 1 sale a day max.
 

biophase

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Hey @biophase, how do you normally scale/expand/grow your business once you have an established product line/brand on amazon selling very well? What are your next steps? What do you focus on more?
I expand by adding more products. My next steps are just figuring out what products compliment the first product.
 

YMCMB

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@biophase do people still purchase products from random Ecommerce sites still? I know 100% of the things I buy are from Amazon or big brand stores. Most everyone I know does that too. I have considered an ecom store but this question always stops me. Thanks! Your thread is amazing.
 

AllenCrawley

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@biophase do people still purchase products from random Ecommerce sites still? I know 100% of the things I buy are from Amazon or big brand stores. Most everyone I know does that too. I have considered an ecom store but this question always stops me. Thanks! Your thread is amazing.
Yes.

I personally know a two brother team that operate an ecom store the generates 1.2-2 million in revenue... every single month. They ONLY sell on their website. Never sold on amazon, ebay or walmart. Their business is about 4-5 years old.

I know several other people that operate ecom stores that do anywhere from $5k to $200K per month. They do not sell on amazon.
 

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Empires

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Yes.

I personally know a two brother team that operate an ecom store the generates 1.2-2 million in revenue... every single month. They ONLY sell on their website. Never sold on amazon, ebay or walmart. Their business is about 4-5 years old.

I know several other people that operate ecom stores that do anywhere from $5k to $200K per month. They do not sell on amazon.
Is there a reason that they choose not to add on Amazon, eBay, or Walmart as extra revenue streams?
 

pashka

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@Empires a few reasons come to my mind:
  • You control your customer list. Not Amazon who then upsels + downsells customers that you have acquired for them.
  • Ability to do email marketing (again ^)
  • more customization control (building your store the way you want it to look and work)
  • Platforms like Shopify are very customisable with thousands of apps available to install in one click from their app store so adding a new feature is just a question of choosing a right app usually
  • Control over data. With Amazon you give away your data to them so if your product is selling well they might consider to sell it themselves. And they didn't spend a dime for testing it.
  • Violation of commandment of control - one policy change and your Amazon business is wiped out in no time.

Of course, that all doesn't mean Amazon is bad or good, it's just another sales channel, so I'd agree that ideally extra revenue streams must be set up. Some people just prefer to start from their own stores.
 

AllenCrawley

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Is there a reason that they choose not to add on Amazon, eBay, or Walmart as extra revenue streams?
The #1 reason is control.
 

pashka

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Yes.

I personally know a two brother team that operate an ecom store the generates 1.2-2 million in revenue... every single month. They ONLY sell on their website. Never sold on amazon, ebay or walmart. Their business is about 4-5 years old.

I know several other people that operate ecom stores that do anywhere from $5k to $200K per month. They do not sell on amazon.
Do they have cosmetics brand? Or is that Tan brothers? Just curious
 

Empires

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@Empires a few reasons come to my mind:
  • You control your customer list. Not Amazon who then upsels + downsells customers that you have acquired for them.
  • Ability to do email marketing (again ^)
  • more customization control (building your store the way you want it to look and work)
  • Platforms like Shopify are very customisable with thousands of apps available to install in one click from their app store so adding a new feature is just a question of choosing a right app usually
  • Control over data. With Amazon you give away your data to them so if your product is selling well they might consider to sell it themselves. And they didn't spend a dime for testing it.
  • Violation of commandment of control - one policy change and your Amazon business is wiped out in no time.

Of course, that all doesn't mean Amazon is bad or good, it's just another sales channel, so I'd agree that ideally extra revenue streams must be set up. Some people just prefer to start from their own stores.
I agree with everything you said.

The lack of control is very dangerous if it is your main source of revenue. But if it’s just another sales channel I don’t see a reason not to add it in as another revenue stream, you just never want it to be your main.
 

Wiezel

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I'm from The Netherlands and we have some huge websites which is well known by every Dutch person and they sell A LOT in many many niches. I'm interested in building my own Ecommerce store (via Shopify) for the main reason of having more control then on Amazon etc.

I've searched the niches which are linked to my hobbies but even the top 5 of websites is pretty good looking, nice reviews and also active on social media. How should I proceed? Just find hobbies on internet, pick one and check if there is a business in it even though I don't know anything about that hobby/niche?
 

Michael Bowers

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Hello everyone,
Just looking for a little advice on what to do next. Ive been selling on amazon FBA for about 9 months now. It is the first and only product I launched. I sold a total of 206 units. The item sells for between $13 - 17. As of now I am not in any profit as I underestimated the amount needed to PPC advertise. Organically I am on page 3 of the amazon search page for the main keyword and cant seem to move up any further. I have 6 reviews all 5 stars no negative. If I dont advertise I dont make sales but Im in position where I will just keep losing money if I keep advertising. I have about 200 units left and dont know what do next. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks
 

Surf16

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I have about 200 units left and dont know what do next. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks
@Michael Bowers I am just about to post my experience with my first product on Amazon.

It is very similar to the position you are currently in. I was about to get hit with "Long-Term Storage Fees" so I decided to have everything shipped to my house.

If that is not an option for you I would create other sales channels and social media accounts directing them to your Amazon page if you haven't already. I haven't sold on Amazon in about 8 months and I know their TOS is always changing but I think you can still do this.

I would also join FB groups of your target market and gently nudge them to your Amazon page.

I know there are tons with more experience on this forum but that is what I would shoot for.
 

biophase

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Hello everyone,
Just looking for a little advice on what to do next. Ive been selling on amazon FBA for about 9 months now. It is the first and only product I launched. I sold a total of 206 units. The item sells for between $13 - 17. As of now I am not in any profit as I underestimated the amount needed to PPC advertise. Organically I am on page 3 of the amazon search page for the main keyword and cant seem to move up any further. I have 6 reviews all 5 stars no negative. If I dont advertise I dont make sales but Im in position where I will just keep losing money if I keep advertising. I have about 200 units left and dont know what do next. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks
I’d lower your ppc cost per click to where you can break even. Will you still be seen at that price?
 

Blackman

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A question for those who run their own e-commerce store or sell on eBay and manage their stock at home, rather than stocking with Amazon.

What's the best way for dropping off multiple parcels in one go? I'm in the UK, but pretty sure it works more or less the same in Europe or the US. Let me explain the process.

So when my item sells on eBay, I can use eBay's delivery service (called Shutl), which gives me an option to choose from one of multiple well-known shipping companies and get a small discount as well, since it's all done through eBay.

You choose the parcel weight/size, the shipping company, it shows the cost, you print the label, attach it to the parcel and it's ready to go. The tracking number gets automatically attached to the transaction too, so the buyer can see when you've dispatched the parcel and can track it while it's in transit.

I'm not at home during the day for the shipping company to collect my parcels, so I choose to drop them off myself at a nearest local shop that has a partnership with that particular shipping company. Once I arrive, I take everything to the shop, they simply scan the labels and give me a receipt as a confirmation that they have my parcels or depending on the shipping company, you can also get a text message on your phone or email. Then the shipping company collects my parcels from that shop and that's about it.

It all seems to be working well at the moment, because I'm only sending a few parcels per day, but I'm already starting to get funny looks from the shop owners, as it feels like this method of posting is more suitable for casual senders, rather than business sellers who send xx parcels every day.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think some shops get a small commission per parcel for offering to hold the parcels for the shipping company, however some do it for free just to get more customers into the shop...Well, that's the idea behind holding parcels anyway.

So I can't really imagine myself walking into a shop with 50 parcels every day and scanning them one by one, while there's a queue building up behind me....Granted, I drop them off early in the morning (7 am) before I get to work, when the shops are not busy, but you get my point, right?

Am I doing anything wrong? Any suggestions?

Appreciate your help guys.

Thank you
 

Michael Bowers

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I’d lower your ppc cost per click to where you can break even. Will you still be seen at that price?
PPC is very confusing because Im constantly lowering and raising and then lowering the bid. I cant seem to find that sweet spot. My Acos progressively increases as time goes on regardless. The short answer is that I will lose money regardless. The Acos has to be around 15-20% but the reality its around 55-75%. At this point I want to sell the units at a wholesale price just to get some money back but dont know where to try and sell them.
 

biophase

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A question for those who run their own e-commerce store or sell on eBay and manage their stock at home, rather than stocking with Amazon.

What's the best way for dropping off multiple parcels in one go? I'm in the UK, but pretty sure it works more or less the same in Europe or the US. Let me explain the process.

So when my item sells on eBay, I can use eBay's delivery service (called Shutl), which gives me an option to choose from one of multiple well-known shipping companies and get a small discount as well, since it's all done through eBay.

You choose the parcel weight/size, the shipping company, it shows the cost, you print the label, attach it to the parcel and it's ready to go. The tracking number gets automatically attached to the transaction too, so the buyer can see when you've dispatched the parcel and can track it while it's in transit.

I'm not at home during the day for the shipping company to collect my parcels, so I choose to drop them off myself at a nearest local shop that has a partnership with that particular shipping company. Once I arrive, I take everything to the shop, they simply scan the labels and give me a receipt as a confirmation that they have my parcels or depending on the shipping company, you can also get a text message on your phone or email. Then the shipping company collects my parcels from that shop and that's about it.

It all seems to be working well at the moment, because I'm only sending a few parcels per day, but I'm already starting to get funny looks from the shop owners, as it feels like this method of posting is more suitable for casual senders, rather than business sellers who send xx parcels every day.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think some shops get a small commission per parcel for offering to hold the parcels for the shipping company, however some do it for free just to get more customers into the shop...Well, that's the idea behind holding parcels anyway.

So I can't really imagine myself walking into a shop with 50 parcels every day and scanning them one by one, while there's a queue building up behind me....Granted, I drop them off early in the morning (7 am) before I get to work, when the shops are not busy, but you get my point, right?

Am I doing anything wrong? Any suggestions?

Appreciate your help guys.

Thank you
I was dropping off 30-40 boxes a day at my local Post Net. They got $.75 per box so they didn't mind at all. You shouldn't wait in line to drop off your boxes. Talk to the employee or owner and have them let you drop off all boxes in the back or something and then let them scan them all when they have time.
 

biophase

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PPC is very confusing because Im constantly lowering and raising and then lowering the bid. I cant seem to find that sweet spot. My Acos progressively increases as time goes on regardless. The short answer is that I will lose money regardless. The Acos has to be around 15-20% but the reality its around 55-75%. At this point I want to sell the units at a wholesale price just to get some money back but dont know where to try and sell them.
If ACOS needs to be 15-20% then you definitely bought the wrong product to start. Maybe try to sell them in bulk on Ebay? or to a Amazon competitor who is ranking well?
 

Michael Bowers

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If ACOS needs to be 15-20% then you definitely bought the wrong product to start. Maybe try to sell them in bulk on Ebay? or to a Amazon competitor who is ranking well?
Ya, I was thinking about selling it to a competitor. Its my first amazon product and unfortunately I underestimated the cost of advertising. Lesson learned. Thanks for the help. Much appreciated
 

Blackman

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Dec 28, 2018
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I was dropping off 30-40 boxes a day at my local Post Net. They got $.75 per box so they didn't mind at all. You shouldn't wait in line to drop off your boxes. Talk to the employee or owner and have them let you drop off all boxes in the back or something and then let them scan them all when they have time.
I would have to look into this more thoroughly and find out if the shops are actually making anything out of this or like I said, it's there just to get extra customers in with no benefit per parcel.

As for leaving parcels for them to scan later on, I tried this with just 1 parcel in a local shop and didn't have the best experience...The courier with that particular parcel was UPS and it takes less than a minute to get a notification of receipt when you drop off a parcel.

However, in this case, I dropped off the parcel at 9am and had to come back to the same shop at 12pm to find out if it was scanned or not....Of course, it wasn't and the guy had to do it in front of me before I left.

Yes I know, it was just a one off with one shop, but unless I get to know to the owners of the shops, I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving parcels without getting a drop-off receipt, as otherwise you have no proof to trace them.
 

LittleJohn

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To be honest, I think that small time newbies will get crushed nowadays in any market unless you picked one that has such low traffic that there are a few competitors.
In the state of the Amazon Marketplace Opinion thread you said, "I feel that the strategy for launching has changed and now requires a more complex approach."

You were saying that the days of the one product launch are gone and basically you must build the brand out from the beginning.

Is your above quote in this thread referring again to one product launches that would get crushed? Hopefully this makes sense can you clarify your position for me please?

thank you.
 

biophase

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In the state of the Amazon Marketplace Opinion thread you said, "I feel that the strategy for launching has changed and now requires a more complex approach."

You were saying that the days of the one product launch are gone and basically you must build the brand out from the beginning.

Is your above quote in this thread referring again to one product launches that would get crushed? Hopefully this makes sense can you clarify your position for me please?

thank you.
Yes, because people with smaller budgets that can launch one product and not afford PPC or to breakeven would be crushed by those who can.

An example I see is one niche that I'm in where my product is $100, and others are now selling for $25. I know what my cost is so I know that the $25 people (multiple sellers) are losing money per sale.

But I think that they are positioning themselves for the long term to rank high and have alot of reviews on Amazon. If these companies have multi million dollar investments, you bet that they can lose $5-$10 per sale for a year or two.

For example they sell 100 units a day, lose $1000 a day, in a year they've lose $365,000. But in year 2, they decide to raise the price to $80 and make $30 a sale. Then they make $1,100,000 in year 2. So they net +$720k in two years.

This is a long term strategy. Could you compete against them?
 

biophase

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Ya, I was thinking about selling it to a competitor. Its my first amazon product and unfortunately I underestimated the cost of advertising. Lesson learned. Thanks for the help. Much appreciated
I don't think you learned here. You did not underestimate the cost of advertising. You picked a product with shitty margins. Do you see that?

Your said your ACOS margins were 15-20%. This means that if you spent $15 on PPC, you needed to sell $100 in product which means that you made only $15 on a $100 sale. If I extrapolate that to a $17 product. You were making $4.25 on a $17 product.

Assuming that Amazon took it's 15% plus about $4 in fulfillment, you received $10.45 for every $17 sale. If you made $4.25 per sale, your product cost landed at Amazon was $6.20.

A $6.20 product selling for $17 is not good. That is not even 3X! You really need to be around 5-6X. If I sell a $17 product, my landed cost would need to be $3.
 

LittleJohn

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Yes, because people with smaller budgets that can launch one product and not afford PPC or to breakeven would be crushed by those who can.

An example I see is one niche that I'm in where my product is $100, and others are now selling for $25. I know what my cost is so I know that the $25 people (multiple sellers) are losing money per sale.

But I think that they are positioning themselves for the long term to rank high and have alot of reviews on Amazon. If these companies have multi million dollar investments, you bet that they can lose $5-$10 per sale for a year or two.

For example they sell 100 units a day, lose $1000 a day, in a year they've lose $365,000. But in year 2, they decide to raise the price to $80 and make $30 a sale. Then they make $1,100,000 in year 2. So they net +$720k in two years.

This is a long term strategy. Could you compete against them?
Thanks for going deeper and clarifying that for me man I appreciate that. And, no of course can't compete with that scenario. Good stuff thank you.
 
Last edited:

LittleJohn

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I don't think you learned here. You did not underestimate the cost of advertising. You picked a product with shitty margins. Do you see that?

Your said your ACOS margins were 15-20%. This means that if you spent $15 on PPC, you needed to sell $100 in product which means that you made only $15 on a $100 sale. If I extrapolate that to a $17 product. You were making $4.25 on a $17 product.

Assuming that Amazon took it's 15% plus about $4 in fulfillment, you received $10.45 for every $17 sale. If you made $4.25 per sale, your product cost landed at Amazon was $6.20.

A $6.20 product selling for $17 is not good. That is not even 3X! You really need to be around 5-6X. If I sell a $17 product, my landed cost would need to be $3.
Looks like a good breakdown and the fact that I'm still trying too wrap my head (fully) around this shows Im not the brightest bulb in the room (being funny I believe in my faculties - but seriously) also that I need to search/study ACOS and how you arrived at everything.
 

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