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biophase

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Hahah yeah you're telling me. Even when you order on Amazon if it's non prime it generally takes > 5 days.
Alright, I'll start looking into it then and see if I can find some relevant products.

What's your thoughts in regards to what I said about piggybacking on niches/products that are popular on the US Amazon? Do you think this is a wise move or do you think it would be better to do some research and figure out what sort of products people in AU are buying?

Speaking of research, for Amazon is it the same as any other eCommerce business? Look into Facebook / Google numbers, look at similar products and reviews, etc... Or is there additional variables to consider when looking into Amazon selling?

It’s kinda of hard to say if something in the USA will sell the same as in Australia.

You know your market better than me.

With that said, I’m sure people in Australia buy normal everyday things like supplements, socks, towels, etc... in the USA.

But something like mountain bikes, hunting clothing or aftermarket car parts I’d have no idea how popular they would be.

I probably wouldn’t stick to a niche and just go for something big at this point.
 
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Walter Hay

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Yes, delivery times in Australia are appalling. I frequently buy products from the USA and they arrive here in Australia within a week. I don't buy from suppliers on Amazon because I prefer to deal direct even for personal use.

Walter
 

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It’s kinda of hard to say if something in the USA will sell the same as in Australia.

You know your market better than me.

With that said, I’m sure people in Australia buy normal everyday things like supplements, socks, towels, etc... in the USA.

But something like mountain bikes, hunting clothing or aftermarket car parts I’d have no idea how popular they would be.

I probably wouldn’t stick to a niche and just go for something big at this point.

Yeah, I think I have an idea of some stuff that might sell well.
By "go for something big" do you mean go for a product that is perhaps broader than a niche? So instead of something like "male teenager football shoes" for example, you should instead just commit to the whole category of "football shoes" and go from there? Or do you more so mean find 1 product and go 'all in' on it?

Yes, delivery times in Australia are appalling. I frequently buy products from the USA and they arrive here in Australia within a week. I don't buy from suppliers on Amazon because I prefer to deal direct even for personal use.

Walter

Yeah it's ridiculous. Although Amazon will probably make it better though in the next few years. If their 2 day prime delivery is true, then that's a huge improvement.
 

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Gonna ask here about this since Amazon Support has given me mixed answers and I also don't think this question needs its own thread.

Context: I'm going to be selling a product without a barcode or packaging. My plan was to put the FNSKU on the polybag the product comes in. However, to get the FNSKU labels, you need to first “add a product”.

Adding a product requires a “Product ID” that must contain a UPC, GCID, or EAN.

Contacted Amazon support and they gave me mixed answers of; “Yes you need it, No you don't, and that I must apply for an exemption.”

I was hoping for some clarification on what to do in this situation since support hasn't really been of any help and I don't want to apply for an exemption if I don't need to. Is there potentially a number I can get from my supplier that I can put in this field?
 
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biophase

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Gonna ask here about this since Amazon Support has given me mixed answers and I also don't think this question needs its own thread.

Context: I'm going to be selling a product without a barcode or packaging. My plan was to put the FNSKU on the polybag the product comes in. However, to get the FNSKU labels, you need to first “add a product”.

Adding a product requires a “Product ID” that must contain a UPC, GCID, or EAN.

Contacted Amazon support and they gave me mixed answers of; “Yes you need it, No you don't, and that I must apply for an exemption.”

I was hoping for some clarification on what to do in this situation since support hasn't really been of any help and I don't want to apply for an exemption if I don't need to. Is there potentially a number I can get from my supplier that I can put in this field?

The answer is yes and no. The easiest way is to buy a cheap UPC code. You can get an exemption through brand registry I think. Not sure as i never done it this way.
 

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The answer is yes and no. The easiest way is to buy a cheap UPC code. You can get an exemption through brand registry I think. Not sure as i never done it this way.

Ok sounds like a plan. When I buy the UPC code, does it have to be put on my products or am I buying it just so I can enter it on the Amazon site and comply with their guidelines? As I said I'm going to be getting my supplier to do the FNSKU before it arrives at Amazon, so they shouldn't need the UPC on the product from what I've read. Let me know if I'm wrong though.
 
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biophase

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Ok sounds like a plan. When I buy the UPC code, does it have to be put on my products or am I buying it just so I can enter it on the Amazon site and comply with their guidelines? As I said I'm going to be getting my supplier to do the FNSKU before it arrives at Amazon, so they shouldn't need the UPC on the product from what I've read. Let me know if I'm wrong though.

Yes you’d only use it to create the Amazon listing.
 

Late Bloomer

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I just want to ask how much investment is required to established a successful clothes and stitching business over the internet.

Hi Sharon, welcome to the forum. Looks like you don't have an introduction post yet? Please feel free to create one, so we can know a bit about where you're coming from and what you'd like to do, and think of advice that's tailored (no pun intended) for you.
 

banjoa

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5) I don't drive sales to my ecommerce site. I actually encourage amazon sales. This goes against what most other people say. But my thinking is that if I keep driving sales to Amazon, my listings keep staying at #1-#3. If I drive sales to my store, yes my store may get more sales, but my rankings will slowly drop on Amazon. So I try to keep my sales as high as possible on Amazon to keep ahead of the competitors.

This is a real gem that might have escaped some people.

I was recently reading about an idea called a 'marketing flywheel'.

It's used a lot in the startup world.

Basically you should only be investing in marketing that creates a flywheel.

This means you should be putting your major marketing efforts in a process that builds on top of one another. Where the 1000th time of doing that process becomes far exponentially easier than the 1st.

For example in Biophase's case, he encourages sales on Amazon to keep his ranking high.

Higher rankings then creates more exposure.

More exposure then creates more sales.

More sales, more reviews.

More reviews, more trust.

More trust, more sales.

More sales, higher/sustained rankings.

And then it goes round again.

Each turning point building on the previous and makes it exponentially easier.

That's an Amazon flywheel.

Compare this to say sending people to your website from Amazon.

People heading off to your own site doesn't create a flywheel (at least not as efficient as on Amazon's platform).

More sales on your website does start to build your brand obviously which then in turn gains you more exposure but the wheel is a lot slower here and might not even turn at all.

Why:

More sales on your website doesn't have that flywheel point of higher rankings on any particular channel. It's just that. More sales.

Another example of a perfect marketing flywheel is SEO.

If you are building your own store you should definitely invest in SEO.

I know SEO receives some flak on here but it's a powerful flywheel you can not ignore.

If your competition does a good job of SEO where yours is non existent you are literally screwed.

The SEO flywheel goes like this:

Keyword research > create and publish content > push to email and rss subscribers > promote via social channels > earn links and amplification > grow social, email and rss subscribers > rank and dominate for more keywords > keyword research >....

You publish a new product on your ecommerce store and wow almost immediately rank on the first page.

Same thing with social channels.

They have their own flywheels.

As you grow your social influence from 100 to 1000 followers. Then 5,000, then 10,000. Authority goes up.

Someone looks at you and they are more likely to follow you.

Then as more people follow you and authority goes even higher...

Twitter starts to notice. They suggest you on the sidebar.

More people find you.

Then they share and republish your content.

More shared and liked content means you appear even in front of more people and the vicious cycle just starts to snowball.

Marketing flywheels is how to build a brand. It's how every big player did it.

The downside here is. Just like the real kinetic flywheel used in the industrial ages, turning that wheel in the beginning is incredibly hard.

First few sales, fans, followers, links, shares, reviews are incredibly hard to get going.

It's the process @MJ DeMarco talks about.

But after the wheels start turning, you don't push as much as in the beginning. The wheels starts turning faster even with 1/100th of the effort.

Infact at a point you might not have to push anymore. Everything becomes self reinforcing.

You just have to be willing to invest more and longer in flywheel tactics than non flywheel tactics.

An example of a non flywheel tactics is Paid search.

But this can serve as your entry barrier. Not many are willing to invest in a flywheel tactics which can take about 3 years for the wheel to start turning.

Learn to find the flywheel in everything. This is the biggest lesson I have learnt along with the CENTS rule so far in business.

Fish them out - as many as you can- and start investing in them.

Forget about immediate benefits knowing that when the wheel starts to turn you a going to be spinning forever.

Biophase, sorry for derailing your thread a bit.

Hope this helps someone.
 
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Late Bloomer

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This is a real gem that might have escaped some people.

I was recently reading about an idea called a 'marketing flywheel'.

Thanks for the really helpful post. I saw the flywheel concept in Jim Collins's "Good to Great." But he was talking about business strategy in general, not specifically in marketing. Your examples of how "one hand washes the other" on Amazon are very useful for my own thinking. Obviously the same principle could be used for marketing flywheels that don't include Amazon.
 

banjoa

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Obviously the same principle could be used for marketing flywheels that don't include Amazon.

Yeah exactly.

What I like to do is write down potential marketing/sales channels.

I then identify which are flywheels and non flywheels.

I take the flywheel channels and create a 12 week plan around them.

I set goals and review weekly and monthly and eventually at the 12th week mark.

I then access the results and goals of my investment and try to gauge if the flywheel has started to spin and by how much.

Then act on those analysis.

Just like MJ wrote in his book:

Act.Access.Adjust.

So yes we have flywheels asides platforms like Amazon.

I even call one the dollar shave club flywheel:

Create remarkable videos > remarkability invokes feeling of awe and desire to share > Sharing puts video infront of more people > which leads to more people sharing > which puts Video infront of more people >...

Where growth hacks now come into place is to look along the flywheel joints (the '>') and use them as a grease to make the wheel go faster.

So the tactic of encouraging reviews on Amazon is a growth hack. You are trying to move the wheel faster between:

'More sales > More reviews' section along the wheel.

To the:

'More reviews > more trust'.

That's how I understood it. And how I have been implementing flywheels.

In fact.

Bio's whole thesis of finding a product you can improve is in itself a growth hack on Amazon.

He is trying to move people faster at the very beginning with a multiplier effect at the other joints of the wheel.

Of course you can certainly go against what he is saying and still succeed but it becomes a lot harder to spin the flywheel.

I'm blabbing now, sorry.
 
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Andy Black

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This is a real gem that might have escaped some people.

I was recently reading about an idea called a 'marketing flywheel'.

It's used a lot in the startup world.

Basically you should only be investing in marketing that creates a flywheel.

This means you should be putting your major marketing efforts in a process that builds on top of one another. Where the 1000th time of doing that process becomes far exponentially easier than the 1st.

For example in Biophase's case, he encourages sales on Amazon to keep his ranking high.

Higher rankings then creates more exposure.

More exposure then creates more sales.

More sales, more reviews.

More reviews, more trust.

More trust, more sales.

More sales, higher/sustained rankings.

And then it goes round again.

Each turning point building on the previous and makes it exponentially easier.

That's an Amazon flywheel.

Compare this to say sending people to your website from Amazon.

People heading off to your own site doesn't create a flywheel (at least not as efficient as on Amazon's platform).

More sales on your website does start to build your brand obviously which then in turn gains you more exposure but the wheel is a lot slower here and might not even turn at all.

Why:

More sales on your website doesn't have that flywheel point of higher rankings on any particular channel. It's just that. More sales.

Another example of a perfect marketing flywheel is SEO.

If you are building your own store you should definitely invest in SEO.

I know SEO receives some flak on here but it's a powerful flywheel you can not ignore.

If your competition does a good job of SEO where yours is non existent you are literally screwed.

The SEO flywheel goes like this:

Keyword research > create and publish content > push to email and rss subscribers > promote via social channels > earn links and amplification > grow social, email and rss subscribers > rank and dominate for more keywords > keyword research >....

You publish a new product on your ecommerce store and wow almost immediately rank on the first page.

Same thing with social channels.

They have their own flywheels.

As you grow your social influence from 100 to 1000 followers. Then 5,000, then 10,000. Authority goes up.

Someone looks at you and they are more likely to follow you.

Then as more people follow you and authority goes even higher...

Twitter starts to notice. They suggest you on the sidebar.

More people find you.

Then they share and republish your content.

More shared and liked content means you appear even in front of more people and the vicious cycle just starts to snowball.

Marketing flywheels is how to build a brand. It's how every big player did it.

The downside here is. Just like the real kinetic flywheel used in the industrial ages, turning that wheel in the beginning is incredibly hard.

First few sales, fans, followers, links, shares, reviews are incredibly hard to get going.

It's the process @MJ DeMarco talks about.

But after the wheels start turning, you don't push as much as in the beginning. The wheels starts turning faster even with 1/100th of the effort.

Infact at a point you might not have to push anymore. Everything becomes self reinforcing.

You just have to be willing to invest more and longer in flywheel tactics than non flywheel tactics.

An example of a non flywheel tactics is Paid search.

But this can serve as your entry barrier. Not many are willing to invest in a flywheel tactics which can take about 3 years for the wheel to start turning.

Learn to find the flywheel in everything. This is the biggest lesson I have learnt along with the CENTS rule so far in business.

Fish them out - as many as you can- and start investing in them.

Forget about immediate benefits knowing that when the wheel starts to turn you a going to be spinning forever.

Biophase, sorry for derailing your thread a bit.

Hope this helps someone.
Great post. You just inspired me to write this:


FLYWHEELS AND SNOWBALLS

A "flywheel" takes time and effort to get going but then stays at the same speed with minimal input.

A "snowball" also takes time and effort to get going, but then gets bigger and bigger over time as it gathers pace going downhill. If it goes fast enough it can keep going without anymore input, and even be hard to stop!

Paid search is a flywheel. It brings in new "buyers" (people who've only bought from you once), and it does so at a consistent speed. Done right, it can be setup to need minimal input.

Then it's all about "R+R=Profit" (Repeat Business plus Referrals).

With a good business model, we can convert those initial buyers into people who have a custom of buying from us (aka customers, aka repeat business).

If I create a business that generates Repeat Business and generates Referrals, then a small initial trickle of new business can snowball over time.

The ideal with paid search is to setup a flywheel that feeds into a snowball.
 
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banjoa

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Great post. You just inspired me to write this:


FLYWHEELS AND SNOWBALLS

A "flywheel" takes time and effort to get going but then stays at the same speed with minimal input.

A "snowball" also takes time and effort to get going too, but then gets bigger and bigger over time as it gathers pace going downhill. If it goes fast enough it can keep going without anymore input, and even be hard to stop!

Paid search is a flywheel. It brings in new "buyers" (people who've only bought from you once), and it does so at a consistent speed. Done right, it can be setup to need minimal input.

Then it's all about "R+R=Profit" (Repeat Business plus Referrals).

With a good business model, we can convert those initial buyers into people who have a custom of buying from us (aka customers, aka repeat business).

If I create a business that generates Repeat Business and generates Referrals, then a small initial trickle of new business can snowball over time.

The ideal with paid search is to setup a flywheel that feeds into a snowball.

I think this is even more interesting.

Paid search, a flywheel that feeds into a snowball.

This is a whole new perspective for me, Andy.

The R+R is the lever here.

I remember you have written something similar:

'The most important equation in business.'

I will PM you some stuff.

Don't want to derail the thread.

Thanks Andy.
 

RockyRambo

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Thanks for such an awesome thread Biophase, truely lots of quality info here!

Just a question for you if you dont mind as you've obviously had a heap of experience with ecom over many years.

Im looking at setting up a store (shopify) in the toddler niche using locally sourced US dropshippers (so not aliexpress) selling to US customers.

My strategy is to initially acquire customers using Google Shopping & Facebook, and in the longer term (6-12 months) improve my SEO and also have a solid email marketing setup to ensure repeat buyers (essentially free traffic).

Ill also be creating a blog attached to the store and hiring a quality writer to create regular, relevant and helpful articles for my customers (good for branding, SEO, and also something to offer in my emails).

The image i have for my store is a higher quality brand + high quality products + a wide variety of products (i hope to offer more unique products from harder to find dropshippers which will allow me to charge more and stand out a bit) and ideally this will allow me to charge premium prices.

Now this all sounds great in my head BUT....
- Profit margins for dropshipping can be quite low (am i right and could you provide any examples of pricing i could expect? Eg cost of product A vs price i could sell product A for)
- While ill do my best to offer unique products from smaller, harder to find dropshippers, i know a lot of my products will be commodities and wont be unique, and if shoppers looked hard enough could find the same or similar products on amazon/other ecom stores.
- I plan to seperate my business from amazon and other established ecom stores by having a feel good brand that customers like buying from with a helpful blog, responcive and exceptional customer service, and hopefully some more unique products that are harder for them to find elsewhere, however i am uncertain if this will be enough to compete against amazon and other established ecom sites out there.

Just very keen to hear from yourself as a trusted ecom veteran whose not selling any courses or beating around the bush, whether you think my business plan makes sense or if it's unrealistic in 2018.

Thanks!
 
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TheFrancophile

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I have a general question: how can I succeed in the e-commerce of wine and other alcoholic drinks in China via WeChat and e-commerce portals like JD.com, Alibaba.com, Tmall, and Taobao ? (Leaving aside the obvious fact that my sales offers will have to be published in flawlessly correct Chinese - I'll ask my future Chinese salesperson to help me with that.)
 

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I have a general question: how can I succeed in the e-commerce of wine and other alcoholic drinks in China via WeChat and e-commerce portals like JD.com, Alibaba.com, Tmall, and Taobao ? (Leaving aside the obvious fact that my sales offers will have to be published in flawlessly correct Chinese - I'll ask my future Chinese salesperson to help me with that.)

A general answer to your ‘general’ question..

Have a unique value prop that differentiates you to others in the space for a certain factor (or several) which a segment of the market really values and thus will choose to buy from your e-store


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Late Bloomer

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I have a general question: how can I succeed in the e-commerce of wine and other alcoholic drinks in China via WeChat and e-commerce portals like JD.com, Alibaba.com, Tmall, and Taobao ? (Leaving aside the obvious fact that my sales offers will have to be published in flawlessly correct Chinese - I'll ask my future Chinese salesperson to help me with that.)

I'd guess from your user name that you have a connection with high quality French wine? Check this out for some inspiration: Factfulness
 
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Timmy C

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Great thread biophase

I am going to be starting a subscription based business here in Australia and am wondering what are the best resources to find out how to use SEO and PPC etc. Is the learning curve steep?

Is it something that would be better of outsourcing?

Would a CRM system be necessary?

I imagine it would be but don't want to pay an arm and a leg for a CRM system.

Thanks.
 

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Not asking for specific products, but what's your process for finding new products and what do you take into account when it comes to picking them out?
 

Danny Sullivan

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Hey @DHZ

i'm not biophase, yet i took a lot (like really a lot) of notes reading through even more threads and maybe this can help. Here are the notes i've taken for product picking:

Edit: put it into a spoiler, because it's a long list.

Some general points which disqualify a product or at least makes me think twice before starting:

Is it an electrical product? Does it need a power cord, batteries etc.? High chances for defects and returns. Warranty? Danger of fire!

Are there any legal requirements for this product? Product labels & procedures that need to be followed?

Think packages that get in contact with food, or baby bottles.

> Amazon related: Is your product adressed to business customers?
(Which might have limited access to ordering for their business - at least in germany)

Do you plan on importing your product or producing it locally?
Wrote this down because of the current "trade war" between the US and China.

---

Now, more market & product related questions.

Is the market for your product sufficient enough?
There's no reasong to sell to 100 people i guess.

Are the people in this market passionate about it?
Like "wart removal creme vs. beauty products".

Could the demand for this product deteriorate in a financial crisis?
I added this in from analyzing stocks. I'd rather hold a tobacco company than any gambling company.

Is there a chance for your product to come "out of style"?
Fidget Spinner.

Is there seasonality that might affect your sales?
Not this important - still good to consider for planing.

Can your product be easily packed and shipped? Is it heavy?
You don't want shipping services to eat up your margin do you?

Are competitors offering free shipment for these products?
Can your profit margin take the hit?

Which impact might the product have?
What's the situation of the customer BEFORE and AFTER?

E.g.: A baby stroller for the running mom.
BEFORE: Feet hitting the stroller because there's not enough room for running.
AFTER: The perfectly crafted new baby stroller leaves enough room to run free.

What does the customer feel BEFORE and AFTER?
E.g.: Baby stroller again.
BEFORE - frustrated.
AFTER - happy.

> Amazon related: Is the hook strong enough to get into the listing?
If you plan on getting your products into amazon they should stand out from the rest. Think Purple Cow (no one looks at cows anymore but they would for sure stop if there's a purple cow in between). This could be anything from different eye-catching colors, listing something as handmade when everything else is factory produced, etc.

Does your product have potential for recurring revenue?
Eye-glasses vs. contact lenses. I need eye-glasses once and maybe new ones ever so often but i do need contact lenses on a monthly basis.


Is the product used at least twice daily?
You can then assume that there's a market.

Is the product a commodity? Differentation by price only?

---

MJ's classic controls:

Control - do i have control of what i'm doing?
Entry - are the entry barriers high or low?
Need - is there a need for what i'm doing?
Time - can i divert this from my time (long-run?)
Scale - can this be scaled?

Time & Scale : If no - what things are needed to do so?

The Law of Effection - Millions of lives in scale, or many lives of magnitude.
If you're not willing to plant one tree, you'll never grow the forest. To serve milllions you must learn to serve hundreds first.

Productocracy - One satisfied customer creates more satisfied customers. 1+1=3

Product potential - PUSH (buy my sh*t) or PULL (you want my sh*t)

If advertising is crucial to your product and sales would stop without - you have a product problem.

---

Pricing & Profit

What's the average sell price for your product?

How high can manufacturing costs be with a (preferred) 60% profit margin?

This includes all costs and gives a first number of how high you costs can be.

How high are the real manufacturing costs and what does the profit margin look like?
Again: all costs (manufacturing, shipping, amazon fba, labeling, etc. etc. etc.)

Based an your real manufacturing costs - how high would the price be with a 60% profit margin? Is it still competitive?

---

Adding Value

Dismantle the product into single pieces and ask yourself:

What parts is this product made of? Where can i add value?

To add value it might be helpful to read 1-3 reviews on amazon and see what customers are unhappy with.

If i add value, can i still hold the average price of my competitors?

Don't compete on price - deliver value!

The more attributes skewed without disrupting other skews (say price), the more sales you will win.

Can i adress a pain-point with these changes?
This can be anything from product related pain-points to charity and donations.

Are you really solving a pain-point here or are you selfish?
Allegory of the long spoons - Wikipedia

Do you think people would like to "Thank you" for the changes you've made?
It's sort of a mind game but interesting to answer.

Am i able to show these changes visually?
What's the point in changing screws and joints or making a thin protection foil a thick protection foil, if you're unable to show this in pictures?

---

Unique Selling Proposition & Brand

Is my unique selling proposition strong enough?

Does this product fit into the perception of my brand?

Hm, that's quite a long list. Hope i didn't derail biophase's thread and some of it was helpful.

Best of luck.
 
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Hi, I want to ask one question. Is it good idea to run online shop with some product on the local market first (like in the country) and then try to go worldwide? Or it’s better to sell on Amazon from the beginning? Thanks in advance for opinions.
 

Timmy C

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I am Starting a new e commerce subscription based business model in a niche that has great potential. I am working behind the scenes to win the value competition.

I also have no idea btw never done this before

Hoping biophase or someone with experience in the area can tell me if I am on the right track with the plan so far.

Apps being set up on shopify at the moment.
AMP by Shop Sheriff
Instafeed
Product Reviews
SEO Image by Lion Apps

Taking my time with website creation as i want it to look as professional as possible and i will be using photos that are professionally done by a friend of mine who is a photographer.

all of the above have been installed, instagram page set up as well as my facebook business page.
I have gathered data from competitors to see what back-links they are using, paid keywords, sample ads, landing pages as a guide and to make sure mine are similiar but also relevant to my product.

I will use a combination of SEO PPC etc not reliant on one.

My instagram page is targeting micro influencers as well as large influencers I will try get on board, the larger influencers i will target are AFL football players(its huge over here) go to there training sessions and have a chat see if i can get a shoutout from them ive been in sales for a while so i should be able to sweet talk them face to face to hopefully get a good deal even free! well thats the plan.

I will start running facebook ads to my target audience that an instagram are my focus mainly. my SEO and PPC etc is set up and see how the market responds to the product, then ACT ASSES and ADJUST. then try getting my product into retail stores ontop of the subscription model.
 

Redeye

New Contributor
Aug 19, 2018
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Hey @DHZ

i'm not biophase, yet i took a lot (like really a lot) of notes reading through even more threads and maybe this can help. Here are the notes i've taken for product picking:

Edit: put it into a spoiler, because it's a long list.

Some general points which disqualify a product or at least makes me think twice before starting:

Is it an electrical product? Does it need a power cord, batteries etc.? High chances for defects and returns. Warranty? Danger of fire!

Are there any legal requirements for this product? Product labels & procedures that need to be followed?

Think packages that get in contact with food, or baby bottles.

> Amazon related: Is your product adressed to business customers?
(Which might have limited access to ordering for their business - at least in germany)

Do you plan on importing your product or producing it locally?
Wrote this down because of the current "trade war" between the US and China.

---

Now, more market & product related questions.

Is the market for your product sufficient enough?
There's no reasong to sell to 100 people i guess.

Are the people in this market passionate about it?
Like "wart removal creme vs. beauty products".

Could the demand for this product deteriorate in a financial crisis?
I added this in from analyzing stocks. I'd rather hold a tobacco company than any gambling company.

Is there a chance for your product to come "out of style"?
Fidget Spinner.

Is there seasonality that might affect your sales?
Not this important - still good to consider for planing.

Can your product be easily packed and shipped? Is it heavy?
You don't want shipping services to eat up your margin do you?

Are competitors offering free shipment for these products?
Can your profit margin take the hit?

Which impact might the product have?
What's the situation of the customer BEFORE and AFTER?

E.g.: A baby stroller for the running mom.
BEFORE: Feet hitting the stroller because there's not enough room for running.
AFTER: The perfectly crafted new baby stroller leaves enough room to run free.

What does the customer feel BEFORE and AFTER?
E.g.: Baby stroller again.
BEFORE - frustrated.
AFTER - happy.

> Amazon related: Is the hook strong enough to get into the listing?
If you plan on getting your products into amazon they should stand out from the rest. Think Purple Cow (no one looks at cows anymore but they would for sure stop if there's a purple cow in between). This could be anything from different eye-catching colors, listing something as handmade when everything else is factory produced, etc.

Does your product have potential for recurring revenue?
Eye-glasses vs. contact lenses. I need eye-glasses once and maybe new ones ever so often but i do need contact lenses on a monthly basis.


Is the product used at least twice daily?
You can then assume that there's a market.

Is the product a commodity? Differentation by price only?

---

MJ's classic controls:

Control - do i have control of what i'm doing?
Entry - are the entry barriers high or low?
Need - is there a need for what i'm doing?
Time - can i divert this from my time (long-run?)
Scale - can this be scaled?

Time & Scale : If no - what things are needed to do so?

The Law of Effection - Millions of lives in scale, or many lives of magnitude.
If you're not willing to plant one tree, you'll never grow the forest. To serve milllions you must learn to serve hundreds first.

Productocracy - One satisfied customer creates more satisfied customers. 1+1=3

Product potential - PUSH (buy my sh*t) or PULL (you want my sh*t)

If advertising is crucial to your product and sales would stop without - you have a product problem.

---

Pricing & Profit

What's the average sell price for your product?

How high can manufacturing costs be with a (preferred) 60% profit margin?

This includes all costs and gives a first number of how high you costs can be.

How high are the real manufacturing costs and what does the profit margin look like?
Again: all costs (manufacturing, shipping, amazon fba, labeling, etc. etc. etc.)

Based an your real manufacturing costs - how high would the price be with a 60% profit margin? Is it still competitive?

---

Adding Value

Dismantle the product into single pieces and ask yourself:

What parts is this product made of? Where can i add value?

To add value it might be helpful to read 1-3 reviews on amazon and see what customers are unhappy with.

If i add value, can i still hold the average price of my competitors?

Don't compete on price - deliver value!

The more attributes skewed without disrupting other skews (say price), the more sales you will win.

Can i adress a pain-point with these changes?
This can be anything from product related pain-points to charity and donations.

Are you really solving a pain-point here or are you selfish?
Allegory of the long spoons - Wikipedia

Do you think people would like to "Thank you" for the changes you've made?
It's sort of a mind game but interesting to answer.

Am i able to show these changes visually?
What's the point in changing screws and joints or making a thin protection foil a thick protection foil, if you're unable to show this in pictures?

---

Unique Selling Proposition & Brand

Is my unique selling proposition strong enough?

Does this product fit into the perception of my brand?

Hm, that's quite a long list. Hope i didn't derail biophase's thread and some of it was helpful.

Best of luck.

Awesome post. I've been doing some research on a potential idea and this helped me out a ton. I am able to check the majority of boxes so it might be something worth pursuing.

Any suggestions on evaluating the scope of a business? I want to primarily sell 3 categories of products, but one of them seems like a stretch, and I'm not sure it compliments the value of the other two categories as well as they complement each other. So my dilemma is, 'do I add obvious value to 2 categories, or 2.5?'
 
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Danny Sullivan

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Any suggestions on evaluating the scope of a business? I want to primarily sell 3 categories of products, but one of them seems like a stretch, and I'm not sure it compliments the value of the other two categories as well as they complement each other. So my dilemma is, 'do I add obvious value to 2 categories, or 2.5?'

Sounds like a "try and error" situation to me. If all these categories connect to each other you might want to let Mr.Market decide if your value offering is enough to keep three categories, or if one is not perceived as well and should be discontinued. All under the condition that this third category is not harming your image, because you're trying to sell something that isn't really related to the others like offering two sorts of hay for horses and a pipe for harleys that has a horse logo on it. If that's the case you might want to divide this into two businesses.

I'm by no means a pro in these things and just starting out like you are - so please don't take this for a 100% solution to your problem. It's just what i would do.
Maybe others with more experience can chime in on this question.
 

EasternMerchant

New Contributor
Jul 25, 2018
11
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NC
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!
Thank you!
I think right now I have watched so many videos, and gathered lots of information; though I've learned a lot about private label I am stuck trying to figure out a profitable product and really hesitant to buy yet another service as I recently lost a whole chunk of money (2500) in a guru course that did not deliver value expected. I am still trying to understand how to choose products but have lots of questions, like should I set up a website in advance, should I just place a very small order to begin with, where and how to get traffic, do I really have to spend time learning every aspect (feels like it would take forever), things like adwords, seo, keyword stuff, these are a foreign language to me...and would it be smart to hire someone who is good at these things to help ramp up this part?
My vision is to brand a product and know my market.
I want to source from China, but for some of the organic products I want to find local good quality manufacturers for higher quality and less shipping costs, but not sure where to find them.
So far all i have is a logo and am stuck in product research. I am communicating with suppliers in China to understand what total costs would be, in a way I feel l should just jump in, but worried about my choices since I recently wasted money on that course (developing sales skills course). I like risk taking but don't want to pick the wrong product either. I know I should find a way to get clearer in my head but just feels like chaos and messy at the moment. I already sell used books on Amazon so I understand that side of the platform, but don't find reselling books very scalable and do not make much selling books. So although I'm excited to start PL, am a bit fearful. Is there still a good market on Amazon, or is it saturated?

Any clarity would be greatly appreciated.
 

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