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Boo

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How do you feel about ecommerce websites selling only other brands? There's a heavy focus here on branding your own product, which makes sense for selling on Amazon/eBay, but for standalone ecommerce sites which are niche specific the retailer model can make sense.

I see opportunity in spaces where there are existing brand names or patented products, but no one 'go-to' ecommerce site for customers to purchase a bunch of products from different brands. Particularly, in categories which aren't allowed on Amazon, or for which consumers need more information or guidance prior to purchase.

Margins can still be solid in some cases, upwards of 60% gross before shipping. You can create a brand in this way the same that Michaels has in the art world, they are the go-to store although they sell other companies products. They have created a brand in and of itself, because they can differentiate on:

  1. Product selection (brands have exclusive retail agreements)
  2. Pricing (volume means they can sell at the same price as brands)
  3. Customer service
  4. Shipping and returns
  5. Website experience
  6. Informational content

For certain niches or products, Amazon or eBay makes a lot more sense. But I think there are circumstances where a retail approach selling other brands products can be a huge opportunity. I'm curious to hear others opinions. There are pros and cons both ways and keeping both options in your mind can open up more opportunity. You can also start with retail and then eventually bring in your own products once you have a huge free marketing channel and the ability to order volume for excellent margins.
 

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Xeon

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Hi biophase, when trying to start a business, and trying to find a product to sell, would you advise to think of what product to sell based on profitablity and CENTS, then find a market for that, or do you go the other route and think about people's needs/wants instead, then coming up with a product to cater to that?
 

fmob007

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Would you launch a product that has good margins, high demand and is superior compared to competition's but, you can't find other relevant products to expand later on and build a brand around it?
 

JustWalkinAround

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@Xeon The way I’ve interpreted your 2 options:

Do I start a business based on CENTS or do I start a business based on N?

One option has 5 benefits whereas the other has 1... haha.

Anyway I think you generally start with a need. Then you see how well it naturally meets the other commandments.

If it doesn’t meet all the commandments, do you have an idea of how you could modify your product or service or leverage some other factor (e.g. your network, some secret family insight, some random skill you learned 5 years ago from an old job) so that it meets them?

Hope this helps.
 

AppMan

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  • 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.
So go ahead and ask away!
It seem like a lot of people prefer to shop at Amazon and Ebay, in which case you think selling a product on your personal E-Commerce would be viable ?
I dont like selling on Amazon because they take a big chunk of the profit.
 

MitchC

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It seem like a lot of people prefer to shop at Amazon and Ebay, in which case you think selling a product on your personal E-Commerce would be viable ?
I dont like selling on Amazon because they take a big chunk of the profit.
It’s possible, a lot of people do it including me, but instead of paying a large chunk of fees for amazon, a large chunk of your money will be spent on advertising. They are complementary, but totally different business models in my opinion.
 

Vitaly the Winne

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Recently I completed a course on dropshipping by Adrian Morrison called E-Com Success Academy. Since it's a 2016 course, is the information about FB Pixel, the FB marketing methods, and the tools talked about in the course still relevant in today's marketplace, or have a lot of things changed since then (I was realding about Facebooks algorithms having changed).

On a different note, what's a good amount of money to have on hand before starting dropshipping, and what's an honest monthly expected overhead for this particular business model?
 

AceVentures

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Where do data analytics companies like Junglescout and AMZinsights get their data from? I don't like the idea of sharing all aspects of my business with a company like Junglescout, or letting anybody else know how/what I'm doing.

I have good data management skills and can do a lot of analytical work myself. My question is, where can I get access to the underlying data and connect it to my own tools?
 

Strm

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BUMP! Thanks, @biophase ! What a valuable thread, especially for the newbies.

I already have some experiences with Chinese factories and importing and now I'm looking to start with e-commerce as well.

How much has Amazons policy and your overall strategy changed in the course of this thread, so almost 4 years now?

I have already ordered the samples for one product (for a niche that is getting more and more popular. Not many products for these people - I know because I am one of them).
I have another idea as well and starting to work on that as soon as I have enough funds. I'm from tiny Estonia so my plan is to show the products in my local social media marketplaces first to get a glimpse on peoples opinions, before starting out on Amazon. If there's a need for it here can I assume that it's "safer" to launch it on Amazon for American market also? It's a pretty simple product for home owners, with a little twist added by myself.

Do you have to send the packages separately to Amazon warehouse or do you have to send the products to AMZ already packed, ready to be shipped to the customer?

Thank you for your valuable time!
 

tmb22

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So I have a few questions that I think @biophase @amp0193 @AgainstAllOdds @Walter Hay @Vigilante and I'm sure many others could help with. But, I first want to say a huge thanks to the people I just listed and many others for all the value you've provided here.

I am thinking about creating a brand around a certain product group that is pretty niche. Each product is very expensive. The selling prices would range from like $200 to $1000 for different sizes of the same product. These are all kinda big and heavy products. There is really only 1 or 2 major competitors with monthly search volume on Google between 10k-100k for this product. And no, I'm not looking to just launch on Amazon. I'm talking about a real business here, not just the next hot product on Alibaba. I just have questions before reaching out to the supplier so they take me serious.

1. How hard is it to get them to agree to let me be the sole distributor for the US of all their products?
2. Should I even try to ask them about dropshipping? I know everyone's views on it but I ask only because products are very expensive and the customer probably won't be expecting this type of product in two days anyways...
3. What should I expect with trying to get samples from them for a product this expensive?

Sorry if my questions seem dumb to any of you. I've never done this before but have tried to do my research first. I mainly just want to make a good first impression with the supplier, because the products look legit
 

Walter Hay

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1. How hard is it to get them to agree to let me be the sole distributor for the US of all their products?
2. Should I even try to ask them about dropshipping? I know everyone's views on it but I ask only because products are very expensive and the customer probably won't be expecting this type of product in two days anyways...
3. What should I expect with trying to get samples from them for a product this expensive?
1. Very difficult unless you have a proven track record that would impress them. You would also need to be able to buy the big quantity that they would almost certainly expect you to stock if they gave you distribution rights.
There is also a big risk that if you succeed as a distributor they might set up their own office in the US and leave you with nothing. If you have my importing book read again Chapter 5 Caution Regarding Agencies And Distributorships. There are things you can do to minimize that risk.

2. If they are manufacturers there is very little chance that they will dropship. If they agree to, they will charge you a premium, so your margins might finish up being too low.

3. A single sample will cost much more than the unit price for larger orders, and you will have to pay freight. Make sure you get them to quote you on a prepaid door to door basis whatever freight method is used. Don't accept air freight to your nearest airport.

Walter
 

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amp0193

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1. How hard is it to get them to agree to let me be the sole distributor for the US of all their products?
2. Should I even try to ask them about dropshipping? I know everyone's views on it but I ask only because products are very expensive and the customer probably won't be expecting this type of product in two days anyways...
3. What should I expect with trying to get samples from them for a product this expensive?
Your market sounds similar to mine and what I'm doing (it's not the same though).

1. Not much experience here. I have sole distributorship for a European brand... it was easy, just asked. Not sure I would even trust a Chinese company to honor this. Not sure they would even entertain the offer until you've proven yourself with some orders.

2. Dropshipping big heavy products? Is it from asia? I would think that shipping costs would kill your margin. Also, you have no control over quality and what the customer is getting. I'd be more paranoid about getting customers quality product, when you've never had a relationship with this factory.

3. A fee for the sample, and probably a big shipping cost to get it, if it's big and heavy as you say.
 

Walter Hay

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1. Not much experience here. I have sole distributorship for a European brand... it was easy, just asked. Not sure I would even trust a Chinese company to honor this. Not sure they would even entertain the offer until you've proven yourself with some orders.
Thanks for your comments, which were right on the mark. I know many cases in which Chinese companies have got a distributor, waited till they have built up a market, and then sent their own staff to establish an office, abandoning the distributor.

Mind you, I have seen that happen with suppliers in various countries, although not to the same extent.

Walter
 

Walter Hay

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I should have added that as I explain in my franchising book; in the USA, distributorships are frequently but not always, found to fall within the scope of franchise legislation.

Those who obtain a distributorship can lose their business because the Licensor is taken down by the FTC. At least they don't lose as much as the Licensor, who can suffer massive penalties.

Similar rulings have been made in other countries, so tread warily when either selling or buying a license.

Walter
 
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biophase

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How much has Amazons policy and your overall strategy changed in the course of this thread, so almost 4 years now?

Do you have to send the packages separately to Amazon warehouse or do you have to send the products to AMZ already packed, ready to be shipped to the customer?

Thank you for your valuable time!
Basically now you have to build a brand vs just launch a product. It takes alot more effort and you have to think of branding first.

You can send them and have Amazon label stickers for you or send them already stickered and ready to be shipped out.
 

fmob007

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Do you believe online surveys are efficient to extract some information I need about my demographics?
 

Silverballz

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First I want to say : Thank you biophase!
You give this forum so much value, especially for the ones which are on E-Commerce.

I have following problem:
I sold 500+ products, and got no review, I wrote some buyers and they said that they are satisfied but they didn't write reviews.

Now I have the problem, that the only review I got is 1 star, because the product delivered had a factory problem.

First thing I learned is that I have to check my products better but I think it's hard to avoid that one of 500 products have a manufactory based problem.

Obviously my sales dropped, after the review, and without new sales it's hard for me to get new reviews.

I started to do follow up E-Mails, but I still need sales to get these E-Mails out.

What would you recommend me to do now, that i get out of this hole?
 

PizzaOnTheRoof

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How do you feel about ecommerce websites selling only other brands? There's a heavy focus here on branding your own product, which makes sense for selling on Amazon/eBay, but for standalone ecommerce sites which are niche specific the retailer model can make sense.

I see opportunity in spaces where there are existing brand names or patented products, but no one 'go-to' ecommerce site for customers to purchase a bunch of products from different brands. Particularly, in categories which aren't allowed on Amazon, or for which consumers need more information or guidance prior to purchase.

Margins can still be solid in some cases, upwards of 60% gross before shipping. You can create a brand in this way the same that Michaels has in the art world, they are the go-to store although they sell other companies products. They have created a brand in and of itself, because they can differentiate on:

  1. Product selection (brands have exclusive retail agreements)
  2. Pricing (volume means they can sell at the same price as brands)
  3. Customer service
  4. Shipping and returns
  5. Website experience
  6. Informational content

For certain niches or products, Amazon or eBay makes a lot more sense. But I think there are circumstances where a retail approach selling other brands products can be a huge opportunity. I'm curious to hear others opinions. There are pros and cons both ways and keeping both options in your mind can open up more opportunity. You can also start with retail and then eventually bring in your own products once you have a huge free marketing channel and the ability to order volume for excellent margins.
Bumping this comment as I am interested in the answer as well.

I’m going through the same thing with my venture.
 

Champion

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Hey!

Im planning to launch my product soon, it will be sold through the following channels in order of intended priority:

1. My own Shopify Store
2. Amazon
3. Ebay
4. Offline Retailers (I will approach them and ask for shelf-space)

From my old days of selling on Ebay, I have 531 positive reviews and a 99,6% positive rating ratio.

My questions are the following:

1. How can I leverage the positive reviews that my account has on ebay to have socialproof for my customers on my shopify store & amazon? For my shopify store, maybe have a link that goes to ebay or also screenshots of the positive reviews?

2. How many reviews would you guys say is needed on Amazon to get rolling in the search engines?
 
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biophase

biophase

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Do you believe online surveys are efficient to extract some information I need about my demographics?
I have no idea. I've never done any online surveys.
 
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biophase

biophase

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First I want to say : Thank you biophase!
You give this forum so much value, especially for the ones which are on E-Commerce.

I have following problem:
I sold 500+ products, and got no review, I wrote some buyers and they said that they are satisfied but they didn't write reviews.

Now I have the problem, that the only review I got is 1 star, because the product delivered had a factory problem.

First thing I learned is that I have to check my products better but I think it's hard to avoid that one of 500 products have a manufactory based problem.

Obviously my sales dropped, after the review, and without new sales it's hard for me to get new reviews.

I started to do follow up E-Mails, but I still need sales to get these E-Mails out.

What would you recommend me to do now, that i get out of this hole?
When you sold the 500 products, were you sending out emails asking for reviews during that time. The normal review conversion rate is somewhere between 1-2%, so with 500 sales, you should expect to get 5-10 reviews.

At this point, you probably need to get friends and friends of friends to purchase and have them leave reviews for you.
 

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biophase

biophase

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How do you feel about ecommerce websites selling only other brands? There's a heavy focus here on branding your own product, which makes sense for selling on Amazon/eBay, but for standalone ecommerce sites which are niche specific the retailer model can make sense.

I see opportunity in spaces where there are existing brand names or patented products, but no one 'go-to' ecommerce site for customers to purchase a bunch of products from different brands. Particularly, in categories which aren't allowed on Amazon, or for which consumers need more information or guidance prior to purchase.

Margins can still be solid in some cases, upwards of 60% gross before shipping. You can create a brand in this way the same that Michaels has in the art world, they are the go-to store although they sell other companies products. They have created a brand in and of itself, because they can differentiate on:
  1. Product selection (brands have exclusive retail agreements)
  2. Pricing (volume means they can sell at the same price as brands)
  3. Customer service
  4. Shipping and returns
  5. Website experience
  6. Informational content

For certain niches or products, Amazon or eBay makes a lot more sense. But I think there are circumstances where a retail approach selling other brands products can be a huge opportunity. I'm curious to hear others opinions. There are pros and cons both ways and keeping both options in your mind can open up more opportunity. You can also start with retail and then eventually bring in your own products once you have a huge free marketing channel and the ability to order volume for excellent margins.
I think this is fine if you can find enough brands to maintain your store. But I would start with this and then create your own brand.

For example, you open GymShoe Warehouse. And you start by selling Nike, Reebok and UA shoes. Eventually you create your own shoe brand called GSW Athletics. Now you sell Nike, Reebok, GSW Athletics and UA and you get people looking for Nike, to find your brand.

That's how I would do it.
 
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biophase

biophase

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Hey!

Im planning to launch my product soon, it will be sold through the following channels in order of intended priority:

1. My own Shopify Store
2. Amazon
3. Ebay
4. Offline Retailers (I will approach them and ask for shelf-space)

From my old days of selling on Ebay, I have 531 positive reviews and a 99,6% positive rating ratio.

My questions are the following:

1. How can I leverage the positive reviews that my account has on ebay to have socialproof for my customers on my shopify store & amazon? For my shopify store, maybe have a link that goes to ebay or also screenshots of the positive reviews?

2. How many reviews would you guys say is needed on Amazon to get rolling in the search engines?
I would put on your shopify pages, screenshots of the your customer reviews from Ebay.

For Amazon, it depends on the niche, but I'd say you would need at least 10+ reviews for social proof. To rank on Amazon, you just need sales.
 

Champion

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I would put on your shopify pages, screenshots of the your customer reviews from Ebay.

For Amazon, it depends on the niche, but I'd say you would need at least 10+ reviews for social proof. To rank on Amazon, you just need sales.
Thanks so much man, will keep you guys updated on how everything goes!
 

WillM

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I would identify the products of your brand that would sell well by FBA. Then send them to FBA and see what happens.

Curious, why you say your products don't work well with FBA. Are they too low priced? Are they too big or heavy?

Do you have 100% of your brand listed on Amazon, even if self fulfilled?
Core business is in perishable products - a blessing and a curse (lots of repeat business, high barrier to entry, but difficult to store and ship).

I only list about 50% of available on SKU's and in our marketing materials for Amazon customers we stress the availability of additional varieties via direct ordering.

@MJ DeMarco

I would pay to be a fly on the wall with these two in a room
 

Bearcorp

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I think this is fine if you can find enough brands to maintain your store. But I would start with this and then create your own brand.

For example, you open GymShoe Warehouse. And you start by selling Nike, Reebok and UA shoes. Eventually you create your own shoe brand called GSW Athletics. Now you sell Nike, Reebok, GSW Athletics and UA and you get people looking for Nike, to find your brand.

That's how I would do it.
Great advice, this is what ASOS do, a big online retailer.
 

Silverballz

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When you sold the 500 products, were you sending out emails asking for reviews during that time. The normal review conversion rate is somewhere between 1-2%, so with 500 sales, you should expect to get 5-10 reviews.

At this point, you probably need to get friends and friends of friends to purchase and have them leave reviews for you.
I did no E-Mail follow up within the first 500 sales, I guess it's pretty unlucky to get 0 reviews with this "much" sales.

Is there anything I need to pay attention with reviews from friends, because its against Amazon's TOS?
Like a different place of residence? Or not being friends or Facebook etc.

Thank you for your answer.
 
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biophase

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I did no E-Mail follow up within the first 500 sales, I guess it's pretty unlucky to get 0 reviews with this "much" sales.

Is there anything I need to pay attention with reviews from friends, because its against Amazon's TOS?
Like a different place of residence? Or not being friends or Facebook etc.

Thank you for your answer.
That's not unlucky. If you don't ask for any reviews you won't get any. If you ask you might have gotten 5-10. You can sign up for a Amazon review company and then may be able to send your past 500 customers an email asking for a review.

I would just ask any of your friends at this point. If their review isn't approved, move on to another friend. Definitely, don't ask any one that lives with you or has used your wifi.
 

Silverballz

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That's not unlucky. If you don't ask for any reviews you won't get any. If you ask you might have gotten 5-10. You can sign up for a Amazon review company and then may be able to send your past 500 customers an email asking for a review.

I would just ask any of your friends at this point. If their review isn't approved, move on to another friend. Definitely, don't ask any one that lives with you or has used your wifi.
Can you get suspended for this?

And is it that they really used my Wifi, or that we shared the same Wifi once?
 
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biophase

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Can you get suspended for this?

And is it that they really used my Wifi, or that we shared the same Wifi once?
If you've logged into your seller account on the same wifi as they did with their buyer account, I wouldn't use them.
 

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