The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success
  • Join 50,000+ entrepreneurs who are earning their freedom and living their dream.

    "Fastlane" is an entrepreneur discussion forum based on The Unscripted Entrepreneurial Framework (TUNEF) outlined in the two best-selling books by MJ DeMarco (The Millionaire Fastlane and UNSCRIPTED™). From multimillionaires to digital nomads, the forum features real entrepreneurs creating real businesses.

    Download (Unscripted) Download (Millionaire Fastlane) Register
    Registering for the forum removes this block.

GOLD! Ask me anything about eCommerce (Ongoing)

Xeon

All Cars Kneel Before Pagani.
Speedway Pass
Sep 3, 2017
1,094
2,390
562
Singapore
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.
So, you're saying that for a product / company to be making any profits, it needs to be selling at 5x or more its cost of production? Tbh, this is really high and I'm not sure it's the norm (in eCommerce in general, not just Amazon marketplace).

Also, what are your thoughts on lead magnets with regards to eCommerce? Have you used them before?
Lead magnets as in coupons/discounts, informative blog content related to the product and other incentives. A lot of articles about how to use lead magnets tend to be more for people selling eBooks or SaaS.
(*the big con with using coupons as lead magnets is that it trains customers to only buy when there is one)
 

biophase

Legendary Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Jul 25, 2007
6,351
28,192
5,083
Scottsdale, AZ
So, you're saying that for a product / company to be making any profits, it needs to be selling at 5x or more its cost of production? Tbh, this is really high and I'm not sure it's the norm (in eCommerce in general, not just Amazon marketplace).
When your price point is that low, under $25, you need at least 5x. With products that are between $30-$100 you can get away with 3x.

In general most Amazon products look like this 33% COGS, 33% profit margin, 33% Amazon fees. So you could get away with a $5 product selling at $15, making $5. But once you put PPC into the mix it will drag your 33% of the profit down. An ACOS of 33% and you breakeven.

What would be better is selling at $15, COGS $3, Amazon fees at $5, profit is $7. Now your breakeven ACOS is around 45% which is way more doable on a competitive product.
 

David 964

Contributor
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Feb 10, 2019
20
33
29
Los Angeles
sosautocraft.com
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!
Hello Biophase,

I am in service business and I don't know much about e-commerce, actually I don't know nothing except it's a online store. However I would like to learn about it. But I have no clue where to start. Is there any book or youtube chanel you would suggest? Perhaps thread which explain e-commerce for beginners?

Maybe you are familiar with some of titles bellow:
I would really appreciate your input / pointing in right direction.
Thanks.
 

tmb22

New Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Dec 8, 2018
21
19
26
Alabama
Not sure if this is the best place to post this question, but here it goes.
Does anyone have any experience trying to work around patents? I have an idea that I know there is a need for. The problem is, there are two companies that are selling this product and there is a patent on the product. Their products accomplish the same thing, but they are slightly different. They are doing an absolute terrible job though. Their websites are terrible. Only one of them has it on amazon and it has zero reviews. So, I know it can be done much better. Is it worth hiring an attorney to do patent research to tell me what improvements I could legally make to the product?
@biophase @Walter Hay @JasonR @Vigilante
 

Walter Hay

Legendary Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Speedway Pass
Sep 13, 2014
2,116
8,629
1,953
80
World citizen
www.provenchinasourcing.com
Not sure if this is the best place to post this question, but here it goes.
Does anyone have any experience trying to work around patents? I have an idea that I know there is a need for. The problem is, there are two companies that are selling this product and there is a patent on the product. Their products accomplish the same thing, but they are slightly different. They are doing an absolute terrible job though. Their websites are terrible. Only one of them has it on amazon and it has zero reviews. So, I know it can be done much better. Is it worth hiring an attorney to do patent research to tell me what improvements I could legally make to the product?
@biophase @Walter Hay @JasonR @Vigilante
I would never try to bypass a patent without professional legal advice. Patent law is very complex and failing to understand just one word in a patent lodgement could be disastrous.

Many people gamble on the patent proprietor being unwilling or financially unable to sue, but if someone sued you for millions, claiming loss of profits, would you survive?

Walter
 

Sanj Modha

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Feb 16, 2016
760
2,220
555
37
I would never try to bypass a patent without professional legal advice. Patent law is very complex and failing to understand just one word in a patent lodgement could be disastrous.

Many people gamble on the patent proprietor being unwilling or financially unable to sue, but if someone sued you for millions, claiming loss of profits, would you survive?

Walter
Do it from China. The Chinese don't recognise patents.
 

Sanj Modha

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Feb 16, 2016
760
2,220
555
37
But then selling in the US could get him in trouble right?
Not if the company is registered in China. I know factories who do it and they don't give a F*ck about it either.

I know guys who swipe the best performing Kickstarter campaigns, build and sell the product before the Kickstarter's ended. They sell millions of units too.
 

Sanj Modha

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Feb 16, 2016
760
2,220
555
37
Not if the company is registered in China. I know factories who do it and they don't give a F*ck about it either.

I know guys who swipe the best performing Kickstarter campaigns, build and sell the product before the Kickstarter's ended. They sell millions of units too.
Any US lawsuit would have to go through Chinese courts. Good luck with that.
 

Tanu1234

Contributor
Aug 4, 2018
70
56
56
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!
How many reviews are required to kick start sell on amazon?

What is effect of review on sales?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

tmb22

New Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Dec 8, 2018
21
19
26
Alabama
I would never try to bypass a patent without professional legal advice. Patent law is very complex and failing to understand just one word in a patent lodgement could be disastrous.

Many people gamble on the patent proprietor being unwilling or financially unable to sue, but if someone sued you for millions, claiming loss of profits, would you survive?

Walter
Thanks for the reply Walter. I'm not a billionaire yet, so no I would not survive. I'm speaking with an attorney next week. If there's no way around it, I am going to try and buy the company out somehow
 

Walter Hay

Legendary Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Speedway Pass
Sep 13, 2014
2,116
8,629
1,953
80
World citizen
www.provenchinasourcing.com
But then selling in the US could get him in trouble right?
that's too shady for me
Apart from the ethics, reliance on the extreme difficulty of pursuing any case in Chinese courts does give IP thieves some protection, but that is not the whole story.

The legitimate IP owner will easily succeed in having the copyist's sites and other listings taken down. This overnight destroys their illegitimate business.

The IP owner will often sue the thief for damages, with the result likely to be bankruptcy.

Law enforcement authorities get involved if the offense is deemed serious, and heavy fines and sometimes prison time result.

These things happen quite often, but get relatively little press, because there is so much more exciting stuff with which to entertain the public.

Walter
 

Ernie McCracken

New Contributor
Sep 2, 2017
14
10
16
36
Seattle, WA
How do you feel about launching a brand into Amazon? To clarify, I developed my own unique product, invested in totally custom tooling, and am building an ecom presence from scratch. No alibaba sourced stuff.

I'm afraid if I put up products on Amazon, I'll get hammered by fake reviews and other black hat tactics that will kill my brand before I ever get off the ground. So many horror stories out there about the amazon snake pit. Any thoughts?
 

Sanj Modha

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Feb 16, 2016
760
2,220
555
37
If you're successful - you'll get knocked off in ANY market.

Spanx was ripped off but that didn't stop Sara Blakely from creating a $1bn+ thriving business. That's why I always say: BUILD A BRAND. You are unstoppable.
 

blurr

New Contributor
Aug 14, 2018
6
9
19
Hey @biophase ,

Can’t thank you enough for the massive amount of value you brought to this thread over the years. I just read through the whole thing and I’m left with 2 questions.

1. How did you validate your niche once you first startet your brand?. Did you check for more products with potential for improvement right after you decided on your first product in a specific niche? Or did you first make sure that there will be enough products to improve on before you even got involved in the niche?

Not sure if this one was answered:

2. How do you deal with the upcoming force sending to FBA directly from China? I see more and more of these folks all over the place selling direct every month. Can you still compete through differentiation or don’t they just copy your product improvements in no time so they regain their advantage to offer at a better price?
 

biophase

Legendary Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Jul 25, 2007
6,351
28,192
5,083
Scottsdale, AZ
Hey @biophase ,

Can’t thank you enough for the massive amount of value you brought to this thread over the years. I just read through the whole thing and I’m left with 2 questions.

1. How did you validate your niche once you first started your brand?. Did you check for more products with potential for improvement right after you decided on your first product in a specific niche? Or did you first make sure that there will be enough products to improve on before you even got involved in the niche?

Not sure if this one was answered:

2. How do you deal with the upcoming force sending to FBA directly from China? I see more and more of these folks all over the place selling direct every month. Can you still compete through differentiation or don’t they just copy your product improvements in no time so they regain their advantage to offer at a better price?
1) I usually have an idea of how I would expand before I do the first product. So if I were doing a stapler, I'd think about how my brand would look. So I'd probably think, stapler, tape dispenser, pencil holder and then maybe some desk organizers.

2) I don't pay any attention to them at all. You will have to figure out a way to do something that a China competitor won't do or can't copy. Or just do it better than them. They can't communicate as well as you. They don't know what they are making or know the intricacies of how the product is used.
 

Longinus

Platinum Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Speedway Pass
Aug 28, 2014
1,004
4,103
1,006
33
Flanders, Belgium
2. How do you deal with the upcoming force sending to FBA directly from China? I see more and more of these folks all over the place selling direct every month. Can you still compete through differentiation or don’t they just copy your product improvements in no time so they regain their advantage to offer at a better price?
Look at basically any smaller Chinese brand on Amazon (not talking about Huawei or something). "Branding" is something they never heard about: the name of their brand is made up and doesn't make any sense (to name a few that I just searched: Nowyeh, Yescom, Wondruz, Loveuing, this list goes on), the language they use in their listings is often so terribly bad (might have used online translators), and their photos are a joke more than often.

Some people look through this and buy it, but for most westerners, it looks so unprofessional on the first sight. Chinese marketing is so much different than ours, and that's how we still can make a difference. Although it will probably not stay that way.
 

Demian

Contributor
Dec 22, 2018
38
55
112
@biophase I can’t thank you enough for the amount of info and insights you’ve given throughout this epic thread.

I would like to know your opinion regarding a product I’ve been thinking of selling. And that is Books. Physical books to begin with.

From what I could research books are and will remain to be in demand throughout the world, you can store them for an indefinite period of time if you need to, meaning you don’t have to worry about selling them before certain period of time. I’d say books are kind of a “safe” product. But I could be entirely wrong.

I wouldn’t manufacture anything, but buy them from wholesalers in my country or other countries.

Provided that I have USPs that outweigh those of big bookstores, do you see this as a viable option?
I will be selling exclusively through my own website.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Cheers.
 

biophase

Legendary Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Jul 25, 2007
6,351
28,192
5,083
Scottsdale, AZ
@biophase I can’t thank you enough for the amount of info and insights you’ve given throughout this epic thread.

I would like to know your opinion regarding a product I’ve been thinking of selling. And that is Books. Physical books to begin with.

From what I could research books are and will remain to be in demand throughout the world, you can store them for an indefinite period of time if you need to, meaning you don’t have to worry about selling them before certain period of time. I’d say books are kind of a “safe” product. But I could be entirely wrong.

I wouldn’t manufacture anything, but buy them from wholesalers in my country or other countries.

Provided that I have USPs that outweigh those of big bookstores, do you see this as a viable option?
I will be selling exclusively through my own website.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Cheers.
What would be your USP for a book that other bookstores have?
 

Demian

Contributor
Dec 22, 2018
38
55
112
What would be your USP for a book that other bookstores have?
-The main thing would be faster (much faster) shipping. Something like same-day delivery with free shipping. Most shipments in my country take over a week to reach your house, and that is if they even arrive at all. I haven´t figured out all the details yet, but if I were to buy a book I´ve been eager to read I would love to have it in my hands as soon as possible.
-Another aspect I could highly improve is packaging. In my country, most deliveries come in a simple bag with the address written with black marker on it. There´s signficant room for improvement there. I was thinking that by sealing the product in a somewhat resistant box with my logo on it would put me ahead of the curve.
-Better customer service. I would be the one answering all the calls and messages from customers, guiding them through the entire process and being frank and transparent with them. Customer service is (VERY) neglected here.

These are the ones I can come up with now, I´m sure there are more but I dont want to make this longer than it needs to be. I hope this answers your question.

Would love any and all feedback you can give me.
Cheers.
 

ideasunlimited1

Contributor
Mar 21, 2019
73
65
55
Houston
ideasunlimitedonline.com
Apart from the ethics, reliance on the extreme difficulty of pursuing any case in Chinese courts does give IP thieves some protection, but that is not the whole story.

The legitimate IP owner will easily succeed in having the copyist's sites and other listings taken down. This overnight destroys their illegitimate business.

The IP owner will often sue the thief for damages, with the result likely to be bankruptcy.

Law enforcement authorities get involved if the offense is deemed serious, and heavy fines and sometimes prison time result.

These things happen quite often, but get relatively little press, because there is so much more exciting stuff with which to entertain the public.

Walter
This is really fantastic advice, Walter. It gave me a nitty gritty view of international e-commerce procedure.

For you and any others in the thread, how do we make hiring e-commerce contractors from the US more attractive to US clients over other international markets?
 

Ali Ahsan

PARKED
FASTLANE INSIDER
Apr 4, 2019
2
0
6
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!
Thanks for the thread, enormous value.
When doing product research for Amazon FBA is there a specific criteria you follow? and would you also recommend using Jungle scout, Everyone seems to tell me its much more accurate than Helium 10.

Thanks
Ali A.
 

fmob007

New Contributor
Jul 3, 2018
19
12
28
22
Great thread, lots of value added. Thanks Biophase. I'd like to make three questions:
1. Do you send any follow up emails? If yes, at which point?
2. You have mentioned here that you run your PPC campaigns at break-even. So, do you think that the only purpose of your campaign is to rank higher?
3. About product launching. You've also mentioned selling at a lower price to rank higher. Should that price be discounted or my regular one and raise it afterwards? And finally what's your opinion about the early reviewers program?
 

FORUM SPONSOR

Post New Topic

Please SEARCH before posting.
Please select the BEST category.

Post thread…

Search the Forum

New Topics

FASTLANE INSIDERS

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top Bottom