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Yussef

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I’m starting this thread to document my journey from “good money” (you can read my intro story here) to FU money.

I aim to do this in the next 5 years by getting my online salon supply business to the stage where it’s profiting 7 figures a year and then hopefully selling it for several million. I’ll then have enough money invested to live comfortably off interest and investments for the rest of my days. Or at least that’s my plan. Let’s see what happens.

I’m documenting this for a few reasons...

First of all I hope that sharing my successes and failures will be of some value to you on your own journey.

Secondly I see it as a way of holding my self more accountable to my goals. Not that I think I’ll slack off or give up, but I this will add some extra motivation for me in hitting my milestones.

Thirdly, because while I’m confident in what I’m doing , it never hurts to get a fresh point of view. Hopefully your feedback can help me see things I might be missing.

And lastly, all I seem to do lately is work on the business and learn about business. This thread will give me a much needed creative outlet.

I’ve decided that I won’t be giving away any major details about my business apart from what I’ve already stated in my intro thread but I will try and be transparent as possible regarding what I’m doing and my progress toward the financial targets I’ve set.

Goal for 2018: $1,750,000 in revenue
I aim to make $1,750,000 in revenue (a figure more than double what I made last year) and I’ll start setting financial targets to hit each month in order to get there.


Monthly totals so far:


January: $101,992

February: $103,041

March: $50,689 (At the halfway point)


Considering I need to average $145,000 every month to hit my goal I’m a long way behind where I need to be. But while the start has been slow, I think if I put in the hard work now, I will see my efforts start to pay off in the back half of the year.


I’ll set my goal for March at 108k which would be a good result considering my position at the halfway mark.

The goal for April will be 118k and if I can grow revenue at around 10k per month thereafter I might be able to hit the annual target by years end. It’s an unlikely goal, but why not shoot for the moon?


How I plan to grow revenue:

1. Hire & Outsource – Until 2 weeks ago I was handling everything on my own. I have since hired someone part time to assist with packing & shipping which will free me up to spend more time growing the business. I’ll also be looking for other opportunities to outsource work to VA’s and other contractors.


2. Expand the product line – I’m currently talking to 2 new suppliers in China after ordering samples of some new beauty products and am about to put in large orders with both of them for variants of some products we already stock that have been extremely popular. I’ve also just started stocking some new aftercare products (products that the salons we supply can retail to their customers) and so far they’ve generated around a thoursand dollars worth of sales within the first week or so.



3. Improve marketing campaigns – I’ve been spending around 5k per month on advertising on adwords and facebook but haven’t put in the time and effort required to really test and tweak the campaigns. I spent my nights over the past 2 weeks doing an online adwords certification and completely overhauled the old campaigns and set up some new ones. They’ll need time to settle but once they do I’ll continue to tweak and adjust to get a better ROI which will mean I can increase the overall marketing budget and generate more traffic and more revenue.


4. Increase Social Media Presence – This has probably been the most neglected area of my business. I keep meaning to post more regularly but always seem to find other things to work on instead. I think this is partly because as a guy selling beauty products, marketing them doesn’t come naturally to me and I’m not an avid social media user outside of work either. Having said that, Instagram is huge in my niche and other brands are taking advantage so I need to step up my game here. I did try to outsource the social media work by advertising on upwork however I couldn’t find anyone with knowhow in both B2B and the beauty industry.



5. A heap of other stuff - I use Trello to track all my various to do lists and I probably have well over 100 changes planned for the business from website tweaks to improving my email campaigns to improving ad copy. Basically anything that will 1) Increase traffic, 2) Increase conversions, 3) Increase order value. These are the things that will grow revenue.


So that’s my first post done. I’m not sure how often I’ll be providing updates. I’ll at least do a run down for the end of each month documenting how I measured up against the financial goals and what changes I made. What went wrong, what went right. I’ll also try and provide updates and answer any questions each week as well.


The plan is to keep coming back to this thread and setting new goals each year, all the way through until I make that sweet FU money and drive off into the sunset in my new lambo.
Interesting! I am rooting for you. One question. Did you start your sales off exclusively online and if so how did you get Salon owners to trust using non recognizable brands on their customers head and skin? I am assuming you private labeled them.
 

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Agree that free shipping, even with slightly higher prices to offset it, might be a good idea. People LOVE their free shipping and their feeling of getting some kind of "discount", even if the original full price amount is pretty much arbitrary to them.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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Nice to see an Aussie doing so well in eCommerce. This thread has helped me keep focus on my eCommerce goals.

MythOfSisyphus what are your thoughts on Australia's Amazon so far?

I started a new business 2 months ago have made sales on ebay and just recently my first sale on my website. But so far 0 sales on Amazon.

Feels like it could be years before Aussies make the transfer to Australia's Amazon. I personally dont know anyone that shops on amazon. Also just browsing through Australia's amazon listings there is a very low percentage of reviews.

I was expecting big things from Amazon, but their foray into Australia has been extremely underwhelming.

When news broke about their Australian launch I signed up as a seller as soon as I could and began researching what I'd need to do so that we could prepare to sell our products on there from day 1 and beat our competitors to the platform. Unfortunately however selling on Amazon (particularly beauty products) is nowhere near as straightforward as it is on eBay and I simply gave up in frustration (but also partly because it soon became apparent that Amazon would take a long time to see the kind of popularity in Australia that it has in the US).

So I'm not surprised to hear you haven't made any sales on there yet and to be honest, I wouldn't expect to make many in the near future. Your efforts would be better focused on eBay and trying to rank your own website, assuming you have one.

With all the resources they have at their disposal I'm sure Amazon will make inroads eventually, but it doesn't look like happening any time soon.
 

Paul David

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Sure.

I just use the one board, however I have that board divided into several lists...

Reminder List - This contains a card that displays a visual display of my revenue goal for the year, and then my revenue goal for the month. Undearneath these are simply a few ongoing reminders (with due dates set) that I need for the future.

To Do List - This one is the most important. This is where the tasks I'm currently focussed on are kept. When they're completed they get moved into the next list

Completed - Pretty self explanatory. This is where my completed tasks go. I archive the contents of the list at the end of each day so that each day I can see it filling up with the tasks I'm knocking out. This helps me see what I've acheived.

Project Lists - I have about 10 other lists for the various projects I have going on. For instance I have one for the Amazon migration I'm doing at the moment (adding our products to Amazon Australia). I also have ongoing lists for things like website updates, social media, ebay, advertising etc.

Prioritising the tasks - This is what makes my system really effective - Any task that is tied to my goals of increasing revenue is marked with an 'IMPORTANT' label, so for instance something like setting up a marketing campaign for an upcoming sale will have a direct impact on revenue and therefore be marked with the important label. Anything that requires immediate attention (can't be put off until tomorrow or next week etc) will be given an 'URGENT' label.

So what I do is grab all the tasks listed as both 'IMPORTANT & URGENT' and add them to the top of my To-Do list. I then grab any listed as urgent and do them next. After that I prioritise anything listed as 'Important' to do next. Things listed as neither urgent, nor important i just get to when I can.

This is basically just a simplified version of the Eisenhower decision matrix but I've found it works really well at keeping me focused on only the most important revenue raising tasks and helps keep me organised and motivated.

I hope that's clear. Let me know if it's not though.

So using this decision matrix i have a listed my tasks below and the prioritised them as follows, would you agree with these?

Re-stock Amazon FBA SKU's - URGENT
Find New Products to sell - IMPORTANT
Increase Facebook Followers - NEITHER
Increase Instagram followers - NEITHER
Set up Shopify site - IMPORTANT
Set up customer follow up for sales - IMPORTANT
Design product bag for particular SKU for factory in China - IMPORTANT
Re-Order Stock - URGENT
Check Stock Performance - Slow/Non selling SKUS and act on results. - IMPORTANT
Check Google PPC performance - IMPORTANT
Check Amazon PPC performance - IMPORTANT
 
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MythOfSisyphus

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Awesome! And congratulations. I've just gone through you progress thread and do you know what really struck me (other than the impressive numbers)...it's the interesting fact that stuff like redoing your logo, and the website redesign are being done when the business is well on it's way and churning thousands of $ a month in contrast to how some focus on stuff like that in the beginning, wondering whether the colors are right etc....Great lessons in your progress thread mate! Thanks for letting us take a peek into your cash machine!

Cheers.

Theres definitely a fine balance between action faking and rushing into something too fast. I've seen plenty of failures on both side of fence.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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Congrats.
Illustrates the power of an online business/online sales channels over traditional stores.

How are you managing to deliver the products? (Since I believe, hair care products are not classified as essential products).
Are there increased costs associated with ensuring deliveries get to your customers?
Or your delivery process has been uninterrupted so far....if so, how come?

While we're definitely not an essential service we're an online only retailer so still permitted to operate as usual with the necessary precautions.

We use the national postal service for deliveries. They're experiencing some delays but most orders we send are still arriving within a few days. International orders ( only a tiny percentage of our business) are experiencing huge delays.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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Question: I know it depends on the product, margin, etc, but just to get an idea.
I think I read somewhere on the thread that your avg product cost is about $5 and your average sale price is $20.
Do you have about 50K on inventory?
If not, assuming a $5 product that sells like hot cakes, how much inventory should I keep to be able to sell 200K a month?

Very good question. It depends on a few different factors. For instance...

- How many products you stock
- What the lead time and shipping times are for each product
- Whether or not your business is based on repeat buyers (being out of stock will be seen as an inconvenience that may cause a regular customer to look elsewhere)
- Likelihood of the products arriving damaged or not as described
- Your suppliers minimum order quantities
- Seasonal demand

Our business is built on repeat buyers so we like to make sure we always have what they need in stock. We now have around 800 SKUs which means that staying in stock for each product can be complicated so we use software that predicts future sales based on previous sales data. As a rule we like to have around 3 months worth of stock on hand for every SKU (some more, some less).

At any one time we'll have around 200k to 300k worth of stock (purchase value, not retail value) on hand. This gives us plenty of time to resolve issues with shipping delays, product faults, sudden increases in demand. These things are all part of importing and do occur frequently.

If you were only stocking a handful of products and lead time was only 30-40 days then you could definitely hold far less stock than we do and achieve a similar revenue each month. 50k would be around the minimum for 200k revenue a month though I would think.
 
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MythOfSisyphus

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These are the golden nuggets of insight and motivation that I've come to love so much.


Good luck on your journey @MythOfSisyphus, it sounds like you have already achieved some level of success so I'm sure these new goals will be achieved soon :) I'm just getting started myself.. haven't done a proper intro and not sure if I should do a progress thread or not but it will be fun to watch yours. Keep it up!

Thanks. I'd, definitely recommend doing a progress thread. I really wish I had been documenting my journey from the start.
 

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I was wondering, did you put 3000$ on one single product at the beginning or it was multiple products ?

Does SEO has helped you to make sales or it was with Ebay at the beginning that helped you to get cash first, then scaling on google ?

Thanks for your time and your intro threads, your story is inspiring !
 

jcvlds

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Its definitely a massive plus, but I wouldn't necessarily say it's a necessity though. There's plenty of successful businesses that have 1 time buyers.

I don't remember where I heard it but it's believed that when evaluating their success entrepreneurs often overrate their own input and underrate the part that luck played, and people evaluating the entrepreneur from the outside do the opposite... They overestimate the importance of luck and underestimate the importance of hard work.

In my situation I'd like to think I have a pretty realistic view. I got into very good niche... It had high barriers to entry and its a rapidly growing part of a larger evergreen niche (the beauty industry). It was a lucky break to hit a niche like this on my first attempt at a proper business.

But... I put in years of work beforehand, often with little to no reward learning the ins and outs of marketing, copywriting, SEO, Web design etc. It was those years of slugging away with nothing to show for it that put me in a position to make the most of my lucky break when it came along.

Like MJ and many other great people here say, you create your own luck!

What would make you say were the high barriers to entry into your niche? Industry knowledge? Capital for inventory? Trying to evaluate your experience to see how we can try to look for niches like yours systematically and find ones with barriers to entry that we can overcome but others won’t


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HackVenture

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Since you have your own brand, it seems like the quickest way to a dramatically increase of sales would be to find resellers in countries/cities outside areas you currently serve? Have you considered or tried that route?

All the best, seems like business is moving along nicely, rooting for you!
 

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Hi @MythOfSisyphus thanks for your insights here. Your writing is very clear and I'm personally learning a lot from the simplicity of your posts.

How do you decide which new products to introduce? Is your wife still heavily involved in this process and would you be lost without her in this regard?

Also are the products simply made somewhere in China then you slap your branding on them, and your competitors have the identical product with different branding? Or are you literally creating the products 100% from scratch, with input on the composition/manufacture etc

Thanks again and I hope you continue the good work.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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Thanks for the kind words @Genius01.

@MythOfSisyphus ... I have some eCom clients but mostly lead gen. Happy to have a chat, as I’m sure @Ungodly would who does specialise in eCom.

I’m not actively looking for any more eCom clients but could maybe spot a few quick wins.

Thanks guys, I appreciate the offers. I'm still undecided on which direction to go with this hire and have put it on hold while I focus on resuming international shipping.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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You should consider a 3PL here in the US. Have your products shipped there and they will charge you a per piece fee to do the shipments for you.

Assuming your products are popular here or are a good fit, this could work out very well for you.

The other option is to open a "branch" or get a partner in the US. Have that company import the products in bulk (deal with customs 1 time), then have that "entity" deliver the goods.

Either solution should allow you to scale to the US.

Any questions, let me know.

This is something I've considered for quite a while and to be honest it's really only a bit of internal fear (and a few logistics that need to be ironed out) that's holding me back from pursuing it properly. It seems like a huge step to take and the loss of control over things like packing causes me a bit of anxiety.

Our packing process can be quite complicated as we have around over 600 hundred SKUS and currently nothing is barcoded. Several of our products have multiple variants that are all extremely similar by eye except for the labels. The average order contains around 5 or 6 products and the large ones up to around 50.

But, to be honest it's really probably something I need to just investigate a bit further into to make myself comfortable with it. I'd love to hear experiences from anyone who has successfully transitioned their business overseas in this way.
 

Yussef

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The 4,000 was spent on multiple products (around 600). There are thousands of products in this niche and most cost around 5 dollars to import and retail for around 20.

In the beginning most of the sales came from ebay and it took around 10 months for the shopify sales to overtake them.
That means you have to have had a branding strategy ...right? I have sold both (hi end) well known brands like It Cosmetics, Laura Geller and Philosophy online as well as (unknown) Private label beauty and man in that industry people love and trust the brands they love. You must have figured out the formula to building trust around your brand? And with Salons that put their reputation on the line everytime they use a new product, that's gold.

Please share a little about what you did to send your traffic to your Shopify (with private label products) and convince them to trust and buy there as opposed to more trusted channels? Did you utilize email appends to retarget? Just curious about your strategy NOT YOUR STORE OR BRAND.

Thanks in advance.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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That means you have to have had a branding strategy ...right? I have sold both (hi end) well known brands like It Cosmetics, Laura Geller and Philosophy online as well as (unknown) Private label beauty and man in that industry people love and trust the brands they love. You must have figured out the formula to building trust around your brand? And with Salons that put their reputation on the line everytime they use a new product, that's gold.

Please share a little about what you did to send your traffic to your Shopify (with private label products) and convince them to trust and buy there as opposed to more trusted channels? Did you utilize email appends to retarget? Just curious about your strategy NOT YOUR STORE OR BRAND.

Thanks in advance.

To be honest, in the beginning, no, I didn't have a branding strategy, and didn't really know what one would even look like. I knew a little bit about marketing and the importance of professional looking products, logos, websites etc but didn't have a strategy (although I have developed some strong rules around the brand along the way). In the beginning my basic strategy was to simply out-do all the existing competitors I could find in the niche in every way I could. I started off beating most of them on both product price and shipping price, and also made sure I had a more professional looking website, better copy, and more professional looking product photos. I also put a huge emphasis on customer service as this is a niche that thrives on repeat buyers.

I guess from these things I put importance on a brand kind of organically grew as opposed to being intentionally put in place from the outset.

If you read my intro thread (there's a link in the first post of this thread) I go into detail about how I gained traffic in the early months.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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When it came to beauty products from China, I was always concerned about the quality. Like what if they put shitty ingrediends into their products and my customers get a rash or worse. How did you combat that? Did you got all products tested?

I don't buy any liquid products from China. I buy solid materials and tools from there however.

For the liquid products I purchase from Korean suppliers who have pretty decent standards. I make sure all the products we buy have safety data sheets first, and check the ingredient list against the NICNAS database to make sure what we import is safe for Australian standards.

Only hiccup I had was at one point Australian law had changed to ban an ingredient in one of the products I was importing as it could be used in the production of GHB (a narcotic) and Australian customs handed the shipment over to the Australian Federal Police. It took over a month and numerous phone calls and emails to sort out. Eventually they simply destroyed the product and sent me the rest of the shipment.
 

jcvlds

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June Revenue Goal: $155,000

Actual Revenue for June: $146,409.43

Annual Revenue Goal: $1,750,000

Revenue so far: $733,025.60


Didn't hit the target this month but managed to keep up the strong sales from the previous month. June/July are generally the worst months of the year so I should see some pretty solid growth toward the end of the year. I now need to average 169,000 in sales each month for the rest of this year to hit the target so it's important that I at least stay around the 145-150 mark for the next month in order to not have that average increase too much.

What went right:
  • The new products stocked in previous months continued to sell well and sales stayed solid
  • I began shipping internationally which saw an extra 3k or so in revenue. Not an impressive figure by any means, however building up repeat international customers will be a long game and I expect sales from overseas to increase month on month
  • Agreed to a deal to purchase a warehouse for the business to move into next year.
  • My small business that started in a 3 by 3 metre spare room, officially became a company.
  • Finished the financials for last financial year and realised I did just over 1 million in sales.

What went wrong:
  • I made the decision to stop sending items on ebay in envelopes and use the same system as our website orders in order to streamline our packing process. In order to do this I started charging a small shipping fee on ebay and sales on there immediately halved (ebay loves free shipping) so that cost about 5k in the short term and potentially might cost a bit more in the long term. I'm still weighing up my options here and may simply go back to free shipping (but boost the cost of my ebay products by 10% or so) and take a small hit in profit margins in order to get the revenue and potential of long term customers back up.
  • I paid a guy 1k on upwork to help set up an online accounting system. He is a charted accountant and charges $65 US an hour. He seemed to know what he was doing during the interview, but as time dragged on I realised I should have simply set it all up myself as most of the work he did was pretty straight forward and it wasn't possible to integrate with shopify the way I had hoped (and someone who claimed to have done this kind of work before should have been aware of this from the outset). Anyway, lesson learned and not a major issue in the end.
Plans for July

I've been making some pretty big changes over the previous months, however in July I'll be focussing on some minor improvements here and there including:
  • Hiring a marketing expert to assist with the ad campaigns (I ran out of time to do this in June)
  • Potentially installing a new website theme as the one I'm currently using is a little dated and doesn't have a lot of the built in functionality I want like built in currency conversion.
  • Spending some time reviewing and improving internal processes and putting rules in place for customer engagement. Reason being that I see the business expanding pretty rapidly in the next 12 months and realistically I will need to delegate many of the tasks I'm currently performing. I'd like to be in a position to have rules and processes around almost everything we do in order to reduce the potential for human error.


Revenue goal for July: $150,000

July is a very slow month traditionally so 150k will be tough to hit but I'm hoping international sales will continue to increase and might plan a sale toward the end of the month to try and get closer to the target.

Awesome updates man. Rootin for you and really enjoying keeping up with your progress and achievements.


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MythOfSisyphus

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Slightly confused here MOS. You mentioned that the products are mostly your own brand. Do you have a massive manufacturing plant? Beauty/Salon products are generally produced in fairly hefty industrial factories, no?
I have the products made to my specifications in factories in China and Korea, including our logo and packaging etc.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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This mentality has clearly reflected itself in your success.

This is one of the best progress threads that i have read so far. Thank you for taking the time to share and answer everyones questions. Being able to witness a live process is invaluable to me at this moment in time.

Thanks again
Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad I decided to do the progress thread, although I do wish I had spent more time updating it.

I'm really glad to hear it's helping others.
 

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Nice to see an Aussie doing so well in eCommerce. This thread has helped me keep focus on my eCommerce goals.

MythOfSisyphus what are your thoughts on Australia's Amazon so far?

I started a new business 2 months ago have made sales on ebay and just recently my first sale on my website. But so far 0 sales on Amazon.

Feels like it could be years before Aussies make the transfer to Australia's Amazon. I personally dont know anyone that shops on amazon. Also just browsing through Australia's amazon listings there is a very low percentage of reviews.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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I love this thread, thank you for sharing. I’m amazed at your numbers with afterpay, this is interesting. Are perhaps more of your customers actually individual employees renting chair/booth space at a business.

I like your idea on adding stickers for your customers on the bottom flap of the box.

The other day I ordered packaging and received a note my order was packaged and awaiting pickup WITH a photo of the package at the warehouse. The tool used was “visual confirm”. As a consumer this stood out as being different - just an idea.

Tim


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Thanks Tim.

The majority of our customers are individuals operating their own beauty business, often from their homes as opposed to a salon. But we sell to businesses of all sizes, all the way up to beauty schools and colleges.

Afterpay, Zippay and paypal tend to be more popular with the smaller businesses and smaller orders while the larger ones generally use credit cards
 

MythOfSisyphus

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NOTE: I'm taking off on Holiday straight after Christmas so I don't know if I'll get time to do a full update for the end of year until mid Jan. I'll at least try and give the final tally at some stage.
 

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Just dropped by to say thank you so much for sharing your progress.

Considering you are doing B2B sales, I have a couple questions:
1. How do you decide how much inventory to hold?
2. Why not use a pre-order system so that you do not have to hold inventory? So for example, you bring a sample of your product to a customer. If they like it, they order 500 units. Only then, you order 500 units from your supplier and ship it to them. This way, you are cash flow positive.

Based on what i've read, shipping times are critical to his customers. If he waited for a customer order before ordering product from his suppliers, his customers could potentially go elsewhere due to delivery times.

An example would be that that if you headed to your local store to buy some bread that you desperately needed (I guess most people leave it to the last minute), and they didn't have it in stock, you wouldn't wait until the stock was available, you'd go elsewhere. If customers were good with inventory management I guess this would be less of an issue, but if they are following a Just In Time style of inventory management, then shipping times are crucial.

Regarding inventory holding, MoS mentioned earlier that he knows what sells welll based on his experience. He manages stock based on these historic trends. He still has issues with OOS items. There may be a better way, but clearly his method is working based on the results.

Sorry @MythOfSisyphus for hijacking a bit, but just wanted to try to add some value!

Please correct if I've missed something.
 

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