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EXECUTION eCommerce Success - Three Years on the Fastlane Forum

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by Jamie T, Oct 16, 2017.

  1. Jamie T
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    Jamie T >> Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    Tomorrow I'll be making my second guest speaking appearance for a college class. As I wrote the outline for what I'm going to talk about, I realized that there are many lessons, good and bad, that others can learn from here at the forum too.

    On October 25th, it'll be my three year anniversary here at the Fastlane forum. I've learned a lot over the years and am still learning every single day.

    The Fastlane is a real thing and if you keep working at it, you'll get where you want to go.


    Just over a year ago, I was standing on the pier of a beach in sunny in Florida. I looked out over the sea and had the vision of where my life is now. The next day, I'd start my drive across the US to relocate to, even sunnier, Phoenix, Arizona.

    Back then, I could see where I'd be living, the view I'd have from my apartment (mountains), and the life I'd be living. All of which I decided.

    It's been just over two years since my last 9-5 job. And no, there's no going back.


    My primary income source is my eCommerce business that I started with $160 back in June 2015.

    After following the advice given in the thread, "Addicted to Passive Income Deposits," on the Inside, I imported my first sample of 10 products from China. More than doubled my money. And, scaled from there.

    Here's a quick list of some of the things I've already done:
    • I built a brand.
    • I currently have just under 70 active SKUs.
    • I sell primarily through my website, eBay, and Amazon (US and CA)
    • September was my best month in sales since I started. I even had a record day in sales while I was vacationing in Florida. The business runs no matter where I am.
    • I outsource some of the workload to two freelancers I hired in the Philippines (combined weekly hours range from 40-60 hours a week).
    • I just recently applied for a trademark in the US. It should be approved soon. I'm considering doing the same in Canada soon.
    • I just accepted a $20,000 loan from Amazon lending to grow my business. This is the first time that I'm taking on debt to expand, but believe it is necessary at this point. Previously, growth was funded by business profits only.
    • I just got accepted on Walmart.com (I submitted my application back in March. It took 7 months before getting approved) and Jet.com. I'm working on setting up a partner account to get my products uploaded to those two sites. I decided to go with GeekSeller.
    I plan on posting my thoughts, accomplishments, and failures here in the thread. I'll probably jump around from past to present. There's a lot to cover.

    If you have any questions, then feel free to ask. I'll do my best to explain things from my experience.

    I'll definitely add different things I do in the business to give you an idea of what works for me...and what doesn't.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2017
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  2. Ethanhoward35
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    Ethanhoward35 Contributor I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    thanks man i was stressing at work and school lately and getting distressed and seeing this thread motivates me to keep doing what i am doing and get to my goal of an unscripted life
     
  3. Jamie T
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    Jamie T >> Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    That's great to hear that it's motivating!

    It took me several years to figure out what works. I graduated college in 2012. And, it wasn't until June/July 2015 that I started seeing positive results.

    Those three years after graduating were very tough. I took a bunch of odd jobs that I could have had right out of high school. I kept learning and believing during that time. Very dark times, but I was one of the people crazy enough to believe what MJ says in his books was possible.

    The math in the millionaire fastlane is hard to argue. Keep working on getting in the fastlane math equation: net profit + asset value

    That equation is how to get unscripted.
     
  4. GDalf
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    GDalf New Contributor

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    Really cool story, congrats on the success! Can you talk a little more about those initial samples you bought? I'm trying to break into ecommerce but am still in the research phase and haven't narrowed down a specific niche/product. Any insight would be awesome!
     
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  5. Jamie T
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    Jamie T >> Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    I'm a strong believer in "taking action."

    In the beginning, I spent three months reading the threads about importing here on the forum, read a few books on import/export, and researched many different markets/products until I decided on the product to start with.

    Here was what my original plan was:
    • Get to my first sale as fast as possible.
    • Find a large market.
    • Niche down within that market.
    • Find a product that I thought I could make a profit on or break even (after all the shipping, eBay/PayPal fees, etc.)
      • The product had to be small - the size of my fist or two fists combined. This would allow for shipping costs to not be much of a concern.
      • The total cost had to be under $200 for my sample order. I didn't have much to work with back then. So naturally, that limited choices.
      • The product had to have some kind of demand. I knew people were buying that particular product. I'll admit that the demand for that first product wasn't that high. There were only a few sellers actually selling that product. At the time, I did compete on price which I don't recommend for the long term, but to get things started...why not? It worked. And, yes, I more than doubled my money in about a month.
    • I did start by selling on eBay only.
    • If I could successfully sell all 10 units, then I could figure out what to do after that.
    You here the term thrown around, "take action," and I took the advice.

    Why not narrow down your search to a small niche market, find a product (any product) that you think you can make a profit on or break even, and immediately find a supplier to get things moving?

    There's lots of talk about making product improvements, avoiding "me-too" products, and being different in the market place. And, yes, I agree with all of those.

    However, if you're starting out with only $200 and you want to start importing, then you're kind of stuck with either getting samples of a "me-too" product or finding a product in China that's not currently being marketed to the US (possible).

    I figured that I'd rather just START importing and then figure out the rest later...product improvements, adding value, etc. *It's important to keep this in mind because you really do want your focus to be on value, not just money.

    After you've already gone through the process of focusing on a specific market, determining a product to import, finding a supplier in China, communicating with the supplier, getting them to send you a small sample order after you pay them, receiving the order, taking pictures of the product, writing the copy for the product, listing the product on eBay, and ultimately...making your first sale...then, you just gained all of that experience for under $200.

    Now, you already have some process in place. It'll be much easier to move forward whether you want to stay with importing small orders of very similar products already being sold in the market or if you're ready to place larger orders with product improvements, more value, and being unique.

    And, who knows...maybe that first sample of products you import and sell will open a new door for you. Maybe you'll see the quality of the product and realize it can be so much better. Or, maybe you'll get feedback from customers telling you what they think.

    Whatever happens, you'll at least gain a wealth of knowledge by getting the wheels turning. Much more than you can get with just reading about it.
     
  6. Jamie T
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    Jamie T >> Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    I'm a huge fan of providing excellent customer service. I make it one of my highest priorities. I believe it is one of the reasons I've been able to grow my business so well.

    • If someone buys a product from me and they're not happy, then they get their money back.
    • If someone buys a product from me and, over a year later, they decide they're pissed off for some reason, then I'll send them another...or, give them a refund..or, try to see if there's anything I can do to help them out. Or, all of the above.
    • If someone has questions about a product but I determine the product isn't best for them, then I'll recommend a competitor (if they have what the person actually needs). I'll even contact the competitor myself to make sure the customer is taken care of.
    • If someone asks for a product or feature that I don't currently have available and I can't recommend a competitor, then I'll tell them that I'm going to find it. I've had customers offer suggestions which I immediately took action on. I have sent new products to the customers who've suggested improvements for free. And, I'll tell them it's for free because they helped me.
    • If someone has questions about a product that I don't have the answers to, then I'll tell them that. And, I'll tell them that I'm going to find out and will get back to them as soon as possible.
    • If someone sends me an email after business hours and I'm available, then I'll respond immediately. We live in a world where everyone is connected. Why not provide customer service any time you're checking your cell phone? People love super fast replies.

    Those are just a few examples. In my business, I set the rules. It's convenient that the rules just happen to go above and beyond to help people out.

    Some of my top go to books on customer service are:
    • Delivering Happiness - Tony Hsieh
    • Raving Fans - Ken Blanchard

    :smile2:
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
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  7. GDalf
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    GDalf New Contributor

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    Really awesome reply, thanks! Time to find that one (or a few) product(s)
     
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  8. AlessioLC
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    AlessioLC Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Every time i see Amazon resellers i'm afraid for them to have their account closed by Amazon, are you aware that this can happen ?

    Are you selling your product principally from Amazon or your website ?

    Do you focus on one market/industry or you're selling in different one at the same time ?

    Thanks,
    Alessio.
     
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  9. Richard Espinosa
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    Richard Espinosa Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Hell yeah dude. I don't know how people who sell CAN'T think this way. Just making the customer satisfied is such a great feeling. It's actually kind of fun and rewarding to respond to customers in a super short time frame, strangely. I just imagine it from the perspective of me being the consumer, and go from there :)

    I've always been confused at some of the past jobs I worked at, where they will talk shit about or screw the customer somehow. Never made any sense to me, they're why you're in business. I mean, we all have some hard a$$ customers, but still.
     
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  10. Jamie T
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    Jamie T >> Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    Very aware. However, I don't consider myself an Amazon reseller.

    My sales come from Amazon, eBay, and my website (I utilize Google Shopping as well).

    I'm fortunate that my industry allows for sales to be spread out pretty well across different sales channels. Of course, Amazon does generate the highest percentage of my sales, but that's expected due to the large amounts of traffic on Amazon and how easy it is to purchase almost everything you want all together in one order.

    When it comes to customer service and the nature of my products, many people would rather go to my website because of the information I'm able to provide there. They can easily call my business phone number and get the exact answers they need. It's part of my customer service model.

    I mentioned that I just recently got accepted to sell on Jet.com and Walmart.com. I'm working to expand my sales channels so a random account closure won't be the end. It'd be very annoying haha. But, you definitely bring up a good point and it is something that can be prevented with the right planning.

    In the beginning, it makes sense to focus on where the traffic is. Start selling, generate profit, and grow your business. Take advantage of Amazon while you have it, but build your business to sustain itself even if Amazon gets shut off.

    I only focus on one market/industry. I've built my brand around it.

    I have attempted, several times, to sell in different markets at the same time. All of them failed because I didn't put enough time into them. It's much easier to focus on one market/industry and build a solid brand in it.

    I'm constantly learning new things about my market/industry and I have a long term plan that could really change how some things are done in the market/industry.

    If I kept spreading my focus to other markets/industries, then I wouldn't be able to gain a massive knowledge base and experience related to this one. It'd be very tough to balance and grow.

    Check out: Chapter 44 in the Millionaite Fastlane - Choose Monogamy Over Polygamy
     
  11. ddzc
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    ddzc Gold Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    You're a true grinder, keep up the awesome work bud!
     
  12. AlessioLC
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    AlessioLC Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Thanks for this answer,
    Are you using a kind of dropshipping method for Ebay/G.Shopping/Walmart or you get your product deliver to your home and send them to your customers when you got the order ?

    I remember that chapter from the book, and it's true.
    So 'basically' you've build customized products with your brand/colour reference and build a brand around your 'field' so then people would see your brand on the product and automatically recognized it as a trusted brand ?

    E-comm' got me very interested but i don't like the fact that i would not have CONTROL with Amazon and Ebay...

    Thanks for your time,
    Alessio.
     
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  13. Jamie T
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    Jamie T >> Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    I do fulfill orders myself when I'm at home for eBay and my website. If I'm traveling, then I have Amazon FBA ship them for me.

    So yes, I do keep inventory on hand and at Amazon. If I run out of inventory at home, then I'll have Amazon ship the orders. And, if I run out of inventory at Amazon, then I can still fulfill orders from home.

    Walmart.com doesn't allow you to ship using Amazon FBA, so I'll have to see if there's a way to put Walmart on "vacation mode" when I'm traveling or hire someone to fulfill the orders when I'm away. I'm not too concerned with this right now because I'm planning to stay put for the next 3-6 months as I focus on growing the business even more. I'll figure it out later.

    Plus, I think it's fun to drop all the packages off. It's a great reminder that each individual product is improving others' lives. I can physically hold the packages and know that the customers who ordered them are allowing me to live unscripted.

    I've been getting pretty good at forecasting inventory, I actually use the software forecast.ly to help with that, and having out of stock products are less often. Even now I'm out of stock of about 4 or 5 SKUs. Part of the Amazon loan is to place larger orders of products to prevent this from happening.

    I notice that there are trends, or sales spikes, on some of my products sometimes. So, the forecasting will look like everything is good and then all of the sudden sales start picking up at a rate that causes an out of stock event. It's annoying, but a good problem to have. It'll be nice once I get everything in full stock all the time.

    Yes, I'd say that's pretty accurate.

    In the beginning, I'd focus on getting sales as fast as possible. Even if you give up control it's okay. You gotta start somewhere and Amazon/eBay/etc. just happens to allow you to sell on their platforms. They also have tons of traffic 24/7, 365. Why not take advantage of it in the beginning? Then, with lots of sales/profit, you can work your plan to be fully in control of your own website.

    If Walmart said that I could sell my products in every one of their stores, I wouldn't pass that up just because Walmart controls the stores. I'd jump at the opportunity and generate massive sales numbers. I could then use the profits to build something I fully control.

    Here's another example: My sister sells clothing through a multi-level marketing (MLM) company.

    It's easy to sit there and say...she doesn't own the brand, she doesn't have any control, and she's just a sales person for someone else. Which is all true.

    However, when you look closely, you'll see that she makes $30,000-$60,000 per month (depends on the season) selling the clothing. Hmm...

    Her and I have spoken about this and she's fully aware of the MLM situation. She has an end game plan to eventually own her own brand of products. She's doing this now because she's very successful at what she's does and she is banking all the profits in order to free herself of having to struggle and work a 9-5 job while she builds her own brand of products.

    Yes, she's giving up control in the short term...but she's been hitting those numbers consistently for almost two years now.

    I'm just saying, it's okay to give up a bit of control if it's going to help you get to where you want to go faster. And especially if you're selling products that really do make a difference in others' lives. Why prevent others (and yourself) from having a better life just because you don't want to give up control?

    Awesome questions! No problem.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
  14. Striver
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    Striver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    there are other fulfillment centers you can look into.
     
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  15. Jamie T
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    Jamie T >> Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    You're right!

    That completely slipped my mind earlier. Thanks for bringing that up.

    That'll be a fun project to figure out the details of using another fulfillment center.

    In the coming months, I'll look into other fulfillment options. I plan to do some traveling this coming summer/fall.
     
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  16. AlessioLC
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    AlessioLC Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Because you're fully dependent from Amazon and your income depend of this website. But TBH Amazon is so useful to sell product, dropshipping is a great asset and that's what got me interested. But i think it's a short term way of making money and it's not solid at all, hope you got my point.
     
  17. MidwestLandlord
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    MidwestLandlord Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Yes, you give up control. Absolutely right, and people need to be aware of that.

    But let's look at some figures:

    Amazon accounts for 43% of ALL online revenue in the USA

    Amazon accounts for 38% of holiday receipts in the USA (online or off, ALL holiday sales)

    Amazon accounts for 53% of ALL online sales growth in the USA

    Amazon accounts for 5% of ALL retail sales in the USA (online or off)

    As many of the ecommerce guys and gals have stressed here many, many times...Amazon is a sales channel, nothing more.

    The OP would be stupid to not sell on Amazon. Where else would he so easily get access to so much traffic??

    Yes, the OP gives up control and it sounds like he's aware of that. But it's not an either/or proposition where Amazon should only be temporary because of lack of control.

    You're right that he should exercise caution, but on the other hand having 100% control isn't possible with anything. Risk management and all that, ya know?
     
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  18. IGP
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    IGP Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I've been invited to sell my products in Walmart/Jet marketplace... Do you anticipate a a lot of sales from them?

    One thing I don't like is that I try to position my brand as "not sold in stores" ie. more upscale and unique.

    So, I am hesitant to be lumped in with Walmart and the "lowest price possible" that they want you to push.
     
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    Striver Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Good! Looking forward to your findings!
     
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  20. Jamie T
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    Jamie T >> Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    I understand your point. However, please try to understand my point when I say I'm not fully dependent on Amazon.

    As I mentioned, my sales are spread across multiple sales channels. And, I'm actively working to spread them across even more sales channels.
     
  21. Jamie T
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    Jamie T >> Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    Thanks for providing more detail on this.

    I think it's important for people to understand that Amazon is only a sales channel. And, it just happens to get massive traffic so that's why people buy/sell on there.

    It doesn't make sense to avoid Amazon.
     
  22. Jamie T
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    Jamie T >> Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    I'm honestly not sure what to expect from selling on Walmart and Jet. It's a situation where I could see 0 sales and it wasn't worth it. Or, I could get some sales and added a new stream of revenue. No one really knows until the products are up and for sale.

    I did take a look at other products in my categories that are selling on jet/Walmart. They do have reviews on them. That's at least an indicator that some people are out there buying on those sales channels.


    I'll tell you this. I'm technically "selling" on newegg.com too. I created that account and got my products on there probably in March or April of this year. And...I've had 0 sales there.

    I still think it was worth going through the process on newegg because who knows, it could have taken off and added an additional stream of income. But, it didn't haha.

    It might depend on the type of products/market you're trying to reach. Some sales channels work better for others. I think MJ talks about this in Unscripted. If not, he definitely spoke about it at the last Fastlane Summit.

    Example: I wanted to buy a made in the USA hand made pen, so I went to Etsy to buy it. I don't think I'd go to newegg to buy one, at least not as one of my top three options.

    I'm not sure about positioning your brand on Walmart because I'm not familiar with marketing more upscale products. Mine are kind of in the middle. Not the cheapest, but definitely not on the high end. I'm in a sweet spot in the middle.

    @AllenCrawley might have better thoughts on positioning more upscale products and potentially using Jet/Walmart.

    Here are my thoughts on Jet/Walmart: I think Walmart is a realistic player to take on Amazon. I'm preparing now in the event that more people start gravitating toward them in the future. And yes, there's a chance to generate sales immediately. Won't know until I get my products live (should have them up and running soon).

    If my thoughts are wrong and jet/walmart fade away, then at least I tried.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2017
  23. AlessioLC
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    AlessioLC Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    Got your point ! ;)
    Great work so far.

    Please let us updated with Walmart and other plateform, i'm not in US but it's interesting to see how you would deal with these company as i would probably do this at one point too, in France.
    Thanks,
    Alessio.
     
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  24. AlessioLC
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    Thanks for your answer, and yes for sure Amazon is a great plateform to sell and i would propably do it too, but the videos saying that Amazon can close your account for no reason (that's what i saw) is what afraid me, and when it's your principal selling plateform, you're losing everything if it happen, but yeah i know risk management.

    If he's aware of that, i don't have anything to say, i needed just some infomations and his opinion on Amazon as i'm interested by FBA here in France, because not a lot of people are interested by this, so a lot of work can be done.
     
    Jamie T likes this.
  25. IGP
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    IGP Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    That can happen with any platform... Happened with Google with Panda & Penguin... Happens on FB all the time where people have their accounts banned. Happens on Amazon... Happens on eBay...

    That's the point.... Spread your risk!
     

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