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EXECUTION Selling on Amazon (attempt 24) and another eCommerce idea

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Laughingman21

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I’ve been thinking about putting together a progress thread for a few weeks, but having drifted very slowly from task to task, I think some form of public accountability could be useful in getting my backside into gear.

Over the last couple of years I’ve attempted, with little success to sell on Amazon (my introduction thread is here). After putting a lot of effort into learning about selling on Amazon, I’m keen to make this a success to prove to myself I can do it. However, I’m also aware that an Amazon business breaks the Control commandment of CENTS so this won’t be my sole focus.

In the past, one of my weaknesses with Amazon has been my impatience with waiting for samples, orders, taking time to test listings, etc. Consequently, I’ve rushed into another product choices too quickly with not enough research or focus on delivering additional value to the customer. To combat this, I’m putting more time into product research and also going to have a second non-Amazon idea that better meets the CENTS commandments that I can work on while I’m waiting.

The second idea is based on a premium product that I almost bought a few months ago. This product is a small niche of a product in a larger market. When I researched the niche more, I found everyone’s marketing was aimed at the larger market, not specifically the customers in the niche, but these customers are very different.

I think I can deliver a great website targeted to this niche delivering great value to potential customers and filling a needs that’s currently missing in the market. As the products are dropshipped, I can do this with little initial financial outlay. Therefore, to fill in the time I’m waiting for samples and deliveries on the Amazon business, I’ll build up this website.

The aim is in the future for the Amazon business to generate a steady income, but the website to be my true Fastlane escape form the rat race.

Therefore, this progress thread will be broken into 2 parts.

Part 1: Amazon

Progress so far:
  • Researched and identified a product that is selling well despite 3.5 star reviews.
  • Identified how to improve the product
  • Received quotes from manufacturers
  • Got shipping estimates
Next Steps
  • Buy a couple of competitors products to see the product up close and see if I can improve them as expected and also get a better understanding of the quality expected (this will be useful when reviewing my sample)
  • Based on the competitors products, define final specification of my product
  • Order a sample from my chosen manufacturer
Part 2: Niche Product

Progress so far:
  • Identified product suppliers
  • Research competitors and not found anyone marketing specifically to my niche
Next Steps
  • Contact the suppliers and find out how to become one of their stockists
  • Start building a test website in Shopify to test the market using Facebook ads. Due to the premium nature of the market, a simple one page website is unlikely to convince visitors to make a purchase so I need something a bit more substantial to make it look plausible and the testing give genuine results.
To give myself some accountability, I’ll post an update in 2 weeks.
 

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Laughingman21

Laughingman21

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Quick update on Idea 2:

A little win: I've contacted the main brand I want to stock. They like my idea and want me to put together a proposal and submit it to their sales director.

So an additional goal is to get this written in the next week. I can then use a variation of this when contacting other brands to get them on board.
 

NewManRising

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I am still trying to come up with a product. My brain feels fried. I've spent a total of like 16 hours researching products.
 

IGP

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I am still trying to come up with a product. My brain feels fried. I've spent a total of like 16 hours researching products.
Dude, that's like 2 days worth of work? Seriously!

It takes people months to find the right product some times! Man up!
 

fhs8

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I have a great idea. Let's do the same thing that you did in the last 23 attempts and make it 24 failures.
 

randomnumber314

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A couple of years ago I put an ad on craigslist for textbooks. By the end of the week I had a box with a couple dozen. I listed them on Amazon and made a few hundred bucks that month.

I put an ad on craigslist for agates. Got some locally, had some mailed in from Arizona. Listed them on Ebay. Made a few hundred dollars pretty quickly.

Went to a local store called "Axe man" where they sell everything from overstock to stripped down electronic components. Recognized some expensive stuff in a 3D scanner, paid $95 for it and netted $700 on Ebay by taking it apart and selling each part.

Found an industrial printer at an auction, paid $100 for it. Stored it in a friend's shed until someone offered me $800.

There's a thread somewhere were someone bought chairs for a few hundred bucks and made like $8,000.

Point being, you can research products all day. I bet the experienced members might call that procrastination. There's a company that sells blankets with sleeve, calls them snuggies, makes tens of millions.
 
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Laughingman21

Laughingman21

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A couple of years ago I put an ad on craigslist for textbooks. By the end of the week I had a box with a couple dozen. I listed them on Amazon and made a few hundred bucks that month.

I put an ad on craigslist for agates. Got some locally, had some mailed in from Arizona. Listed them on Ebay. Made a few hundred dollars pretty quickly.

Went to a local store called "Axe man" where they sell everything from overstock to stripped down electronic components. Recognized some expensive stuff in a 3D scanner, paid $95 for it and netted $700 on Ebay by taking it apart and selling each part.

Found an industrial printer at an auction, paid $100 for it. Stored it in a friend's shed until someone offered me $800.

There's a thread somewhere were someone bought chairs for a few hundred bucks and made like $8,000.

Point being, you can research products all day. I bet the experienced members might call that procrastination. There's a company that sells blankets with sleeve, calls them snuggies, makes tens of millions.
That's a fair point and I agree completely that you don't learn unless you're doing something. However, I've previously tried selling a number of different things on Amazon, but I rushed the product selection, bought a load of me-too products and then struggled to differentiate myself amongst the masses. This wasn't all bad as I've learnt a lot along the way, one of which is the importance of a decent product.

I realise this may look like procrastination, but it's actually taking quite a bit of self control not to go out and rush into buying the product and hoping it works, but this time I'm making sure the poduct is better so I don't get caught in a race to the bottom on price.
 

MiguelHammond10

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I’ve been thinking about putting together a progress thread for a few weeks, but having drifted very slowly from task to task, I think some form of public accountability could be useful in getting my backside into gear.

Over the last couple of years I’ve attempted, with little success to sell on Amazon (my introduction thread is here). After putting a lot of effort into learning about selling on Amazon, I’m keen to make this a success to prove to myself I can do it. However, I’m also aware that an Amazon business breaks the Control commandment of CENTS so this won’t be my sole focus.

In the past, one of my weaknesses with Amazon has been my impatience with waiting for samples, orders, taking time to test listings, etc. Consequently, I’ve rushed into another product choices too quickly with not enough research or focus on delivering additional value to the customer. To combat this, I’m putting more time into product research and also going to have a second non-Amazon idea that better meets the CENTS commandments that I can work on while I’m waiting.

The second idea is based on a premium product that I almost bought a few months ago. This product is a small niche of a product in a larger market. When I researched the niche more, I found everyone’s marketing was aimed at the larger market, not specifically the customers in the niche, but these customers are very different.

I think I can deliver a great website targeted to this niche delivering great value to potential customers and filling a needs that’s currently missing in the market. As the products are dropshipped, I can do this with little initial financial outlay. Therefore, to fill in the time I’m waiting for samples and deliveries on the Amazon business, I’ll build up this website.

The aim is in the future for the Amazon business to generate a steady income, but the website to be my true Fastlane escape form the rat race.

Therefore, this progress thread will be broken into 2 parts.

Part 1: Amazon

Progress so far:
  • Researched and identified a product that is selling well despite 3.5 star reviews.
  • Identified how to improve the product
  • Received quotes from manufacturers
  • Got shipping estimates
Next Steps
  • Buy a couple of competitors products to see the product up close and see if I can improve them as expected and also get a better understanding of the quality expected (this will be useful when reviewing my sample)
  • Based on the competitors products, define final specification of my product
  • Order a sample from my chosen manufacturer
Part 2: Niche Product

Progress so far:
  • Identified product suppliers
  • Research competitors and not found anyone marketing specifically to my niche
Next Steps
  • Contact the suppliers and find out how to become one of their stockists
  • Start building a test website in Shopify to test the market using Facebook ads. Due to the premium nature of the market, a simple one page website is unlikely to convince visitors to make a purchase so I need something a bit more substantial to make it look plausible and the testing give genuine results.
To give myself some accountability, I’ll post an update in 2 weeks.
I will be waiting for your post update in 2 weeks, you really trying keep it up.
 
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Laughingman21

Laughingman21

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Well it’s been two weeks, so I’ll give you a quick update on where I’ve got to.

Part 1: Amazon

I’ve made some decent progress here. I bought some of my competitors products at different price points and reviewed them. There’s definitely room for my product. The competition product I’m targeting can definitely be improved in both quality, appearance and packaging so I’ve ordered the samples from a manufacturer.

The main problem I’ve had is getting decent prices from more than one manufacturer. I suspect the main reason for this is that most companies I’m finding on Alibaba are trading companies, not the actual manufacturer, and so can’t match a price direct from a manufacturer. The downside of this for me is that I’m relying on a single company already.

Next Steps:
  • Review the sample when it arrives in 7 days.
  • Try to find at least one other company that will manufacture my product at a reasonable price.
  • If I can’t find any other manufacturers, I will need to decide on whether to make my initial order of 200 units.
Part 2: Niche Product

I contacted the main brand whose products I want to stock and they requested a proposal, but were very vague about what to include. I did some Googling for ideas on what to include and ended up writing a draft proposal. Unfortunately, when I asked from feedback from my wife and a friend, I got the same feedback – too long and a bit all over the place.

My friend directed me toward the Business Canvas, so I’m going to use this and put together a short, sharp proposal that covers the main points in the Buisness Canvas.

Some of you may ask, why I’m doing this ahead of testing the market and this is something I was torn with, but I decided to do this ahead of the website testing for two reasons:
  • Cost – I didn’t want to incur costs without knowing if I could stock the product
  • Annoying the Brand – I didn’t want them to come across my online adverts claiming to be one of their stockists until I’ve got their agreement. I figured it might back annoyed them and damaged my relationship with them before it’s even started.
Next Steps:
  • Re-write the proposal and submit it to the manufacturer.
  • Continue writing content for the test website.
I’m also adding in a lessons learned section to keep track of what I learned over the last 2 weeks to help others avoid a similar problem

Lessons Learned:
  • KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid – I wasted too much time being too detailed in my proposal. I need to keep to the point and move on – fast.
  • Try to find more than a single manufacturer for a new product to minimise future risk and give more control and options in choosing which final product to go for.
I’ll have another update in 2 weeks
 
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Laughingman21

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I’m a week late in giving this update because I wanted to wait until I had some good news to share, but unfortunately, that’s not quite worked out. Time has been against me over the last few weeks (day job has been busy) and I’ve hit a few bumps in the road.

Part 1: Amazon

I’ve tried contacting a number of additional manufacturers and I either didn’t get a response or the prices/MOQ’s were too high. This has left me with a single manufacturer. It’s not an ideal situation as I’m now reliant on one company which increases my risks.

To make matters worse, the sample I received failed one of the tests I ran on it. I’m working with the supplier to find a solution, but this was obviously disappointing and has delayed things. Hopefully we’ll get to a solution, but if not I’m going to have to try and find a new product as I don’t have any more manufacturers to try.

Next Steps:
  • Find a solution to the sample’s problems and order a new sample
or
  • Find a new product for Amazon
Part 2: Niche Product

I’ve completed the business canvas which has proved useful to see my idea down on a single piece of paper. I then used that to write a second proposal. The feedback from that was ok, but could be better. I have to admit, that hit my motivation as writing these feels like treading water, but I need to get it done to get the main brand I want to work with, so back to work.

I used the outlines of the second proposal and pretty much re-wrote it into a third proposal. The feedback on this is good so I’m now going through and doing the fine editing (it’s still a bit of a brain dump). I want to get this done and submitted before Christmas.

At the moment, I’m holding back on the details that would have previously distracted me, like names, logos etc. I’ve got a rough list of names on my phone as I think of them, but I’m not finalising anything else until I’ve definitely got at least one brand on board. I’m hoping the rest will soon follow after.

Next Steps:
  • Finish editing the third proposal and submit it to the brand
  • Find additional brands for products across various price points and contact them
I’ll have another update for the end of December, hopefully with more positive news.
 

Xeon

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In the past, one of my weaknesses with Amazon has been my impatience with waiting for samples, orders, taking time to test listings, etc.
Yes, the arid desert of desertation - killer of dreams.
 

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JAJT

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Were you being serious about 24 failures in a few years?

I've been doing this for 3-4 years now and I've only been able to start/run a grand total of 3 ventures. And the third isn't even to market yet. It takes time/dedication to launch, run and grow a business. Hell, even just adding a new product often takes a month or so, and that's if you're going at light-speed using previous wins as templates for future launches.

If you have 24 failures in a few years, that sounds a lot like 22-23 non-starters. I wouldn't even call them failures because you can't give 24 ideas a fair shake in a few years. It's like buying lottery tickets and throwing them out before the draw because you just feel they aren't winners. You have no idea unless you stick it out.
 
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Laughingman21

Laughingman21

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Were you being serious about 24 failures in a few years?

I've been doing this for 3-4 years now and I've only been able to start/run a grand total of 3 ventures. And the third isn't even to market yet. It takes time/dedication to launch, run and grow a business. Hell, even just adding a new product often takes a month or so, and that's if you're going at light-speed using previous wins as templates for future launches.

If you have 24 failures in a few years, that sounds a lot like 22-23 non-starters. I wouldn't even call them failures because you can't give 24 ideas a fair shake in a few years. It's like buying lottery tickets and throwing them out before the draw because you just feel they aren't winners. You have no idea unless you stick it out.
It was products I’ve put on Amazon. I saw a YouTube video/podcast that talked about buying batches 10-20 units in a me-too product, throwing them on Amazon and buying in greater numbers for anything that sold. With hindsight I realise it’s a stupid strategy as I added no value (plus a few other reasons)

It’s worth noting that some of those were the same item but different colours.
 
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Laughingman21

Laughingman21

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@Laughingman21
Congrats on the progress thus far, do you have a goal as to what constitutes a "success," perhaps a monthly profit you would like to hit?
My ultimate goal is to quit the day job and spend more time with my family.

In the short term, I’ve put together a series of revenue and profit goals in increments to keep me motivated and have something to keep aiming for.
 

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