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Progress Thread Throwing my backpack over the fence. My AMZ FBA/Private Label Progress Thread.

Discussion in 'Process / Progress / Execution Threads' started by AnAverageJoe, Apr 3, 2017.

  1. AnAverageJoe
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    About two months ago I somehow stumbled across this forum and I don’t even remember how. But that lead me to discover the book and the free chapters that are available to download. Then that got me to purchase the audio-book and sign up for an account on the forums and post my introduction thread.

    I read the book and got to work, and now I am posting my first progress thread. I’m not sure how many people are going to care about what I’m doing, but I’m really posting this to create accountability for myself. People say entrepreneurs fail time and time and time again before they succeed, but in my case I usually quit before I can fail, much less succeed.

    I’ve heard this called the “backpack” method before. Right now I’m standing in front of a fence, a very tall fence and I have no idea how to get over it. I know I can get over it because I’ve seen other people get over it. There are people on the other side and I want what they have. I just don’t know how I’m going to get over it.

    All I know is that I want to get over it. I might climb up and fall off, but the next time up I’m going to get a little further until I can finally climb down the other side. To be sure I get over it, to leave myself no choice but to get over it, I’m going to hurl my backpack over top to the other side. My backpack has all my essentials in it and now it’s on the other side of the fence. Now I have to climb over.

    This post is me throwing my backpack to the other side. You guys are watching me now and you can hold me accountable. You’re an entire forum of people who climbed over the fence and know it’s possible. My backpack is on your side now and I have to come get it.

    So that leads me to where I am now. I thought for a while about what I wanted to do, how I was going to fill a need to satisfy the market, and I was eventually lead to the AMA by biophase about selling on Amazon. I already have a tiny, tiny bit of experience in this area, so this is going to be my vehicle. The first time I tried to sell on Amazon I ordered samples but soon after I got intimidated by the whole process and eventually quit.

    But now I’m here, doing it again, and I’m going to see it through. If nothing else I will fail miserably, but I’m not going to quit. I’ve got a lot of good information from the AMA by biophase, I plan on reading the AMA by Walter Hay and taking full advantage of all the other priceless information in these forums.

    I found my niche by discovering a need that my wife actually needs filled. I did my research on Amazon, and there really isn’t anything exactly like it being sold. I did find one on etsy that I am going to use as the basis to my product, but none being mass produced on Amazon. Good artists copy, and great artists steal, right?

    I came up with the business name and got a logo designed, made social profiles on Facebook and Instagram and set up a Shopify store. I actually re-purposed an old Facebook page I already had that was operating in the same niche for the new business. I guess quitting isn’t always bad…

    I made a few subtle changes to the design of the product and hopped on fiverr and got some drawings made. Went to Alibaba and started looking for some manufacturers that could make it for me, and that’s still kind of where I am, unfortunately.

    I originally found three companies that said they could do it and that seemed like they would be easy enough to work with. It was kind of hard to explain to them what I wanted with the designs I sent (thanks Fiverr) but eventually got everyone on the same page. And then I got the quotes for the production.

    Company A said they could do it for $8.39/unit. Great! This is right around what I was looking for. Company B came in and said they’d need $52/unit to produce. I immediately thought they were trying to rip me off because of the huge difference, and ended the relationship with them. But then Company C came in and said they can produce it for $26.50/unit. Now I have quotes from three different companies that are all over the place so I have no idea what to think. I haven’t cut off ties with Company C because they have been really responsive and very friendly and easy to work with.

    By the time Company C had given me their quote, I had already ordered the sample from Company A. Everything seemed fine, but then I got an email from Company A saying they still didn’t understand the designs. I thought this was a little strange because they had already run the numbers and given me quotes for how much it was going to cost, so they should understand the designs at this point. I brought this up and she told me the designer understood, but the engineer did not. I provided more clarification, and that’s where I am with them right now. They’ve had a few days off for the tomb sweeping holiday, and then hopefully I get some good news from them. I’m kind of nervous about what they’re going to produce at this point, but we’ll see. I doubt I can get my money back for the sample, so we’ll see.

    I’m still talking to Company C and maintaining a good relationship with them, but I haven’t ordered the sample yet. I’m worried about the cost per unit for production of my product. I do understand that having a product priced a little higher like this provides a greater barrier for entry and can help prevent copy-catters, but it’s out of my budget. I don’t have enough cash to pay for the large order so that’s something I’ll have to figure out. I’m also worried about profit margins because I was planning on pricing it around $30 so that might need to be rethought. High price equals high quality though, right?

    I also don’t want to order something from Company A for $8 thats a huge pile of junk either. Company C offered me a 10% discount on my large order to show me they want my business, which I appreciate.

    So that’s where I am right now. Company C is on holiday as well, and I plan on talking to them again once they’re back. I think I should go ahead and order the sample from them just to be able to compare the quality of the two pieces. I’ve just gotta figure out how I’m going to pay for it. I thought of a crowd funding campaign, but then I stumbled across the forum post that talks about how companies with bigger pockets sweep in and steal the good ideas, so I’m against that now.

    I could start smaller within my niche and sell cheaper products until I have the money for this product.

    I’ve just gotta figure out where to go from here. Oh, and I forgot to mention earlier that another user in the forums referred me to his freight forwarder and she has been great.

    Thanks for reading guys. I’ll be back soon with an update.
     
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  2. RoadTrip
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    That's a thorough introduction.

    Welcome to the forum and good luck with your journey. I will be looking forward to your updates.


    Verzonden vanaf mijn iPhone met Tapatalk
     
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  3. AnAverageJoe
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    Yeah, that escalated quickly. I usually like to keep things short and sweet. Thanks for reading and for the warm welcome!
     
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  4. Scot
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    Use this progress thread to hold yourself accountable. I know it helped me with my last concept.

    As for the quotes, I'm not an ecom guy but from reading a lot of threads I've picked up a few things. Are you sure C is a manufacturer and not a trader? That may explain the discrepancy.

    Obviously, if you haven't read the ecommerce AMA Gold Threads, do so now.

    It also wouldn't hurt to pick up a copy of @Walter Hay's book while you wait for those samples to ship.
     
  5. Walter Hay
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    I'm pleased to see that you intend reading my AMA, but you'll need to read fast if you want to avoid some of the pitfalls.

    Meanwhile I might be able to provide some help. For a start, the variation in quotes is not uncommon, but I have a few observations to make:
    1. Three quotes will probably not be enough for you to properly assess the fair market price.
    2. Supplier A might be quoting too low and could be using the "don't understand" excuse to hit you with a much higher revised price once they do "understand."
    3. Picking suppliers more or less at random on Alibaba will very often lead you to traders and not to manufacturers. Take with a grain of salt whatever they say about their status until you are able to confirm by researching them.
    4. A very low price is not necessarily evidence of a scam. It can be evidence that you have found the only manufacturer.

    If you care to send me their names privately I will check them out for you.

    Walter
    P.S. I like your backpack over the fence analogy.
     
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  6. AnAverageJoe
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    Thanks Scot. My hope is that this thread does keep me accountable. There really is no excuse being surrounded by so much information and people willing to help.
     
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  7. AnAverageJoe
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    Thanks a lot Walter. I never even thought that the cheapest quote could mean that they're the only manufacturer I've found, my mind usually goes straight to the negative. I am talking to a 4th supplier that should have their quote back to me once the holiday is over. I'll start reading your AMA tonight. I'll send you a private message with my suppliers, thank you so much.
     
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  8. AnAverageJoe
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    Progress Report #1

    My goal is to do one of these each week to keep everyone updated, but mainly to keep myself accountable.

    This week I spoke with Walter Hay and he looked up the manufacturers I was talking to and let me know that only one of them was an actual manufacturer. I'll only continue with them. Thanks Walter.

    The designs I got made for the product were confusing everyone. I had to do a lot of back and forth with the manufacturers about what I actually wanted and the small details which was taking up a lot of time. I went back to Fiverr and had new plans drawn up with someone else, and I got the files back today. Hopefully this will make things easier.

    I found a different website to find suppliers from multiple countries that is said to be more reliable than Alibaba. I reached out to eight different suppliers but I only received a response from one of them. I sent follow up e-mails to the seven that didn't reply, but still nothing. Maybe I'm saying something wrong? I followed the advice in Walters AMA in my e-mail. Maybe I'm to new to the site so there's no trust there, I'm not sure. I'll look for more to e-mail.

    Almost three weeks ago now I paid to have my first sample made. They still haven't finished. Every time I talk to them they just say they are working on it and it needs more time. I'm not sure of the proper etiquette here, but I'm starting to lose faith in getting that sample. Is it in good taste to ask for my money back or open a dispute with paypal?

    That's where I am. I'd like to start getting into how to write good copy for my listing, learn more about amazon PPC and maybe clickfunnels to help launch the product while I'm waiting for samples to arrive. Thanks for reading!
     
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  9. KSR
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    I'm very inexperienced with this sort of stuff -- but maybe you could ask for an update report or some pictures of its progress (where it's at now). If they can't seem to do these easy tasks then they're not worth the money you've spent. If it turns out that indeed they are working on it, then I guess you just have to be patient.
     
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  10. amp0193
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    You should've asked for an estimate of how long it would take before you paid for the sample.

    This just sounds like a case of poor communication.


    If it was a custom sample, it might take some time, whereas a production line sample would be able to ship immediately.
     
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  11. AnAverageJoe
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    I actually asked for progress pictures earlier on. She basically just told me to be patient and didn't offer any pictures.
     
  12. AnAverageJoe
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    They told me it would take a week. Sorry, I should've mentioned that. But yeah, they told me it would take them a week to produce, but then after I paid they said there was some confusion with the designs (after they told me they understood and could do it) so I had to clarify some things and now I'm still waiting.
     
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    Progress Report #2

    Felt like a slow week. I cut ties with the supplier that kept me hanging with the sample. She was very understanding and even refunded the money I paid. She was very easy to work with, but the company didn't seem very dependable or reliable. I think it's for the best.

    Used the new CAD design and contacted new suppliers. Again I didn't get a lot of responses and I am still assuming it's because I am new on the website. Of the responses I did get, one manufacturer couldn't produce it with the materials I want, one quoted me an incredibly high unit cost (based off of what I've heard from other manufacturers) and one seems very reliable, was easy to work with, and quoted a very fair unit price.

    I ordered a sample from them that should be ready within 10 business days. I put the manufacturer in contact with my freight forwarder so they can get it shipped when it's finished.

    I'm still worried about profit margins. It's costing more to be produced than I anticipated, so I am going to have to do some testing and research to be sure I can sell at a higher price point.

    I came up with a free offer to use as a launch promotion. I will get this made on Fiverr when the time comes. I've pretty much decided to try out click funnels along with Facebook ads to grab e-mail addresses and send people to the listing when the product is ready for launch.

    Other than that I've just been educating myself. Listening to podcasts, reading books/forums, etc. See you next week!
     
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  14. AnAverageJoe
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    Progress Report #3

    Not a lot went on this week. I'm just posting this to keep myself accountable.

    I got a progress picture of my product from the manufacturer and it looks great so far. It was amazing seeing my idea come to life.

    I feel like I dropped the ball this week. I know there's more that I can be doing right now while I wait for the sample to get finished up.

    This morning I got on Fiverr to get an ebook made to give out for free to grab some e-mails. I want to engage with my niche before I'm ready to launch the product. I plan on giving away the ebook, and then doing some follow up e-mails to see what my customers want/need, and then launching the product. If I get any good ideas from the emails that I can put together quickly, or sell as an affiliate, I'll do that. I want to establish a relationship with my customers before I'm ready to launch the product. I'm going to reach out to the influencers this week as soon as the ebook is done. I think this along with Amazon PPC and everything else I've learned about ranking on Amazon will make me more likely to succeed.

    I hopped back on my Amazon Seller account to be sure everything is in order. Everything seems pretty straightforward. Is there anything in Amazon Seller that is obvious to you now that wasn't obvious to you in the beginning?

    Thanks for reading.
     
  15. Walter Hay
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    Your reference to your freight forwarder gives me some concern.

    If the sample is large and heavy enough for sea shipment, OK, but if it is suitable for air transport, you don't need a freight forwarder.

    Depending on the dimensions and weight, the sample should almost certainly be shipped via air courier. If you use your courier account, on a freight collect basis, that could cost you an arm and a leg unless you have got a quote from them. Without a quote they will charge you schedule rates, which is a list price that only newbies pay.

    It is usually best to get the supplier to prepay the air courier charges unless you have already negotiated a deep discount rate with the courier.

    Walter
     
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  16. AnAverageJoe
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    Thanks for the input Walter. The freight forwarder is going to use air transport for the sample. I'm just using this as a sort of trial run for them as well instead of paying the manufacturer shipping. Is this smart? I was referred to the freight forwarder by another member of the forums here, so I'm confident they wont try to pull a fast one on me.
     
  17. Walter Hay
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    Air Transport can mean air freight and not air courier. There is an important distinction between the two.

    Air couriers get special treatment from USCBP and for small shipments there's every chance they will go though automatically without even a clearance being lodged.

    Air Freight is very different. At least an informal clearance will be required and there will be airport charges to pay. The cost can be substantially higher. There is usually an extra inland delivery charge also.

    For a small sample the forwarder is probably using an air courier, but I wanted you to know the difference just in case.

    Walter
     
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    Progress Report #4

    Can't believe it's been a month. Here's a few bullet points for what happened this week:

    • Producing an ebook to give away to my audience to grab e-mails. This should be finished within the next couple of days.
    • Our sample will be shipped out tonight or tomorrow. It'll be here in 5 days. I took the advice of @Walter Hay and just had the supplier ship it to us instead of using the freight forwarder.
    • For some reason I neglected researching the FBA fees for the product. So irresponsible and I'm embarrassed to even admit this here. We're oversized. Right now we are well over 2lbs, and about 6 inches too long on one side. We do have some room to play with, and it may be possible to get it short enough to get to large standard size. We'll explore this once we get the sample.
    • Goals for next week are to finish the ebook and have an ad running for it. I'd also like to get the sample in my hands to see if we can adjust the size of the product to help increase profit margins. Once we get the sample we're going to send some pictures to the influencers we spoke with at the beginning to get some feedback.
    Thanks guys.
     
  19. AnAverageJoe
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    Progress Report #5

    Keeping myself accountable. Here's this weeks highlight's.

    • E-book will be finished tomorrow. A lot of back and forth with the cover designer on fiverr and a decent amount of work done on my end. Pretty happy with the end result, I think it will be of value to the people in my niche. I might eventually try to sell a print version if the e-book is received well. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.
    • The sample is on it's way. Got a little delayed with the payment, but it is scheduled to be here by May 17th.
    • Pretty confident we can make the product smaller to get us down to a standard size product so we can save on fba fees. Can't wait to get the sample in my hands to be sure.
    • Starting to really break down the numbers to make sure our profit margins will be large enough.
    • By this time next week I hope to have the sample in my hands. We'll also have an ad running for our free ebook to start grabbing e-mails. We'll have pictures taken of the product that we'll send to influencers.
    Thanks guys.
     
  20. AnAverageJoe
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    Progress Report #6

    • The Ebook is finished and I'm really happy with it. I think people will enjoy it.
    • I got the sample about 5 days ago. It felt amazing finally holding it in my hands. I love it, it turned out better than I was expecting. The quality is great. Hopefully the quality keeps up with the larger orders.
    • Discussed a few changes with the supplier including the size, packaging, and the design. They're on board with everything. They've been a pleasure to work with so far.
    • I signed up for a free trial for click funnels and I love it so far. This seems like an amazing tool that will really help me sell my product. So many useful tools and extremely easy to use. If you guys haven't tried it but you're interested here's a link for the two week free trial. It's an affiliate link, so if this isn't allowed or it's frowned upon I'll remove it immediately. ClickFunnels™ - Marketing Funnels and Landing Pages that Convert
    • Started setting up my squeeze pages and email sequences for my optin funnel in click funnels. I'll have all of that setup and a Facebook ad running by this time next week.
    • Pictures and e-mails will be done and sent to influencers in a few days.
    Thanks guys.
     
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    Great progress thread! Way to take action and continue to see it through.
     
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    Thank you!
     
  23. AnAverageJoe
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    Progress Report #7

    Not much to put down on paper this week. Keeping myself accountable.

    • Spent a lot of time in Clickfunnels. I've really fallen in love with this tool. I've got a funnel set up to grab emails with my ebook, now I'm working on a funnel to do pre-sales. Very excited about this because I was about to take out a loan.
    • Got the changes worked out with the manufacturer. Saved us about $4 per unit, plus what we'll save by not being over sized in FBA. Win/win.
    • Pictures of the sample product are done. Thinking about giving it away on social media to get some attention and brand awareness. We've been using it since we got it and we love it so I'm confident it will be received well.
    • Working on getting in contact with the influencers we've already talked to and looking for more we can pitch our product to.
    • This week I'm working on getting some email sequences written and sent, and getting a good chunk of the pre-sale funnel done.
    • Need to do some research so I know who to target with our ads to promote the pre-sale funnel.
    Thanks guys.
     

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