One of the hardest things for international sellers is feeling motivated to get started when their particular market size and volume is only a fraction of what U.S. Amazon sellers have at their disposal. This episode of the podcast should be of great encouragement to international Amazon sellers because it features a guy from the U.K. who has launched his Amazon business to over $250,000 in sales in the U.K. alone. There are all kinds of lessons to learn from this one, so make sure you listen.
From dropshipping, to FBA, to Private Label sales in the future.
That’s the road Francisco followed, and he’s discovered that compared to everything else he’s done in terms of product sales, Amazon is THE best opportunity that exists, even in the U.K. market. He’s worked his butt off to get his products onto the Amazon platform and is now seeing the fruits of his labors. On this episode he shares the journey he’s been on, the things he’s learned trying to run a seller fulfillment business, and tell you exactly why he’s switched to FBA.
What might happen if you could get exclusive sales rights to your products?
Francisco did a very smart thing when he approached his suppliers about gaining exclusive rights to sell their products on Amazon. Why would he want to do that? First off, it eliminates the issue of bidding wars over identical products. Secondly, it gives him more leverage when hijackers come around and try to take over his listing. And he doesn’t have to worry about someone else buying the same product from his supplier and becoming his competition. You can hear how Francisco did it, on this episode.
Another way to deal with product listing hijackers.
Once Francisco had his products on Amazon, and had gained exclusive rights from his supplier to sell the products, he was making incredible numbers of sales every day (in the 100s). When someone tried to hijack his listing, he responded with a new tactic. He looked over the hijacker’s other items, and realizing that they were nothing special and that he could easily find the supplier of those products… you could say he made an offer to the hijacker that he couldn’t refuse. Find out exactly what he did to get rid of his hijacker immediately, on this episode.
Why there’s no such thing as “LUCK” when it comes to success in Amazon sales.
Many people say that they got lucky at various stages of their Amazon sales journey. But Scott doesn’t buy it. The fact is that the supposed “luck” wouldn’t have happened at all if people like today’s guest hadn’t taken action in the first place. It’s action that matters, not luck. Find out how taking action enabled Francisco to sell $250,000 of product a month!
OUTLINE OF THIS INTERVIEW EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:05] Scott’s introduction of his guest, Francisco Gonzales.
- [1:55] How Scott views luck in view of success.
- [2:51] How you can attend a free, live workshop.
- [3:20] Francisco’s background.
- [5:21] The dropshipping experience Francisco had.
- [5:55] Why Francisco built up 700 SKUs on his website (700 products).
- [9:00] Moving his 700 products to Amazon in 5 different countries, and very few sales.
- [11:02] Moving toward FBA and the beginnings of his sales.
- [12:20] Obsessed with Amazon FBA – on a mission.
- [13:36] Switching from his generic products to private label products.
- [14:18] Ordering thousands of products at a time.
- [15:50] Stressed out because products are selling like crazy.
- [16:10] Sending trucks to Amazon with 10 to 15 pallets of products.
- [17:05] How Francisco used Scott’s email sequence to get more reviews.
- [17:32] An idea of how non-U.S. markets are doing with Amazon sales.
- [21:00] Lobbying for exclusive Amazon sales rights from his suppliers.
- [21:47] You got lucky because you took action!
- [24:28] How exclusive rights have helped with hijackings.
- [27:04] Another trick Francisco has done to get rid of hijackers.
- [29:47] How PPC worked for Francisco.
- [33:19] The plans ahead for Francisco’s business and sales.
- [34:30] Is China the only place to get your products?
- [35:49] What does Francisco’s typical launch look like?
- [38:12] Scott’s experience with a new product and quick sales.
- [40:25] How hard work trumps talent.
TRANSCRIPT – TAS 149
TAS 149 : The ROAD to $250k in 1 Month with NO LUCKY Breaks![00:00:03] SV: Hey, hey. What’s up everyone? Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller podcast. This is episode number 149 and today I can’t wait for you to hear this interview that I just did. I literally just got off Skype with this gentleman and his name is Francisco Gonzalez, a really, really awesome guy by the way, who is doing really, really awesome and he’s not even selling in the US. Yeah, that’s right. He’s selling in the UK and other foreign markets… [read more=”Read full transcript – TAS 149…” less=”Read less”]
[00:00:03] SV: Hey, hey. What’s up everyone? Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller podcast. This is episode number 149 and today I can’t wait for you to hear this interview that I just did. I literally just got off Skype with this gentleman and his name is Francisco Gonzalez, a really, really awesome guy by the way, who is doing really, really awesome and he’s not even selling in the US. Yeah, that’s right. He’s selling in the UK and other foreign markets and he’s got a really, really great story that he’s going to share. It’s just a great story because … Well, I don’t want to say it’s a great story because he had a failure but a lot of times the success comes from failures. He learned a lot through that failure but then also opened up his eyes to Amazon and selling on Amazon but in his country, okay? That’s where he started but he’s going to be branching out into the US but he’s doing really, really good. To give you a number that he shot out to me was just about $250,000 in December alone in revenue and he’s yielding about 20%-25% margin on that so not too bad, all right?
It wasn’t always like that. He first started selling on Amazon when he first got the idea to do it and it was crickets. He was selling maybe two to five a week. He’s learned through that process and now he’s found something that works and he’s going to share it with us. Regardless if you’re selling in the UK or other foreign markets or in the US, all of this stuff applies and it really just comes back down to taking action. Dusting yourself if you fail and trying again. It’s something.
We talked a little bit in the pre-interview and then even during the interview and actually I stopped and called a time-out like we were in a game. I said, “Listen, we’ve got to time out here for a minute because we’re talking about this word ‘luck’.” He said, “I think I might have got lucky with this one product or this one market or whatever.” I said, “Wait a minute here. Here’s my thoughts on luck,” and you’ll hear me say it again but my thoughts on luck, there isn’t luck. There’s opportunity that is there because you took action and you were there at that right time, but you had to do something to be allowed to be there, right? If you never launched a product on Amazon you never would have had that opportunity. Some people say, “Scott, do you think that you’re lucky with your first product?” I said, “No. I launched a product. Let’s face it, I actually did something.” So no, if I didn’t launch the product then would I have gotten lucky?
Anyway, I’m going off on a little bit of a tangent there but I just want to highlight that and you’re going to hear me highlight it again in this episode. Now, before we do dive into this I want to remind you we are starting to do our workshops again here in 2016. If you have not attended one or you wanted to attend one and you’ve missed one in the past, head over to theamazingseller.com/workshop. There you can register to attend this live workshop where I actually go through the five phases for launching a product. I also do live Q&A. I just really, really love doing these and I would really love it if you could attend. Go over and register for that. I would love to see you there.
All right guys. Let’s go ahead and dive into this interview with Francisco Gonzalez. I think you’re going to love it. Enjoy. Let’s dive in.
[00:03:33] SV: Hey, Francisco. Welcome to the TAS podcast. What is going on, my friend? How’re you doing, man?
[00:03:39] FG: I’m doing great. Thank you so much, Scott, for allowing me to spend some time with you and your listeners. It’s a pleasure.
[00:03:47] SV: I’m excited, man. You and I talked briefly before we actually hit the record button and I said, “Let’s just go ahead and start recording because I’m very intrigued.” First off, I’ll say that you contacted me through an email. I believe the headline was about something like “Listener from Spain” or something like that and you got my attention there. Now you’re currently in Miami. Give us a little bit of a background of Francisco Gonzalez and a little bit about your background.
[00:04:15] FG: All right. I’ll try to be quick. I went to school in the States and after my MBA I went to work for an investment bank in London. I didn’t last for long. That wasn’t my thing. Then I did some real estate for about 10 years. That went okay until 2008 and then obviously I had to reinvent myself. I came to the States and with an American partner, I created a daily deal site which did really well for the first couple of years here in Florida until the whole craze faded and then it went bankrupt. After that I said to myself, “I don’t want to go back to real estate because the market is what it is. I love the internet so I’ll do what I know.”
[00:05:18] SV: Sure. Then from there, let’s … Okay, I was just going to say you went back to Spain and then … Pick us up from where that all happened.
[00:05:27] FG: That’s where it all started. I decided to create a new company. I created a website and I started looking for suppliers who could do drop shipping for me. Drop shipping is not a big thing in Spain so there’s room to do stuff in there. I looked for suppliers, I found some great ones and I went to fairs and all that kind of stuff. Then I came up with about 700 SKUs. I put them all there. I translated them into eight different languages. Europe could be a good market if you actually translate everything which is quite a pain but it is a great market. So-
[00:06:13] SV: Now, let me just ask you something quick here, Francisco. 700 SKUs that’s a lot of SKUs, right? Let’s talk about that for one second. Again, we’re not even Amazon yet. We’re talking like drop shipping, we’re talking like a website where you’re going to sell products and drop ship. Where do you get the idea for 700 SKUs? You know what I mean? Let’s stop there for a second. Let’s just dig into that real quick.
[00:06:38] FG: Sure. Well, in the previous company that I had in the States it was a daily deal site for services a little bit like Groupon, LivingSocial and those guys. Then we also did products and that’s where I saw the power of having a large variety of products. Different products behave in different ways and you never know until you play with them, you start selling them, you get feedback. I thought to myself, “I’m just going to go ahead and have a large variety and then see what happens and…
[00:07:19] SV: Did you get some intelligence from having that site because now you’d seen what kind of markets were hot and which ones weren’t?
[00:07:26] FG: Absolutely, yeah. Also the platform, the backend, a lot of the drop shipping backend it was tailor made for me. I had some remaining programmers and they’re awesome so they helped me a lot.
[00:07:39] SV: Okay, cool.
[00:07:43] FG: Let’s see. So I had those SKUs. I started selling in most European countries and things were really slow. Nothing was really happening. You know how it is with Google indexing. It takes forever. It’s not what it used to be. I did some AdWords, that didn’t work, some Facebook ads, that didn’t work either. Nowadays customer acquisition costs are super high. If you think you’re going to make a business out of advertising on Google and Facebook you better think twice. You might get lucky but I don’t think it’s the right time anymore.
I went through some tough times. One day I was in the car and I happened to listen to a podcast from Pat Flynn. He was interviewing two guys who were making a killing per month. They said they were making about a million bucks in sales per month. I just couldn’t believe it. I was like, “What am I doing wrong?” They’re selling in the US market which is much bigger than the European market but it’s huge so … I went back home and I said, “I’ve got to try this Amazon thing.” I searched on Google for Amazon podcasts and I found yours which I found incredible. I started listening to them and I think in the first week I listened to at least 20 episodes. That got me really, really excited. You were amazing giving all this stuff out for free. That was-
[00:09:22] SV: Yeah, yeah. I appreciate that.
[00:09:24] FG: No problem. Okay, so what I did, I started putting all the … I called my programmer and I said, “Listen, you’ve got to create a way to download all those 700 SKUs and allow me to upload them immediately in five different countries, five different languages onto Amazon. Otherwise it’s never going to happen.” You know how it is. You download everything then you upload everything in bulk. That took about a month. That wasn’t as easy as it seems because there was a lot of glitches. That took about a month and then I had my products for sale. I think that was about August that I had that ready. I started selling-
[00:10:14] SV: You listed those 700 SKUs right up on Amazon? Now, those aren’t technically your products, they’re drop shipping products. How does that work within Amazon?
[00:10:24] FG: Well, yeah. It could be a little tricky. What I did was, as you said, I was doing merchant fulfilled products. I wasn’t doing FBA yet.
[00:10:32] SV: Okay, I got you.
[00:10:34] FG: Basically, I got the order from Amazon, the next morning it went through my site and immediately went to all my suppliers. I was integrated with TNT. It’s like UPS or FedEx or whatever. They could print all the labels with all the barcodes and everything so it was quite easy for them.
[00:10:55] SV: You were basically going on there as kind of like you’re a wholesaler in a sense, you’re a drop shipper. Like, you had the products but you really didn’t. Really, if you sold something you would then just go and reach out to the drop shipper, they would get it, send it out for you on your behalf and then fulfill that order? Because you’re merchant fulfilling it, you’re not fulfilling it within Amazon.
[00:11:14] FG: That’s right.
[00:11:15] SV: Okay, got you. I’m just trying to follow along as I know other people probably listening are as well. I know some people have said they’d like to do drop shipping but they don’t know how they could do it. They’re basically acting as though they have the product sitting in their own warehouse, in a sense?
[00:11:29] FG: That’s right.
[00:11:30] SV: Okay.
[00:11:33] FG: That wasn’t going very far either. I was making maybe one or two sales a day after all that work.
[00:11:41] SV: Out of 700 SKUs?
[00:11:42] FG: Yeah, in five different countries. That’s UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. I was thinking to myself, “All right, well, I’ve got to keep listening to this podcast and see what’s going on.” The more I listened to your podcast, the quicker I realized that the way to go for items that were between 10 and 40 Euros was FBA. It’s simple to figure out because sending something from Spain to any country in Europe is about 15 to 20 Euros. If you’re selling products that are between 10 and 40 Euros, you can reduce the total cost by 25% to 50% for a buyer. That’s really a huge saving and an incentive for a buyer to go ahead and buy your product.
I went ahead and took action, as you say. I sent a few different SKUs into FBA, usually about 10 units each. I sent them to the UK because that seemed like a good market, obviously. I think within two to five days I would be sold out of all those units. That was with no PPC, no reviews, no nothing. Nothing.
[00:13:06] SV: That was in the UK?
[00:13:07] FG: That was in the UK, absolutely. And-
[00:13:08] SV: Okay. Now, at this point in time have you had anything listed in the US?
[00:13:13] FG: No, absolutely nothing. No. That’s a different animal because then you have to register, open a new account. It’s a long process, not like turning on something and-
[00:13:25] SV: Yeah.
[00:13:29] FG: That was about August. By then I had already identified the products that could sell better.
[00:13:36] SV: How many was that about that you started to see that were starting to sell?
[00:13:39] FG: About four or five products and they were all related somehow. I was seeing the category that was working better. Then I started placing orders from my suppliers from 50 to 100 units. By then I had listened to all your podcasts, all of them. Yeah, and-
[00:13:58] SV: Wow, that’s a lot of minutes there.
[00:14:03] FG: I have to tell you, I was totally obsessed. I said to myself, “I’m going to make this happen before the end of the year because I know the last three months are crucial.” I was on a mission.
[00:14:16] SV: That’s awesome.
[00:14:17] FG: Yeah. Then I turned on PPC, I did some giveaways, friends, family, my translators, everybody that I could find. In Europe it’s not like in the US where you can have all these review groups. You have [Thomson 00:14:32] and … It is quite tougher so you have to find your own ways.
[00:14:39] SV: Yeah, be creative.
[00:14:42] FG: Yeah. By then sales were increasing. It was August-September and I was already selling 10 to 20 a day so I was getting more and more excited.
[00:14:53] SV: I bet.
[00:14:54] FG: Yeah. Then I quickly learned that competition can be brutal if you’re not private labeling your own products. That-
[00:15:05] SV: Let me cut in there real quick. What you’re saying though is these were just generic products? These weren’t your private label products?
[00:15:10] FG: Exactly. They belonged to certain suppliers and they were not my brand. They were the brand of the suppliers. I guess people found that they had reviews and they were well-positioned and they said, “I’ve got the product. I’m going to sell it too.” They started price wars and that started to kill me. By October I thought to myself, “Okay, well, this is not going to have any continuity unless I either private label or I’m able to convince my suppliers to get the exclusive rights to sell on Amazon.”
For the products that I had no competition I started calling those suppliers. Quite quickly I convinced them to give me exclusivity and sign a contract, which I was a little surprised about but it did work. For the other products, for the ones that I had more competition, and they were the best ones obviously, I knew that I had to build a strong argument to get exclusive rights. I figured that the only way was to show my suppliers that I can make larger orders than my competition who were smaller shops. Also knowing that the best sales period of the year was coming, I took a chance and I started ordering pallets with 500 to 1000 units at a time. Obviously I started lowering the prices too so that I could get the Buy Box, right?
[00:16:49] SV: Sure, sure.
[00:16:54] FG: Then that started to work. I started selling more and more. I think by the end in October I was selling about 50 to 80 units a day really depending on the day of the week. I think Sundays and Mondays were amazing.
[00:17:12] SV: Really?
[00:17:13] FG: Yeah, and also … I would say Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday were amazing and the rest of the week was a little lower. Then by November I started selling between 100 to 150 units a day. I could really not keep up with demand. I was like, “Oh my goodness.”
[00:17:34] SV: That sucks, huh?
[00:17:34] FG: Yeah. I was so stressed out, you have no idea. I-
[00:17:39] SV: You were stressed out but listen though. Listen, let’s take a time out for a minute here, right? You’re stressed out but you would have been stressed out if you weren’t selling anything either.
[00:17:46] FG: Yeah, that would have been worse.
[00:17:47] SV: Right? I’d rather be stressed out saying like, “How the heck am I going to keep these things in stock?” Right?
[00:17:52] FG: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:17:53] SV: All right. Okay, so you’re starting to sell, you’re riding this wave now. You’re excited but you’re trying to stay above water.
[00:17:59] FG: Right. This is November already so I’m almost done with this timeline but a lot has happened in these last couple of months. I was already in November sending trucks to Amazon with 10 to 15 pallets at a time from Spain to the UK. That was like every 10 days I would do that. The logistics of that were a total killer. I can’t start to tell you what I had to go through and learn with a lot of mistakes during those days. I was working, together with my sister who works with me, at least 16 hours a day. At least. I’ve got to tell you, I was really excited. That didn’t matter at all. It didn’t really matter at all for me.
[00:18:48] SV: Oh, yeah. Hey, when you’re doing something you’re excited about you want to get up earlier and you want to stay up later.
[00:18:56] FG: Absolutely. By the way, I never mentioned that I used your email sequence, the one that you use for those three or four emails that you send. That really, really had a huge effect on the reviews and the seller feedback I was getting.
[00:19:15] SV: Awesome. That’s great to hear. That’s really good to hear.
[00:19:19] FG: I have to say, I got about 500 seller feedbacks in three or four months and that was only in the UK so-
[00:19:31] SV: Now, let me ask you this too. I know we’re going to get to it but so you’re selling in the UK primarily. Are you selling in the US at all currently? I know we’ll get there but at all in the US?
[00:19:42] FG: No, not at all.
[00:19:43] SV: Okay, so you’re just in the UK?
[00:19:44] FG: That’s right. One thing that I learned … I was also selling in the other markets but I learned there is a feature that you can turn on in Amazon in the European markets that even if you’re doing FBA in the UK, you can turn on that feature and Amazon will send those products that are FBA stored in the UK to any other European country just for a small fee that they charge to the buyer. Okay?
[00:20:14] SV: Okay.
[00:20:14] FG: That’s basically doing FBA in the entire Europe even if you’re storing your goods in the UK.
[00:20:20] SV: Got you, okay. I just want people to understand this too. We talk to primarily people that are selling in the US because it is so huge, but I get a lot of people that say, “How are the other markets?” I’ve heard myself personally, people that are selling in the US and then they try to go to the other markets, the other countries, they tell me that it’s slower for them because they’re so used to the US. You’ve obviously found a nice little sweet spot here and it was already in your wheelhouse. It was already there. There wasn’t a lot of logistical stuff that you had to do as far as setting up your business entity and stuff inside of your country because you were kind of already there. When in the US that’s the same thing for us because that’s where I’m located and most of the people that are getting started in the States. I just want people to understand that what you’re saying is only in the UK or the other markets other than the US, which is incredible, which is awesome to hear and it’s exciting. Just to let people know that this process works in any, really, market out there or any country out there as long as you have products that people are wanting to buy.
[00:21:25] FG: Exactly. Absolutely.
[00:21:27] SV: I love it.
[00:21:29] FG: You also have to understand, by then I already had about 20 products that I was doing FBA with. The US market is topnotch. You can’t compare that to anything. You guys have the hugest demand and there’s nothing that can compare. In the European markets, even though they are smaller if you’re able to put a whole bunch of FBA products, 20, 30, you can sell a lot if you find the right products. You could sell 10 to 15 or 20 units a day of each specific product and there you go, you’re selling 100 to 200 units a day. You’re also diversifying your risk.
Okay, so just to get back to the point now.
[00:22:22] SV: Yeah, let’s jump back on track. We’re going down your road here. Okay, so get us to where you’re at at that point now.
[00:22:27] FG: Right. Already by December it blew my mind. All the expectations and all the estimates that I did with my orders they were blown away. Every single day in December was anywhere between 200 and 250 units mostly FBA, some of them merchant fulfilled. The stress level was really high but we were excited. Then also reviews and seller feedback they were growing and at the same time they were helping to increase my sales so that was great. Already by the beginning of December the sales and the orders were so high that I felt comfortable I could approach my suppliers and tell them, “Listen, there can only be one seller of your products in Amazon otherwise price wars are going to start. The value of your product is going to depreciate.” I built a strong case and I got a little bit of pushback but my three top suppliers agreed to give me the exclusive rights.
[00:23:47] SV: Very good. Very good.
[00:23:48] FG: Yeah. Everything sort of happened by chance. It’s like having a wall full of holes and water is coming through all those holes. You just feel like you’re putting all your hands and feet and everything you’ve got to stop that water from coming out. I was really lucky about that. It was a combination of your podcast and luck.
[00:24:22] SV: I want to address that for people too because I hear that. A lot of people say, “Well, you just got lucky.” Here’s my thoughts on it. You got lucky maybe in some people’s eyes but you got lucky because you took action and you got there. If you didn’t get there you wouldn’t have gotten lucky, right? You know what I mean?
[00:24:37] FG: Certainly.
[00:24:37] SV: I look at that luck thing as like, “Scott, you got an opportunity to be here,” or “You got a chance to do this,” or “You got lucky with your first product.” You know what, I put a product up, right? I couldn’t have got lucky if I didn’t put the product up, right? Yes, you have a chance of failing but you also don’t have that chance of luck- I’m doing air quotes- as people will say like, “Yeah, you got lucky.” No, I took action and I did it. You know what, you don’t know the three or four times that I tried and I failed. The same thing with you, you failed on this drop shipping stuff up to a certain point. If you trace everything back to how you got to where you are, I wouldn’t say it’s luck. I just say that it met the opportunity that you presented it with because you took action. I just need to clear that up for people because I hear that luck word and I get it. A lot of people say, “You got lucky.” Yeah, I got lucky because I was there, right?
[00:25:27] FG: That’s right.
[00:25:28] SV: I would just want to commend you on taking action and actually getting to that point because you had a lot of things that could have made you say, “This is just too difficult.” Like you said, there’s not enough hands and feet to block these holes of water pouring through but I’m just going to figure out how to get a few more people to get some hands out here to help me stop these holes. Right?
[00:25:48] FG: You’re absolutely right. With Amazon you’re never going to have all the information until you go ahead and do it. You’ve got to do as he said. You’ve got to take action and really, don’t be afraid. There are things out there, businesses that are so much harder. Amazon is nothing in terms of complexity compared to other stuff out there. Don’t worry about it, take action, spend a little bit of money and I can assure you, things are going to happen. Amazon is the most powerful tool I’ve ever, ever experienced. I know the Googles of the world and other platforms … Amazon is going to get really far. I-
[00:26:35] SV: They’re only getting bigger too.
[00:26:36] FG: They’re only getting bigger, exactly. They’re expanding in so many different countries. I don’t want to criticize any other platforms but I would be worried if I were Google and other similar businesses because Amazon is the future of retail as far as I’m concerned.
[00:26:58] SV: No, I agree.
[00:26:58] FG: That’s my humble opinion.
[00:27:00] SV: I agree with you. You can either embrace it or you can try to fight it but it’s true. Okay, so you’re at this point now. Things are going great. You’re flying right along here. You got your three best suppliers to actually say that they’ll give you exclusive rights. How does that work exactly? When you get those exclusive rights, how do you get people off that listing now because you’re the only one that’s going to sell it? Can you still have people that hijack it and get on there?
[00:27:26] FG: Yeah, that’s a great question. I’ve had to fight with those guys. By the way, that podcast that you had on hijackers was really helpful.
[00:27:40] SV: Yeah, actually I was going to say-
[00:27:41] FG: I took your template, modified it a little bit and I used it quite often.
[00:27:45] SV: Yeah. I’ll give you a little funny story. It wasn’t too funny but it worked. Actually, I had … It was Monday. You might be referring to the 105. I think episode 105 is the one that I did where I shared that cease and desist letter. Then just it was today actually another one came out we had on James Thompson of … He’s an ex Amazon employee and he shared a whole bunch of things behind the scenes that Amazon looks at and which can help us prevent these hijackers, but you’re never going to really prevent them 100%. I also spoke to an attorney- which hasn’t aired yet- and he actually goes after these hijackers, so all of this stuff. I’m really trying to figure that whole thing out to protect ourselves as best as possible because it is an issue. It is a problem.
Real funny story, the one that aired today wasn’t even aired. It was last night. I noticed that one of my newer listings got hijacked. It was a hijack that wasn’t necessarily one that I was too concerned with because it was one of those hijackers that goes on and they set the price really high. What they do is they go after like thousands of listings. What it does is if you run out of stock, they’re going to all of a sudden jump into the Buy Box. Like, my product was selling for like 20 bucks and they were trying to sell it for 55. Their logic behind it is “If I do a thousand of these I might get 50 people that buy at that higher price because when I jump on the Buy Box they might see that that’s the only option available.” The attorney guy that I interviewed, I actually contacted him last night. I said, “Should I just send them the cease and desist letter? What should I do in this case?” He goes, “Yeah, they’re kind of like the high-hanging fruit,” he called it. He goes, “They try to run that and it is a scam in a sense. It is a scam. It’s where they spam Amazon and I think Amazon will get wise to this.” I sent that letter last night and this morning they were gone.
So it does work, it doesn’t always work but that letter that I did post that’s episode … Was it 105? I’ll have to check on that. I’ll put it in the show notes of this episode. Yeah, that letter worked for me. I literally copy and pasted it and last night sent it off to that hijacker and they were gone this morning.
Anyway, yeah, so-
[00:29:53] FG: If you would allow me, let me share something about that too because it could be helpful. I’ve used that letter and about 90% of the times it does work. Okay?
[00:30:04] SV: Okay, good.
[00:30:06] FG: For the rest of the times I’ve had my suppliers call those guys, those hijackers and it does work most of the time. Some of them are quite aggressive and they don’t want to do it so what has worked for me with those that never want to go away … You know how the process is with Amazon. Amazon is really not going to help much unless you make a purchase, you take photographs and blah, blah, blah. You can’t do that all the time otherwise you’ll be working just for that.
[00:30:39] SV: Exactly.
[00:30:40] FG: What I did the last time was I went to this hijacker’s shop and I saw the products he was selling. He didn’t have a lot. He was doing FBA. Those products were really easy to acquire and he was the only seller. I sent him a really nice letter saying, “Listen, this is not an ego fight. I don’t want to hurt your business. I just want to protect mine. I have the exclusive rights to sell this, blah, blah, blah. If you force me to defend my rights, I could very easily buy the products you’re selling on FBA which seem to be doing very well because they have a lot of reviews. I could contact the supplier, I could buy them and I could start a price war on those products that you’re selling so nicely just like you’re doing with mine.” Immediately he took the listing away.
[00:31:40] SV: Wow, that’s good.
[00:31:42] FG: I’m not saying it’s going to work all the time but it does work because I’ve done that.
[00:31:46] SV: That’s really good. I like that.
[00:31:50] FG: Yeah. It gets a little aggressive but you’ve got to defend your rights. These people they have no scruples. They just go for it. They don’t care about … they don’t answer your emails so you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
[00:32:05] SV: Yeah. No, I totally agree. I’ve got a buddy of mine right now who’s battling one for a while and he’s almost at the end of his rope here. It’s one of those things but, yeah. You’ve got exclusive rights so if your suppliers will reach out to them that’s the best thing. If you can’t get a hold of them how are you going to be able to do it? So you’ve got to take those other measures. Yeah, so I’ll link up the hijacking stuff too, guys. If you’re listening and you want to know more about that stuff, especially if you’re brand new, I’ll link that stuff up in the show notes to this episode so you can go ahead and go back to those.
It is pretty important to understand how to even just protect yourself upfront, make it harder for these people. A lot of times these people too they look at easy prey. They look at listings that might seem easy to be able to just go and hijack. If we can make it a little bit harder for them it’s just going to be a lot easier down the road for you.
[00:32:57] FG: That’s right.
[00:32:58] SV: Okay, cool. All right, you’re at this point now where you’ve got, like I said, three suppliers that are saying like, “We’re going to give you exclusive rights,” and all that stuff. Now where do we go? Are we still in the fourth quarter or are we through with the fourth quarter now?
[00:33:12] FG: This was December already. As I said, by then we were selling 200 to 250 units. I know that people like to know amounts because that gets people quite excited because this is what it’s about. In December we made about 244 thousand euros in sales.
[00:33:40] SV: What does that equate to in US dollars? I’m not really good at mathematics.
[00:33:43] FG: It’s almost the same. It’s at 1.07. I would say it’s about 250 thousand dollars.
[00:33:49] SV: Wow, that’s awesome.
[00:33:49] FG: Yeah.
[00:33:51] SV: What would you say that your margins are running right about now?
[00:33:54] FG: Probably about 20%. 20% to 25%.
[00:33:57] SV: Okay, that’s good.
[00:34:00] FG: You also have to take into account the VAT which takes a toll on your sales. If you do your calculations right and you do everything you’ve got to do then yeah, it’s about 20% to 25%. It’s not bad.
[00:34:17] SV: Let me ask you this too because we haven’t really touched on this. What about pay-per-click?
[00:34:21] FG: Yeah, pay-per-click that is quite interesting. Actually, I started my campaigns and right from the beginning they went really, really well. I think I have 1% or less than 1% in most of my products in terms of ACoS. I don’t know if it’s because the markets in Europe are less competitive than-
[00:34:49] SV: I think it might have something to do with it, to be honest with you, because there is a lot less … Can you run through your budget easily?
[00:34:56] FG: No, not that easily.
[00:34:57] SV: Okay, and that’s part of it. I’ve had a lot of people they’re kind of jealous with the US pay-per-click because we can spend as much we want, really. We can just turn on the faucet and the traffic will just keep coming. I’ve also heard that in the overseas markets and stuff that a lot of times the pay-per-click you’re not getting as many impressions, you’re not getting as many clicks. Heck, 1% ACoS that’s ridiculous.
[00:35:26] FG: That’s right.
[00:35:27] SV: I’m happy to get under 30. It’s like if I can get 30% or under I’m happy because I know that that’s helping me also rank for keywords inside of Amazon so that’s interesting.
[00:35:39] FG: I think in total for about six months or less I couldn’t have even spent 2 thousand euros so …
[00:35:46] SV: Oh, wow. Yeah. I think I spent that last month and I’m not doing the volume of revenue that you’ve done either. Yeah, I’ve actually opted … I’ve been playing with a couple of new campaigns and stuff and I’ve ramped it up just to try to get things moving in these couple of new products. I’ve been almost spending 200 bucks a day and I could spend more. So yeah, as much as you want to spend in the US market, depending on what market you’re in you can blow through that budget. I know people that are spending thousands a day so yeah, it’s totally there. It’s interesting and at another time maybe even we can dig into getting into the UK and maybe talking more about their platform and maybe some things that we could do. Maybe even dig into how we could get our products listed there if we wanted to. Maybe another time we can have you back on and talk about that.
I really want to just, I guess, wrap up with saying now you’re at the point where this thing it’s working, right? You’ve proven yourself, you’re excited. What are your plans moving forward and what are you working on right now? The fourth quarter is gone. It’s over with. Do you still have good sales numbers or have they dropped off significantly?
[00:37:12] FG: I thought it was going to drop more but I’m happy with what I’m selling which is about 50 to 60 units a day, which is not bad at all. Not bad at all for this time.
[00:37:22] SV: No.
[00:37:23] FG: To answer your question, I made a list of goals that I want to achieve in this year. I think I’m going to try a little bit of private label, see how that goes. I’m going to create bundles which I think are … Here in the European market you don’t find many and they work really well. Of course, I’m going to keep going to fairs. Now that I know what Amazon is strong at, I feel much more comfortable going to fairs and just looking around and seeing products and identifying them much faster. I have the suppliers right there on the fairs. I can talk to them and the process will be much, much quicker than before.
[00:38:11] SV: Okay. Yeah, I think that’s great that you can get to those fairs and be able to see that if that’s what you do, and you have the intelligence now from having history of people and what they’re buying.
[00:38:20] FG: Right.
[00:38:21] SV: Yeah, I like that.
[00:38:22] FG: I know that most of your listeners probably think that you have to source your products from China. I would say that there are so many opportunities. You don’t necessarily have to go to China to get your products. I’m sure in the US or in any European country you have suppliers of great products that would be thrilled to have someone selling their products on Amazon and doing the legwork for them.
[00:38:53] SV: Oh, yeah.
[00:38:54] FG: You don’t have to go that far to get a product. That’s my-
[00:38:58] SV: I agree with that and I think that the fairs are a big thing, product fairs and stuff like that and wholesalers and stuff like that. Again, it’s getting out there. It’s doing the legwork to find those good connections that can maybe connect you with those. I know in the US it does seem like it’s a little bit harder but I’ve heard of people even sourcing from Mexico or other countries, not necessarily just China. It is doable.
Now let me just ask you this to wrap this up. Okay, you’ve been very successful for where you’ve started with and where you’ve gone now. When you launch a new product, obviously you’re going to be launching products primarily around what you know has already sold to complement. Let me just ask you, your typical launch phase what is that going to look like?
[00:39:56] FG: It varies from product to product but basically I do exactly what you teach in your podcast. I’m lucky enough so that in European countries you don’t need so many reviews to get a product started. I think between 10 and 15 reviews is more than enough to get some credibility in terms of your product is okay and then to also position your product within the first or second, I would say on the first page of whatever keyword you choose. You don’t have to do … I’ve heard people saying, “I’m doing 50 or 100 or whatever. For over a period of a time I would do even more.” No, for me in the European countries at least 10 to 15 reviews is more than enough. I can get that through friends and family, Elance, people that I have hired in the past, translators, freelancers who are willing to help me out and to get a product and to take pictures. Pictures work really well for reviews and usually I ask my reviewers to take as many pictures as they can because it gives you credibility.
Yeah, it’s a very simple process. You describe it very well and I guess I have not much to add.
[00:41:34] SV: I like to ask that question because sometimes you’ll get people that have a little bit of a twist here and there. Most people it’s pretty much the same, it just depends on how competitive your market is. I know I’ve got one guy in our private label classroom, name is Rich Kibble. One of his big tests is once he gets his product he turns on pay-per-click day one without any reviews. If he gets a sale on day one then he knows it’s going to be a successful product because he did it with no reviews. That’s his little internal test that he does.
I’m going to piggyback on the launch thing here while we’re talking about it and the luck thing that we talked about earlier because I want to circle back to that. Some people have asked me before, they’re like, “Scott, do you feel like you just got lucky with your first product?” I always say, “Well, I launched the product so if you call that being lucky, I guess so.” I’ve launched other products and I currently have I believe with all the SKUs seven or eight. I just launched a new one underneath my same brand. I ran through the same launch process that I teach and that I talk about and that you’ve done and that I do and all that stuff. That product right now, I guess I got lucky again because that one there just the day did 65 units in one day just that one product. That’s now after fourth quarter.
I just want people that are listening to understand that I guess I got lucky because I put another product up, number one. I’m being sarcastic. Then number two is I ran through the same process that I haven’t really changed anything. I gave out some units. I got some reviews going. I turned on pay-per-click. I’ve got three campaigns. I started with an auto campaign and then I had a couple of manual campaigns, I’m tweaking them and here we are. Right now I’m in that same stress as you are saying like, “How am I going to get enough units before the Chinese holiday, the New Year?” It’s like I’m worrying about if I’m selling 50 a day that’s 100 every 2 days. If I only have 2 thousand units I’m going to be out of stock pretty soon.
I just want to go back to that whole luck thing because I want people to understand that it’s not luck, it is you taking action and putting something out there. It doesn’t mean that everything’s going to be a great success but it’s going to be something that can move you closer to that success. The only way that you’re going to do that is by taking action and doing something. That whole luck thing I want to put that behind us.
[00:44:01] FG: Right. No, no. Of course I would add to that that this is easily a full time job and you can put as many hours as you want. Some people say it’s passive income and that. It’s not really. You’ve got to do a lot of work. At the end of the day, it’s your own business and it’s your freedom, as you always say.
[00:44:25] SV: 100%. Is there anything else that you want to let anyone that’s listening, anything that you want them to know or take away from your journey so far maybe that’s just getting started or maybe that’s frustrated or struggling a little bit?
[00:44:42] FG: That’s a tough question.
[00:44:44] SV: I know. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot.
[00:44:49] FG: I would just encourage anybody who is thinking about doing it to just do it because I’m pretty sure that sooner or later it’s going to work. You’d have to do a really bad job to choose a product and not to start selling good quantities if you do everything that you say in the podcast. The risk is so low in terms of the number of hours of work you’ve got to put in and the money that you have to invest that why not do it? Nowadays everybody is working towards freedom, as you say, and it’s so close and so easy for you to get it if you want to put in a little bit of work.
[00:45:37] SV: Yeah, I agree. Hard work trumps talent. That’s what I tell my son all the time.
[00:45:43] FG: Exactly.
[00:45:44] SV: He is 17 years old. He’s a senior in high school playing basketball. He’s talented, don’t get me wrong. He’s got a lot of talent but you can always take talent and then add some hard work to it and be even better than the people that have the same amount of talent or even more.
[00:45:57] FG: Yeah. I would just say … Right.
[00:46:01] SV: Just put in the work. Put in the work and understand that you’re going to have these hiccups, you’re going to have these frustrations. It’s part of business. It’s the choice that you make whether you want to be successful or not. I do believe that.
[00:46:13] FG: Right. I think now it’s a great time to start doing this because there are still opportunities. Obviously things are going to get more competitive with time but if you’re able to jump in now and create a business, most likely if you take care of it with love and tenderness it’s going to last for a long time. I think Amazon is just going to keep growing and growing. If you take action today, you’re probably going to be very well-positioned for the future. That’s what I can say.
[00:46:47] SV: Yeah, I agree. All right, man. Let’s end on that note. I like that end note. If you get started there’s a good chance that you’ll be at least ready to go for the future as far as wherever that’s going to lead you. To me, a great place to start is on Amazon because the traffic is already there rather than … Like you started having your own e-commerce store and then driving traffic to that store. You did it that way first but now you’ve seen “If you can do it over again, I would probably do it where I did the Amazon thing. Then if I want to build my external store I can do that or start looking at other channels.” Is that correct?
[00:47:23] FG: Absolutely 100%.
[00:47:25] SV: Yeah. All right, cool. Hey, thank you so much, Francisco. We’re going to definitely connect back with you. I would love to chat more. I think we could talk for two, three hours and not even get tired of talking about this stuff. I think this has been awesome to give people a different perspective and not just about selling on Amazon but also selling in the UK, which you’ve proven that there is a market there. It’s been easier for you because that’s kind of like where you are so it’s easier. From wherever you are and listening, start where it’s easiest for you and that’s one less thing that you have to worry about getting started in.
Francisco, I want to thank you. Once again, I really appreciate you coming on and sharing your story.
[00:48:07] FG: Thank you, Scott. It was an absolute pleasure. You take care of yourself.
[00:48:13] SV: Yeah, awesome. Hey, thank you very much and enjoy that Miami heat.
[00:48:17] FG: Thanks. Take care.
[00:48:18] SV: All right, man. Take care.
[00:48:19] FG: Bye-bye.
[00:48:21] SV: All right, so there you have it. Another great interview. I love doing them because you get to see different aspects of different businesses and how they started and the journey that led them to now and this. If they never would have went down that path, they never would have seen this opportunity. I just love that and that’s why I highlight that luck little discussion there that we had. People get lucky. I believe in people getting results because they took action whether you call it luck or not but that’s my little belief there.
All right, so that’s pretty much going to wrap up this episode, guys. Thank you so much, again, for taking time out of your day and listening. I really do appreciate each and every one of you. Again, I want to remind you if you have not attended one of my live workshops you can head over to register for an upcoming one. That is at theamazingseller.com/workshop. Once again, that’s theamazingseller.com/workshop. We’d love to have you hang out there with us. We’ll walk you through the five phases for picking a product, and choosing your sourcing, and launching, and promoting and all that good stuff and we’ll do some live Q&A and have some fun.
All right, so that’s it. That’s going to wrap it up. Remember I’m here for you. I believe in you. I’m rooting for you but you have to, you have to- come on, say it with me. Say it loud, say it proud. Come on, I’m going to yell this one- take action! All right, that’s a good one. Let’s go out there and make it happen. What do you say? Have an awesome, amazing day. Take care.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Scott’s free workshop – http://www.TheAmazingSeller.com/workshop
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/FB – the TAS Facebook Community
- Scott’s episode about hijacking of product listings – www.TheAmazingSeller.com/105
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