One of the scariest parts of building an Amazon private label business is the fact that at some point you have to send off a big chunk of money to a supplier you have never met, in a factory or warehouse that you cannot inspect in most cases, and trust that you are products are going to arrive at your location or the Amazon warehouse as promised and in good shape. Today's episode deals with that exact subject in the experiences of one Amazon Seller who had trouble getting his product payments refunded after he decided the products were not up to his quality standards. You are going to learn a lot of lessons from his hard learned experience.
How do you know the products your supplier gives you are the quality you want?
The first thing you should do when you find a product that might be a potentially good fit for your business to feature on Amazon is to have a sample sent to you. That's a very needed and necessary first step, but it may not be the total solution. The process of sending a sample can be manipulated by the supplier sending you the very best one that they have, giving you the impression that all of the products they produce are the same quality. Today's guest decided to have an inspection company check out his products prior to them being shipped from the supplier and that one step saved him a thousand headaches. You can hear his entire story on this episode.
What is Trade Assurance and why you should only use suppliers who are verified through it.
When you are seeking a supplier for the products you want to sell through Amazon private label you will come across many options on the Alibaba website. You need to make sure that you were only looking for products among sellers who are certified by Trade Assurance. Trade Assurance is Alibaba's way of verifying suppliers and is a way that you can have peace of mind that you're dealing with reputable companies. On this episode Scott's guest is going to share his experience with Trade Assurance and why it was an invaluable part of the process when seeking a refund from one of his suppliers.
If you have to ask for your deposit back, expect a long process.
It doesn't really matter how you pay the deposit for your first round of products, whether by wire transfer, escrow, or PayPal, if you need to request a refund you will have a long time to wait. Refunds come through a multi-stage the process of verification and investigation about what was actually done by the company and by you. It's very important that in that entire process you document every communication and every step along the way. Today's guest is going to share with you how he did that and the results that came of it.
How to effectively use an escrow account.
One of the tools you can use when paying a supplier from China through Alibaba is called an escrow account. Escrow accounts basically hold the funds that you have sent for your deposit until you indicate that you are satisfied with the product you have been supplied. It's a way to ensure that your money is going to be returned to you if the product you receive are not up to the quality standards that you were led to believe. On this episode Scott shares why he values the escrow functionality so much, and how you can be sure to use it in your interactions with suppliers.
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:04] Scott’s introduction to the podcast!
- [0:50] An introduction to the voicemail Blair sent to Scott.
- [1:43] How you can get started with Amazon FBA and join the free live workshop.
- [3:30] The voicemail itself.
- [6:21] Blair’s conversation with Scott.
- [7:59] How Blair began his Amazon private label business.
- [9:53] Blair’s process for discovering his first products.
- [12:20] The plan behind Blair’s variety of product offerings.
- [13:59] The situations with suppliers.
- [15:15] The situations Blair experienced that caused issues with his payments.
- [17:10] The Trade Assurance dispute process.
- [18:40] The difficulties of not being able to get a deposit returned.
- [20:27] Blair’s process working from New Zealand.
- [21:53] What it took for Blair to set up a U.S. bank account.
- [23:35] The hassles experienced shipping by boat.
- [24:26] Recommendations about payments, based on his experience.
- [31:12] Why you have to go into FBA knowing there is risk involved.
- [32:45] The power of using an escrow account through Alibaba.
- [35:13] The refund process is multi-stepped, be prepared if you get into it.
- [41:50] Scott’s summary of the conversation.
- [42:50] Your invitation to the free, live workshop.
TRANSCRIPT TAS 180
TAS 180 : How To Protect Your MONEY When Ordering Product from China (Real Examples)
[00:00:02] SV: Hey, hey what's up everyone. Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 180 and today we're going to talk about how to protect your money when ordering products from China. I'm going to give you some real examples that were shared with me from a fairly new seller. Someone that's already went through this process but learned a ton. All right. His name is Blair Quane. He's from New Zealand and he sent me a voicemail…
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…through the Ask Scott voice mail recording area. If you guys are not familiar with that you guys can head over to theamazingseller.com/ask and you can ask a question there but what he did was something a little bit different. I'm actually going to play that voicemail for you so you can hear how this happened and now I'm going to have him on the show which we're going to hear today is the interview that I did with him.
I want you to hear the voice mail that he sent. It's kind of funny. There's a couple of funny parts to this voicemail but also how he explains that he had some problems and some issues about paying for his goods, finding out that the goods were defective and the getting his money back. What we're going to do is break down how that all kind of happened and then what he's doing moving forward to help protect himself. It's really, really important. I learned a ton myself just listening to his story. All right. Right now knock on wood … Can you guys hear that? Knocking on wood. Brody is going to bark because he thinks there's someone knocking at the door. That's real. All right. There's no one here Brody. There's no one here. Literally he just got up and he's barking because he thinks someone's outside.
What I want to do is I want to actually show you what he had said had happened. Okay. Then this way here you can learn from it. Now, let me stop right there for a second. If you guys are brand new to the podcast first and foremost, I want to say welcome and I'm glad you're here and let's do it air shake. Put my hand out, let's shake some hands. Welcome and nice to meet you. Also if you guys have no idea about this Amazon FBA thing or private labeling and you're brand new, maybe someone shared this podcast with you, I've got a resource for you and that is the blog. You can go over to theamazingseller.com and there is over 180 episodes, actually a few more because we did some bonus episodes where you can learn all about this process.
Now, if you want me to condense it down for you, I also do a live workshop and I usually do one of these a week. If you want to sign up for an upcoming workshop where I break it down into five phases and we do that in just about an hour and a half in a live workshop, you can register for that by heading over to theamazingseller.com/workshop. Again, that's theamazingseller.com/workshop. We do also answer some live Q&A over there and it's just a lot of fun. We give away some downloads, some swipe files, all of that stuff. Everything that you would need to know and to actually take action on after you leave that workshop. Definitely go check that out if you're brand new. If you maybe have been wanting to come to one of those workshops you just haven't been able to, head over there. Register and I'll see you there. All right. Again, this here was totally something that kind of happened and it happened because Blair went ahead contacted me through a voicemail and then I reached out to him and said, “Hey, let's have ya on the show.”
Let's listen to that first voicemail and then from there we can go ahead and dive into the interview. By the way, it's kind of funny and let me just say “cheese mite”.
[00:03:26] BQ: Hey Scott. This is Blair from New Zealand, part of the international clan. I looked just really loving the podcast so much though I've ran out of them and I need more, I’m getting withdrawal. Can you get to work there and give us some more of that good, good stuff. This isn't a question. This is a, I guess it's probably a suggestion maybe on what you could do one of your shows coming up. I've had a couple of experiences lately with issues with suppliers and payments around that. Also some pretty valuable lessons learned from those experiences in terms of making sure you've got good contracts with your supplier and also making sure we get those China side inspection done on product. As much as we'd like to think all suppliers are open, honest and good people, I've come across one that wasn't.
Have had a bit of an experience with it and particularly with the trade assurance on Alibaba and having to go through that process and also with PayPal. Just about getting refunds through these guys and is maybe not as easy as people would hope that it is. Anyway, look if you do want to section on this and have a chat with me about it, more than happy to. You can probably give me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org that's email@example.com and we can touch base from there. Also just to finally sign off with my little exit for you, I know you love the international accents so I'm going to teach you how to say ‘cheers mate' in the Kiwi accent. If you say Cheese as in the product that you eat and mite as in the little insect then you've got the New Zealand accent down perched. Give it a go and see how it all sounds. Cheese mite.
[00:05:46] SV: Cheese mite to you. I love it. That was the voicemail that I received from Blair and from there I reached out to him and he got right back to me and we set this thing up. Now what I'm going to do is turn it over to the recorded conversation, the phone call that we had through Skype. I'll let you guys listen to the entire thing and then I'll come back in and I'll give you my final thoughts on that but really, really great to be able to learn from someone else's experiences and that's what I love about the podcast. Enjoy this interview with Blair Quane.
[00:06:22] SV: Hey Blair thank you so much for hanging out with the TAS audience today and being on the podcast. What's going on man?
[00:06:29] BQ: Not too much. It's sort of getting to autumn here or fall as you guys call it. We're losing a bit of light and a bit of temperature but still not too cold to get out and surt.
[00:06:42] SV: That's a good thing because here we're getting into hopefully spring, pretty soon but today we have a very windy and cold day but there's no snow on the ground right now which normally is about a foot, a foot and a half. We're good, we're happy here but I'm not surfing today. I do want to say for everyone that's listening I just played, and I'm going to put this in the intro, you didn't hear it just now but you've recorded it is the actual voicemail that you sent me. Really which allowed me to reach out to you and then also understand how to say ‘cheese mite'. I really want to thank you for that and really just let people know that's kind of how this thing all kind of came about. You recorded a voicemail and pretty much we're just talking about you and what you've been doing since the podcast and then maybe being able to add some things that you've learned.
It's just funny how things happened. Right.
[00:07:38] BQ: Yeah definitely. I just heard through the podcast with your love of international accents so I thought it would be a bit of a laugh to explain how we talk down south here.
[00:07:50] SV: You guys definitely sound smarter I have to say. Yeah. This will be really, really good. I'm excited to have you on and why don't we get people caught up real quick as far as like maybe we can take them back to when and where you decided to get started even thinking about Amazon and private labeling and starting your own business on Amazon.
[00:08:15] BQ: Yeah, yeah cool. 2015 I had a manufacturing business which I sold mid year and basically looking to frame myself from start and the stress of raising a big operation. We decided to sell and always wanted to do something online and so I just started having a look around and found your podcast and started to sort of delve into it and became pretty interested in the whole process became pretty infectious. That was October I started doing my research on things and over Christmas looking to getting products under way. I went about the first product, actually is a sea shipped product, took a while to get here. Currently, now I've got two products live, I've got another one coming in March and looking to launch another three products by the middle of the year. So exciting times really enjoying the process and you can certainly … It's a big [inaudible] once you get product online and start making sales.
[00:09:33] SV: Yeah I agree 100%. Let me ask you though, I know a lot of people want to know and one of the biggest questions always ask is, okay, when you're first starting and everything you've so much to do and it's sometimes it can be overwhelming and all that stuff but we all got to start with looking into the products that we're going to be launching or possible products. What exactly did you do to get yourself to the point where you're starting to look at products or markets where you're going to go into?
[00:09:59] BQ: I actually looked around a little bit and sort of online there is quite a bit of info around Amazon and how to research and things. I started using a few of the old techniques. The 999 trick and things like that and then I stumbled Jungle Scout once I sort of got into your Facebook group. I sort of went through that process. Products, look I really didn't have any idea of what I wanted to launch. I am doing things as a bit of from you and then I … The products I'm doing are a number of sort of areas or niches that are not all under one sort of specific area. I do have a bit of some variety and what products I'm looking at but yeah, it's not easy. It's not easy. You think you've got this product and you think it's all good and you find something wrong with it or it's too heavy or or it's too big or the color's wrong.
[00:11:08] SV: I agree. It's one of the most frustrating parts I think and so basically what you're doing though is you're kind of launching different products and not necessarily the same niche, is that correct?
[00:11:19] BQ: Yeah. At the moment I've got two in one niche as we call it-
[00:11:26] SV: I was probably going to say we should correct that. It's niche for you and niche for me. It's all the same. Yeah, that's fine.
[00:11:37] BQ: I'm sort of doubling up . I've got a couple on the same niche and I've got another niche where I've got a couple. It's kind of what I'm doing. I'm not going out solely individual products. I'm trying to double up where I can but it just helped me out. I mean I want to have six products live in sort of two or three months time. I did need to go a bit further out. My niche is not quite big enough to have sort of multiple products, five or six products within that same niche.
[00:12:09] SV: Okay. Now, I guess the next question would be here… We're going to get into why we had you on. Anyway but I know people are always curious to know these different things especially when getting started but like now you've launched these two products and let's say you're going to launch another two and you want to get to six, are you doing this also to see what one might be the one to run with or are you doing it just to blanket kind of a wider net?
[00:12:39] BQ: Blanket a wider net for sure. I plan to run with both, the research side of it I'm a bit detailed and I do go into a reasonably complex process to research it. Jungle Scout is one of the only small portions of my research and here it's probably what's taking me a bit of time to really get up and running. I really want all of these products to work. Some are going to work better than others and that's just nature at the best.
[00:13:12] SV: What are you going after as far as numbers go. I mean because some people will go okay, you've got a complex like procedure but like what are you looking to shoot for when you're going to be launching a product. What's your like okay I did it, I got it to where I wanted it and if it does better great but that's where I want to get it to.
[00:13:34] BQ: Yeah, I'm still sort of sticking with your rule of ten sales a day per product, 10 bucks profit. I think that's a nice target to go for. It can be difficult to reach sometimes and I'm still finding that with these two I've got going at the moment. It's building into getting to that level of profitability but we're getting there.
[00:13:59] SV: Okay, now let's I guess fast forward a little bit. Okay. You got to go and source the product. You go and you go through the normal procedures. Did you go through like Alibaba, did you go out and reach out to them Aliexpress or maybe go global sources. Where did you go and find your product or your supplier?
[00:14:19] BQ: Alibaba was my one and just through the normal channels and basically got a number of samples in [inaudible] from different suppliers and yeah. Nothing unusual the way I did it.
[00:14:40] SV: But you did have a few issues with the payment and that's what we really want to talk about and we'll talk about invoices and stuff like that. I know you've kind of set aside a little check list or a little bullet points that you can kind of go through that some of these lessons that you've learned and things that could possibly be a pitfall that we want to make sure that we can hopefully prevent. I've been pretty fortunate. I haven't really ran across any issues but I know that it's out there. I'd love to hear your experience and also maybe that you can highlight the things that we should be looking out for and maybe a couple of preventative things that we can do to protect ourselves.
[00:15:16] BQ: Yeah, for sure. I had two situations, we’ll call them. Pretty much the around the same time which made it even harder because I was going to deal with two issues. The first one was a deposit that I put down on a product that I got samples of and the samples were awesome and were all good, the supplier was really friendly. I made sure was through Alibaba, was a trade assurance supplier. Basically we went through ready for the whole shipment to be sent, so the whole shipment had been prepared, boxed up all ready to go. I decided that I wanted to get an inspection done on the products and so I got a external Chinese inspection company to come in do this inspection. Unfortunately came back with result of around 35% of what they had inspected were faulty and faulty to a point that I wouldn't be able to sell them.
These were things like … There were things like small middle components on this product and a number of them were already rusty. Now again, this product was a heavier product so we were going to be sea shipping this one product as well. I sort of suddenly go, “Man if we put this on a container or a boat and it's already got rust one of these is going to turn up in the states looking like” Look, I had some discussions with the supplier and basically just went with my gut and my gut was, “Hey, I just can't continue with this order.” I made it clear to the supplier that I was going to cancel the order obviously I had paid a deposit. He accepted. At the time he said, “Look there's a problem,” and I basically put on a trade assurance dispute because that is the way to get your deposit back and has to go through Alibaba.
The supplier doesn't directly pay you back your deposit into your account. It goes through Alibaba. Now the process with that is … Look it wasn't easy. To be honest, the Alibaba reps were pretty slow to respond and communications you'd wait five, six days before you get a reply to an email. A lot of the time it was very, very confusing what they were actually saying in their email. It was mixed messages all over the show. I was getting a bit frustrated by this time and sort of communicating with the supplier and he actually … I wasn't getting nasty with him but he actually got … I think he was getting frustrated and sort he even said to me in sort of one of the last emails, he said to me he was going to make it as hard as possible for me to get my deposit. Okay. Which was pretty extreme.
That was when I called back and sort stopped communicating with him. I never replied to him after that email and just left it to Alibaba to sort out. To be honest it took two months to get my deposit back through Alibaba. When you're starting out and you've got cash that you're spending on products, you can't afford to have that tied up too long. That was hard.
[00:18:51] SV: Now, did you pay them through a wire transfer or a credit card?
[00:18:55] BQ: It was done through a credit card.
[00:18:59] SV: Okay. Now, how would that have worked if you went through the credit card and said, “I paid this company and the company's product that they gave me is faulty,” and then you dispute it through a credit card. Could that work?
[00:19:09] BQ: Yeah. That's a differently an option. I didn't do that. This would have been plan B if Alibaba's trade assurance didn't work out. In terms of that it worked out. It took a long time. That's what people need to understand. If something goes wrong … There was nothing that led me to believe that something would go wrong until we did this inspection. Just be weary, I suppose.
[00:19:39] SV: How many units were you having shipped?
[00:19:42] BQ: On that order there was 500.
[00:19:45] SV: 500 Units and if you don't mind what was the deposit that you were looking to get back?
[00:19:51] BQ: It was $600 US.
[00:19:55] SV: What's that translated into US dollars? Do you know?
[00:20:00] BQ: Sorry that's what I mean. USD $600.
[00:20:01] SV: Okay. So it was $600 then.
[00:20:04] BQ: Yeah. I took in US dollars because I always say US because we’re dealing with New Zealand dollars. The other nice thing about getting paid from Amazon is that my exchange rate means that basically what I get paid is takes care of all my tax because of the exchange rate, that's great. Benefits of an international seller.
[00:20:28] SV: Okay, now while we're on that topic, real quick because I get a lot of people that are international sellers and they ask how the process works. I've got people that are in my class, I've got people that are podcast listeners and the way that I understand it and there's different ways to it. I've got a guy that's in Australia and he basically did exactly what you did. He shipped directly to Amazon but he has that third party inspection in place for his China side. That's how he does it. Is that pretty much then your procedure? You're not shipping that to yourself ever. Okay.
[00:20:56] BQ: Never to myself. I mean New Zealand is far to far. It’s even further south than Australia so it just goes straight. You do really do rely on that China side inspection.
[00:21:06] SV: Okay, okay and then the other quick question was, okay, so now if you are internationally as well, did you just set up a bank …? I know that they’re out there, I forget the name of them but there’s basically a bank institution that will accept your funds and then once you get to a certain level you can have that released and then sent to your bank inside of the country that you reside in?
[00:21:30] BQ: No, Amazon pay directly into my account in New Zealand.
[00:21:33] SV: Did they really? Okay, that’s …
[00:21:35] BQ: It goes through their currency conversion and comes straight into my bank.
[00:21:38] SV: Interesting.
[00:21:39] BQ: I am actually looking to set up an account in the States because I would rather keep the money in the US dollar and then choose when I convert it, when the exchange rate’s better but at the moment that’s what's happening at Amazon transfers straight into my New Zealand bank account.
[00:21:53] SV: And as far as setting up that account, I know we’re a little off topic but this is interesting, to set up that account being that you’re not in the States what do you actually have to give them? Do you have to set up any type of business entity inside the States?
[00:22:07] BQ: I don’t believe so, I’m just starting to look into it but it’s … You can’t just open up with any bank so at the moment I’m looking with HSBC because you know, they are a worldwide bank.
[00:22:18] SV: Oh, yeah, we have them right here.
[00:22:21] BQ: They’ve got a facility that allows you to open an account in the States,
[00:22:25] SV: Was it hard for you to set up an account to start selling on Amazon even though you’re not in the US?
[00:22:30] BQ: No, it wasn’t difficult, there are a few more steps you have to go through when you are setting up in Seller Central but look, it wasn’t difficult, probably took me an hour to do.
[00:22:41] SV: That’s not difficult, that’s not bad, all right, cool, let’s just get back on track here, that’s just interesting because I always have to pick international seller’s brains because I know the audience wants to always know and I’m curious as well. Okay, so that’s really not a huge obstacle, but you do have to do China side inspection and then you’re going to ship directly, so okay that’s fine, we can handle that. You went by boat the first time too which is another whole thing right?
[00:23:05] BQ: The worst thing about it was, the freight company actually shipped it as three separate shipments because when I set the product up, we set up as three fulfillment warehouses, where we wanted the product to go to the States the freight company said, “We’re not going to ship it not the States and then separate it, we want to ship it as three separate shipments,” so all along I’m tracking three separate shipments for this one product. It was difficult to be fair and one thing I would say to people, if you can start with something small and air freight it just do it because it’s so much easier.
[00:23:43] SV: Yeah, and that’s kind of why I said that some people would say that, “Well, Scott, it costs a lot more to ship it that way,” and I’m like, “I know but there’s a lot more obstacles too, so don’t you want to have less obstacles when you're first started and then go boat later, I think that makes more logical sense,” but that’s just me. Some people have done it right out of the get go and they’re willing to go through those challenges but I just know most people, they get hung up on something like that it’s going to really deter them from continuing because they run into these issues.
[00:24:13]BQ:A lot more communication around sea shipping required. I was doing 30 odd emails versus two for air freight. I was just talking cheese.
[00:24:24] SV: Yeah, totally. Okay. All right, so why don’t you give us some other things that you would recommend and that you’re doing now from the lessons that you’ve learned through this process, so like if you’re going to go and start this whole process again, what are you going to do to make sure that that doesn’t happen again or at least make it a less chance of it happening?
[00:24:45] BQ: Well, there was … The other issue I had and I’ll just run through that quickly because it kind of relates to some lessons learned but the other issue I had at the same time was another supplier which I paid a deposit for and then she came back once she'd received the deposit and said she could not fulfill the order to the specs that we had agreed on. Which was interesting again because when it was … That’s what we agreed on but she wasn’t going to go through with it. That basically, that was actually a payment through PayPal at the time rather than through Alibaba. She didn’t put in a dispute with PayPal to get that money back and funny enough, just this morning it’s come back into my account, two months later on the day.
Again, it’s situation of, “Hey look, you will get your money back, you need to go through PayPal, you need to call them,” and if you’ve ever called PayPal internationally, they are quite frustrating to deal with. I end up talking with certain people before getting to the right ones, there are some lessons learned from that one as well. If I just run through those, the key lesson is the disputes are going to take time, you can’t expect to get your money back within a week of requesting it. It takes time and patience, you’ve got to have patience otherwise you’re going to [inaudible] it will further delay the process.
The other lesson, China side inspection it's absolutely critical, for international sellers, 100% critical and I would probably even still do them on the product setup. Even though it’s a supplier I’m currently using, I would still do it, just to keep him knowing that I’m checking because I don’t want them to drop their game and leave me having an established product on Amazon, that I didn’t get rubbish, a rubbish shipment come in worth.
[00:26:53] SV: I think that’s a good point though, Blair as well, it’s like at least … Even if you did the first one and you didn’t tell me if you’re going to do the second one, it keep him on his toes,
[00:27:04] BQ: Yeah, For a couple of hundred bucks. I mean the last thing you want is stuff turning up in the States and it’s not good and then you’ve got to deal with the outcomes, it’s money, it’s everything.
[00:27:16] SV: I like that, yeah.
[00:27:18] BQ: Yeah, trade assurance, critical, if you’re on Alibaba and you’re looking for suppliers, go through the process that you said in one of your podcasts, I think you went through the different sign offs or-
[00:27:35] SV: Yeah, they’ve got a couple of filters, they’ve got the filters built in and you’re only going to see the ones that have trade assurance, the ones that are gold suppliers, you can even do the ones that have their facilities checked by Alibaba and there’s been an on-site inspection, if you want to go that deep but I would say, definitely trade assurance and then the gold supplier is key.
[00:27:53] BQ: Yeah, yeah, definitely, absolutely, trade assurance is your insurance once you’re on Alibaba, so that’s the only way you’re going to get your money back. I might have just gotten a couple of bad eggs overnight but certainly you’ll need to have these backup supplies. Again, the other thing is use PayPal, PayPal have got a really good dispute system setup. Disputes are worth having massive argument. I mean we weren't having a massive argument, it was just a facility to get the refund of the deposits.
[00:28:33] SV: Then you can see the messaging back and forth too, it will say like a message has been sent to seller, message has been sent to buyer and they kind of have like a track record or a paper trail in a sense, of all of the conversation back and forth. It is nice to be able to have that. The only problem is sometimes, you’re not going to be able to find suppliers that are going to accept PayPal, they’re only going to accept Wire transfer and that’s even riskier because now you’re giving them money, to get that back what are you going to do, right?
[00:29:01] BQ: Yeah, it is, with Alibaba, I almost look at it from the point of view that well given the amount of supplies and agents there are on there, you’re going to be able to in general, find multiple suppliers for the products you’re looking for. If one person demands certain terms of you for payment and the other person's accepting PayPal and trade assurance then that's part and parcel of who you choose as your supplier so I would be going for the safety first option.
[00:29:35] SV: Then even using almost against the other one in a sense, in a good way, where you’re saying, “I’d love to do business with you, I love your sample and I love the quality but we are our company has a strict rule that we need as a trade assurance and we need to have it being paid through PayPal, and if they don’t accept it, they don’t, they might do it.”
I’ve got one right now that’s kind of been threatening me to not use Escrow anymore. They were telling me after the first of the year that they weren’t going to offer Escrow and I’ve been using Escrow with them forever and I love it because I pay on my credit card and it’s held and it’s not released till I give the okay, and all that stuff and it’s beautiful. But they pay a little bit of more money for that and I’m okay with helping them out with that and I even told them that but there’s a longer delay for when they get their money.
They were telling me that they were not going to offer that after the first of the year. Well guess what, I didn’t place an order until the way after the first of the year and then they contact me and they go, “Hey, are you looking to order another shipment? We’re ready, we’ve got probably six-week lead time right now, it’s going to get longer but we’d really like to keep your business.” I just basically wasn’t ready to order anymore but then I just kind of let it go and about four, five days later, they contact me back again, my agent and she’s like, “ Just want to let you know if Escrow’s a problem we’ve decided to let you still use Escrow.”
I’m like, “Okay, I didn’t even plan on that but that’s cool.” Because I was planning on starting to pay wire transfer and now I’m like, “Okay, cool, that just kind of worked for me because I was just a little lazy as far as getting back to them I was kind of all set and now I still get to use my Escrow.
[00:31:06] BQ: Sometimes silence works very well.
[00:31:07] SV: Yeah, who knows but yeah, I mean you have to go into this thing understanding there’s risk, right? I mean we all know that and that’s why starting off at maybe smaller order, learning the process, seeing the communication, seeing how everything is kind of connected together and seeing their quality and I’ve told people even if you receive your sample, see how it's packaged, see how if it’s duct-taped together, taped together and it’s all damaged and everything, you’re like, “Well, maybe that’s carelessness on their part.” Yeah, I love that.
[00:31:40] BQ: The other thing that people can do is make sure you use the contracts in Alibaba, so there’s a contract form that you can use and you can put detail in there as part of what the agreement you have with your supplier on what they’re going to provide. The example I used with the PayPal payment who changed the terms after I paid my deposit. If I’d used the contract and had those details and description of what she was going to supply within that contract, that would just give me another sort of I guess back up of, you agree to these terms as part of this bit of paper. That’s something that people should probably look into to start doing the orders, to start making sure that contract form that’s in there and just get that agreement, sort of in writing from the supplier and there's less opportunity for them to sneak out of the deal.
[00:32:39] SV: Yeah, I like that and I think if you’re using Escrow, it kind of does it for you, because you’re using that right through Alibaba. Like right now, literally, I think this afternoon I’ve got ahead into my account and I’ve got an invoice that’s heading there and it’s through the Escrow. I’ve got to confirm that what she put through in the invoice that I’m okay with and I confirm it. Once I confirm it and I pay my 30% then she goes ahead and put's it in production.
Literally, the thing with Escrow which is so awesome is that, once I get the items and I get them inspected and for me I do it here myself, I don’t directly ship as of yet, I’m going to be soon but they don’t get the money released even on the deposit until I confirm that I’m happy with it.
That money is sitting there in the cloud somewhere and they don’t get it. Like you’re saying, if there’s something wrong, if you don’t use Escrow, what you’re saying is if you go through the Alibaba channel you’re going to have that documentation, that paper trail, that you kind of have signed off on and then that’s what you can go back and say, “No, no, no they said this, this isn’t what it is because the inspection company said its supposed to be like this and it’s not and that stuff.” Is that what you’re saying?
[00:33:55] BQ: Yeah, basically, yeah. It’s just getting as much as you can behind you that’s recorded, I suppose, that you can then go through either Alibaba or PayPal and provide documentation because they allow you to upload documents you know as part of their dispute process. You can upload an email or you can upload a contract and say, “Hey, look this is what we agreed on.” It’s kind of a bit like the court, they kind of look at it from a point of view of well, this person said this, this person did this, and who’s right and who’s wrong. The more info you can keep and just keep documentation is the key really.
[00:34:43] SV: Yeah, yeah, it’s kind of like you said, it’s kind of like in the court, it’s the evidence. It’s where we’re keeping a trail and you can’t deny the evidence right, it’s like it’s there, it’s signed off on but if you’re doing this off of Alibaba then you really better make sure you have other documentation in place that you are having them sign or whatever but I would say try to go through a channel like Alibaba to at least facilitate the documentation.
[00:35:12] BQ: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:35:13] SV: Is there any other bits of advice that you wanted to give us about ordering and paying or is that pretty much everything right there that we talked about?
[00:35:23] BQ: That’s pretty much all the lessons that I’ve got I suppose the general process might sort of last six months is … I guess for people, guys starting out new, is this is not a one-step process, this is about 2 or 300 hundred step process. Each day, if you’re chipping away the next thing, you will get to the end but don’t come into this thinking you’re going to get a product, jerk it on there, and away you go. You know that would be naive but don’t get, I guess, frustrated by the process because it does take time.
You hear stories on your podcasts with guys that have come out and they’ve got the product online pretty quick. That’s probably not the norm, I think it takes a bit longer than that and if you’re being careful and you’ve got a process, you just got to stick with what’s next, what am I doing tomorrow and plan it out and you will get there.
[00:36:25] SV: It’s all about chipping away. I always refer to the book, ‘The Compound Effect', Darren Hardy. It’s about the one little thing that you can do every single day and you have to decide what that is but if you were thinking about these obstacles before you got there, like let’s say you’re in the product research stage but you’re like, “But I’m going to have problems over here.” Then you start focusing on those problems, well you’re not ever going to get your product researched right?
You have to stay in the phase or the 200th step right? You have to get there so you have to do the first ten before you can worry about the 99th or the 100th. You really just have to really chunk it down and just go through and go into it. I think you had a few more extra obstacles because you did decide to go by boat, I think that could have been eliminated. I could have saved you a ton of hassle there if you would have just went the other route but you decided to go the other way, that’s okay. You know what, you learned, you know what to do.
It doesn’t mean you won’t do it again, you just learned now very fast, what it takes to do sea shipping and kind of like the inspection thing, you’ve learned all about that. You’ve learned all those, those are lessons learned, those are like things you can take with you now and again, now you’re able to share it with us and help us through the protecting yourself and being through that because I really haven’t talked to anyone even on the show, about anyone having major issues about payment.
This is good. I want to bring light to these because it is out there and you hear some people talking about it but not really in detail and kind of like what we should do to protect ourselves. This has been really, really good and I want to thank you again Blair for coming on and we definitely have to do a follow-up with you because you’re on your way, you got what, two products now that you’re getting ready to launch the next two and then you’ve got the next two you’re going to be… You got six products that you’re going to launch, I think that’s awesome and yeah, I think it will be interesting to follow up with you and see where you’re going with this.
I know you and I talked a little bit before we got on and you were kind of talking about how I’ve been talking about kind of like the next phase or the next wave for me personally taking the brand off of Amazon and building that channel, so that will be next, and I know you said that that’s kind of what you’re thinking as well moving forward. Yeah, it’s exciting stuff and what we’re building a business right and I mean you’ve built other businesses so it’s part of the process right?
[00:38:51] BQ: Definitely, yeah, yeah, I mean it’s all about nothing sits still, it’s all about let’s continual movement through your business and have what is your next step you’re going to take. It’s exciting stuff, we’re really enjoying what we’re doing my wife and I, and we’re right here in Shanghai in two weeks to meet some suppliers and go to some factories so that will be interesting.
[00:39:17] SV: Oh, nice.
[00:39:18] BQ: Another sort of angle to the whole thing but again it’s just that nice sort of ability to meet some people and actually put a face to that name on that email, tighten up that relationship going forward and it will be interesting to see how that works out.
[00:39:35] SV: Yeah, definitely, you’ll have to give us some follow-up on that as well. I’ve heard a lot of people going there and a lot of people walk away with like you said, even if it’s just two or three connections, those connections are gold because you’re going to find products or be able to have them find products for you that you are looking for that might not be listed right? That’s the beauty, finding products that not everyone is seeing on Alibaba and if you can start to really kind of dig down inside of their catalogs or have them to be able to say, “Yeah, we can get that.” That’s key, that’s huge.
[00:40:07] BQ: Yeah, I mean we’ve got some ideas that we’re going to talk to them about and it’s kind of … It’s about how to do it over email and it’s sort of compiling a whole lot of their products into a kit. It’s going to be one of those ones where we need to walk around the showroom and pick out local products rather than getting boxes as a sample sent down to a museum. Yeah, it’s going to be good.
[00:40:34] SV: That’s awesome definitely keep us posted. Hey, I want to thank you again, Blair this has been awesome, I also want to thank you for teaching me how to say, “Cheese, mite,” it was funny, I told my wife that this morning when we were getting my daughter on the bus, I told her about that voicemail that you sent me she was dying, it was funny.
[00:40:53] BQ: That’s awesome and look thank you for all you do. … Your world of knowledge and the podcasts they're great assets, so I know all of the 20000 listeners that you’ve got start to have this resource that we can use each day.
[00:41:10] SV: I appreciate that and I’m just again documenting my journey and kind of going through this and being able to meet people like you is just a bonus, it’s just the icing on the cake and I get to learn lessons and then bring them to other people to share them, so it’s a beautiful thing. Hey have fun on your journey there, picking out your new products in China, so that will be interesting and yeah, keep me posted and good luck to you and if you hear anything else that you need to add or whatever, definitely keep me posted and we’ll definitely keep everyone else updated as well.
[00:41:45] BQ: Sounds good Scott, thanks very much.
[00:41:47] SV: All right, take care Blair.
[00:41:49] BQ: Cheers, mate.
[00:41:50] SV: Okay so there you have it, another great conversation with someone’s story, with someone’s experience and we all get to benefit from that. This is probably one of the most scariest things is taking your hard-earned money and then releasing it out there to a supplier, and then hoping, hoping and praying that you receive your product and that it comes as you guys kind of agreed upon and everything was there as you expected it to be.
You can see by him going through a third party inspection company, that also helped him not send bad inventory into Amazon, which is another lesson learned. Definitely, definitely glad that Blair was able to share this, hopefully you’ve gotten something out of this and when you move forward in this understanding that you can go ahead and put these different things in place to make it easier and less risky when you do move forward.
All right guys, so that is going to wrap up this episode, I do want to remind all of you that are brand new or fairly new to the show and new to this whole Amazon FBA thing and you’re not even past the product research stage yet, if you want to attend one of the live workshops that I do that walks you through the five phases for launching a product, everything from product selection, to product sourcing, to the pre-launch to the launch and then to the promotion stage, you’re going to want to attend one of the live workshops that I do. It’s totally free, all you have to do is sign up and register for it at theamazingseller.com/workshop once again that’s theamazingseller.com/workshop. We do live Q&A there as well, we’d love for you to attend.
All right guys, so that is going to wrap it up for this episode, remember, remember this, I’m here for you, I believe in you and I’m rooting for you but you have to, you have to … Come on, like always, let’s say it together, let’s say it loud and let’s say it very, very proud, “Take action.” Have an awesome, amazing day and I’ll see you guys right back here on the next episode.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/workshop – register for the free, live workshop
- Alibaba and AliExpress
- Trade Assurance
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