What are your current struggles in building your Amazon private label business? Do you have the resources you need in order to deal with those hurdles effectively? If you don’t, this is the episode for you. This is a Friday edition of the Amazing Seller, which means that it’s an “Ask Scott” episode. These are episodes where Scott fields question from Amazon sellers about the confusion and issues they are dealing with in their own Amazon business. This is a ‘real life’ episode where you will receive clear, thoughtful, powerful answers to help you with your Amazon business.
Amazon allows me to create “money off” offers on my products. Can I mention those in my product listing?
The Amazon promotions platform allows you to create all kinds of promotional offers on your private label products to motivate and drive sales. A listener today asks if there are any rules in the Amazon terms of service that say you cannot mention or point to those discount offers in within your product listing itself. Scott’s as honest as he can be in response to this question and gives his own guidelines in light of the fact that Amazon’s TOS are not all that clear on this issue. You can hear the voice of experience about this important issue on this episode.
When should I form a LLC for my business?
Amazon sellers need to learn to think of their activity on Amazon AS a business, not a hobby. Part of that means organizing yourself as a business entity. A listener today asks Scott how he can know when he’s reached the point to organize his company as a LLC. Do you know when is the right time? Today Scott is going to answer the question with a lot of options and a ton of resources that can help you make the best decision for your situation. Hear it all on this episode.
When my competition is all sourcing from the same China supplier. Should I differentiate my product or just use the same one?
Almost anyone can determine a profitable niche for their first private label product and get the product from a China supplier. In fact, that’s how most sellers on Amazon get their start. But what should you consider if all of the competition in a niche you’re considering are all doing that and obviously have the very same product from the same Chinese supplier? Scott’s got concerns about jumping into the fray with little to differentiate your product from the competition and he shares those concerns on this episode. If you’re considering a new product launch on Amazon, this response could save you lots of headaches in the future.
Would you like your own, 10-day private label action course for free?
If you would like to learn how to find a profitable private label products, research it for sales potential, find a supplier for it, get your first order made, and get those products onto the Amazon sales platform, you’re in the right place. Scott’s got a free private label course that you can walk through at your own pace. For 10 days he’ll send you an email, each one containing a different step in the private label track to success. Listen to this episode of the podcast to find out how you can get your own free private label course, sent directly to your inbox.
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:03] Scott’s introduction to the podcast!
- [1:00] How you can connect with Scott on Periscope and Snapchat
- [2:20] QUESTION ONE: I just set a “money off” offer – how much can I promote that within my listing?
- [10:57] QUESTION TWO: When should I think about forming an LLC?
- [15:39] QUESTION THREE: Most of my competition gets the product from the same supplier on Alibaba. Should I differentiate?
- [26:03] How you can get your own free private label course.
TRANSCRIPT TAS 190
TAS 190 : Ask Scott Session #55 – Your Amazon FBA Questions
[00:00:04] SV: Hey, hey what’s up everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Amazing Seller podcast. This is episode number 190 and session number 55 of Ask Scott. This is where I answer your questions here on the podcast and actually today, you may hear a little bit in the background in the Brody’s taking a nap here, he’s snoring. I just took, don’t know if you can hear that or not…
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…just did a Snapchat and posted a little snap of him snoring. He is sleeping hard because he plays hard.
I just wanted to share that with you. If you hear that, I apologize and I want to welcome you guys back to another session of Ask Scott, number 55 by the way and episode 190, I can’t believe it. We’re cruising right along here. I want to thank each and every one of you that tune in every Friday to the Ask Scott sessions or if you’re listening to this on a replay, not a replay, well, I guess after it’s been published day, I guess you would call it. It is a replay all the time, right? It’s a download, it’s an episode.
Wanted to also remind you guys that if you wanted more TAS and just a little bit more interaction with myself you can always head over to Periscope.tv download the app if you haven’t done so already and then just search for me at Scott Voelker and you will find me and then you’ll hear a little “whistles” when I do a Periscope or scope as they call it and we can do more of this but more live atmosphere where we can hang out and that’s what I do and its awesome.
I love it. I’ve just been recently doubling with Snapchat and that’s what I’ve been doing here, kind of giving daily snaps of either what’s on my mind or maybe what Brody’s doing or what I’m doing or just anything. In this case it’s Brody snoring right now so that’s what I was snapping on because I think it’s pretty funny that I’m sitting here in my office, he’s at my feet and he’s snoring away. I guess he’s not interested in the Ask Scott sessions.
All right, we’re going to move on. I just wanted to say thank you guys so much for attending. I really do love doing these Ask Scott sessions and hanging out with you. Like I said it’s like us sitting around a coffee shop, just hanging out and just having a great time talking about business. Thank you for coming back and getting ready to jump in here. Let’s go ahead and listen to the first question for this week and I’ll go ahead and I’ll give you my answer.
[00:02:26] Jason: Hey Scott, my name is Jason. First of all thank you so much for your excellent podcast, I love everything that you’re doing here, it’s a great show. You’ve heard all the compliments already but yes, thank you again. Thank you very much. My question is regarding Amazon promotional offers. I recently set up a money-off offer in my Amazon seller account that allows my Amazon customers to save, for example $5 when they buy two items of one of my listings. My question is how much can I promote that offer within my listing? I know Amazon adds a little snippet within the listing itself kind of around the middle of the page but I want to really make it prominent and obvious so can I add secondary images to the listing that highlight and explain the promo? Can I add details about the promo in the bullets and can I add the details about the promo in the product description itself?
These are kind of Amazon terms of service questions. I’ve sort of scoured Amazon’s terms of services, service points about promo offers in these areas and I haven’t really seen anything that says that you cannot do this except obviously the main image of the product and the title of the product. I’d love to hear your answer, thanks in advance and thank you for doing such a great show.
[00:03:56] SV: Hey Jason, thank you so much for the question and very, very clear and clean audio I have to say, sounded really, really good so thank you for that. Yeah, just wanted to say thanks for being a listener, I’m glad that you’re getting value and I really glad that you’re here today asking this question because it’s a good question. I may have touched on it before but we’re talking about terms of service again here and I don’t think anyone knows 100% and I don’t know if Amazon does either but if they even know what the terms of service is, what it is today and what it is tomorrow. Yes, there is some print there and they give you what they want you to abide by but I have to say, a lot of times it’s not that clear.
Even like on their images, they want the image, the main image to be on a pure white background but it also says that very minimal amount of prop, so what is a prop? A prop is a person or it could be a hand or it could be something that’s holding up the item. It’s really unclear exactly what it is but we kind of get an idea. I think the same thing goes with could you have some type of image, not the main image, secondary image that talked about a special offer? You probably could. I don’t know if it’s within the terms of service. I probably would say it’s not but if you ask three different people in the support department, one may say it’s okay, one may say it’s not and the other one might say, I don’t know.
I’m not really sure and I don’t want to give you what I think you should do, me personally I have done it. I had one listing where they contacted me and said that they wanted me to remove it. I have one that’s been running for a very long time and I think I even still have it there. I do have it there. I don’t know if it’s going to get you in trouble. I don’t want to say that it won’t if it will but I would just be careful with that. I’m not really sure of the effect of having it there, if it’s going to be that beneficial. I don’t really have any clear data to tell you whether it is or it isn’t. What I will say is that you are able to put it in the promotion section, right? That’s what it’s there.
They want everything in each part to be kind of like following those guidelines. If you’re doing a bullet, they want that to be within a certain amount of characters and they want it to be bold. They don’t want it all caps, like they have some rules there that they are pretty clear but they don’t tell you, you technically can’t put a certain word in there but they do say, I believe they say this that they don’t want any promotional material in bullets. That would say probably not a good idea to put it in there.
[00:06:35] SV: Now, I did an episode with Karon Thackston. She specializes and is pretty much an expert in Amazon listings as far as optimization and up to date all of the terms of service stuff that she’s hearing but even she said that she’s very unclear on some of them. She’s trying to get more I guess clear answers but in this case I would say probably not put it in there and even though you are going to see this and I know this is very frustrating for a lot of people, they’re going to see that in the title. You’re going to see “Thanksgiving Special”, you can’t do that. You’re not supposed to do that. Then they’re going to have in their bullet, the top bullet it might say, “special Black Friday sale.” I believe that’s not allowed but people are doing it. You may say, “Well, if they’re doing it I’m going to do it.” that’s true but they might just have not got caught yet.
I’ve even heard of people getting contacted by Amazon saying that you’re doing something wrong and then them saying, “10 other people are on the same exact keyword.” and they’re like, “Well, we just haven’t gotten around to them yet.” Something silly like that. I guess my thoughts on this would be try to do your best to stay within terms of service, at least how you interpret them. I can’t say for sure but I don’t think Amazon would like ban you. I think they would warn you and then from there you’d have to take care of it. They could maybe suppress your listing for a period of time. I wouldn’t want to take those chances especially I wouldn’t want to advise you to take those chances. I would say try to stick to where they want you to out that promotion and use some language in that promotion that gets the attention. That might be the case.
Now, I do know in the promotion, it doesn’t work for everyone but when you put certain words in your promotion they will also show up in your description in a sense to where you’re scanning the listing. If you’re searching for something and you see page one results and then you see like there’s a little descriptor on there, sometimes that descriptor will say what the coupon is or that the special is. It doesn’t work for everyone and I’ve got a few listings that it has and some it hasn’t and it kind of picks from where it pulls but that’s another option you might want to play around and until something shows up that looks like it could say “Special $5 off” or something like that and that could show up.
[00:08:55] SV: That could help your click-through rate, doesn’t mean it’s going to help your conversion rate. That’s what I would probably play around with first because then you’re not really doing anything wrong, you’re just filling in the promotions area and then capitalizing on that being fed into that descriptor. Again, that’s going to take some testing to see where they’re going to pull that from.
As far as putting in your description, yeah again, I mean you can put something in there in your description that talks about your business and your offers and stuff. I’m not 100% sure if that’s against the terms of service but I would probably feel more safe there than I would in a bullet or in an image but again I don’t think we have a clear answer. I’m going to leave that one up to you but if you think that it’s going to drive more sales then maybe. I think honestly if you stick to the promotion area and then make that call-out, maybe add more than one, two, I think that might be a strategy because if you add more than one offer then you will see that it will start to list them. It will start to list them to where you will see more than just the one offer so you might have buy two, get this, buy three get this, buy four, get this so this way here you have different promotions running for different quantities and then that way there it will also make the promotion area bigger because you’re going to have more options.
The other thing is if you have more than one product then when you start to sell feed those, that’s going to also show not in all categories but it will show sometimes a “buy now” or “add to cart” button inside of there and that will also draw attention to that or draw the eyeballs there. Again, I know I didn’t clearly come out and say, “Yes, do it.” but I want to say here is just be cautious, be aware and do what you feel is right and also think about if you think it will make that much of a difference when it comes to conversions, all right? Hopefully that’s helped you and anyone else listening. Keep the questions coming guys. If you have a question you want me to answer here on a show like this just head over to the amazingseller.com/ask and I’ll do my best to answer it on an upcoming show. All right, let’s go ahead and listen to the next question and I’ll give you my answer.
[00:11:00] Rob: Hey Scott, my name’s Rob. I’m in Austin Texas, digging the podcast, digging your step by step, digging a lot of things that you doing man. Keep up the good work, you’re motivating and inspiring a lot of people. My question is about when to do an entity formation like an LLC to protect your small business where you do in FBA, any thoughts?
[00:11:23] SV: Hey Rob in Austin what’s up man? Thanks for digging the show, I love it. We’re digging the show and I got some people saying they’re gobbling up the show. I love it. I love the comments that we're getting as far as how you’re consuming the show. Cool. I got people that are just slamming through it or they’re jamming through it, love it. All right, cool. I want to thank you for the question and it’s a good question. I’ve touched on this before. I’m going to give you guys some episodes that I’ve talked about it but I am going to put a little disclaimer in here. I am not a legal advisor or any type of attorney, I don’t claim to be and I’ve never even played one on TV. I’ve never, never played an attorney.
I just want to let you guys know I think that you have to go out there and ask a professional and then get their take before you make any decision. I think that would be the smart move. Here’s what I did, here’s what I would do moving forward if I was starting over today. That is what I will tell you. First off, I had a CPA on who we talked about the different forms of a business. You have an LLC, you have an S Corp, C Corp, all of those. That was a great, great episode that was 143, again I’ll link these up in the show notes and that’s episode 143, so theamazingseller.com/143, Josh Bauerly, CPA on fire.
He came on, we talked about all those different entities and which one would be best. Episode 14, all the way back to episode 14 I did an episode that I titled, “What do I need to set up my Amazon business?” trademark, LLC, accounting, all that stuff. That one there is episode 14. Again I’ll link these up on the show notes. Now, here’s the deal, it really depends, for me personally I’m in New York state so to get an LLC in New York state it’s like an 8 to a 10 week process. It’s about $1000 process.
If I was just starting again today I would probably do everything the exact same way that I started. I didn’t have an LLC when I started because it was going to cost me a grand to even think about it and then from there, I was just wanting to test this space and see if it was worth it. Well, shortly after I did form the LLC. I found out how much a pain in the butt it is to live in New York State because they make you jump through a bunch of hoops and paperwork and you had to have a listing in the paper for six weeks, see if anybody contested it and all that stuff.
I formed another one in North Carolina because that’s where I’m going to be moving and that was about a two-week process, not even a two-week process but a week and a half process, had my LLC, good to go. It depends where you live, is how hard it will be. I used Legal Zoom and then I used another one actually my accountant actually set up the other one for me so I was a lot easier of a process. Legal Zoom does a great job too to break it down. But again, I think it’s all about the individual, where you are in this process, how hard it is for you to create one and basically, an LLC to me, what it does is it solidifies that you have a business. It does also, and I’m going to put this in air quotes, from what my attorney said is it kind of protects your assets pretty much as far as your personal assets because your LLC is your business.
[00:14:40] SV: Once you have an LLC you‘ll have a checking account. Any business that funnels into that checking account is technically the business so if you get sued, whatever, they can go after that. That doesn’t mean that they can’t find a way or a loophole to find a way to you so that’s why you would probably want to then look into product liability insurance and all that stuff that helps to protect your personal stuff. You want to make sure that you do that as well. That’s what my thoughts are on that. Do it when you can. I would definitely do it though.
I would say form an LLC because I think it’s an important and I think it will legalize you in a way too. It will make you a real business, it will give you a real checking account, not that you can’t be a step in the right direction. I would say when you feel it’s time, then it’s time. I would probably ask your attorney or your accountant and see what they think as well. Hopefully that’s helped. Let’s go ahead and listen to one more question and I’ll give you my answer.
[00:15:43] Nazr: Hi Scott, I recently started watching your podcast and I can only speak good things about it. Recently I have found my niche, my market but one of the dilemmas I have is all the products on the top five or ten, most of them are from the exact same supplier, from Alibaba so onto my question. Is it worth me spending the additional money to get my order customized to set myself apart from the competitors or am I better of just buying the exact same product at a lower price and try to beat the competition with things like pay-per-click or general advertising or giveaways?
[00:16:24] SV: Well, hey there Nazr, thank you so much for your question and you didn’t give me your first name but I knew it because when it came through on the Speakpipe email it said Nazr so that’s how I knew it so hopefully I pronounced it right and hopefully it’s you. Thanks for the question. Yeah, this is a great question by the way and I don’t think it’s one that I’ve really directly answered so it’s kind of cool to answer this because this is my thoughts on this. If you were to ask me this question, which you did by the way, but if we were sitting in that coffee shop that I talk about so often, my thoughts would be this.
I’d be very careful because now you have nothing that separates you. You just have four people that are selling the identical product, nothing that separates you at all and now you’re going to start competing on price and that’s not a good place to be. I know that first hand right now. I have a product that I started with that I’m constantly battling on price now. It’s my own fault because I launched a product not knowing any better and then people came in and I didn’t do much to differentiate it but it’s still selling today and it’s still doing okay. I’m not saying you can’t do that, it’s just going to be harder and it’s not going to be more of a long-term play. I’m right now, currently, finding other ways to diversify and find other products that I can be more unique and I’m trying to learn from those mistakes. I would definitely say be careful.
I would, first off, go into the reviews of those four products or five products and I would start digging into those reviews, especially the negative reviews and seeing what people are saying about those products that they dislike because this is going to tell you what you can improve. I just did a coaching call the other day and let me pull a little side note here too. I get people that say, “Scott, you just said that you did a coaching call. I’ve emailed you before and I asked if you did coaching calls and you said you didn’t.” and that is still true. I still currently don’t do coaching calls but what I do is I do a coaching call for people that attend the workshop that win after they join our class. I have a paid class that people join and if you’re on a workshop you kind of understand what I mean. We do like a virtual raffle that’s a thirty minute coaching call so I raffle off a coaching call to any new student that joins, anyway, just wanted to put that out there.
I don’t currently do coaching calls but I do coaching calls for the ones that win them. I did this 30-minute coaching call with this gentleman and it was very, very similar to this because he was looking at products that potentially could be a good product but how do you differentiate? He was thinking, “Well, I could do this and I could do that. This would be good and I was thinking if I did this, it wouldn’t be good because they would like this.” and I’m like, “Well, let's just back up here for a second. Maybe what you should do is look and see what people are actually saying they wish the product had or what they were expecting and didn’t receive.” because a lot of times that’s what they were going to say. “I thought the product was going to be much bigger. It didn’t fit like I thought it would.” or “I thought the product was going to have a screw on cap and it was a push on cap. I really wish it had the screw on cap.”
Well, these are things that you were hearing directly from the market. This is what you want to listen too. This is how you want to create your different style product or your add-on. Maybe someone saying that they love the product but they wish it came with this certain accessory, so guess what, you create one that has a certain accessory and now you’ve done it. Maybe you see this one product that four or five people are selling the same thing and then you see frequently bought together and those are a great pair and now you do a bundle. Now when you do a bundle now all of a sudden you’re not just selling the one product, you’re selling the two together and now you are different, okay.
I do think that if you can customize that product without it being a huge deal like I’m talking like not having to create a brand new mold that’s going to cost you eight grand or something like that. If you can do something that can separate yourself with just a few little tweaks because it’s not that hard for them to tweak it, adding on something or taking something away or making something a little bit larger, something like that and then you can fix a problem that you’re reading through these reviews, especially if you got four people or five people selling that exact same thing, well you’ve got four or five listings that you can look at their reviews and then see exactly what people are complaining about.
[00:20:50] SV: The other thing is not just those, but dig into the other people that are selling that’s not the exact product but does the same thing and see what they’re talking about that they really like or they don’t like and then just starting to learn that. I think if we start to dig into those things, that right there will make it that much better when you go to launch that product.
I’ll give you an example. I’m looking at a product right now that it’s, again, coming from China, so people are getting instructions and it’s saying that they are really annoyed that the instructions are coming, not in Chinese, they’re coming in English but they’re coming in millimeters. They want them to come in inches because in the state that’s how we measure everything, is by not centimeters, not millimeters. We do them by inches so they want stuff done by inches so a quick fix would be to just have another guide that puts this thing together and translate that into inches. That’d be a simple way to fix that and then you wouldn’t get those negative reviews as well.
Just again, you need to listen and you need to look and see what other people are talking about and complaining about especially and then try to fix that problem and then they key is to then highlight that thing that you fixed and make sure that people know that yours is better because it does this or it has this, right. That way you can be a level up from your competition all right. There is my thoughts on that. I know your question was kind of short but my answer was kind of long, right? I think it’s important as we move forward here, we do need to find a way to differentiate ourselves and I think part of that is creating better products and then also a better user experience, I think that’s another one but creating a better product by looking at what the market has already said.
A great way to test products guys is to launch products to people. Years ago you would go and you would drive people to a website and then try to sell them a product or ask them if they’d be interested in a product before you even made it. That’s kind of how infomercials worked. I don’t know if you guys know that. A lot of times why it takes six to eight weeks to get your product and actually Chris Ducker talked about this when I had him on the podcast was they would do an infomercial, they would put all the money in the infomercial and they wouldn’t even create the product yet. They would sell the product, maybe have a prototype. They would sell to however many they had to sell in order to make it a full run. If not, they would just refund everybody the money and say that production wasn’t going to happen or whatever but this way here, they had six to eight weeks to manufactured.
SV: They had everything in place but this is the way they validated and verified before they went and they bought 30,000 units or something. Well, it’s the same thing with Amazon. We can do this similar stuff, even if we don’t launch the product, we can look at other people that have launched and then we can go ahead and take the data from the people that are reviewing it especially the negative ones because if you get positive ones, sometimes those can be promotions. The negative ones, those we know are going to be hardcore because people are giving it a three star, two star, one star, we can look at that stuff and we can fix it and that’s how you can validate a product without even having to launch it. You can just validate that it’s selling and then you can do a better job at it.
I guess a really great thing here would be is if you found a product that’s selling well with three and a half star reviews, right, with people still complaining but people still buying it. Then, you come in and you fix those problems, make those problems go away and now you get a five star product because you fixed all those problems that everyone else was complaining about but no one else has one that, you can do that. All right, so that’s it. End of rant on that. I think that we can be doing that moving forward. I know I’m currently working on that as well. Again, I’m not preaching here. I am just literally telling you what’s going through my mind as I’m going through this with you, moving from here, moving through the landscape of Amazon because things are changing.
It is getting a little bit more competitive, we all know that but when people say, “Is there still a place for me to go? Can I still go launch a product?” Absolutely. It’s just you got to go in there and you got to create better products and that could be, to me it really can go at any price point especially if you go between 20 and $50, somewhere in that range. Obviously, the higher price point products, they are going to be a little bit easier because it’s harder for people to get into those but I still think there’s room for people in there that want to launch a $20 product as long as you can find a product that has a demand and you can make a better product or a better spin or a better bundle. That’s it, rant over.
All right, so that is pretty much going to wrap up this session of Ask Scott. What I want to do is remind you a couple of things.
[00:25:21] SV: First off, remind you that if you want to ask a question, just head over to the amazingseller.com/ask, leave your first name, leave your question. I’ll do my best to air it on the show and that would be great, would love to hear from you. The second thing is if you want to connect with me on Periscope, head over to periscope.tv, download the app, search from Scott Voelker and then from there you’ll be connected. Just follow me and you’ll get any notifications. We can hang out there live, lot of fun and then Snapchat, that’s my newest one. I’m playing around with, like I said, Brody was snoring.
Recently, I just took a snapshot of him and then going to be doing some daily rants over there maybe, so definitely go over and check me out on snapchat. My username over there is ScottVolker1, again that’s ScottVolker1, you can find me there. Last thing, if you guys are brand spanking new and you’re just tuning in, first off, thank you so much for hanging out with us today. Hopefully you’ve learned something and if you want a roadmap to get started, I’ve created a free resource for you, okay. You can head over to freeprivatelabelcourse.com, again that’s freeprivatelabelcourse.om you’ll sign up with your first name and your email address and then you’ll get 10 days’ worth of lessons. I’ll give you a lesson each day for 10 days and then from there it walks you through the entire process from start to finish and really get your head wrapped around this whole business model. All right. Definitely, definitely go check out that resource I created for you.
All right, so that is it. That is going to wrap it up. This has been awesome. I love hanging out with you guys. Please come back and hang out with us once again or maybe take me on the run with you. Maybe we can burn some calories together, that would be cool. Anyway guys, that’s it, that’s going to wrap it up. Remember, I’m here got you, I believe in you and I’m rooting for you but you have to, you have to … Come on say it with me, say it loud and say it very, very proud, “Take action.” Have an awesome amazing day and I’ll see you in the next episode.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- www.FreePrivateLabelCourse.com – get your own 10 day private label course.
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/ask – Ask your question for the podcast!
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/143 – episode about legal entities
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/14 – What do you need to set up your business?
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