Many people get hung up, never giving an online business or private label sales a go simply because they think they don’t have enough money. Today’s story should dispel all the myths floating around that say that you have to have a lot of cash to get started online. Ken is a regular guy who found a way to leverage $65 into $1,100 in profit in just 90 days and now has begun his own private label business that is doing very well. Even more incredible is a new service he’s begun to help Amazon sellers get their products handled for them. It’s an amazing story of ingenuity and drive that anyone can do, and you’re going to hear all the details on this episode of The Amazing Seller.
Retail arbitrage as a foot in the door.
Ken is a normal guy just like many of the TAS listeners. He spent a good deal of time listening to podcasts (including this one), learning about online business opportunities, and deciding to start generating a little bit of income by selling books through retail arbitrage on Amazon. Those steps enabled him to get some cash coming in to begin looking toward his own private label products. What happened for Ken can happen for anyone who is willing to do the work to make it happen. It’s a great example of hard work and action taking, so be sure you listen to Ken’s exciting story.
He found an amazing opportunity on Craigslist.
Ken was scrolling through the online classified site Craigslist one day and found a lot of discontinued or closeout stickers that he thought sounded interesting. He took a chance and bought all 1000 sticker packets for $65. It was that $65 investment that he was able to sell on Amazon for a profit of $1,100. It’s an example of how there are opportunities everywhere, you just have to know how to look for them and take advantage of them. It happens by taking action. Ken tells his story and gives some excellent tips on this episode.
Have you heard of Ken’s new venture – www.MyFBAPartner.com ?
As Ken has built his Amazon private label business he’s seen requests for good shippers, agents, repackaging services, and much more repeatedly in the private label communities he frequents. And having never seen good answers to some of those questions he decided to create his own company to meet those needs. It’s a company that provides receipt and shipping inspection, inventory and measurements, quality inspection, FBA preparation, Vendor materials, repackaging and shipment services, and a whole lot more. Ken’s offering a special discount to TAS listeners so be sure you pay attention to the end of the show to hear how you can get some free services from his company.
Is all this exciting talk about Amazon private label sales got you eager to give it a try?
Scott’s got an amazing live workshop that he does where he walks you through the 5 main steps to getting your own business and product up and running so that you can start making sales on Amazon. It’s incredible and absolutely free to you. You can find out more about that free workshop by listening to this episode so be sure you take action today. Your future and your business can be a reality, but it takes more than dreaming, it takes getting started. You can do it, What are you waiting for?
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:03] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
- [2:03] Your invitation to Scott’s free, live workshop.
- [3:30] Who Ken is and how he got into selling on Amazon.
- [11:07] How Ken went about verifying that books were good to sell on retail arbitrage.
- [14:39] Stepping out of retail arbitrage and into private label sales on Amazon.
- [20:17] How Ken started his Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns.
- [22:16] Bundling costs and options and how his profits worked out.
- [27:37] Choosing his first private label product: how he researched and differentiated.
- [31:23] The transition from air shipping to sea shipping.
- [32:56] Launching, numbers, price point, giveaways and first reviews.
- [39:00] Suppliers, building relationships, multiple products, increasing pricing.
- [44:20] What is www.MyFBAPartner.com ?
- [53:40] Ken’s giveaway for the TAS community.
- [57:38] Ken’s last piece of advice to FBA sellers.
TRANSCRIPT TAS 195
TAS 195 : How TAS Listener Turned $65 into $1,100 Profit in 90 Days (Real Story)
[00:00:03] SV: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone, welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller podcast. This is episode number 195 and today, I’m really excited to share with you another listener story and this one here is pretty cool because he’s going to share with us how he turned $65, that’s right, $65 and he turned it into $1,100 profit in 90 days. This is a real story, this is…
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…a case study and there is a whole lot of information that he shares with us that allowed him, this information he's going to share, it allowed him to actually start with very, very little and kind of learn the system and then from there, start to build out his private-label business.
That’s what I'm excited to share with you, it’s a longer episode and there was no reason for it other than we just kept diving and digging and just really getting into his story. There is a lot that we covered. If you've ever thought about retail arbitrage, this is going to be talked about. If you've ever thought about how to make money quicker so you can get started, this is going to help you. If you want to also hear about how to differentiate yourself when private labeling, this will be for you. There is a lot that we talked about inside of his story.
Again, I want to remind you guys, that’s why I love doing these stories because I learn from here, from doing these stories, I learn every single time because there's things that I don't know about certain parts of this business, I’ve never went down that path and he shares with us some really clever ways that he was able to get started with very, very little money. If you guys are thinking to yourself, “I’m brand-new, I’m not sure if I even want to get into this thing, I don’t have a lot of money to invest upfront.” This could definitely, definitely help you so you’re going to want to listen to this episode.
Now his name is Ken Willard, he's a regular guy just like you and me and if you're a woman, he's like a regular woman. While he’s a regular man but you get what I’m saying, he’s a regular person, nothing special. He just went out there and found a way and you’re going to hear how he did that. I want to remind you guys too that if you guys are brand-new to the podcast, if you’re brand new and you don't even know anything about this business or maybe you’re just starting to learn about this business, I want to invite you to a free workshop that I do.
[00:02:15] SV: It’s a live workshop where I jump on and we actually get to hang out for an evening and what I do is I breakdown the five phases for picking a product, for sourcing a product, for launching a product, for promoting a product. Everything in between we cover in this free workshop and I would love for you to attend if you're interested in learning more about this business. Again, if you’re brand new, this is perfect for you and I would love to invite you, so just head over to theamazingseller.com/workshop, you can register over there.
All right. I’m going to stop talking now because we have a lot to cover here inside of this interview I want you to listen, I want you to take notes, you may want to also download the transcripts for this which we now have included if you head over to the show notes page which is theamazingseller.com/195 and you can get the transcripts there, you can get the show notes and all that stuff.
Definitely head over and check that out once you've done listening you're going to want to have these because well there is a lot that we covered. Alright, so I’m going to stop talking now, sit back, relax and enjoy this interview I did with Ken Willard.
[00:03:32] SV: Hey Ken, how’s it going man? Thank you so much for coming on the show here. How’s it going?
[00:03:36] KW: I’m feeling excellent today Scott. Thanks for having me on and I appreciate you getting back to me and having me on your show here.
[00:03:43] SV: Yeah, I'm excited to dig into your story. I think it was a great email that you sent me, and you had a lot of cool twists and turns in your story which made me really want to talk to you about your journey. Why don’t we just kind of catch people up real quick as far as like who Ken is and kind of like how you got the idea of even get into selling on Amazon and this whole FBA thing?
[00:04:12] KW: Sure, sure, it was probably early 2015 when I realized that all those people that I was buying stuff from on Amazon for all these years because I was a pretty heavy Amazon buyer especially around Christmas time and stuff like that. I always knew that you either bought from Amazon or you looked for the sellers that was fulfilled by Amazon. I never really realized that that was something that a normal person could do with the right motivation. I assumed they were pretty much business, brick and mortar type businesses that you were buying from.
Early 2015, I came across an explanation of what Amazon FBA was really like. I really don’t even remember what it was, it was probably another podcast that I listened to and I just started looking into it and it intrigued me because I was probably such a heavy Amazon user and I had such a trust level in that platform for buying things. I thought, “This could be something, this to be an interesting opportunity.” I looked into it, shortly after that I discovered your podcast which was pretty new at the time. It had been around for a few months already.
I was trying to catch up on some of those episodes and listening to it. I was looking at more things to sell on Amazon. I also looked into the book area which is where I actually got started, while I was looking for something that had kind of a low-barrier entry which I didn’t know what that was at the time. Listening to your podcast more and more and learning more things, that really was a thing, I just didn’t know what it was. That’s actually how I got my feet wet on FBA was selling books.
[00:06:00] SV: We’re talking physical books though?
[00:06:03] KW: Actual physical used book market. These books are something that I love, I've always love and it just seemed a natural fit for me and actually still do it since it’s pretty hands off. That’s how I got my start. It was fun, it was low barrier to entry and the idea was I’m going to use this to raise some capital so I can eventually have my own product out there that wasn’t a book, whatever it was, I didn’t even know what it was going to be at the time. Just my own private-label product, something I can do to earn some capital while I am doing this product research and figuring out what to do.
[00:06:44] SV: How was that process, just real quick, so you get this idea, you're like a low barrier to entry? I’ll go out there, I’ll find some books, what kind of books are people looking for if they did want to even go down this. I have heard other people say like even college books, books that are pretty expensive, books could be good ones or they could just be a novel, what kind of books were you thinking that you could sell?
[00:07:08] KW: In my research, I looked at it pretty well. I kind of took the right path on it, when you’re an individual seller, if you’re just like me, like a guy selling stuff, you’re going to want to look for text books, you’re going to want to look for books that are specific to a particular niche, maybe history books, sometimes art books. Novels and things like that those are … Anything that’s pretty much non fiction. Those are the things that are selling for a penny plus shipping on Amazon and the big shops that can sell several thousand of those, maybe 10,000 even a day because they have this huge operation behind them.
So far for the average person, you’re looking for textbooks, you’re looking for books with some specificity to them, they have to do with a specific market like Fly Fishing in a certain part of the country. The history of a certain type of art or a certain even city or something like that really almost … It’s kind of funny because you think, “ The books that nobody wants, those are the books that you want.” If everybody wants it, you’re probably not going to make a penny out of it, if nobody wants it, you’ve probably got something there. That kind of a whole these system, like niche books, no mass market stuff or anything like that.
[00:08:31] SV: Where were you going to find these?
[00:08:34] KW: My biggest source for this is yard sales, when I was, doing for myself. Some sources they go out and buy stuff for me now but yard sale are huge. Smaller thrift shops in your local area are good. Some of the bigger thrift shops like Goodwill stuff like that. Those are dried up now because they are doing this as well, they’re taking the good books and they’re listing them on Amazon themselves. You’ll see Goodwill all over the country and their own Amazon accounts sort of like Salvation Army but smaller places, local church-run places.
People that tend to get esteemed by those stuff like that state sales, yard sales because people are getting rid of books. These are maybe professional people that have had these books for their career or as part of their hobby for a long time and now they’re just getting rid of them. Those things persist, other people have those hobbies and these books tend to be pretty sought after even over time. Then if you live in a College campus, you can easily get more than the College bookstores going to give so you have plenty of room to resell it on Amazon and make a tidy amount on it just because of the range, the college books plus some of these kids is almost nothing.
[00:09:57] SV: I was going to say you can even , I'm just thinking off the fly here, you could probably even put an ad even in Craigslist or one of those just saying, “College student, you want to sell your books you know call us first before you giving them back,” or something like that. You could have a flood of college kids calling you, they’re hard up for money they want to sell their books from the year is over so maybe they’ll cash the books in and you can get then be the middleman and resell them on Amazon, it’s probably a good strategy.
[00:10:24] KW: Oh yeah, there’s people out there that absolutely do that, even go to Craigslist or any College town around the finals time or end of semester and you’ll see those ads out there for sure.
[00:10:35] SV: That's cool, that's really cool. Okay, so we won’t drill too much in this. I think there are people that are listening that are like, “I need a ton of money to get started,” and that whole thing that we hear a lot and I always tell people the only person that's stopping you is you and that's because there's opportunity out there, whether it's selling used books or other used items that are being sold on Amazon right now. It’s a great way to start just raising your capital, whether it’s stuff laying around your house or apartment wherever. Let me ask you this real quick before we jump off of this and kind of get into your private labeling stuff.
Okay, so what were you doing though to really, I guess validate that you could verify, that you could potentially sell these books if you're sifting through, like if you're at a yard sale, are you taking your phone and keying in all of the ones that are interested or interesting to you and like you said they might not be that popular of a books or are you just kind of taking a chance because you think that it's rare and it could be. Give us a little about that?
[00:11:36] KW: There’s a number of products out there just like in FBA, people come up with data services and product services. There’s the same thing in the book market, there’s a number of scanning tools that you can get for your Android or your iPhone that really makes it a viable way to go. If you had to key stuff in or you had to search on the Amazon Fire app or something like that, it probably wouldn’t be viable at all because of the time it would take. I use something called FBA Scan, a lot of people use, there’s Profit Bandit.
There’s different ones and everybody has their favorite for whatever reason. You go in there and you scan everything with your camera or you can get one those like a little Bluetooth device that has a little laser scanner on it and you scan it on your UBC codes on your phone and it will bring up all the data, all the sales data. It will go to Camel Camel Camel if you want. It will show you what the highest FBA price is, who gets the buy box price on the existing stock and then it will show you the BSR.
Then there is just a combination of BSR and what the selling rate is which gives you a yes or no and whether you’re going to buy it. Then pretty quick after doing it for a while, you just get an eye because low can go no, no, no. You get an eye for what you can do and what you can’t do and honestly it’s not that hard after a little bit because 80% of what people sell are novels, fiction books and stuff, so you don’t even see that anymore, it’s just invisible to you and you’re going to pick up that book about cabinet making or something because it’s going to jump right at you, becomes easy. Then you have these guys, more just a validation of that eye that developed.
[00:13:30] SV: One last question is okay, when you have these used books is there any type of packaging you have to do to prep them to go into Amazon?
[00:13:38] KW: No just the evidence that you have to put on a back, you have to cover up, just like any other product, you have to cover up the UPC in which your ASIN sticker.
[00:13:49] SV: Okay.
[00:13:49] KW: Then if you’re selling a book that’s maybe oversize or it’s kind of fragile or it’s older or you want to make sure that it’s in a good condition, you can bubble wrap and anything like that but for the most part, you don’t do anything to them. Just on the ones that you think, “This could get damaged and I will get bad review because I’m saying it’s in a good condition but it’s got a bad corner when they get it. You can bubble wrap those. For the most part, just slap a sticker on it, make sure it’s clean, make sure there’s no labels, no writing and you pack it well and ship it in.
[00:14:26] SV: Okay, so yeah, that’s not too much work and it sounds like it could be worth it. Yeah I mean not like a huge amount of what you have to do to get it ready but there are guidelines of course. Okay so now let's talk a little bit about … Now moving into private labeling, you’re doing this, you made a little bit of money and now … Take me through your next step like what was the next step for you or the next aha moment. Take us through the next part of your journey.
[00:14:57] KW: Well, it goes back to something you said just a minute ago about the only thing that’s stopping you from doing it is you. I found out about FBA, I’m looking at it, I’m thinking about it, I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row. I’m just waiting basically, you're just waiting, you’re putting it off because you need to know that information, you need this, you need that, so you’re waiting. I come up with this grand scheme of selling these used books. That’s my plan I’m going to get some capital, I’m going to do this while I’m researching products. Then, even though you had talked about it in the episode before, the $500 products episode.
[00:15:37] SV: Yeah, yes that was episode 68 I believe.
[00:15:43] KW: That was something that was actually groundbreaking or new because I think you had talked about it way back in like 35 or something like that. You had mentioned a similar thing. I heard it before but I think before somebody actually did it and kind of slapped me on the face with it that I realized my whole plan of earning capital and doing this so I can do something, it was just a different form of waiting. It was a different form of keeping myself from doing something that I wanted to do and like you said, taking action. It wasn’t a bad thing because I was getting some money and doing that but I was putting off something that I didn’t need to put off.
The $500 project test kind of drove that home for me. That’s when I started really looking and I said, “you know, whatever I have now that’s what I have and we’re going to go for it, and we’re going to start looking,” and I was looking pretty much everywhere the same people other people were looking, AliExpress, Alibaba and some of the other import sites for some products and I had an idea of what’s based on what I want to be in. I’m looking around and at the same time I'm still looking around on Craigslist for some books and some other things that I was looking at and one of those things that you can easily look and say, “Oh, it’s just dumb luck,” or you can say, “ I never would have found it if I hadn’t taken action. “ But I found an item on Craigslist of all places. I didn’t have to import it, I didn’t have to make it, I didn’t have to do anything to it. It was a close-up item.
It was an item of printing, actually they’re all gone now so I can say it was like a sticker set for kids. Some printer had made them up a couple of years prior. When we ordered them, they were paid for. The seller were just sitting around trying to get rid of them and so I see this sticker set, he’s got like 1,000 of them and he’s asking like 65, 70 bucks for them. I thought I’d have a look at them and they were actually really cool. They were a set of stickers, they were sets of stickers. They weren't doing this guy any good in his factory. He’s trying to get rid of them and at first you see the sticker set and you think nothing of it because you’re not going to sell that on Amazon because it’s this little finite sticker set, plastic wrap, there’s nothing, it’s not viable but because of the things that I’ve learned from your podcast or from listening to other places, I knew what bundle was, I knew how to decide whether something is going to make the grades or doesn't stuck so I don’t get stuck with an add-on item.
I thought it had merit and I was only going to give it $65 to get these so I bought them. I took them home, I looked at them, I opened them up and they were actually pretty cool, so I went through the process. I had some pictures taken of it. I bundled it together and figured out what would be a good price point was. I put them in packs of four, I looked around through the Amazon categories, I ended up posting it in a couple of categories. I used the main category was party favors which people out there, don’t sleep on the party favors, that’s a good category. Really it is and I posted them and you know what? They absolutely took off.
They ended up because I was selling them for $15 for a pack of four. My first listing, actually thought I would sell for like $6.99 and I listed them and I posted them for that and I got stuck with an add-on item but I learned what the criteria was for that size of that weight was $6.99 because I upped it up a little bit, I played around with the price and I figured out what would get it out of add-on status. At first I played well with some promotions raising the price and then giving like a percentage off to bring the price back the price to something that was sellable.
I wasn’t selling too much at that price because I think that just the current price was scaring people, so I just lowered the price down and figured out kind of what the gateway was to get it out of add-on status and that worked great. I learned a lot along the way about PPC because I did launch my PPC campaigns right off the bat. I think that helped a lot actually.
[00:20:24] SV: How many campaigns did you start with?
[00:20:27] KW: I just started with the $1 based on the experience from the show and given that as a resource to identify what keywords we're going to hit for this. I kind of just went down the line on that one. That’s something I just went right down on the script. I started the auto campaign, I picked out what keywords were working, I put them in their own campaigns with their own budgets. I had it on auto the whole time on all the products. I liked auto. I think by the end I had the auto going at the same time and I had two separate campaigns for specific keywords that I wanted to kind of monitor their specific performance and we’re doing well so I wanted them to have their own money attached to them, so something else wouldn’t eat it up.
The money would always be there for that good producing keyword. I did good, I mean in the end, I think it took me a little under, a little over 90 days when I sold almost all 246 after the ones that I used for taking pictures and the ones I gave out, so it’s stuff like that. I sold everyone of them and from that choice to take action instead of waiting and that $65 investment that made me make something that looked like a sloppy item into an FBA because I knew I could bundle it. I knew I could put some ads together for it, get some eyes for it.
[00:22:12] SV: What was your selling price on that, that you that you finally ended up with that you found the best results?
[00:22:18] KW: It was $7.99.
[00:22:19] SV: $7.99, okay, so-
[00:22:20] KW: $6.99 got it as an add-on, $7.99 got it as a FBA.
[00:22:26] SV: What was your bundle costing you in far as taking $65 dividing that up I guess by 250 units I guess is what you would do then right?
[00:22:36] KW: Yeah just sourcing for materials for the product and the bargain and the stickers. Everything I think my total cost for a bundle was somewhere around 54-56 cents.
[00:22:47] SV: Okay. About 54-56 cents somewhere in there and then how much do you feel like you spent on Amazon Pay Per Click?
[00:22:56] KW: Pay per Click was pretty close to $250 all said and done.
[00:23:01] SV: Okay, so basically you're talking 250 bucks total across the board and then get your FBA fee so what was your net profit, do you know what that was?
[00:23:11] KW: After all that stuff, it was just a hair under $1100.
[00:23:15] SV: Nice,
[00:23:15] KW: It was… Least to say, it was much better than I ever would had expected it could have been. It’s one of those things like you said, it’s easy to look back and say, “Oh what luck, what a great stroke of luck.”
[00:23:29] SV: Yeah, but the luck wouldn’t happen if you didn't see that ad and if you didn't take action on that ad when you see it and enlist it. Now think about all of the different things you learned from that allowed you to do Pay per Click, you basically got an education and got paid 1100 bucks to do it.
[00:23:44] KW: You can imagine, I learned everything about promotions, I learned Pay per Click, I learned about good product photos because I tried to go easy on the product photos at first while we were working, they were awful, they really were awful. I noticed when I got a decent set of product photos in there, it really did make a difference on the sales. It isn't that the photos were awful, they didn’t have good color saturates and stuff like that.
[00:24:19] SV: They were just flat-like,
[00:24:20] KW: They were flat-like, they didn’t have a good, clean, white background, they didn’t have the 3d effect with the shape behind them. Once I did that, it also helped PPC kicked in, I learned a lot of stuff on what to do what not to do, which I think probably everybody goes through on their first product.
[00:24:39] SV: Absolutely, and let me ask you this, how much competition was there when you were looking at this like when you're looking to sell these, not that it even matter at this point you like you I just bought 1000 units for 65 bucks, I’m going to throw them up and see what happens but like was there other people selling what you were selling that was comparable to what you're selling?
[00:24:57] KW: Not really, there was some similarly themed items but this really was truly a unique product because this actual product and this actual brand, which I think it’s defunct now, it wasn’t existent pretty much anywhere else on Amazon or on the web. So, this product and the way it looked and the design, there was nothing really similar to it, so it did stand on its own. There wasn't a lot of choice as far as like this one or this one because it was unique look and it was actually a bundled sticker set, I think that helped.
There was competition in the fact that there’s a lot of people selling party favors and whatnot but I think it’s always a strong thing selling year round. People are always looking for themed-type parties and this was a good one for a good theme sticker so it worked that way.
[00:25:55] SV: I think that’s great and if we break that down, let’s just say it was 90 days and you went through there and you were able to get 1100 bucks approximately back I mean if we're to break that down, that’s just under 400 bucks a month. That's not too bad to go ahead and learn something. I think a lot of people listening would say, “You know what 400 bucks a month would be nice right now for me.”
Again I think you got the book thing going, you kind of got that thing so people that are listening, I want them to understand that a lot of people say, “You have to start with a lot more money,” and I don't believe that you do. Will these results always result like this? No, but you are going to pretty much learn through the process and you don't have to invest a lot to kind of learn the system and then you might stumble across something, like right now, like you said you’ve stumbled across this market in a sense that it looks like it's a pretty cool little market that a lot of people might not have seen or you might not have seen if you didn't have this Craigslist ad and then you kind of dig into it and say, “What the heck, 65 bucks.”
That’s really, really awesome, I'm glad you shared that. Now, let's talk about moving forward past that, so I'm sure in the process here you’re not just sitting around doing nothing during those 90 days. What are you doing during those 90 days like today are you looking for your own like private label product now because after the styles are gone like you said they’re kind of gone right?
[00:27:18] KW: Yeah, they’re gone, they’re gone.
[00:27:19] SV: That's the problem with retail arbitrage, and I’ll say problem but to me it's a constant, you got to keep finding new inventory when you're on a private label product, you can focus on that get it really up to speed and just keep replenishing it and really market behind it, so what was your next move?
[00:27:36] KW: Well, after obsessively checking myself like 25 times a day that was silly until I started doing it. Yeah, I was definitely using this time. I know I didn’t want to do RA because it is a grind, everybody says so. I wanted to do something PL. I had already pretty much decided what area I wanted to be in so I used this even running off the bat when I was selling, when I was making money I was like, “ Hey, this is good, I need to get off the slide here and get moving.” I was really more actively researching products, I know where I want to be, I'm in sports and outdoors, I don’t mind saying. I found my first product and I didn’t get any new products going until these stickers were pretty much wrapped up.
I had talked to so many factories, got some samples sent to me, pretty much picked out who I wanted my manufacturer for it. I started out my first product pretty much, within the, I don’t know if it’s the same month but it’s within a 30 day period of when the stickers ran their course. The money that I got from that really helped in me being able to get maybe a little better product than I usually would have started with and have them do a little customization to it, some things to make it stand out, you need to have some differentiation for what’s out there. What it also did was help me get a product that held a higher price point than I probably would have been able to do before.
I still went on the $500 project challenge kind of model. My first order was pretty small but I was able to go to an item at a higher price point because I knew I wanted to do that because even then because when a lot of new sellers were coming in and the lower priced items was getting harder to sell, was getting more competition, there was more people coming in with those $20 range.
[00:29:49] SV: What was this price point that you were trying to target now?
[00:29:54] KW: The first one, I wanted to go something that was at least $40 for my first one and then currently as we sit here, I have three products that I’m actively selling and my experience with the first one was encouraging enough and there was enough space in the market's part that I was in, where I actually went up from there and $40 that's still my least expensive item…
[00:30:21] SV: What is it costing to source a $40 product?
[00:30:25] KW: Altogether, counting [inaudible] I'm clearing about $23 per unit, so it’s not bad. It’s actually a good little seller for me and something… It's surely the most mass-market of my items, I tend to go towards items that are a little more specific as to who is going to buy them because I find and I found it to be true, those items are going to go for a higher dollar amount. I’m not selling stuff that’s just anybody is going to find and go, “Oh, I want one of those.” And buy it because you can’t get the price you want for the kind of business that I wanted to build. Just because, my situation, as far as my career, my family everything like that I don’t want to be turning over thousands and thousands of $20 items. I went to more kind of specific niche and it was-
[00:31:38] SV: Are you air shipping these or are you shipping these by boat?
[00:31:42] KW: At first I was air, but now that I kind of got a cycle going on my sales, it’s not something that’s real seasonal, it kind of sells at a predictable rate. I’m going by boat now. At first I started air, the first shipment actually everything that I sold, just because I’m impatient I think, I went by air, but you know, it gets expensive.
[00:32:12] SV: I think the important thing here for people to understand too is yes it's more expensive, it does get it here faster, it gets you to be able to test it, but we know too in the back of our minds that it's something that we can reduce the cost if we want to. We know that right? I mean even if it cost an extra $2 or $3 to get it here and for you you’re selling a $40 product. Let's say you air shipped it that and instead of making $23 you made $20 or you made $18. It’s okay right now because we're still making a pretty good margin on that but the same breath we know that we can reduce the cost in the future if we go by boat.
[00:32:51] KW: Yes,
[00:32:52] SV: That’s important.
[00:32:53] KW: My item’s a little bit bigger than that not necessarily heavy but they’re a little larger, they'd take some more volume so air gets expensive-
[00:33:01] SV: Is it oversized, is it an oversized product?
[00:33:03] KW: No, it’s not quite oversized, just that 100 of them take up a lot more space than a hundred [inaudible].
[00:33:11] SV: With your first product though that you took and you brought to market what was that price point, about $40 price point?
[00:33:18] KW: Yeah, it was actually $39.99
[00:33:20] SV: Okay, so $39.99 and at that point when you got it there, just to take this quickly through that process. How did you launch? How many did you start with and how did you launch? Maybe just give us like a 45 second view of your launch.
[00:33:38] KW: Sure, the first order that I put in for these items was 100. I got 100 and this was the only actual product that I went to a review group to get some reviews. It worked out okay, I ended up giving away 25 of them over a period of I think I was giving away five a week. To try to trickle in the reviews, I was going that route so they would all come. I wanted to get some sales over time rather than just a huge boost, giving all 100 away and whatever real quick. That worked out pretty well. What I’m going to say is, I wasn’t unhappy with the review group but I moved away from them for the reason that review groups are good and there’s a lot of drama with them now.
Review groups are good for general consumer items, something that anybody is going to buy because you’re just getting general consumers that are doing these reviews. They don’t have any investment in their product, maybe they don’t really know what it’s for, more or less they just want it at the price they’re going to review, then do whatever they’re going to do with it, sell it or whatever.
The products I sell are a little more technical, they have a specific market, a specific area like I don’t sell technical backpacks but I know somebody who does and people that are going to buy a serious type of a backpack they want to know if it’s going to have a lot of cool pockets and it holds all my books, which is a reasonable review that somebody who’s not going to use it for an intended person is going to give you. People who want to buy this product are going to maybe drop $100 on it.
They want to know what the weight to volume ratio is, they want to know the abrasion resistance is, they want to know how it performs here and there, does it have lid, they don’t want to know how many books it holds. Those are the kind of the reviews, I got good reviews, they are good quality, I think they helped because I got those little stars on the bottom that show people like it
[00:36:01] SV: I'm sorry to cut you off but how many reviews were your competitors having on this product that you were trying to compete with?
[00:36:11] KW: The first one, I think the top seller had somewhere between three or 400 and 350 or something.
[00:36:18] SV: Okay. And what about moving down that list?
[00:36:21] KW: I think after that it dropped to under 100.
[00:36:23] SV: Okay perfect. If you get 20, 25 reviews you are going to be fine.
[00:36:30] KW: Yeah. It wasn’t like I was getting something to have a couple of four digit review people and climbing an endless mountain.
[00:36:38] SV: When you were doing your market research on this product, what were you seeing for sales across like the top seven to ten? I mean, were you looking at those numbers to see if you're going to be able to sell a certain number?
[00:36:53] KW: Oh yeah. I was looking at the sales from the top seven to ten. I wasn't necessarily looking at it on the same scale that we tended to talk about on the Podcast and everything because I know this isn't just someone is going to walk in and buy just because. But there was good strong sales. I think the number one was selling somewhere around- I can't remember now… 30-40 a day.
[00:37:19] SV: In your head were you still thinking to yourself if I could sell even five or ten of these a day I’d be happy?
[00:37:25] KW: Absolutely. I was shooting for five but actually over time it's settled into what I'm doing between six and eight a day. It isn't bad at all.
[00:37:36] SV: No. It's a more expensive product. So it's almost like getting double the sales if you're selling a ten unit product that you want to sell per day.
[00:37:43] KW: Right. I mean, fluctuation in the market tends to affect you a little more because you know one less sale is a bigger chunk. I guess I wasn't looking to do huge volume. I wasn't looking to do something that was going to take over everything because I had some other concerns going on in my life. It's something that's going to eclipse everything else.
[00:38:05] SV: Yes. Now were you launching the next few products along the same lines of this product?
[00:38:12] KW: I wanted to see how the first one would go. I had some ideas of the things I wanted to sell. But I really wasn't quite pursuing them as far as really getting that [inaudible] and seeing what they were because I wanted to get a little feedback on this first one first and see if it was received well. If my big plan was really going to work out or if anybody really even wanted it. It turned out to be okay. So it wasn't much of a delay. Maybe a month and I figured okay, this is settling in well. The PPC is doing good, I keep them around. They fluctuate but they go between 18 and 22. Which isn't too bad at all, really. It probably doesn't even matter. I was ordering some samples, actually my next two. I didn’t know it simultaneously but I knew I had a whole path, kind of brand that I wanted to set out they’re all related in the same area so it was easy to branch out from there. Right now I do have the three. The third one is going and I have two more kind of identified which are a little more on the custom side stuff that isn’t going to have a lot of competition.
[00:39:30] SV: Are you using the same supplier for this as well?
[00:39:35] KW: Actually my first two come from the same supplier, my third has it’s own supplier and then the two that I am working on, one of them is from the first supplier so that will be three and then the other one what would be my fifth item is from a completely new supplier. I just want to have- I’m not even sure if I want to have three of those items from the same manufacturer just because I like to spread things around but at the same time they’ve been good to me, I have a good relationship with them so I probably will be willing to partner with them.
[00:40:12] SV: Okay. No, I’m loving the story. I’m loving how we’re starting with the book or books and then I love it how we’re talking about stickers on Craigslist and then we’re moving into a private label product and now we’re almost launching up to six products here. I also like it that to differentiate yourself a little bit is not just differentiate but also separate yourself from some of the competition or some of the more competitive products is you went a little bit higher and I think we are going to be moving in from or away from the lower ticketed price products. I still think there’s a market there, I just think it’s going to be a little bit harder.
I also think that in your case if you’ve got these more expensive products, you kind of have the flexibility. If you want to add an accessory to that really easily at a lower ticket price and just add to your product line, you probably got that option there as well.
[00:41:07] KW: Yeah there’s exquisite outdoors, pretty much anything you make there is like 10 auxiliary items to go with it-.
[00:41:13] SV: Yeah, so you can build that up very quickly.
[00:41:17] KW: People all about toys and tools, stuff like that. I’m really glad I did go to the higher price point because I think a lot of the heartache that’s going on right now is people talking about market saturation and competitors from bad reviews and competitors eat up your PPC, all those stories are coming from where everybody is selling and so I think no, I didn’t consciously do it but I’m really glad that I went to a higher price point because I think it kind of, at least for now, insulates from a lot of that heartache and the shenanigans that are happening with people. They’re all fighting for the 20 to 25 dollar price point and going after that hot item, that hot niche that’s why a lot of shady people are coming in and really cause the heartache for the honest people that are just trying to make something.
[00:42:15] SV: I agree and I think right from the beginning I think I talk about that even in my workshops and stuff. I look for products between $19 but all the way up to $45 but I’m also now expanding that and I think anyone getting started when they think to themselves capital wise if they need to start with a product that’s 45 bucks I’m going to need to spend 20 bucks on a product or even 15 and if you buy over a couple of hundred units it’s going to add up faster than if you were to buy the smaller items.
I just think with anyone out there, just listen to the book story that Ken just shared, the Craigslist story, I mean those are very easy ways to get started to get some capital but then it’s really going to be a decision on the person and as far as the amount of risk that you do want to take but I do think that you are separating yourself because you are going after a different part of I guess the Amazon sellers because the people that are starting in that price point, there’s less of them naturally.
It’s definitely, I think moving forward is probably where people are going to want to go but to some people it’s going to be not even possible because they just think that they have to start there and then they won’t start at all. When people start talking about saturation, yes, I think it’s going to be harder but I also think that you just have to start, you know. Depending on where you are if it’s selling books or selling something off of Craigslist right?
[00:43:37] KW: Exactly, exactly, you just have to go and do it. If you’re having an issue whether I should do a or b or e or b, pick which one just feels best to you, which one personally you like the most because then when the problems happen and when the work happens and you got to roll up your sleeves, you’re not just going to be chasing a dollar, you’re going to be doing something that is interesting to you that you like, you’re selling a product that you have some kind of personal investment in and it’s just going to be easier to deal with whatever problems come along the road. I mean if it’s some random thing you can care less about.
[00:44:17] SV: I agree. I agree 100%. Okay, so now, we’re going to wrap this up we’ve been going quite a while here.
[00:44:26] KW: I talk too much.
[00:44:27] SV: No, you’ve got a great story and I didn’t want to stop because there’s so much to your story. What I love about it is the simplicity in the beginning and then how we’ve kind of graduated to this in a very short time really. I mean it hasn’t been that long but now let’s talk a little bit about something else that you’re working on and that you’re doing which you’ve kind of seen a void in the market. I think by your own vision as far as seeing what’s out there but talk a little bit about your new venture which is myfbapartner.com. Talk about what that is and what it offers and why you decided to even do it.
[00:45:04] KW: Sure. Well, I just launched My FBA Parter at the end of last year. I’ll tell you right off the bat, it’s nothing exotic and it’s nothing new but what we provide is a high level of fulfillment services strictly for FBA sellers. How I came across this was just looking at all the podcasts and the Facebook groups and all the newsgroups that I monitor for the area and it doesn’t fail that every several weeks across one of these I’ll see somebody saying, “Hey, I’m looking for package, ship services. I’m looking for fulfillment. I’m looking for somebody who can take this off of my plate. Who do you guys know? Who do you guys use?”
If you search around you’ll see almost every single time you get a couple of people saying, “I used this company over here, they were alright. I used this guy one time did okay, did good.” I thought for the business people out here taking chances putting their money that they could be using for something else to chase their dream, there should be somebody out there giving them some the service that gets a little better review than that. You should walk away from anything you do with a really good feeling and the people out here that do services like Mercer and stuff like that, they put together a great product that works good and they treat their customers right and people rave about them. That’s what I was thinking why isn’t there anybody like this?
I tell you right now there is no lack of people that are going to do fulfillment for an FBA seller, so why isn’t there anybody that stands out as somebody that provides really good customer service and makes the seller feel important? Makes them feel like their items, their products were treated well and they couldn’t have made a better choice. There should be somebody like that out there like that.
[00:47:07] SV: Yeah and honestly I don’t even have anybody that even comes top of mind. I’ve had a few people tell me of a few different places but I haven’t heard of them but I haven’t communicated with them personally and usually if I’m going to make any recommendation I got to know the person or I got to know the people or I got to have other people tell me these people are awesome. I haven’t needed it and that doesn’t mean I won’t need it in the future but I haven’t needed it but there are people that do need it.
What it basically is, maybe you can break that down exactly, what actually it means when you have someone that can fulfill your products for you in a sense and maybe even again packaging or maybe even bundling and that type of stuff? Why don’t you talk a little bit about what the different services that your company provides and then also maybe just a little bit more about it?
[00:48:04] KW: Sure. All those things you said that’s exactly what we do, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for the last few months. We’re going to do complete fulfillment services for you and your product. Anything after the ordering of a product and arranging for it to ship it to the mainland here, anything after that all the way up until getting it into Amazon is what we will take care of for the customer. We will receive the shipments. We will unbox them. We’ll make sure everything that went well in shipping and there’s no product damage. We’ll do the same thing for the internal packages. We’ll unpack everything, make sure nothing got damaged, make sure it is manufactured the way that you’re thinking it’s going to be manufactured.
We’re going to do whatever processing per item is necessary whether it still needs a sticker, whether it’s an expiration date, it needs polybagging, it needs bundling, it needs bubble wrapping, it needs to be repacked into proper cartons for shipping to Amazon because international ones weren’t good. If you want your own special packaging, if you want manufacturer inserts, if you want your own information inserted into the item box or bag, anything you want or need done is what we’re going to provide to you as far as those manufacturing process.
[00:49:32] SV: Yeah and you know what I got to say here, I was actually and actually I have product right now that I kind of did a little soft test on and it does okay. The reason why I kind of backed off is because of exactly that. I was receiving three different components and I was having to put it all together here and to find a co-packer was just another obstacle I didn’t want to have to look into. What you’re telling me is if I wanted to ship everything to your facility, you guys will pretty much take care of that for a fee of course and then ship it off to Amazon for me?
[00:50:08] KW: Absolutely.
[00:50:08] SV: In a sense you’re almost like a co-packer?
[00:50:12] KW: Yeah.
[00:50:12] SV: Yeah, okay. I mean that’s huge.
[00:50:17] KW: Yeah and we’ll do bundling if you’re selling multiples of a single item or you have a single item that’s a composite of these three different products we’ll pack them together and put them in your custom if you have a custom box that you want made because chances are they’re not all from the same manufacturer and then the problem of getting all those three items in a box where the presentation is nice perhaps you need something like that, perhaps a polybag is all you need. Whatever you want, whatever you need is what we’ll do. If you have a custom packaging that you have printed from even a fourth place, you ship that to us, when we get your product, we’ll arrange everything in the package with that and however you want it to look, pack that up and get it shipped off to Amazon for you. Like you said, you had these three items and it was pretty much of a drag for you to keep up and all this stuff together-
[00:51:13] SV: Okay, I mean that’s huge.
[00:51:16] KW: The time you spent was really worth a lot more than what you’re going to get off of this product.
[00:51:20] SV: Yeah and I think it’s going to come down to this. It’s like if you have an idea that you could bundle these things together and again maybe get that price point up like we talked before, you’ve got more profit in there that you can play around with to hire a service like this and then you obviously have to figure that cost in your final cost that is going to be for cost of goods. The thing is this also has been an obstacle for a lot of people that don’t want to ship two or three or four different things to their location and then have to do all the co-packing and then shipping it. This is going to simplify that process and that’s something that I may be doing in the future as well, definitely would be using your service when I would go ahead and do this co-packing because I do think that just takes a huge weight off of anyone’s shoulders that’s looking at doing this and it also gives you more leverage in a sense because now you don’t have to do that part of the process. Really, really cool thing here that I think that you’re doing.
I’m not really sure, I’ve seen a few out there but I haven’t seen any out there that are I guess doing- maybe there are I just don’t know of them but that they’re actually doing all of that nitty gritty. There are some yes that they'll re-label, yes they’ll pack in a different box but to really be I think like you’re saying, customize even that experience is going to be huge.
[00:52:42] KW: Yeah. We will offer basically a full concierge version of what is out there already and we’re not going to nickel and dime people over. A lot of companies have a whole menu of services. If you want your insert on that, that’s a certain price, if you want a polybag that’s more. If you want it to have a bundling sticker, that’s even more. It’s just at a point where if you’re going to do all that and nobody’s going to rave about you, there’s something wrong with that service. We’re going to treat you and your products like they were our products because we’ve been here, we sell this stuff. We know there’s a lot riding on that little widget that you’re selling.
[00:53:23] SV: Yeah, that’s great.
[00:53:24] KW: There’s a lot of things that you want to do in your life, and our service is not going to be for everybody. Like you said, some people don’t need it so they don’t want it but we have some special things that we’re doing for new sellers, for international sellers and really aimed at those sellers that are pretty experienced that are filling out their product line which this activity is almost becoming a burden for them because they’re selling five or six different things. Maybe they’re selling high volume things feel like, “I didn’t get into this so I could spend eight days of my month packing stuff up”
[00:54:02] SV: Right. I think it’s great. Why don’t we wrap up here and let people know how they can get a hold of you but also you’ve agreed to give six lucky TAS-ers, the first 6 that do fill out the contact form and request more information, go ahead and talk about what you’re going to give the TAS community.
[00:54:25] KW: Sure. Just because this is where I got my start and I have a lot of good experiences and memories from the TAS community. The site is myfbapartner.com. There’s a contact form on the contact page. First six people that sign up on the contact page indicate that they heard it from here the TAS promo I’m going to process their first 500 items at no charge. That’s whatever services we provide that they need, not just certain things. If they need everything we’ll do everything. If they only need a certain thing, we’ll do that certain thing. We’ll do 500 of them for free. We know everybody’s shipping schedules are a little weird so it’s not like you’re going to get it to us in next week or whatever.
If your shipment’s coming in a month, that’s fine, we’ll schedule it and we’ll take care of that with no charge to you. In addition to that, anybody who does sign up at any point or fills up the contact form because it’s not a sign up, it’s not a subscription service or anything like that. As long as you mention that you are a TAS member, we’ll always give you 10% off of all of our services and that’s an ongoing thing and that will be good for everybody who comes through our shop.
Then for first timers, just because the taking action is the biggest step to getting going and doing it and we want one less thing to hold people back because it was one less thing holding me back. If it’s your first time, if you’ve never sold on FBA before, this is your first shipment coming in, we’ll talk about that and we have what we call taking action bonus and we’ll do whatever you need to do and we’ll do it in half of the normal cost just to give that one more step to help you get it done and get going and get your bus going to wherever it is you want it to take you and that’s about it.
[00:56:24] SV: Yeah, that’s awesome. Ken, I want to thank you again for coming on, number one, sharing your story because I think it’s awesome and it’s really cool to hear how you can start from literally almost nothing, no excuses by the way and then just taking action and moving yourself through and every single thing that we just covered, anyone can do. There’s nothing holding anyone back. Now, moving forward in this new venture and this new addition to your portfolio is My FBA Partner. I mean I’m a huge fan right now and I haven’t even used this service yet but I know who you are and I know you’re a good guy and I know that you only want what’s best for people in general, not just the TAS listeners.
The TAS listeners, they are going to get treated a little bit better. Number one, the first six that sign up on the contact form are going to get it done for free and then after that, 10% if you just said you’re a TAS listener, all you have to do is just put in there that you are a TAS listener and then if you’re a brand new seller, you have never sold anything and this is your first shipment, we’ll, you’re going to get 50% off on that order as well. I mean Ken, I couldn’t ask for anything more and I did not even know about those extra little bonuses that you threw in there so I just want to tell people definitely check it out, whether you use his service or not, definitely just reach out to Ken and I’m sure he’ll answer any questions that you have whether it’s about this or it’s about this interview that we just did. Ken, I just want to say again thank you so much and is there any last little bits of advice you’d like to give. What would be one thing that you would like to tell our listeners to do if they are thinking about getting into this business?
[00:58:05] KW: It’s just get into the business. I don’t care if you live your whole life and you never visit My FBA Partner, that’s not the primary reason I am here today. The primary reason I am here today is to say just take action, just go and do it. If you’re thinking about it then do it. If you are in a situation where you’re waiting, try to figure out why you’re waiting and whether you really do need to wait or not, just make it happen.
[00:58:31] SV: I like it, I like it. Just make it happen #justmakeithappen. All right guys that is going to wrap it up. Ken I want to thank you once again. This has been awesome. I really do appreciate it and good luck to you. We’ll definitely probably have you back on the show, we’ll do an update. Your product line sounds like it’s really thriving and doing well so we’re definitely going to do catch up with you at a later date, so once again thanks Ken, I really do appreciate you coming on the show.
[00:58:55] KW: Thanks for having me.
[00:58:56] SV: All right, so there you have it, another great interview. I want to thank Ken once again, what an amazing story and I just love it how he didn’t let anything get in his way. If you guys are brand new and you’re just starting, you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, there’s this reason why I can’t.” or “There’s this reason why I can’t.” those are just excuses. If you want it bad enough, you just need to figure out a way to make it happen and get started. That’s what Ken did and I just love diving into his story and there’s so many different ways you can get started by just listening to his story so you might want to go back and listen to this one again or you may just want to go grab the show notes or the transcripts so you can make sure that you take those notes and you apply them and take action.
All right guys, that is going to wrap up this episode. I wanted to remind you guys one more time though if you wanted to attend one of my live free workshops, head over to the amazingseller.com/workshop. We’ll cover everything it will take to get started all the way from picking your product, sourcing your product and then doing a launch and then doing a promo, everything in between, we’ll cover that on this live, free workshop. I’ll also answer live Q&A while we’re there on the hangout.
Alright, that’s it guys. That’s going to wrap it up. Remember, I’m here for 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, say it proud, “Take action.” Have an awesome amazing day and I’ll see you right back here on the next episode.
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LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/workshop – get in on the free workshop
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/68 – episode mentioned
- www.MyFBAPartner.com – Ken’s website
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