TAS 406 Ask Scott Session #125 – Open Brand Questions – Be My Competitor  – Shipping Costs HIGH

It’s time to jump into another exciting session of Ask Scott here on The Amazing Seller Podcast! This is the place to get motivation and insight that you need to fuel you on your journey to building your own ecommerce business. On this episode, you’ll hear from Scott as he opens up with one of his helpful “thoughts of the week” he then launches into answer questions from TAS followers like you. The topics that Scott covers include open brand registry, competing against yourself, finding the right shipping solutions, and much more! Make sure to sit down and listen to this episode with pen and paper ready, you are going to need it!

Don’t Take Customer Service for Granted!

What lessons can you learn from your experience as a consumer in the marketplace? Seriously! Go out to eat or go shopping for a new high priced item and pay attention to how salespeople treat you. On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott shares a lesson he learned from working with a company he had contracted to do work at his home. The big take away that Scott shares is that the process was frustrating because the company he was working with failed to communicate effectively to address concerns he and his wife had. What can ecommerce sellers like you learn from this story? Be responsive to your customers! It goes a long way to create a positive reputation for your business. Learn more great lessons like this one from Scott by listening to this episode!  

Brand Registry

What does it take to start building your brand and even build sub-brands connected to the open brand? Which brand do you register with Amazon at the brand registry? Which brand will the product need to have attached to it? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott walks through the brand registry process. He explains how sellers like you can create an open brand and then proceed to create niche brands under that large brand. To hear Scott break it all down in a way that makes a lot of sense – make sure to sit down and listen to this helpful episode!  

Competing Against Yourself

Is it a wise strategy to create a second listing and try to compete against yourself to drive your ranking? What would it take to make this plan work? Is it even worth it or would it cause more harm than good? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from Scott as he explains his take on this idea drawing from his years of experience as an ecommerce seller. Scott’s basic take on this is that it’s probably not worth all the work and hassle that it would take to really have this idea work. Having said that, Scott said that if you’d like to test it out, it would be best to run a product that is just slightly different than the main one you are trying to promote. To hear Scott explain his thoughts even further, make sure to listen to this episode!

OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER

  • [0:03] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
  • [4:30] Scott shares his thought of the week.
  • [7:30] Question #1: How do I brand register for sub-brands?
  • [12:00] Question #2: Should I compete with myself to increase my ranking?
  • [17:30] Question #3: How do I choose the right shipping method?
  • [24:00] Shout out from a TAS listener like you!

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TRANSCRIPT TAS 406

TAS 406: Ask Scott Session #125 – Open Brand Questions – Be My Competitor  – Shipping Costs HIGH

[INTRODUCTION]

[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone! Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 406 and session number 125 of Ask Scott. This is where I…

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…answer your questions here on the Podcast and I do it every single Friday, every single week and it's always awesome to hang out with you guys. I'm sitting here today on a beautiful day in South Carolina, nice cup of coffee actually as I talk about these questions or I talk to you guys and we get to hang out together. That's what I really love to do here inside of the Ask Scott session. There’s a lot of different things I want to mention here. Before I do though, a lot of things on my mind today and this week.

The one thing I wanted to let you guys know is some of the questions that we are going to be answering today. I know a lot of you have said in the past, “Scott I want to know what you're going to be digging into today.” The ones that we are going to be talking about is really the open brand concept but not so much the concept more around brand registering when you have an open brand. We're going to talk about that. We are also going to talk about being your own competitor. Is that a good strategy and what does that mean? Then the other thing we are going to talk about is shipping costs and how expensive they can be when you should be considering if it's too expensive and a few things around that. That's what I'm going to be talking about.

I'm also going to be sharing with you a listener that posted, actually they  recorded an audio message  and I want you to hear  this because this here  is exactly what  fires me up  to this day. It still fires me up and it makes me stay motivated and inspired to continue to do this. I'm going to play that at the end but again, if you guys want to reach out and let me know about the podcast as far as is the podcast still helping you or what has it done for you since you've listened, there's a couple of different things you can do. Number one, you can head over to theamazingseller.com/ask and you can record a voice message there.

[00:02:03] Scott: That can be to ask a question or just to let me a little bit  about you and how the podcast has helped you since listening. The other way that you can do this and I talked about this in episode 400 which was my celebration to 400 episodes is you can go to theamazingseller.com/story and then you can just answer two questions. One, how long you've been a listener and two, what is one big take away that the podcast has done for you since listening. Depending on when you're listening to this I'm actually going to be awarding two winners, two prizes, two 30-minute coaching calls to two people that leave a comment.

If you just leave a comment that will automatically enter you into that so themazingseller.com/400 and you can go over and check that stuff out. It just really allows me to be able to hear who we are connecting with and the other cool thing is that I've noticed since reading a lot of those is that I've got probably 25% of you that are new. I say new within the past three to five months are new listeners and that's really, really exciting because when you start doing this and you figure you're going to have people that are going to listen and there's  lot of you that are listening that have been listening for a very long time and that is so awesome but you just start to think everyone kind of knows about this business model, or already knows about the podcast and it's really awesome to be able to hear that there's new people coming in.

With that in mind, I also get people saying, “Scott there's so many episodes, where do I start?” That's why I do a workshop. A lot of you know I do a workshop. Generally, couple of times a month and I really condense it down into about 90 minutes. So if you are new and you want to have the condensed version, the five phases to picking a product, sourcing a product and launching a product head over to theamazingseller.com/workshop and you can register for an upcoming workshop. All right, so that's all the links that I want to give you guys right now and all of the things that are on my mind and just being really excited about where we still are in this journey together because I feel as we are just beginning and it's 400 episodes in.

[00:04:15] Scott: The one thing I wanted to mention here that's on my mind, you guys know that are long time listeners I usually give you a little bit of my thoughts for the week and this is something that I've been experiencing within a project that I'm working on, within my own home. I'm having some work done and I've always done this, whether I'm going to a Starbucks or whether I'm going to a restaurant and I have a server that's waiting on us, all that stuff. I always judge people on their personal skills as far as personal relation skills like how they conduct themselves but then also how they greet their customers and all that stuff.

I have to be honest, I was really disappointed with a company that I was working with because their communication was not there. They almost lost me. They almost lost me. Now, what does this mean for you? Communications with your customer, staying in communication with your customers is huge. This means, if you get an email from your customer asking a question make sure you answer it ASAP. That should be priority. Do not let them wonder why it's asking you so long. Even if you don't have answer yet to give them, let them know that you're looking into it. That happened to us just recently. My wife and I and all they had to do is call us and say, “Listen, we don't have the answer yet but we are working on it.” Instead they just held off because they were waiting to get the answer.

But one day let to two days, two days led to three, three to four, then it was five days. Then it was like, all right, that's enough. This is terrible. Then when I called the company, I got to talk to someone who I thought was in charge and they were telling me basically like tough, kind of like, “I'm sorry but what do you want us to do, call you every day?” It was just a terrible attitude. I'm not going to go much on a rant here.

[00:06:06] Scott: I was just ranting a little bit ago with my wife on this. Drives me crazy. Communications with your customers is huge. You want a speedy response, do not let them hang even if you don't have the answer yet. Just keep them in the loop and follow up with them. Follow up with your customer. That also means after they've done they deal, after they have bought a product follow up with them. How is everything going? So many people are afraid because they don't want negative feedback. You should encourage them to want to give you that feedback because that's going to make you improve your product or your follow up.

Don't be afraid of it, welcome it and keep the line of communication open with your customer and stay front of mind. Don't annoy them, just know that you're there to make sure that everything is going well and then just keeping them in the loop, period. There it is. There is my little rant today. That I got off my chest. What we are going to do now is we are going to jump into today's first question. I'm going to go ahead and give you my feedback, my advice and then we'll keep rolling here. What do you say? Let's do it.

[Q&A SESSION]

[00:07:22] Mitch: Hey Scott. My name is Mitch. I'm from Michigan but I'm living down here in Columbia right now. I just wanted to thank you for everything you put out there, all the material that you have on the internet. It's been really helpful for me. I pretty much learned everything that I know from your website and your podcast. I'm in the beginning stages right now. I found a product that I think I'd like to sell but what I'm struggling with is I'm trying not to make any mistakes now that might limit my potential in the future.

I think that open brand concept that you talk about I think it's episode 296 is what I'd like to do to start. You answered most of my questions on that episode but I just had one more main question and it's about brand registry. I'd like to have the open brand and then have sub brands underneath it for each niche. For the brand registry I've read that you need to have a picture of your product with the brand name on it. I don't think it would make sense for me to have the open brand name on my product because it's not very specific to the niche. It makes more sense to put the sub brand name on my product.

I'm not sure how to really handle that situation as far as brand registry goes. If you can give me your advice on that that will be great, very, very helpful. Thank you for everything you do and look forward to listening to your next episodes. Thanks, bye.

[00:08:53] Scott: Hey Mitch. Thank you so much for the question and I'm going to get everyone caught up really quickly on the open brand concept. What does this mean? It means that you can have a main brand, think of it like a Wal-Mart or a Target. They carry a variety of brands underneath the Target brand. It's kind of like that. So you could just be the reseller of these other brands. These other brands are your brands. So that's kind of like and open band. You can have a brand that's XYZ Wholesaler. XYZ Great Deals and then underneath that you could have a kitchen line, you can have sporting goods line, you can have a cooking line.

You get the point. You can have all of these sub brands underneath the main brand. The question was, how do I brand register for these sub brands? I'm going to say how I would do it if I was to go down that road as far as like being able to brand register all of the different  brands. The best way of doing this because now with brand registry we have to trademark. What you would want to do is more or less make your brand generic. Let's just say we wanted to create a brand called Extreme Goods. Then from there we could have underneath that the products that Extreme Goods carries and is also like a partner in the brand, could also now be Kitchen Extreme or Extreme Kitchen or Extreme Cook or Chef.

Then the next one could be Extreme Camping and then the next one could be Extreme Fishing and then so underneath Extreme Goods you would have all these other sub categories. If you then branded or brand registered Extreme Goods, then from there your sub products you still would be kind of a partner in the brand. You can then brand register those underneath the main brand. Hopefully that makes sense.

[00:10:57] Scott: But yes that would have to go on the packaging. That would have to go on the packaging, have to go on the website so it would be like you would have like the sub brand and then you would say by Extreme Goods. So Extreme Kitchen by Extreme Goods. Something like that. Then that way there you could still do the brand registry. I don't necessarily think that you have to overly concern yourself with this if we are doing the open brand because the open brand concept is really for us to test products without it taking a ton of time. Then if we start to see momentum or something starting to work that we want to build out then we can go ahead and start that brand and run that line through that line.

Hopefully that makes sense. That's what I would do, if you're thinking about opening the open brand and you wanted to do brand registry because you are going to have to trademark the main brand. That main brand then is going to have to be tied to any products that you also sell. So, hopefully that made sense. That was totally off the cuff too so hopefully that made sense. All right, let's go ahead and listen to the next question and I'll give you my answer.

[00:12:05] Josh: Hi Scott. Josh here, I asked you a question probably a couple of days ago about listening to your podcast but in the meantime I actually had another question for you. I was wondering if I launched a product say I’m getting ready to test the market a little bit, I found a niche that is very easy to get into. Top person only has probably 133 reviews but he's selling 3,000 a month and then below him it drops down to 800 and then at the very bottom the 16th person is selling around 300 a month. So I know I can get at least 10 a month if I register on the first page.

But my question has to do with number two. One, after I launch this product and I roll out my second, third, fourth product would it be a bad idea to try and compete with myself on the first page and try and push other people down? I know if I can get to the first page with three different items that each one would be selling around 300 to 500 a month or around 10 to 15 a day. Would it be a bad idea to compete with myself in a way and do that and try and push to other people out of this niche completely until I basically own the entire niche? Just wondering. If you can give me answer it'd be awesome. You can also email me so thank you very much.

[00:13:31] Scott: Hey Josh, thank you so much for the question. Yes, this is very interesting. It's an interesting strategy and it can definitely work. But here's my question to you or anyone else thinking about this. Now, you're saying like you want to be able to be your own competitor. The only way that you're going to be your own competitor or you're going to be able to compete against yourself for the same product is if you have two separate brands, in a sense because you are not going to sell the same exact stainless steel garlic press on the same account. Now, if what you're saying is you're going to have your black handled garlic press and your stainless steel garlic press be two separate listings and you're going to rank both of those, that's fine. Here's the deal though.

If someone is looking for a stainless steel they are going to find the stainless steel and they are not even going to care about the black one that they see on that page. The only way that, in my opinion, the only way that you're really going to  be able to compete with yourself directly and where you see two products on that page that are pretty much identical is if you had two separate accounts. You'd have to have two separate accounts with very similar products and then you would rank those, so this way here you could take up most of the real estate on page one.Does that make sense?

I'm asking you like as if you could and I'm hoping you're saying yes, that makes sense or anyone else listening. Now, the problem with doing it on your own account, like I said, is now you have something that you technically can do a variation on. So if you have a black handle and a red handle and a blue handle and just a regular silver handle garlic press and you would list those separately, you're going to really put in a lot of work to get those all to work independently when if you were just compile them and put them underneath the same listing as variations. You can really focus all the energy there and then someone that hits that page will be able to make a selection there.

[00:15:36] Scott: You're going to house all of the same reviews and all of the maturity of that listing is going to like all be all the juice if you will. All of that ranking juice will go towards that listing and you won't be spreading that out among the others. But that is an interesting strategy to be able to create two separate accounts and then you would basically just compete against yourself. I'm not quite sure I would do that. I would probably, like I said, either have a product that is very similar that someone could see and say, “Oh okay. I want that one.” but the thing is if you're making it different, there's a reason why they are going to buy one over the other.

But that is a strategy and you're just going to basically have the same product just modified little bit. So this way here, it's different. That's how you could do it. That could be a strategy if you feel as though that's going to benefit you but I think that you could probably have the same kind of effect if you took up the real estate by having either separate listings and then also running pay-per-click because now pay-per-click you can be on the top, the side, maybe the middle, maybe the bottom. You can be all surrounded there and you can be on one or two positions on that page.

That's what I would do, I know it's not like a clear cut answer but it's tricky but it's definitely a cool idea to be able to have two or three different products up there that are yours that you control that now you are competing against the other. It's interesting, I'm not quite sure that it would be my strategy but pretty cool idea. All right, so let's go ahead and listen to one more question and then we'll wrap it up and then you guys get on with your day and we'll get out of here. What do you say?

[00:17:24] Handy: Hello Scott. This is Handy. Thank you for your help and I want to ask about a question, the shipping styles. So normally at the first place for my product I request to do door to door shipping from the supplier to my warehouse. The only thing that the shipping cost is extremely high when I compare to the product cost. I need your suggestion about what I can do about shipping, other companies especially specialize on shipping and I can utilize them and how I can trust them on my products. I really need a help about this point. Thank you very much.

[00:18:08] Scott: Hi Handy. Thank you so much for the question and it's a good question and I have a couple of thoughts on this that I want to share with you and everyone else. Okay, number one, door to door shipping. Some people are listening being like, “What does that mean?” What that means is we are willing to pay for that shipment to be directly shipped to our door . Our door earning office space or wherever. Or maybe our home office. That's what we are doing. We are saying want to know the price from your door step to our doorstep. Door to door. Usually that means by air. That generally means that your price is going to be higher.

Now, you said that your cost of shipping is higher than the cost of goods. That typically can be the case especially if you're doing a small order or if you are starting by shipping by air. Now, if you go by sea, that will probably get caught probably at least 25% but most likely even 50%. That's pretty typical. You could shop around still. That doesn't mean you shouldn't ship around and try to find a better deal but usually if they are using their own DHL account or their own FedEx account they are going to be a better deal. But, here's the other thought. If you are at the point now where you're like this just doesn't make sense, I'm spending more money on the shipping than I am on the goods.

If that doesn't work you then your margins aren't where they need to be. Because I feel that you should be able to ship it by air even at a higher price with the cost of goods and still make a decent margin. I say even 20% margin with the hopes that you can order more in the future and eventually go by sea. Number one, the more you order, you're going to get a reduction in cost there. Then if you switch it over to sea, you're going to get a reduction there. So now, we are going to be able to save. So let's say it costs you $2 to ship, you're going to only pay a dollar.

[00:20:06] Scott: Then if you can order instead of 500 you order 1,000 you're going to save 25 cents a unit. Now, you've saved $1.25 and now that's going to be bringing your margin up to let's say 30% or maybe even more depending. Don't base your decision on your cost being so tight in the beginning. I say, even if your margin is less  by like a faster shipping route, then it still makes sense to do it as long as you know that in the future you can reduce those costs. You really need to understand that. A lot of people will look at that too. They will be like, “All right, I spend a dollar on the product and they want to charge me $2 to ship it to me, Man, that seems crazy.”

What's the cost of goods and the shipping combined landed in FBA, in Amazon fulfilled by Amazon? What is that cost? That's the cost I can care about. My partner in the new brand they will email me and be like, “Here's the cost of goods.” I'm like, “Cool. What's the cost of shipping by air on our first order?” “Oh that's going to be another $1.50 a unit.” “So what's the total cost of goods? It's all I care about.” “It's going to be $5.” “Okay, if we order 1,000 it's going to be that?” “Yes.” “Okay, good. What if…” Then I'll go to the next phase. I'll be like, “What if we ship it by sea? What's it going to be?” “That will cut out shipping in half so that will bring our cost down to $4.” “Great, can we make it work at $5 if we never reduce the price?” “Yes.” “Good. Go. We got it.”

You see how that works? Don't analyze the cost as far as like your shipping. Yes, you want to look at and see if you can cut the cost there but if you can't don't get that mental block of where it's like, wait a minute, I can't wrap  my head around why I'm paying so much for shipping. By air it's going to be more. I'll tell you right now. You're going to get it quicker but generally you can make it work … Everything we've done in the new brand has been by air and we are making it work.

[00:22:06] Scott: But we also know in future when we do stuff by sea we are going to be able to save even more money and that it will bump our margins up from 30% to 35% to maybe 40%. I just want to be really, really clear on that. When you're looking at the shipping you need to understand everything else that we are talking about here. Hopefully that helped you or anyone else that's listening with this shipping and the cost of goods and really like understanding what it will take to land it and then what the future looks like if we can reduce the cost of some of those things.

So before we do wrap up for today, I did want to play for you a message that was sent in by one of you, one of our TAS listeners and I wanted to also do this to inspire you, to motivate you but also for you to be encouraged to go over and do this yourself. What I mean by that is either connect yourself in the Facebook group and you can find that by heading over to theamazingseller.com/fb. Or just head over to theamazingseller.com/story and answer those two questions for me. If you do that, it will let me see who you are and how long you've been listening and what the podcast has done for you and also read what other people are saying and I think you're going to be inspired and motivated to see that and then from there you could always go to theamazingseler.com/ask and then you can leave a detailed voicemail there for me doing exactly what Mark did here in this detailed message.

Again I listened to it, it fired me up to want to come back here so I'm going to let you listen to that and then I'm going to jump back on, we'll wrap this baby up and you guys can get on with your day. So, here's Mark.

[00:23:50] Mark: Hi Scott. This is Mark from the UK and I just want to… It's not a question but just wanted to thank you. I just wanted to thank you for changing my life. All the content you put out over the years has been absolutely priceless. So this is just a quick note to say, “Thank you so much.” I can't believe how my life has changed in the last couple of years. I was an artist, a very poor one as well, struggling and I found your podcast and decided to give it a go and it completely changed my life. Now I have the time to paint and I have the finances to help fund my lifestyle.

It's unbelievable. Everything you put into the podcast, all the information is just priceless, I followed it six to eight months religiously and it all paid off for me. So thank you so much. I can't say thank you enough and good luck with the podcast from now on. I still listen to you, every week, I still listen to you and it's always good stuff, there's always something actionable we can do. So keep it up Scott, love you mate.

[00:25:13] Scott: Well mark, I want to thank you for posting that and allowing me to really hear a little bit about your story. I love it that you are doing something that's going to allow you to free up time so you can do something that you truly love which is art. I just think it's awesome and amazing that we are able to do this in the world that we live in and for you to be able to reach out to me and tell me that all the way from the UK is also just kind of mind blowing and crazy. Again, I get fired up and every time I get to listen to messages like that or emails or Facebook posts, any of that stuff, it always fires me up so guys keep it coming. It never gets old and I want to be able to share and really highlight some of you in the TAS community and Mark today is one of them

So let's all give Mark a high five and say keep at it and keep grinding and keep doing what you love. So guys, that is it. That's going to officially wrap up this episode of Ask Scott. Remember as always I am here for you and I believe in you and I am 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.

[END]

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