My Amazon UK Journey: A Helium 10 Success Story
I frequently came across ‘how to sell on Amazon’ videos via YouTube and usually skipped right past them. Wary of it being a scam, I wasn’t interested in the sales pitch of the “rags to riches within 2 weeks” story.
Things started to change for me towards the end of 2019. I was working for an overbearing boss and started opening my mind to the idea of ways to create a passive income. I had no idea what the outlet would be. In January 2020 I found myself on YouTube again and a video about how to sell on Amazon came up.
A Change in Perspective
For the first time I actually paid attention and, six hours later, found myself deep in videos from various different sellers around the globe. However, most of these sellers were from the States – I wondered where all the UK sellers were.
Up until then, my own experience on Amazon was minimal – no Prime membership. I was a fan of going into the store rather than purchasing online. (That’s now changed though!) So, as a result of my limited exposure to Amazon, I did start to wonder about online products and who was actually behind them.
I always thought they were from big brands but turns out their founders were people like you and I!
I watched some YouTube channels preach the merits of creating a product from scratch. These ‘gurus’ would talk about how private label products were on their way out. After a bit more research though, I started to realize how high-risk an idea this was.
Imagine a first-timer not only having to get their head around how to improve an already existing product that is already in demand but then also having to learn about how best to work with suppliers, shipping, setting up a company, SEO, PPC, the list goes on… AND also create a product from scratch with no knowledge of it whatsoever!
Safe to say I quickly scrapped that radical idea. However, I can see the appeal of creating a product from scratch and I would only look to do it once I had mastered the art of online selling.
A Quick Aside About Looking Beyond Amazon
When I say “master the art of online selling” I’m not just referring to selling on Amazon.
Sellers must look beyond Amazon and go for as many platforms as they can. If Amazon were to one day shut down or penalize your account, your entire operation stops in its tracks.
There’s no doubt Amazon has the greatest market share today. However, utilizing other platforms like Etsy, Shopify, or eBay is definitely in your best interest. Once your business plan is in place, it’s just a matter of replicating and rolling it out. Copy and paste the back-end keywords and photos – you’re good to go.
Back to my Journey…
Once I started to generate my passive income stream from Amazon, I decided to study how to properly conduct strategic product research and learn about suppliers.
I watched videos on how to negotiate effectively with manufacturers. I read up on how to set up a company and register in the UK. Research on shipping and using freight forwarders became a top priority.
I immersed myself in various blogs and books written about the journeys of successful sellers.
Eventually, the law of attraction manifested a mentor for me, with whom I had weekly zoom sessions. It was here that I would talk about my ideas and the endless possibilities for my brand and messaging.
Going For it
I reflected on all the compounded learnings I’d acquired over the last three months and asked myself…
Is this something I could really handle alongside my already demanding career?
I decided I wasn’t going to back out now, the momentum I had created was too great. The amount of knowledge I had accumulated also made me feel empowered. I actually read somewhere that only 1% of the world’s population knows how to create a product from scratch and all that it entails:
- Design the packaging
- Understand the manufacturing process
- Know how to negotiate effectively
- Understand the process of shipping, tax, duties, and customs
- Understand SEO (search engine optimization)
- Set up an online shop and brand
Understanding these things made me feel so determined to succeed. Regardless of me failing or having stock fly off the Amazon shelves, the skills I had learned and would continue to develop could never be taken away from me. As the world’s buying habits have moved more towards online shopping, these are fantastic skills to have a head start on!
Find the Tools That Make a Real Difference
As I was studying over the course of three months, I was also conducting product research. I was tracking six products at a time for two weeks each using Helium10.
In addition to these tools, I watched every episode of Project X and did so at least three times. That YouTube series is full of gold and I cannot recommend it enough. Every line carries real weight and value and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss a thing. Simultaneously I was also completing the Freedom Ticket Amazon Seller course, a brilliant and essential watch for every budding Amazon seller!
I really don’t know how people managed to sell on Amazon before Helium10. It required so much guesswork… and that is far too risky for a girl like me.
Helium 10 empowered me to make decisions and be creative using real data. I appreciated the software’s ease of use, further clarified by the ‘learn’ videos that accompany every feature. The live chats are great and I thoroughly appreciated the virtual ‘open door’ policy with Helium 10’s learning director Bradley Sutton.
I would attend weekly Helium10 live webinars and saw groups of people from the UK (including myself) listen attentively to Bradley. The sense of community made me feel welcomed and confident.
Lessons Learned From Product Research and Sourcing
By March, my product research was complete. I had decided on a small, lightweight, and durable product. However, looking back I do wish I had done more product research on who my avatar was. I realize now I could’ve done this by just hashtagging the product online and seeing what would have come up on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube. I think studying these pages would have helped me make better decisions on the MOQ and first variation of my product in hindsight.
When it came to Alibaba.com, I decided to use filters that would show me suppliers who specialized in developing my product and who had been manufacturing it for at least two years. This helped narrow down my choices to only authorized ‘trade assurance’ suppliers within China.
I conducted all communications via Alibaba.com and introduced myself as an operating business positioning myself as a senior member of an established company that had already dealt with suppliers before.
I asked intelligent questions and provided very specific requirements for what I was after. Straight to the point and professional at all times. In the end, I decided to obtain samples from two different suppliers. I chose the two suppliers based on how quickly they got back to me, their level of English, and the detail in their answers.
Initially, I was going to go with one supplier right away. But after receiving samples from two different suppliers, in the end, I was so glad I gave myself a choice! Supplier 1, who was initially in the running all along, delivered a terribly poor sample. Supplier 2, whom I had only started speaking with a week prior to my sample order, delivered a product with fantastic quality. I went with the latter and immediately sent over my specifications, the package design PDF, and the MOQ.
In the meantime, I also created a dummy listing on Amazon. I did this to make extra sure that the product was not gated etc. before placing my first order.
Whilst in production, Amazon’s 200 ASIN limit came into effect, and by then I had ordered 500 units. The deal had required a 30% deposit to start production and the final 70% paid once my inspection agency had confirmed the products were of the standard requested.
Looking back, I should have studied my avatar better and split the 500 units into at least two variations. Knowing this back then would have dramatically helped with sales.
Time to Ship
As the product was being manufactured I was also trying to find a freight forwarder, as my supplier did not do DDP (delivered duty paid). As a result of Covid-19, shipping costs were far higher than I had anticipated and this began to eat into my profit margins. I decided to keep going and see production through. A forwarder I was going to use quoted me one price and the next week doubled it!
I was then faced with scrambling around trying to find a new supplier that wasn’t going to charge me thousands… and I had to do so fast! Thankfully, I found a freight forwarder I’ve now used for all my shipments. They asked for details of the shipment and the rest they handled themselves.
Within two weeks, my 500 units arrived at my family home.
I then created an Amazon shipment for 200 units and had a UPS courier arrive to take the goods from my home within 48 hours. I remember sitting at home and getting an email from Amazon letting me know my goods had arrived at the FBA warehouse and suddenly panicking as I thought, “Oh, wait what do I do now?!”
Thankfully, all was in order because I had already studied Helium 10’s Freedom Ticket, Project X, and enrolled for free on a few UK Amazon seller Facebook groups. As a result of the knowledge I had acquired whilst production was happening, I had my product images put together, along with my backend keywords, description, search terms, and title sorted.
Finally, All Systems Go!
There was no way I would have been able to do this strategically or intelligently without the help of Helium10’s Cerebro, Magnet, Xray, index checker, or Scribbles!
So, all systems go.
My first sale happened within the first 10 hours of going live.
With the help of Helium 10, I am able to send customized follow-up messages thanking my customers. I can keep tabs on rankings for organic and sponsored keywords and I also have help and support from Helium 10 whenever I need (not to mention loads of new features coming out all the time).
I can’t imagine how I could have done any of this without the help of Helium 10 and their supportive Amazon selling global community!