#212 – Two Amazon Sellers Talk About How They Increased Their Sales to 7 and 8 Figures in 2020
It sometimes seems that there are as many different ways to find success as there are Amazon sellers. At the same time, many e-commerce sellers are blending their efforts between Amazon, Shopify, Walmart and eBay.
In this episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Chief Evangelist, Bradley Sutton welcomes two Amazon sellers who respectively have reached seven, and eight figures in sales. Jake and Ryan are both part of Helium 10’s Elite members group, but the path they took to success on Amazon is wide open to all e-commerce sellers.
They started out in a relatively traditional way. Jake began by flipping used books. However, they each quickly pivoted to include outside-the-box tactics like relocating some of their Amazon product sourcing from China to Vietnam and finding way to entice businesses to purchase their Amazon products to resell in brick-and-mortar stores.
Jake and Ryan both talk about how selling in different marketplaces is a delicate balancing act and more importantly, how in their words, “All roads eventually lead back to Amazon.”
In episode 212 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley, Jake, and Ryan discuss:
- 03:45 – Jake Jokes that He, “Fell into E-Commerce”
- 06:30 – Picking Up “Stacks of Cash” at Used Book Stores
- 08:30 – Ryan Talks About Selling His Own Amazon Business
- 12:15 – Making the Switch from Sourcing in China to Vietnam
- 15:00 – Over a Million Dollars with Just One Amazon Brand
- 18:00 – Selling Amazon Products to Brick and Mortar Stores
- 20:00 – All Roads Lead Back to Amazon
- 22:00 – If Your Products are Sold Off of Amazon, Watch Their Pricing!
- 26:00 – Working with Other Marketplaces is a Balancing Act
- 29:30 – E-Commerce Game Changers for 2020
- 31:00 – Ryan’s Licensing Deal was a Favorite 2020 Accomplishment
- 34:30 – Aligning Growth with Business Manageability
- 36:00 – The Benefits of Amazon Posts
- 37:30 – Both Sellers Share an Appreciation for Helium 10’s Elite Group
- 39:45 – How to Sign Up for Helium 10’s Elite
Enjoy this episode? Be sure to check out our previous episodes for even more content to propel you to Amazon FBA Seller success! And don’t forget to “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you listen to our podcast.
Want to absolutely start crushing it on Amazon? Here are few carefully curated resources to get you started:
- Freedom Ticket: Taught by Amazon thought leader Kevin King, get A-Z Amazon strategies and techniques for establishing and solidifying your business.
- Ultimate Resource Guide: Discover the best tools and services to help you dominate on Amazon.
- Helium 10: 20+ software tools to boost your entire sales pipeline from product research to customer communication and Amazon refund automation. Make running a successful Amazon business easier with better data and insights. See what our customers have to say.
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Bradley Sutton: On today’s episode, we’ve got two sellers who are going to talk about the strategies that helped one of them go from selling used books on Amazon to millions of dollars of sales. The other one now has surpassed the eight-figure mark since he was on the show last. How cool is that? Pretty cool, I think.
Bradley Sutton: Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast by Helium 10. I am your host Bradley Sutton, and this is the show that’s a completely BS-free, unscripted and unrehearsed organic conversation about serious strategies for serious sellers of any level in the Amazon world. We’ve got two serious sellers on the podcast today. One has been here on the show a couple of years ago, and we got one for the first time. So, Jake and Ryan, welcome to the show. All right. Now, like I said, Ryan has been on this podcast before, so if you guys want to get Ryan’s old backstory, it was interesting to see his path to eight figures here. He was working in Alaska I believe, and he speaks Chinese, it’s a really interesting story. Make sure to go look it up at heliumten.com/podcast and just type in Episode 83, and then look up Ryan, and then you’d be able to hear his backstory, but, Jake, this is the first time we are meeting you. So we’re going to focus on your backstory a little bit here too because I don’t even know myself. First of all, where were you born and raised?
Jake: Olathe, Kansas born and raised. I literally drive by the hospital. I was born in on the way to work.
Bradley Sutton: Wow. So you stayed local then?
Jake: Yeah. Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. Cool. All right. So Kansas, I’ve only been there a couple of times. Actually, my dad was born in Kansas, but I’m just curious. What does a typical, eight, 10 year old growing up in Kansas, middle of Kansas there what’s like your– what did you want to be when you grew up? Like, or were you one of those kids who had the entrepreneurial bug or where did you want to be a doctor? Lawyer?
Jake: I used to take a lot of stuff apart. Our house was in the corner of a corn field, so it didn’t really have many neighbors to play with. So I just found things to do by myself.
Bradley Sutton: All right. So you went to high school upon graduating. Did you go into college to further investigate your loving to take things apart, kind of inkling or what’d you do?
Jake: No, late in high school I got pretty into photography and I looked at going out to the Brooks Institute of Photography out in Ventura, California, and had the phone call with their rep and realized it was like $144,000 for three years. And that didn’t include living expenses. So, that shut that door pretty quickly. I ended up meeting the actual owner of our company. I was photographing and stringing for a local newspaper and gardener, and we were photographing the same kid at a County fair playing in a mud puddle. So we kind of got the chat and that’s how I met Mark. The guy that owns our company now. He was the photo editor of the newspaper and I gave him a card I literally made in high school in a graphics design class.
Bradley Sutton: So this is like– you’re still like 18, 19 years old. This is like right after high school when you do this?
Jake: Yeah. That was probably 18, 19. So if not early 19 and that, I was doing the photo thing kind of on the side.
Bradley Sutton: So then how did you go from all those things to be like, Hmm, I wonder what e-commerce has in store for me.
Jake: No, I kind of fell into the e-commerce side of it. Working with Mark when he was the photo editor, he’d send me on assignments and whatnot. So I kind of got to know him. He also had another side business where they photograph running events all over the country. So marathons 5Ks, 10Ks, whatever. And I started kind of shooting with that and traveling a lot. And when the iPhone kind of came out and got real big and smartphones in general, got more prevalent. That business took a real hard hit because people will be at the finish line. They take a picture with their cell phone and consider that good enough. They didn’t want to go buy the print from the official photographers for the race. Even though we had two to 20 photographers on the course, depending on the size of the event. So that made Mark kind of start looking elsewhere. Because he could kind of see the writing on the wall. Like it drastically changed his business. He read a book about flipping used books on Amazon and that kind of started his journey. And over the years as the photo thing just kind of started to dwindle more and more as cell phone cameras got better and better. He started doing some retail arbitrage and some stuff. There’s some local stores here that they essentially liquidate damaged freight. Like the corner of a pallet gets deemed, they reject the whole thing. So there’s plenty of brand new product on there and you’ll buy it and flip it. There’s some local stores around here, some liquidation stores that they’ll buy damaged fray, close out stuff, whatever liquidated through their store. Generally a lot of that stuff brand new sealed and you can flip it for profit. So, at that time the margins were insane. Like you could make five, six, 700% on an item. So he got real aggressive with that. And I was kind of in between jobs off and on. So I’d come help him and I’d still help with the photo stuff. And it got to a point where he was kind of needing help. So I started helping him and then I started doing it myself. I had my own Amazon account started like a hundred bucks or something and I just started buying and flipping stuff.
Bradley Sutton: Well, what year about are we talking about?
Jake: He started flipping books around like 2012, which–
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So, it’s a good eight, nine years ago.
Jake: It got kind of annoying. Because we’d be driving across the country going to a race to shoot and we’d hit every dang thrift store and flea market and whatever. So he could hop out and scan books. It’s like, dude, come on. And then kind of started understanding what was going on there, that he was just stopping and picking up stacks of cash. We’ve kind of started out. We didn’t really know how far big was going to go. Kind of started paying me a flat rate weekly just to come help. And then when I was done with his stuff, I’d work on my stuff. And at a certain points like this is dumb, like I’m doing the same thing. Why don’t I just work for you all? If I’m buying, I’ll buy for you in eight, nine years later. One of our brands almost cracked 2 million last year. So it’s insane where we started to kind of where we’re at.
Bradley Sutton: So, started years ago, flipping books, and then you decided to get into the, and then doing the damage, return things. And then you ended up starting like a private label business, based on that.
Jake: Kind of. I mean there’s a little in between we– at a certain point we were buying so much from the local stores and then I’d made it, we made a few contacts with some liquidators that they were just getting this stuff from. So we kind of cut out some of the middleman there and we were buying liquidation lots and not like damaged, good return type stuff like in the run, like discontinued SKUs, like we bought a lot of stuff from Tomi international there for a while up in Iowa and they just be done with the SKU and I’d buy out the remaining inventory and sell it on Amazon.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, Cool. Cool. All right. Now let’s go back. I’m not sure if he’s still alive over there, but, Ryan you’re still with us.
Bradley Sutton: All right, Ryan, catch us up with some big events in 2020 for you. I mean, and obviously I’m not talking about world events. We could be talking about that for a long time, but as far as your businesses go. We were talking before last time about the kind of business model you were doing, you had some private label, you had some partnerships going, you were selling a lot on Walmart. You were doing some drop shipping. You were in a lot of different, a lot of different business models for e-commerce. What were some big changes, big improvements or the opposite, things that went away. What had happened for you in 2020 as far as your business is going?
Ryan: Sure. So we talked in November of last year and since then I have sold one of my private label brands. It’s in the baby category. I sold that in May. So that was fantastic.
Bradley Sutton: That’s cool. Hold on. Let’s talk about that a little bit. All right. So that seems to be like, all the rage now is people have as a goal when it wasn’t really a goal, it’s like, Hey, maybe I can sell my business. So that baby brand that you had built up, what did you build it up to? Like, what was the monthly gross sales or–?
Ryan: Yeah. It was around 40 to 50,000 monthly sales. This is a brand that I created myself outside of the partnership because I did have some issues with the partners in the past. And so I wanted to build something that I would have 100% ownership in, so I can benefit 100% on the sale of that brand. So it just got to the point where I had my hands in too many things. I think I had four different business ventures, total, so I needed to part with something. And I chose that one that– because it would give me the most personal benefit from selling.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So it was like a six-figure brand private label. And like, how did you go about finding a buyer for it? Craigslist?
Ryan: No. I actually contracted with a broker to sell the business. He actually was in one of my masterminds that I’m part of.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. Cool. So then you got like a– how did it work? Was it just a one-time payment kind of thing that you get and then you just transfer the brand to them or you gave them the whole account or what was that process like?
Ryan: Yeah, he acquired the whole account, so I transferred that to him. I got the majority of the payment upfront at close, and then I think it was about 20% was paid out over the course of about six months. And then inventory, it also was paid out a short period of time after closing.
Bradley Sutton: Pretty cool. All right. So there’s one of the big events for you. I think you said that was May of last year. So what else happened?
Ryan: Yeah, so our other private level brand that I have with partners, that one grew a lot in 2020. It basically doubled in revenue on our key products because during COVID, a lot of people were adopting pets and so they by nature needed to buy our pet products for their new pets. So we actually had problems staying in stock, but we were able to manage and I’m just really excited because last month we finally paid off our remaining debts on that company. We had some Amazon loans, at some point it used to be about $200,000 of debt over the years, but now we have finally paid that off. So, I’m really happy about that. And I switched manufacturing to Vietnam and, so, that was a big improvement there.
Bradley Sutton: How did you find a Vietnamese supplier?
Ryan: So I actually have a friend from middle school that was a sourcing agent in China. He moved to China in 2012, and then I’ve been talking with him since 2018 or so, and he moved to Vietnam last year to become a sourcing agent there in Vietnam. And he kind of helped me find factories and he was the boots on the ground person to go visit those factories and make sure that everything was correct, and they’re on schedule and the quality was good. So it ended up working out really well for me.
Bradley Sutton: So, then these were products that you were producing in China, and then it wasn’t like, okay, you discontinue those and you’re starting brand new SKUs and stuff, but you’re producing the exact same product, but now at a factory in Vietnam?
Ryan: That’s correct. And the reason for doing so as I wanted to avoid the 25% additional tariffs from China.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now how did that turn out? I just had somebody on the show. We were talking about some people who were producing in China and then they switched to India, but they didn’t switch the same product. They just started over again with newer products. So what– were there any hiccups, like as far as quality goes, or did you start getting bad reviews, or was it the opposite? Did people start saying, wait a minute, these products seem better than before.
Ryan: I think the quality is about the same, and I think it really helped out that I had my friend acting as a sourcing agent there in person because during my initial search, I think I had six factories that I looked at. And I think five out of six of them were pretty bad once my friend went to visit them in person and that’s something I would not have known had you not gone there in person or visit. But having him as a local resource was fantastic, it really helped out. And I think it’s the same quality or in a couple components where maybe even a little bit better quality.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now how about production, price and shipping price? Obviously the difference in tariff is a substantial 25%. Is it 0% or is it 5% or what’s the tariff for the Vietnamese products?
Ryan: Well, it’s a 0% added that 25% that I mentioned is an added on top of what the current, the normal rate is for your product. And that rate is going to vary depending on what type of product you sell. So our products– one of the products is 3.3% normal tariff rate. So you have add the 25% China, if it’s coming from China and that would be 0% additional from Vietnam. Another of our product was 17.6% regular tariff. So once you add the 25, it gets quite expensive.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. Okay. So, there’s that savings. Were there any other savings or did everybody, everything else pretty much come out about the same as what you were paying in China as far as logistics and supply?
Ryan: The shipping was about the same from China and then the actual manufacturing cost was right about the same, maybe a slight bit lower on a couple of products, just because my sourcing agent friend was able to negotiate a better deal, but it’s pretty much the same. At the end of the day, I basically saved the 25%.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, cool. I like it. I like it. That’s pretty cool. I haven’t had, I don’t think we’ve had anybody in the show who was getting supply from Vietnam. So that’s pretty interesting. Any other big events, or actually while we’re on that, that was the pet brand you were talking about, right. So what was your 2020 sales for the pet brand? Just by itself?
Ryan: It was one point just shy of 1.2 million, and we could have been a lot higher, but we were out of stock for, I’d say about two months’ worth of.
Bradley Sutton: So already a lot better even the baby brand that you sold was.
Ryan: Right. Yeah. It is a bigger company, or it gets more sales than the baby product does.
Bradley Sutton: Let’s go back to Jake now. Jake, for your 2020 overall sales from the different brands that you and your partner run, what were the gross sales, just rough estimate around?
Jake: All things together. I think we were about four and a half mil.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Four and a half million. And are you exclusively sourcing in China?
Jake: More or less. We have a little bit here in the States, but I was listening pretty intently on the Vietnam portion because we’re–
Bradley Sutton: Rapidly taking notes. I love it. I love it. Yeah. That’s actually interesting. Well, what do you produce in a, I mean, I’m not, what do you like? You don’t have to tell me the product, but like, what kind of, like how did that happen? Because that’s kind of a rarity where, if it’s not China, we’re talking maybe Vietnam, or India or Pakistan, but usually things in the United States are priced so high that it’s hard to make work. How are you guys able to make that work?
Jake: It was actually a supplier we met at a– I don’t know if it was ASD or the white label expo. I forget which it was, but it’s a soap product. I don’t want, I want somebody I can fly to.
Bradley Sutton: What are some of the, you know, like what would you say is like one of the main wins for you as far as how you guys were able to scale up to seven figures? Because everybody at one point or other, I would say 50% of people who have gone to college in this country have sold a textbook on Amazon. They don’t all end up making a four or $5 million on Amazon. So what were some of the strategies like last year that you did to, that really helped you guys scale up on the private label side?
Jake: Coming from the retail arbitrage and the textbooks type stuff background, we were able to stack up some cash with those killer margins at a certain point, a lot of that stuff just became harder and harder to sell on Amazon. And that’s kind of what drove us in that direction. And just, I mean, we literally build half our products on that looks cool. We looked for functionality in kind of aesthetically pleasing on one of our big brands. It’s kind of in the RPG world. And we literally does that look–
Bradley Sutton: RPG role for role playing games?
Jake: Yeah. And we started that out with two products. Because that type of product wasn’t really on Amazon, like it existed, but the demand– we could tell there was demand, but it wasn’t really being found. I don’t think. And now that product alone has like almost 90 variations in color, let alone all the other accessories that we have for, for playing those types of games. Like we haven’t done anything outside of Amazon to drive traffic to our site. It’s some customer loyalty and just word of mouth and setting up posts. And that’s how we’ve got wholesale accounts was just kind of word of mouth people telling the places they shop. Like I liked this product. Can you get it? And we get another wholesaler.
Bradley Sutton: See, that’s what I thought. I don’t know any of this stuff. We’re just, like I say, guys, everybody who’s listening out there, it’s not just a spiel where I say, Hey, this is organic unrehearsed. That’s what I want this to be where we’re just like guys having a chit chat about what’s going on. I don’t know any of this stuff about Jake. I didn’t do some research so I could ask some cool questions and hopefully get the answer I was looking for. You just said something right now that piqued my interest that I don’t think we’ve discussed in at least a hundred episodes if ever is not wholesale, not you doing wholesale as in like, buying products and reselling it, but you’ve got a brand that’s successful on Amazon and you’re getting distributors to buy it from you. Is that what I’m understanding?
Jake: Not quite distributors, it’s specific stores, but yeah. I mean, it’s a box of inventory out the door that we’re done with. We don’t have to sell it to anybody.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. All right. So, like what’s are there like, grocery chains or department store chains or, mom and pop shops, what kind of accounts are we talking about?
Jake: Our big brand is in some game shops. I think he gets a couple inquiries a week from not doing anything. We’re just selling stuff on Amazon.
Bradley Sutton: And then how do they find you? Like, do you guys have, is it from your website or are they contacting you on Amazon or-?
Jake: From our website. We have basically a Shopify store set up through our website and we fulfill both our direct to consumer and our wholesale orders through the same system. So we just got that wholesale link and people inquire. And I think the goal on that is not to just expand B2B. We want more traffic going to our site because one feeds the other. And at the end of the day, all roads lead back to Amazon.
Bradley Sutton: Yup. That’s exactly what I was about to leave to because if your product is getting into brick and mortar or even other places, what happens is people see it, they’re interested in it, but they’re like, let me just go see if it’s on Amazon, like I don’t want to buy it right now, but I just want it delivered to me in a couple of days. And then who knows, you can’t really measure that kind of exposure. So, that’s pretty cool. Right. Ryan, what about you? Are you doing any like a wholesaling, your own private label products?
Ryan: Yeah. For the pet brand, we are selling to chewy.com, so they’ll buy in bulk.
Bradley Sutton: And what kind of discount are you giving? Like off of what the retail prices on Amazon are?
Ryan: Well, that’s a tricky question. Um, because we have to give them sell price and then we also have to give them about 30% allowances to account for inbound freight marketing budget, returns, damages, things like that. So, at the end of the day, I maybe make about 20% margin on those products.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. That’s very– definitely decent. Now, do you have like map pricing for them or say, Hey guys, don’t be advertising it lower because if I’m not mistaken, like if it’s a big enough website and they start pricing it lower, you’re going to lose your buy box on Amazon because Amazon is checking out other websites. And if your Amazon price is ever like way higher or even just a few cents, sometimes higher than a major website, they’re going to just going to suppress that buy box.
Ryan: Absolutely. We have to enforce the map pricing and when we want to raise our price on Amazon, we have to go and fight to raise their price or the map price as well. Before we can do that on Amazon. Because we’ll definitely lose the buy box.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. All right. That’s important for anybody who’s listening out there to know, if you guys are selling private label, what Jake and Ryan are doing is actually pretty cool. Trying to get other websites or other mom and pop shops, or chains to buy your product, but just keep in mind that you’ve got to have a good agreement in place where you can still control the pricing because Amazon is very particular about that. Especially it’s like, it’s almost instantaneous in Walmart. Like, I know Ryan, you sell a Walmart a lot, but when I was working for this one company and we had some Walmart, like I would change it. And the next day Amazon would already suppressed the buy box or sometimes within hours they would suppress the buy box because the Walmart price, they had like a rollback or something like that. And the price went down. You ever had that issue too?
Ryan: Oh yeah, definitely. And I think it sometimes it’s even like 30 minutes, I’ll lose the buy box on Amazon. So it’s really crazy..
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. They’re really got their eyes open to what’s going on, on Walmart, speaking of Walmart, since we’re certain so worth you, Ryan, how did your Walmart business expand in 2020?
Ryan: Yeah. So the Walmart business, we focused primarily on our food products. You can call it wholesale because we’re buying from a distributor. You can also call it drop ship since we’re sending the orders to the distributor for fulfillment directly to the customer. So, because of COVID, we’re in the bulk food business, you can imagine March and April, May, those months were pretty insane sales wise. We had maybe a 10 times increase during that period of time. We had to actually remove about a thousand items from Walmart and Amazon because they were like toilet paper or sanitizer items or maybe rice or beans. They’re just selling way too fast for us too. We’re concerned about the distributor being able to actually fulfill the order.
Bradley Sutton: All right, guys, quick break from this episode for my BTS. Remember that can mean Bradley’s 30 seconds or if you’re an NFL fan, maybe it’s Bills, Titans, Steelers, whatever you want it to mean. Here’s my 30-second tip of the episode. All right. So if you run one of your competitors’ ASINs in Cerebro, our reverse ASIN lookup tool in Helium 10, and you are looking and filter it out for the sponsored keywords, that means all the keywords where Helium 10 has detected them and sponsored most of the time, you’re going to see hundreds, if not thousands of keywords that show up. And that probably means because they’re running like a bunch of auto campaigns and broad campaign. So you don’t really know what their strategies, but if you ever see a good selling ASIN, and there’s only like 10, 20, 30 products, or I’m sorry, keywords that come up, guess what? You just discovered their exact sponsored ad strategy, because it means if there’s only 20 keywords that are coming up, they’re probably only running an exact manual campaign. And now, you know which words they are targeting.
Bradley Sutton: Now, what about your pet brand, are you selling all SKUs that you do on Amazon on Walmart? None at all, some of them, or what’s going on right now?
Ryan: Right now, I am not selling the private label pet brand on Walmart. The sales were really small.
Bradley Sutton: Why not?
Ryan: It was really small sales. And then, we’re actually using the same Walmart account for both. And just to keep bookkeeping easier, I just removed the pet products.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So, is that something that you’d like to do because other sellers I’ve talked to sometimes. Obviously Walmart will never even come close to what sales on Amazon are, but there are some sellers who 10 to 20% of the revenue on Amazon or of what they’re making on Amazon they could possibly make on Walmart. So, once you’re getting up to those 1 million figure marks, that’s still six figures now that you could potentially be making on Walmart or do you think it’s not that like there’s not enough demand for that niche.
Ryan: Yeah. I mean, historically there wasn’t enough demand specifically for our products. I think it was maybe one or 2% of our Amazon sales, but that’s something that I can look at this year, and it’s pretty easy to make those products live again. As a comparison, our food products, we were probably getting about, I want to say 15 or 20% of our Amazon sales were coming from Walmart. So that was a pretty significant number.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Okay. Interesting. Interesting. Now what about you, Jake? Are you guys selling on any other platforms? You mentioned it was like 4 million overall. You only got about a 50, 60,000 on Shopify. Are you on Walmart or any other platforms?
Jake: We’re on Walmart a little bit. Not really. We got to get our multi-channel sales and inventory tracking thing figured out.
Bradley Sutton: You said you have some SKUs that– Jake, here you correct. That have up to 90 variations?
Jake: Kind of, they’re not all under the same parent. But yeah, they’re all color variations.
Bradley Sutton: So you’ve got multiple products that have multiple variations. How does your strategy differ as far as keywords and PPC go as opposed to standalone products? Because that’s always a universal question that people have is like, all right, I’ve got like eight colors now, do I make a PPC campaign for each of the eight colors? Do I put all of those SKUs into one campaign? Do I put different keywords in a different listing? Or do I just copy all the keywords? There’s all these questions. I think that people who work at variations have. You guys have found the answer. What do you guys do?
Jake: You could probably ask Vince how many times I’ve talked to if we were off that exact thing. It’s tough, man. There’s some campaigns I have, not necessarily all of them, but most of the SKUs, like the top sellers kind of just all they’re in the same ad group and let Amazon do what they want to do. Others, I kind of have them in there in different ad groups to try and cherry pick the color oriented keywords that might need to live specifically with that item. But at the end of the day, that gets to be a lot to manage. So I’m kind of starting to lean back towards putting the top sellers in the same campaigns, same ad group, letting Amazon show what they want to show, and moving on and adjusting as need be. But the thing I run in to a lot is a lot of our products kind of overlap on certain keywords and they’re just different types of the same product. And it’s difficult not to have the same search terms come up in the same campaigns or in different campaigns rather.
Bradley Sutton: So like you’re afraid of like, cannibalizing each other or competing with each other..
Jake: Competing against myself. So I got to watch that. I think it’s kind of a necessary evil for us. I’m hoping you guys can give me a tool to help manage that.
Bradley Sutton: Well, don’t always look at that as necessarily a bad thing too, because huge companies, be it Lego or these people who have tons and tons of SKUs. They even have this metric, they kind of call some of them call like share a voice and they actually want, they want to have be in multiple places on the same keyword directly and sponsored.
Jake: You would only see our brand when you search. I just don’t want to make myself pay as much as possible. I absolutely try to take up as many ad spaces as possible.
Bradley Sutton: Alright. Speaking of just different techniques that have helped you like that with your business model, what would you say if you had to pick one thing that was our cliche hashtag gamechanger for 2020? Like it could have been, I mean, maybe it wasn’t even, it was just a complete fluke, like that happened. I’ve those before were I never tried to do influencer marketing. We had a product where some blogger bought it and they just put it in their video. And then we sold out in like three days just because they talked about the product in their video like that– something like that. What was one thing that happened that you purposely did it, or not on purpose did in 2020 that really like just made your sales on that product?
Jake: There is a– we have a couple products that got picked up. Actually it wasn’t even our own, it was a wholesale accounts that we had that we still do a little bit of regular wholesale too. And they got some mentioned during quarantine, all these local news stations were having toy shop owners, come in and show how to keep your kids off your back, but they can go play with, and a couple of those landed and, Oh my God, talking like a 40X increase over night.
Bradley Sutton: You just brought up a good point, which is almost the same thing of what happened to me is like the first time something happens, maybe it wasn’t on purpose. It just happens. But what you got to do is go and try and figure out what happened. That’s exactly what I did. We were like, why did we sell out of this ridiculous product? And then we came, we started asking some people how they found out about it. And then we were able to back trace that it came out in the vlog. So, guess what we did. We’re like, all right, if we, if it’s going to happen organically, let’s try and purposely get people to vlog about this product. So while you’re talking about getting on a morning news show, now it’s like, all right, how do we purposely try and get our products on morning news shows or something like that. So, that’s interesting case there. What about you, Ryan? What was, if you had to like pick one thing other than, of course the pandemic, skyrocketing your sales because of the demand for food and things like that. What strategy or unique thing happened to you guys purposely or not on purpose? That was your hashtag game changer moment of 2020?
Ryan: That would be licensing. I mentioned this briefly on our last podcast episode last year, and that is, I have a client that I help him develop new products for. And we got a licensed deal with a big well-known brand. And we launched three products in a pretty competitive space, right. The first day of the launch was Thanksgiving actually. So I was a little afraid coming into the market right there at the peak of the holiday season, with a brand new product, zero reviews. But I think having that licensing really helped because even though we had zero reviews, we still had some pretty good sales volumes on these products, like 30 to 40 sales per unit per day, which I was not expecting from the beginning. And I think that’s because of the brand authority. And we really stood out from all these other private label no-name brands.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. I like it. Ryan, what about 2021? What’s your big goal for this year for any of your e-commerce business be at Walmart and Amazon, or-?
Ryan: Sure. For the food business, we’re focused on getting bulk orders and repeat business, business to business section. So we’re trying to target those sales through our own website and then follow up with these customers to get regular orders from them, like ship pallet loads of product at each month to these people. For the private label pet brand, we just want to focus on profitability and staying in stock. So we’ve got a better plan off bringing in a container of goods every four weeks and keeping on a really tight schedule so that we never run out of inventory. And we have the proper cash flow to stay in stock because historically the last four years, we’ve always had maybe about two months per year worth of being out of stock. And it just really hurts. And then personally, I would like to create another company for myself that I have 100% ownership in. And I’ve got some ideas of what to do. I want to do something with some recurring revenue, something that I can just grow much bigger and sell for a seven-figure exit, or if I can attain it maybe eight figures after like two or three years’ time.
Bradley Sutton: I love it. Now that’s somebody who’s got their– I didn’t tell him I was going to ask him that question, but he like, obviously has been thinking about this because he was able to answer right away. What about you, Jake, no pressure to have such an eloquent list of goals there, but have you thought about what your goals are for you and your partner this year?
Jake: For 2021, we’re really looking at trimming the fat, following SKUs, over spinning on some PPC, all of the above, we’re looking to refine a lot of that and then, expanding the B2B sales.
Bradley Sutton: Let’s keep it with you, Jake. We have something on the show. Every episode we do call the TST, or the TST, 30-second tip. So, you’ve talked about different strategies that’s helped you in your business this year, but what’s something you haven’t mentioned yet that you can say in like 30 seconds or less that it can be about PPC. It could be about– I noticed you do a lot of your own warehousing, like I’ll see you on calls and you’ll be like in the background, packaging stuff, it could be about that. Anything that you feel you’ve got some unique insights on.
Jake: It’s like probably two things, don’t be a jerk to seller support because they hold your fate in their hands, whether they know what they’re doing or not. I tell people I have a head high dividend, my office, where I bang my head against the wall when I have to open a new case. But, they can make your day really suck or completely change in big something. You didn’t know you had an issue with. The other thing is customer support, man. Like it, we have so many positive reviews that were– I just simply took care of the customer. Like it was a defect, our fault, wasn’t our fault, whatever UPS jumped on it before they delivered it doesn’t matter, make them happy. I’m not saying if they’re being a jerk about it, give them the world, but solid customer, if you have a defect or an issue, that’s your opportunity to like really brighten someone’s day. It sounds so cliche and silly, but like they remember our brand because they got something that had all the teeth broke off of it and we’re like, Oh God, here’s another one don’t even worry about returning that side note. This epoxy works really well, gluing those back on now you have two. So that builds a lot of brand loyalty, I think.
Bradley Sutton: I like it. I like it. What about you, Ryan, what’s your TST, 30 second tip for us?
Ryan: So this is not very advanced. And I know it’s probably been mentioned before, but Amazon posts I think is a really fantastic way to get additional eyeballs to your listings. Try to do a post every single day. I have a virtual assistant that helps me out and we do, I try to have her do five times a week, but sometimes it’s only three times a week, but anyways, with all the posts that we’ve been doing, we’re getting at least 10 or 15 visits to our product detail page per day. And I had a 10% conversion rate. That’s at least one sale per day just coming from posts. So I think it’s a fantastic program for you to get extra eyeballs to your listing. It doesn’t cost anything. I do think that Amazon’s probably going to start charging for that at some point in the future. But even like the old posts that have been around for more than two months or three months are still getting new impressions. So that’s pretty interesting to me. I have no idea how Amazon determines where they show up or whatnot, but it does seem like if you talk in kind of general terms about a big, general subject, I think I seem to get more impressions on those posts than some of the more, very specific and targeted language posts.
Bradley Sutton: I like it. I like it. We actually like right before I got on with you guys, I recorded a podcast with Norm Farrar, who talked a little bit about a post. So guys make sure to go back. If you didn’t hear that, go back to the last episode and take a listen to that. All right, guys, thank you so much for joining. Real quick. One last thing, both of you also happen to be Helium 10 elite members. So as part of the elite program, is there one thing– you don’t have to give out a way, the secret sauce that sometimes Kevin King gives out, but has there been anything recently that you’ve heard of from the presentations or from possibly, just networking in that private group that has really helped you Jake?
Jake: We signed up for a lead in October, 2019 because I heard you mentioned that the ads software was coming out to that first and I needed help there and going back and forth, working with vents with, let my ADD kind of run wild on features and stuff. That’s been super positive experience. Like that’s just been, to have a complaint about something and watch it get fixed. That’s been awesome.
Bradley Sutton: What about you, Ryan? What’s your biggest, I mean, you’ve been one of our longest time elite members. What’s been your biggest advantage or take away from being an elite member?
Ryan: The networking with other elite members is fantastic. The opportunities that we have to get together and talk and potentially work on things together. That’s been awesome. And then just, coincidentally, me and Jake have a, we’re kind of in a duo on the quarterly workshops that go on, there’s the trivia. Then visa versa, Jake we’ll have to see what happens this third.
Bradley Sutton: What did you win? What did you guys win the last time on that one elite trivia?
Ryan: I won a Nintendo switch. And then also, I think it was a Amazon gift card and one of the previous ones.
Jake: Yeah, won the switch as well, which I gave that to my six year old for Christmas, and I’ve actually been playing it a little bit lately, which has been pretty awesome. And then my wife, she also got an Apple watch for Christmas that I won earlier last year.
Bradley Sutton: From one of the elite workshops? Apple, we’re like, Oh, I didn’t even realize were like Oprah on this. Giving out some nice gifts anyways, if anybody else is interested in the Helium 10 Elite program, if you’re looking to scale up. You’re a six, seven figure seller and you want to network with other people, make sure to go to H10.me/elite. H10.me/elite. Jake and Ryan. Thank you so much for giving me your time and not just me, but the whole audience here. We always love to hear great stories from just regular people. You know, neither of you got your own YouTube channel. You’re not Instagram Lamborghini influencers or anything. You’re just– we got a couple of people here who came from completely different backgrounds, and are now crushing it on Amazon. It’s always great to see. I know you guys inspire a lot of people out there when people can see that, Hey regular people can also have success on Amazon. So, thank you for giving us your time and we’ll definitely keep in touch.
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