#117 – Amazon Product Launch Tips from a PR Expert Who Helped Roll Out Amazon in the UK
A lot of us have had a lightbulb go off in our head and absolutely “know” that we have a great Amazon product idea.
But, how to know for sure?
A good starting point would be if your product becomes a best-seller with both Amazon and major big-box retailers.
Today on the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Customer Success, Bradley Sutton welcomes a guest who did that then went one step further.
Cara Sayer started the UK based brand SnoozeShade which almost immediately became a favorite of celebrities and members of the royal family and set her on an eCommerce path that she’s happily still traveling.
In episode 117 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley and Cara discuss:
- 01:45 – Cara’s Origin Story
- 03:30 – Helping to Launch Amazon in the UK
- 04:50 – After a Daughter is Born, an Idea for a Product
- 07:50 – A Trade Show Opens the Door to Big Box Retailers
- 09:35 – She’s Watched Amazon Grow Up
- 12:45 – Expanding the Brand with Variations
- 15:20 – After a Best-Selling Product, Finding a Way to Create Real Income
- 19:00 – The Downside of a Runaway Success
- 22:00 – Celebrity Endorsements Help
- 26:00 – Seeing Your Product in Well-Known Stores Never Gets Old
- 29:00 – A Collection of Pretty Good Sellers Starts to Add Up
- 30:00 – A Low Selling Product Can Serve to Show a Brand’s Range
- 31:50 – Selling on Amazon Versus Using Distributors
- 33:30 – Training Customers and Waiting on Brexit
- 36:00 – Baby Shark Takes a Backseat to Baby Yoda
- 41:00 – Cara’s 30 Second Tip
- 43:05 – How to Reach Out to Cara
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.
- Helium 10 Chrome Extension: Verify your Amazon product idea and validate how lucrative it can be with over a dozen data metrics and profitability estimation.
- SellerTradmarks.com: Trademarks are vital for protecting your Amazon brand from hijackers, and sellertrademarks.com provides a streamlined process for helping you get one.
Bradley Sutton: Here’s a story from a PR expert who was behind the original launch of Amazon in the UK. Now, she’s selling a product that, within a year, was an Amazon bestseller, was in most of UKs major retailers, and was enthusiastically used by members of the Royal Family. 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 completely BS free, unscripted, and unrehearsed organic conversation about serious strategies or serious sellers of any level in the eCommerce world. We’ve got a serious seller on the line today, all the way from the UK. We’ve got Care-a. Care-a, how’s it going?
Cara Sayer: Very well here, great. Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: Or should I be saying “Car-a.”
Cara Sayer: You should actually in theory be saying Car-a, but I respond to anything.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Yeah. We here in America pronounced C A R A as Cara. Well, yeah. Let me try and go Cara instead, so I could be more official. Cara, I take it from this accent. You are from Kentucky, USA.
Cara Sayer: I was born and raised just outside of London, in the UK. Funnily enough, from my accent.
Bradley Sutton: Yes, I would have never guessed that. Growing up there near London as a little girl, what did you envision your professional life turning out? Did you aspire to be an astronaut did you already know you’re going to be an entrepreneur at an early age?
Cara Sayer: First of all, I wanted to be a lawyer. Then, I went and did some work experience in a legal office and hated it. I thought, “Yeah, that’s not going to work.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. You did that as a little girl?
Cara Sayer: I was always thinking about what I wanted to do from a very early age, and so I did kind of think I wanted to be a lawyer or an actress. I think when I was really small, I just wanted to be an actress or something and sort of stand around and dance and look pretty all day. That hasn’t quite panned out.
Bradley Sutton: Then you graduated, you guys call it, high school over there?
Cara Sayer: Well we call it school. Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: Just school. It’s not high. It’s just school. After graduating school. Did you enter¾I can’t say college¾. Did you enter university?
Cara Sayer: Yes. Well I did indeed, and I did a degree in something called communication, which was all about sort of literacy and literature and communication and public relations and that sort of thing. And then, soon as I graduated I went into the world. I had previously been working in the world of television. As I said, I’d had a bit of a sort of thing about it when I was younger but working behind the scenes. And then, I did that again. When I left, I decided I didn’t like that either because it wasn’t really interesting enough for me and moved into the world of public relations, which is where I then spent the next sort of 10, 15 years of my life.
Bradley Sutton: Interesting. Interesting. Okay. At what point then did you start to think that maybe that life wasn’t for you? What were you frustrated in? or Did just something better come along? Walk me through that process there of how you pivoted.
Cara Sayer: I worked in public relations in the UK. I worked on some really big brands. In fact, I actually worked on the launch of Amazon in the UK when it was still a book warehouse. And so, when Amazon was a book warehouse, we launched it in the UK and eBay and online food shopping, which is a big thing over here, and did that for several years. Then, I went to work for a magazine company over in the US; it’s called Hearst, which in the UK is known as National Magazines.
Cara Sayer: And I worked on things like Good Housekeeping, and there was other magazines. I organized events. And then, I basically left my last job; it was a working for a B2B magazine publishing house, because I was traveling so much, and I was getting older, and I was thinking about starting a family with my then-husband and decided that really it was going to be kind of impossible to get pregnant because I was pretty much never around either out until two, three in the morning, or in another country. I decided to leave, got pregnant, decided, “Oh, I’m just probably going to do a bit of PR consultancy, et cetera.” And then after I had my daughter, I just came up with this idea for a product. And that’s really what started it all off.
Bradley Sutton: When was this? What year approximately are we talking about now?
Cara Sayer: I had my daughter in 2007, and I was in a wheelchair when I was pregnant with my daughter, and so I couldn’t walk. I had to learn how to walk again. And so the product came about from me kind of being up and around again with the a what we call a Pram and what you Americans call it a stroller.
Bradley Sutton: And how do you say it over there?
Cara Sayer: We say pram, generally. P R A M
Bradley Sutton: Wow. I have never heard that word until, tell me really quick, since I have you here. How do you guys call a diaper?
Cara Sayer: Isn’t it like a nappy?
Bradley Sutton: Nappy? Oh my goodness. This is great. I’m learning English vocabulary here today.
Cara Sayer: You say zucchini. We say courgette, you know.
Bradley Sutton: Now people have kids all the time, you know, but they don’t exactly at that moment decide to be entrepreneurs or start a line of product. What’s the difference in the way you were thinking? Do you know what influenced you? Was it your dabbling with Amazon and different things where it got kind of entrepreneurial bug?
Cara Sayer: I think there is an entrepreneurial spirit within me and always wanted to do my own thing and have my own business. I always thought it would be a PR agency or something. And when I had the idea for SnoozeShade, which is the brand that I now run and own, it was purely out of necessity for me, and to this day, you know, it’s really funny, people ask me sort of why I decided to carry on with it to the point that I have done. And if I’m really honest, I don’t really know. I think there was just this like a bug in me and I just thought this product would be really great for me. I could see it would help a lot of friends.
Cara Sayer: I started doing a bit of research. I mean, it took me nearly two years to get it off the ground because I’m obsessed with safety, so I had to do all the research into safety and I actually design all my products, so they’re even be safer than they have to be, which obviously has not only cost implications but also design implications. I just sort of became a bit obsessed with it I think. And so that’s where it really came from. And I’m just the sort of person as well where I think a lot of people who are successful in business and certainly the ones I’ve met in the Amazon world, we tend to be doers. You know, we tend to sort of go, “yeah, okay, let’s do it. Let’s try it. See if it works.”
Cara Sayer: Rather than, I think isn’t there’s that really cool meme, which is somebody jumping off the edge of a cliff with a parachutte and it’s like sort of if you’re an entrepreneur, you sort of worry about the wings on the way down, you know, rather than just sort of boring about it to the point we never do anything about it. I just did something about it. And I went to a trade show in the UK, and I had really good feedback from some of the big box retailers, and I had all my products eventually within a year I was in most of the major retailers in the UK.
Bradley Sutton: Also, let’s go back. Your child was born in 2007. You had the idea to make a, I already forgot the word, but I’ll just say the English word or the American word, stroller cover.
Cara Sayer: Yeah. it’s a stroller cover that helps baby sleep when they’re out and about and also protects them from the elements, like sun, wind, chill, et cetera.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now in 2007, 2008, really Amazon even in the U S wasn’t really all about private label products, you know, like it is now. What was your original plan? I mean, what was the original plan: just to create this product and you were going to figure out a way to distribute it? What was your plan back then?
Cara Sayer: As I said, do it and worry about how you get there later. But yes, my plan was to go into all the big retailers, and that’s what most people with small brands focus on¾getting into the retail outlets, the brick and mortar stores. Obviously, it wasn’t as advanced as it was then. Amazon itself was quite early days. I mean in the UK, I didn’t launch the product until the end of 2009, beginning of 2010, so I went live 2010, and it was a best seller on Amazon from the word go.
Bradley Sutton: In the USA or UK?
Cara Sayer: No. Not in the UK because in those days, I think I started selling on Amazon through FBM, in about 2011 I think it was, which was a very different world back then, via a friend of mine who was helping me over in the US, and so yeah, I’ve seen Amazon grow up, if you know what I mean. My initial focus wasn’t Amazon at all. I mean, you know, Amazon, to be honest, then wasn’t really doing what it is like now. it was way back.
Bradley Sutton: What’s your first full year of just any sales at all regardless of the platform? Was that 2010 or 2011 around there? In that first year overall, I mean, do you remember approximately how much you did in sales?
Cara Sayer: Yeah, I did. I turned over 80,000 in the first year, and that was with all…
Bradley Sutton: Just on a cover.
Cara Sayer: Yeah. One product.
Bradley Sutton: Well, what was the retail price on that?
Cara Sayer: 20 pounds.
Bradley Sutton: 20 pounds. Okay. I mean that was a pretty good amount of volume then…
Cara Sayer: Yeah, but that’s also selling to a distributor as well, not selling direct. I’m primarily sold to a distributor who then sold onto the bigger retailers because the bigger retailers didn’t want to talk to small brands because obviously it’s a lot of hassle for them.
Bradley Sutton: Now how did you support yourself during this like kind of two-year phase where you were developing this, were you still working in other…
Cara Sayer: I was married; I’m no longer married, but I was married at the time, and I was bringing in a bit of money here. I mean the business turned over 80 grand, so it didn’t make any money at all. I would say a lot of that money was absolutely straightaway. We invested in more product.
Bradley Sutton: I imagine your initial costs were a lot, because I’m just guessing here, but from day one, unlike, you know, many Amazon sellers, since you were planning to go into brick and mortar, you are probably putting a lot of time and effort into two things that a lot of sellers don’t, which is maybe branding, packaging and professionalism and stuff. The curve or the kind of journey to launch a product like that is much longer than just, “Hey, let me just stick my label on something from China.” Right?
Cara Sayer: Absolutely. Although at the same time, I have got an amazing manufacturer who I still work with now, and they’ve always done all my production for me, my design, my logistics, you know, everything to do with it. To be fair, although I haven’t had to do a lot of the things that a lot of other Amazon sellers have to do, which is sort of how do I get my product from A to B.
Cara Sayer: I just say I want it to go from here to here. “Make it so.” In true Star Trek style.
Bradley Sutton: A Jean Luc Picard reference is always welcome on the Serious Sellers Podcast.
Cara Sayer: I’m watching the new series as well on Amazon prime, funnily enough.
Bradley Sutton: Yes. Yes. That’s what only has right because you’re in the UK. Over here, it’s on CBS, but…
Cara Sayer: Yeah,
Bradley Sutton: Today is Thursday. If you’ve seen episode four, please do not tell me anything about it.
Cara Sayer: I haven’t had time to watch the others. I’m planning on watching them.
Bradley Sutton: Anyways. We have completely digressed from baby strollers to John Luke Picard on Star Trek Enterprise. Let’s try and come a little back now. As the years went on, what was the trajectory like? You started off just with one cover, then did you make like variations like different colors and then did you expand the brand or walk me through a few of these years, 2012, 2013, et cetera?
Cara Sayer: Right. Basically, the first few years were actually quite painful in terms of, I actually, progressed quite fast at quite a rapid rate. I developed quite a lot more. I’ve now got 13 different products, and they all were pretty much developed within the first sort of two or three years, because parents kept saying to me, “Oh, I love this concept, but I’d love it if it had a different color them.” “Oh, I love this concept, but I’d love it if it was a different color completely.” Or “I love this product, but I wish my baby could see out,” “Oh, I love this concept, but I wish I had one for the car seat.” Basically I was sort of churning out products really fast. In fact, I’m a lot slower on product production now. I’ve got about three.
Cara Sayer: I’m in the pipeline at the moment, and I’m a lot slower I think, because, in the early days, I didn’t have time to think. Whereas now, I have time to think. I’m like, “Oh, I’ll do it in a bit,” and there’s probably less of a panic. I just developed the range really fast, and then I also had about 22 distributors worldwide as well. I was selling internationally. Again, Amazon wasn’t really a big part of the picture. And then what happened? Oh, that’s right. I was getting divorced. Details, minor details. I always say sort of semi jokingly that getting divorced was kind of one of my best business decisions.
Bradley Sutton: Hey Cara, do you realize what you’ve just done? Now all of a sudden, the tens of thousands of listeners are going to have angry husbands and angry wives coming at me. Yes, my wife or husband has asked for a divorce because the serious sellers podcast says that’s the best way to success. Come on. This is not a serious strategy for serious sellers. This is terrible here. Brittany, you’re a homewrecker.
Cara Sayer: I know, but actually in all seriousness, what it does do, and this is something I think, you see, and you don’t realize is that actually, I’d spent the last few years building a business and it was all very nice. And I was working with a lot of people, but actually I wasn’t making enough money to live on. And that was where the crunch point came because I realized that although I had all these distributors and I had all these big retailers and everything else, unfortunately, I wasn’t actually making enough money that I would be able to live on in a style to which I would like to become accustomed to, but in all seriousness, it was a case of either put food on the table or get a job.
Cara Sayer: I didn’t really want to get a job because I didn’t really think I’m employable anymore. I decided that I would start looking at ways that I could grow the business and take that more direct control because also the other issue I had by this point was that my products were best sellers on Amazon, but also I had about 37 different resellers for example. You know, the price was just all over the place. The images on Amazon was all over the place. The copy was all over the place, you know; there was no brand control at all. I’d been approached by vendor central several times, because I used to sell on vendor central back in or when was it, 2010. And then I went to a trade show and I saw my product and discounted to like 12 pounds. And at the time I was like, what on earth is going on. In fact, I did use the F word because I do use the F word quite a lot, but I’m being very restrained.
Bradley Sutton: I appreciate that I did meet you at the billion dollar seller summit. And Kevin King is also very known to have a loose tongue. And so I was like, well this is very appropriate. This isn’t you’re like the female version of Kevin King. But I love it. I mean, profanity is profanity, you know, but people like Gary V do it. But what I like about you, not the profanity aside, is just that you keep it real, kind of like Kevin, you tell it like it is and you’re not holding anything back. I appreciate that. But this is a kids’ friendly show, so thank you for keeping the F word out of it.
Cara Sayer: I have been very restrained. I may use the old, you know, say WTF or something along those lines and everyone will just have to guess what that means. But oh no.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah, I just figured out what that means. It took me a couple of seconds. Okay, I got it. Continue. Continue.
Cara Sayer: Well that’s right. Anyway, I literally did say kind of WTF when I was on the phone to my distributor. I was like, “Right, take it off Amazon.” And they were like, “well, you can’t do that.” I said, “yeah, take it off. I don’t want vendor central selling it anymore.” And so that’s what happened. And then, for several years more, it was just being resold via a range of resellers who were getting it from my wholesaler. Also what happened at the time as well, it was probably around 2014, 2015, is we’re always a bit slow in the UK to catch up on the US on certain things. And I started seeing all of these Facebook ads. As you know, I spent a lot of time on Facebook, a lot of hours and I saw all these ads and it was for, you know, “Hey, you can sell this garlic crusher and sit on the beach and just watch Amazon while they tick, tick, tick and make you loads of money.”
Cara Sayer: And I thought, “Well, that sounds good.” And I also thought, “Well, hang on a minute, if that can work for a garlic crusher or kitchen spatula, then, hey, surely it must work for a product that I know is a really good product and I know will sell. and I’m sure I can do better than what’s out there at the moment in terms of all the listings and all the other bits.” I started to study and that’s really what I’ve been doing, which is how I’ve been meeting you guys, you know, going to lots of events, and learning from people who are really like at the top of their game to see how I can apply that to my own brand. And that’s been a real challenge and I really enjoyed it. I spent a lot of travel over the last sort of three years, but it has also completely revolutionized the business.
Bradley Sutton: Now tell me about, I’m just going to completely throw you a curve ball here. Tell me your biggest failure that has happened with your endeavors here. It could have been a product that that failed or a container fell into the ocean or the divorce aside. It sounds like the divorce is not a failure. That was actually a success I guess.
Cara Sayer: I am very happily divorced now, which is lovely. My ex-husband literally lives at the end of my road and my daughter wanders between the two of us and we all go on holiday together and stuff. Actually it has been an incredibly successful divorce, but actually I’d say my biggest failure was actually the fact that I actually had a complete and total nervous breakdown in 2010, and I was a vegetable for about three months and I still had to kind of run the business, but my mom had to move in. She had to look after me and my daughter because I think the sort of the strain of everything that was going on, there were other factors as well. But you know, running a business where I’d never run, I’ve no idea what I was doing. I’d never been in retail or manufacturing.
Cara Sayer: I had no idea what I was doing in any way, shape or form. And I actually had a bit of a runaway success. People don’t necessarily always talk about the downside of having a success, especially a fast one. Even though yes, it all looked great from the outside actually, you know, I did massively fall apart. Now actually I’m really well, I’m not keyed into self-care as I should be if I’m honest, but I do try and look after myself better and I do actually take it easy and I don’t get stressed about things. I don’t worry about stuff so much. And I’m always saying to everybody who works for me, look, “Hey, we don’t work in an emergency department of a hospital. You know, we’re not an ER; no one’s going to die.” I think that’s the sort of the context I kind of liked to run the business in.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Maybe it has to do with that, but what is your biggest regret or something that you would have done differently? If you could rewind time and do something different, whether it was about taking care of your mental health or maybe some kind of specific strategy where you lost a lot of money and then you realize a better way.
Cara Sayer: I’ve made complete bodge-ups. I mean I sponsored this big . . .
Bradley Sutton: Hello, hold on, hold on. Wait, we just learned another vocabulary word. Could you say that again?
Cara Sayer: Bodge up, that’s like mess up, screwups or something. I spent money that I probably shouldn’t have spent like way ahead of the game. For example, in the US, I sponsored this thing called stroller strides, which was a nationwide activity for moms with their strollers. I thought that’d be perfect. This new idea. But unfortunately, what I kind of forgot about was the fact that I only had distribution. I wasn’t selling on Amazon at that time in the US, and so therefore, I only had a couple of retailers in California. I had some in New York; I had some in random places, North Carolina, and various other places. But to be sponsoring a nationwide campaign, which I think cost me about $15,000 for the annual sponsorship when I had so little distribution was really a bit nutty. But, you know, I also went to several gifting events at the Oscars, the Emmys and all that sort of stuff. But then to be fair, I mean, I spent quite a lot of money doing it, but actually I also met some great people. I’ve got some great celebrities who then liked the product. It wasn’t such a huge error.
Bradley Sutton: Oh my God. I bet it’s a big bodge up.
Cara Sayer: Yes, it was. It was a budget scale.
Bradley Sutton: All right, so speaking of that, I remember when I met you at the billion dollar seller summit, by the way, are you going to the next one?
Cara Sayer: Of course, yes. I’ll be there in July.
Bradley Sutton: Right. Good. We’ll see you. We’ll see you there. I forgot what it was you showed us either it was on Facebook or Instagram or something where there was like a popular British celebrity. It was something to do with one of your products and they’re posting it just, or was it an organic post though, right? Like it wasn’t even something you paid them to do, but they loved the product so much that they were actually, can you refresh my memory here?
Cara Sayer: Yeah, I mean basically people like Amanda Seyfried who was in Mama Mia. She’s done effectively like a little photo shoot for me a couple of times taking her daughter out under my product. There was another celebrity called Tara and I can never remember her surname, and she did a photo shoot for me in Paris. Not really doing a photo shoot, but basically just using my product walking down the road. I’ve had lots of celebrities, in the US people from Grey’s Anatomy. I know of a member of the Royal family who uses my product. I’m not allowed to say who, but…
Bradley Sutton: Are they still a member of the Royal family?
Cara Sayer: They are all family, even if they’re not using their HRH titles, but that’s not a clue. I’ve had Kate Winslet in the past . . .
Bradley Sutton: With all these things that you just mentioned, all these people who have used it and promote it, Whenever they would put out a piece of content or when it got out, did you see any market increase? Like, did you get a rush of sales or something?
Cara Sayer: No, come on.
Bradley Sutton: Some great, amazing story here, but that’s why I told you, you’re just like Kevin King. I love it. You just tell it how it is. I love it.
Cara Sayer: Well, so I’ll tell you what I did get a really good sales pitch was when last year, my best-selling product was copied by Aldi. And so they literally copied all my words on my packaging. They copied my imagery, my iconography and my product. I’ve just been involved in a legal case with them. And so basically what happened was that, I started off, I raised profile of this on social media because I was like, well, what can I do? I’m like a small company. What are you supposed to do about these things? I raised profile on it. I was on like the BBC news. I was on Channel 5 news. I was in every single major newspaper in the country. And then I, you know, my sales on Amazon, I think I did about a week’s worth of sales in two days.
Cara Sayer: That really did that hit, which was great. And you know, so there’s sometimes, you know, there’s a plus. I mean the negative has been having to deal with legal situations and also the fact that somebody thinks it’s okay to copy your product, but you know, these things happen. And also I’ve never been particularly worried about competitive products because my products are unique. Also I spend so much money on safety testing and the design and everything else that for someone else to copy me, I think it would like really copy me, I would defy them to be able to make money.
Cara Sayer: It would be a bit of a challenge, but also I’ve spent the last 10 years building a really strong brand and now, my products are recognized. I mean a friend of mine was at a wedding the other day and it was kind of a UK society wedding. Apparently I didn’t get invited to these things, but she did. And she sold one of my products on the pram of somebody and she said, “Oh, is this Snooze Shade?” And this woman turned around and said, “Darling, everybody uses a Snooze shade.”
Bradley Sutton: I love how we have a British person here doing a pretentious stereotypical accent of a pretentious British. This is just classic podcast stuff right here. I’m just beside myself. I love this interview. This is one of my favorite ones. We’ve had so far, but we talked a little bit about the bodge ups, but what was another thing that like was something really just amazing that happened to you that you never would have expected or like the biggest launch success or just something to encourage our listeners?
Cara Sayer: Well. I mean it’s slightly different honestly, because in the early days I wasn’t really working with Amazon, but one of my biggest sort of successes was actually getting into a store called John Lewis, and one called Mother Care, which has just gone under. And sadly John Lewis is not doing so well, but it’s still there and it’s a very well-established and well-respected British store. I think to sort of see my products, something that I’d come up with the idea of in those stores, it just sort of blows me away. And I mean the other day, for example, I went to meet some friends for lunch and there was a dad outside and he’s using my car seat cover, on his pram. I’m dreadful, I go up to people.
Cara Sayer: I’m like, “Hi.” And they go, “yeah.” I’m like, “Oh, is that a Snooze Shade?” And I go, “Oh, how’d you find this Snooze Shade?” And they usually look at me as if I’m slightly nutty because I have no baby with me. And you know, why would this random woman ask me about this product? “Oh well I invented it.” and they usually go a bit like, “Oh my goodness. Oh wow.” I know it’s brilliant. And it went one stage further, on Saturday, which was quite funny. My friends were quite gob smacked because this dad…
Bradley Sutton: Well hold on, hold on. Timeout. Another vocabulary word. I have no idea what you just said. Your friends were just what?
Cara Sayer: Oh, gob smacked.
Bradley Sutton: Gob smacked, gob smacked? What does that mean? They’re like beside themselves.
Cara Sayer: Yeah. Beside themselves. Yeah. Beside themselves as a good translation.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. All right, continue. You lost me there for a second. I had to clarify there. All right, your friends were gob smacked, gob smacked, and then.
Cara Sayer: And so my friends were a bit surprised later when the man came back and then he brought his wife because she wanted to meet me because she was just overwhelmed with the fact that I was the person who’d invented this product. And she told all her friends about it and all the people in her baby group, she was literally like almost shaking with excitement and meeting me just like, “Oh my God, that’s crazy.”
Bradley Sutton: I can relate to that. I actually had a similar experience, you know, before I really knew what I was doing on Amazon. You know, part of my backstory is I work for a company who they didn’t really know what they were doing, but they became really successful like in 2015, 2016 selling cell phone cases on Amazon, like thousands daily. And like anytime I would be in the post office or something, sometimes I would see people with that cell phone case. I’m like, “Oh, where’d you get that cell phone case?” And they were like, “Oh, from Amazon.” I’m like, “yup.” You know, companies wouldn’t admit it, but it is a really cool feeling that, you know, to actually see people in real life use your product. Because I mean obviously people know that what do you know how much you’re making it? You’re selling thousands of units, but it’s on a different level when you actually see it just randomly on the street and you’re like, “wow, this is actually a real thing.”
Cara Sayer: Yeah. And also the other thing I would say as well, which is like where you were sort of saying where could I sort of try and encourage some of the sellers who maybe don’t think they’re doing so well is one of the other things is that, you know, you don’t have to necessarily have 29 million bestsellers. You can have like with many products which do okay, but together grouped up actually do really well. Not all my products do amazingly well, but they do well enough. And I think that’s the other thing is that, you know, not to sort of worry if all of your products aren’t like hitting stupid, like outrageous targets, et cetera.
Bradley Sutton: Have you ever had to discontinue a product?
Cara Sayer: Well, funnily enough I did. I discontinued one of my products and I put it up on Amazon just to clear it out and it’s sold so well. I got to bring it back.
Bradley Sutton: Then it never did go away.
Cara Sayer: It’s back again. I just redesigned it lightly. And then I brought it back again. But I’m actually also say, I don’t sell very many of them a year, but it’s definitely worth having it as part of the range. I’m happy to have products in there that aren’t doing gazillions because actually they give the customer a perception of a broader range from which they can then choose which one they want to buy from.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah, I love it. Now what year did you have your peak sales? Was it last year or was it another year?
Cara Sayer: No, no, last year. Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: Last year. Do you have a number for us that was off of Amazon versus on Amazon?
Cara Sayer: I do about 5% of that. 5% off Amazon. Oh, maybe more than; it is about 10, 15 actually, because I forget my distribution. Yeah. it’s about 10, 15%. I do off Amazon.
Bradley Sutton: 10-15% of your whole business or you’re saying 10-15% of profit margin?
Cara Sayer: Nine to 10%. 10 to 15% of my whole business. My turnover. Total turnover.
Bradley Sutton: And how has that changed over the last 10 years? I mean, was it larger before?
Cara Sayer: Used to be 100% not Amazon.
Bradley Sutton: Oh yeah, that’s true. That was right in 2010 before you, okay. It’s getting gradually going up on Amazon.
Cara Sayer: It’s also tripled. I’ve gone from sort of low, low six figures to sort of very decent, a seven.
Bradley Sutton: Very decent seven figures. All right. And what’s your overall profit margin? Is it more on Amazon or more or off Amazon distribution?
Cara Sayer: Well because my margin is so completely rubbish off Amazon, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to go onto Amazon because I get more money. I make about six times what I do sending to a distributor than I do selling on Amazon.
Bradley Sutton: But then like, it’s still worth it though because you don’t have to do customer service, you don’t have to worry about FBA and things like that. You just kind of make a big purchase order and sell it.
Cara Sayer: Yeah. And it’s good for the brand as well. That’s the other thing. I think maybe that is a slight difference that I didn’t start in the world of Amazon and so therefore I do have a slightly different perception I think to other people because obviously, although Amazon is a huge part for me, it is fundamentally, it’s the sales channel. It’s not the “be all and end all,” but it is an amazing sales channel. Don’t get me wrong. Actually also that’s why it’s important for me to still sell to other retailers, resellers on retailers online. I sell to a few, like mom and pop brick and mortar stores in the UK. There were a few other places I still sell to, you know, kind of a couple of the big retailers in the UK as well. And I’ve still got New Zealand distributor and an Irish distributor. They’re about the only countries I do that in now. Everywhere else I pretty much just sell direct via Amazon.
Bradley Sutton: That’s awesome. What about now the division of sales between Europe and USA?
Cara Sayer: Actually USA overtook the UK last year, so that was an interesting thing. I do actually also sell to vendor central in the UK still. I have one product I sell on vendor and then the rest of my range I sell on seller. But interestingly, I mainly specialize in the UK because culturally, and this is something that everyone needs to consider as well, which is the out of the two worst selling products in the UK. Oh my two bestselling products in the US and vice versa. And then what’s also interesting is that because Europeans look like the Spanish and the Italians for example, they’re not really interested in their children’s sleeping because they’ll keep them up late at night and they’re not really that bothered about sun protection. Well, my product’s all about sleep and some protection, so it doesn’t do that well in those countries.
Cara Sayer: In Germany and France, they’re not used to the concept of my kind of product. They’re kind of again behind the UK on that. It’s taken me sort of 10 years to sort of train the UK and the US into understanding the importance of all these things. They are behind us. I don’t do so much in Europe generally. And then at the moment, to be honest, I’m not really that bothered because as you know, we have the Brexit situation and until we kind of really know what’s going on with that and how that’s actually really genuinely going to impact, on our all of our businesses and how we operate, I’m not that bothered about Europe. I’m just doing sort of basic level.
Bradley Sutton: Before we get to the part of our show where we get your 30-second tip. I want to do our little game that we call the search volume game. And what I’m going to do is I’m going to give you three keyword searches. Now, don’t have Magnet or Cerebro open. Nope, you can’t be cheating. And everybody out there listening, as always, guys don’t cheat. Let’s see how close you can get to date. Only one person has gotten all three rights. I picked three random words I kind of have to do with the person I’m interviewing and then you tell me which search volume goes to which keywords. The three keywords are, and then because you’re in the baby category, I have baby related keywords here. The three keywords are baby toys, baby shark, and a baby Yoda. Okay, so those are the three words. Baby toys, baby shark, baby Yoda. Okay. Now the three search volume numbers that again, it’s in no particular order here. Oh no, actually I’m going to give you in descending order, the largest keyword, whichever one it is, search for 288,000 times. Okay? The second one is search for 227,000 times. It’s all right up there too. And the last one is 122,000 times. Okay, so now again, baby toys, baby shark, baby Yoda, which goes to which.
Cara Sayer: Right. I’m going to go baby toys 227, baby shark because it’s so annoying 288, and baby Yoda 122. But then I don’t know if baby Yoda is some kind of weird science fiction fan thing that I don’t know about. Oh, Star Wars.
Bradley Sutton: Yes. You don’t know. I thought you’re just a Star Trek fan.
Cara Sayer: Star Wars girl. I’m all Star Trek right from Captain Kirk days.
Bradley Sutton: You got one right. The baby toys. The baby toys is 227,000; it’s the baby shark that’s 122,000 and baby Yoda is just ridiculous right now.
Cara Sayer: I thought I didn’t know what baby Yoda was, but it was either going to be bigger than shark or not.
Bradley Sutton: But that’s good because it actually illustrates the whole reason why I do this game, which is kind of like what exactly you just illustrated when you talked about how your worst sellers in the UK are the bestsellers in the US and vice versa. And the lesson I teach with this is that we all have our personal shopping preferences or what we think is the best and things like that. But we can’t like assume that our customer, every single one of our customer avatars, it has the same personality or the same buyer behavior as us. We have to do research into whatever market we’re going to see what works and search volume is a way to do that because some of the times the, the words that we think are search more, it’s not necessarily search more. it’s always important to do the research, whether we’re talking about international marketplaces or just even in one market place. The search volume. speaking of search volume, I assume, I hope that you use helium 10 actively in your business. Excellent. what’s your favorite tool?
Cara Sayer: Oh gosh. All right, so reverse ASIN. I like that one. Cerebro I never know what they’re all called. I just sort of fumble my way around them. And then the other one I like is the listing writing one where you put it. Scribbles. That’s the one.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. Cool. Excellent. Now, now I remember the question I was going to ask you earlier. You’ve got healthy seven-figure business. How many employees do you have full time that are helping you run it?
Cara Sayer: None.
Bradley Sutton: Woo. That’s why I had a feeling it was going to be something like that. How many part time employees do you have?
Cara Sayer: I’ve got a very healthy team of freelancers that work for me, but none of them worked for me full time.
Bradley Sutton: How many do you have working for you and what kind of average of hours do they work a week?
Cara Sayer: I’ve got about three people on social media. They tend to do about 10 hours a week each. then I’ve got a VA who does probably about 20 hours a week on more of the admin side of things. I’ve got a PA who does probably another 10, 15 hours. Then I’ve outsourced my PR as well. I’ve got an agency who does that. And also, my PPC is outsourced now and I outsource all obviously my accounts, my bookkeeping, all that sort of stuff.
Bradley Sutton: That’s great. Now you told me right before we hopped on the recording that you had just come from a couple of meetings. Now tell me about that. I mean, are you like coaching people or what does that,
Cara Sayer: Yeah, what I’ve been doing in the UK, as I said, we’re a little bit behind the US in of sort of Amazon understanding. And also there is a difference between building a private label business based on products that are effectively the same as somebody else’s products versus my sort of product where you’ve kind of invented it, created it, you know, where the brand owner is more of a sort of, I was considered more of a parent, if you know what I mean. They’ve almost like given birth to their, that brand, if you know what I mean. I’ve been helping other small business or other small brands understand how Amazon can work for them because, you know, Amazon is such a massive place and, I really do believe in the, in the kind of mindset of abundance, which we should be sharing what we’re doing with other people because you know that there’s enough to go around those. There’s plenty of business out there. For example, in the UK, I probably only hit about 15%, 10-15% of all babies born in the UK so that’s a lot of babies kind of left on the table. Not in a bad way obviously, cause it’d be very unsafe, but that means there’s a lot of parents out there who don’t know about my products. And so there’s opportunities for everybody.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, excellent. That’s really cool. And now I think people who aren’t in coaching or aren’t in education, you know, regardless if it’s Amazon, I always hear the thing, well how come if you’re a successful seven figure solar, why are you going to take your time and do it. But people don’t understand the kind of satisfaction that comes from knowing that you’re helping people grow. I mean, am I right or am I right?
Cara Sayer: Oh my God. I mean the thing is also I get asked my advice all the time. I am constantly being on. If I spent all my time helping people to the level that they need help, I would not have time to do my own job. What I did by doing this these couple of days is I’ve, I’ve said right, everyone has to pay to come, not stupid money but pay to come a couple of my time cost and I will give you like a whole day. And I went through people’s listings personally only kept it really small. It was like 10, 12 people max in the room. And then I went through everybody’s, you know, rather than everyone leaving and kind of going, Oh that’s pretty great. That sounds fantastic. How do I apply it to me? Which is often how I feel when I leave like bigger events. I’m like, Oh that sounded amazing, but how does that actually apply to me? so what I wanted to do is something where people walked out and went, Oh actually you know what? I know exactly how that applies to me because Cara told me.
Bradley Sutton: All right, Hey, you’ve been giving us lots of tips and strategies. But now we come to the section of our show called that the TST 30-second tips. think of something that you haven’t mentioned yet that’s super valuable, somewhat unique actionable strategy. It could be about anything. I don’t want details about how to get divorced or anything we’ve talked enough about that. But maybe business more business related, something that you can say in 30 seconds or less for our listeners. Ready when you are.
Cara Sayer: Okay. First of all, I’d say that you definitely need perseverance and resilience when you’re working in this industry and you need a lot of patience. But also I think you need some good manners. I do think one of the things I encourage people to do is actually be really nice to the people who are working behind the scenes at seller central because I bet they get some level of abuse to held at them. And actually I’ve always got what pretty much whatever I’ve needed from them by just being really polite and really appreciating that they’re busy. My other tip if I’m allowed to do another one, I think sometimes also you need to look at your product from the perspective of there’s only one product. Well that’s sometimes makes it difficult for the consumer to make a decision because there’s always going to be, I use the analogy of the, the Colas.
Cara Sayer: You’ve got like the store brand Cola, you’ve got the Cola, and then you’ve got Pepsi and Coca Cola. And so there’s always going to be somebody who’s never going to pay. And what does it matter how much money they have in their life. They’re never going to buy a branded product. They like the cheap and cheerful. Then you’re going to have somebody else who’s always going to want to buy the most expensive. It doesn’t matter whether it tastes better or not, they want the most expensive. And then there’s that person in between who can be sort of swayed one way or the other. I quite often suggest when people are looking at expanding their product range that they consider having those sort of two options where maybe you have slightly more functions on one product that would make the more expensive person swing towards you and make sure you have your sort of lower level product that anyone would buy. that’s one of my other little tips.
Bradley Sutton: Awesome guys, you just got three for the price of one here. Cara it’s been a pleasure. Happy having you on. I knew we would have fun but I didn’t realize this would be this fun. I look forward to seeing you in July. But if people have more questions about your journey, they want to check out your brand. They want to check out if they live in the UK. Some of your coaching or how can they find you on the interwebs? You mentioned that Facebook group, I mentioned it again and other contexts.
Cara Sayer: The Facebook page is called “Make it, market it, sell it.” And it’s got a big picture of me on the front.
Bradley Sutton: Excellent. is that the just the best way to, to reach out to you?
Cara Sayer: Yeah, to be honest it probably is because I haven’t got anything official like a website up for it yet, so I’m doing it all through social media.
Bradley Sutton: Awesome. Awesome. Cara, thank you so much for joining us and congratulations on your success having your best year so far last year and I would love in 2021 to interview maybe around this time next year and see how in 2020 you crush it for your pram unless you had a budge up and then you got gob smacked, which would be rubbish. Oh there we go. Look at that. Me using my vocabulary I learned today, my goodness.
Bradley Sutton: All right Cara, I got to get going. Thanks a lot. We’ll see you in the next episode that you come on. Quick note, guys, don’t forget that regardless where you are listening to this podcast, whether it’s on your iPhone or on Stitcher, on Spotify, that you hit the subscribe button so that you can be notified every time we drop a new episode.
- #179 – Expert Strategies for Sourcing, Alibaba, and Micro-influencers – Kian Golzari - September 22, 2020
- Weekly News 9/19 – Email Communication, Rule Changes, Amazon Stores and Amazon Warehouse Expansion - September 21, 2020
- #178 – How to Sell on Amazon Japan – Nick Katz - September 19, 2020