Episode 64 – Using Fulfillment by Amazon to Sell with Facebook’s Marketplace and on Shopify
As Amazon sellers, we’ve come to expect certain specific truths.
We wake up every morning with a degree of certainty that these rules will remain in place.
If you happen to be a young entrepreneur, fresh from quitting college to make a name for yourself in eCommerce on Amazon, this is where you would follow the agreed-upon industry wisdom and choose a product to sell that you weren’t emotionally tied to.
But, that’s not what Carabella Riazzo of Dolface Cosmetics did.
On today’s episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Customer Success, Bradley Sutton speaks with Carabella about her taking a hard left turn and doing pretty much the opposite and instead following her passion in creating her first Amazon product.
And she was just getting started. Carabella’s journey on Amazon has been a whirlwind tour through FBM (Fulfillment by Merchant) FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) as well as backstopping her success with a personal website and a powerful Shopify presence.
It didn’t happen without a few missteps, however. Carabella describes a veritable laundry list of Amazon beginner mistakes in launching her first product, including buying too much inventory and having absolutely no idea how to make a listing.
She was also unknowingly hijacking another Amazon seller’s product.
Carabella had recently stopped attending college because she couldn’t quite connect the dots between what was being taught and how she was going to turn those ideas into dollars.
It evidently wasn’t the hard work involved in school that she was afraid of because she immediately rolled up her sleeves and tackled the difficulties in getting her beauty products ungated.
It took months, but after proving to Amazon that she was indeed the manufacturer of the product by following an intensive process including taking detailed photos of the various elements of the deconstructed product, as well as furnishing information on the factory itself, she received permission to sell her products.
Why go through all that hard work though?
In Carabella’s words, “she was interested in a long-term commitment and wanted to be the face of her brand.”
One of the first steps in crafting an eCommerce face for yourself in 2019 is creating a business website. After fashioning a beautiful (somewhat complicated) website on WordPress, she started tracking her off-Amazon sales.
She saw that as beautiful as her website was, it involved too many clicks and confusing linked pages in order to actually purchase something.
That was when she started thinking outside the box (certainly as a new seller) and put together a Shopify site that worked seamlessly with her Instagram and Facebook’s Marketplace.
And she wasn’t done with her creative thinking. She also took advantage of Amazon’s ability to receive shipments for her, ultimately functioning as a 3PL (warehouse/reshipper) that allowed her to sell both off-Amazon as well as through Shopify and Amazon fulfillment.
Doesn’t sound like a beginner to me either.
Listen in and find out much more about Carabella on this week’s podcast, and click here for additional information on linking FBA with Shopify
In episode 64 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley and Carabella discuss:
- 01:10 – What Brought Carabella to SellerCon from Huntington Beach, California
- 03:12 – After a Laundry List of Beginner’s Mistakes, She Buys a Course on Selling
- 05:25 – Resisting Industry Advice and Leading Off with a Passion Product
- 07:00 – How She Broke Through a Gated Category
- 08:36 – Then, Dermatology Needles Just to Complicate Things Further
- 10:20 – A Move to Shopify Streamlined the Shopping Process for Buyers
- 12:00 – Selling on Her Own Website and Saving Big Money
- 14:42 – Using Amazon as a 3PL (Warehouse/Reshipper)
- 16:37 – After Ungating, She Paired a FBM (Fulfillment by Merchant) with a FBA
- 19:39 – Prime Day Lessons – Or, Expensive PPC (Pay per Click) Window Shoppers
- 21:28 – How Did Her Brand Strategy Come About?
- 23:32 – She Knew She Needed to Differentiate
- 25:00 – Cool, Clickable Instagram Images Linked to Shopify
- 02:35 – She’s Not Even on the First Page in Her Category
- 28:54 – Her Secret Weapon – Reverse ASIN Research on Helium 10’s Cerebro
- 33:58 – Taking a Break from Starbucks
- 36:20 – How to Contact Carabella
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: Today, we’re going to learn how one hungry entrepreneur completely bombed her first attempt at Amazon, and then, figured it out over time. She’ll also teach us her unique branding strategy and walk us through how she plans to hit 5 million in sales next year.
Bradley Sutton: Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Serious Sellers Podcast by Helium 10. I’m your host, Bradley Sutton, and this is the show that is a completely unscripted and unrehearsed organic conversation about serious strategies for serious sellers of any level in the ecommerce world. Joining me here in studio today is a Carabella. Carabella, how’s it going?
Carabella Riazzo: It’s going good. How are you?
Bradley Sutton: I’m doing delightful. You are actually a local here; where do you live?
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah, I live in Huntington Beach.
Bradley Sutton: Huntington Beach. That’s one of my favorite cities I told you before. My favorite restaurant, Mario’s Restaurant on Springdale and Edinger in Huntington Beach. That is the go-to Mexican food place, if anybody’s in Huntington Beach. Now, we met originally at Seller Con Vegas earlier this summer. Now, what brought you to Seller Con?
Carabella Riazzo: I’ve been selling on Amazon for about a year. I actually bought the ASM course, and I wasn’t able to go the first year, because I couldn’t afford to go to the SellerCon and have all my inventory. I told myself next year’s the year I’m going to go. I’m going to meet the mentors. It’s the time to go. So, that’s why I went, and then, it was amazing. It was literally beyond amazing.
Bradley Sutton: It was amazing. No pun intended.
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah, exactly. It blew my mind. I didn’t think it was going to be that great.
Bradley Sutton: And that pains my heart, because I know my session was not part of that since you skipped my session for somebody else. So yeah. Okay. So, way to rub it in there. But anyways, let’s continue. So you took the ASM course. Let’s actually just take it back a few years. Were you born and raised in Southern California?
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah, so I grew up in Palm Springs, and then I graduated high school in Menifee, California. And then once I graduated from high school, I did a little bit of online college here and there. I was going to university and then I stopped, because I was like, “This is worthless.”
Bradley Sutton: What were you majoring in?
Carabella Riazzo: I was majoring in business, and I was taking all these other courses online, like Tai Lopez’s social media marketing agency, and all these other entrepreneurial things.
Bradley Sutton: While you were in college.
Carabella Riazzo: Yes.
Bradley Sutton: So even at that time, you already kind of had that entrepreneurial, I don’t know what you call it, gene. It was activated.
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah, yeah. I was just over it—sitting in a class, lecturing. It was cool for the friends, but for the actual material, there was no substance; there was no skillset. It was just more general. So, I stopped going to school. My mom was so mad, and I started looking for opportunities. Well, I saw that Amazon was an opportunity by James and Tatiana. They were actually at the Seller Conference. And so, I tried to sell for the first time without a course.
Bradley Sutton: What year are we talking about?
Carabella Riazzo: This was 2017. I tried to sell without a course that year, and I screwed myself. I bought tons of inventory. I had no idea how to list it, and then I got it. I didn’t private label; I didn’t differentiate. I didn’t do anything, and I tried to list it on Amazon. They’re like, “You’re trying to sell someone else’s product; we’re not going to let you do this.” And I was like, “Oh my God.” I had to pay for inventory; I had to pay for the shipping costs. I told my supplier, I was like, “Hey, I can’t use this. I can’t sell this.” She’s like, “Well, we can’t take it back. It’s going to be more expensive to ship it back to us than it is to actually keep it.” So she actually helped me find someone in the states that would buy it from me, and then I bought the course after that. I was like, “No way. I’m going to lose again.”
Bradley Sutton: I’m assuming you still probably lost some money. How much money did you lose?
Carabella Riazzo: I lost like $2,000. Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: Was that in the beauty niche?
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: That’s interesting because I’m not sure what the current ASM teaches, but, for example, me, I always say that, in the traditional entrepreneurial, they say, “Hey, try and do something that you’re passionate about. If you’re going to become a blogger or a YouTube person or are trying to start something on social media, Instagram, make it about something that you’re passionate about, because then, you’re going to be successful.” Gary V talks about this a lot, like, if you love dogs, make an Instagram about dogs, because it’s something you know about, and your passion comes out in your work a lot.
Bradley Sutton: Now, what I say usually is, all right, that’s ideal. But I would estimate 98% of the time, for Amazon, you can’t really do that, because Amazon, most of the time, is about where the opportunities are. The example I always use is phone cases. I might be the world’s expert in phone cases, or I might know everything there is about phone cases. It’s my passion. I’m a phone case freak, whatever. That does not mean that I’m going to be successful on Amazon. But you, if I just saw maybe one of your videos or I don’t know what it was, if it was a video or just the description on your YouTube channel, where it kind of gave the story of your brand, it was something about you growing up with acne issues or something like that. Right? And then you wanted to share this part. So you actually were able to do it. You took something; it wasn’t just some random garlic press, but you actually took a product that you had a passion about, and you knew about, and you were able to transform it. Now what was the process there? So, after you took the course, at what point were you like, “I’m going to do something that I’m passionate about” as opposed to just doing traditional product research where you’re going to just find some random basket weaver or something.
Carabella Riazzo: You know, when I first bought the course, I knew I wanted to get into the beauty market, but everybody in ASM said that there’s gated categories, and beauty is one of those categories if you’re selling specific things. And I remember going through the process and looking at the inventory, and they teach you how to set up a dummy listing before you actually purchase your inventory to see if there’s any problems with the gates. And so I did that. There was a huge problem. I got a lot of the mentors—they have mentors that help you out in the course. They’re like, “Yeah, we told you not to sell on beauty. It’s really gated. You’re not going to have good luck.” I was looking long term. I was looking at like, “Okay, what do I want my brand to be like? I don’t just want to sell a faceless product.” I want to be the face of the brand, because I read a lot of books other than Amazon stuff, and they talk about how it’s really hard to have a business that you don’t own any of the assets. Like you don’t get the email addresses on Amazon; you don’t get a lot of the things that you need to have a real business. I was looking at the long-term thing, and I was just thinking like, “Okay, if it’s gated, I’m going to take longer to launch a product, so I can make sure that I get where I want to go.” So that was mostly the process. It did take a long time to get through the gates and figure out everything.
Bradley Sutton: Which part? Beauty overall? Oh, actually, beauty overall is gated in the first place. So what did you use to get ungated in beauty? Did you do arbitrage or wholesale product or something?
Carabella Riazzo: At first, I started with my facial cleansing brush actually, and I started just with that, and you have to prove that you’re the manufacturer, which is kind of hard for a lot of sellers, because they have it built in China. I had my manufacturer send me a regular invoice, and then I showed that plus I showed what was in the product—so the pieces that actually create the product, broken down on a spreadsheet. I sent all that information into Amazon, and then I sent all the details: where I got it made, blah blah blah. And then they were like, “Okay, we’re going…” It took months to get it ungated.
Bradley Sutton: Did you need a website and different things.?
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: I know it’s hard to remember now all the details, but what else, other than what you just mentioned, did you end up needing or they asked for over this period of months?
Carabella Riazzo: Yes. So they asked for a legit website to see where else I was selling. They asked for the real invoice, not just the PI. And then they asked what exactly makes your product. I broke down the exact pieces, the components inside of the product. And then, they also asked for where my factory was located, the factory’s name, and the factory’s contact information. And I sent all of that in a seller case. You know, how you can view a case, start a case. And it took me two months to get it done. But once it was done, I was ready. And then, when I launched another product, the Derma Roller, since that’s like a little cosmetic needle, I had to go through a whole other process because that’s a dermatology tool. And they don’t want anybody just selling these needles on Amazon. So, I had to go through another process of proving that this was a legit process.
Bradley Sutton: Was it of a subcategory that had additional gating?
Carabella Riazzo: Yes.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Interesting. What was different about that process than just beauty in general on gating process?
Carabella Riazzo: That one was shorter, because I had already been ungated for beauty. I was already in the category, but then this one was just kind of like, “Okay, prove to us why your product is dermatology approved”— FDA certificates and things like that. It was kind of like you’re already in the category, but now I want to see that you’re proving what you’re actually selling. It was a lot easier. It was just two things: invoice and FDA approval. And then, they were like, “Okay, you’re good.” And then they actually tell you not to use specific words in your listing. You can’t claim that it’s going to help everybody with their wrinkles. You have to say, “it improves”; “it can improve.” You can’t specifically say, “You’re going to look 10 times better.” They won’t let you do that.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Interesting. It definitely takes a lot of patience. I know there’s some places that offer ungating service, but they charge a thousand, two thousand something dollars.
Carabella Riazzo: Oh, yeah.
Bradley Sutton: I’m sure you were like, “I don’t have time for that.” You wanted to just do it yourself. You ended up not having to really pay anybody to do it. You did that all on your own?
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, cool. That’s good to know. This was in 2017 or 2018?
Carabella Riazzo: 2017
Bradley Sutton: 2017. Okay, so that’s interesting. Now, one thing I wanted to ask was you mentioned that they asked for you to show that you’re on a website; so do you just make a random website or did you legit start a Shopify site and started selling it just to prove to Amazon?
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah, I started a WordPress website actually first. And my WordPress website was terrible. No, it looked beautiful. It looked like physically beautiful, but there was so many windows for someone to check out. People dropped off like crazy. So then, I was like, “Okay, what’s the new big thing?” Kylie Jenner had launched Kylie Lip Kits, Kylie cosmetics, and I don’t really follow her for herself, but I really like her business mindset. I looked at her website, I was like, “This is not a WordPress site. What is this?” I found out about Shopify. I found someone on Fiverr who could help me migrate my WordPress store over to Shopify. And I had them do it for me. And then since then, I’ve been making sales like crazy on there, and it’s just so much easier. People, it’s like one-page checkout; you don’t have to go through seven different pages. And then, yeah, so I started with the WordPress website just to prove to Amazon that I was a legit company. And then I started Instagram, Facebook, because they look at all that stuff. They crawl all over the Internet. So yeah, I started all that stuff and then from there I moved to Shopify.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So, by the time you started on Amazon, how many units were you selling? Were you selling a few a week already on your WordPress?
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah. By the time I started selling on Amazon, I think I was selling five units a week of my facial brushes. And then, once I started selling on Amazon, there’s a few more weeks until I built up my brand presence and got the PPC going. And then, it was just taking off. And then, I wanted more sales on my website, because I was doing FBA, and I realized that with all the inventory, storage fees, and all these other fees that selling on my own website could actually help me pocket more of the money myself.
Bradley Sutton: What’s the average? So, if you fulfill something yourself. I mean like if you do it from Amazon, it could be maybe around 20-25%; you’ve got the 15% Amazon and then, maybe depending on the size, probably six more bucks. It depends on what the price of their product is; but per order, how much more would you take home by fulfilling something yourself with Shopify as opposed to Amazon? Are we talking 50 cents an order, a dollar?
Carabella Riazzo: We’re talking like $16 an order.
Bradley Sutton: $16 an order more you get?
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah. For my product, one of my products specifically, the FBA fee is $12.87. And then the inventory storage fees and then the PPC costs, you have to factor in all those things. Then it’s different for every category. I know beauty is 30%, and then, I know if you’re selling electronics, it’s 65%. It’s crazy. But I have Sellozo; this is a great tool for people who don’t know how to see or breakdown themselves every little fee. I have Sellozo, and they track all the fees. And then I also have a bookkeeper and someone to help me figure out the fees as well. It really does add up if you’re selling a lot of products and if you’re spending a lot of money on inventory and PPC.
Bradley Sutton: Then on Shopify, your credit card processor… I don’t even know how Shopify works. So, is Shopify the credit card processor or you have a second or a merchant account?
Carabella Riazzo: It’s a merchant account It’s a Stripe account. You know Stripe?
Bradley Sutton: Stripe, yes, yes. I know Stripe. Okay. So then, what percentage does Stripe take per transaction?
Carabella Riazzo: Two percent.
Bradley Sutton: 2% and then does Shopify take anything at all?
Carabella Riazzo: I think it’s like 30 cents.
Bradley Sutton: 30 cents per order. So 2% and 30 cents per order. And then the only other fee that you’re paying is the shipping.
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah. But if you factor in shipping in the price, you can offer free shipping, or you can have your customer pay for shipping. I find that factoring in shipping costs, and then offering free shipping is the best way to do it.
Bradley Sutton: Absolutely, absolutely. And then I’m assuming your products are smaller, so then you can just send it via the USPS, right?
Carabella Riazzo: Yes, yes.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So that would be big savings by sending it there. Now, all this time, you said, “Hey, before you start on Amazon, you started WordPress,” and then, obviously, if you are selling on WordPress or Shopify, you’ve got to be fulfilling it. Does that mean you had the factory send you all of the inventory initially to your house or something?
Carabella Riazzo: No, I had the factory send Amazon all my inventory, and then I would hook Amazon up to my Shopify or I would pull out units little by little.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Even though you didn’t have an active listing on Amazon, you could still send them an inventory and use Amazon as a 3PL. Let everybody know a little bit how that works. Because I mean, I know about that, but I think a lot of people might not even realize that Amazon has that service.
Carabella Riazzo: Yes. You can have a fulfilled by merchant listing up, and you can send in inventory to them. So they’re kind of like your fulfillment center. You can either have them fulfill it for you from your website; you have to have an FBA because if it’s at their fulfillment center, they ship it out for you, but it’s a different fee. It’s a little bit less of a fee, because there’s less stickering; they don’t have to label everything for you. It’s kind of just like you’re using them as a—what is that…
Bradley Sutton: You don’t have to have an FN SKU for Amazon items?
Carabella Riazzo: No.
Bradley Sutton: Really? Just by the UPC?
Carabella Riazzo: Yes. The UPC. You just use the UPC, and they just hold the inventory for you, and they’ll ship it out for you. And it’s crazy, because whenever you sell something off Shopify or off Amazon, they’re synced together. They’ll decrease the amount, the inventory for you.
Bradley Sutton: You’re not having to, one by one to give Amazon orders, like, “Hey, I just made an order, ship it to this address?” It’s linked directly to Shopify.
Carabella Riazzo: Yes.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. And then, so what are the fees? Are the shipping fees the same as what you would pay FBA, not counting the 15% commission and stuff, but like the pick-and-pack fee.
Carabella Riazzo: Pick-and-pack fee is the same.
Bradley Sutton: All that’s the same.
Carabella Riazzo: Yes.
Bradley Sutton: And then there’s no extra charge?
Carabella Riazzo: No.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. Interesting. Then, you had all the inventory sitting there. Now, you get ungated. Now, you make your FBA listing.
Carabella Riazzo: Yes.
Bradley Sutton: Were you able to tie that existing inventory to your ASIN or did you have to bring it back and then sticker it and send it back in? How did that work?
Carabella Riazzo: No, I was able to tie it to my ASIN by creating it. You have an FBM listing, and then you create an FBA listing, but you just duplicate it. You just copy it, and you just say, “I want this to be fulfilled by Amazon.” It’s the same ASIN. And then once you have that there, you go to the FBM listing, and you put the inventory as zero. Then, if you have reviews there or anything else there, it just comes over into FBA.
Bradley Sutton: Do you actually create an ASIN when you’re just doing the Shopify fulfillment?
Carabella Riazzo: Yes.
Bradley Sutton: Oh, see? I didn’t know that. Okay, so that makes sense. So then, when you go to add a product, you’re adding this ASIN, but when you set it up just for fulfilment, it’s probably mostly blank. It’s not like you have to put titles and descriptions and pictures and stuff.
Carabella Riazzo: Yes, exactly.
Bradley Sutton: Then you create it now in your Seller Central account. What manages the fulfillment side? When you’re not doing FBA or FBM; where you’re just doing the fulfillment, is it via Seller Central or it’s a completely different platform?
Carabella Riazzo: That’s a completely different platform.
Bradley Sutton: What is it called? How can people find more or look at that? Is there a website on Amazon for it?
Carabella Riazzo: Like a ShipStation?
Bradley Sutton: No. When you send inventory, like before you had your own product on Amazon, before you were going to fulfill our sell products on Amazon, you ship the inventory to Amazon and then they’re just being your warehouse. How do people find out about that service? Because that’s not regularly at Seller Central, right?
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah, I have a mentor and he started selling on Amazon for the longest time, and then he moved over to Shopify, and I learned it through him. Actually, it wasn’t in the course, but he showed me a few tricks like that. That’s kind of how I was able to learn it. I think that if you wanted to do something similar to that, I don’t know, maybe use Google. You have to kind of sit with somebody and learn how to do it. It’s not like a normal process.
Bradley Sutton: That’s what I mean. I’m curious too, because I’ve always known that existed, but I never actually knew. I figured it wasn’t at Seller Central, so I didn’t realize that there’s an ASIN. But we’ll have to put that in the show notes, so Anthony, our content manager, he’ll definitely put that info because I think a lot of people would find that interesting. They didn’t realize it.
Carabella Riazzo: I can even ask Kent, and then he can maybe text me the info, and I can give it to you so that you guys can have an idea on how the process goes.
Bradley Sutton: You went from selling four or five a week on WordPress, now, we’re in 2019. What’s your projected sales this year? If you’ve even projected for Amazon and you’re off-Amazon business?
Carabella Riazzo: Projected sales would be $150,000 to $250,000 for both of them; this year I have not been so aggressive. Prime Day was good, but it wasn’t that good. I made big mistakes on Prime Day, both years.
Bradley Sutton: What are some of those mistakes?
Carabella Riazzo: Oh my gosh, you guys, don’t increase your PPC budgets until the day of Prime Day. I increased my PPC budgets two days before. I was like, “Oh, I’m going to get people looking at my listing. They’re going to be adding it to cart. This and this and that.” But a lot of people do a lot of window shopping before Prime Day. They go on Amazon; they click on everything; they want to see everything, and if you have high PPC budget on certain keywords, you are just going to waste money. Don’t do that.
Bradley Sutton: You got tons of clicks without purchases.
Carabella Riazzo: Yes, two days before that; there was so many clicks, but no purchases. But Prime Day was good, but those two days prior, it was like even if you did make hundreds and thousands of sales, those big campaign budgets in those two days, it drains the amount of money you actually make. So, you really don’t even breakeven.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, cool. Good to know.
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah, it was insane.
Bradley Sutton: Let’s say you say $200,000 this year overall. What percentage is on Amazon and what percentage is off roughly?
Carabella Riazzo: About 60% is off Amazon. And 40% on Amazon.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. How many SKUs is that?
Carabella Riazzo: I have eight SKUs.
Bradley Sutton: Eight SKUs. All right. Are you still selling your first product? I mean, not the first product that you discontinued, but the first, once you knew what you were doing after you took the course, are you still selling that?
Carabella Riazzo: Yes.
Bradley Sutton: Oh, that’s awesome. You know, a lot of people say, “Nah, it has already died.” Yeah, I know you market yourself as well. A lot of people are just like, “Hey, I’m just going to make a private label product. I’m going to make a brand name on Amazon and that’s it.” But you, you are really making a big push, whether it’s YouTube, Instagram. What was your strategy like? Did somebody teach that to you? Well, what is your strategy, first of all? I kind of know it because I’ve checked up a little bit on it but explain what your strategy is and how you came to this strategy.
Carabella Riazzo: My strategy is instead of just being a faceless brand on Amazon, I want to be the face of my product and build a community around my brand. I started Dolface with just an idea of “Okay, I’ve had acne, and I know what works and how to get rid of it.” And then, once I started to have clear skin, I really wanted to help other people get the same thing. It’s just a confidence killer to have acne. I was like, “Okay, what can I do to make people comfortable and just build a community around this?” I started the Instagram, and I already had a few thousand followers on my personal account, just from modeling and things like that. Then, I wanted to build Dolface to kind of be intersected with myself.
Carabella Riazzo: My strategy is to build a brand. I would say like Kylie Jenner, she’s the face of her business. When people think about her brand, they think about her, because she’s the face of her business. My mindset was, if she can do that, I can do that. It’s going to take me a little bit longer because I’m not already born into fame, but I can totally do that. And you see people online, like, I don’t know if you watch YouTube or beauty videos, but Jeffrey Star, James Charles, they all started with zero subscribers. They were all kind of nobody at one time. My strategy is to build myself up. I have a long-term plan for a five-year goal. I don’t think about just the sales right now. I really believe like, “Okay, this is where I want to be in five years, and this is what I want my business to look like.”
Carabella Riazzo: This and this and that. And I put things together in that frame of mind. I think a lot of people don’t see that. They’re like, “I just want the product. I want to make a ton of sales.” When I first launched my product, I knew I needed to differentiate and not just on Amazon with the product itself, but Brock Johnson talks about this a lot. He says, You know you need to research your competition.” I researched the competition really well, and I saw that there are a bunch of faceless kind of brands that nobody even knows about. They don’t even have websites. When I was looking at that, I knew that I needed to be different off Amazon as well as on Amazon. I was like, “That’s it. I’m going to be the face of my brand; my website is going to kick ass, and I’m totally just going to destroy the competition in the long term.”
Carabella Riazzo: Not In the short term, because they have big budgets and things like that. So the goal is and the strategy is to build a brand that people can relate to and people can see like, “Okay, this is her story. This is what she does, and this is how she can help us. And so I think it’s really important; if you want to have a lasting brand, a lasting company, and something different, then I think you need to do something like this, because you will definitely get crushed by these big Chinese sellers that have tons of money to just get to the front page and destroy you.” And so, that’s kind of my strategy.
Bradley Sutton: Then you said you started the Instagram; you do a lot about it on your personal Instagram, but you also started a business Instagram right now. Something cool about the business Instagram. I noticed I can click on images on your business Instagram for your brand, and then I can actually one click it, and then it’ll take me to somewhere where I can actually purchase your product. Is that taking me to the Shopify?
Carabella Riazzo: Yes.
Bradley Sutton: Was that difficult to set up?
Carabella Riazzo: No.
Bradley Sutton: Are you able to track like how many sales actually come originated from Instagram as opposed to just people who landed on Shopify?
Carabella Riazzo: Yes.
Bradley Sutton: For your Shopify business, how much comes from that Instagram landing page?
Carabella Riazzo: Instagram is like 40% of the 60% I talked about. Some of it comes from Facebook and some of it also comes from YouTube now. And I only have 400 subscribers on YouTube. It’s very small so far, but people are still purchasing on YouTube. I dropped my links in the description below, but a lot of it does come from Instagram. Instagram is so powerful. If you guys don’t have Instagram, you have to start it.
Bradley Sutton: Actually, the majority of your Shopify sales are coming from social media. It’s not people just googling, and then they end up on your website. How difficult was it to set up that Instagram thing? Because I don’t see many people doing that. I was like “Whoa, this is pretty cool. I didn’t know you could just like click and then it just takes you to purchase.”
Carabella Riazzo: Yes, It starts off with your Instagram page being a professional page, and you have to link it up to your Facebook. And then once those are linked, then you want to get your Shopify store, and you want to link both of them to your Shopify store. And then once you have all three linked up, you want to go into Facebook. And I think this is where a lot of people get confused because they think it’s from Shopify. It’s actually from Facebook. You’d go into Facebook, and you create a marketplace, a shop tab in Facebook, and then you upload all of your products from Shopify, and you can do this in your business manager. I knew I might be talking over some heads right now, but you do this in the business manager. You create a catalog and then from that catalog, you go into your Instagram and you go in, and there’ll be a little tab.
Carabella Riazzo: Because now your business and business pages are connected, and it’ll say like Facebook catalog, and you click it, and then there’s all your inventory. And then when you post a picture of that product, it’ll show you in your Instagram. You know how it says tag people? There’ll be another tab that says tag product, and then you can tag the product there.
Bradley Sutton: That’s awesome. If sales come through those channels, are you paying Instagram or Facebook another small percentage at all?
Carabella Riazzo: No.
Bradley Sutton: Really?
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: Holy cow.
Carabella Riazzo: I know.
Bradley Sutton: Is there a monthly fee to that?
Carabella Riazzo: No.
Bradley Sutton: Come on, people get on this. This is easy money here. Basically, if you would’ve just done what everybody else does and just did your Amazon, you’d be only doing maybe a hundred thousand or less a month. But this way has allowed you to more than double your income by diversifying where your traffic comes from, even in something as competitive as the beauty industry. That’s pretty awesome.
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah. Because I’m not even on the first page of beauty for my products on Amazon. I’ll stay around page the bottom of first, second, and third for my main key, and I still get authentic sales; I don’t know how to say it, organic sales, from people just searching my brand name, Dolface.
Bradley Sutton: Right before you came, I was like, “Oh man, I don’t even know what her products look like on Amazon.” We were like, “Let me Amazon Google it,” if that’s even a word. And then like it even autocompleted your brand name, so that’s how you know when you successfully built demand for your brand: if Amazon recognizes it either as a search. I don’t know, have you ever checked your brand name in Helium 10 to see if it has search volume.
Carabella Riazzo: On Google. It has 18,000 search volume. I have never checked it on Helium 10.
Bradley Sutton: Make sure to check that. Speaking of Helium 10, I know you use Helium 10 because you told me. What are your favorite features of it? What do you use it most for?
Carabella Riazzo: I use it most for reverse ASIN on Cerebro. I love that. I love the keyword tracker that helps me so much. But my main obsession is definitely Cerebro. Am I saying it right?
Bradley Sutton: Yes.
Carabella Riazzo: It is great. I reversed ASIN myself; I reverse ASIN everybody else and I just steal keywords and I figure out ranking, and it’s just one of the most important tools. If you don’t have it, you guys have to get it. Jungle Scout is cool, but Helium 10 is like on steroids. You can find out so much there, so you guys definitely need to check it out for sure.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. All right. So now let’s talk a little bit about just—I kind of pride myself on wanting to have more female entrepreneurs on this podcast than all the other like Amazon podcasts put together. Because when I go to these conferences, I always see a need. There’s a lot of women out there who I think want to become entrepreneurs. They want to get on Amazon, but they see it kind of like as a male-dominated thing. They go to the conferences, like all dudes, and it’s like they don’t have enough voices. So many people look to Tatiana, like yourself and newer ones like Tamara, and we have a bunch of others. And so, they always tell me when I do have people; I’ve had Tati, I don’t know if you’ve heard her podcast, if you haven’t, you got to go listen back to them. I’ve had Tatiana on podcast and so many women reached out to me and like, “Oh, thank you.”
Bradley Sutton: She’s so inspiring. And then, I did a young entrepreneurs podcast. I actually met one of them at SellerCon as well. And one was a 19-year-old guy and one was a 19-year-old girl. And when I asked her what her original inspiration was, it was Tatiana. But for guys, you ask them, it’s like, “Oh, we’ve got Tomer, we’ve got Kevin King, we’ve got Liran.” I mean, it looks like tons of influencers out there who are male who people can have as role models. You just jumped right in, right? But what do you see as something that might hold back other females? Do you think that’s an issue? So many of the influencers and so many of the instructors in the game are male. Is that the reason why there’s so few, relatively speaking, women going on Amazon? What’s your opinion on that?
Carabella Riazzo: Well, I’m a girl, and I know that sometimes I overcomplicate things. Sometimes I feel easily stressed out if something doesn’t go the way I wanted it to go. And being more of a perfectionist, it definitely just makes you feel a little bit more stressed out. And also, it’s not sexy to sell on Amazon when you’re a girl; when you’re a girl, you’re like, “Oh, I want to do modeling” or “I want to be out with my friends.” A lot of women or younger girls especially, they don’t really want to sit in their house for hours on the computer and do keyword research. It’s not sexy. Maybe that’s why. Or maybe because it is a male-dominated industry; maybe it’s more of a threat; maybe it’s like the guys are just crushing it. I don’t have a chance in here. Or maybe they just don’t even know about the opportunity at all. I think that there are a lot more women. When I was at SellerCon, I saw a lot of girls.
Bradley Sutton: It’s definitely increasing.
Bradley Sutton: We are crushing it, you know, we’re hard workers and we’re definitely going to dominate it eventually.
Bradley Sutton: I try to have more female entrepreneurs on here. It’s not like I have to work really hard at that. I mean two years ago; I probably would have. There might not have been many out there, but now, it is coming up. I think it’s important that women do have role models. Just Tatiana, herself up and coming. Sometimes people might see a Tatiana who’s so, so successful, and they might think, “Oh that’s kind of out of my reach.” But I love hearing your story because it’s very recent, and it’s not like, hey, you’re a hundred-million-dollar seller right now. And then somebody can relate to you. I mean you’re on a great pathway right now. You’ve got about eight, nine products. You just broke the six figures. I mean that is something that’s very doable I would think for just anybody. You didn’t even finish college, right?
Carabella Riazzo: Nope. Don’t have a degree.
Bradley Sutton: That’s not like you had some crazy background that gave you a leg up on other people. You didn’t have maybe a rich benefactor who gave you $100,000 to invest in your products. I mean how did you get the money for some of your initial investments?
Carabella Riazzo: My first investment was the course, the Amazing Selling Machine course, and it was $5,000, you guys. And I didn’t have the money to fork it all out at the, at once. So I did the payment plan of like a thousand a month. And then, while I was doing the payment plan, I was just saving and saving and saving for my first round of inventory. My first round of inventory was fairly small. I did 500 units. The shipping was almost as much as the products, but you just kind of have to discipline yourself—no Friday nights out spending a bunch of money on bottle service. I kind of like stopped drinking Starbucks; took a break from getting my nails done because all that stuff adds up.
Bradley Sutton: No more Time nightclub!
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah, no more nightclubs; no more shopping. I wouldn’t just go buy a random dress for no reason.
Bradley Sutton: Were you working during that time?
Carabella Riazzo: I was working. I worked in the film industry for three or four years on set, and I was a site rep, so we watch million-dollar homes while they film movies there. And I would work like a ton, and there was always additional work to do. My boss is an amazing person. He’s amazing person, and he would always be like, “Hey, you want to work on the weekend?” I worked seven days a week, like 14 hours, 16-hour shifts, just watching people film movies. It was really cool, but I was tired. I was hustling, and I just had to make sacrifices to save up. I had nobody investing and was not asking for money. I didn’t try to crowdfund or anything like that. I applied for one crowdfunding thing, but I just didn’t know how to get through the website. I was like, “Screw this; I’m not doing this.”
Bradley Sutton: Are you still working now aside from Amazon?
Carabella Riazzo: I have a social media marketing agency where we do social media marketing. We have a few clients and most of it is outsourced.
Bradley Sutton: Mainly, you worked for yourself.
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: Thanks to thanks to Amazon, thanks to Shopify and everything.
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: Well Carabella I think, two years from now, instead of everybody saying, “Oh, it’s Tatiana who inspired me, who knows, maybe somebody, I’m hoping, and this is the reason why I’m trying to have women.” Like I said, one of the 19-year-olds I had, he’s a seven-figure seller since he was 16 years old. I want people to see that it’s not all one demographic or one avatar of person who can sell on Amazon. You could be a teenager, you can sell; you can be a female and have success on Amazon; or you could be a male, you could be a senior citizen, you could be in your sixties, seventies, and start on Amazon really regardless of. I even had a married couple that was cool, a married couple.
Bradley Sutton: They were a dynamic duo that was selling. They kind of had a leg up though. You’ve got to listen to their podcast. Their last name is Succés. I’m like, “Okay, yeah, you guys kind of cheated. Then, you guys were destined for success.” But anyways, Carabella. Thank you very much for coming on here. Now if anybody would like to check out your social media and see how you do things or maybe reach out to you or check out your brand. What are some ways that people can find you on the Internet?
Carabella Riazzo: You can find me at Carabella Riazzo for Instagram and all my social media. And then, if you go to the links in my bio, all of them go to my businesses. It’s fairly easy. But my Instagram for my business is Dolface—with one L—dot cosmetics. You guys can check it out there as well. And everything is kind of linked together. If you find one page, you’ll find another.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. Cool. What’s your goals for maybe 2020, like next year?
Carabella Riazzo: Next year, my goal is 5 million. It’s really aggressive.
Bradley Sutton: Wow.
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah, yeah, it’s really aggressive, but I hope to scale up faster and hire a full-time team and just go from there. That’s my goal. And then my five-year goal is 100 million and just keep going after that.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. Wow, that’s awesome. I’ll follow up with you, especially since you’re so local. Keep in touch, and then we’ll touch back with you maybe next year and let’s see how close you are.
Carabella Riazzo: Yeah. We can do it. The exact thing. August 1st, 2020. Let’s do it.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. Alright. Thanks a lot, Carabella.
Carabella Riazzo: Thanks for having me.
Bradley Sutton: All right, bye.
Bradley Sutton: 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 you can be notified every time we drop a new episode.
- #156 – The Latest Amazon PPC Advertising Strategies, Including Video and Sponsored Display Ads - July 4, 2020
- #155 – Helium 10 Introduces 9 New Ways to Level-Up the Way You Track, Learn, and Earn on Amazon - June 30, 2020
- #154 – Amazon Warehousing Tactics, Foreign Accounts and a Product Launch for the South Korean Government - June 27, 2020