Register for the Ecom Roadmap webinar with Elena Saris on Thursday September 5, 2019 at 11:00 am PST
Maybe you have big aspirations for selling on Amazon. Or, perhaps you’re already making 6 or 7 figures. In today’s episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Customer Success, Bradley Sutton speaks with a former criminal defense attorney who, after a fake counterfeit scare, became an expert on multi-channel eCommerce and selling on Shopify. Listen in and find out how she sold $750,0000 worth of product in one quarter at a 35% profit margin. Oh, and by the way, this product wasn’t sold on Amazon.
In episode 57 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley and Elena discuss:
01:29 – A Podcasting Criminal Defense Attorney Takes a Facebook Ads Class
02:52 – Facebook Ads Drive $10,000 in Sales to One Teespring T-shirt Design
04:25 – Was it Really Better During the “Golden Age” of Amazon?
06:50 – Selling Christmas Gifts that Will Get You Slapped
08:20 – Did She Keep Her Amazon Side-Hustle on the Down-Low?
09:34 – 6 Months in and Her Amazon Income Had Exceeded Her Lawyer’s Salary
13:50 – $750,000 and 35% Profit in the 4th Quarter with One Product on Shopify
15:27 – She Didn’t Actually See that Lucrative Product Until She Received a Return
18:32 – Bradley – “Where is Your Traffic Coming From?” Elena – “100% Facebook Ads”
21:53 – How Elena Uses Helium 10 In Reverse to Determine Great Shopify Products
23:55 – “Stopping the Scroll” Helps Bring in 2.1 Million in Two months
27:57 – Driving Facebook Traffic to Amazon – Often, the Margin Just isn’t There
28:50 – It Only Costs $250 to $400 to Test a Product on Shopify
29:08 – Only 3 Days After a Product Concept, You’re Starting to Get Your First Sales
31:42 – Who Would Elena Suggest Try Shopify? – Everyone
32:12 – Fake Counterfeit Claims on Amazon Lead to a Desire to Diversify
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Bradley Sutton: Today, find out how
Elena was able to sell $750,000 worth of one product in the fourth quarter
alone last year without even having to touch one of them and with a 35% profit
margin. By the way, this isn’t even on Amazon. How cool is that? Pretty cool, I
Bradley Sutton: How’s it going, everybody? Welcome to another episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast. I’m your host Bradley Sutton, and now you can actually see me. For the first time, we’re doing a video here as well as audio. Anyways, I’ve got an amazing guest today Elena Saris—rhymes with Paris—here with us. Elena, how’s it going?
Elena Saris: It’s going great. How are you?
Bradley Sutton: I’m doing just ducky.
Elena Saris: Very excited to be the Guinea pig on video. I appreciate that. Thanks.
Bradley Sutton: Yes, I noticed there—in
the background since I can actually see you—you have got a rotary telephone.
How many of our generation z people out there or millennials know what a rotary
telephone is? She’s got one in the back, and you say it’s actually real, right?
Elena Saris: It’s a real telephone. It worked. It doesn’t let you get your voicemail messages by pressing one, which kind of sucks, but I keep it to show people that you don’t have to be high tech to do really well in these businesses.
Bradley Sutton: I love it, love it,
love it. Now, speaking of businesses, you yourself have a varied background in
business. I don’t know the whole story. I’d like to take it back… when do you
start in e-commerce or what was your first entrepreneurial venture?
Elena Saris: Okay. I was and still am a criminal defense attorney, and I had this idea. I had a podcast about the legal system, and I was thinking about monetizing it, and so, I recorded a bunch of training videos on how to be a better trial lawyer. And then, I went online thinking I could find a way to do that. Some people said— “Well, you should take this Facebook Ads class.” And I’m like, “Facebook has ads?” I had never heard it. I mean, I’d heard of Facebook, but I’d obviously never been on it. I didn’t grow up with it—obviously, if I have a rotary phone, so I thought, “Well, isn’t that where you just look at cat videos and stalk your ex? You can put ads on Facebook?” And I took a class with a guy named Don Wilson; it was called Facebook Ads Cracked, and it was teaching you how to place ads. I thought people wanted to learn how to be better at their job. I’ve come to learn over the years that you can place three kinds of ads for things online to make money, get paid, get laid, and get skinny. And those are it, right?
Elena Saris: They don’t want to pay necessarily to be fitter unless that’s going to get them one of the three. But the good news was that the course was not theoretical. Teespring had just come out, and so it taught you that you didn’t have to have a landing page, a merchant account; you just get royalties for putting up tee shirts and putting up ads. And lo and behold, I was making… I think one of my shirts made $10,000, and I did like $30,000. It may be three or four months. And I was just like, “Holy cow.”
Bradley Sutton: Facebook ads is what
brought the traffic for that?
Elena Saris: Facebook ads brought the traffic to the Teespring page. Now, back then, it was really, really, really cheap. We could scrape your username; we could sell you a shirt with just your username on it. We could find out your date of birth. My clicks were 9 cents. I mean, it was a wild west, and I just got hooked. And so, I stayed in my job. I loved my job. I just was done with it after 25 years. I found Amazon; Facebook got really hard, really hard, really fast, and this course came along teaching people how to sell on Amazon. And I jumped on it and got in very early and did very well.
Bradley Sutton: What year was this
Elena Saris: This was 2013, 2014. 2013 was when I got into the whole thing. And then 2014 is when I got into Amazon.
Bradley Sutton: Okay.
Elena Saris: Yeah. And I think I met my business partner, Simon Chan, who was wanting to get into Amazon and had a sourcing agency in China. So, we formed the company sourcing in Asia and took people to China to teach them how to source and get them sourcing agents and that went quite well. Then, I guess what I’m about to be interviewed about is a sort of a next evolution from there.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. Before we get
into that though, a lot of our listeners are either aspiring Amazon sellers or
have been Amazon sellers for a short time, long time. But I would like to know
a little bit more about your Amazon background. When you started in 2014, is it
true what they say? It was so much easier in those golden ages than it is now.
Elena Saris: I’ll tell you; I mean everybody that I meet tells me what ASM class they took. Right? I was ASM 3, and we were always jealous of the people who were in the first course that wasn’t numbered. And also, ASM 1 and 2; we just assumed they were all bazillionaires by now. But I will tell you this: I wanted to do a probiotic supplement. I didn’t know what probiotics was. I was able to white label a supplement. I talked to one of my mentors at the time. I asked him, “What do you really think the expense would be to get it to the top three?” He said around 2000 to 3000. From the time I took that advice to the time the item came in; it was really about six grand that it cost me. But I was ranking number three and number two for a probiotic supplement on Amazon for so long it cost me like $17 that I was selling for $40 or something or $45. It was the wild west in that regard.
Bradley Sutton: Made in the USA?
Elena Saris: Made in the USA. Absolutely. And I think it was a good six months of a really cool, nice run. And I was doing some other little products in between. I don’t pull up probiotic supplements. I didn’t get a big boost in Christmas, so I knew I wanted to do some other stuff. I started getting into really smaller things that were kind of unsexy, just to sort of pad the bottom of everything while I was working on the sexy stuff. And maybe six months went by, and I started falling in the ranks, and I saw another one of these guys that I was in a group with, and he was rising and rising and rising. I pretty much saw the writing on the wall and said, “I’m done with the probiotics.” ASM 4 opened, ASM five opened right away.
Elena Saris: People were just flooding it, and I got out when the getting was good, and he eventually rose to number two and stayed there for a long time, and I had a conversation with him, and I said, “How much did it eventually cost you?” Now, remember, I was quoted three or four, the actual was six to seven; he said 75,000, but he was pulling in something like 300,000 a month on it. I didn’t have that. I didn’t have the constitutional makeup for that. Even if I had the credit cards for that, I was a lawyer still, it wasn’t what I was going to go all in on. I started realizing that I was looking for things. I did things a little bit differently that I noticed now a lot of people are coming back to, which is looking for items that sold between four and 600 units a month that I could source for $3 and sell for 15 to 20. I had a stable of products and I’ll give you some dumb examples like a butter dish, a steering wheel cover, things that if someone, this is what I told people I sold, if you went to my Amazon store and shopped for Christmas for someone, they’d slap you across the face.
Elena Saris: I mean it was like nothing you’ve ever wanted to have as a gift. Things that everyone needed, and I was traveling to Yiwu China twice a year, so it was very easy to get these products and that turned out to be rather lucrative because this one was 1500 a month here, 1600 a month here too. And that’s profit. I literally would talk about like this item paid my mortgage this item paid my car and it worked out pretty well, and I rode it.
Bradley Sutton: How many hours a
week were you still putting into being a lawyer?
Elena Saris: Full time.
Bradley Sutton: Oh, full time. I
mean because lawyers work some pretty crazy hours.
Elena Saris: I defend people accused of crimes carrying the death penalty, so a lot of hours. I was putting in two hours tops a day on this, on the Amazon business. And then I was spending the weekends when I wasn’t on the trial. When I’m not in trial, it’s busy, but it’s not crazy. And so, I realized I’d rather be doing this. I got really burned out on it after 24 and a half years, and I stayed till 25 just to get a tiny pension.
Bradley Sutton: Now I’m just guessing here, but did you kind of keep the Amazon stuff on the down-low? Do you think it would have hurt your rep – here you are a big-time defense lawyer and if they found out that you were selling butter dishes on the side?
Elena Saris: Yeah, it’s funny. I was in school for something else, and I also kept a lot of things on the side because I really had sort of reached a big pinnacle of success in that business and still do. And I still have a client right now. I retired two years ago, but, you know, like the Godfather, they keep pulling me back. I just couldn’t turn down this case of this one kid that needs my help. I really bristle at the notion that wherever you are out there, whoever you are to say you don’t have time for this business. You have time if you make the right choices for this business. I didn’t tell people. And when I got promoted to management at the end, like the last six, eight months, my trials had ended. It was pretty much. I was on my way out the door and everyone kind of like, “oh, Elena’s going to do that.” I think they thought of it as like an MLM. They just thought, “how is she getting all this money?” And “boy, she’s dressing a lot nicer.” And I think some people just thought I was moving on to like another firm or something. And the reality was I was just done.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. Was there a
point where your profit actually on Amazon actually exceeded your salary as a
Elena Saris: Six months into my retirement.
Bradley Sutton: Wow.
Elena Saris: And I will tell you this though, and this is something that I think only people who’ve been in a job longer than 15 years or so understand: even though my salary or my income exceeded my prior salary, it messed with my brain not knowing that I was getting x amount of dollars down to the penny on the 15th and on the 30th. That’s something; if you’re thinking about retiring or leaving your business, either make sure you have enough that you never have to worry about that or that you recognize and plan for the fact that. It’s not as if you’re worried about money, but when you think about money, you take away your creativity a little bit – something’s renting space in your head for free there. And so even now, some days, it’s kind of funny to me that I still am, I don’t know, it’s just a different world.
Bradley Sutton: Right.
Elena Saris: You’re incorporate. Oh yeah. The check’s coming; the check’s coming.
Bradley Sutton: That wasn’t the only
pivot you did. You pivoted from being a lawyer to going full time on Amazon,
and then you had another pivot later. Which is why I wanted to bring you on
this show. It’s about Shopify. A lot of people, sometimes they start on
Shopify, and then they build a brand and do Amazon. But then Shopify for you
came later. And I know a lot of people do that same track or maybe they’ve
never even considered Shopify as an alternative. Let’s go back to how you even
discovered Shopify in the first place.
Elena Saris: Well, I’d heard of Shopify. I had tried it before. I tried doing some retail arbitrage on Shopify before I was even dabbling in Amazon, listing things that were on eBay or something. But I really had no idea what I was doing. I really didn’t. And when I had these trips to China, this fellow says, “Can I come with on your trip, but I really don’t want to pay the full price because I don’t need the Amazon stuff.” And I’m like, “Well, then why are you coming?” He says, “Well, I dropship on Shopify as well.” And so I said, if you dropship, isn’t that all taken care of?” And he said, “I wanted to private label one of the things, and I was hoping, “- a lot of people just don’t like to travel by themselves.
Elena Saris: They just want a car to pick them up and to be told where to go. And I said, “All right if you give us a talk, if you talk to my people about placing ads on Facebook that might help their Amazon listing.” I was very naive. I thought he was going to up and talk about you can place, you know at cold traffic ads on Facebook and send people to your Amazon store. I had no idea how the world had changed for the cost per purchase, you know, from the tee-shirt days. And he got up and the first thing out of his mouth was like, “I did 8 million last year and it was about 35% profit” and I’m like, mic drop. And then he brought a friend with him who was 23 years old and this kid got up and did another talk for us just because he thought the group was cool and he says, “yeah, I did 20 million last year.”
Elena Saris: And I’m like, “wow” and he goes, “no Elena, you have to understand, I’ve been doing this 10 years.” “You’re 23 years old.” I’m like, “wow.” And not to say these two weren’t the sharpest tools in the shed; they were, but I still thought, “man, I can do this.” Right? I know one of them might be listening… but this is very doable. And that was really his point. And I think the greatest gift he gave us was, this is really doable because he had been a CPA; he didn’t have internet marketing experience. I got back home in July of 2017, put up a store and immediately bombed like just did everything wrong. I had this great ad that was viral because it was funny.
Bradley Sutton: What
product were you trying to do?
Elena Saris: It was a home decor product.
Bradley Sutton: Okay.
Elena Saris: I might bring it back. I’m not going to say exactly what it was, but I made a funny ad and I mistook hilarity for the desire to purchase. I just kept pouring money into it, and I wound up losing like $15,000. But my earnings report said, my screenshot would have said $48,000 in revenue. So, it taught me two things. Number one, I had to get help and number two, don’t believe screenshots until you see the ad spend, right? Because 48,000 was a pretty good gig. But here I wound up losing $15-$16,000. And then I got a mentor. I started just really diving into the metrics, which was really hard for me because I used to joke that I didn’t really want to be a lawyer. I just went to law school because there were no math classes on the agenda.
Elena Saris: Numbers and I, we are not like tight friends, but then I put up a product in maybe August of last year, and it started to take off in October and that one product did $750,000 in the fourth quarter.
Bradley Sutton: $750,000, one product in the fourth quarter, only on Shopify.
Elena Saris: Only on Shopify, 35% profit. There was one day, now this is a Unicorn Day. Your numbers will vary. Don’t try this at home. Professional driver closed track. One day I spent $6700 on an ad and I did $67,000 on revenue. And now this was a private label product or just something that just, by the way, a random product that I know six other people sold. Two of them did 1.5 million, exact same product. Four of them did over 200,000. And of those, the two of them did $500. I think all in, I sold 30,000 units of this thing.
Elena Saris: And if I had to estimate, I would say almost 200,000 units of this were sold. Now keep in mind if you’re just going to the USA, there are 230 million people on Facebook, and you can reach people worldwide. And if you’re selling five, 10,000 units of something, you don’t even have to tell Facebook who to look for. Their data on us is so creepy. You can just put up an ad that says men, women 18 to 65 as your target audience. Have the audience be 230 million, because your pixel has that much data on it. Meaning, the pixel is just a little piece of code that carries information back from your Shopify store to Facebook saying this is the person who bought this. You know, there are women 45 to 65 who live in the United States.
Elena Saris: Bam. You don’t even have to tell them that. They just learned it.
Bradley Sutton: And this is dropshipping?
Elena Saris: Total drop shipping. I never saw the item. I actually never saw the item until I got a return. I saw pictures of it. I had an AliExpress. It just kills me when people say, “Oh, drop shipping’s dead.” You can’t use AliExpress. AliExpress is the Chinese Amazon; they’re basically the people that you’re sourcing from as an Amazon seller if you’re using Alibaba. As an Amazon seller, you know how to talk to suppliers, you have WeChat accounts, you have WhatsApp, which puts you ahead of 90% of the Shopify sellers. You get your link; you talk to them about shipping times. You know, I think one of the most discussed and biggest misconceptions about dropshipping is that you’re only getting cheap gadgets from China.
Elena Saris: And it takes two months to get to the customer. And the people who are perpetrating that kind of myth are people who are selling courses for other things. It took me well over a year and a half to do $1 million on Amazon. It took me less than, truthfully, I’m going to say nine months, but in reality, it was closer to six. Once I figured out, I had to learn what I was doing and I private labeled a product, recently launched it April 15th, selling it only on Shopify, and we’re over $350,000 right now. And today’s August 20th, so yeah, April, May, June—four months. And those profit margins are well over 30% as well. I just took a product that was selling really well last year, and people complained about one thing.
Elena Saris: I went to the factory and I said, “can you do this for me? But I need it drop shipped. I don’t want to buy it in bulk.
Bradley Sutton: Was it dropshipped from China then? What’s the shipping time?
Elena Saris: The private label one I have a USA partner . . .
Bradley Sutton: No, I’m sorry, the
first one. The one that you made like
750,000. How long does that take to ship?
Elena Saris: It took then about 21 to 25 days. We are so conditioned as Amazon sellers to believe that everybody wants something in two days or one day or overnight. When you understand the difference between the Amazon marketplace and the Shopify marketplace, you realize that people want normal things, common items that fast. They’re like, “why can’t you get that to me? Everybody has this. I could go to Target and buy it.” But the whole ecosphere of the Shopify Facebook Ads platform is, “wow, product, impulse buys.”
Elena Saris: People are willing to wait. I’ll tell you, having sold almost 30,000 units, the only complaints I got was when the factory got overwhelmed and the, and it was more than 20, 21 or 22 days. If you’re transparent upfront, hey, this is a real hot product, it’s going to take two to three weeks and you communicate them through email and you have good customer service, most people will wait up to 20 days I’ve found. Most of my items now, there’s hundreds of them now, but I work with at least four different three PLs in Hong Kong, the US, Canada and, mainland China, 8 to 15 days, no problem at all. And they’re ubiquitous. They’re not like, oh, I’m special. I found these places. You can find these suppliers all over the place.
Bradley Sutton: Now were most of
your sales from the first one and the second one or are these mostly just
coming from, from Facebook ads or are people finding your Shopify website on
Google? Or where’s this traffic coming from?
Elena Saris: No one’s ever heard of me. No one’s ever heard of my site. Most people don’t even know where they buy it. I get calls sometimes saying, what is this charge for? Because they know they’ve got the item, but they never heard of this store.
Elena Saris: 100% Facebook ads, 100%.
Bradley Sutton: What kind of
customer service then do you have to do to run – like for that first one? I
mean, that’s a lot of – that’s thousands of customers and some people are going
to ask for tracking. Did you have to hire VA’s to help you handle this? Or
Elena Saris: I had a VA with my Amazon business that I’ve had for years. She gets $600 a month and she learned Shopify with me quite frankly. And I had a really good mentor who has had a VA who had some friends who needed work, but they were all trained in Shopify. They were five bucks an hour. All the tracking numbers, shipment, everything automated 100%. So, the only thing I ever had to do, sometimes at the end of the day I would have to go in and hit pay now because unless I wanted to give a VA my credit card. So, there are, I think they’re called API connections. I’m not a tech person, but literally someone places an ad on my store, I mean a purchase on my store and it goes to the supplier directly. the supplier then when we ask it to, we have it so that we have to ask it to go to the supplier.
Elena Saris: But you can make it automatic. Actually, the screen in front of you changes. When you say fulfill an order, it literally is the coolest thing for people who are not techie at all. It opens up and then the name just starts being typed in. Like there’s a ghost on your computer typing in the name, the address, the item and that’s it. And then at the end, and like I said, if you trust your VA with a credit card, you’re totally not into it at all. Otherwise, you go on at night, you hit pay now and it just pays for the bulk order. You can also contact the supplier and just do a CSV file, which by the way is one click from Shopify. You don’t have to populate that form. Shopify lets you export today’s orders. You send it, you can make a wire payment at the end of the month. Because American Express and Visa, they get a little mad when you’re paying like $1,704.69 cents charges to China that gets them mad.
Elena Saris: I started out doing it just with me and her. I literally, the day before that item hits $67,000 which was 1700 orders. The most I’ve ever had is 300 orders. I’m not going to lie, that was crazy. I did not have a team in place. Now, my sister quit her job and she answers my 800 number. But that’s more like her being in the family; you don’t need to hire someone to do that. My customer service expense right now is about maybe $1,500 a month and that’s four or five people, not counting my sister who’s a business partner. But yeah, so they do my chargebacks, they do any problems with the order forms. They do email, chat support. And I’ll tell you when I did the $750,000, I didn’t know what an email sequence was. I didn’t know what a follow up was. I didn’t have an abandoned cart protector. Everybody else was working on their logo and I was just like, I’m getting this up cause it’s the fourth quarter. It’s just taking massive action. That same product, if I had all those in place, would have done about 1.5. But if I’d waited to learn how to do that, it would have done zero because we wouldn’t have had it up. So now I’m doing all that stuff in place.
Bradley Sutton: Now, how do you know
what’s going to be a good product? How’s that product selection? We know how we
do it on Amazon, use helium 10 and try and find a where the opportunity is or
whether there’s demand, but not much competition. But how does the product
selection process work for Shopify?
Elena Saris: We use Helium 10 as well for Shopify.
Bradley Sutton: For Shopify?
Elena Saris: For Shopify, Absolutely.
Bradley Sutton: I want to hear about this.
Elena Saris: Yeah, two different ways. It’s not like, you know, the main go to product selection, but it’s—making sure everything’s okay, once you’ve got it. Yeah. So, there are two ways. There are two or three ways to do it. And here’s, here’s what you have to understand. This is the thing that Amazon sellers get wrong. Your goal in life on Amazon is to be in the top three right above the fold, hopefully, number one for your chosen keyword. People who are going to Amazon know what they want, they know what they want looks like, and they have an idea of how much they’re going to want to spend on it, right? If you’re selling something that is supposed to be a neck pillow for instance, and it turns out that it’s a ball, you’ll be like, wait, what is that?
Elena Saris: It’s not a neck pillow. And they’ll scroll down because it’s not a neck pillow, it’s a ball. It’s like a ball. Like it looks like a, like a soccer ball, a plush soccer ball. You’re going to be like, no, that’s not going to work. On Facebook Ads to get people to your Shopify, it’s completely different. It’s not keyword-driven whatsoever because on Facebook people aren’t there to shop. They’re stalking their ex, they’re looking at cat videos, they’re watching people make food in 20 seconds. Right? And you’re trying to stop the scroll. You are the kiosk in the mall. Alright, the mall, no one goes to the mall to buy the poop emoji socks in the kiosk. They’re going to the Nordstrom’s or to the Apple store and all of a sudden, they see this at the corner of their eye, and they know now they can’t live without the poop Emoji socks.
Elena Saris: So that’s you. The best example I give, and I know you all have seen it there was, you know, a charcoal toothpaste. Charcoal toothpaste was not new two years ago. It had been around forever, maybe not forever, but certainly for a while. And somebody hired a couple of really pretty girls to brush black stuff on their teeth and everyone went, what’s that, I’ve got to click on that. Like what is that? That stops the scroll. That campaign did two point one million in two months. It was not an unusual product in the sense that charcoal toothpaste, he didn’t just invent it, but what he did was he drew attention to it. How many people do you think to type in charcoal toothpaste into the Amazon URL? Not very many. I sort of use Helium 10 in reverse.
Elena Saris: I when I’m selling something like that ball or like charcoal toothpaste or like something that is unusual, I really want to know it’s not selling on Amazon. I really want to find that–, I look at Amazon to see about the reviews and sometimes I’ll order it off Amazon, but I want to know that that thing that’s unusual is not selling. I know that this’ll be the first time most people have seen it. It will wow them in the scroll, and they don’t have a price comparison for it. That’s part of it. Now, the opposite is I’m trying to think about what to sell. When I’m going on Helium 10 and I’ll type in a keyword, and I’ll look for something that’s making a minimum of $10,000 a month. And you have the estimated revenue.
Elena Saris: We just want to know that it has some legs. I prefer similar to the way I did Amazon. I prefer to find things that are under the radar. There’s a lot of spy tools for Facebook. If you just go into your Facebook URL and you type in free shipping by now people are going crazy. You’ll see ads for all of our products from Shopify, all of them. There used to be a Chrome extension where all your newsfeed had were ads. And so, we’re just looking at, like much like Amazon, what are other people selling. But we’re looking at likes, shares, and comments of the post. And then I have a 10-point checklist of criteria that I use that I have ascertained from all the winning products that I’ve seen others do that helped me sort of say if I have an idea for a product, if I see a product, this has legs. It’s different. Your ideas are different, but there’s a lot of ways that being a shop selling on Shopify can help you as an Amazon seller, even if you don’t feel like you have the technical expertise, Shopify, it’s so easy. It’s so easy to set up. It’s as easy to set up a Shopify store as it is to set up an Amazon seller account.
Bradley Sutton: That’s an interesting method. You mentioned charcoal toothpaste, that’s something that obviously somebody who’s not just going to need once, you know. How do you have those kinds of replenishable products and then like you said, sometimes since they buy it from a Facebook ad, they might not even know who they bought it from? How do you take advantage of those products that people are going to want to reorder?
Elena Saris: Yeah, so there’s definitely a way to do subscriptions on, on Shopify. You can absolutely do consumables. That’s one of my criteria, something that either people need over and over again or something people will want to up. I love selling things for the car, because most people have two cars or they know someone with a car like in their family, like their kid or whatever. That’s how you take advantage of it and you can easily set up a subscription. I don’t even know how to be honest with you. I know you can set up the subscription on Amazon. I know how to do it on Shopify. I don’t know how to do it on Amazon. You can do it for all sorts of things. You can do it for gift boxes.
Elena Saris: If you have a brand, let’s say you’re selling teas, you can set up a Shopify subscription that sends him a mystery gift box every month where they get a sample of teas. They might not otherwise have tried it. You can definitely, there are two separate low-ticket types of, of dropshipping stores and one, people sort of refer to negatively as churn and burn. I don’t mind that. And the other one is building your brand. And when you said a lot of people have their Shopify brand and they put it on Amazon; the hard part about driving Facebook traffic to Amazon cold traffic is that most times the margins aren’t there. Because you’ve got the pick and pack fee, even if you’re fulfilling yourself, you’ve got the pick and pack fee from Amazon and then it’s going to cost you somewhere between eight and $20 depending on what you’re selling, to acquire that customer.
Elena Saris: And that’s your entire profit margin a lot of times on Amazon. One really cool trick to do is if you are in a particular niche, like let’s say the kitchen and you want to get into the Shopify game and you want to build a customer list, you can do one of these churns and burn products. I have a churn and burns drive a general store and I have three niche stores, so I’ll put random products on all the time. I mean literally one-day beauty, one-day music, one-day auto, whatever. I’m just throwing it against the wall. Never before when I was on Amazon before I got into the really low-ticket stuff, I spend about $3000 to $4,000 testing. It cost me about $250 to $400 to test a product on Shopify. And once you have an idea for a product, you can build a store, get it up, have the ad up and get your first sale within two days.
Elena Saris: There’s an excitement factor about that. You know that Amazon sellers, we have this long wait and we’ll make money, but there’s just something about hearing your phone go to, “cha-ching” you know, all throughout the day that within like three days at most when you conceive of the product you want to launch and someone making the purchase. I mean it’s just, now that I think about it, it’s like I don’t even have to worry about like money for inventory on Amazon cause my churn and burn store just makes that. How would you like – this is the thing I used to think it was a huge plus that Amazon did our customer service? I thought that was great. It turns out it’s really not because we don’t get our customers, right? We don’t get customers. So how would you like to send someone who checked out your Amazon listing but didn’t buy; two hours later, send them a text message that takes them directly to the cart or the page they left you at?
Elena Saris: My current product that’s at $350,000 since April 15th $40,000 of that is from abandoned cart emails. I can text them; I can Facebook messenger them, I can email them. I was saying you have this great kitchen brand and now you see something like – there was something last year that sold really well. It was a garlic press that was like a half a circle and you put your hand in it and then you rocked it like this, and it did the garlic cloves. That’s it. It’s a funky looking thing, right? It’s like if you’re a big cook, you don’t go to Bed Bath and Beyond to shop for your kitchen pride. Right? But you might be there and go, oh that’s pretty nifty and you’ll buy that. Now you’re still going to go to Target on the low end and Williams Sonoma on the high end to buy your real kitchen stuff.
Elena Saris: But here’s this thing. Now you put this on AliExpress, $3, $4 it costs, you sell it for $12 to $14. Even if you break even, you now have a customer list that you can retarget to get a Facebook fan page, to get a Facebook group, do your Amazon listing directly. You email them. It doesn’t cost anything. The conversion rates are great cause they know exactly what they’re being sent to buy. And you know that they are people who buy things online in the kitchen niche. And it doesn’t have to be a brand store and you don’t even have to have that little, let’s say that little thing is total, not necessarily what it looks like on all the other things on your Amazon store. You don’t have to put it there; you just have to use it to retarget. And it’s so easy, especially if you’re only going for data and not trying to make the profit and just trying to do the AOV (average order value) on the back end of these things. Building your Facebook group, building your email list. There are so many ways that that selling on Shopify, even in the dropship model, even in the churn and burn model that can help your Amazon business. It’s crazy.
Bradley Sutton: Would you suggest this to all Amazon sellers? Like hey, Shopify is an option or maybe just a certain segment, like if they meet some kind of criteria, if they’re selling this much or what kind of Amazon sellers from our listeners, cause we have thousands of Amazon sellers who are listening by who would you suggest trying this model?
Elena Saris: I hate it when people say this, but everyone. And I’ll tell you why. When I got back from China and I started the store, one of my friends was like, you’re losing focus. Like everyone’s like, you’re losing focus. No Plan B. It’s like, I don’t know, the last year that I was selling serious gadgety stuff on Amazon, it was, I think just after Halloween, someone called it in a fake counterfeit claim and said that my listing was counterfeit. I had three years of inventory, two years of inventory receipts, invoices, pictures of me in the factory, a letter from my supplier, 100% good seller rating. They didn’t turn my listing back on until December 26 I had something between $60,000 and $80,000 worth of inventory. That was going to be my huge fourth quarter. I lost the entire fourth quarter.
Elena Saris: I sold through that stuff in May. I would have sold through that stuff November and December. Yeah. You diversify your portfolio and stocks. We diversify all the time. Why are we not doing it? People think, and this is like one of the biggest misconceptions, I don’t care who you are or how much you make online. You are not an Amazon seller; a seller of physical goods and Amazon is your traffic source and getting my head around that opened up all-new possibilities to me. I would tell people, what do you do? Oh, now that you’re retiring, what are you going to do? Oh, I sell on Amazon and then I got my China. Oh, I sell on Amazon and I teach people how to source from Asia. I sell physical things mostly from China online and now I just have a new way of driving a new traffic source.
Elena Saris: I don’t have a Facebook Ads business. I sell stuff online that is my business no matter how we slice it. I can’t, if you have a brand, there are so many ways to use, I mean obviously you want a Shopify store for credibility. If you have a serious brand, I’m guessing you already have the Shopify store. You just don’t do much with it and you don’t think to advertise to your listing and fulfill on Amazon because the margins aren’t there. But put up a churn and burn store, get the cash flow. I mean, it’s so uncomplicated if you’re committed to getting to $1,000 a day on a product. If you really have a good mentor, I know what you’re doing. With a thousand dollars a day making you, let’s say 300 bucks or let’s just say 20% let’s say $200 a day.
Elena Saris: Even lawyer math, that’s six grand. Could you use six grand to live on in the fourth quarter when all your money’s out on a boat waiting for it to come? Could you use six grand for PPC? Could you use six grand to test another product? And if it’s something that’s in your same niche and you can use it for retargeting, how about you’re an Amazon seller and you want to maybe try something new, learning Facebook ads, even a page post engagement, putting up a picture and watching the comments and the engagement will tell you whether you have a good idea. Sometimes when I was first selling t-shirts, we’d put up “a” and “b” one’s pink ones, one’s purple. Weirdly enough, very few people like pink and purple. It’s either pink or purple. So different designs, different things would win, and we would know what shirt to put in our main ad.
Elena Saris: Obviously we’d offer both, but we’d know what shirt to put in our main ad. Facebook ads are a really fertile testing ground. I would say, everyone, you have to diversify. I’m not down on Amazon at all, but we have all heard of capricious account closures, Hijackers, people that come after you, even if it’s all going to work out in the long run. I certainly didn’t have the mindset, even if I had the bank account, I don’t have the mindset to not have an income. I just don’t. It freaks me out and I’m not creative. Maybe because I grew up poor, I don’t know. But when that happened in the fourth quarter, thank God I was still a lawyer because I would’ve been devastated if that was my entire business. I would say that if you’re a serious Amazon seller with a brand, there’s so much you can do with content marketing and long-term play. But I would still say don’t ignore the general store kind of churn and burn possibility. You can be the Acura of whatever it is and still sell the Honda in another store with a different brand. But you still have that customer list.
Bradley Sutton: I like how you said,
serious sellers because this is called the Serious Sellers Podcast, not this
serious Amazon sellers podcasts. Because like you said, we’re sellers of
products. maybe we use Amazon to sell. Maybe we use Facebook ads, maybe we use
Shopify. But really this is perfect for our target audience because you don’t
have to be only selling on one kind of platform to be a “serious seller.” Now that’s
all the time we have today. We’ve actually gone over time because this is so
Bradley Sutton: Give me some good stats because I want to tell people how
they can learn a little bit more about this.
Elena Saris: There are two things. I always worry about telling a really big stat, like my business partner has a story. In the last 48 days, he’s done $1 million in revenue online. 48 days. I don’t know anybody on Amazon, I don’t know those people. I’m sure they’re out there. I know people doing a million a month but 48 days brand new item, first 48 days out the gate. That always freaked people out. I’ll tell you, I just started something on August 1st and that store’s at 10 grand, it’s brand new and every so often I put up new stores just to prove that this concept, I never, ever, ever want to go on a show or go to teach somebody and not restart new to show it’s still working. I mean, $10,000 a month in 19 days, I’m still testing. That product is going to be a $30,000 a month product.
Elena Saris: It’s never going to be $1 million product, but it’s going to be $30,000 a month for maybe the next three or four months, which is going to make me, I’m going to clear between eight and 10 K on that. I mean, and this is not – I’ve had family in town for the last 12 days. I’ve looked at my ads, maybe an hour a day. I don’t want people freaking out – “I’ll never get to a million. I can’t spend $30,000 on ads a day.” Everything is on a credit card. We get paid every two days, every two days, not every two weeks. Every two days we get our money. I got 2 million miles on my credit card. Just from reward points. I mean, it’s just crazy perks. You’ve got to check out the opportunity. Even if you decide it’s not for you, you got to. You owe it to yourself to look at the Shopify dropshipping and disregard the naysayers saying it’s dead. It’s so not dead.
Bradley Sutton: All right, speaking of that, if you guys want to see this really cool live method of selling, not a dead method, if you’re listening to this before September 5th, go to www.helium10.com/er. You’re going to get into a, is it a two-hour, one-hour workshop you’re doing?
Elena Saris: I think it’s one and a half. We’ve got serious nuggets to drop.
Bradley Sutton: One and a half hours, three times the amount of time that we had today so that you guys will really be able to get a little bit more into it. But, in case they’re listening to this after the fact, or they miss that workshop. How can people reach out to you to get more information?
Elena Saris: Okay, so the website is www.wewillshowyouhow.com I want those of you out there who think you’re not tech enough to do this business to understand that you need the www because I don’t know how to make the website not have that and still work. If someone like me can do now close to 1.5 heading towards 2 million on Shopify in a year,
Bradley Sutton: If someone who uses rotary phone guys can do that. I think you guys can do it too.
Elena Saris: I do have a cell … (laughing)
Bradley Sutton: Oh, you’ve got a cell too. Okay, there we go. All right,
well Elena, thank you very much for joining us and I’ll look forward to
definitely being in attendance at that Webinar because I am a complete Shopify
virgin. I know nothing about it and it’s something I definitely want to learn
about. Thank you for joining us and I’d love to talk to you maybe next year.
Elena Saris: One thing I want you to know. I want you to know my business partner, Chris Reiff, he’ll be on that and he is the gentleman that did a million dollars in 48 days. And this is going to be nugget educational full. You’re going to learn something.
Bradley Sutton: Love it. All right? I want to reach out to you may be in a year and then see how you’ve sold maybe 3 million on Shopify or even more.
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