#171 – Launch Strategies for Amazon, Shopify, and Walmart – Michael Lebhar
One of the things that’s so exciting about Amazon’s selling ecosystem is the freedom it offers. Not only does it allow sellers to sell the product they want and keep the hours that work for them, there’s no age requirement.
Amazon’s marketplace doesn’t know or care how old you are. Our next 7-figure selling guest is proof of that. Today on the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Chief Brand Evangelist, Bradley Sutton welcomes back Michael Lebhar. Michael has made e-commerce his personal playground. Selling on Shopify, check! How about six figures on Walmart.com, check! He’s now set his sights on Amazon Canada and Target.com.
Listen in to hear how Michael takes advantage of off-Amazon markets as well as tips on how he uses micro-influencers and Search-Find-Buy tactics to successfully launch his Amazon products.
In episode 171 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley and Michael discuss:
- 02:45 – A Quick Recap of Michael’s Amazon Selling History
- 05:40 – How Michael’s Created a 6-Figure Walmart Business
- 07:40 – Walmart’s “Vendor Central”
- 09:20 – Feeling Safe with Off-Amazon Income
- 11:15 – 100 Units a Day on Walmart, for 20 Bucks
- 13:10 – Building-Out Multiple Marketplaces
- 17:00 – 60% Margins on Walmart – Say Whaaaat?
- 21:15 – On Michael’s Horizon, Amazon Canada and Target.com
- 24:40 – You Should Always Have a Shopify Store
- 26:40 – Hurt by a Three-Month Amazon Suspension
- 28:30 – Fast Cars and a New Office
- 30:25 – Michael’s Brand-Building Strategies
- 32:05 – Powerful Results from Micro-Influencers
- 33:40 – Michael’s Search-Find-Buy Flow
- 37:55 – Michael’s 30-Second Tip
- 38:45 – How to Reach Out to Michael
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: We invited back a previous guest from last year who has really scaled up. He’s been crushing it in e-commerce for five years now and on track to break the $10 million gross sales mark soon. Oh yeah. He’s only 21 years old still. How cool is that? Pretty cool, I think.
Bradley Sutton: Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast by Helium 10. I am your host Bradley Sutton, and this is the show that’s a completely BS free, unscripted and unrehearsed organic conversation about serious strategies for serious sellers of any level in the e-commerce world. And I’m welcoming back to the show, a serious seller, Michael. Michael, how’s it going?
Michael Lebhar: Hey, Bradley. How you doing? Thanks for having me on the show.
Bradley Sutton: All right. Well, welcome back here. And actually, the first time you’re on that episode, it was Episode 44, over a year ago. And it was an episode that we did, especially towards younger entrepreneurs. We took call that the Generation Z entrepreneurs and I had you and Shayna on, and it was so funny. It turned out that you and Shayna were actually born on the same exact day of the same year and had both just completely taken separate paths. Now, if you recall, what was supposed to happen was for the second time that you guys were going to be on the show, you guys were supposed to have been married by now. So, what happened there? You let me down.
Michael Lebhar: Taking it slow.
Bradley Sutton: Taking it slow. Okay. Actually, Shayna couldn’t join us. She’s actually doesn’t sell much on Amazon anymore. She got a new career, new job that sounded pretty exciting. She’s been super busy with that. So she couldn’t come on here, but guys, guess what here at the Serious Sellers Podcast, we always keep it real. And what happens is sometimes people who are selling on Amazon, they find other opportunities and maybe they don’t pay attention to Amazon as much anymore because they have another great opportunity. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. That’s not a failure. You’re only fail in life if you just give up on everything and you’re not trying to make money at all. So that’s definitely not the case of Shayna, but she’s busy doing her new stuff and couldn’t join us today. Maybe she’s planning your honeymoon there, Michael. So we’ll see about that too. Anyways, Michael, that’s definitely not the case with you. If anything– if what I understand correctly is, is you’ve actually scaled up on Amazon and e-commerce in general since the last time we talked. So first of all, just give us a kind of a recap from that first episode, a lot of people got to know you, but we have thousands of new listeners. So for people who didn’t hear that first episode, what was your story of about how you started at age of 16? Just give us like cliff notes version.
Michael Lebhar: Okay. I’ll try to give a short little synopsis. I started, I think it was around 16 turning or early 16, 16. I moved from Canada to the US and I have like a bunch of friends in my community who were doing really well selling on Amazon. And I was always trying to do these different gigs here and there to try to make some money. And I saw these least pretty young people just making insane amount of money. So I’m like, what are you guys doing? And they’re like Amazon. So I asked them some tips, why to get into it. And I wasn’t able to really get understand right away or anything like that. So I started with eBay. I started just buying stuff, reselling it on eBay, had different tricks to get stuff at good pricing and stuff. And I would just resell and build. I built a little small fund from that stuff. And I just kept doing that, kept hustling. And whenever I saw opportunity to tried to get it, and my angle was always Amazon. I was just looking to try to find a good product to sell on Amazon, try to find a good products on Amazon. We found a product that we really liked, and I was very into fitness at that time. Unfortunately, not as much anymore. And then I’m like, okay, I want to get into something that I actually like myself too. So I found these workout gloves. We sourced them, we’d list them on eBay. Because we didn’t really know how to use Amazon. And they sold out within a week or something crazy like that. In the beginning, it was so– Amazon was so new and we really like from the start. I’ve always sold random products here and there and I still do, but I’ve always really liked the concept of building a brand. And Amazon was just a great place for me to do that. And throughout those years I just developed one main brand and I built on that and I use those same resources and systems to build a couple of other small brands on Amazon. And I tried to scale off Amazon as well, not to be only dependent on Amazon and yeah. Grew from there, and we hit six figures in revenue, I think pretty quickly, maybe that year and then seven figures shortly after. And I think the goal is to just keep going. Eight figures, hopefully.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. So what did you end up with actually? Last year I had you on earlier in the year, what did your overall sales end up being in 2019 through all your different channels?
Michael Lebhar: I would guess somewhere between probably three to 4 million range. This is not for 2019. Meaning if you go probably from now 12 months prior. So, I think somewhere between like three to four.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. All right. Now, what was your biggest channel? Was it amazon.com?
Michael Lebhar: Amazon, but recently Walmart has been picking up a lot for us. For my main brand Walmart’s been doing really well. We’re scaled in the– since COVID hit, we’ve been doing consistently six figures.
Bradley Sutton: Between Walmart and Amazon, what do you project this year to be, I mean, might you hit 10 million?
Michael Lebhar: For this company? I don’t think 10 million, but you never know where stuff are going to go. So this company that I run with my brother actually. We have one main fitness brand and then we have a few small other side brands that we run. I started with two other really successful Amazon sellers. This company where we’re putting a lot of focus on building brands and omni-channel brands that really sustainable brands in my experience. I’ve built– I’ve sold a lot of different products and good products come and go. It’s so dependent on listings here and there. So I’ve really been trying to shift my focus to really build sustainable brands and really we’re trying to build category defining brands and that’s where I’ve been putting a lot of my focus is here. So my brother has been running the other company and I think fitness has been doing really well because of COVID and January time stuff pick up a lot. So I think that’s going to definitely do really well. But my main focus right now is our company where we’re trying to develop brands mainly in the health and wellness space right now. So that’s where a lot of my focus is going.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now, did you– pretty much for the Walmart, that stuff that you’re doing, like six figures a month on, is that just you took the products that you were already selling on Amazon and just releasing a Walmart? Or do you have any Walmart specific products?
Michael Lebhar: No same products. I took the main products that we’re doing well on Amazon and I just listed those on Walmart. And honestly with very little marketing spend, just kind of boosting up those lists and make sure they look really good. We were able to be number one in Walmart for a couple big products. And we stayed there for months and it’s actually really helpful. Walmart’s just a great selling experience. They’re really nice. Their sellers always work well with you. One of our products did really well on Walmart. So Walmart 3P marketplace, Walmart DSV, which is their walmart.com buying group, reach out to us and buys inventory directly from us to sell there. So it’s kind of in a way, vendor central, but it’s just the, Walmart’s just easier to deal with. So we grew onto there too, and I’m hoping that if our products do well, keep doing well on walmart.com. A Walmart buyer picks it up.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah, that’s definitely the way to go. I was on that side in my previous company and that’s kind of the process to go. You get success, sell, fulfilling yourself on Walmart. Then you get the Walmart to buy kind of like in a vendor relationship. And then boom, you get the Holy grail, which is getting into Walmart brick and mortar where it’s pretty much game over as far as the kind of numbers that you can do there. Now, what was your launch strategy like for Walmart? So you took like a fitness product. It was selling pretty well on Amazon. So do you take a look at what the best keywords were on Amazon since there’s no tools really for Walmart and then just try and optimize your Walmart listing for those tools and maybe even do some search find buy, or did you do paid ads, or how did you get to the top of your niche there in Walmart?
Michael Lebhar: So I’ll go through some of the details and some little tips and tricks I have for Walmart, but I want to just preface with a little bit of my strategy, my philosophy, like why I started selling on Walmart and kind of just, I think some good tips for new sellers to have is I was like literally all Amazon and have my listings there. And, you fully depend on it. You get really comfortable. And when you start to, you get kind of distracted and you don’t even realize that you’re spending so much money on marketing here on views this just boosting your listings and Amazon takes up so much margin. And a lot of times it’s number one talk scale, but you get so comfortable with it. If anything happens to your account, you’re really screwed. So, I had a few issues with my Amazon and that’s when it forced me to get into a position that I really want to become a bit more on channel. That’s when I decided, you know what, I’m going to take this step. And even though it’s going to take a little focus away from Amazon, I’m going to list to other marketplaces. So that’s where I went and I just listed, sure I didn’t even do a lot of work for it listed on Walmart. I listed on Groupon, I listed and now we’re listing on Target and a few other marketplaces. And between all those marketplaces right now, they’re probably going to take over my Amazon revenue, which just makes me sleep better at night. And I just get– my strategy was just really get it listed and out there. Once it was listed and out there, and the channels were set up, then I went in one at a time and I focused in, so the first one I focused on Walmart and for Walmart, just honestly, you put a little bit of attention and a little bit of money behind it and you could get to really great returns. So number one is that like, as you said, I use the Helium 10 tool and what I do is I just, I look for the, I do like Cerebro on some top listings. I see what keywords are performing best for some of my competitors on Amazon or my product on Amazon. And I just use those words when I build my title on Walmart. Title’s really the most important. So I build out a really strong title. And then I try to push reviews there. Walmart encourages you to try to get customers to leave reviews. So I get customers from Instagram, from our Instagram and different customers that we have on our list to try to buy on Walmart and encourage them to leave reviews. Because people really don’t put focus there and really with a little bit of views, it could really make a big difference in your conversions. So we put a little bit of focus there and there’s some– you don’t need as sophisticated tactics as Amazon, like search find buys and things, but you know, you could pay– they’re just with simple ranking, your services, they could usually get it done for you for pretty cheap. So I have some services I use, there’s a lot of services that advertise, just make sure you use a good one. They’re pretty cheap. And I just use them to kind of just boost the listings and if you have a good product and the thing with Walmart is you could have a product that will make no sales because there’s just people don’t go to Walmart for it. And then some products, you have some products on Walmart, that’s all over a hundred units a day. So on Amazon, I have products that sell a hundred units a day, but I’ve spent 20, $30,000 to properly build up that listing, launch it, maintain it. Walmart cost me 20 bucks, you know? So I think there’s good opportunity in all these marketplaces and based on whatever your products are and your model is, it’s just making sure that you properly put the right focus on the right channels and not neglect anything.
Bradley Sutton: Have you tested any of the two step URLs for Walmart? Like we have a couple on the Gems, the Helium 10 Gems page.
Michael Lebhar: I know somebody in my team has been doing that. I’m not so familiar with exactly what they’re doing right now for that stuff, but I know they are using some URLs in it. I think they work like Walmart, you have to be so much less sophisticated than Amazon. I remember the good old days when Amazon like using those simple URLs would just work really well. Now, obviously it’s much more complex. So I think the way I look at it as like, if there’s one company that will take on Amazon, it’ll be Walmart and will successfully do it. So, I always kicked myself, like why I should’ve put more focus and build up my listings more on Amazon five years ago. And I always complained about it. Now, I have the opportunity to do it on Walmart. I’m going to be an idiot if I didn’t learn my lesson the first time I had only repeat the second time to really learn, to take advantage. So that’s why the way I look at it right now in terms of Walmart. Now, Walmart’s the only one that might be the size of Amazon, and compete with it. But I think if you split up between all these other marketplaces, which a lot not hard to manage a lot of times. There’s some good opportunities there too. We just got finished onboarding with HSN to pretty simple marketplace. It just, it’s complicated to onboard and it’s a bit annoying, but it’s a great marketplace too.
Bradley Sutton: Are you going to get your product featured on their show or it’s just for the website?
Michael Lebhar: Yeah, it’s similar to the Walmart in the way I look at it. It’s similar to the Walmart experience and a lot of marketplaces. now I’m starting to learn since I’ve veered off of Amazon and restarted even though we have the system set up. To be correct, we have a system set up for Amazon. So I’m able to take the focus away from there. But what we have is all these marketplaces, they kind of have something pretty interesting, like Walmart, you listen to Walmart as a three piece seller. If it does well, DSV walmart.com buyers will buy your product directly from you, which just makes us experience so much easier and able to focus on other stuff. And then if that does well to bring into stores group on if your product does well in their marketplace, they’ll put it on group on daily deals. And you could sell on a daily deal, 10, 15,000 units in a day. And I know a lot of people have their opinions on Groupon, but you know, you could have success there if you do it right. If you go on their drops, you could go on their drop shipping program, which is a program we’re on right now. And if it does well, then they’ll put you on their show. Target.com as well, you go on their marketplace and if it does well, and they liked their metrics and the customer experiences and your reviews and stuff, they’ll– a buyer will more likely at least I’ll buy or reach out to put you on shelf. So that’s kind of the strategy I’ve been taking is, why not build out all of these platforms where you’re going to make sales regardless if they don’t take you on, but each of those platforms have more growth opportunity with them. So, that’s kind of where I’m looking where I’m working on right now.
Bradley Sutton: Cool. So what was that onboarding light for HSN? I don’t think we’ve ever talked about that on this show here. Many people probably didn’t even know they had a marketplace on there.
Michael Lebhar: It’s completely, it’s one of the most painful experiences ever. I’m not– like I am sure for some people it’s easier. But the way works is, I worked with a broker who got me in touch with the buyer and they liked our product. And then once they approve your product, you obviously have– you have to have some stuff with some newer sellers don’t have, like product insurance and some proper legal work, but nothing too crazy. If they like your product and you finish, you go through a bunch of contracts and stuff, then the– basically you get an account manager and you get a 30-day testing period where they basically test all your systems to make sure you could fulfill orders well, to make sure you’re printing out your labels properly. You’re packing slips. You’re importing the proper data from them. It’s it works like a retailer. So if you have any experience working with retailers with EDI, then you’ll learn how to work with HSM. The good news is though, even if you don’t have EDI set up and you don’t, you have never worked with a retailer there’s– they have third party providers where you base it, they’ll work with HSN and they’ll help kind of leave it at that. So there’s one called mercury commerce, and they make the process pretty simple. And they’re not that expensive. So, yeah.
Bradley Sutton: What other marketplaces are you actively– you’ve actually been already making sales on other than a Walmart and Amazon?
Michael Lebhar: Groupon. We sell a decent amount on Groupon, like probably–
Bradley Sutton: Did you ever get one of those big deals that you were just talking about for Groupon?
Michael Lebhar: So, we’re scheduled probably to go on for one of those in a month and the Groupon buyer projects 20,000 units in one day. But it’s like a big preparation. So, I haven’t ever done one of those because I’ve never been had enough inventory that I was comfortable giving it up from another marketplace because the margins are less. But now that I am, cause just want to get the brand out there. We are scheduled for one of those.
Bradley Sutton: Obviously, they’re going to want a really good price on that and your margins are going to be lower, but at the same time, it’s going to be the least overhead transaction that you have, I would assume. because it just all goes out at one time. Now, what have you calculated? What your potential margins would be on there compared to what it is normally on Amazon for that same product?
Michael Lebhar: Amazon’s a bit rough because of all marketing spend, but like on Walmart, let’s see I’m looking at on average and what sounds kind of crazy, but like 60% margins. On Groupon. I’ll probably be–
Bradley Sutton: 60% margin. How in the world are you doing 60% margin on Walmart? Come on Michael, what’s going on here?
Michael Lebhar: Well, marketing spend is just great. First of all–
Bradley Sutton: This is the Serious Sellers Podcast, not the liars sellers podcast.
Michael Lebhar: No, honestly, if the product’s making money, I keep it. Even if it’s making me small margin and I came into these growing pains when you’re starting to scale that it’s really hard to maintain the proper cash flow and the proper overhead to just really be able to maintain that cause you have products are making higher margins. So in the past year, I’ve cut out a lot of products that were margin heavy, but something on Walmart, the thing with Walmart is we’ll fulfill our own orders at our warehouse. So we get it’s really cheap for us. We have really, we have a really big shipping contract or like a really good shipping contract. Because we’re partnering with other company for shipping contracts, you would pay really low shipping rates and we’re not spending money on marketing. So overall like the margins are just great, but on group–
Bradley Sutton: Give me an example. What’s your, I mean, you don’t have to tell me what your product is obviously, but what do you pay for the product landed at your warehouse? What is the retail price on Amazon and what do you calculate as your other costs for the shipping and stuff?
Michael Lebhar: So for example, one of our products are landed at $4 and they retails at $24, 24 to 29.95. It depends on kind of where the market’s going. And how many people are in stock and stuff, but between 24 to 29.95, we pay on average after shipping fulfillment, all that stuff. It costs us approximately a little under $4, 3.90 after all shipping at FOMA Costco’s. We shipped first class for that product. And then, yeah, that’s it.
Bradley Sutton: You’re not doing Walmart sponsored ads?
Michael Lebhar: No. If there’s one bad thing about Walmart, it’s their sponsored ads. They put me in touch with– they’re assigned to a campaign manager, my account and we tried. It was terrible. They don’t have any reporting structure. You don’t even know if you made sales off it, if you didn’t, you don’t know what’s flying, they just basically throw out a budget, a number at you, how much you want to spend this week and they just spend it and you kind of don’t hear back. So at least in my experience, so I cut that. So, we don’t spend on that. Also we’ve been ranked the number one or the number two product for most of the keywords consistently. So there’s not as much opportunity of growth there.
Bradley Sutton: Let’s say that product was going to be the one that you were going to do the group on humongous deal on, what would your margins be on that if you sell 15,000 on them?
Michael Lebhar: I still have to work through the exact details. Because I’m still negotiating one of the details, but it’ll be like 20%. Nothing great. But the reason why I’m doing it honestly is because number one, it’s a lot of brand exposure, but I have a lot of my products in this brand, the lines are very similar and I think I’m going to get some cross sales, get a lot of following. And a lot of people buying from my site, which margins are obviously much better there. So, that’s why I’m doing it honestly.
Bradley Sutton: The brand– like throughout all the platforms, the brand that you publicize is the same across, so that builds your brand recognition and maybe people will find you on your .com.
Michael Lebhar: Exactly, exactly. That’s how I do. And I know we have some inserts to drive sales to that and some promotions to get people to follow us on our Instagram so we could cross sell there. And we’ve been seeing some success through that. So people just come to our– they start buying some or one of our couple of products aren’t available on our site that are on Walmart that are available on our site. So people who bought our product on Walmart might go to our site and buy some products. So that’s one thing we definitely been employing.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now what other marketplaces are you selling on are imminently about to start on?
Michael Lebhar: So another marketplace we’re about to start on is target.com, which we’re not on yet. That’s one marketplace we’re working on.
Bradley Sutton: How was that onboarding process or have you gotten that far yet?
Michael Lebhar: Somebody else on my team is handling it, so I’m not sure. But I know it’s very, it’s long right now. They’re very slow responses in the past few months. So I know it’s been taking some time, but hopefully it’ll be done soon. We’ll see. But I think another one that I actually just got off a meeting with yesterday is Walmart, Canada. They claim that it’s 10 to 20% of your US revenue, really, even the market size at 10%, but since there’s way less competition, they claim you could do 20%. We’ll see. I’m doing the onboarding right now. It’s taking–
Bradley Sutton: Are you doing Amazon Canada?
Michael Lebhar: I’m doing Amazon Canada as well. Yeah.
Bradley Sutton: How’s that?
Michael Lebhar: It’s all right. It’s picked up a lot over COVID. But in general it’s not, I was had more success in Europe.
Bradley Sutton: Are you using whatever it’s called, cross border fulfillment, or you actually shipping your products to a Canadian warehouse to fulfill from there?
Michael Lebhar: So we start, we used to do that. Now we shipped the Canadian warehouse because we’re going to be– we’re working with like a small Canadian distributor also to get some of our products and some small stores there. So they’re going to fulfill to that and they’re going to fulfill our walmart.ca orders. And, they send to Amazon.ca
Bradley Sutton: What’s the hoops you have to go through? I mean, obviously I think a lot of people just select that cross border thing because now they don’t have to worry about customs and duties and setting up entities and this and that. But now that you’re doing it the other way, where you’re actually– are you shipping things directly to Amazon FBA warehouse or are you shipping it to that company talked about first?
Michael Lebhar: You could ship directly to Amazon FBA warehouse and it’s not that complicated. You just have to pay some customs when it comes in. But right now I’m not shipping directly. You go to warehouse cause it’s just simpler to distribute inventory when we shipped a Canadian warehouse. But from there we ship to Amazon FBA, but for sellers, if you look at the market and Canada and you don’t have so large of a marketing spend in the US and it’s a bit rough, I think it’s always a good opportunity to explore some of these other marketplaces, which aren’t Amazon Canada, which is really the same tactics you would use in the US and just on a smaller budget. You can make stuff work there.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Any other Amazon marketplaces you’re in?
Michael Lebhar: Yeah, UK, I did Pan Euro, honestly, it’s such a pain and just annoying to manage. I don’t know how worth it is. Unless you have a large enough for so many products, but I’m in UK, I’m in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Canada.
Bradley Sutton: What’s the big one for you in Europe. What gets you the most income?
Michael Lebhar: It used to be UK. Now, it’s mostly Germany. I don’t do as much anymore there. It was just, it was hard to just manage inventory between distributing so many places. And that’s why I’ve basically shifted focus to most of these other US marketplaces where I basically just ship out of everything to my warehouse and I manage everything from there for these other marketplaces, then dealing with a lot of these other Amazon marketplaces. I found more success managing some of these other platforms like Group on Walmart. So that’s where my head’s been going recently.
Bradley Sutton: Any India or Japan or anything like that yet?
Michael Lebhar: Actually, now that you say, I just remember we actually launched in Australia a month or two ago, and I know we just sent an inventory to Japan, but it’s definitely not a big focus. I’ve just– there’s a couple of products that we have that are super popular there. So we send some in. But I forgot about that, actually.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. And how about Shopify?
Michael Lebhar: Shopify SEO is where we’re hosting our site on. So we get some sales from– we do some influencer marketing, which has been working decently for us. We have an affiliate structure, and I think it’s always great to have you always should just– you should have a Shopify site up. I was always a believer, you’re selling product, you might as well build a brand out of it. And just having a Shopify store there. Even if it’s not great in the beginning, you’ll build on it, instead of something super simple, you could put up a night and then just build on it if you’re seeing success. So we know a little bit there and not a lot. It depends. It’s random. And if I spend some money on advertising, we’ll do some money there. And then if I don’t spend, we’ll have some random organic traffic and it’s all depends how much focus you put there. Supposed some marketplaces, you kind of put the initial effort, get it going there, and then you can just expect sales every week, website’s a bit of a different process, so it’s been interesting.
Bradley Sutton: Now, you’ve been talking a lot about some good things that have been going on for you and some positive things. Tell me the biggest negative that’s happened to you in the last year, like the biggest L that you took, or your biggest fail.
Michael Lebhar: The biggest L which is also, I guess, turned into like, one of my biggest successes is Amazon account suspension. So, yeah. That was a rough one.
Bradley Sutton: Is this your main account?
Michael Lebhar: Yeah, my main account and I haven’t had a health warning or any one of those warnings on my account for five years ever. And I got into bad suspension. And I’ll tell you, it was terrible because we were–
Bradley Sutton: Was it deserved or were you a bad boy?
Michael Lebhar: Not really. So years ago we had these inserts in our products where basically I ask people to leave good reviews and I don’t think it was against terms of service. There wasn’t a force. This is like four or five years ago. And what happened was we switch, it was inserts cause I figured an easy way to get caught. And we switched those inserts while ago. And I guess we had an old inventory that we sent in that already had those in the packaging. And one of manufacturers still sent it in and there was a batch of products that had that insert inside. And it got caught and suspended our account.
Bradley Sutton: How long were you suspended for?
Michael Lebhar: Three months.
Bradley Sutton: Was your sales zero? Did you have backup accounts?
Michael Lebhar: I have back up accounts. I have backup accounts. I was doing sales from and we got– we started running from a backup account for some products and there was one account and the second account got suspended when we started selling from a backup accounts. And then we had another account we were selling from. So we were able to make it kind of work. But as I said, Walmart was going well. Walmart picked up, some other product places picked up. Some retail orders, we were doing small distributors. So, we were able to–
Bradley Sutton: How in the world did you get unsuspended after three months? Did you have to do like a million plans of action? Did you hire a professional? What happened there?
Michael Lebhar: We did plan of action and after two plans of action that came back and one of my accounts, which is my main account is still suspended. And we hired a, I don’t want to say their name, but we hired an agency to do it. They’re one of the well-known ones and they did a terrible job, terrible plans of action. So got us some more trouble. So if you’re going to hire an agency to do a plan of action, do more due diligence into who you hire. Um, but yeah, it is what it is.
Bradley Sutton: Does that mean now that because you’re on these backup accounts now, you don’t have brand registry and you can’t do sponsored display, and you’re not doing the sales that you probably could be doing?
Michael Lebhar: That’s correct. I will get my account back though. It’s just a matter of time.
Bradley Sutton: Last time you had talked about how last year– thanks to using credit cards for your business a lot, you had traveled, taking 60 trips. Obviously you’re not doing much of that this year because of COVID, but tell me some of the luxuries of being– how old are you now? 21?
Michael Lebhar: 21, turning 22 in a week.
Bradley Sutton: So you’re 21 years old and making millions of dollars. What are some of the luxurious things you’ve been doing? Either traveling. I know you’ve been buying cars. Tell me about that. So I can have some FOMO here.
Michael Lebhar: Yes. So in the past, when I think a year prior were more, when I met you, like, I was more into this kind of laptop lifestyle type of thing. In the past year, I’ve really wanted to build a sustainable business and really build up what I leveraged what I had to build something more legitimate. So I really just sat down and got an office and just sat down and focused for a year. I’ve been traveling a lot, but I like spending money. It’s not a good habit, but– so I got into cars. I’ve always been into cars, but when you’re traveling, you don’t really buy cars. So I’ve been buying cars recently.
Bradley Sutton: Well, what cars have you bought?
Michael Lebhar: So I got a Mustang. It’s a decent car. And it’s nice to take around LA driving on the PCH sometimes. I got, which is– it was my favorite car in two weeks ago, the model X Tesla, P100D and that car is a beast. Oh my God, that car is fast. It’s comfortable, it’s classy. And, I got a really nice thing with all the specs I wanted. And then I kind of added my little touches to it, blacked it out, added some red little emblems and had some fun with it. I just got new wheels last week for it. So it’s looking pretty, it’s looking pretty fire. And I don’t remember when it was, but I guess it was over a month ago by now I bought the Corvette, the Corvette Z06 3LZ and that one is definitely the fun car right now.
Bradley Sutton: You’re five years into this now, for somebody who starts usually at age 30, maybe getting into Amazon. Now they’re 35, they’re living this and you’re doing this at 21 since you started so early. So what are some of your goals? I mean, are you looking to sell these businesses and then start over again? Are you looking to retire at the age of 25, or what’s your motivation right now? What are you aiming for?
Michael Lebhar: So I’ll tell you what I’m aiming for. With the company I have with my brother, I really focusing on this one main brand where we’re putting most of the focus in really growing that for the next four to five months and having a nice exit there and keeping that cash is reserved for when I find good investment opportunities, is what my plan is there and keep the company with my brother alive. Because we still have some other small brands and just grow those and maybe use the capital to start another brand, very similar. But most of my time and focus is going right now with two other very successful Amazon sellers, which are my partners one, which has been a top 50 seller for over 15 years, I think. And one which had the number one product in Amazon for two years, really we’ve been building this amazing company where we’re trying to build these amazing brands and that’s where my focus has been going right now. It’s very different business model and learning more, working with people with people a lot, working more with people as opposed to just sitting on your laptop, working yourself and working on– putting a lot of upfront investment into stuff that a normal– traditionally I wouldn’t put as much investment into. And that’s where I really, I really want to grow that company to the biz.
Bradley Sutton: Are you doing any unique marketing things like somebody stereotypical thinking of somebody your age, are you doing TikTok advertising, or anything like that?
Michael Lebhar: We actually have been going very heavy on influencer marketing. And it’s been proven to be pretty successful. So we’ve been working with a ton of micro influencers, sending them product and in return getting them UGC, which we use for ads.
Bradley Sutton: What’s that stand for?
Michael Lebhar: User generated content. So getting them to send us videos of using the product pictures and then we’ll use those for actually paid ads, but we’ll also get them to share their– share on their stories and we’ll make them an affiliate link where they could promote and they can make percentage of sale and give their followers. And they’re very open to work with you, these micro-influencers, so we’ve just been hiring people.
Bradley Sutton: What do you consider micro-influencer like? From what to what number of followers?
Michael Lebhar: 10 to 50 is the ideal sweet spot you could still get people. I still count on.
Bradley Sutton: 10 to 50,000.
Michael Lebhar: Yeah. Under a hundred thousand. I still kind of count as a micro influencer, but they’re harder to work with once they get over 50. Ego gets pushed up a bit, so it’s a bit hard to work with, but 10 to 50 is a sweet spot and we have hundreds of influencers we work with like that and we just try to build those relationships with them. And that’s been actually fun. I enjoy that type of marketing, so I’m been focused to focus there and it’s been working out. I suggest that anybody like really honestly, who’s running– even if you were mainly on marketplaces, there’s so much you could do with that content. And so much you could do with those relationships. We use them when we’re launching an Amazon product as well, even though we mainly use it for our site, but when we’re launching an Amazon product, we’ll tell them to send some of their followers to Amazon at a coupon or whatever it is. So there’s just– it’s a personal relationship. So there’s so many ways you could use it.
Bradley Sutton: Alright. You talked last year when we had you on the episode about your launch strategy earlier now, has that changed on in the last year? Have you added any new things other than this micro influencer marketing when you launch new product?
Michael Lebhar: Yeah. So I’ve been doing search-find-buys through many chat flows. And I know a lot of people have been caught on a lot of popularity in the past year, doing through many chat flows and getting people to buy your product by search for your product, buy in, rebate them. And it still really works really well for ranking. But I’ve been trying to use that same process, but using micro-influencers to do that. So what you come to see is a lot of these micro influencers, a lot of these Facebook ads where people are telling people to rebate, you get a lot of low quality buyers that are just, they’ve been doing a ton of these rebates. And I just don’t like the quality of reviews you get, the quality of buyers you’re getting. I am a little scared with it, link counts. And, so something new I’ve been doing is following that same idea and that same flow, but using micro-influencers the way I would do it is like tell a micro influencer. We’re giving away 20 or 30 for units today, tell your followers if they want a free product to DM us, and then they DM us. And we have a VA just follow the person through the flow and you get high quality buyers who leave really good reviews with even videos and pictures. And so we’ve been doing a bit of that. It’s not a scalable, it’s harder.
Bradley Sutton: Alright, hold on. Cause this is interesting. So then the influencer puts in their Instagram story, Hey guys, would you like this free fitness product, DM this account. And then they DM you. And then it’s a live person that you have who walks them through the search find buy, or what happened?
Michael Lebhar: What walks them through the search run by the time, Hey, I’m so happy you want it the way I’m since we want to make sure you get your product quickly. That’s the little sales tactic we use. It would be best if you order. We want you to order through Amazon. And the way it works is you order it, send us your order ID and we’ll rebate you right away and right away, there’s a level of trust because they trust the influencer. So they trust the process a bit. They’ll buy it. We right away rebate them, try to do it super quickly. And then, if you’re DMing them in Facebook messenger, it’s a little hard to manage DMs through Instagram. But in Facebook messenger, you can add tags and there’s even CRMs where you can link your Instagram DM. So it’s easier to manage, but even if you don’t want to pay for one of those in Facebook messenger, you can link your actual Instagram DMS to there. And you could tag these people like the conversation. So let’s say you have a tag on a person if they leave a review yet. So you could just click that button, anybody who didn’t leave review, and you could try messaging them, things like that. And we’ll basically walk them through a process after they get the product. We’ll follow up, say how you like it. If they like it, you could ask them for review, that’s your own discretion. And ask them to add a picture or a video. And they’re really open to help. And they haven’t really done one of these before. So I think it’s kind of cool. And you’ll realize that people you go through Facebook ads a lot of times to do these rebates. They’ve been doing this so many times and the only reviews they leave, they get really annoyed at you if you’re late on their rebate or there’s some that when doing it through my co-influencers. I’ve seen a lot of success. It’s just, it’s harder to scale.
Bradley Sutton: Interesting. Interesting. Now we’re going to get into your 30-second tip in a little bit here for all the sellers out there. But before that, let me ask you who you got for NBA championship?
Michael Lebhar: Lakers all the way.
Bradley Sutton: Oh my goodness. You see, I gave you a chance to give the right answer, which is the Clippers of course.
Michael Lebhar: I’ll be honest yesterday during the game. I bet on the blazers, because it just Damian Lillard during the fourth quarter, you can bet against him and Lakers looking really bad. So I made some good money there, but I’m still going Lakers.
Bradley Sutton: We’ll see. If I was a betting man, which I’m not, I might have to take you up on that, but guys, we have to be careful also what you put in your Instagram stories. Michael one day put in his Instagram story that he was going to a clipper game and showed his tickets. And then who comes up and bought the seats right behind him as a joke like, so I saw that he had posted where his seats were. I literally bought the seats right behind him and thinking Michael is such a big baller. I had to buy these super expensive seats to surprise him. But that was a fun time that we had. Anyways. All right, let’s get to our TST, which is TST, 3-second tip. You’ve been giving us a lot of strategies throughout this episode, but what is something that you can say in 30 seconds or less, that is very actionable, very valuable to our listeners out there.
Michael Lebhar: My tip would be like this it’s pretty quick. I would suggest that when you are, when you have, if you have an arrangement of products, don’t go for products that are low margin, just because they sell. It’s going to end up not being worth it at the end, and you’re going to regret it. Your cash is going to get strapped and there’s going to be better opportunities. You won’t be able to go into should just because of product sales, don’t go into it. If it’s a low margin, you’re going to regret it.
Bradley Sutton: Alright. I like it. I like it. All right, Michael, fingers crossed, who knows if you can get to that eight figure mark this year, but once you’re at the ripe old age of 22 next year, we’ll maybe have you back on the podcast and let’s see how you did with your new business ventures. If anybody wants to reach out to you or maybe ask you for some help or something, is there any way that they can find you on the interwebs?
Michael Lebhar: They could DM me on Instagram. I’m not really active on Instagram, but I’ll see DMs. Michael M Lebhar or on Facebook, Michael Lebhar. Once a week or something, I’ll check my messages. So I’ll hope happy to help anybody who has any questions and get started, or if they’re started, they’re curious about getting on other marketplaces that we spoke about, or the process or some little tips and tricks.
Bradley Sutton: Michael, thanks for joining us. I’m sure you’re an inspiration to a lot of young people out there. You’ve been crushing it since you were 16, your brother, since he was 16. Now he’s a ripe old age of 18 and your right hand, man in these multimillion dollar companies. So it’s a great inspiration to show you that that there’s no– to succeed in e-commerce, there’s no age requirement where you have to have this much experience or be at least this old or have this college degree. So it’s a real inspiration to people around your age, out there. And I hope you guys listening can really take some notes here on what Michael’s done right and wrong in the past and learn from it. So, Michael, thanks a lot for joining us and we’ll catch you next year.
Michael Lebhar: Awesome. Thanks a lot, Bradley.
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