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…I have a guest that I’m going to have on the show. His name is Jeff Rodgers.
I met him at Sellers Summit for the second year in a row and it was funny. The first year, he came up to me and said, “Hey Scott, everything's going great. I listen to your Podcast, I’m a listener, I’m a fan of the show, I’m on track to do I think $50,000 or $60,000, things are going great,” and then he told me this year that that kind of had some issues and he had some problems with that. So he pivoted and now he is on track to do $750,000 in a completely different market, a different product and he is planning on doing that within 12 months and he is also going to share, and this is a big one guys, a lot of the failures along the way and some big lessons learned.
He is a big believer in failing and then learning from those failures and then just getting better and just improving on what you are doing and he’s just got a great mindset. I think you guys are going to learn a ton. Actually I know you are because this conversation had a lot of meat there. We talk about products and how to find them, how to get them manufactured, how to do custom molds, like a lot of really cool stuff that we go into.
But the one thing I want to highlight here is, and you will hear this in his story, is he started doing retail arbitrage and then from there he graduated to private labelling and now he’s really done well there but now he is even scaling that part of it up, but he started with retail arbitrage. So, I definitely just want to highlight that because in my last interview I did with Kevin, he did the same exact thing. He started with that and I think a lot of us know that in the beginning, we just have to prove to ourselves that we can do this or that it will work for us and Jeff is the same way here.
[00:01:59] Scott: Let me just kind of throw that out there, if you guys are stuck and if you guys are thinking to yourself, I just want a way to get started and really validate this thing or maybe even just raise a lit bit of capital, I've mentioned this last episode, I’m going to mention it one more time here.
We have a brand-new training called The 1KFastTrack and I’m not going to spend too much time here on it but it does exactly that. It helps you get started and dip your toe in the Amazon world and it also helps you raise some capital so you can invest in your private label business but in the meantime while you are doing that, you are also learning through that process and it’s for a lot of people that are just stuck. So, definitely go check that out. 1kfasttrack.com and you can get all the details there.
Now for anyone that is like, “You know what Scott, I got this thing, I just want to go ahead and dive into the private label world, what do I do? How do I get started?” I always point you to our free workshop. All right, so if you guys are brand new or maybe you are just relaunching, I would definitely say go check out our free live workshop, we are starting to do those again. So if you want to go and see the current dates that we are doing, head over to theamazingseller.com/workshop this is an online training live, we do it there and it’s free, five phases to launching your first product, so definitely go check that out.
All right guys so the show notes, one last thing can be found at theamazingseller.com/390 and I think you are going to want to definitely download these because there is a ton of information and a lot of go then nuggets that I think you are going to want to probably print out the transcripts and maybe even highlight some stuff because it’s that good.
All right guys, so the amazingseller.com/390. You can grab all of the show notes, the transcripts, the links, all that stuff there. All right so let’s go, let’s get to this. I am super excited for you to hear this interview that I did with my good friend, Jeff Rodgers.
[00:03:52] Scott: Hey Jeff, what’s going on man? Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. How is it going man?
[00:03:56] Jeff: Hey Scott, good to talk to you again. It’s been a little while since I saw you but glad to be here.
[00:04:02] Scott: Yeah, no this is fun. I think we actually took an Uber over to the networking party at Sellers Summit, didn’t we?
[00:04:07] Jeff: Yeah, we did and you busted the light under the chair in front of me.
[00:04:13] Scott: Was that me? That wasn’t me, was it? Hey, I got to give you an update, I just got back from actually here in North Carolina, actually I’m in South Carolina but we had a little TAS workshop event, little meet-up in North Carolina. Let me tell you something our Uber driver that you and I had was pretty cool, we had some lights under the seats, it was kind of fun, right? This guy, that we had over the weekend blew this guy away.
I’m going to actually put a video of it, it’s insane. This guy had like all kinds of like strobe lights and stuff inside, he had music pumping, he was actually leading us in with lyrics, it was just crazy but I thought of our ride too, I’m like, “Well this guy totally blew this guy out of the water.” It was…
[00:04:55] Jeff: Wow! So that’s a trend I guess.
[00:04:57] Scott: I guess you got to just make the experience… Again we talk about products and stuff, like how do you make yourself different? Well, this was a way that Uber drivers are making themselves different I guess. It was insane.
[00:05:09] Jeff: Hey, you might have just clicked on the latest niche right there, LED lights for your Uber brand.
[00:05:13] Scott: Oh! Yeah, there we go, we just did it. We just found a new product, those lights that go underneath the seats to kind of light it up.
[00:05:21] Jeff: I was kind of impressed, it added some ambience there.
[00:05:24] Scott: It really did, it was cool, it was really cool and he actually gave us a little bit of some history and stuff, it was kind of neat but anyway, yeah, we had a lot of fun at Steve Chou's Event, Sellers Summit, you were there. I met you the year before or too.
[00:05:40] Jeff: Yeah, it’s my second year.
[00:05:42] Scott: Yeah, this is second yeah and we talked just recently on the rooftop there when we were having a little networking party and stuff and you kind of filled me on what had happened when you first started to where you are now and you kind of blew me away to be honest with you. Your numbers are nice and your journey has been interesting.
So, that’s really what I did want to dig in to today. It’s kind of like have that conversation that we had but maybe even digging a little bit deeper and talk a little bit of what it was like when you first started and then from there what has changed and why you pivoted and all that stuff. So maybe first off, tell us a little bit about you, what about Jeff? Who is Jeff?
[00:06:22] Jeff: Who is Jeff? Who am I? My background is in advertising so I’ve been on that agency side for a while but I started listening to you. Oh man! It was maybe a year before I saw you at Sellers Summit, I think, something like that…
[00:06:48] Scott: It had to be almost close to when I was just starting on the podcast then.
[00:06:51] Jeff: Yeah, I think when I started, you might have had maybe 50 episodes or something like that and I just dove in and just, I was listening to them back to back in the car, just as fast as I could absorb them and then I kind of followed the model.
I started with retail arb, I was at my local Home Depot one day and still had no idea how I wanted to start but I walked by this clearance section and there was a bunch of weird stuff on there and I just said, “You know what? I’m just going to start, I’m just going to take action.” I picked up some random stuff, I remember one of the weirdest things I bought was like a doorbell that was on clearance and when I got it home and found the listing on Amazon, of course it already had a listing, and the price was pretty high for what it was, I thought.
But I listed it and it sold in like a couple of days and I realized that if you have that doorbell and it fails, you are probably going to go on and try and find the same exact one to replace it and you are willing to pay more than a standard doorbell because you know the wiring is going to work, you are not going to have to figure anything out, it’s just going to be plug and play, so I think with some of that clearance stuff, you might think it’s not going to work but you never know what scenario people are looking for so…
[00:08:24] Scott: It’s a good point, yeah.
[00:08:27] Jeff: So those few things helped me learn the system, get familiar with how Amazon does its labelling, how you pack something up to send it into FBA, learning all of those steps was important for me to just get the ball rolling. I wasn’t going to quit my job with that money but it got me started.
[00:08:50] Scott: Well, I was going to say, what was it like for you to say, “Holy crap! I just sold something”? Was it like a light bulb, at that point to you? You were like, “Wow! Okay, so this actually works.” Because in your head you might be thinking yourself, “Well I put this thing up, I don’t know if it’s going to really sell.”
[00:09:02] Jeff: Yeah, the other thing I had were these permastones, what you clean your swimming pool with. For some reason they were just dumping a bunch of them and those sold like pretty quickly and it just kind of blew my mind at how easy it was and the listings were already there so I didn’t have to learn about that yet. It kind of if you follow that model, the way you step into it, it sort of gives you as much as you can absorb at that moment and then you can kind of go at your own pace so that worked out well for me.
[00:09:34] Scott: I love that, yeah, I love that, yeah because a lot of people… And I’ve had people, they are like, 12 months to listen to the podcast, they are like, “Scott, I still I’ve not launched the product.” I’m like just retail arb right now, like just get something and list it, even if you don’t think it’s going to sell right away just list and most likely will sell if you get a good enough discount on it but if you don’t a crazy discount, just list something, you know, you are going to learn that process, it's huge.
[00:09:59] Jeff: Right, yeah, you got to get in the game and it sort of will self-perpetuate once you get involved.
[00:10:08] Scott: Okay, so from that point are you like okay cool, now I’m just going to ahead and go retail arb all the way or now do you start thinking yourself, let me start maybe thinking about private labeling?
[00:10:17] Jeff: Yeah, because I knew that wasn’t sustainable or scalable so I went back to Home Depot a few times and it was always hit or miss on how much stuff they had and then I tried looking at clearance sections in some retail stores and quickly realized that, man this is a lot of leg work and I needed something that was going to be something scalable so I found a product where… This is sort of a tip that I have for listeners so this was a product that was selling on Amazon.
People were already selling this thing and there is probably 10 or 15 people selling this thing at least, but I figured out a very specific use for it and created my listing based around that specific use. So there are other people selling the exact same thing I was but I set up my listing in a way where if we go back to the tried and true, garlic press.
Imagine if there was a special kind of garlic, for all I know there is only one type of garlic but if there was like Chinese garlic or whatever and this particular press worked really well with Chinese garlic and you set up your listing and said this is the Chinese garlic press. Then that was the sort of the idea that I did and it was sort of built around launching with another product that it sort of fit with and this product was really hot at the time and so that actually worked really well for a while but once people realized, “Oh! This is the same thing as this other thing,” it kind of like trailed off.
[00:12:15] Jeff: So, it didn’t last a long time but it worked pretty well while it did and that was a chance for me to learn about importing stuff from China. So all of those things I imported DHL, by air and I was able to make the math work but I learned about negotiating with people in Alibaba and that kind of thing. So that was sort of another lesson that I went through even though it wasn’t super successful I learned a lot from it.
[00:12:44] Scott: Yeah, well, okay, so let’s kind of go back a little bit unpack what actually happened there. So, from what I’m understanding is, and I’ve always said this, if you can find a current product that’s being used for something and then you find a different use for it, now you create that listing and kind of like the messaging on it to really be pointed towards that person, I’m going to look at that and go, this is meant for me because it clearly says that it's meant for me.
And it can be used for that thing and then that way there it’s going to make me think that I should be probably buy this one because it's created for that particular purpose which I think is good, but then you said like then all over sudden it wasn’t long that other people seeing the same idea and they were, “Oh well, we are just going to call ours the same thing.”
So, it wasn’t really a lot of customization that you did as from what I’m gathering, something else could really easily replicate it but you learnt their process. Let me ask you, do you mind sharing like what were some of the numbers from that first product?
[00:13:41] Jeff: That was over like a year and half ago so I’m having trouble remembering, I know I sold about 1,500 units of it and I was bringing in 500 at a time and…
[00:13:53] Scott: Okay, so, small orders, you weren’t doing huge orders, you did like… Again so a lot of people say, don’t you have to do like 1,000 or 2,000 units at a time, you were doing 500, delivered by air and you sold some?
[00:14:03] Jeff: Yeah, I think I was selling them for about 20 bucks a piece, which was almost double what people were selling this thing for as a standard listing. So it was one of those things where the people who were buying it for that specific purpose already knew that I had figured out that it was going to work and so they were willing to spend a little bit extra money to be guaranteed that this was the thing that it was going to do what they needed it to do.
[00:14:34] Scott: Got you. Okay, so you sold some units. From the sounds of it, you made over 30k or you generated over 30k. Now at this point you are like okay, now I think that the trend or whatever is kind of starting to die, when did you realize that?
[00:14:58] Jeff: You know, the daily sales velocity just kept declining and I was doing some sponsored products, pay-per-click with it and I could just tell that it was slowing down and it got to a point where I knew I wasn’t going to reorder and so once they all sold out, that was kind of the end of it. I knew that it was time to kind of expand my horizons.
[00:15:27] Scott: Got you. Now how did you launch that? I didn’t ask you that. How did you launch that product initially?
[00:15:37] Jeff: Just pay-per-click. I didn’t do any fancy email list or any of that. I knew that it would go with, it was sort of like I was marketing it as an accessory to bigger ticket item and so I just tacked on to that.
[00:15:54] Scott: So, you were just advertising against that really and then you were showing up as an accessory in a sense?
[00:15:58] Jeff: Correct.
[00:15:59] Scott: Cool. Okay, yeah that makes sense and that totally works. I know many people that have done that and still would have been successful just yours was like more easily replicable is I guess, I think the big take-away for this.
[00:16:16] Jeff: Yeah, I will say as a tip as another tip, spend some time looking at the frequently bought with. There’s two scenarios there. There is under the product, there is like where they will show two or three SKUs, the one you are on and then maybe one or two more, that section and then there is another section below that, it goes the full width of the page it says other people also bought this or something like that.
There are two sections like that angle of coming up with a product is I think gold right there. All my success, I would say is based on finding an opportunity to be there. So you find something that is selling crazy like Amazon sells a ton of like iPads and stuff like that. If you can find something that goes with one of those things and you get to that spot, then you can really dominate.
[00:17:17] Scott: Yeah, and I just pulled that up when you are talking because I can give exactly what it looks like, so if you scroll down after your listing at least in this category, but you are like frequently bought together, it shows you three items. The item you are looking at and two additional ones, you can add all three to the cart if you want to.
If you are getting that spot, man oh man, that’s going to be amazing for you because you are probably going to add some sales that way. Then the next one is sponsored products related to this item and then then the next one is customers who bought this item also bought this, and that’s the one you are talking about and there is literally depending on how wide your screen is but basically it's going across to you and I’m counting one, two, three four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 items across my page, right?
So, all of those are related to that purchase from other people and if you can land inside of there, you can probably do fairly well.
[00:18:07] Jeff: Right, and that’s the strategy that I think a lot of people overlook because you sort of approach it as, I want to be the main product but sometimes those add-ons can be just as good or better and sometimes easier to come up with.
[00:18:26] Scott: Yeah, no I agree. So right away you get 10 additional products or even 9 additional products that you could look at and go. Oh! Okay, like these are some options, these are some things that people are all buying together. It’s almost like you are creating a product line off of these products that are showing up that people bought together. Yeah, no that’s a great tip, it’s a great tip and again it’s something that a lot of people don’t talk about. It’s pretty simple but again we are not reinventing the wheel. We are like looking at actual Amazon’s results which is cool. All right, good. So, at this point, what’s the next move then? So how do you do figure out that next product?
[00:19:04] Jeff: So, I realized it was time for me to start my own brand so I spent some time figuring that out, kind of deciding what my brand was going to be called and what the niche was going to be. So I started working on that, then I picked a product and I imported a bunch of them from China and it didn’t work.
[00:19:34] Scott: Okay, why didn’t it work? I want to know why it didn’t work.
[00:19:37] Jeff: Number one, the MOQ key was a little too high. I think I bought like, was it 5,000 units? I can’t remember now, it was a lot. It was a thing that came in multiple colors and so my first mistake was, I bought like 1,000 units of five different colors of this thing and I made a lot of mistakes but I learned a lot from it. It was not unique, I didn’t change anything, I did my own like brand and hangtag on it and I thought that would… I don’t know. I think I got really excited about what I had done with the other product and then was trying to sort of launch pad with this and it just did not work.
I was doing pay-per-click and I was losing money and it just failed but I learned a ton from it. I learned a lot about bringing products in, how the shipping works, how to pack things up, all those things that you need to learn. I learned a lot from it but at the end of the day it just did not work.
[00:20:56] Scott: So, when did you realize that, “You know what, I’m going to have to actually kind of give up on this thing,” how far in?
[00:21:01] Jeff: I probably gave it a solid quarter of just trying to make it work, tweaking the listing, I had really good photos, I had what I thought was good copy but looking back at it now probably could have been better but….
[00:21:18] Scott: What was the competition like?
[00:21:19] Jeff: Well, so at this time, I was the only person selling this version of this product but they were a lot like this a pretty generic thing that a lot of people sell and it’s a thing that probably everybody has in their kitchen but this was kind of a unique looking design and it just didn’t work and I gave up on it.
[00:21:48] Scott: Okay, so what did you do at this point? How many units did you have still have in stock and did you ship them all in by the way?
[00:21:54] Jeff: Yeah, I had sent everything in. That was another thing I had not learned about yet. That was FBA fees on long-term storage were eating me up and not only was I not making money on the sales but I was also paying storage fees so eventually I just had them all shipped back to me and I donated them.
[00:22:19] Scott: Okay, well.
[00:22:22] Jeff: Just to get out of there, because I needed time to start over.
[00:22:24] Scott: Okay, so it was like a clean slate and how much per unit did you invest in each of those?
[00:22:33] Jeff: Oh man.
[00:22:36] Scott: Don’t you want to think about it?
[00:22:36] Jeff: Yeah right.
[00:22:39] Scott: Sorry man, I didn’t want to bring that up but I kind of had to.
[00:22:43] Jeff: Yeah.
[00:22:46] Scott: I mean, do you think it was like… Well it sounds like with variation stuff, how much were you selling it for?
[00:22:55] Jeff: I think I was trying to sell them for like 15 bucks.
[00:22:57] Scott: So, it was probably a lower priced item in order to get landed, right? Would you say probably between three and five dollars a unit?
[00:23:05] Jeff: I think I spent about seven grand to get it here.
[00:23:08] Scott: Okay, just give us a base. So seven grand. My first order was like five grand for 1,000 units, I paid five bucks a unit, 1000 units five grand, if it didn’t work I'm out five grand or I just liquidated or I don’t know if you donated it, maybe you can do a tax write-off…
[00:23:23] Jeff: That’s what I did.
[00:23:24] Scott: You didn’t 100% lose I guess but you might have felt depleted or defeated at that point but it sounds like you don’t get defeated, it sounds like you just keep going, right?
[00:23:37] Jeff: Yeah, the product failed but I didn’t fail, it was just, I learned a lot from it and I just took that under my belt and kept going.
[00:23:48] Scott: Yeah, I love that I just want to highlight that for anyone that’s listening right now. It’s like people think that they are going to get it in the batter’s box once and they are going to hit a homerun and it's like it takes time and to kind of learn from those mistakes. I think that’s the most valuable lesson anyone could do here is to actually do something and learn from that experience and don’t get defeated if it doesn’t work 100% and you are a perfect example of that Jeff. I mean you are just like you are constantly just like, “okay well you know what, dust yourself off, let’s move on, I know products are selling on Amazon, I know people are doing well on Amazon, so why can’t I be. I’m going to be, this just wasn’t the time” kind of thing. Okay, love it. So, what’s next?
[00:24:30] Jeff: So next in a clean slate here like you said, I had received a product as a gift for Christmas, that following Christmas and during the use of this thing, I discovered this issue that made it less than pleasant experience and I started doing some research and I was reading a lot of product reviews, I was reading product reviews for the product that I had and during that research, it dawned on me like exactly what I needed to do.
So my tip here is, read product reviews of things that are selling well and you can actually… It goes back to that accessory, you know frequently bought with thing, if you find something that’s selling really well and you read the reviews… There’s two angles there; one is, well could you improve the product that you are looking at, but the other and somewhat may be easier is, is there any accessory you could come up with that you could sell people who are buying that product and then come in as an accessory? So that’s what I did.
[00:25:48] Scott: 100%.
[00:25:49] Jeff: So, it sort of was born in a way where I was able to make them by hand. I know that’s kind of weird but I figured out a way to do this thing and I made it by hand for a while just to prove it and I would make a hundred of them at a time and by the time they got in to FBA, they basically would sell as quickly as I could ship them in and I couldn’t make them fast enough.
[00:26:17] Scott: Wow! That’s pretty awesome. That’s really cool because now you are able to test it before you even have to actually source it.
[00:26:26] Jeff: Right, and I had very little overhead and I could tell how much, how well it was working. So at that point I decided I have to stop making these because it was eating up so much time, it was just killing me. So, I stopped making them and then I started researching in how to get a company that helped me make these and I was looking at vendors in China and I had some referrals to some vendors in the US. So what I did was I partnered with a company here in the US that does this type of work and they actually had our mold made in China but then brought it back here to the US and they do the production here in the US.
[00:27:21] Scott: Oh wow, that’s pretty awesome.
[00:27:23] Jeff: Yeah, because the thing is with getting your mold made in China and then leaving it there is that you don’t know what’s happening to it on a daily basis and I have literally had Chinese sellers offer to sell me products that I know have patents on them and they are using somebody else’s mold that that person probably paid for them to build and you gotta be careful about some of that stuff. I knew that if I had my mold made and left it there that in a month somebody would be coming out with the same exact same thing that I had using my mold.
[00:28:08] Scott: Yeah, that you paid for and you designed and that’s always a hard, it’s a hard thing. It’s like, how do you do it then if you don’t find the US supplier to do that? It’s kind of like a risk, a chance that you kind of have to take and then if you have a solid brand then…
One tip that I would say, if you are creating a mold and this is something we just recently did, is we had our name stamped right in the mold. So yes someone can come in and jump on our listing or they could create their own listing but as soon as I can buy one and I would like to do a test buy it, I would have to do all that stuff that you know that you know you have to do but there would be no way that they could continue to do it. I would have to probably hire an attorney, have them, the guy that I would use is Ted Limus who has been on the show before and basically go after them but it’s not pleasant.
That was one tip that was given to us, that was like if you are going to create a mold, definitely have… If you can have something stamped in it, if you have a mold, and then you see that surface afterwards not just necessarily putting maybe your sticker on there, or something like that, it’s to actually have it embossed inside and stamped inside of that mold. That’s kind of what we did but yeah, it’s always a risk.
I heard another guy say well, you can have your patent or your mold like put into a safe box with a lock, you can have your company go there and make sure that it happens. Like all these different things you do but at the end of the day, if you make one mold, who is to say too Jeff they did make two molds, one they sent to you and one they kept there?
[00:29:45] Jeff: Yeah, I’ve thought about that too because they do have the design.
[00:29:50] Scott: Sure, you just never know but think for you, you are not letting the manufacturer, manufacture them you just had them create the mold there which actually then they just sent back to you. That’s all you did is hire them, you didn’t actually have them do a run of them?
[00:30:06] Jeff: No, and it was all done through the manufacturing partner that we have here in the US so I didn’t have to negotiate any of that. This was a company that they deal with on a regular basis so the manufacturing partner handled all of that for me.
[00:30:23] Scott: So, let me ask you this though because I know I’m going to get this question and we will hear this, like how do you find someone in the US that you can have them create a mold then they manufacture it? Is it just because there just happened to be like someone in the states that’s doing product similar to this, like how did you find them? Was it like just you are Googling like certain companies that did other types of products that as related to something like this?
[00:30:50] Jeff: So actually, I had a little bit of an advantage there because I got a referral from an existing client that I knew from another business venture and I went to him with this problem and he said, “Oh! You should talk to this guy.” He referred me to this person but I would say, if you just Google injection mold companies in the US you will find them, they are all over the place. That is not a thing that has to be done in China and what I would say is, not having to deal with importing these, the freight forwarding and all that, is worth whatever extra I pay for these. It’s totally worth it.
[00:31:41] Scott: What’s the run time? Like generally speaking like if you wanted another order?
[00:31:47] Jeff: I put in, so I have a tool that I use to help me with inventory projections and I put in about 14 days lead time.
[00:31:56] Scott: Oh! That’s not bad.
[00:31:57] Jeff: Yeah, they're super fast. I go into Amazon, set up my fulfillment order, print out the labels, I email them the labels and they do their production. They put it in the bags, they put it in the box then they ship them in for me.
[00:32:12] Scott: Now you said something that was interesting like, so they partnered with you on this?
[00:32:18] Jeff: Well, I call them my partner but they are…
[00:32:20] Scott: Okay but what you mean by that is they are a partner in that you’re paying them to actually make it, so that’s how they’re getting their payment, that’s how they're partnering. Whenever you sell one technically they’re getting a portion of that.
[00:32:32] Jeff: Correct.
Scott: I got you, okay I just didn’t know if you had like an agreement where it was like you know they were just kind of be a partner but I get what you mean. Yeah, they are helping you make it, they are doing the manufacture, they are your partner.
[00:32:43] Jeff: Right.
[00:32:43] Scott: Yeah, I get it, now what was the initial run though? Like someone would think like, oh if you do your mold that’s going to cost money but then like they’re going to probably want you to do at least three to five thousand of a minimum order quantity. Was it something like that or what were you able to do less?
[00:33:00] Jeff: No, they’ll do as, my first run was 200 units.
[00:33:03] Scott: Oh wow!
[00:33:04] Jeff: Yeah, and which turned out to be a terrible idea because we launched the product literary went live on Thanksgiving Day this past year.
[00:33:15] Scott: Oh wow!
[00:33:16] Jeff: We had no idea what was going to happen. I say ‘we’ because I have a business partner in this.
[00:33:16] Scott: Got you.
[00:33:25] Jeff: I will swing back to that but we did 200 units and they went live on Thanksgiving Day and we ran out before Christmas.
[00:33:32] Scott: Oh wow!
[00:33:33] Jeff: Before like the real boom of Christmas we ran out, which was frustrating because it was like “Holy cow! This thing is blowing up.” And we didn’t really get to leverage the full brunt of Christmas sales.
[00:33:49] Scott: Okay, cool, so now we have to ask you this like what did you do to launch? Did you just do the typical like just you’re going to get an optimized listing and then just run pay-per-click ads to it? What did you do?
[00:34:01] Jeff: Yes, that’s all I did.
[00:34:03] Scott: That’s it, okay, cool love that strategy by the way. It’s nice and easy, it’s simple and then so now again, I’m guessing this was another product that, well it did, right?
You said you were using the product but there was something that wasn’t, that was kind of a pain, so if you had something that could make this easier or whatever it was going to make it a better user experience. You were making something that was going to be a component to something that was already selling.
[00:34:25] Jeff: Correct.
[00:34:29] Scott: So, you were able to kind of use their traffic in a sense on pay-per-click to get it in front of the eyeballs.
[00:34:35] Jeff: Exactly.
[00:34:36] Scott: Got you, now and we’re actually in a very similar situation right now. We just launched six products in a brand new brand, probably around just about two months now and very similar to where there is a main product and we have accessories.
So, we can really get in front of eyeballs and then just show these and then again like you said then we can get into the frequently bought together and all that fun stuff. Yeah, so now are you thinking because I mean I’m seeing at this point when you’re at this point, now what’s the next move? Do you order another 200, do you order another 1,000?
[00:35:14] Jeff: That’s a good question. We ordered a big order after that because I already knew it was working.
[00:35:27] Scott: Right.
[00:35:29] Jeff: I have a list here of all the orders that I have placed, let me see what the next one was.
[00:35:33] Scott: Cool, yeah.
[00:35:36] Jeff: Yeah, the next order was, it looks like another.
[00:35:44] Scott: We’re looking at the reports live that’s what we’re doing.
[00:35:47] Jeff: Yeah, it looks like I ordered another 2,000 units.
[00:35:51] Scott: Oh wow, so you felt really good about this.
[00:35:55] Jeff: I did, yeah.
[00:35:56] Scott: Okay, because here you’re coming off of another order that you were done with 5,000 units that you had actually got shipped back to you because it didn’t work and now you’re like you’ve seen this was like signs pointing to go.
[00:36:10] Jeff: Correct
[00:36:10] Scott: Yeah, I love it.
[00:36:12] Jeff: Yeah, the margins were way better and the sales velocity was just climbing daily.
[00:36:20] Scott: What was your price point at this point?
[00:36:25] Jeff: I think it was $19.95 then.
[00:36:29] Scott: Okay.
[00:36:30] Jeff: It’s more now because I did some price testing but yeah.
[00:36:35] Scott: Now, okay you said price testing, did you use a tool for that? Did you use Splitly for that?
[00:36:40] Jeff: I did, yeah.
[00:36:40] Scott: Yeah, that’s what I’m using right now too, I love that. It actually works really good, what did you find that the higher price point was selling better?
[00:36:48] Jeff: Yes.
[00:36:48] Scott: That’s funny, isn’t it?
[00:36:50] Jeff: It is and what’s funny is that people complain sometimes.
[00:36:55] Scott: Yeah.
[00:36:55] Jeff: But you’ll see people complaining in reviews or you know and it’s like well the market determines this price. You might think it’s too much but everybody else is okay with it and that is actually, it’s a good point because it creates this internal struggle. As a seller, you read these and you’re like yeah, I hear this complaint and maybe I should lower the price, but then you look at the math and the science and it’s saying the opposite thing and you just have to fight the urge to lower the price.
[00:37:32] Scott: I know, now when you first launched did you lower the price for it to look like it was a better deal and with pay-per-click or did you just start right off out of the gate with $19.99?
[00:37:44] Jeff: I started out at that price point because I wasn’t really sure. I tried lots of different prices you know with Splitly you just give it the range and let it go and figure it out.
[00:38:03] Scott: You just set your low and high, yeah. How long did you run that before you were like okay I think this is it?
[00:38:03] Jeff: I ran it probably longer than I should have. I probably ran this split tester for like 90 days. But really it got me to the same answer within like 30 days.
[00:38:18] Scott: Yeah, I’m finding that right now myself, I think we’ve been running for, on one of the products we’ve been running for probably close to 25 or 30 days and it’s looking like it knows the price. But now at that point did you just pause that and then just set the price at the one that was the winner or are you continually testing it?
[00:38:39] Jeff: No, I didn’t, at a certain point I just decided to stop doing that.
[00:38:45] Scott: Okay, yeah, so anyone that’s listening I mean Splitly is an amazing tool and I mean they have a split testing feature for just split testing like a picture or a title. But we’re talking about actually the pricing which they automatically do for you and then they find the best one out of the range that you set.
Like for example, if you set it for $14.99 to $19.99 they’re going to throughout the day almost to the hour they’re going to be changing the price and automatically and it’s pretty interesting to see some of those results. If you guys have not checked that out theamazingseller.com/splitly and it will take you over there, you can check that out.
Yeah, a big fan of it and it’s funny that you actually used it as well and it got you a higher price and a higher profit margin. Did you actually use the feature inside of there to drive it towards a keyword?
[00:39:40] Jeff: I tested that briefly.
[00:39:44] Scott: I have not done it, I have not done. That’s why I was wondering if you had, if it actually did anything for you.
[00:39:51] Jeff: No, I did test it briefly but I did not follow through on it enough to know if it actually worked or not.
[00:39:58] Scott: Me neither, okay, cool, I was just trading notes that’s all. Okay, cool, so at this point you’re selling well, you ordered a couple of thousand, you’re feeling really good about this. From here are there other products that you were thinking about launching or you’re just going to focus on getting this one really rooted?
[00:40:19] Jeff: Yes, initially it was all about this product but then it was clear that I needed to iterate and so going back to our mold conversation when we had the mold produced we had sections of it that are replaceable so that we can change it.
[00:40:41] Scott: Got you, okay.
[00:40:43] Jeff: So, for example you mentioned how you have your brand name embossed. We made that a removable section so that, which actually we’ve already replaced it because we realized that the initial one didn’t actually match the font of our logo and so we changed that. We also have filed a patent in the meantime so we added pattern pending to it.
[00:41:09] Scott: Oh nice.
[00:41:10] Jeff: So we did make a few changes on it, but the original idea behind changing that was if we partnered with a bigger brand in the future and they wanted to brand it with their own name. We thought it would be wise to have that part replaceable.
[00:41:26] Scott: Oh I got it, okay.
[00:41:29] Jeff: In a scenario where maybe we sell this brand in the future something like that.
[00:41:33] Scott: Okay, you sell the brand or I mean it sounds like you could even do it with a major brand like you said and almost be a private labeler for them.
[00:41:41] Jeff: Right.
[00:41:41] Scott: I got you, okay.
[00:41:43] Jeff: Then another piece of the mold is replaceable to allow it to work with different products.
[00:41:50] Scott: Got you.
[00:41:52] Jeff: So, we have iterated it a few times. This is a similar product just like a different size if you will.
[00:42:00] Scott: Okay.
[00:42:00] Jeff: Those aren’t doing as well as the first one we did but we’re learning from that and we’re tweaking things and there will be more versions in the future. The way we have it built is pretty modular.
[00:42:14] Scott: Cool, what was the process for the mold? I know that you had them pretty much do it but I mean you probably had to be involved a little bit. What was the process like going working with someone in China to create that mold for you?
[00:42:29] Jeff: So, our partner here in the US handled all that. They did our CAD work here locally in the US and we worked with them on making sure the design was going to work. They actually… Before we had the mold, before they started cutting they had a full-size version of it 3D printed and sent it to us so we could test it out and make sure that that was going to work.
We did some testing with the 3D printed model to verify, “Okay yes, this is it,” and then the company in China started cutting steel and yeah, I think it took about 90 days to get the thing done and over here.
[00:43:14] Scott: Okay, and as far as, because it sounds like you know the manufacture that you hired to kind of do this stuff they’re doing a lot of upfront work for the mold and stuff. Was that as an additional charge in a cost or did they build that into your own or did they give you a discount after you did a certain amount that they would give you the money back like I know it’s kind of how they do it in China. After you hit a certain number they’ll give you back the mold cost or something.
[00:43:39] Jeff: No, it was all built in the mold fee. So, the mold fee they split it so we paid like 60% upfront and then another 20% and then another 20%. I think it was like 20% when the mold got back here and we got a sample and then on the other 20% when it was time to run it or something like that. But basically, it allowed us to break up the cost of the mold.
[00:44:08] Scott: Okay and just can you give us an idea of what the mold cost it was?
[00:44:13] Jeff: Yes, 25 grand.
[00:44:15] Scott: 25 that’s-
[00:44:16] Jeff: Right. I had brought in a business partner to help me split the cost of the mold. I went to him and said, “Hey, I’ve got this idea it might not work but it might, here is what I’ve done so far. Do you want in on this? And this is the guy I’ve been working with for years so we’re friends and colleagues and he said, “Yeah, I’m in.” So, doing that 60%, 20%, 20% made those costs a lot more digestible.
[00:44:52] Scott: Got you, okay.
[00:44:54] Jeff: And actually, you know made it okay and we paid for the mold I think it was right around December 27th we broke even on the mold.
[00:45:06] Scott: Okay, cool.
[00:45:07] Jeff: Pretty quickly.
[00:45:09] Scott: Okay, so then they basically gave you the cost for the mold, they broke that down into chunks for you. You brought in a business partner that’s willing to go in on this, is that a business partner that’s basically just money or are they also going to help in the business?
[00:45:25] Jeff: No, he and I work on it together.
[00:45:27] Scott: Okay, so it’s a joint project basis.
[00:45:32] Jeff: Correct.
[00:45:33] Scott: Okay, cool, got it because sometimes it’s just people are like, “Yeah, I’ll give you the money and I’ll just take 10% or whatever.” Then from there on moving forward but I like it if you can get a partner that’s actually got some skin in the game but also willing to kind of put a little bit of work behind it.
Okay and I’m just trying to kind of clean everything up here so I make sure that I cover everything because you know at this point people are thinking, well that’s 25 grand but you also did test it by making some of these before you ended up thinking about doing that.
[00:46:03] Jeff: Right, and I had proven the concept.
[00:46:06] Scott: That’s what I mean.
[00:46:06] Jeff: It was going to work it was like a done deal, I knew it was going to work.
[00:46:11] Scott: Okay.
[00:46:12] Jeff: So I wasn’t worried about it. I knew this thing was going to work and so I was willing to spend the money in it. If I had wanted to keep making them by hand until I got that number, I might have been able to do that. It would have been a lot of work.
[00:46:28] Scott: Yeah.
[00:46:31] Jeff: Part of this was also timing because I wanted to have it ready for production by Christmas and so it was, it reached that point where I said if I’m going to do this and have a mold made then I better start now and always giving yourself more time than you think.
Even the manufacturer, he told us enough one thing but it actually ended up taking a lot longer for various reasons, but yeah those things always take longer than you think they should.
[00:47:02] Scott: I’m assuming your manufacturer took care of packaging and stuff. No?
[00:47:07] Jeff: What do you mean?
[00:47:08] Scott: Well, boxing or labeling and that type of stuff.
[00:47:11] Jeff: On the production of the products?
[00:47:14] Scott: Yeah.
[00:47:15] Jeff: Correct, so I had to give them some direction on what it should be.
[00:47:22] Scott: Okay.
[00:47:22] Jeff: But, yeah, they handle putting it in the plastic bags with the labels and everything.
[00:47:28] Scott: Okay, good, okay, yeah because I didn’t know if they were full-fledged manufacturer or if it was just like they’re going to manufacture the product but now you’re going to come up with the boxing and packaging and all that stuff. They do all of that for you, you didn’t have to.
[00:47:38] Jeff: Right, I don’t touch them.
[00:47:39] Scott: Okay, yeah, well literally I mean you basically give them a label and they send it in FBA, correct?
[00:47:44] Jeff: Right.
[00:47:44] Scott: Yeah, no, that’s awesome. Okay, let me just also ask you. So at this point like and I think when you and I talked you gave me a number, are you willing to share like kind of like what those numbers look like from this new product that you’ve launched?
[00:47:59] Jeff: Yeah, sure, yeah. I don’t remember what I told you at that time but my projections are that we’re going to do about 750 this year.
[00:48:09] Scott: Yeah, I think you told me 500 yeah, so yeah, you’re probably there for sure and who knows that even could grow because it sounds like you’ve got good sales velocity now and when we hit fourth quarter who knows, right?
[00:48:27] Jeff: Yeah, so we have two of our SKUs are in a prime day deal. One is prime day and one is prime week.
[00:48:33] Scott: Oh nice, that’s right we’re coming up on that, yeah.
[00:48:35] Jeff: Yeah, so that’s going to be any time now and then of course Christmas we’re ramping up, so yeah, it’s going to be a good year and it’s exciting.
[00:48:49] Scott: How is your business partner feeling? You know, with these results he got to be pretty excited, right?
[00:48:55] Jeff: Yeah, you know it’s funny because we both have the app on our phone and we text each other back and forth like we’ve hit this number today, hit this number, if you’ve ever done that it’s kind of funny.
[00:49:09] Scott: Oh yeah, I’ve always said we should have another app on top of the app to see how many time that we swipe it per day. I’ve actually had to get rid of mine sometimes because it’s distracting, you know what I mean?
[00:49:20] Jeff: Yeah.
[00:49:19] Scott: You know I’m like man, I shouldn’t be doing this like just once in the morning and once at night it should be enough but it can get distracting.
[00:49:28] Jeff: Yeah.
[00:49:28] Scott: Yeah, you know what I mean.
[00:49:28] Jeff: I don’t do it as much as I did like maybe the first three or four months.
[00:49:33] Scott: Yeah.
[00:49:34] Jeff: I don’t do it as much as I did then but I still check it you know probably two or three times a day.
[00:49:40] Scott: Oh yeah. Okay so in wrapping up, I just love your journey though Jeff. You started out with a little doorbell you know, you sold it, the light bulb goes on. You go out there you then start you know doing your own product it did okay, then you did one it didn’t do so good but you’re still at it.
Then you discover a product by something that you received that you said, oh there's got to be a better way or there’s got to be something that can make this an easier experience. Because a lot of people always ask me so how do you find that product and generally it’s within your own life it’s something that you’ve touched or something that you’ve used or someone else has complained about or used.
You make a solution to that and that’s kind of what you’ve done which I think is really awesome and all these lessons learned are helping you but they’re also helping us now be able to hear and kind of hear that whole process. I mean you getting in touch with this manufacturer I think some people would say like, “Oh! He is lucky.”
No, it’s a connection that you had had from before. It just so happens that it was going to help you now and you know that saying like, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” It’s kind of like that was stuff that you had made connections in the past that now benefited you today. So, I love it.
[00:50:55] Jeff: Yeah, and the other thing I will say about that is I have no special treatment from this company and anyone could Google and find a company that does the same thing and get the same experience that I have. It’s just was a little bit of awareness but otherwise you know anybody could work with this company and they’ve been really good to us and it’s been a great relationship.
[00:51:21] Scott: That’s awesome, okay so in closing what’s the next move? Like what’s your direction, where are you seeing this thing go? Are you building a full-fledged brand now like what’s next?
[00:51:34] Jeff: Yeah, so we have probably four or five products in the pipeline, so that’s like the product development work that I’m doing now where we buy some things, we modify it or maybe I print I have a 3D printer so maybe I make something and then we test it out. But we’re coming up with more accessories in this niche that we could sell to these same people.
[00:52:02] Scott: Okay.
[00:52:06] Jeff: So, yeah, that’s kind of where we’re going now to try and increase that product line.
[00:52:12] Scott: Okay, yeah, and I think that makes the most sense. Now do you know off the top of your head I mean maybe you don’t, but I’ll throw it out there. What kind of sessions you’re getting per day on like your listing?
[00:52:25] Jeff: No, I don’t.
[00:52:27] Scott: Okay, and the only reason why I asked that is because a lot of people don’t look at that right like you have let’s just say you have 300 sessions a day. That’s 300 eyeballs you have every single day they are re-hitting that listing. Then from there you could then take your new product and you can put like a little special offer below the price because Amazon recently put that promotion area right below the pricing at least the time that we’re recording this.
Actually I met with a guy that… Actually I helped him back before I even had the podcast go live and I mean he’s still has like two SKUs in this one brand the ones that I worked on them with. They are doing about 150 to 225 a day and I just looked at the stats a day he is getting like 30,000 to 35,000 sessions a month, so over 1,000 sessions to a listing and I’m like your next products in this brand need to be in this brand.
Don’t think about anything else you’ve already got the traffic. That’s why I just asked you because if I mean if you’re looking at that like you can instantly probably get some eyeballs on your new products when they are ready to go live.
[00:53:30] Jeff: Yeah, we did 20,000 sessions last month.
[00:53:35] Scott: Beautiful, man that’s a lot of traffic. Sessions for people that are not sure what that means. A session is a unique visitor to your listing meaning that if I went to your listing that’s counted as one. If I went back there again the same day, it counts as a page view that would be another step.
But 25,000 is a lot for anyone and that’s free traffic because it’s traffic that’s automatically going there. What I’m talking about is like right below your price of your product if you run a promotion of some kind maybe like you get a discount, a special discount it would say something like, buy one get a discount on selected products. Then you can hover over that and it will tell you what that is and then you could add both to cart.
[00:54:25] Jeff: Okay.
[00:54:25] Scott: That’s an amazing thing man. We’re just playing around with that now and we’re like because we’ve got six SKUs so we're kind of like able to ping them back and forth. It shows up right below your price point and right above where it says in stock.
It’s right there where people see it and we’re seeing some pretty good results already. Again, you can make that whatever you want it to be but with that kind of traffic understand you’ve got like 700 people come to that page every single day you know 500 even. You’re able to have them see that and you have a chance for them to buy it if it’s related to that other product.
[00:55:01] Jeff: I love it.
[00:55:01] Scott: Yeah, no so that’s you’re sitting on some good traffic right there. Yeah, so definitely you’re going to want to do that when those other products come into the mix for sure. Cool, so is there any other little bits of tips, advice anything you want to wrap up with Jeff before we end up saying goodbye for today?
[00:55:01] Jeff: I would say one of the best things I did was getting involved in the community. You know participating in your Facebook group also if you can try to go to an event, Sellers Summit or one of your events or something like that. I would say that helped me a lot because last year when I went to Sellers Summit I was on the fence about this mold idea. It was like right about to happen, I wasn’t sure, I was scared about how much it costs.
[00:55:58] Scott: Who wouldn’t be, right?
[00:55:59] Jeff: Right, and I actually met someone at Sellers Summit and told that person about what I was going to do and they said yeah, that is the way you should do it. You should definitely do it that way which what she meant was like having the mold made China and then bringing it to the US for your injections and she advised me to do that and it worked out great.
If I hadn’t met this person and she hadn’t sort of convinced me that that was the way to go, maybe I wouldn’t have done it I don’t know. Just being around people who are having success in this business is tremendously powerful. I can’t emphasize that enough, so if you’re serious about this and you have the ability to do it I highly recommend that because it’s the information you get is not things that you can, typically is not things that you can Google and it’s not things that people are going to post online. It’s just like you know the discussions you have that have the fruit.
[00:57:02] Scott: Oh Yeah! I agree, I mean we just like I said we had a small little event here with just 15 people in a workshop. But so much came from those conversations that we had during the day but also at night at the networking and all of that stuff. There is already take away and big things that we’re going to take away and even just connections.
Right, it’s kind of like for you to find that one supplier but who is to say that you know someone else was there that did the same thing and then they just said, “Oh! You should try this guy.” It’s like that one connection that gets kind of tossed around a little bit and yeah.
I agree man I mean being in person with people there is also other, there is just different energy there. I would say definitely and I’m not a big like you’ve got to go to all events, I’d say one or two a year would be probably good, because then you should be working on your business and taking that and just building it.
I agree and again this is my second year in a row there in meeting you which was pretty awesome and I just think it’s cool that the year before you were in this limbo stage and you’re having this thing done and here we are a year later and look where you are. It’s like how much can happen in a year or less once you just keep at it and you’ve proven that.
You’re on track to do some really amazing things I’m sure I’ll do some updates with you and I’m sure we’ll see each other at the next event whether it’s Steve’s or one of ours or just some other event that we’re both going to be at. I want to thank you Jeff for coming on, I appreciate all of your insight and kind of leading us through your story, I think it’s inspiring and motivational but also, it’s actionable. So, I just want to thank you again brother. I appreciate it.
[00:58:40] Jeff: Thanks Scott, always good talking to you man.
[00:58:42] Scott: Okay, so wow man that was an amazing interview conversation. Hanging out with Jeff was just awesome. Going through his story in detail pulled a ton out of that conversation and it’s funny because when you meet someone in person you get a lot of the in’s and out’s.
A lot of time depending on what type of event you’re at or myself I’m not able to spend that much time with someone to really dig deep into their story. Being able to go through Jeff’s story I see it a lot clear now as far as his path. The one thing I do want to really highlight here is that number one he got started again in retail arbitrage. Okay, so he got started, got himself going, validated that. You know yes, I can do this and I’ve said this before and I said it in the previous episode that we just did which was episode 389 with Kevin, same idea. You know he went he validated it through retail arbitrage and then from there he launched his first private little product.
In this case Jeff actually had some success with that product but then he had some issues, right? We’ve also seen it might be trending and all that stuff and then he had some other issues. He had all this stuff going for him but then going against him. Most people would have just thrown in the towel and said, you know what I’m done with this thing but he didn’t do that.
He just keeps going and that’s what I love about Jeff is just that he sees the big picture, he also knows and understands that it’s part of the process. It’s part of the process but the one thing that he has going for him and I think all of us have going for us if we want he has the right mindset.
He knows that not everything is going to be perfect, he knows that there is going to be obstacles, but because of that he can also be rewarded. I know a lot of people have said this in the past with successful people is everyone thinks that everything is successful or everything they touch is gold and it’s not.
[01:00:42] Scott: It’s actually just the opposite, a lot of what they touch isn’t gold and the things that do turn into gold turn into some massive gold. It just builds upon itself but there is a lot of different things that they are doing along the way that just doesn’t work but they are willing to give it a shot and give it a try.
A lot of people out there making excuses why they can’t do it or why they did it and it didn’t work or whatever for whatever business it doesn’t even matter this business. I’m just saying in general, but you have to get started no matter what. You have to get started if you have not gotten started you have to do that all right.
Let me just remind you guys if you are interested in getting started and you have not gotten started yet and you want to just maybe even just do some retail arbitrage or you just want to get your first sale. I would definitely recommend checking our brand new course called 1KFastTrack.
It’s a way to get you there really, really quickly and also build up some capital so you can start to invest in your private label business. Now if you want to go through the entire process as far as how to launch a product on Amazon, I’ve got you covered there as well. I have a free resource, a workshop that we do that walks you through the five phases.
I would like to invite you to that and you can head over to theamazingseller.com/workshop and that’s exactly what you can do there is register for an upcoming workshop and when we do our next one you’ll be notified and then we can walk you through that entire process.
But again, it depends where you are in the process. If you just want to dip your toe in the water, 1KFastTrack is an amazing resource for you. If you’re past that or you just want to jump into the private label game then go to the free workshop.
Guys that is going to wrap up this episode, let me remind you of the show notes episode 390 so the episode notes can be found at theamazingseller.com/390, links, transcripts, all the goodies can be found over there and as always, I want to remind you guys that I am here for you, I believe in you and I am rooting for you but you have to, you have to… Come on say it with me, say it loud, say it proud, after listening to that interview on that conversation I’ll tell you what I am so fired up, we have to do what, “Take action.” Have an awesome amazing day guys and I’ll see you right back here on the next episode.
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