Once you’ve validated and tested the products you want to feature as you start your ecommerce business, you have to take the next step, finding suppliers. Where do you even start to locate and develop a relationship with suppliers? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from Scott and Chris as they go over what you need to know as you move into the next phase of your business. Don’t go into this next step blindly! Take full advantage of the wisdom and insights that Scott and Chris have from years of experience in the ecommerce industry. You don’t want to miss this valuable episode!
Where to start connecting with Suppliers
How can sellers like you connect with trustworthy suppliers for your first ecommerce product? Should you connect with multiple suppliers or go with the first one you find? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from Scott and Chris as they share what you need to do to start connecting with overseas suppliers. The guys go over resources like Alibaba and Aliexpress and how you can leverage those platforms to build a list of suppliers to connect with. Make sure to listen to this episode to get all the tips and tools you need to make sure your first interaction with a supplier is a positive one! Don’t miss this episode!
Filtering through Potential Suppliers
If you connect with a good list of potential suppliers for your first product, how do you filter through them and decide which one is the best fit for you? Is it all chance and a roll of the dice or is there a way to filter through your options efficiently? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott, and Chris provide some helpful advice and a great tool you can use to help you through this difficult process. The guys suggest that you start by sending an email template they’ve developed with key questions for suppliers to answer so you can find the one supplier that will produce the best product for you. Don’t miss this episode as the guys break down the email template you can use!
Make sure to order samples!
As you prepare to launch your first product and you connect with the right suppliers, don’t forget to ask your supplier for samples! The last thing you want to do is to order a lot of products based on only a picture. On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from Scott and Chris as they describe how you can request and pay for samples from your chosen supplier. The guys suggest that you order at least two samples, pay for them, and have them sent to you by air. To get all the information you need regarding samples and other variables surrounding suppliers, make sure to listen to this episode!
Do you have to go to China?
Many new ecommerce sellers find themselves wondering if they can get their business off the ground without going to China. Is a trip to China necessary or is there a better option? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott and Chris explain how sellers like you can build relationships with inspectors and other third-party agents in China so you don’t have to travel overseas. Hear how Scott and his brand were able to make a great connection with an individual that ended up saving them a lot of money in the long run. You don’t want to miss this fascinating episode!
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:03] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
- [5:30] Where do you start to source your product?
- [9:00] The difference between Aliexpress and Alibaba.
- [15:30] How to filter through potential suppliers.
- [24:30] Chris goes over an email template to send potential suppliers.
- [29:00] Why it’s important to order samples.
- [33:00] Scott recaps the sourcing process.
- [35:00] How many samples should you order and how do you pay for them?
- [38:30] How do you get changes or modifications of the product from the supplier?
- [40:30] Where to find suppliers in specific countries.
- [42:30] Do you need to have a separate email address?
- [44:00] Do you have to go to China to make this work?
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TRANSCRIPT TAS 442
TAS 442: PL Part 3 – How to Find Suppliers and Source Your Products
[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone! Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 442 and today I’m excited because we are going to be diving into how to…
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…find suppliers and source your products. And this is part three of our series or our roadmap if you will on our private labeling and how to launch your first product or additional products on Amazon and I have again with me Chris Shaffer. How is it going my friend?
[00:00:33] Chris: Oh it’s going brother you know how it is. We are doing the Amazon thing, we are launching products, we are doing some contests, we are doing all kinds of stuff. In between some of the stuff you and I have been doing this morning I’ve been checking all those numbers. They look fantastic and I’m ready to dive in and talk just a little bit about sourcing which is a sore spot for a lot of people.
[00:00:53] Scott: Yeah it really is and I’m glad that you brought up all that other stuff because people listening right now might be saying, “Well that’s a lot of stuff.” And it is but it’s fun and Chris is actually going through some of the things that we are doing in the new brand and these are things that you will eventually get to once you get through these five phases. And that’s why we decided to do this series of exactly how we are doing it and how we suggest that you do it and also how a lot of our students are doing it. Now, I did want to recap a little bit very quickly if you have not listened to the overview of this five part series you are probably going to want to do that at some point and that can be found at theamazingseller.com/440.
And then we just talked about the first phase which was in the last episode which was all about product research, market research, how to validate a product, see depth, demand, all of that good stuff. That can be found at episode 441 and then this episode is 442 so all of the show notes, the transcripts can be found at the show notes page to this episode but also at those others that I mentioned and all you ever have to do is go to theamazingseller.com /whatever episode that is so in this case 440, 441 and 442.
Now the other thing I wanted to mention here real quickly is we recently did a episode on, actually it was episode 435 so not that long ago, where I broke down and talked about a China agent where she spoke out actually with my partner and how she saved us $5,000, possibly more on bad product. And I gave you the four steps to follow and things that we’ve learned through this process. Now we are going to be touching on some of those in this episode but that was a good episode just to hear that story and then hear what we are doing moving forward to make sure that that stuff doesn’t happen.
[00:02:58] Scott: And like I said we’ll be highlighting some of that stuff here as well. What I wanted to do here is give you a framework to go through. Again this is what we do during our workshops. This is the second phase if you will for sourcing as far as the process, the roadmap but this is really critical because once we get through the product research stage and we get to that point where we have five or maybe ten different products that we think could be winners, then we have to go out there and see what these are going to cost us because that will really tell us if it’s something that we can even launch. Before we jump into that Chris is there anything you wanted to add to that before we jump into the sourcing part here?
[00:03:34] Chris: I would say if you are in the sourcing phase and if you are listening to this I would suggest being in the sourcing phase, we touched on it a little bit in the end of the last episode that we did here but even if you’ve been through this before, if you are in sourcing, come back and listen to this episode, listen to did you say it was 435 is the other one?
[00:03:53] Scott: Yes.
[00:03:54] Chris: And get a refresher every time you do this. The just in time learning thing can’t be overstated. You and I go back through some of the material that we even created just to make sure that we check all the right boxes. We look at our checklist, we do those kinds of things to make sure that we are doing everything and so if you are in the product sourcing phase definitely listen to this, listen to 435, buckle down and focus on the product sourcing stuff and that’s going to cut down on the distractions. There’s a lot of other things, there’s a lot of shiny objects but each of these five phases that we are going to be talking about are their own little animal.
Now they are not all that complex once you start to do it but there are a lot of moving pieces. They are not hard but they are difficult. Does that make sense?
[00:04:40] Scott: Yeah it does.
[00:04:41] Chris: There’s a lot of things they are not hard to do but to do them all well can be difficult and so if you buckle down you’ll look at just each thing as its own individual chunk, it’s going to make things a lot easier. And I think especially for people who have never sourced a product before, it’s very true for this phase.
[00:04:58] Scott: Yeah absolutely and again it’s like you don’t want to get yourself overwhelmed but this is just one of those parts like during this process so again everything has its own individual process but in the five phases this is phase two. And this is an exciting time too because then we are going to go out there, we are going to find our product and then we are going to try to make modifications to it and this is going to be where you build that relationship with an agent. And a lot of people ask, “Where do I find these agents?” So with that being said let’s dig in here.
Step number one, once you have your handful of products that you want to look into sourcing, you have to figure out where to reach out to people. So the first place that we like to go is Alibaba or Ali Express. Let’s explain the difference between each of those. Alibaba is really the main company in the sense and what it is it’s a place where you can connect with suppliers, manufacturers, trading companies, all of these different suppliers and just people that are selling products to people like us can be found there. That’s Alibaba.
So just think about it like a marketplace where it takes all of the suppliers, the manufacturers, trading companies, all that stuff and it brings them under one roof. And then we can now search by different criteria which we are going to explain here in a second. Now some people say, “Well Scott everybody is using Ali Express or Alibaba. Why would I go there? That’s where everybody is going.” It’s a great question. Here is my answer that I give everyone, that’s where you are going to just establish the connection. It’s not necessarily where you are going to find the product. So you might be saying, “Okay but if I’m going there I want to see if they sell a garlic press and I want to buy a garlic press.”
That’s okay but here is the deal. Let’s say for example that I want to sell maybe it’s a garlic press but maybe it’s a garlic press extension for it because I want a longer handle, I’m making up stuff randomly here buts let’s just say that that was the case.
[00:07:08] Scott: Well I know that if I find a manufacturer that makes a garlic press they may be able to help me find someone or they may even do it themselves that sell the extension for it. So it’s a way for me to make that connection to a supplier that manufactures stuff in my space. Same thing with, let’s just use coffee for example, if you wanted have a manufacturer make something specific to coffee then you probably want to find coffee related products then that will lead you to the manufacturer that will then be able to help you.
Or you can also be connected to the agent that is working for the manufacturer and then from there they can, once you create that relationship which we are going to talk about because it’s really important and if you did not listen to episode 435 you are going to hear why it’s so important because we created that relationship with our agent, they helped save us a ton of money and they are potentially now going to be working for us privately which is crazy. They just took a six hour train ride one way to two different factories for us to look at other products that we are thinking about selling so some really cool things you can do there.
But we were able to find this agent that works for a manufacturer by going to Ali Baba so again I just wanted to be very, very clear. We are not necessarily looking for the product on there although you could but we want to find a manufacturer by finding an agent that can let us know what they offer or maybe other catalogues that they have or other products or maybe even sister companies that they have that aren’t even listed on Alibaba. The only way that you can technically find products that aren’t on Alibaba or Ali Express for the most part is if you go to the Kenton Fair or somewhere in China or another country because then not all those products are listed there.
[00:09:08] Scott: The second best way is to establish a great relationship with a China agent and then from there they can help lead you because they are there and that’s exactly what we are doing right now. Now AliExpress let’s just talk about this really quickly. I get a lot of people that say, “What’s the difference?” AliExpress is a great way to test products very quickly. That’s why it’s express. We can go there, we can find something that’s similar to what we want to sell if we just want to test something fast and we can order five units if we want to or we can order one or we can order a hundred. We are going to spend more but in the same breathe we can test a lot quicker. The only downfall is you are probably not going to be able to modify it, you are probably not going to be able to do special branding. One workaround for that would be get your own box, get your own labeling and then have them send you the unit and then you would have to self-pack them.
We had one of our students do exactly that it worked and then they went out and they found a co-packer and they ended up being able to scale that versus having to pack everything by hand. But that’s AliExpress. AliExpress is a great way number one get ideas but then also to lead you to another manufacturer or to get you that connection or just to test products pretty quickly and low risk. So let’s go back to Alibaba now. Now Alibaba they have filters that are built in and the only ones that I’m really, really I guess obsessed with are the ones that are going to filter out different manufacturers that have trade assurance and then gold supplier. So let me explain those two very quickly.
Trade assurance is like an insurance policy that’s through Alibaba. So what will happen is if you have an issue with your manufacturer and you are not happy with it and they’ve been really hard to deal with you would file that claim through Alibaba. Alibaba now would go after the manufacturer or at least negotiate with the manufacturer and then if Alibaba felt as though they were in the wrong, they are going to go into their trade assurance and then settle up with you.
[00:11:18] Scott: Now you have to see what that manufacturer has as far as trade assurance, how much that is. Most of the time I see it where they have at least $20,000 in trade assurance. That means that if that’s what they have up to that’s what you could be insured up to or that you can put a claim in for so that’s something to be aware of. But if they don’t have trade assurance and you’ve checked that box they are not going to show up. That’s what we want, we want to filter down all the manufacturers so we are only seeing the ones that are qualifying.
The other one is gold supplier. A gold supplier is one that has been vetted out by Alibaba and they also are seeing or as far as track record they also have how long they’ve been a gold supplier. So if they’ve been a gold supplier for five years that’s pretty good. Gold supplier just means that they haven’t really had any complaints against them, they’ve met all the criteria within Alibaba. Alibaba wants to make sure that all of their suppliers are not giving out bad product or they are not getting into confrontations, all of that stuff so when they have a gold badge it’s a pretty good chance that they are a pretty legit company.
Now I would take it a step further at that point is where once I see these two criteria then I see a company that I might want to start reaching out to I also would probably want to go check out their website or some of their other properties that they have. And you can do this just by Googling their company name and then digging in there or sometimes they’ll even have their link inside of Alibaba. But that’s just a little bit deeper of a search. That’s what I would do as well. Now the other thing you are going to do once you get to Alibaba or Ali Express is you are going to search by keyword for whatever product that you are thinking about selling or a similar product because this will lead you to a supplier that can manufacture that for you.
So think of Alibaba or AliExpress like a search engine because that’s what it is but for private label products or wholesale products.
[00:13:19:] Scott: You can now do a search inside of their search engine and then you can find the most relevant ones and by filtering them down that will only give you the different manufacturers or suppliers that meet that criteria. So search by keywords like if you are looking for a garlic press search garlic press, if you are searching for a fishing rod, search for fishing rod and then from there you can start to find those different manufacturers. The other thing you want to do here again like I said is look at the supplier’s history a little bit. By doing that again that will help you down the line as far as how long they’ve been around, how many do they employ? It will tell you all that type of stuff. Are they a legit factory?
And then the last thing is here is you are going to inquire about the products. You are to reach out to the agent because that’s really what you are dealing with here. You are dealing with an agent and if you go back and listen to episode 435 you’ll hear how this agent is paid, you’ll hear how they have to really push sales as much as possible because they are banking on you doing a purchase. So when they are doing this, you want to also be aware that sometimes they may tell you things that aren’t necessarily true so that’s why it’s so important that you create this relationship with them and in episode 435 we talk all about that and how we’ve done it and how my partner has done a really, really super good job of this and really gave some great tips.
Definitely go check that episode out but when you inquire about these products all you are really doing is starting conversation. What we are going to do here next is we’ll open up a, actually you won’t be able to see it but I’m going to be able to see it and I’m going to read it to you guys or maybe even we can have Chris read it. Chris do you have the slide or don’t you?
[00:15:10] Chris: I can find it and pull it up but if you have it handy you could share it with me.
[00:15:15] Scott: I do have it handy I could share it.
[00:15:18] Chris: The power of the internet.
[00:15:21] Scott: Yeah let’s go ahead and do that. I’ll share that with you but while we are doing that why don’t you talk just briefly as far as how important you feel it is to sending an email to your agent or your supplier and what you think they should be doing when they send that email.
[00:15:42] Chris: So there is a couple of things with this and this is similar to how we started out with that big net at the beginning Scott where we talked about there is no such thing as a stupid idea it should all go down on that touch list. The same thing applies to suppliers. We want to contact as many people as we can that are relevant to us as at the top and then we are going to try to get our hands on as many samples as we can but before we even get to that we are going to knock some people out. And one of the things that’s super powerful about something like the sourcing template that we use and the email communication is you get to learn a few different things about each of these suppliers.
One, do they pay attention to details? Did they answer all of my questions? Two, how responsive are they? And this one to me is something that more people should probably take into consideration that I don’t think do and that’s what causes issues down the line. If they take six weeks to get back to me when I’m asking them for samples I probably don’t want to work with them because I’m basically waving money in their face at that point and if I can’t get them to give me a sample or to even reply to an email I don’t expect that to change if I have a different relationship with them.
So we can get an idea of how responsive they are and whether or not they are going to be okay to work with even just from this initial contact. As we work away through the rest of this phase we are going to get a better and better idea and quite honestly for me at least and Scott I think you feel the same way on this, the responsiveness and attention to detail here plays a major role in who we select to be our supplier because even if they have a slightly better product, if they are terrible to work with I don’t necessarily want them to be my point of contact or to be my supplier. Does that make sense?
[00:17:24] Scott: Yeah and the other thing is translation. Can they understand your English and can you understand theirs? Simple things like that. If you keep going back and forth with them and they are not understanding you then that may not be the right fit. Again that’s going to happen once you start to communicate. Now the one question Chris I know we get quite often is like, how do we communicate with them? Do you communicate through email, through Alibaba? Again going back to episode 435 what we’ve done is as soon as we can we want move over to a different platform to communicate because it’s quicker.
Number one they like it better, they like using Skype but they also like using WeChat which I wasn’t even aware of until my partner told me that that’s what they are using. It’s like a text app and they love it and they use it and it’s like instant, they can communicate back and forth. One little side tip here and I’ll bring this into the mix here going back to 435 and one thing that I remember my partner saying is once you start this conversation also don’t be afraid to even just ask a little bit more personal questions like, “How long have you worked for this manufacturer and do you have a family?”
Little things like that open up the conversation even bigger and one thing that my partner said was after the initial order was placed you are waiting. My partner would reach out to the agent and just ask how their day is going and just little questions and that right there has formed into something really, really powerful now because this agent will do so much more for us because number one, they are not really happy where they are in their job and what they want to do is better their life and if you can figure out a way to compensate them if they would work for you and this is again down the line.
[00:19:36] Scott: This isn’t something you have to do right now. I’m just saying once you set that seed, once you start that conversation you start building that relationship, you never know where that’s going to lead you. So don’t be afraid to even throw a little of personal stuff in there just to let them you are real and that you are looking to form a relationship with them to benefit both of you. I think it’s pretty important so with that being said Chris, can you see my screen? Can you go ahead and read?
[00:20:03] Chris: I can and it’s funny because you are sitting here talking about building real relationships in your business and that’s really what this is. Yeah upfront we are all business. It’s business in the front relationship in the back. It’s a little bit of sourcing agent mullet-ness going on right there but the thing that’s funny and Scott I’m just going to throw this reference on because I know that you’ll know what I was talking about. What you were just talking about creating that real personal relationship with somebody who is a supplier of yours can go a long way and I’m going to reference the movie Tommy Boy.
A lot of you guys are like, “What?” If you haven’t seen Tommy Boy it’s a fantastic early 90s comedy and basically it’s a story of a guy who takes over his dad’s business and doesn’t know how to sell anything and stumbles his way through sales. The way that his dad had always done business was on a relationship basis and when he figured out how to actually relate to people he realized it’s not about the guarantee on the box, it’s not about exactly what the product can do but it’s about the fact that you are developing that personal relationship and you are behind the product. And in the new brand specifically the person behind the product our agent has saved us because we have that relationship.
Yeah they can guarantee that shipment and we can have it guaranteed through trade assurance but if we had gotten that shipped to us then we have to go through that process. By building a real relationship with that person we don’t have to rely on the “guarantee” they are there to step in for us and they will like us enough to do that. And so if we can use a little bit of personality and we can develop a genuine relationship, don’t just shoot them a text asking how they are doing if you don’t actually care but genuinely develop that relationship like you would with any other partner or friend in your business then you can go a long way.
[00:22:02] Scott: Well and think about this for a second. It’s like how many times have you seen in a restaurant business or even in just an auto-supplies store? People come in there and they are going to buy stuff or they are going to order stuff for their store or their restaurant and most of the time the sales rep they know and they know their personal story, they know a little bit about their family, they know about they are going to do baseball on the weekend, those are relationships that are developed over time and that’s going to almost sometimes make you want to keep doing business with that company.
So I know that we are a little bit out of the scope here but not really because in the beginning you have to understand that it’s so important that you see if number one, this is going to work. By doing that we want to do that really quickly just by sending out we are going to give you guys an email template here a little swipe copy Chris will read it but you just want to first of just see how fast they communicate back, how their English is. That’s step number one but then from there once you start to get that dialogue, once you start to get that back and forth communications then you can start to see how well this relationship is going to be and turn into.
And then that’s even just asking questions like side note things like, “Oh by the way I’m thinking about launching this. Do you guys source that or do you guys manufacture that? If not, do you know someone I can go to?” You can see if they say, “We don’t but there is a company here and I can lead you to them.” Boom right there. We know now that they are willing to help us connect us through because think about this, you have someone on the ground in China or wherever you are doing business and they are your communications. They are your feet, they are there on the ground and perfect example is going back to episode 435. We had our agent take a six hour train ride to go look at two factories, one way.
[00:24:00] Scott: And she knows that in the future we are going to use her for everything that we can. We are even having her source products that she didn’t even normally source but now she’s our legs and she is our communications on the ground there so just keep that in mind when you are doing this. So Chris why don’t you go ahead and go through that sourcing email template that we like to use?
[00:24:21] Chris: Absolutely. There is a couple different reasons we do this. The first one is obviously to see the responsiveness like I said. Two is there attention to detail. We send all the questions that we want to know the answers to in that first email and Scott this came from both you and I sending these individually and realizing that it took eight back and forths to get the answers because we were asking one question getting an answer, asking another question. And if we line them out in the way that we do here in the sourcing email template it makes it really easy and even if they don’t answer all eight, they are generally going to answer like five or six or maybe even seven of them and get us a good chunk of the information we need.
And that makes it really easy because if you’re not on something like WeChat or on Skype where you’re instantly communicating back and forth every time you have to send an email, it’s basically a day turn around. Right, we send all eight questions at the beginning and the email goes a little bit like this. Says, “Hey, my name is Chris and I’m the purchasing agent for XYZ company. We’re in the process of adding a garlic press to our product line and your products seems to be exactly what we’re looking for. I have a few questions. One, do you offer samples and how much for them including DHL Express shipping to United States zip code 89078.”
Obviously you’re going to put in whatever zip code you are in there. “Question number two is how long to receive two different samples. Question three how can we pay using PayPal or can we pay using PayPal? Question number four, can we change the color,” and I would add in here, “Or make other modifications to the product?” Because if you’re not looking to change the color, if you want to make it different, you can play with that one a little bit there. “Question number five, can we brand the product with our logo?” This is going to be like a private label imprint type of a process. Some manufacturers will say yes, some will say no but we can put it on a polybag, we can put it on the packaging. That will give you an idea of how you are going to actually be able to brand that product
[00:26:22] Chris: “Question number six, if I order, what is the cost per unit including DHL Air Express shipping to United states zip code 89076.” Obviously again, you guys are just going to swap that with your zip code. “Question number seven, how long for manufacturing once we place an order? Question number eight, do you accept escrow payments?” From there we just let them know our first order of 500 units is going to be a small test order in the future we’re going to be ordering between 1,000 and 5,000 units. “Can we order 500 units for our first order? We’re looking forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks. Chris, Kitchen Express Purchasing agent.”
[00:27:01] Scott: Perfect. That’s basically it in a nutshell and again you modify that any way that you want and then from there the conversation starts and a lot of times what they’ll do is they’ll send the email back and they will outline each question and put their answer underneath each one. That’s why I like to have it almost like a bullet point list. This way here they will copy that and then they’ll type in their answer. Again, this is a great way for you to see how quickly they email you back. You’re going to get a lot of these answered. Some of them may need a lot more information. They may say, “What color?” Red is more than yellow. Then you didn’t know that so now you are going to be able to ask that question.
So there’s going to be probably a little bit back and forth but this will at least get the ball rolling and it allows you to send this out to ten, fifteen, twenty different suppliers and then see who responds and then you can start to narrow it down and whittle it down from there. So that’s exactly what you want to do there. Now, again I’m kind of showing you this through audio. But if you want to see this, you’re definitely going to want to go over to the show notes page to this episode also on our workshop we go through this and we share all the downloads and all that stuff with this and more sourcing tips and all that stuff. I should probably mention that Chris.
If you guys want to attend the workshop where we go all through five phases which we’re actually going through in an audio version in a sense here on the podcast in the series, you can head over to theamazingseller.com/workshop. You can register for an upcoming one there. And again we go into a little bit more detail, a little bit more over the shoulder, a little bit more visual. But definitely go check that out if you’re interested in seeing everything as we go through it in one chunk a time. Basically about 90 minutes. So that’s the sourcing email that we use again, modify it, use it however you want. The other thing that I want to mention here is ordering samples.
[00:29:02] Scott: A lot of people they get hung up on this for a couple of different reasons. Number they think why should I have to pay for a sample? They should just send that to me.” Well, here’s the deal. They are usually shipping that by air. And at least you should have it shopped it by air because you want to get it quickly. That’s going to cost $30 to $50 to ship that. So expect to pay it, remember this is a business. And just expect to pay it. The other thing, the other reason why you want samples is because you do not want to just look at a picture and order 500 units. You want get it, you want to test it, you want to see how it does under pressure if you have something that could break like whatever.
Get it, use it, abuse it, see how well it performs, see what you’d like to do differently. You may even want to order two samples at two different times. order maybe one, one then wait a week and order another one. You may also want to order three or four different ones from three or four different manufacturers. These are things that you’re going to decide yourself and then also you’ll see how well they package it when it comes in the mail. That will give you a sign as far as how well they package things and how much care they take with it. Those are just a few things with the samples but I would never ever ever order based pictures or even video.
I need to get that in my hands. You have to, you have to. The other thing is when you are in this stage, keep it simple. What mean by that is keep packaging. All right, when you’re doing packaging, if you’re doing 500 units you can create custom packaging in a sense. It can look custom. What I mean by that is ask them what is their standard box? What is their standard size? What is their standard packaging? Then all you would need to do is create graphics by a graphic designer 99 Designs, Upwork, any of those and then you can have them create graphics for that.
[00:31:00] Scott: So definitely keep it simple but make it look a little bit custom with even if it’s just your logo on there. But the other question I get is, “Well Scott, I’ve done this and they say they want a minimum of 1,000 units.” That’s fine. Ask them if they will print the 1,000 boxes but you’ll keep 500 there at their factory and only use 500. So this way here you’re only paying maybe 30 cents a box. You don’t have to buy 1,000 units. If that makes sense. Hopefully that makes sense. The other thing is by keeping it simple, is use air shipping. The reason why I like air shipping on your first shipment is a couple of things. Number one, you get it quicker. Number it’s sent directly to you so this way here you can inspect it yourself. This way if there’s any problems you can catch it before it gets shipped in. Now, if you’re international or if you don’t want to ship it to yourself, then I would recommend using a third party inspection company.
There’s a couple of them out there. Again, I’ll leave these on the resources page. There’s Guided Imports, they have one. It’s pretty affordable. A couple of hundred bucks. They’ll go right into the factory, do an inspection. There’s TopWin Inspection which a lot of our students have used and they’re really good. They are a company that will go really, really deep into the inspections for you. So those are just some options for you but you definitely want to keep the packaging simple and you want to use air shipping. At least that’s what we do. I say you don’t have to, it’s just to me it’s going to be the faster and the easier way. By doing air also you kind of don’t have to jump through the hoops that you would if you were doing sea shipping.
Also sea shipping a lot of times is going to take 40 to 60 days depending. So again, you’re going to be taking a lot more time to get the product so this way here we can get it launched. Even if we’re spending more at the beginning, I’m okay with that. I just want to know that we can validate it really quickly and we can get kind of the ball rolling. So before we wrap up here let’s just do a little recap here on your sourcing process for your first product or additional products that you’re going to launching here.
[00:33:02] Scott: Number one, is you’re going to search for products on Alibaba or AliExpress. Number two you’re going to use filters to find the highest quality suppliers. Three, you’re going to contact the supplier with specific questions and it’s very important that you do that. You can use the email that we just shared with you but you definitely want to do that because that’s going to also let you see the communication and how quickly they get back to you. Then number four, respond to suppliers that email you back. It’s important that you respond to them like you would want to be responded to.
Get back to them even if you’re going to use them, don’t burn a bridge. Email them back, say, “Sorry this isn’t going to work for us at this time, thank you so much for taking them time. I’ll contact you in the future if we need your services.” Something like that. Number five, order samples and test. These are the samples that you’re going to get, you’re going to test, you’re going to see if these are going to be worth ordering and then once you say yes it is, you’re going to move on to step six which is placing your first order and then you’re going to be waiting. But while you’re waiting, you’re going to be working on what we call the prelaunch phase which will be the next podcast episode in this series which we’re going to be talking about optimizing your listing, getting your listing created, all of that stuff and getting your pre-launch list created.
So this way here once you get your product ready to launch, you can get sales on day one. That will be in the prelaunch phase which is going to be coming next in this series. That’s pretty much what I have for you on sourcing. Again, episode 435 will also give you some details as far as really dealing really with the agent, building that relationship and also some things that we’ve learned along the way especially through this most recent little blunder that we had that we actually got out of because of our agent. Is there anything else Chris that you want to add here before we wrap up? I know there’s some common questions that are usually asked. Is there anything I’m forgetting?
[00:35:03] Chris: Yeah, and I got a whole list of questions that I wrote down as we were going through this because of all the times that we’ve gotten questions about this. The first one Scott is like how many samples should I actually get? For me, I would try to get between at least three and five different suppliers to give you samples. I would air on the side of five if you can find them. If you feel confident in that. Three would be kind of the bare minimum to me. The other thing is I like to get at least two units from each supplier. It’s generally not going to change the cost to get two or if it does it’s going to by a couple of bucks because it’s going to be 40 bucks in shipping either way.
So they just charge you the extra for the products. It’s not a big deal to get the two. The reason I like to get two, one sometimes you can actually see a quality difference just looking at the two. That would be a bad thing. But two it also lets you give one to somebody else to beat up because they are going to use it differently or play with it differently or put it in the dishwasher when you wouldn’t put in the dishwasher or maybe they try to press an orange through it and they find out that it works really well instead of just pressing garlic. So I would always try to get two for those reasons. It’s not really going to cost you anymore.
I think you’re kind of on the same boat as well, you like to see between three and five samples for every product that you source.
[00:36:25] Scott: Yep.
[00:36:25] Chris: How do you actually pay for those samples?
[00:36:27] Scott: Generally I do PayPal. So PayPal is generally what we do and then it doesn’t mean that they’ll do PayPal in the whole order but generally it’s through PayPal. Not many times have we done wire on a sample. It’s mainly PayPal. They’ll generally always do PayPal. What about you Chris?
[00:36:46] Chris: I think it’s almost always been PayPal. I don’t know that I’ve ever sent a wire and again you can use PayPal to pay for a whole order in a lot of cases but on samples they are willing to do that and because I’m getting a tracking number on a specific product, if I don’t get it for whatever reason that payment is protected. I don’t want to go through like Alibaba trade assurance process for example. So PayPal makes that super simple. They are generally going to be willing to accept PayPal for samples at the very least especially if you’re willing to cover the fee. So what I normally do is I include an extra five bucks over whatever they are asking, even if they don’t ask us to cover the fee just to start off on the right foot with that supplier.
For me it’s worth $55 start off on the right foot rather have 50 bucks and then have them come back and say, “Oh, we didn’t get enough because we forgot about the fee.”
[00:37:35] Scott: We had that happen too in the beginning where we wanted to pay for the whole order with PayPal and they said, “No, we don’t do that because the fee is too expensive.” And then I said, “What’s the fee?” They were like, “250 bucks.” I’m like, “I’ll pay the fee.” That’s like my insurance policy. So that’s what I did. I don’t do that anymore. We have used escrow but most recently because we have such a great relationship with our girl over there, we do everything wire. We have no issues, knock on wood. So once you build out that relationship I think going wire for the full order is fine. But the sample is generally going to be a PayPal transaction.
[00:38:17] Chris: How do I actually go about getting a changes made to a product? Like we referenced that garlic press at the end of the last episode where we said it doesn’t press very well, the prongs bend, and it smears everywhere.
[00:38:32] Scott: Yep, well I think again you’d need to ask what their process would be to modify that. So you’d be asking a question. It would be like, “I noticed that the holes on the garlic press are square, I’d like them to be round and I’d like them to be even a certain size. Can this be done?” Then they are going to say yes or no. That would be the first step. The other thing that you can do is you can ask them if they have any other versions of that product. They may already have one that isn’t the cheaper version that’s the better versions, that’s already got these things done for you.
You just have to pay more for it. Then maybe worth it for you. It may be as simple as adding a piece of velcro to a certain area because the flap keeps opening up and you want to make sure it’s secure. You just have to understand what the things are that need to be modified, that you want modified and then ask how we can go about making that happen. For them most part it’s a small tweak or an adjustment. If you want it to actually create a whole new design or something like that then we’re going to be taking about creating a mould. We’re going to be creating probably even some type of retainer that says you’re going to commit to doing a certain number of units. Like all of that stuff.
That’s a little bit more advanced. I wouldn’t go that far especially with your first product myself.
[00:39:55] Chris: Yeah I think for the most part it’s as simple as sending an email to the supplier and saying, “Hey, can we change the material on the garlic press prongs, they bend really easily?” And they’ll say yes or no. It’s very simple. For most modifications you don’t need to get an industrial designer or anything like that involved. If you’re going with a more comprehensive overhaul then you might but for the most part, you are going to be making small changes to these products, adding a magnet, adding a hoop and loop fastener, adding something like that to make the enclosure more secure. Another question that we get asked all the time Scott is, how do I find suppliers in X countries? How do I find American suppliers? How do I find Canadian suppliers?
I don’t want to source from China. My first question back to a lot of people is why? China has a huge manufacturing base. There is some negative connotation around the ‘Made in China’ label but it’s not really warranted in most cases. If you can get a great quality product at a less expensive price than where you’d get it elsewhere in the world I would still take a look at it. But if you want to find a product that’s specifically made in a certain country and the example that comes up all the time is the United States, I want to find US supplier. First of all, Alibaba is not just Chinese suppliers. Alibaba has suppliers from all over the world including suppliers in the US that are smart enough to use the platform because they know that people are searching for products.
But there are some other resources out there that you can use but they are not nearly as user friendly as Alibaba. The first one I would point you to is something like ThomasNet which is literally, and Scott you’ve heard me say this in the past, it’s the yellow pages online. It’s not really a searchable database in the way that you would go to Google and find an answer. You can find lots of suppliers there but it’s basically just a list by category of everybody that does that and most of those are going to be US or North American suppliers. The other thing that you can do if you want to find a supplier that might not be on Alibaba is just go to Google and type in your product plus private label or plus white label.
[00:41:55] Chris: So garlic press private label and you’ll find a whole bunch of people who are making private label garlic presses available for sale by doing that. Then you can find out what country are they in and go from there. But for the most part I would suggest that everyone at least starts on Alibaba. If you don’t get a sample that meets your quality or you just want to play around and see if I get one from the US, if I get one from Canada because the shipping is going to be less and I can get the product faster even though I pay more per unit maybe it works out. And we actually have some products that we source in the US and Canada as well but most of them came from finding someone on Alibaba originally.
I would definitely take a look at that and one last question I have for, actually two last questions Scott. Do I need to have a custom email? Like do I need to have XYZ.com email address if XYZ is my company or can I just use like a gmail or hotmail or AOL or Yahoo?
[00:42:49] Scott: I think you can just use any email address. It doesn’t have to be corporatey, it doesn’t have to be businessy, you can just your… I would do this though. I would create one for doing this outreach because you probably will start to get some additional emails now you don’t want to clog up your other email program. So I would do that. I would designate one for my sourcing and I would set up a gmail account but no you don’t have to have anything special for that.
[00:43:19] Chris: Most suppliers are using weird email as well. They are not using their company email for that. On that same note, a lot of suppliers will ask you to take communications outside of Alibaba to email or to WeChat or to Skype and that’s something that a lot of people get freaked out about but if you’ve ever spent more than 20 minutes on the Alibaba messaging system, you’ll understand exactly why. There’s a lot of great things about Alibaba. Their messaging system is not one of them. So the suppliers don’t really like it and if you can move them into your inbox or into something like WeChat it makes it a lot easier to communicate with them directly so that you’re not having to log into the platform and it makes it easier to categorize and file stuff away if you need to find it later rather than having to scroll through one giant message chain.
The last question Scott and it’s something that we get asked all the time like do you have to go to China to do this?
[00:44:08] Scott: No, you don’t. That’s exactly what I was talking about in the beginning. It’s like if you create these relationships you almost have people there, not even almost but you do have people there that are working for you. If you do a good job of vetting these people out and building this relationship you can have someone like us to take a six hour train ride for you to a couple of different factories on your behalf. Then from there expose you to factories that aren’t even listed on Alibaba. So the answer is no, you don’t have to be there and you don’t have to go there. But if you have relationships with people that are there that is where you kind of are there in a sense as far as your business goes.
[00:44:51] Chris: Exactly. Scott I think that wraps it for the FAQ here. If you have anything else you wanted to chat about, if not we’ll let everyone get on with their day.
[00:44:58] Scott: No, I think right now I want people to go out there and take their lists of products that they potentially want to source and get their hands dirty and get in there and start doing your searches, start doing your outreach, understand also that in most cases it’s going to be a 12 hour difference or nine hour difference depending on where you’re located. So it is going to be a time difference so if you email something at 8 o’clock in the morning your time, they probably aren’t going to get it for a while. Also be prepared to be up late at night because that’s when they are up and my partner will tell you right now that they’ve gotten some nights with less sleep because they are up till 2 o’clock talking about going back and forth.
Because they are getting instant answers. They are getting the reply back instantly so they don’t have to wait another day to then reply. Sometimes you’re going to suck it up and you’re going to stay up late because you’re going to be doing this communications back and forth. But that’s not all the time. So that’s pretty much all I wanted to do here is really get you guys going on the sourcing side of things. That is going to officially wrap up this episode. This is episode 442 so the show notes can be found at theamazingseller.com/442. This is part three of a five part series, at least it’s a five part as of right now. There might be a sixth.
But we are taking you through the entire road map of finding and sourcing and launching your products on Amazon through this series. Again, this is part three and in the next episode we’re going to be talking all about the prelaunch as far as how to get your listing created, how to optimize it and getting it ready for your inventory and from there how to get ready to start getting your first set of sales to start ranking you and starting getting you found inside of Amazon. That’s what we’re going to be doing next. Super excited to have you guys follow along here with the series.
[00:47:02] Scott: Again if you want to attend one of our workshops where we walk you through this in about 90 minutes, all five phases, head over to theamazingseller.com/workshop. You can register for an upcoming one there and we’ll also generally be answering questions there as well so definitely go check that out if you’re at all interested and if you want to look over the shoulder version, more of a visual you definitely want to do that. All right.
That’s it, that is going to wrap it up, remember guys. As always, I’m 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, Chris is going to say it with u today. I think he is. Chris you’re going to say it?
[00:47:41] Chris: Absolutely.
[00:47:42] Scott: All right. On the count of three. One, two, three, “Take action.” Have an awesome, amazing day guys and I’ll see you right back here on the next episode.
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