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The Business Hacker Podcast
31 minutes | Mar 8, 2020
BHP12 – Understanding UK & European VAT (Sales Tax) For E-commerce Sellers with Simply VAT
BHP12 – Understanding UK & European VAT (Sales Tax) For E-commerce Sellers Enjoyed this episode? Please leave us a review on Itunes. Listen to more Business Hacker Podcast Episodes here. NEVER MISS AN EPISODE SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES SUBSCRIBE ON STITCHER UK/European VAT (Sales Tax) Decoded Episode Overview In episode 12, I interview Claire Taylor of Simply VAT who breaks down how sales tax operates in Europe and the UK. Learn when both Eurozone and non-zone sellers need to register for VAT. Gain your exclusive 5% discount when you sign up with Simply VAT using my affiliate link. Things You'll LearnResourcesBonus Simply VAT (Sales Tax) Podcast outline ➤ The Simply VAT Story ➤ Learn what is ‘VAT’ and how is VAT collected; ➤ Discover when EU / UK residents are required to register for VAT; ➤ Learn when Non-EU Based Online Retailers are required to register for VAT; ➤ I ask what the main VAT registration thresholds are for the Amazon countries; ➤ I ask is it preferable for sellers to register or not register should they have the choice; ➤ Outline of the VAT Registration process and filing obligations; ➤ Outline of post registration seller obligations; ➤ Find out if sellers are able to de-register from VAT; ➤ Learn when you have to provide a VAT invoice as a seller; ➤ Outline of how Simply VAT can help you and the services provided; and ➤ Outline of the Simply VAT bonus offer. Resources ➤Xero: Is a user-friendly cloud-based accounting software that Claire mentions. You can operate Xero from anywhere in the world and integrate it with programs like A2X Accounting Software to import all your Amazon transactions directly into Xero. Test Xero out with this free 30-day trial. Bonus Gain your exclusive 5% discount when you sign up with Simply VAT using my affiliate link. Transcript David De Souza: This is episode 12. Announcer: Discover the key components of business success as we hack the minds of successful entrepreneurs. Welcome to The Business Hacker Podcast. Here's your host, David De Souza. David De Souza: Today we have VAT specialist Claire Taylor of Simply VAT, who is going to explain what VAT is, and help EU and non-EU based sellers gain clarity on their VAT obligations. Lastly, we'll wrap up with how Simply VAT can help simplify VAT for you, so you can spend more time actually running your business. Welcome Claire. Claire Taylor: Thanks David. Thanks for having me. David De Souza: Thanks Claire, it's a pleasure to have you on the show. Now Claire, as I like to do with a lot of my guests, why don't you share a little bit about yourself and your background with e-commerce and assisting sellers with VAT? Claire Taylor: Well, I've actually been in the international VAT industry for about 19 years now, which is quite shocking to think about. And I realized in 2013 that none of my industry was speaking to the online retailers directly in lay person's terms about their EU VAT obligations. And internally, online retailers are sitting on ticking time bombs, because if a seller is caught out by the EU tax authorities, they will issue penalties and interest charges for late and non-compliance. So I launched Simply VAT to give online retailers a go-to place for expert, simple, easy to understand information. David De Souza: Yeah, I myself as an accountant know how crucial it is to obey your taxation obligations. But I guess for the people out there who do not know what VAT stands for, how it's collected, why don't we actually dial it back and start there? Claire Taylor: Yeah, definitely. The clue is actually in the name, VAT stands for value added tax, and this means that VAT gets charged whenever value is added in the supply chain. So for example, when the raw material supplier sells to the manufacturer, there'll be VAT on that sale. Then VAT is added on the sale from the manufacturer to the wholesaler to the retailer, and then to the final consumer. VAT range actually varies from 17 to 27% across the EU. There's a standard VAT rates and it's actually a transactional tax is favored in over 140 countries worldwide. Governments get revenue every step of the supply chain, so it's a really popular tax for governments to implement. It's not actually supposed to be a burden to businesses. I know that doesn't seem like it sometimes, but any VAT that you collect on sales, is offset against VAT that you've paid if you are a VAT registered business, so you can get that VAT back. Claire Taylor: The burden is actually with the final consumer, and this is really why the tax authorities are focusing their attention on e-commerce sales, because the VAT paid by the customer in any EU country is revenue the tax authorities get to keep, they don't have to pass it back to the business. That's why the tax authorities are really focusing on handing down on online sellers at the moment, and there's been lots of lobbying and changes throughout the EU to make sure that the under declared VAT from online sales is actually being collected. They reckon something like 10 billion pounds of VAT is under declared from actually non-EU noncompliant online sellers. So it really is big, big focus on it now. David De Souza: Wow. I actually didn't realize the number was that big, and so I guess for new sellers and existing sellers, would I be correct in saying that it's very much not something that you can afford to ignore anymore, because governments are making a concentrated effort to go ahead and drill down on sales tax avoidance? Claire Taylor: Completely. The e-commerce explosion is so young, historically, relatively. It's so neat, it's like 20 years since the first online sale, and the tax authorities have been trying to keep up with it, but somehow people selling online think the normal societal rules of taxation don't apply to them. You wouldn't open a bricks and mortar shop and not think that you're going to have to pay VAT and business rates, et cetera, et cetera, and it's completely the same when selling online. The tax authorities they've set up mutual cooperation, they share data, they talk to each other, and they will go to Amazon and eBay in the marketplaces and collect data about sellers. So for example, there's a rush on German VAT registrations at the moment, because the German tax authority have gone to Amazon.de and asked for seller information. So in this age of big data and data sharing, there is no place to hide. You really need to take it seriously. David De Souza: Oh wow. I actually I didn't know it was getting that advanced. That's actually quite crazy. I guess that begs a question, “Who exactly is required to register for VAT?” And I think maybe perhaps to make it easier, if we split this segment into firstly EU based online sellers, and then non-EU based online sellers, it might make it easier? Claire Taylor: Yeah, we can look at that. There's actually a couple of pieces of EU legislation which really affect the online retailers. Both pieces of legislation actually are relevant to both EU and non-EU sellers, it's just a matter of when they kick in. So firstly, I'll talk to you about what's known as the EU VAT distance selling rules. These rules relate to anybody who's based in an EU country, has an established business in an EU country, or holds stock in that country. So this is really obviously relevant to using the Amazon fulfillment services. They also … these rules relate to you if you're not a registered business, and you're not VAT registered, you're not a registered business, et cetera. So I'll explain these rules and then give you an overview of how they're used. The rules state that VAT should be accounted for locally, until the VAT registration threshold set by each EU tax authority are exceeded in that country in a calendar year. Claire Taylor: So, for example, if you're based in the UK, if you're not VAT registered here, you wouldn't charge VAT, as you'd have no mechanism to be able to report it. However, you must still monitor your distance sales. So you would be charging … say you are VAT registered here, you'd be charging UK VAT until you hit the set thresholds. In most countries, EU countries, it's 35,000 euros or the equivalent. There's exceptions to this, Germany, Netherlands and Luxembourg, it's 100,000 euros. And say you're a German company or you've got stock in Amazon fulfillment, amazon.de fulfillment, it's 100,000 euros for Germany, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. And then if you're selling … say you're delivering stock from Germany to the UK, the UK has a distance selling threshold of 70,000 pounds. So it gives you the ability … so you start in the UK, and it gives you the ability to access all 28 EU countries from just one location, without a really heavy cost of compliance. If you are, for example, looking at Amazon, if you use the Amazon VAT European fulfillment network service, this would mean you would have your goods in one FBA center, say the UK, and you could use the distance selling rules. Amazon would advertise your goods on the other marketplaces throughout the EU, but you could use the distance selling rules to test those markets without having to VAT register, because you would be monitoring your distance sales. David De Souza: If I was to ask you for an example, just to clarify my understanding, does that mean if you are registered, or if you were based in the UK, you could distance sell to say Germany and so I guess up to 100,000 euros worth before you'd have to register for VAT? Claire Taylor: Yeah. As long as the goods were delivered from the UK to Germany, that is correct. David De Souza: Okay, great. Claire Taylor: So that's the distance selling rules. The second piece of VAT legislation that is really relevant, especially to Amazon sellers, is when you put your stock in an EU country, it actually creates a taxable supply. So what does this mean? In plain English, it means that the seller has to VAT register immediately in that country, there is no threshold to exceed as a non-resident. And this applies to both EU and non-EU sellers. So we've got, for example, Chinese-American companies who are using Amazon Pan-EU for example, and they have to have VAT registrations in the seven countries where Amazon hold the stock under this service. So just to really reiterate this, if people are using the Amazon Pan-EU service, it triggers a seven country VAT registration obligation. And once your goods are in those countries, for example, your goods will be sat in the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, et cetera. You monitor your sales from each location, your distance sales from each location. So it does get a little bit complicated when there are that many VAT registrations to manage. David De Souza: Okay. So if I can just sum that up, and just correct me if I'm wrong. Effectively, to use the example of the UK, if you were selling from the UK and you reached the distance threshold in say Germany, you could just basically sell in Germany up to 100,000 in euros, and then you'd have to worry about VAT. But if you decided to store your stock in Germany, you'd actually have to then worry about VAT registration, because you're storing your stock in that country? Claire Taylor: Exactly. Yeah. So up until 100,000 euros you would be charging, say UK VAT, however once your stock went into Germany and was being delivered to customers from the German warehouse, you would have to be VAT registered immediately. There are no thresholds to exceed. David De Souza: Okay. And then just finally, and we'll delve into I guess how Simply VAT helps later on, because clearly it can get a little bit complex, but there is different thresholds for different countries in the EU. Claire Taylor: Yeah, there is a rule of thumb, there's two bands, really. The 35,000 euro bands in most countries apart from Germany, Netherlands, Luxembourg and UK. So I think when these were set, the euro to GDP exchange rate would have meant 70,000 pounds was 100,000 euros. So you've got those at the 100,000 euros or equivalent level and then the 35,000 level. David De Souza: Okay, great. And now I guess we've covered the rules for EU based sellers. What is the rules, or how does it affect non-EU based online retailers, and when are they required to register? Claire Taylor: The rules I've just told you about really apply to the non-EU sellers as well, because if they're putting their stock in Europe, they have to register in that country. Their stock is in immediately, and then their goods will come under the distance selling rules. Where the rules actually differ, is that in some EU countries, they will require non-EU companies to have a fiscal representative. So a fiscal representative is somebody who is jointly liable for the VAT that the seller will owe. So obviously they don't want to expose themselves to any risk, so they're going to want a bank guarantee in place and there might be higher charges, et cetera. A way around this for non-EU sellers, is to establish a company in the EU. At the moment the UK is really attractive place to do this, and once you establish an EU company, it takes away the fiscal representation obligation. Claire Taylor: Obviously establishing the company comes with it's own then reporting requirements, like filing annual accounts, corporation tax exposure, etc, etc. But it's really a matter of doing the sums, and working out what will suit your business model. But this is really the sticking point. As I said before, the distance selling rules and the rules about using fulfillment centers, warehouses, apply to the non-EU sellers just as much as it applies to the EU sellers. Claire Taylor: The other difference is, probably not a difference but something that again is relevant to people in both locations, is when you import goods from outside the EU, they'll be subject to input VAT at the first point of entry. So once a business is VAT registered … say an American business is bringing goods into the EU, they might be charged a UK import VAT, and once VAT registered, this company reclaimed back on the VAT return. And also say a European company might be importing directly from America or China for example, and again, any import VAT can be reclaimed on the VAT return of the local country where they're coming into. David De Souza: Okay. That's actually really helpful information, and just I suppose to conclude this section, I just want to confirm now, if you're a sole trader so you don't have the company, is a sole trader impacted by these same distance selling thresholds? Or does it differ between if you're a company legal structure and just trading under your own name? Claire Taylor: No, no difference. You could be sat in your bedroom, just minding your own business or so you think. And people are doing it all the time, the tax authorities are really wise. These rules absolutely apply to anybody that is selling goods online. You don't have to even be registered as a sole trader. People are selling on Amazon and eBay all the time, but these rules absolutely apply to you. David De Souza: And would I be correct in saying that it is something that you need to worry about, especially if you're a sole trader, because you could be potentially accruing liabilities in different countries under your own personal name? Claire Taylor: Yeah, completely. There is no limited liability with a sole trader. That's absolutely true. David De Souza: Okay, that's great, and I think that's really a point of note for my listeners to go ahead and take note of them. Just finally, do you know what the thresholds are for the main Amazon European sales VAT registration thresholds? Claire Taylor: Yeah. So France, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic and Poland, they come under the 35,000 euro threshold, and then Germany is a 100,000 euros, and then the UK is 70,000 pounds. But you can find up to date information about every country's threshold on our website. And also if you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we can send you a copy of the thresholds. Claire Taylor: Yeah, so you to understand as well, with Amazon you might be selling into these countries using the European fulfillment network for example, but if you're using the Amazon multi-country inventory service, or the new central European fulfillment service, or the Pan-EU, your stock is going to be in another EU country, so the thresholds only apply to distance sales from another EU location into that country. Otherwise you've got an immediate need to VAT register. I'm sorry to really push the point home, but it's quite crucial. Also, just as a matter of interest, we're launching a software very shortly, it will be able to pull Amazon data automatically once we're given permission by the sellers, and the software will have the ability to monitor the distance sales automatically. We will let people know as soon a really good time before they're going to breach the distance selling thresholds, to get them compliant on time. David De Souza: Yeah look, that sounds very handy and removes another thing off your plate, and can enable you to focus on actually running your business instead of worrying about VAT and trying to be a part time accountant on the side. Claire Taylor: Yeah. Do you know what we say to people? You don't know what you don't know until you know it, and it comes and bites you on the nose. David De Souza: Yeah, you're definitely not wrong. So Claire, I guess we've now figured out the reason why you need to worry about registering for VAT. So if you have realized you need to register for VAT, what's the process, how long does it take, and is there typically a cost involved? Claire Taylor: A VAT registration takes between about four to six weeks, depending on the country. At the moment I said there's a rush on the German VAT registration, so they're taking a bit longer, about eight weeks. Certain documentation is required by the tax authorities. It's an official process, so they're going to want verify you're a valid person and it's not VAT fraud, etc. So they want evidence of ID. The VAT … the tax authorities do not charge for VAT registrations, however we do. We provide the service, we will charge our fees for providing the service, and prices really depends on the country, the filing obligations, each tax authority, again, with the EU one set of rules is being interpreted 28 different ways, so there's different frequencies, different deadlines. Poland has just gone monthly, and now they want what's called SAF-T reports. Czech Republic wants control lists monthly. Spain you can file quarterly, but it needs an annual return, etc. So we obviously charge a fee for these services, and it really depends on what you need. And also there's economies of scale. If you're registering in multiple countries, we can apply a volume discount. David De Souza: I guess that begs the question, if you're a seller and you have the option between registering and not registering, apart from the administrative costs, would it be better to … is it in the seller's interest to register for VAT, generally speaking, or is it not really in their interest, if they have the option? Claire Taylor: If they have the option, it's something obviously to think about. For example, here in the UK you don't have to register for VAT until your sales, your turnover reaches 85,000 pounds from the start of April. You can voluntarily register, sometimes people want to do that because they want to look like a bigger business than they are, or they want to be able to reclaim the import VAT. But we always say to people, “If you don't want to register yet, that's fine, but absolutely factor the VAT percentage into your margins, and this way you don't put a ceiling of limitation on yourselves.” Because a lot of the time people aren't VAT registered, they don't worry about the 20%, they hit the turnover when they have to register, and all of a sudden that extra 20% and they either have to put their prices up, which doesn't make them competitive, and it negates the reason why they were selling that product in the first place. So people can choose … if you've got the choice, it's really up to you about the way you want to work. But again, just to reiterate, put the 20%, even if you're not going to register, put the 20% or the … whichever country you were thinking of going, and put that VAT amount aside so you've got enough room in your margins to stay competitive. David De Souza: Yeah, I think that's a very crucial point there. So now I guess … So let's assume we've decided we have to register, what happens next? How often will we typically have to submit a VAT return? And what information is required to be provided? Claire Taylor: As I said, filing frequency depends on the country. In the UK, you can actually file annually instead of quarterly. In Germany it's monthly, in France it's monthly. So once you're registered, in order to be able to do the VAT return you'll have to supply the sales data, and then the purchase invoices or input documents, and you compile the VAT return and submit it to the VAT authority. There's also, if you're using for example, the Amazon Pan-EU service or the multi-country inventory service, there might be additional reporting requirements such as EC sales lists, and these are compulsory reports that recall the movement of stock between the countries. Again, frequency depends on the country, et cetera. There also might be other reporting obligations such as interest VAT reports, and these become really relevant as your volumes of sales increase. And again there's an interest at threshold.pdf on our website, or again email us at email@example.com for up to date thresholds. So really sales and purchase data is really what you need to supply, and you need to be able to prove the information, so you need to backup documents in case you're audited. David De Souza: I'll just confirm. So sorry, what is the interest.document? Claire Taylor: Interest and declarations. They actually stands for intra community statistics report, or statistical reports. And these are used … it's data collected by the EU governments, and it's actually really important data for the governments actually to set economic policy. For example, they might influence interest rates, etc. So they're looking at the movement of goods, whether they be sales or transfers, the type of goods, the commodity code, etc. So they're compulsory, and actually not to file them is a criminal offense. I don't know if anyone's gone to prison for not filing them yet, but they are used by the tax authorities to set economic policy, really. David De Souza: Yeah, no, that's great. And I guess Claire finally, is a seller able to de-register once registered, say they've made a mistake or is that a very hassle-free process? Claire Taylor: It is hassle-free. How soon you can de-register really depends on the country. Most countries you can de-register usually I think in something like 30 days from the point it doesn't become relevant. But some countries, you might have to be registered for a year before you can de-register. I think people have to take it seriously, it's about paying taxes and the tax authorities are going to want to know. They're not de-registering you just to register you again maybe a few months later. So they want to know that you're coming below the distance selling thresholds or that your stocks moving out of the country for a substantial time, not to waste the admin time of processing the VAT registrations, etc. David De Souza: Yeah, definitely. I think, you're definitely not wrong there. And I actually have a question from one of my listeners, and they asked, “When are sellers obligated to provide VAT invoices to customers?” Claire Taylor: The VAT invoice can only be provided by a VAT registered business. A non-VAT register company can't provide a VAT invoice. And in some countries invoicing is compulsory. Germany, France and Spain, it is. In others like the UK, you only have to provide it if the customer asks for it. I've actually heard recently that Amazon have just launched an invoice facility, so the invoice is going to show the breakdown between the net price and the VAT for the relevant country, and this is going to be automatically raised which I think is going to save so many headaches for so many Amazon sellers, especially because of the Pan-EU service with people selling in France and Germany where it's obligatory to raise invoices. I think that's launching just as we speak, we know clients who already have access to this. David De Souza: Yeah, I think that's a really handy tip. So I guess moving on, you've definitely highlighted that this can quickly become a very complex procedure, just from even a compliance perspective with some countries requiring monthly and then quarterly and annually, and other countries having different thresholds. Tell me a little bit about how Simply VAT can actually help sellers with this problem, and simplify this whole conundrum. Claire Taylor: Yeah. We provide VAT registrations in all the 28 EU countries. Obviously the Amazon hotspots, Germany, France, Spain, Czech Republic components in the UK and other territories like Canada, etc. We'll also manage the ensuing VAT returns, and the other reporting requirements which I have just talked you through in VAT speak. And we're relaunching our software, which we're really excited about and which is going to make it easier for so many of our customers through automatic data collation, from the likes of Amazon and eBay and other channels, and the distance selling monitoring. So yeah, we are absolutely there to help and I think all the time it's … I'll say again, you don't know what you don't know until you know it, and we really want to help you. Our customers sleep at night. It's one thing they don't have to worry about. David De Souza: Yeah, I mean it's definitely, as I mentioned before, but I totally agree with you and if you can take this problem off your plate, you'd be crazy not to. Now Claire, those services sound very comprehensive, but I understand you also have a special bonus discount for my listeners. Why don't you tell us a little bit more about that? Claire Taylor: Yeah. We'd obviously really like to help people with their European expansion plans, and we're really grateful for the opportunity to educate through your podcast, so we wanted to be able to offer something in return, and we'll offer anything that comes by your podcast, we'll give a 5% discount on any services people buy for the first 24 months of a contract. So there'll be a discount of our prices for two years, and hopefully that will help. David De Souza: Yeah, that's really generous of you. So thank you very much and Claire, you've left no doubt in my mind that … I suppose sellers who try to save business costs by trying to complete and lodge their own VAT returns themselves, can easily end up costing their business a lot more in lost sales. However, if any of my listeners want to engage your services, what's the best way for them to go in and contact you? Claire Taylor: Well, visit our website simplyvat.com. You can fill out a form there which gives us the information we need to be able to quote, or you can email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or there's my email address on the website as well, Claire.Taylor@simplyvat.com, or you can phone us again, all the information's on the website, so please do get in touch. David De Souza: That's great, Claire, and just as a final comment, is there actually any way for sellers to reduce the costs associated with complying with their VAT lodgements, if they were to say engage Simply VAT? Claire Taylor: We ourselves are working to reduce the costs through automation, et cetera. VAT is a really strange one. People are always looking to reduce costs, they don't like the cost of paying people to do it. But it's just paying for their expertise, which I know isn't a fashionable words at the moment, but there's a real cost in providing the expertise and maintaining the knowledge, cross borders, et cetera. I don't know, I find it a strange one because you wouldn't ask an electrician to come out to your house and then they fix your fridge and you say, “Oh, that was easy, I don't want to pay you”. Claire Taylor: So we try and keep our prices absolutely as competitive and as accessible as possible, because the online retail market is full of small and medium sized businesses, entrepreneurial businesses. So we completely understand the pain of cashflow in getting your business to any kind of sustainable state. So I don't really know what to say in terms of what the seller can do, all I can say is that we're working really hard to be able to get the cost down so that you should see some reductions from ourselves in the next few months as well. But I really don't know what to say in terms of what sellers can do, because we've got our costs right down to the bone really. David De Souza: So I guess where I was going with that question was more, I mean in terms of record keeping on their end, if they use accounting softwares and things like that, as opposed to say maybe giving you a lot of invoices and things like that. I suppose that would then directly influence the cost that you're going to have to charge in relation to the work that needs to be done, right? Claire Taylor: Yeah. Oh, sorry, I completely misunderstood. But to be honest, we do a lot of work off Excel, et cetera. Because of data coming down from Amazon, it's not like we have boxes and boxes of invoices to go through and imports. Those people we work with, just don't … that's not part of the process these days with online sales. So using software is great, you can use softwares like Zero, and it does help collate the data coming through, but especially because you can pull data from the likes of Amazon, et cetera, it's not so labor intensive as if you were inputting off individual invoices. But I think just as a matter of good management, just for people to keep their bookkeeping absolutely up to date, it's crucial, crucial to be able to run a healthy business to know exactly the health of your business at any point in time. Your profit margins, your cost,et cetera. You need to be on top of your bookkeeping in any case. David De Souza: Yeah, look, I mean, I totally agree with that. If you don't know what your profitability is, you don't even know if you're making a profit or your business is costing you money. And while you want to pay somebody to take your money in ordinary life, so why let your business do that to you? Claire Taylor: Yeah, yeah, completely. Really understand and again, the entrepreneurial sellers are working so hard, it's not easy. And you don't take yourself down with friendly fire at all, make sure you've got really solid foundations in place to grow your business from. David De Souza: Claire, that brings us to the end of today's Business hacker session. Just want to say thank you very, very much for coming on the show. It's been a pleasure having you, and a big thank you to all my listeners. If you found this useful, please, please, please leave me a review on iTunes. Claire Taylor: Oh, thanks David so much for the opportunity to educate. It's really important that people get this right and breathe longevity into their businesses. Announcer: The Business Hacker Podcast has come to a close. To access the free training or discounts offered by today's guest, head to www.ecommerceguider.com/businesshacker, or join our Facebook group community by searching e-commerce guider.
54 minutes | Feb 27, 2020
BHP31 – Shopify Store Supplier & Product Selection with James Beattie of Ecom Insiders
Shopify Store Supplier & Product Selection with James Beattie of Ecom Insiders Enjoyed this episode? Please leave us a review on Itunes. Listen to more Business Hacker Podcast Episodes here. NEVER MISS AN EPISODE SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES SUBSCRIBE ON STITCHER James Beattie - Ecom Insiders Episode Overview In Episode 31, we interview Ecom Insiders owner James Beattie a 20 year old entrepreneur who has sold over USD 1 Million in sales in just over a year through Shopify Dropshipping. In this episode, James and I discuss where to source products for your Shopify online ecommerce store, how to choose suppliers and most importantly how to go about identifying products that are trending and selling well. We then cap it off by learning about how to deal with refunds, exchanges and a brief overview on how to learn when you're onto a winner and when to scale your ad. If you don’t have a Shopify store yet, sign up for a 30-day free trial here. Things You'll LearnResourcesBonus ➤James provided a little bit about his background as an entrepreneur ➤ James shared his approach in finding reputable suppliers who would deliver quality products. ➤ I asked James if there are certain services, abilities or qualities that he looks for in a product. ➤ James shared his way of contacting with his chosen supplier before he places an order and his preferred method in contacting and communicating with suppliers. ➤ I asked James to share his secret on how he gets comfortable and confident that product he is selling is quality and not defective or of poor quality. ➤ James gave his thoughts about how to address a customers' concern on buying from a store that takes 2 weeks for a product to arrive when they can just buy from Amazon and get a next-day delivery. ➤ James shared his product selection process and how he identifies hot or trending products that ACTUALLY sell? ➤ I asked James about the number of products that he typically stocks in his store and how often he tests new products? ➤ James explained how managed to find new trending products. ➤ I asked James about the biggest mistakes that he feels beginners make with product and supplier selection. ➤ James shared how to import chosen the products into yiur store. ➤ James gave an overview of how he handled refunds, returns and exchange policies especially for those sellers who are not US-based. ➤ James provided some tips and recommendations on how to provide good customer service. ➤ I asked James about his guidelines in setting a profit margin for each of his products and how he determines their selling price. ➤ James provided an overview of his e-commerce course that he offers and the results his clients are getting out of it. ➤ James gave his final advice to all the listeners and shared some tips on how to overcome some problems that one may encounter in putting up a business like his. ➤ Closing. Resources ➤ If you don’t have a Shopify store yet, sign up for a 30-day free trial here. Bonuses ➤ If you don’t have a Shopify store yet, sign up for a 30-day free trial here. Episode Transcript David De Souza: Today I'm here with James Beattie, a Shopify and eCommerce entrepreneur, and today we're going to explore starting your own Shopify store and finding those first products. Welcome, James. James Beattie: Thanks for having me, man. It's a pleasure to be here, and hopefully your audience can learn a lot from what I've got to share. David De Souza: Yeah, definitely, man. It's great to have you on the show. So let's kick off. Why don't you share a little bit about yourself, the success you've had and what you've achieved to date? James Beattie: Yeah. So I'm James Beattie and I'm 20 years old. I started doing eCommerce just a little over a year now, so I think it was back in June 2016. At that time I was working for Price Waterhouse Cooper, one of the big accounting firms in the world, and I was there, I was working. I'd been there for about a year, went there straight after school. And it was just that nine to five, or I'm sure from you living in London, you know that it's not nine to five, it's nine to nine or nine to one at night. And I was very hard and working very hard for them, and I knew that wasn't for me, the corporate life. So I knew that I needed a change, and I'd previously done some stuff online back since I've been about 16 or so, I've been. Started off doing some freelance website I built, and their graphic design stuff. Then I moved into… was doing Instagram, was building up these big influencer accounts, and selling basically ad space on them accounts. And I was still doing that when I was at PwC, but I knew I needed to do something. So that was done, and I decided I've got to make some moves here. I don't want to be stuck here doing this all my life in the corporate world. So I found one of the guys who actually is big in the ecom space, and he came to me to do a promotion on one of my accounts, and he was promoting a webinar he was doing, and I hopped on his webinar. Long story short, I ended up buying his course, went through and I did it first for a month or two, had no real success at all and I was getting annoyed. Couldn't get any traction, couldn't get any products to work. And I think I see a lot of people now doing the same sort of thing, and it's like if you're listening to this and you're just getting started and you're struggling, it takes time. It's not just going to happen like that. And I think that's where a lot of people miss out, they think that it's going to be instant and they end up quitting. But it took me about a month and then I hit a product that started to do pretty well. And pretty much since then, we took off, we started to build around that product and started to launch new stores. And I think in total, since about last year, we've done about $1.5 million in revenue since then, and then we've grown our group, ECOM INSIDERS, we've over 25, 000 members in there in Facebook group, and everyone's built a great community where everyone communicates. I share a lot of stuff on my YouTube channel about my journey and how I've got to where I am now. David De Souza: That's pretty cool. And so that just in little over a year, is that right? James Beattie: Yeah. So that was… I started in June 2016 and then I left my job in October I think, or end of November, I left my job and I've been at this full-time since. David De Souza: Yeah, man. I think that's awesome. I've got an accounting background myself, but one, I think it is a really cool point to touch on because PwC, it's a big firm, you easily could've had a career there, but also just the fact that you've done this by the age of 20, and it really shows the doubters that don't need to have 50 years of life experience in order to make a million online. And the fact that you've come from a really credible base to start your career, that this really is a serious thing for you and it's a way to make a living. James Beattie: Yeah, exactly. I think a lot of people think age really matters, and to me it's like there's no reason I can't do something if someone else is doing it. And age, I didn't really let that set me back at all. And today I see people coming up in my group who are 14, 15, and they're doing this. Maybe they're not making millions, but they're doing $100, $200 a day. And when you're 14, I remember when I was 14, if I had 20 pound I thought I was rolling in money. So it's great to see a lot of younger people coming into the scene and getting into entrepreneurship and learning as they go. David De Souza: Yeah, 100%. And I've seen that myself, and I just think if I've gotten into this stuff at that age, these guys are going to be monsters by the time they're even 18 or 21. James Beattie: Yeah. David De Souza: So you've touched a little bit on this, but I guess before you got to this point, what motivated you to start all of this? Was there a driving force? Were you hurting or were you depressed or were you angry? What caused you to take this massive action? James Beattie: Yeah, so I mean it's just I was working at PwC and I was working nine to nine and nine to one some nights when we're on deadline projects, and I've always been a hard worker and I've no aversion to working hard, but when I'm working hard and I was being paid very, very little, and I'm working hard for other people and making them a lot of money, I was like, “I'm doing this work, I've got to take this effort and put it into myself so I can go ahead and…” I 100% always back myself and always believed that I could do it, it was just a matter of when. And when I'd seen this opportunity, it was like, “I've got to go all in this.” And I was working my ass off at nights, coming home sometimes seven o' clock at night and I worked to one. Sometimes I was coming home late and there'd be an issue with a supplier or something and I'd be up all night then get up at work again at seven. But I just couldn't do that or where I was sitting at a desk all my life, and I didn't really have control over where I was going. I didn't know. I think in the corporate world, if you're not in the right circles or you're not friends with the right people, it's very hard to climb that corporate ladder. And again, the timeline of climbing that corporate ladder is 10, 15 years, where I'd seen other people who were doing this eCommerce thing and they were making a million in a year. It's like, “Why would I bother spending 10 to 15 years doing this when I can go over here and put my effort in here, and work 12 hours days on my own thing and end up benefiting myself rather than benefiting someone else?” David De Souza: Yeah, no. I love what you've just said. And I think it's really cool to draw out two points, you've definitely highlighted people shouldn't be thinking that that's going to be easy, and that they need to work hard, but also the fact that, and this totally resonates with me, when you start working for yourself, you're actually building your own brand as opposed to going and building PwC's brand, which doesn't really benefit you in the long run. James Beattie: Exactly. David De Souza: So let's say you've decided to start a Shopify store, tell us how you originally problem solved deciding what to sell, and before I guess what you decided to sell, did you decide to go for a niche store or a general store? James Beattie: Yeah, so I mean, this is the golden question I suppose, it's what everyone asks, “What should I sell?” Originally I went for a general store. I have a lot of students and I recommend going for a general store when starting. I don't think that your longterm goal should be to run a general store, but if you're on a budget and you're just getting started and you want to learn as fast as possible with spending the least amount of money, I think a general store is the best option. Basically a general store is just a store where you keep it pretty broad. It can be something like deals.com where it's super general, you can pretty much sell anything on it. And I have a general store, and I'm selling baby stuff on one end of it and there's survival bushcraft niche on the other side of it, and everything in between. But it's a testing ground. That's where I put, if I have an idea or I want to test a new niche, I'll put it on that store. And look, conversion rates, they're not going to be as high in the general store as they are in a niche store, but it saves me having to go spend five hours to 10 hours setting up a brand new store, spending all the money for the Shopify plan, all the apps, all the logos, the design stuff, without actually knowing does that niche work? Or can I have success in this niche store? If you've got a general store, it really just allows you to go ahead and test rapidly, so test a lot of products and a lot of different niches without having that five hour to 10 hour building a store, all the money invested in that store, you can just go out there and do it super quick, test it, does it work? If something really starts to take off, then what we'll do is we'll take that, move it into a general store, start building a product line around it and start really going into that branding phase. David De Souza: So just to confirm on that last point, would you say once it started to take off, you'd actually move it into you said general store, did you mean niche store? James Beattie: Oh, sorry. Yeah, so move it in… If something's working in your general store, take that and move it into a niche store, and start to build a brand around it. David De Souza: Cool. And to sum that up, you'd say, probably as a beginner who's maybe testing the water, you'd say very much maybe go down the general store route? James Beattie: Yeah. So I think it's just the quickest route to getting some success and getting some traction, but definitely not as a long term play. You want to be thinking about the future. And once you do get some money behind you and things start to work, move it into a niche store, and really start building out a product line, building out a brand. And the thing about general stores is, email is such a huge part of… there's a lot of people ignore it completely, but it can add a huge amount of extra revenue onto your store, and it can be tough to go out there and email your general store's list, there's a lot of segmenting, it's hard to put out content and stuff. But when you move that over to a niche store, you can really start diving into the content, or content based email system, where you build a relationship and build brand loyalty with your customers rather than just sell, sell, sell, which is very much what the general store is about. David De Souza: Yeah, definitely. And you mentioned a key word, this word, success. Now did you have any guideline as to when you decided to maybe switch, mainly in profit or sales terms, when you might actually think about switching from a general store to a niche store? James Beattie: Yeah. So there's a few things to make sure you've got in place before you move over to a niche store, and a lot of people define, obviously when you're starting success is a lot… If you're making three sales a day when you start, you think that's great. But three sales a day is not what you'd call a winning product. You want to make sure that you can scale it to… There's a lot of products that will do well on like a $5 a day budget, but once you go to try and scale it, things go out of whack and it doesn't work as well. So you want to make sure that scalability is there, and you want to be able to push it to at least 30 units a day, I'd say, as a broad guideline. I don't really have any hard numbers, but if you can push it to 30 units a day, you can start to build a list behind you where you can start to do all of the re-target and the abandoned cart stuff. But yeah, if you're making 30 sales a day, I'd think over a reasonable amount of time, so a week to two weeks, then it's maybe time to start looking at, “Should we move this over to a niche store?” And you want to make sure that products I sell, that they just don't really work in a niche store area, it's very broad products, maybe like a little gadget or whatever. But you want to move that over to the niche store, and you want to make sure that you have the ability to have a product line. So you want to make sure that there's congruent products that can go alongside this and can be of higher ticket stuff that we can sell, is there the possibility to add a subscription model to the store? Is it a possibility to sell digital products as well? There's a lot of things you won't look at. But yeah, if you want to move it over to a niche store, 30 a day, and then start doing your research to make sure that a lot of those other aspects are there and you're able to do that as you move forward. David De Souza: Okay, great. And in terms of, we've covered a little bit about strategy, but I suppose taking it one step back, where did you actually go ahead and typically find your suppliers? James Beattie: Yeah. So I mean the whole sort of… the drop shipping scene right now is Ali Express drop shipping. So Ali Express is a big website in China, it's full of suppliers, and you'd pretty much find any product you want there. So you go there. A lot of my… So initially when you start, I recommend just going to Ali Express. There's a few things you want to look for when you're initially finding that supplier, you want to make sure that they have 95% plus feedback, you want to make sure that they've done… So they've got a rating system on there, and if you go on there you'll be able to see this, but there's like diamond suppliers. They're sort of the best ones that you want to go for. You want to make sure that they've been around for a few years and they're not just popping up out of nowhere, because there is a lot of people who get burned. And I think when you're dealing with China, that's just a matter of fact. You want to make sure you do your research before you dive in. I know a lot of guys who've started doing volume, they send in all these orders, and then the supplier runs away. And that's just they didn't do their research initially. So there's a few things you can do, and you can… I think you've got this lined up in the questions here, but you contact your supplier in Ali Express. The first thing I ask for is their Skype and their WhatsApp, so all them pretty much have Skype and WhatsApp. And you can go ahead and you can message them. A good thing to do is, if you're unsure, hop on a Skype call with them obviously to order in a sample, it's going to take a bit of time to get here, or you can DHL it, it's going to take a little less, maybe three to seven days DHL, but it's a little more expensive. I do recommend doing that if you start doing volume on a product quite quickly, is order a couple of them in DHL, just to make sure that the quality is there. But what you can do is jump on Skype with them, get on a video call and get them to show you the products over video. Obviously it's not as good as having that product in your hand and being able to touch it, but it's the next best thing. Get on a video, ask them to bend it, to twist it, depending on the product, what it is. Just make sure that it's reasonable quality, and that's the best way to deal with it. And if a supplier isn't willing to jump on a call or isn't willing to communicate with you through these other platforms, it's probably not a good idea to jump in with them. David De Souza: Okay, cool. And just to confirm there, a lot of people, I guess the gurus and all that sort of thing out there, kind of advertise it as a… you don't have to touch the product and all this sort of model, but you would very much, for I guess a winning product, you'd try and actually order a sample, would that be right? James Beattie: Yeah. So if something's starting to take off, you do want to order it in. There's a couple of benefits as well, not just check the quality, make sure that's good, but you want to shoot your own videos with it. If you really want to stand out from the crowd and stand out from… There's so many people doing this right now, and you have to stand out and make your product offering a little better than other people, and if you bring it in… I mean, no one's doing it, no one's bringing the products in and videoing them theirselves, so if you go ahead and do that, you're just adding that extra level of work that most people don't want to do. So bring it in, order a few samples, make sure the quality's there, but then you've got the products to go ahead and create these nice videos. And you can shoot them on your iPhone, it doesn't have to be anything super high production, but you can go ahead, order it in, take your videos and stand out from the crowd a bit. David De Souza: And when you do do this, do you typically say, try and just deal with… limit yourself to a certain amount of suppliers so that you build relationship and trust? Or do you have an approach where you'll test different products, if they meet the criteria, you'll just go to that supplier, and you're maybe dealing with like 10 suppliers? James Beattie: Yeah. So initially, once you're just getting started, you can go ahead and do that, just go to a few different suppliers. And you will eventually find through working with them, most of the guys you're talking to can pretty much source you any product if you want, so if you go to them and you are working with someone, and they're shipping everything out on time, they're good quality products, they're communicating with you on time, go to them and say, “Look, can you get me this, this and this?” So basically now I have two suppliers out in China who can pretty much source me anything I want. There's a few products sometimes if I'm testing, I will just use the old route of just going on Ali Express, finding a decent supplier and going with it, but 95% of the stuff is through these two suppliers. And that's a experience thing, it's through working with people, you'll start to build relationships, and over time you'll figure out who's good and who's not, and who you can trust. So initially, it is sort of just trying to wade through the bad to find the good, but once you do, make sure you have a good relationship with them, and ask them… The thing… in China, they want to build a relationship with you, and ask them how their day is going, have that small talk with them and not just this whole straight business. Build an actual relationship with them and you'll find that they'll be much nicer to you and much more willing to help you out. David De Souza: And you're very much doing this through WhatsApp, Skype, and building that relationship there and then, trying to get them onto a Skype call as soon as possible? James Beattie: Yeah, exactly. So jump on Skype and talk to them, WhatsApp them. It's so, so easy now, the tools are there, just put in a bit of effort, jump on a call with them, talk to them, check out their products over Skype, and then if there's… any issues pop up, you can WhatsApp them and say, “Look, this product hasn't been delivered. Where is it?” And they're very willing to help. And the good suppliers, they're very, very good and they don't want to help you out. And as well as that, on Ali Express, you'll see the prices listed. If you start talking to the supplier and you start ordering a significant amount of units, they will give you a much cheaper price and create you a private listing where you can go and do all your stuff. Or a lot of the times what you can do is just rather than the whole order process, which I think we're going to talk about here in a minute, but basically at the end of the day now, I just send over a spreadsheet of all the orders and they fulfill them. David De Souza: Okay. And that's a really cool point you've just raised. So you actually, for want of a better expression, try and get buy in bulk discounts, is that right? James Beattie: Yeah. Well, I mean it's not as… such as when you're ordering it in bulk, and you're ordering maybe 1000 or 10, 000 units, but if they can see that for the past week you've been ordering 100 units a day, they will be willing to give you a much bigger discount. David De Souza: Okay, great. And just touching back on one of the previous points, I just want to confirm, going back to a point that you made previously, you said that you tend to use one or two suppliers. Now, is this if you actually have a niche store or if you have a general store as well? You're saying that these suppliers can basically source any product in China? James Beattie: Yeah. So this is for both, so general store, you'll find that the guys out there, they're not… So a lot of the people on Ali Express are middle men, they're not actually the manufacturers. Rarely you will find the manufacturers, but they can pretty much source any product you want. They'll get you anything, even if they're on general store. But then again, if you're in a niche store, you might find someone who is manufacturing products specifically in that niche, and you can get in touch with them and they'll deal with that whole side of things for you, but you will be able to find these middle men who can source you anything you really want. David De Souza: Okay. And just to confirm and make it abundantly clear, so then you're not actually… it doesn't phase you or concern you if you are just dealing with middle men as opposed to the manufacturer? James Beattie: Well, not if… The guys that I work with, I've been working with them for a long time and I know, and I can trust them. You will, if you go… So we do work with manufacturers as well in a couple of our niche stores, but once you go and… With the middle men guys, if you've got a good relationship with them, and I know for a fact that they've been shipping stuff out for the last six months, it's on time, and they can find me any product, it's okay to go with them and I'm not too worried about it, unless you start doing huge, huge volume and you want to cut them out and get a bigger margin, that's maybe when you want to start looking at going direct to manufacturer, or if you want to start private label something, so if you want to add your logo on it or make a change to the product, you will have to go straight to the manufacturer. David De Souza: Yeah, definitely. And now, I suppose a lot of my listeners will be thinking one of the big objections is… So traditionally shipping from China may take two to three weeks for a product to arrive. Why do you believe a customer would buy from a Shopify store when they can just go ahead and buy Amazon and get next day delivery? Do you have any thoughts on that objection that my listeners might be thinking? James Beattie: Yeah. So if you use a shipping method or a shipping called ePacket, which is… it's not fast, but it can be anywhere from like seven to 14 days, that's the method that you want to use. There's a lot of other methods which you can use and are going to take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to get there, and you obviously don't want to use that. But people, I find that if you're up front with them… So on our stores it says, “Please allow two to four weeks for delivery,” on all our product pages, and the fulfillment email says the same thing as well. And you'll find that a lot of people don't mind as long as you're up front with them. Obviously there's going to be some people who are going to go find it on Amazon, but what we're… through Facebook advertising, you're not competing on that comparison search. So if someone's searching Google for a product, it's a very different buying process versus someone seeing a product on Facebook and just going and impulse buying it. It's something they see, and they see a cool video, and it's maybe solving an issue they have, they're just going to click it and go through and buy rather than go ahead and do this price comparison searching on Amazon and all the other websites, and Google Shopping or whatever, it's a very different process. There is going to be people who email you and say, “Where's my product?” But we just refer them to the product page and say, “Look, we stated it here.” And we also offer them a discount on their next purchase. But again, if you're doing good volume and something's going well, there's plenty of fulfillment companies in the States that you can just ship everything over to, send it to the fulfillment company and just increase that shipping time when you know something's working. David De Souza: Yeah, cool. That makes total sense. And one other point you've mentioned a couple of times, about the benefits of getting the products yourself and being able to create videos and get that, I suppose, better Facebook marketing going on. Do you have any guidance as to how long or structures towards the product videos that you shoot? James Beattie: Yeah. So most of the videos that we have are anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute long. You want to highlight the… if it's like a pain problem or whatever, if there's… highlight the pain that people are having in the first two or three seconds of the video, show the benefit in the next couple of seconds, and then you can go through and have these longer segments of showing the product in use, highlighting all the benefits, going ahead and doing that. So anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. There's a lot of cool stuff you can do within Facebook, like you can create these audiences of people who've watched 25% of the video, 75% of the video, 95% of the video, and you go ahead and create these audiences, and then you can re-target them people who are… obviously if someone's watched 95% of the video, they have some sort of interest in the product, and you can re-target them. And that's how you get very cheap cost per purchases on video views. There's ton… Like Facebook, there's so much stuff you can do in there, it's crazy. But to answer your question, 30 seconds to a minute. David De Souza: Awesome. And you've now touched on a little bit about the products and covered some of the objections. Why don't you tell us a little bit about your product selection process. How do you go about identifying hot or trending products that actually sell? James Beattie: Yeah. So there's tons of research tools out there now, where you can find exactly what's working. So there's a tool called… I recommend getting it, it's called Which Ads Work, and basically in that tool you can go and set so many parameters, there's tons of stuff, ut just to give an example, you can set… in the last seven days, show me the products that have been posted on Facebook ads that are linked to a Shopify store, and then rank them by the amount of likes they get, or shares they get. And that's going to pull up stuff that's starting to go viral. If that's in the last three to seven days, you can jump on that. You can see exactly what's working, you can jump on that. And a lot of the times, if you've got budget behind you, you can out scale them guys who are just starting, because a lot of people don't have the budget to scale. So what you can do is find them products and just jump in there, get them going in your store and purse them a lot harder. And you can make a lot of money very quickly just by scaling fast. David De Souza: Cool. And that was called Which Ads Work? James Beattie: Yeah. David De Souza: Awesome. That's a really cool tip. And- James Beattie: Like there's tons and tons of research methods, like there's literally… I think I've got like five or 10 videos on my YouTube channel going over different methods. There's hundreds of ways you can find them. A lot of the stuff I've actually found is just when I was actually… I was in London just on a holiday, and we're walking around, and you know in London there's all these wee pop up stores with all the gift sort of stuff? David De Souza: Yeah. James Beattie: And I found a really cool product in there one time, and went ahead and sourced something similar. And we absolutely crushed it with that product. You have to be, if you're around these stores, you have to always be taking in stuff that's around you and be aware of your surroundings. And you can find a lot of cool stuff just by having an open mind and always be thinking. I never really shut off on… I could be anywhere in the world, I was in Spain in the markets, and you're always looking for product ideas and stuff that think might do it well. And the more and more you do it, the more you're going to get an idea of… I don't know, but when I see something and I get a gut feeling that I know it's going to work, it usually does. And you'll be able to spot those products instantly when you have that sort of experience and you know what is working. David De Souza: Let's say you've got some products, your store's up and running, how many products do you typically try and stock in your store? And how often are you testing new products? James Beattie: Yeah. So like a lot of people get very overwhelmed by this and think you need like 1000 products on your store or something crazy. Generally most of money has been made from maybe 10 products, so that's made up the majority of my revenue. There's obviously a few others that did okay and did smaller amounts, but generally, like one product can change your life. Literally you can go from zero to six figures a month within a month, just with the right product, but… Sorry, I've lost my train of thought. What was the question again? David De Souza: How many products do you typically stock in your store? And how often are you testing new products? James Beattie: Okay, yeah. So if you're just getting started, maybe fill your store with 10 products. It doesn't need to be any more than that. I just recommend running ads as soon as possible, getting it up there. And then obviously as you go along, you start to add more products to your store. It starts to fill out a bit. But don't be worried about thinking you need to go and add 100, 200 products to your store before you even start running an ad, that's definitely not the case. But, like right now, we test at least three products a day. Just test, test, test. That's one of the biggest things, is testing them. If you've got a little bit of budget behind you, you can test a lot of stuff fairly quickly, and you will find stuff that works, there's definitely no lack of products out there that you can sell, or there's a lot of stuff where you'll see that beginners tend to jump on and you're going through these courses and stuff, and people use examples in the courses, and you'll find that all the beginners are trying to sell that same products that they're using as an example. But you definitely don't want to do that. Go ahead and find something original, or something that, like I mentioned with Which Ad Works, that is just about to go sort of viral, jump on it and test it. But we're testing anywhere from three to 10 products a day, depending on just what we're operating. David De Souza: Cool. And that is primarily if you're doing a general store, or you'd have that advice for somebody who's actually doing a niche store as well? James Beattie: Yeah. So it's a little bit different. On a general store, definitely test as much as you can. On a niche store, because you're running ads to that niche, if you've found something that's working, I'd recommend just keep the other stuff on a back burner until that product sort of dies out, otherwise you're going to find like, if you have two products that are going really well and you're trying to really scale them both, the ads will start competing against each other, and your cost for purchase will get higher. So if one product is working really well on your niche store, focus on it, try and scale it as hard as possible, work on having really good upsells congruent with that product, make sure your back end email sequence is working, and focus on all that. And then when it starts to die out, then you can start to push your other sort of products. David De Souza: And to summarize that, so with the niche store, it's basically, you push one product and then you use upsells to go ahead and increase your average cost per purchase, and then email marketing, to maybe get additional sales from that customer. James Beattie: Exactly. And you can also… Like, one of the best places to make more money is re-targeting your purchases, so people who have already purchased with your store, re-target them with your new products. And the email list, once you've got a reasonably sized email listing, it's a really good place to test products. So them products you have on your back burner, you can test them on your email list, see what's working well. And if you see one that has a lot higher purchases than the rest, go ahead, and that'll be the next one that you launch to your Facebook audiences. David De Souza: Okay, great. And then for the general store, how do you approach that? So say once you've got a winner, what happens next? Are you simply capitalizing on that trend and riding the wave whilst simultaneously looking for new trending products? Or do you try and structure your store to also have some stable products that you can also run ads to? James Beattie: Yeah. So there's a couple of products that we have that we can never really purse them super far, they'll maybe do 500 to 1000 a day, like pines and seals. So they'll do that a day, but we can never really scale them much further than that without our metrics going sort of crazy, but there's literally a product I've been running, it was my very first product that sold well, and I still run the exact same ads to that product today, and it's still profitable at that level. But then there's some products that you'll have, that will… It's just, as you said, riding that trend and pushing them as hard as possible, to really just capitalize and make as much money as possible on that product while you can. And then a lot of people miss out on the data that they're getting. So a lot of people think when a product dies, “That's it. I have to go keep testing more products,” which I think everyone should always be testing more products. But if you sold $100, 000 worth of a product, you've got a hell of a lot of data that you can use to use that data to launch congruent products. And that's really where you want to move over to a niche store again if possible, and use that data you've got, the emails, the Facebook audiences, and use them to really just accelerate the launch of a brand in a niche store. David De Souza: Yeah. That's actually cool, and that makes total sense. Yeah, that's awesome. And I suppose you just touched on one of the biggest mistakes you feel beginners make with that. What other common mistakes do you typically see with product and supplier selection? James Beattie: So a lot of people, like on their product pages and stuff, they'll upload the products, and they'll just be pulling the images from Ali Express, and they'll like the watermarks over the product. So you want to make sure you've got good images, whether that… Generally you can ask your supplier to send you over un-watermarked photos or take nicer photos. Some of the products just don't have great photos at all. So you want to make sure that the stuff looks nice. Look at it and say, “Would I buy from this website?” And if it's no, then you've got to go back and change something to make it look… If someone's coming to a website that they don't know, you're going to have to build their trust. You can do that with reviews, trust badges, having good photos and stuff like that. But other mistakes, it's hard to say, because a lot of the products I've sold, it's like I honestly don't understand why a lot of people would buy them. And I think a lot of people can also get… they'll maybe get two or three sales with a product, and they'll get like emotionally attached to it, “That's the only thing I want to sell, and I think it's a winner.” But really when you're just beginning, if it's not working, if it's losing you money, just cut it off. I'll see a lot of people waste hundreds and hundreds of dollars on one product just because it got a couple of sales in the early stages, and then they'll keep chasing after it. You definitely don't want to do that. If it's not working, kill it, and if it's working, scale it fast. That's sort of my two tips that I'd have for being as tight on a budget as possible, and then making as much money as possible while you can. David De Souza: Yeah. And I guess some of that just comes with experience I suppose. James Beattie: Yeah. David De Souza: And so say you found a winning product, or you've done your selection process and you found a winning product, how do you actually import these into your store? James Beattie: Yeah. So it's super, super easy. There's two main apps you can use, and you just install these apps in your store, one of them is called Oberlo, the other one's called Dropified now. I recommend using Dropified, it has a lot more functionality, it's a little bit dearer, but it's worth it. If you're on a budget, you can start with Oberlo. They're both good apps and there's no real… The Dropified one has a couple of extra features, that once you start doing more volume and stuff, it'll help you out. It's not that hard to transition from one to the other. So if you want to start with Oberlo, that's fine, but it's literally… These apps have Google Chrome extensions. You just go on Ali Express and go to the product and you click a button, and it will import all the photos, it'll import the descriptions, but you don't want to use Ali Express descriptions. Make sure you're writing your own descriptions and making it a little more interesting, and take out the spelling mistakes that are inevitably going to be there, change the title. But it imports everything for you. And then once you get an order, you just go into the Oberlo or Dropified app, and you'll just click a button. It inputs the address, it inputs all that stuff into Ali Express, and does the order for you, and it's very hands off. It takes like 30 seconds to a minute per order once you get an order. So it's super quick, super easy to install and it's not complicated at all. David De Souza: And let's say you've made the sale and you've imported the product, you've made the sale, what sort of refunds, returns or exchange policy do you tend to offer? Do you have any set strategy for that? James Beattie: Yeah. So obviously we ship worldwide, so if it's like a low priced product, we generally just let the customer keep the product and we'll refund them. Our refund rates actually pretty low, just because we do try and pick good suppliers and try and pick good products. I would say avoid clothing, especially from Ali Express, the clothing on Ali Express generally never looks like the photo, the sizes are all messed up, and you're going to get a lot of people asking for returns. So you want to totally avoid that. If it's more higher priced products, we do ask them to send it back to our offices in the UK. If it's like in the States, obviously the shipping cost for them is a bit higher, so we offer to pay out 50% of the shipping cost. In the UK there's a lot more strict laws around consumer rights, so generally we just ask them to ship… if it's in the UK, and obviously we're based in the UK, so they can just ship it back to us fairly easily. But again, a lot of the stuff we sell is like lower priced items, like $10 to $20, so… And generally that product maybe costs us $4, so as long as we're not getting a lot of requests for refunds, we'll just refund that product, or refund that order, it doesn't really… It's just another expense line, and as long as the percentage isn't crazy high, which if you do your supplier research and you do your product research, and order it in to make sure it's good, you shouldn't be getting that many returns. David De Souza: So do you offer an exchange policy then, or you don't tend to really do that? James Beattie: Yeah. Well, if they want to exchange for something else in the store, we're happy to do that. But again, if it's some sort of random… Like, we sell to a lot of different countries, and obviously it just doesn't make sense for them to ship the product back to us, it's going to cost them a lot of money, so we generally just let them keep the product as long as, again, it's not some of the higher ticket stuff. With the higher ticket stuff, we generally stay away from the whole… the worldwide target, and then we do base it in the US and the UK, but the lower priced ones, we will. If they want another product sent out or whatever, generally we just give it to them, because there's so much issues with like PayPal disputes and stuff like that, and everyone gets shut down, because a lot of people doing this just don't refund their customers and don't have any customer support in place, which is a huge, huge mistake, and then they get their PayPal accounts shut down and stuff like that. So we generally just try and keep the customers as happy as possible, to keep… It's much more beneficial for us to not get that $4 product back, but keep our PayPal accounts and our Stripe accounts clean from disputes. David De Souza: And so say you sell to a customer in the US, and they want to return it, are they typically sending it somewhere in the States or directly back to the supplier? James Beattie: So it'll be somewhere in the States. We'll just have an office there where we can send stuff to. But sending stuff back to the supplier, again, it's going to cost the customer a lot of money and it's not usually worth it. And if it's like a defect with the product, or the product's broken, if you just send that, like the order number to your supplier, the supplier… If you're ordering through Ali Express, you can file an Ali Express dispute type thing and you'll get your money back anyway on your end, so that's a good way to… Obviously, maybe the customer's not sending it back to you, you're not getting that product back, but if it was broken, then the supplier has to take that hit, not you. David De Souza: Okay. And you've just mentioned a few different… you've said an office in the US, and I guess customer service as well, that's a big one. Are you very much building teams to do all of this or is it a case of you've chosen good products, good suppliers, so you've been able to manage a lot of this yourself? James Beattie: Yeah. So you definitely want… the first two things you want to hire for are customer support and your orders. So when we didn't have volume back before we did the whole spreadsheet thing, we were ordering through Oberlo and Dropified, and we still have this with some products, but if you're doing 1000 orders a day, and if I was trying to order it all in, I just couldn't do it. So you have to. There was one stage where I had someone in the UK who was working for me, and they were doing orders all through our day, and then had a girl in Philippines who was doing it like all through the night. Because we had so many orders in, we had to have someone full-time on the orders. So we had that going. So you definitely want to hire out order fulfillment and your customer support as quick as possible. Really hiring a team is how you scale, so now we have the customer support, we have two girls on it, we have order fulfillment, there's only one person does it now, just because we can use the spreadsheets. And then we have like product research, so we get sent over products every day that we can test. And I run all the ads. So the Facebook ad side of things is what I'm good at, it's what I like doing, and I enjoy it, so that's where I spent most of my time. But yeah, you definitely want to hire out a team, and I think you should do it as fast as you can. Like hiring people in the Philippines, they're super good, super loyal. It may take one or two people before you find the right person but, and again, get them on Skype, ask them to jump on a call with you and talk to you, make sure they're good at communicating, and you can get them sort of like $4 to $5 an hour in the Philippines is like a good rate for them, so it's totally worth it to have someone else doing your customer service or doing your orders, because that's time you can spend doing activities that are going to generate you more revenue, whereas customer support is very important, but it's not going to build your top line revenue. And fulfilling orders is just dead time really, where you can definitely want someone else doing that. David De Souza: Yeah. I totally agree. You've hit the nail on the head when you say you want to spend your time doing revenue generating activities, just rather than maintenance, as I like to call it. James Beattie: Yeah, exactly. David De Souza: So just finally, in terms of guidelines, what sort of gross profit margin do you tend to aim for in your products? And how have you approached determining an appropriate selling price for your products? James Beattie: Yeah. So it really varies. If you look at our total… Generally net revenue, the bottom, or net profit, we want to be making close to 25%. You'll see a lot of people throw around numbers, like 60% and stuff, but generally I've found that that's not realistic in the drop shipping model. If you can get 25%, that's where I want to be at the end of the month, that's what I'd want to be hitting. Some months it'll be higher, some months it'll lower. Pricing products, it's a tricky question, it very much depends on the product itself, it depends on… There's some stuff that you can mark up quite a bit, like you want it to have high perceived value, but you can get it fairly cheap, like jewelry, you can get a lot of good quality jewelry for fairly cheap, and you can mark it up quite a lot because jewelry has a higher perceived value, whereas the stuff you're going to buy for $5 and you're going to struggle to sell it for $10. So it's really just about finding them products that you can source low enough, but they have that high enough perceived value, that you get a decent margin. And I don't really work on like a percentage basis, it's, “What is our margin? What sort of cost per purchase do I think I can hit on Facebook? And what's our average order value going to be when we add in the upsells, upselling on the back end as well?” So that's what you want to look at. And you want to see, “Can this be a profitable product?” And a lot of the times you can play around with the price, so like a $5 increase in price or decrease in price can change your whole ad metrics, like if you decrease the price by $5, but get a 50% increase in sales, then you've really just got to play around with that price a bit and see what is the sweet spot to define that. And sometimes you'll find that you'll price a product at $20, and it might get many sales, but when you put it to $35, more people buy it. David De Souza: Yeah, right. Okay. Mate, you've clearly demonstrated your expertise and knowledge. Now, I understand that you have an eCommerce course, why don't you tell us a little bit about that? James Beattie: Yeah. So I have a course called Ecom Domination. Basically we take you through from start to finish on getting started, getting your store set up, how to pick the right suppliers, and then we go through a couple of different marketing methods, so we go through the whole Facebook advertising thing, which Facebook is crazy, like how much they know about you is insane, and the stuff that you can target is really, really crazy. And we go through that whole process, and it does get quite deep and quite complex, but we start right from the beginning and take you from zero to hero as we like to say. Then we go through a bit of Instagram stuff, we go through a bit of Reddit marketing stuff, then we talk about email on the back end. And it's really just a broad overview of the whole drop shipping model, and it allows you to go from not knowing anything to having your store set up and starting to make a lot of sales. And we've over 200 students in there at the minute. One of the… like the best student, he's doing over $400, 000 a month, but them results are not typical at all. But we have a lot of guys doing very well. We've probably more than 25 people doing over $1000 a day. And again, there's a lot of people who aren't getting results, and a lot of people don't do the work. I wouldn't recommend joining or doing anything if you're not willing to sit down and do the work, and go through that ground period where results aren't going to be great. You are starting a business. Like a lot of people will expect it just to be instant millionaire overnight, it takes time and effort to really make this work. And if you're willing to put in the time and effort, I do truly believe that anyone can do this. I'm 20 years old, I started with about 1000 pound, and we've built up to over 1.5 million in sales. So the possibility is definitely there if you're willing to do the work. David De Souza: Crazy. And just from your own journey, how did you… Would you recommend that a course is the best way to go? Or to find mentors? Or the information's out there? Do you have an opinion on that? James Beattie: Yeah. Well, I took a course, I'm a big fan of taking course. Can you find all the information out there? Yes, it's out there, but is it going to be up to date? Is it going to be… There's so, so much of it, and so many people doing different things, is it complete information? It's just probably going to take you a lot longer, and you're probably going to lose a lot more money through testing and playing around, trying to figure out what works, instead of just going through something that is working. I would highly recommend joining Facebook groups. I've got my Facebook group, there's tons of Facebook groups out there, and tons of great guys doing awesome stuff and giving out lots of free content. So you definitely check them out, see if it's something that you're interested in. But if you're serious and you want to accelerate your learning, I do recommend taking a course. David De Souza: And just finally, for my listeners that would want to enroll in your course or even join your Facebook group, what would be the best way to contact you or get access? James Beattie: Yeah. So if you want to join the course, just go to ecominsiders.co/course, that'll take you direct to the page, and you'll find out all the information about it. And if you want to join my Facebook group, just go to Facebook.com/groups/ecominsiders, and that'll take you straight to the group. David De Souza: That sounds really helpful, mate. And look, I'll just echo as well, if anybody's wanting to get started with Shopify, I also have a free email course, which you can access through my Facebook group, Ecommerce Guider, as well as a 30 day trial period so that you can sign up for Shopify and try it risk-free for the first 30 days. But, James, just as a final question, one common trait I've noticed from the successful entrepreneurs that I interview, is that they actually tend to problem solve in different ways. So let me put this to you, say you have something that's not working in your business, is there any person, place or resource, or even method, that you look to get a solution? James Beattie: Yeah. So I seen this question when you sent them over, and I was thinking, and of the best places I like to just relax and think, and I think if I've got a problem, sitting in front of the computer isn't going to help me solve it, it just… I go round in circles and just wreck my head, and I like to get out and just relax. So I like to go for a massage. I don't know why, but it just puts me in a place where I can think freely, and just, that's where a lot of my biggest problems have been solved, just chilling out, totally relaxed, and a lot of times ideas will just float to you. So yeah, that's what I like to do. David De Souza: No, that's actually quite interesting. Like on a personal note, randomly, I actually seem to get a lot of good ideas in the shower, but then it's like I have no pen and paper or phone near me to write them down, but I- James Beattie: Yeah. David De Souza: … like I definitely echo the whole relaxation perspective. James Beattie: Yeah. David De Souza: James, that does bring us to the end of today's Business Hacker session. Thank you very much for coming on the show. It's been a big pleasure having you on, and a big thank you to all my listeners. If you found this useful, please, please, please leave me a review on iTunes.
67 minutes | Feb 16, 2020
BHP30 – Starting your first Shopify Store with Nick Peroni of Ecom Empires
Starting Your First Shopify Store with Nick Peroni of Ecom Empires Enjoyed this episode? Please leave us a review on Itunes. Listen to more Business Hacker Podcast Episodes here. NEVER MISS AN EPISODE SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES SUBSCRIBE ON STITCHER Nick Peroni - Ecom Empires Episode Overview In Episode 30, we shift gears and start exploring another how to make money online money making system. Learn how to build an online business through Shopify, where I interview e-commerce titan Nick Peroni of Ecom Empires. In this podcast, we start off right from the beginning and learn about the Shopify money making system, how to build/design your store, whether to start off your store as a general store or a niche store and more! If you don’t have a Shopify store yet, sign up for a 30-day free trial here. Things You'll LearnResourcesBonus ➤ Nick shared his background as an entrepreneur and how he got involved in the world of e-commerce. ➤ I asked Nick about his motivation in starting his business and what drove him to do this. ➤ Nick shared how he chose his first e-commerce store and whether to choose a general store or a niche a niche. ➤ I asked Nick about why he recommends using Shopify to launch your e-commerce store. ➤ Nick discussed his approach to designing a store and how to choose a store theme layout. ➤ I asked Nick if there are any particular common design mistakes he sees from people when creating their stores and how can these be avoided. ➤ Nick discussed the importance of a store’s “About Page” and he gave his advice on how to create an attractive About Page. ➤ Nick gave his thoughts on how to come up with product names and descriptions and what will surely work well. ➤ I asked Nick if writing longer product description works better than shorter descriptions and how he comes up with his descriptions. ➤ Nick gave the list of the apps that are a must have on your site. ➤ I asked Nick if there are apps that one has to have from the very start and how he decides which app to install first, considering the increasing cost of these apps. ➤ Nick shared his way of choosing the number of types of products to test for him to find a target audience. ➤ Nick gave his insights on how he sets a store’s product pricing, expected conversion ration, gross profit and net profit margin. ➤ I asked Nick about how much his cost per Facebook ad acquisition cost typically is. ➤ Nick discussed the biggest mistakes beginners make when starting up a store. ➤ Nick shared his best practices in solving the problems that he encounters with his business and gave the name of the person, place or resource that he consults to get a solution? ➤ I asked Nick to tell my audience a little bit about the video course resource he has to help budding entrepreneurs and what sort of results will they get out of these. ➤ Nick provided the best ways to access his course. ➤ Close If you don’t have a Shopify store yet, sign up for a 30-day free trial here. Bonuses ➤ If you don’t have a Shopify store yet, sign up for a 30-day free trial here. Episode Transcript David De Souza: Today I'm here with entrepreneur Nick Peroni. Today we're going to discuss starting your first eCommerce store. Welcome Nick. Nick Peroni: Hi David. It's a pleasure to be on the call with you today. Thanks for inviting me. I'm looking forward to this. David De Souza: Man. Thanks for coming on. So, Nick, before we kick off, tell us a little bit about your background as an entrepreneur and how you got involved in the world of eCommerce and what you've achieved. Nick Peroni: Absolutely. So for me, my story goes back a few years. When I got out of the army, I just had this self-drive. I knew I didn't want to go back into the workforce after my experiences there, and so I just started looking for a way that I could put it together on my own. And like many entrepreneurs, it was really messy. At the beginning, I had no idea about anything. I hadn't really even been introduced to online marketing yet. So I was just out there trying to figure stuff out, working odd jobs to make ends meet. And my first opportunity really was when I met somebody who had an idea for a photo booth company and I was studying online marketing at the time. I was just getting introduced to it and he came to me with this idea and I was like, “Man that that is a really golden idea. I've been learning all this stuff that I could use to market this online.” We looked at the industry at the time of what it was and it was just like go time. And so that was really where I got my start, in the photo booth industry, it was a service based thing where we were just setting up locations, using Google Maps and basically building out websites and then using Google AdWords and Facebook to market, get traffic, build a brand basically from scratch and using all those online marketing principles. And that was going really well. But as an entrepreneur, as we are, we're driven, I wanted more, I saw the potential here and I'm really condensing this story, but I built that company to $1 million in sales with my partner over the first three years that we did that. And then I was at a crossroads where I wanted to do something more. I'd been exposed to Facebook ads at this point and really seeing what people were able to accomplish, selling products just through Facebook and the ads platform was really starting to develop. And then that's when this whole Shopify idea came across my desk where people were basically dropshipping products from third party sources, finding like just real unique cool items and using this platform, Shopify that blew my mind because I was used to building websites, and all this complicated stuff with WordPress in the background. And then I saw how you could just really plug and play into a platform like Shopify and you could find products and then just use Facebook ads to get them out there. And that was it for me. That was about two years ago when I discovered that. And I got involved, I started investing in my education, started building stores and things took off for me pretty quickly from that point on. And I ended up leaving the company I was part of to pursue my own endeavors with eCommerce and just building out stores like that and things have been really great since then. I mean I've been really blessed. I've shared that information with some people and been able to build a community around helping other people use these online marketing principles that I've learned to build a business and sell things online. David De Souza: That's really cool. And so tell me, so you started off in the army, right? And then you've made this switch somewhere along the line to go ahead and take a concentrated new path into eCommerce and internet marketing, I suppose before all of that and deciding to learn websites, what motivated you to start down this path and were are you hurting? Were you depressed? What caused you to really spend your time studying? Nick Peroni: I mean, very good question. I mean really, you already hit it with the pain points that I felt, that was really where it started for me. Personally, I've always had as a … like I think to my parents and the things they used to tell me when I was younger, I've always had a problem with authority. I've always been somebody to question everything, not really want to be conventional. I've always had this idea that, we can do whatever we want, and our life can look like whatever we want it to, if we're willing to put in the time and the effort to make it happen. And for most of my life I just didn't know what that was and I was aimless, which is why I joined the army to challenge myself and to really grow as a person. And then when I got out is when I realized that's when the world of online marketing was introduced to me in the pain point was, I was trying at the time to put it together and I was really broke. I mean in a lot of ways it sounds like a cliche, but I had tried doing my own thing when I got out of the army, just like designing tee shirts, designing my own stuff as an artist because that's always been a like a passion and a skillset of mine in art and it wasn't working. And that's when I was like, “Man, this is just embarrassing.” I was broke, I had all this drive, I was a veteran, I knew what I wanted to do and what I felt like I could accomplish. But I had no vehicle, I had no outlet, I had no system to do that. And so I just started looking and when I was introduced to the idea of everyday ordinary people being able to leverage the internet to create incredible results, I was hooked immediately. And that really drove me as well because, I was able for the first time to actually see and meet with people that were online, like virtually and see what they were doing and see these business models they were creating. And I just realized, it's like it hit me, I was doing it all wrong. And then from that point forward, as a broke army veteran struggling in Philadelphia, it was just like a hunger inside of me. I was like, “Man, this is it. It's time to either, put up or shut up.” It's time for me to just go all in and make this happen because I don't want to live like this anymore. Just struggling, trying to figure out what makes sense.” David De Souza: Yeah, wow. And was it at this point when you sort of channeled your energies towards achieving this that you came across the photo booth opportunity? Or was that just like a made or something fortuitous in your life that somebody you knew was trying to do that? Nick Peroni: Yeah, well with the photo booths that was like … So as I was a designer that came to me originally as like working on designs for the company and when we met and he told me the idea at the time what I recognized, because I had been studying online marketing and I mean this was a few years ago, so it was big, but it wasn't like as mainstream as it's starting to become now, it's really starting to become a buzzword I think. But at the time what I really saw as the opportunity is the photo booth industry was archaic. People didn't know how to do online marketing almost period at all at that point in time. So I saw that and I remember reading like from Jay Abraham, one of the early influencers that I found where he talked about being able to take strategies from other industries and apply them to your industry. And I recognized that opportunity immediately. And even the guy who had the idea, Josh, he didn't recognize that. That was just something that I saw because I was like online marketing and here's an industry that hasn't really even been touched by proper online marketing yet. And so that immediately was an outlet for me to start learning. But it wasn't enough for me because the company wasn't really mine. I was a partner in the company, but Josh was the majority company … I was broke, he was putting up all the money, he was putting all the financing in, so he was the primary owner. So for me I was still very driven in figuring out a way that I could start leveraging my skill set and my experience to build my own business in my own company and become my own entrepreneur. David De Souza: And then that was a catalyst for you, I guess looking towards how to start your own business. Would that be right? Nick Peroni: Exactly. So that's when I discovered eCommerce and I had been studying, for a long time I was building the [inaudible] of team and I was applying all these things that I was learning. In my group I talked to people about this that are struggling sometimes to get started. I tell them, “Look, find an opportunity where you can have your basic needs met and you can be working and learning at the same time and getting paid for it,” which is what I was doing. I was working a free schedule, my own schedule. I wasn't part of a 9:00 to 5:00 or anything. I was just doing my thing, building this company and at the same time that gave me the ability to look at all these ideas that were coming across my screen and when Shopify came across, that's when it clicked. That's when it hit and I was like, “This is it. This is what I've been waiting for. This is the time for me to make my move because this just makes sense. This is so doable.” This is something that, all the skills that I had, just funnel them right here and you're going to be able to build a business very quickly, which is what happened. I started Shopify at the beginning of 2016 last year. And within that first 90 days of starting my store, I had crossed six figures in sales. David De Souza: Yeah, crazy. I guess that brings you to the point of starting your first store now. For I guess for listeners out there. Tell us a bit about how you problem solved or what advice you'd have for choosing your first eCommerce store Nick. How did you go about it then? Or perhaps how has your views changed then in terms of maybe deciding … did you just decide to, for want of a better word, choose to start a general store or you actually chose an industry like photo booths? Nick Peroni: Interestingly enough, I did play around with the photo booth idea a little bit in the beginning, but it was part of a general store concept that I was doing. So when I got started, general stories, the way that I chose to go because I was looking at the overall opportunity of what was available. And Shopify is just the platform, right? So Shopify lets you build a store, Facebook ads lets you reach the audience. And so I looked at it and I didn't have like one niche that I was dead set on, “This is what I want to do.” And so I'd seen the idea of a general store, I can't take credit for it. That was something that I had seen other people doing and I was like, I really like this, but what I did a little bit differently than his, I went out and I started choosing niches and creating a niche fan page for each one of those. And I started marketing products from those niche fan pages, they all led back to the overall general store. So when I got started, it was really just a matter of looking at other stores that were out there that were already doing this idea successfully. Seeing the types of niches that were working, which I had narrowed in on like really, it was really very much hobby, interest, passion type niches that I wanted to target in the beginning, unique shrink it type of novelty items that were out there and be able to build these niche fan pages that were promoting these products to people. And then all of it was under the umbrella of one general store that was just selling everything. David De Souza: And when you did that, so you talked about how you just saw interests out there. I mean was there a way that you saw these interests, how did you actually come about that and make that evaluation that they were working? Nick Peroni: The way that I really look at niches is I try to keep it simple when it comes to eCommerce. And at this point in my … It was a little different then, at this point now I've been able to test a lot, spend a lot of money and build different types of campaigns for different types of products. But for me, when I look at a niche, I generally approach it with a simple perspective that any niche can be profitable. So if I go on any major site like Amazon or Ali Express or eBay or these big giant eCommerce sites that are out there that sell everything and they're very successful, you can see right on their homepage is where they break down categories. And so I always used that. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here, I'm trying to follow in the steps of people that have already proven a model and then create my own model from that. So I've gone and I've looked and I've seen what are the categories that they are splitting out right on their home page. Because those are obviously the most popular shopping categories that are out there because these companies are doing billions of dollars a year. They know what categories make sense to put on the home page. So I would look at that and then I would start breaking down a little bit further. Okay, so you take the category sports and recreation and then you can look inside at that and start breaking it down into subcategories like yoga or football or soccer or baseball. And I just started choosing the ones that made sense to me that I felt I had a good understanding of the audience and what they would like and what they would appreciate. And then I just went out there and started matching products to those audiences. And that's generally how in my group now advise people is, if you're starting a general store, go out, find two or three big categories that you know are popular, go in within those categories, find two or three small ones and then start finding like two or three best-selling items for each one of those small categories and just start testing and repeating that process. David De Souza: Okay, that's really cool. And you've shown how you problem solved the general store versus specific store. Now, I noticed you've mentioned this word, Shopify, and I mean you told us that you have a background in website design and development. So tell us a little bit about why you chose Shopify as opposed to maybe like WooCommerce and WordPress. Nick Peroni: Yeah, absolutely. I did realize that I'd said that before and it's definitely not a plug for Shopify in any means. There's a lot of ways to create an eCommerce store. But for me that was how the idea originally came across me, that creative inspiration, that spark that happened for me came in the form of seeing Shopify and what people were doing with that, that already established Shopify plus Facebook business model. So that's really where it started for me. And I just liked it very much because it was simple. I do know there are the platforms like WooCommerce, like Wix and WordPress, where you can do these kinds of things as well. But for me, I liked Shopify because it was very plug and play, very much just you open a store, you had apps to choose from and then you get them in there and it's just all plug and play. Like with WordPress for example, that's where a lot of my other experiences in building WordPress sites out. And that's plug and play too. I mean they have plugins and such, but I've always just found it to be a little bit more complicated to get a very clean, very functional, very user friendly site built. There's a lot more that seems to go into it than just selecting a theme with WordPress. With Shopify, I feel like it really is that simple. You can just select a theme right out of the box. It's pretty much ready to go. All you have to do is import your products to it and get your marketing set up. So that's really, I think why I gravitated towards that. And then, in building a community, what I wanted to do is have a system that was very easily duplicated for other people. And so I stuck with Shopify because again with WordPress it's like there's so many different ways you can go about customizing your site, [inaudible] tell everybody to do it. But with Shopify it's like you can just go sign up, use the same exact app, same exact theme and you can be started and ready to go in a matter of a couple of days. David De Souza: Yeah. And so on that point you've probably got WordPress, which you could almost say is 100% customizable and say Shopify, they're almost like more out of the box themes. Because of that, do you believe that Shopify firstly gives you everything that you'd want to ensure that the theme, fully really enables conversion and if so, do you have a preferred theme that you use for Shopify? Nick Peroni: Yes. I still pretty much stick with the free themes. I like to venture in the supply theme on Shopify. I recommend those both tool, a lot of people and I've seen a lot of other people have success with them as well, not just myself. I do think that there are some situations … I recommend Shopify for getting into the physical eCommerce space. Really the most and my group Ecom Empires is about eCommerce in general, not just Shopify. And I have a marketing company that is built on WordPress and we use optimized press as a theme and I built that site out. We use Payworld for our recurring subscription. So the reason I didn't want to use Shopify for the marketing company, I actually started that out, but I do believe Shopify can be custom. It can be very custom, but it's almost more expensive with Shopify when you want to start getting really custom, in my opinion, because you have to go in and start changing all of their out of the box stuff that they had the way it was, which requires you to either be very skilled in your own development or to start hiring that stuff out. Whereas with WordPress, you start basically with a clean slate. So it's more easy to customize from the ground up without extensive HTML coding knowledge in my opinion. David De Souza: Yeah, no, I mean I definitely agree with that and I was curious to hear your approach on that. I guess we were talking a bit about design. I mean, is there a common design mistakes that you tend to see people making when they create their stores and if so, how can they be avoided? Nick Peroni: I changed, I believe over time. In the beginning I felt like the biggest mistake people were making thing is not having enough on their store to make it seem like an established store. That is still a mistake I see a lot of people make, they set something up and they don't think about it from a customer's perspective and realize that subconsciously when somebody visits your store, they're automatically going to be comparing it to stores they've visited in the past. So if your store looks empty or it looks bare bones compared to other stores that look very full, they have a lot of links. They have footers. They have a lot of stuff in them, it's just going to seem like it's not established. And so that can diminish the trust value there. Now what's happened, what I've noticed as this whole eCommerce wave has really exploded across the marketplace because of its ease of access and low barrier to entry is … Now what I see is that people are overcompensating and I think it because of the massive explosion of Shopify stores that have happened, it's really become something that's been pushed a lot in the online marketing community because of its some low barrier area and low cost to get started. But what people are doing now, all of these courses have come out and people are taking it to an extreme, they're installing all these crazy apps and they're putting all these trust badges everywhere to the point where it looks like it's too much. It looks like you're trying to prove something and it almost has a sense of a red flag because if you go on Walmart, you go on Amazon, you go on XT, you go on these other sites, they don't have all these crazy badges everywhere. It's a clean site. So, I use a few trust badges on my site like stamps that show, you accept these kinds of cards and you have a guarantee policy, like those types of things. But I just think that the gimmicks have gotten a little out of control nowadays where people are starting to be in love with the gimmicks and the marketing inside of it and forgetting that customers really just want a valuable brand, they feel like they can trust. David De Souza: Yeah, I guess that totally makes sense. And if I was to ask you … you've got your store design, I mean say something like your store's about page. How important is that? And do you have any advice that you'd give to a beginner in order to create a pimping about page? Nick Peroni: Yes, absolutely. That's such a great question because it leads into a bigger overall concept I believe is really important. Even if you're just starting a general store that the whole idea of your store is that you sell random items that really have no association with each other. I believe it's very important now to have some type of story, some type of underlying story behind your brand. Even if it's as simple as, “We're here to find you the best items and bring them to you at the lowest cost with the best customer service.” That's still a story, there has to be something, a lot of people are just setting up a site and this is philosophical and subconscious but it's just like … You need to have something there that ties it all together and your about page is really just a representation of that. People get stuck on the about page, but I personally think that the key to a great about page is having a great story, having a great brand that you've already constructed. And it's not to say that your site has to be elaborate or your store has to be elaborate, but there has to be some kind of story there. You have to have something for people to connect to. Otherwise, that's what social media is all about. And people were marketing over social media, but they're missing this connection that they're marketing on social media, but their store or their site isn't social at all. There's nothing friendly about it, there's no story to it, there's no brand there that has any intrinsic values. So I do think that's really important. And I think the about page is a representation of that. So if you're doing the work and the foundation ahead of time and figuring out that story, then I think that will naturally flow through in the about page. I know that's not necessarily a mechanical answer to your question, but that's just how I've always approached it. David De Souza: Yeah. No, that's really cool. And I guess actually I want to explore that a little bit further and maybe shift gears into that. I mean, let's say, you've gone ahead, you found products for your store, you've loaded them onto your store now do you have any thoughts on how to come up with product names and descriptions? What in your experience typically works well and should this be, I guess I can extension of your about page in your store vibe? Nick Peroni: Yes. I think the product names and descriptions are a great place to be different. That's where I feel like be different than the Amazons and the eBays out there, because you'll see those and they're just very general, they give you the facts about it. But I think that with your title product description, be creative, use good, strong adjectives that describe, that give a feeling, that bring out an emotion. For example, it could be as simple as just adding those adjectives in there that you can find from a thesaurus. You can just look up words that can help make a product seem more exciting and great descriptions that show the benefit. Descriptions that can help a person understand, for example, if you're selling a shirt, this is just an off the cuff example. Instead of saying, “This type of shirt and here's what's printed on the front. You can say something like, “This shirt was specifically designed with you in mind, has such and such.” Whatever niche it is, like say it's for truckers for example, or something like that. You could specifically say, “If you are in American trucker and you love and have pride in what you do, you're going to love wearing this shirt, you're going to feel great wearing it because not only does it look great, but it's a symbol of what you do and what you're passionate about, and then available in multiple sizes and colors not sold anywhere else. Make sure you get yours here.” Just adding a little bit more in there that is, you have the stuff that they need to understand, there's multiple sizes and colors here and they see that. But also that you're giving some type of description that helps them feel what it would be like to actually purchase that product. David De Souza: Yeah, that makes total sense. And obviously clearly it demonstrates that it would really resonate with your target market if they read that. So I suppose on that note then, would you say apps like longer copy or perhaps like shorter descriptions works better in your experience? Nick Peroni: Man, I'm so glad you asked that question because I was just thinking in my head as I was done that there's a major caveat to this and that is [inaudible]. I gave a short example. That's very simple. There's not much to that, very short copy is all you, because what you see is what you get. And if you take the complete opposite side of that spectrum where, with my marketing company, I'm pioneering a new service in the local SEO type of space that requires a lot of copy because I need to explain, I need to really show the business owner the outcome of what they're going to get. I need to explain to them, how it works and what it's going to do for their business and what they're going to [inaudible] what their new businesses going to look like having this service working for them. So the general rule that I've always stuck to, and this is something that I learned from people before me, is the higher the commitment, the higher the price, the longer your copy needs to be. If you're just doing something very simple like a tee shirt, two, three lines max is all it needs. They see what it is. You just write something cool to make them feel, connected with it and then tell them that the product description and then you're good. But if you have something that's like you're selling an expensive item, then you're going to want to write a little bit more copy to justify the higher price and the higher commitment. Show more examples, show more imagery, show videos to see more in depth and in detail about how that product or that service is going to affect the customer's life. David De Souza: Okay, and when you are going through this process, I mean how are you problem solving this? How are you actually coming up with your descriptions typically when you decide to enter a new niche? Nick Peroni: I just look at the value proposition, in anything that I do, I always try to look at it from the value proposition. Again, if it's something as simple as a tee shirt where your proposition is, “You're passionate about this as a customer, you're a trucker, I know you're passionate about being a trucker. Here's a shirt we designed specifically for you so you can feel awesome as a trucker wearing this shirt.” That's a very simple value proposition. So then I just write something to match that. If my value proposition is more complicated, you're business owner, you've got a million things going on at once. You wear a million hats every single day trying to get it all done. Marketing is an area you need but you don't have time to focus on, so here's a solution that's going to help you get to your goals quicker without taking up more of your time and resources. You know? So I always look at I guess the outcome, the value proposition. So for that situation, “Okay, I have this service and in exchange for you being part of it, your outcome is going to be that your business is functioning better. You don't have to worry about marketing anymore because your customers are coming in. And so I'm going to write something that pertains to that outcome and that value proposition I'm trying to get across. David De Souza: Okay. I mean yeah, that's quite detailed and comprehensive. Definitely resonates with me. I want to just shift gears a little bit and talk about, say you have stocked your store with products, you've written the descriptions. Now, Shopify, as you mentioned before, is very plug and play. There's a lot of apps out there that you can install. Do you have a go to list of must have apps and if so, what are they? Why do you recommend them? Nick Peroni: Yes. So some of the money making apps I call them, that I consider must have and I do … I like to keep things simple as possible when I look at that, one of the reasons I love Shopify and eCommerce is because it's a very automated solution to make money. One, it takes a lot of upfront work, but once you get it going, there are ways you can automate and systemize the process, apps are one of those. There's an abandoned cart app and what that does is anybody that abandons a cart, you can set up an email series to automatically go and send emails to them as a followup to try to get them back to complete their purchase. That's a must have for sure that that gives a massive return on investment having that app, I think it's only like eight or 10 bucks a month or something. And then another one is a retarget app. Now there's a few different types of retargeting apps, but the one that I've used a lot is just called Different Target app. And that is something where it sets up automatic retargeting for you. So anytime somebody visits your store, you set that app up on a campaign and then if they don't purchase it will go follow them around on Facebook and show them an ad saying, “Hey, come back, complete your purchase.” Or whatever you want it to say, “Hey, here's a discount code to come back and finish your purchase.” So those two apps alone are definitely crucial must have for any serious Shopify store because they're going to help you save. In my experience, I've seen that they have captured 10 to 15% of my overall income. When I looked at it from my Shopify stores last year, 10 to 15% of overall sales was from having those two apps installed. So, that's a massive amount of money that would have been left on the table had I not been doing those things. So I think that those are definitely simple must have apps. And then from there you can take it up by installing your own email, auto responder apps. So you're able to upsell and followup with people long term and you can install SEO apps. I mean, there's definitely a lot of things that can really help you continue to grow and maximize your return. But I always start with those two simple apps for certain on any store. David De Souza: Okay. And as a piece of advice for new sellers, a lot of these apps, they may be a bit taken back by the fact that they're all additional subscription costs. And when do you decide to install these apps and start paying for them? Do you very much these apps that you've just gone ahead and recommended, would you just put them in like install them from day one as soon as you're ready to start running traffic? Nick Peroni: That's yes, I believe that if you're going in to it and you're going into it serious, you should at least be expecting a couple months commitment. And it's interesting, I go through this all the time with newer people. Personally right now I'm actually helping my girlfriend build out her first store. She had a really good idea and she wanted to get involved in. I went through this exact conversation with her, because she was very much just looking at it as money out in the beginning and trying to keep the amount of money she's spending down to a minimum. And I told her, I was like, “Look, you're getting traffic and you're saying, ‘Well, I don't want to pay in advance for the these apps, but you want to get a sales.'” You can't put the cart before the horse. If you want to recapture some of this traffic, you're seeing that you're getting visitors every day, but you're not getting as many sales as you want, well you need to put the apps in to start capturing back some of that traffic. You can't expect to capture back that traffic and continue making sales … continue capturing missed sales, I should say, if you don't install the apps. So it's a circle there, what comes first, the chicken or the egg. But you have to install the apps if you want to see the benefit, which requires putting a little bit of money up out front. I mean we're talking about dollars here, not hundreds of dollars. David De Souza: Yeah, definitely. I think that's great. Okay, so let's assume that you got your apps sorted and now you're starting to grow your store. Now you're really focusing on trying to get as many sales as possible. How many different products are you typically testing? Say for your girlfriend, we'll use her as an example. What advice are you giving, or do you say typically take a lot of different Facebook interests and start testing one or two products to find the winning audience? Nick Peroni: Yeah, so with her store, she has a niche store, so I believe it's a little bit of a different strategy based on what you're doing, with the general store approach. I really like the approach of testing a few different products a week at least. I mean ideally if you can, you can test a few different products a day. I believe in an approach where you start on small budgets and you test out a few different products to see what performs and you take the winners and then you scale them, so you're not spending too much money testing and you're not wasting money because you're going into niches where you're pulling that data back and using it. So like with a general store approach, going back to what I said earlier, I would have picked out two or three main categories and then a couple of niche categories within that that I wanted to pursue. And then I would start testing what appeared to be popular products from each one of those niches that I had chosen. So say for example, I'll put it in numbers as an example. I picked three main categories and I narrow that down to three sub niches. And then with each of those sub niches, I find three to five products that I like. So I have 15 total products that I want to test and split that up and start testing, starting maybe three products a day and spread it out and just start testing them and get into a cycle of launching a few products and then monitoring the data, killing off the ones that aren't working quickly and the ones that are working, pursuing that and scaling them up and finding other audiences that you can promote to. That's generally my approach with the general store concept, which is a little bit more touch and go. But with the niche store, you're picking a niche and so if you've done your research and you have a large niche, it's evergreen and it's profitable, people are spending money in that niche, then I would start by finding a lot of great products to build out your store and then just start going through from the top to the bottom, which ones you think are the best and start testing them one at a time. David De Souza: So would you just be then testing each of those products to the same interest or you do a combination of cycling through interests as well? Nick Peroni: Right. That's definitely one of the variables. So that's why I don't suggest testing too much at once for somebody to handle. Because depending on how many interests in audience you want to build out, it can start to add up quickly. So generally, there is a little bit of just subjective figuring out as you go. But for me, the way I will get it, it's like this. If I have a product and … I only market a product if I've done my research and I believe that product can sell. So if I've gone through a process of finding what I believe is a good product for that niche, then generally I'm probably going to test maybe one to three audiences, but one at a time is how I like to do it. That's just my opinion. I know there are some people that will go, they'll launch an ad with like 15 different audiences and just see which one works. And I think that can work with a niche store because you're very focused. Like with my marketing company, I know what I'm focused on. There's really one basic, broad audience and so I just figured out like 10 different ways to cut that pie and started testing it out to see which ones were going to be the lowest hanging fruit in the beginning. But with the general store approach, you're a little bit more all over the place. So you have to have rules and a structure to really keep yourself focused, which is why I limit to three audiences. David De Souza: Nick, if I may just … I'd like to sum up your approach to testing different products in order to maximize sales as I think this is quite crucial. By all means jump in and correct me if I'm wrong, firstly it seems that the approach you take depends on whether you have a niche, a general store, and from what we've touched on, if you have a general store, you should be more structured in your approach and really try and test a few different products a day. Ideally using a small budget and limit yourself to say two or three different audiences to try and find a winning audience with the general store approach, being more focused on cycling through different interests to find the winning audience. Would this be correct? Nick Peroni: Yes, that is the approach that I have generally taken with a general store and that I've encouraged other people to take that asked me for advice, and I've seen that that works very well as long as people are staying focused and not like just picking 15 different niches to try and market to all at once, but focusing on a few main categories, finding a few great products for each one and then just attacking it that way. David De Souza: Okay, awesome. And then now on the flip side for the niche, the strategy there is that you've picked a niche and it's probably a more product research based approach where you're looking for that winning product and you're trying to focus on matching a winning product and cycling through different products that you've researched to a pre-identified interest or audience? Nick Peroni: Yeah, definitely. I think that with a niche that is the biggest difference because with a general store, you don't really know what's going to be your winner yet and that's why it requires so much testing. With a niche store, you're already picking that niche, you're locked in, you know where you're at, so your goal is really to just find as many great unique products as you can start filling your store up and then just start going one by one and have like a strategy of how you want to move through your promotions and start building an audience and getting out there for that niche. David De Souza: Okay. Awesome. I mean that makes total sense and I think that's probably a great point that we've clarified for beginners. Now one of the things is when you're getting traffic come into your store, you don't always know what a good purchase to traffic unique visitor conversion ratio should be. I mean do you have any guidances to what you'd expect to see? Nick Peroni: I think that what I've seen for industry standard is for a purchase conversion rate on the store to start with that because I think that's the most important one. I've seen standard is like one to 2%. I have been able to achieve like a four to 5% on some cases. And I've seen some people when you're really dialed in and you have a really niche store where they're able to achieve higher, like maybe in eight, 9%, because there's definitely a difference there. If you're a general store you're going to have a lot of different types of traffic coming in so you have to expect a lower conversion rate. Whereas if you're a niche store you should really be dialed into one audience and so your conversion rate could be a little bit higher. And then moving back, I guess further up to the conversion funnel, because that's for a purchase and then for an add to cart. I generally, if I'm running a campaign and I'm looking at the traffic to my add to cart conversion for that campaign, like just looking at the product, I generally like to see it around the 10% range. I mean that's what's good. If it's, right now I'm running a store on testing and I have it at like six and a half percent I think is my add to cart percentage. So that's still good, but that, 10% is like where I would really love to be because that means I've really got a great product that the audience is reacting very well to and my product page is converting well from cold traffic to add the cart. David De Souza: Okay, great. So now we've sort of touched a little bit on what you'd expect to see in terms of conversion ratios, taking it one step back to what we previously talked about. So you've stocked your product into your store and obviously you can purchase it at whatever rate you can get it at Ali Express. Do you have any guidance on how to set pricing? Is there maybe typically asserting gross profit margin or net profit margin that you would tend to look for? Nick Peroni: One thing that was introduced to me when I got started was a rule of thirds where you want to look at your product costs, your profit margin and your advertising costs and whatever the hole is that each one makes up a third. So as an example, say I find a product on … you say I find a product that I'm sourcing for $6 and I want to sell it for a price that is then going to fit in my advertising costs, which is where a lot of people, I think they don't figure that in. And so in my experience, I've seen through Facebook advertising that a good cost per purchase, like a customer acquisition cost, just standard, is probably going to be anywhere in the five to $10 range. So you want to definitely figure that in. And so look at, say a product that costs $6 to fulfill for your wholesale costs and then estimate maybe an $8 cost per purchase to get a customer, you're at $14, so you would want to add in enough margin to make it so that you're at 33% profit margin. So you'd want to price it around 20 to $21 that way you're at that rule of three. Hopefully I explained that well because I've used that to be my guiding principle with most of the products I launch. And of course some things are going to be like … if it's a really low priced item that has a very high perceived value, like maybe jewelry that can be sourced really cheap in China, but over here in America has a very high perceived value, then your profit margin could be bigger. Or on the flip side of that, you may have a product that is really awesome but the profit … or your fulfillment cost is a little bit higher, so you have to take a hit on the profit a little bit to keep it at a good price. But I definitely try to stay within the general principle of the rule of thirds for breaking out my fulfillment, my advertising costs, and my profit margin. David De Souza: And so when you do that, I mean, do you primarily just stick to that principle or do you also use some form of comparative pricing analysis? Looking at say, I don't know, say you were selling leggings, we'll take, would you go and look at maybe a legging store and see what they're doing as well? Nick Peroni: Yes, certainly if you're doing, it's more important in some cases if you're running a niche store then absolutely you need to make sure that what you're doing makes sense. If you have some type of license agreement or a wholesale agreement with an actual brand, then of course it needs to make sense because people might go price check you. But a lot of times with Shopify or any store really, if you're using Facebook advertising, it's a very impulse buy type of deal. So if you're selling a real unique item, you're selling something that is very much based around a passionate audience. Sometimes you can set the price because people won't necessarily go price check that. But you do want to make sure that you are sticking within industry standards. So if you're selling shoes, then that there's already like a set type of price that people are willing or expecting to pay for a pair of shoes. But your branding can have a lot to do with that as well. So not to make it too complicated, but depending on what type of branding you have, if you want to be a high end luxury store, then you certainly need to price yourself as a high end luxury store. People are not going to believe you. If you're a deal thrift store where you're just selling items for cheap and they're really novelty items and your goal is high volume, like some of the stores out there that are doing this really well, then you're going to want to lean on the side of having cheaper prices that undercut the other people out there in the industry. So there's definitely a little bit of subjectiveness to it because it has to do with your brand. Are you general? Are you niche? Are you going high end or low end? But a lot of times I will get that secondary. I look at, I want to make sure I have a profitable store and I don't want to compromise my business to try and either, make it seem more appealing or not. So I'll try to set the brand to where I feel like I want my prices to be and then I'll look for the items that fit that and give me the right profit margin that I want to use. David De Souza: Yeah. That's cool. I mean that makes total sense. I guess that leads us onto then mistakes I suppose that you've seen from beginners. What would be the main mistakes they'd make with their store? Nick Peroni: Well, the biggest mistake that comes to my mind right away is just not approaching it with the right mindset, when it comes to eCommerce, and again, just the way that way that this online marketing community has developed over the last couple of years and online entrepreneur, eCommerce stores, these things are starting to become somewhat of a buzzword. It's getting out. Information is out now. People know for a few hundred dollars you can come to the internet, start a business and be making thousands of dollars a month and have a very time freedom life. But I think that with that, with the success stories we see out there, with the people out there that are doing this, there's some missing information in there where people feel like you just get started and then overnight you're going to have a success. Or you're just going to be able to find like some cheap, crappy, you put it on a store and you don't need to actually go through the normal traditional process of doing the market research, understanding a value proposition, providing excellent customer service and actually building a brand and building something real, a real asset that you're creating. People come and they look at it as like a shortcut to the process. And it is in a way, because we have these amazing platforms like Shopify and Facebook and Ali Express and apps that easily allow us to dropship items and import them with very little work. But because of that, because of the technology, I think it's even more important now to understand the mindset, to understand the things that really set you apart and make you unique. Because if everybody's out there creating cookie cutter stores thinking all they have to do is throw ads up on Facebook and they're going to be, living this life of freedom overnight, it just doesn't happen like that. It takes time and effort. And for me, just in the beginning you heard my story before I found Shopify, I had already put in years of time in my dues, making sure that I knew things like how to build a real brand, how to connect with your audience, how to actually build something of substance and provide value. So when our found Shopify, it happened quickly for me. But that's because there were already years of work in the making behind that, that got me to that point. And I think that's what some people miss is they think that it's going to be easy and it's still a business. Just like any business, it requires time. It requires effort. You have to put in the time and have the dedication and perseverance to stick with it and know that you're not going to be my crazy success over night. That can happen. Sure. But if you're betting on that, you're probably going to be disappointed because really the people out there that I've seen that are being very successful are the ones that have started, and it took them some time to figure it out, but they stuck with it and eventually they found that winning formula. And once you find that winning formula, it's just a matter of increasing traffic and putting more money into the machine. David De Souza: Yeah. I mean that's really comprehensive and you actually made me think. So I suppose the question I've got for you, right. One common trait I've noticed for a lot of the successful entrepreneurs that I interviewed is that they tend to actually problem solve in different ways. For you, tell me this, you've obviously … you started off without knowing a whole lot and you've gotten to where you are today. Tell my audiences, when something's not working out for you in your business, is there any person, place or resource or strategy that you do to try and get a solution? Nick Peroni: Absolutely. For me the best strategy personally that's always worked for me is approaching the challenges in business or in my life and looking at it and saying, “Okay, here's …” Working backwards basically from where I want to get to. I think that's the most important thing, I learned this years ago and it changed my life. I read this in The Principles of Success by Jack Canfield, where he talks about, that if you want to be able to get somewhere, you have to know where you want to go. Just like a GPS, you can only get to the destination if you tell the … You have to put the destination in first to get the directions. And so it's not a matter of knowing the whole route. You can drive to California in the dark from the East coast to the West coast and only see 200 feet in front of you with your headlights, but you can just keep going because you keep seeing what's in front of you and taking that next step. So for me, it's always been an approach for problem solving. I look at it and I'm just very real with myself and I say, “Okay, this is where I want to get to.” For example, “I want to have a six figures a business, that's allowing me to run my own business. It's making six figures a year.” And then you work backwards, “Well, how do I get to that? Let's break it down into months. I need to be making $8,500 a month in my business.” Okay, let's break it down even further, “I need to have a business that's making around $2,200 a week for me to achieve a six figures business. And so now what do I not know? What is going to help me get to $2,200 a week? And what are the main things like right now that are in between me and that? Okay, a business model. I need a business model that I know can produce that type of income. I need to understand how to get that type of traffic. I need to understand what type of product …” So you work backwards and you start with the smallest piece that you don't know and then you figure that out and then you just keep adding to it, “Okay, boom. I had my first $1,000 week. Awesome, how do I double it to 2000. I had a $2,000 a week. How do I make it consistent? So I'm doing this every week?” It's just a constant process. I think that a lot of people feel like they see successful entrepreneurs and like it just happens, because all we see is the success event. We see it when they're successful because nobody cared before you were successful. And so that warps our mind. But really in every story that I've seen and like you do, I've been blessed to talk with a lot of entrepreneurs at this point and connected with a lot of people. I've just seen that common trait that there's always, months or years of work in the making that gets to that point. And people are very strategic about understanding, this is where I want to get to. What are the steps, let's start figuring out in small pieces how I get to that point. David De Souza: I mean, I love that analogy with the car. And so would you say … To say even yourself, if you look at your own journey, and I'm not going to pretend like I know what your whole journey was, but obviously similar like to yourself, we all have different skillsets, different life paths that may actually give us a natural, I guess advantage relative to the next person that will give us a leg up in the eCommerce game, I.e. for yourself that was having that background with website design and development, but let's say you're somebody who has no background, no prior experience, is there a set way that you'd recommend that they go ahead and tackle this journey? For example, when you start with Shopify, it's very much about, I guess firstly maybe choosing the platform that you want to sell on, then learning how to find products and learning how to do copywriting, learning how to drive traffic and so on and so forth. Do you have a view on the best way to approach this and how to learn all these different things that you need and skillsets that you need to learn? Nick Peroni: Yes. Actually that's an interesting question. I mean I do think that when like when I think about it, your timeline to success is probably going to be based on what you discover first and I guess you really can't help that, there's some luck involved in that. For me, I remember where I started is nowhere near where I ended up. I mean I started like most people, I didn't understand online marketing so I just started doing searches and eventually it brought me around to learning what I learned. But there was a lot of trial and error, confusion, failure along the way because I was trying to find the business model that worked for me and put that playbook together on my own. So I do think that if you're able to start with a business model that makes sense. And that's really what has inspired me to actively go out and try to help people because I see that the eCommerce model is something that does make sense. It's something that regardless of your experience or your background, you can come to this, and you can learn the basic skill sets because all we're doing is using a platform, finding great products and learning how to match them up to an audience and then learning how to run paid traffic on Facebook to reach that audience and get them to your store to buy the product. So at a very simple level, it's easy to understand and then it's just a matter of dissecting the pieces and learn in each piece. So I don't know if that's a direct answer to the question but that's just how I look at it. And I think eCommerce has presented a big opportunity for a lot of people right now because it is a business model that makes sense and people don't have to shift through network marketing and online opportunities and affiliate marketing and all these other things like what works, what doesn't work, what should I pursue? When you have something like this that I look at as very, very cut and dry with eCommerce you find great products, you find audiences for that product and you learn how to run paid traffic. David De Souza: I mean it does partially answer the question. I guess maybe was sort of seeking some clarification for our listeners, if they're like looking at this as like their blank slate and they want to know like should they maybe just spend like a month just smashing every single video trying to learn Facebook ads and then maybe learning a bit about copywriting and then figuring out how to choose a niche. Was there a way that you … once you figure out what the major pieces of the puzzle were, did you just learn a little bit of everything at once or how did you break that down? Nick Peroni: Myself personally, I learned it over time because I learned about the eCommerce business model that we've been discussing far into my journey as an entrepreneur at already been building a business. At that point, the aisle of team had already passed a million in dollars in sales. So I was already a fairly experienced in building a brand from scratch, learning how to manage a team customer … Like all the things that go into a real business. And what I loved about eCommerce and Shopify is the solopreneur idea where you can start and you can really minimize everything. So for people just getting started, I think that the other stuff can come along the way I've seen people and I guess I wouldn't be able to say this without the experience I have now from the last year of coaching a lot of people is that you really … one of my army buddies is a perfect example of this. We served together. He has no idea about any of this online marketing world and more sort of the point where he couldn't care less. Like it's not a world that he cares about at all. But for him he was looking for a way to make some money on the side, to support his government … what he was getting from being a retired veteran. And so I showed him this and it took him some time to piece it together, but once he was able to understand how you set up a store, that's the first part. You got to be able to build a store that looks trustworthy and looks established and make sense and you can just mimic other stores to really get a good idea of how to do that. And you don't really need to learn copy or coding or anything because Shopify takes care of all of the out of the box theme stuff. And there's apps you can install and then you can just look at other stores to see how they write copy and just mimic that same thing. Or you can even outsource it on Fiverr. That's I think the first step. And then the second step really is learning how to do good product research and find great products to sell, which again you can do by just going in the Ali Express and finding free videos on YouTube. There's plenty of them out there where people explain and show how to do this type of research and how to understand the market. And so you're just learning very specific knowledge at each step. And then the last step is understanding the Facebook ads platform. And again, free out there. Facebook has an entire free course called the Blueprint, Facebook blueprint. Very easy to access and you can learn everything about using their ads platform and how to build your brand, get your products out there. So, I don't want to sugarcoat it and act like there's no learning involved because it's a real business. And if you want to make five figures a month, then you need to run a real legit business. But when you look at the alternative, to going out there and investing in some sort of franchise or building a website or something, you're able to just focus on these very specific key parts. And I really won't even look at it as maybe three or four and get yourself to a good enough position where you're good enough to be making sales, you're good enough to be making a profit. And then you start to analyze the things that you don't know that can help you increase conversions and make more money. David De Souza: Yeah, no I totally agree with that. And I recently was looking at the Blueprint and I'll echo the thoughts, as well the Facebook Blueprint is actually awesome, but Nick, I know and I understand that, you've been building up a budding resource to help entrepreneurs. Why don't you tell us a little bit about that? Nick Peroni: Yes, absolutely. I have probably mentioned it a few times already, just because it's so much a part of who I am, but I started … So last year after I started having a lot of success with Shopify, towards the end of the year I was sharing that on Facebook, I'm active, I've always been somebody that wanted to get my story out there, help inspire and motivate others to overcome this struggle and achieve that self-made success. So I was sharing that and I started getting a lot of people looking for help and looking for information and it was too much just to be chatting with everybody on Facebook. And then, I wanted to do something different and help people and make it different than what I had experienced with all the struggle and all the heartache that I had to go through trying to learn how to build an online business. All the people out there that all they want to do is take your money and provide no real help to you. So I decided to start a group called Ecom Empires. And where it started was with dropshipping and I recorded it live for the group when it got started video by video, building a store from scratch on camera, live all the way and an 18 video courses is what it ended up being, taking that store from zero to five to five figures in sales. And then every step was covered on how I set up the store, how I optimized it, how I ran the traffic, built the pages and all that stuff. It was all covered all the way through and I just gave it out for free. Anybody that wanted to join the group, they came and we started seeing some amazing results. I mean people started … a couple of people were hitting like 5K, 6K days using this information. Several people were successful making sales and then we even had some go on and make some ma
12 minutes | Feb 6, 2020
BHP33 – Saving on Foreign Currency Transaction Fees with Payoneer
BHP33 – Saving on Foreign Currency Transaction Fees with Payoneer Enjoyed this episode? Please leave us a review on Itunes. Listen to more Business Hacker Podcast Episodes here. NEVER MISS AN EPISODE SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES SUBSCRIBE ON STITCHER Saving you money Episode Overview In Episode 33, we interview Dorine Klapholz from Payoneer to show how you can save on foreign currency transaction costs when selling internationally from your ecommerce store. Things You'll LearnResourcesBonus ➤ Show opening. ➤ Overview of Payoneer and what Payoneer does; ➤ Discussion of the challenges that sellers face when selling internationally; ➤ Discussion of why should customers use Payoneer instead of simply using Amazon or other payment processors to facilitate foreign currency payments; ➤ Overview of the platforms Payoneer works with; ➤ Explanation of whether Payoneer is available worldwide; ➤ Discussion of how are sellers able to access/spend their money; ➤ Explanation of what denominated currency accounts can customers get; ➤ Where you can sign up to Payoneer; ➤ Close. Resources ➤ Sign up through my Payoneer affiliate link and we both get $50* when you sign up today. Bonuses ➤ Sign up through my Payoneer affiliate link and we both get $50* when you sign up today. Episode Transcript David De Souza: Today I'm here with Doreen from Payoneer. Today we're going to discuss a big challenge eCommerce sellers experience when growing their business internationally, namely payments and dealing with foreign currency. I'm really pumped to bring this episode to you guys as it can seriously save you a lot of time and a lot of money. Welcome Doreen. Doreen: Thanks for having me, David. David De Souza: Thanks for coming on the show. Before we dive in, why don't you tell us a little bit about Payoneer and what Payoneer does? Doreen: Sure. Payoneer is a leader in facilitating cross border payments with 12 offices worldwide and over a thousand employees, payoneer empowers global commerce by enabling companies such as Amazon, Airbnb, Upwork to distribute payments to over four million professionals across the globe. As well, Payoneer is regulated and compliance in many countries and due to our really wide global footprint, we offer support 24 seven in over 35 languages. David De Souza: That's awesome. I want to even just highlight there, I mean that's great to see that you guys work with big companies and first off, sellers shouldn't be worried about using Payoneer and you're a credible organization. Doreen: Exactly. Yep. David De Souza: Let's dive in and why don't you tell us a little bit about the common challenges that sellers face when selling internationally? Doreen: Sellers face several very significant challenges when selling internationally. Firstly, localization. When selling into new markets, sellers need to translate their listings and do a lot of research to understand which products sell best in each markets in order to achieve success. Secondly, logistics, obviously sellers need to find a reliable logistics company that is willing to ship internationally to fulfillment centers or directly to shoppers at a sustainable cost. Thirdly, we have compliance. When sellers reach a certain threshold in their sales volume, they're required to comply with local tax authority requirements, whether this be sales tax in the U.S. or VAT in Europe. And lastly, and the reason why we're here today, we have payments, which is a really big challenge for sellers. Sellers need to find a provider who can handle incoming payments from marketplaces, outgoing payments to suppliers and service providers, often across multiple currencies and platforms. This is where Payoneer comes in. David De Souza: Yeah, no, I mean it's one of the reasons why I wanted to have you guys on the show and I can't stress it. Something that may be a lot of people don't think about using services like Payoneer can actually save you so much money. It's ridiculous. Especially if you're cashing out regularly. Want to really highlight that to my listeners. But Doreen, I mean tell us in your words, why should customers use Payoneer instead of simply using Amazon or other payment processes to facilitate foreign currency payments? Doreen: That's a great question, David. Payoneer offers a complete end to end solution for online sellers worldwide. Sellers can both receive payments and make payments in multiple currencies. For instance, sellers can connect their Payoneer account to, let's say Amazon, receive their earnings and then use these funds to pay out their suppliers, logistics companies and VAT obligations all from one account, which is super, super easy and efficient and as you said, very cost effective. As far as currency exchange rates go, Payoneer offers competitive rates with full transparency in regards to fees. Currency exchange fees are only charged when withdrawing funds from Payoneer to a local bank account in another currencies. Now it's also important to mention that as your sales volume increases on these different marketplaces, we reduce your exchange fee. David De Souza: Yeah, I mean, I seriously was blown away when I first started selling and realized just how much could be saved for literally pretty much doing nothing more. I know I've said it before, but I really want to make it abundantly clear that you can say both time and money, but let's move on and Doreen, tell us a little bit more about the platforms that Payoneer does work with. Doreen: Sure. Payoneer has a network of over 3000 partners including global e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon and Rakuten. But we also serve professionals and freelancers and work with marketplaces such as Upwork, Fiverr, and many more of the well known marketplaces that you've heard of. David De Souza: Just to clarify, do you only work with companies, individuals? How does that work? Doreen: We get that question a lot. Payoneer serves a variety of companies and professionals from many different fields. It's really important to highlight that Payoneer services are directed at receiving and sending business-related funds and is not a personal e-wallet. David De Souza: Okay. Does that mean that you need to be a company or how does that tend to work? Can sole traders, for example, use Payoneer? Doreen: Sure. You don't have to be a company, but you have to use Payoneer for a business related payment transactions. You can sign up as an individual or a company. David De Souza: Okay, perfect. I think that's a crucial distinction to make. How can Payoneer serve sellers selling on platforms such as Amazon or Walmart? Doreen: Payoneer offers its users with virtual collection accounts in several different currencies. These accounts serve as sort of a virtual bank account. For instance, sellers may get access to a U.S. Dollars collection account, which they can provide as their local USD account in Amazon seller central. And this is far simpler than trying to open a physical bank account in the U.S. David De Souza: Would it be fair to say that Payoneer available worldwide? Doreen: Yes. Payoneer is available in over 200 countries and territories. David De Souza: Okay, cool. I guess one of the big ones is how exactly are sellers able to access and spend their money? Doreen: Yeah, that's definitely a big one. There are a few different ways in which Payoneer users can access their money. Once payments are received into a user's Payoneer account, the user can pay another Payoneer user for free. For instance, whether it to be a logistics company, a VAT compliance company, an optimization software that the seller is using. If that company has a Payoneer account, the transaction is free. The user can also pay the tax authorities for free. We spoke about to the big challenge of compliance, so this really helps sellers kind of solve this problem in some senses. When it comes to the payment aspect, the user can withdraw funds to their local bank account in their local currency and apply for a Payoneer MasterCard and use the funds in store, online or at ATMs. David De Souza: Okay, just wanted to touch on two of those points because I know a lot of my users who say are based in the U.S. and want to maybe pay HMRC in the UK, their tax obligation or vice versa. Is that something that Payoneer can help sellers from either side of the pond pay their tax obligations then? Doreen: Sure. This is something that we offer. We do have a VAT product which is pretty self-serve and it's free. The seller will need to work with some sort of a VAT compliance company to register and file, but we can always help with the payment, so we can help the seller pay directly to the HMRC from their Payoneer account for free. David De Souza: Okay. The other issue or the other aspect of your product that I wanted to highlight, because I personally think this is really cool and solves a multitude of different issues. Tell us a little bit more about the Payoneer MasterCard. Is that just a standard MasterCard that you can use anywhere in the world? Doreen: Yep. It's just a standard MasterCard. David De Souza: Okay, perfect. Tell us a little bit more about the denominated currency accounts that customers can get. Doreen: Yes, so we're continually growing the currencies that are available, but currently we have, for eligible users, we have collection accounts in U.S. dollars, British pounds, euros, Japanese yen, Chinese yuan and Canadian dollars, and soon we will have Australian dollars as well. David De Souza: Oh, awesome. Then I guess that ties in perfectly with the launch of Amazon in Australia. Doreen: Exactly. David De Souza: Tell us more about how sellers can get started and a little bit about the application process. What would be the easiest way for them to get on top of that? Doreen: Sure. David has, you have all the information, you have a link, your listeners can sign up through this link. It's completely free to sign up and it takes around five to 10 minutes. There are only four steps in the signup process and once you sign up and start using our services, you can actually receive a bonus of $50. Because you're all coming through David and we work really closely with David, we obviously will provide you with the best service possible. We will make sure that we provide you with lower [inaudible] fees if needed. And that's all. It's very easy. David De Souza: Yeah, I personally use Payoneer and I think it's awesome. But guys, you can get $50. I highly recommend you to try it out. It is a great service and even for things like paying your tax obligations, the MasterCard and the better exchange rates, cannot recommend it enough. Now Doreen, I really want to thank you for coming on the show today. I know it actually has been a short, sharp and punchy podcast, but this for me has literally been one of the aspects in my business that has gone ahead and saved me thousands of thousands of pounds just because it's something that you don't even think about. I can't stress it enough. It's like when you go traveling overseas. People and banks don't really tell you about the foreign currency exchange rates, and Payoneer is doing a great service for eCommerce sellers and for that reason, I want to thank you so much for your time. It's been a pleasure and a big thank you to my listeners. If you found this useful, please, please, please leave me a review on iTunes.
29 minutes | Dec 4, 2019
BHP28 How to Get Ungated on Amazon with Karen Summer of Getungated.co.uk
How to Get Ungated In Restricted Amazon Product Categories Enjoyed this episode? Please leave us a review on Itunes. Listen to more Business Hacker Podcast Episodes here. NEVER MISS AN EPISODE SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES SUBSCRIBE ON STITCHER Karen Summer - GetUngated.co.uk. Episode Overview In Episode 28, I interview Karen Summer of Getungated.co.uk so you can learn the secrets of how to get ungated in those difficult restricted Amazon categories in order to expand your product offerings on Amazon platform. Getting ungated on Amazon platforms is the easiest and fastest way to grow your Amazon business and sell in product categories that have less competition which will allow you to make more profits. Transcript Things You'll LearnResourcesBonus Transcript David: This is episode 28… Intro: Discover the key components of business success as we hack the minds of successful entrepreneurs. Welcome to the Business Hacker Podcast. Here's your host, David De Souza. David: Today I'm here with Karen Summer of getungated.co.uk. And today we're going to explore the topic of Amazon brand ungating. Welcome, Karen. Karen Summer: Thanks for having me, it's great to be here, David. David: Thanks for coming on the show. So let's kick it off. Why don't you share a little bit about yourself and the success you've had as an Amazon and e-commerce seller? Karen Summer: Well I had an e-commerce business going back a few years, but got really excited when I started my Amazon business. Amazon is such a great platform on which to build a substantial business. Now I've got myself ungated in a few categories because I fancy selling in beauty and health and personal care and such like. And I found it really easy. And then I realized that I had a bit of a knack of knowing what Amazon was looking for in terms of ungating sellers. And from then on, I've been helping people get ungated. David: Yeah, it's definitely I'd say a knack, I know for myself when I started doing it, I had to run round to different warehouses trying to get different invoices, and it was a bit of a hassle. So it's good to have you on the show, and I guess inspiring to know that it is impossible. Before we dive in, why don't you tell us a little bit about what exactly is ungating, and why you think sellers should strongly consider ungating? Karen Summer: Well Amazon gates categories in order to be able to restrict which sellers are allowed to sell products in that category. Amazon has had a lot of issues recently with people starting seller accounts and taking the money and then not sending the products to the customers, or sending counterfeit goods and then closing their accounts and disappearing. So understandably, Amazon are looking to get much tougher, and get to know a lot more of the people that want to sell on their platform. Karen Summer: So new sellers are coming up against a lot of category gating, brand gating, and restrictions. And category ungating is the easiest of those to overcome. Getting ungated can have a massive effect on your business. Because it not only opens up a whole new section of products that you can sell, it helps lift restrictions in other areas too. For example, people get ungated in beauty and then suddenly find they can sell more in toys. Karen Summer: And getting ungated is all about giving Amazon a chance to get to know you better, and to start to trust you and realize that you're serious about building a stable business. Getting ungated isn't always the easiest of processes, we know that. But what you can pretty much guarantee is that it's not going to get any easier than it is today. It feels like every week the process changes a little bit. And I've not seen any of those changes make it easier for sellers. Karen Summer: And getting ungated in certain subcategories in the US, like topicals, or supplements, now comes with a $3,000 fee. Now there's no sign of that in Europe at the moment, but who knows whether that will come our way in the future. David: Yeah, no way, I actually didn't know that. I haven't been ungated in the States, and is that just a fee that you pay Amazon, or what sort of fee is that? Karen Summer: Yeah, it's just a fee you pay Amazon. Couple days after getting ungated you get a bill from Amazon. David: Oh, well, that's quite interesting to know. Especially I guess to see where Europe maybe heading, that's really cool to know. Karen Summer: Yeah, who knows, we never know whether things that start off in the US will come here, but a lot of them do, so it's just something to keep an eye on, to watch out for. David: Yeah, definitely. In what you just mentioned in that answer there, it seems that there's a lot of different product restrictions, does this tend to vary from country to country and what are the different types of product restrictions? Karen Summer: Okay, well there's three main types. There's category gating, brand gating, and then it's just general restrictions. Category gating is what we've talked about mainly today so far, and that's the one you've got the most control over as an Amazon seller. Karen Summer: Brand gating is when the brand have applied to Amazon's brand registry program, which means sellers aren't allowed to market those branded good without permission from the brand. Karen Summer: And then there are restrictions, and they're often not permanent restrictions, they're often because maybe a product has got a safety concern, or Amazon feel there are too many sellers, or they don't like a particular new seller and they want to check them out a little bit more before they let them sell that one particular product, rather than restrict them in the whole category. Karen Summer: But as I say, most restrictions are temporary, so it's always worth checking back if there's a particular product that you want to sell, because you may find in the weeks or the months ahead that that restriction's been lifted. David: Okay, interesting. And in terms of I guess the main restricted categories, why do you think … what are they, and why do you think this usually occurs? Karen Summer: Well the main UK gated categories are beauty, health and personal care, grocery, watches, and jewelry. They seem to be the most popular ones. But within each of those, and within some non-gated categories, there are gated subcategories as well. For instance, everyone can sell toys, that's an open category. But within that there are building blocks and infant toys, just to name a couple, that not all subcategories within that category are gated. So it's a little bit of a mine field to finding out which ones are and which ones aren't. Karen Summer: But getting a category ungated will have a little bit of effect on brand gating, but not very much, because that's obviously brands that have applied to be brand registry through Amazon. But it can have an effect on lifting restrictions and help get those pesky little things out of the way a little bit. David: I'm guessing it is possible to lift these restrictions then? Karen Summer: Well it is, but not directly. You can't apply to Amazon to have those restrictions lifted. You can get ungated in a different category, and then because Amazon trusts you a little bit more, that then means that some of those restrictions are lifted, but you can't specifically pick and choose which ones that you'd like lifted. David: Okay, and then say we're a new seller and we're approaching selling on Amazon for the first time. Do you have any tips or resources of how they can actually go about telling whether something is restricted to stop I guess a new seller going out and buying something then coming back and oh, no, this is restricted? Karen Summer: Yeah, if you're doing online arbitrage, you should absolutely check on your seller central before you buy any product. So check on Amazon, find the ASIN, put it in seller central, and if you can't sell it, it will come up and tell you that you can't sell it. So always make sure you do that. But when you're out on the go, there's an Amazon seller app that you can download. And then that will give you the same information that you'd be able to get from your seller central on your laptop or on your desktop. So then you can check and make sure that you can sell it, but you'll always need to, as a new seller particularly, make sure you check whether you can sell things before you buy them, definitely. David: And you'd say like … I know it may sound a bit complicated by what we've gone on, like it is actually quite easy to determine whether something is restricted or not from a new seller's perspective who may be worrying about this. Karen Summer: It's easy to find things … whether it's restricted in terms of whether you're gated or restricted from Amazon's point of view, yes, because that will come on the laptop or in your seller central account. But what's more difficult is to find out whether a product is a private label product, and whether therefore you're not allowed to sell it from that point of view, because that's not restricted on Amazon. So that is about a little bit of experience of recognizing what that might be. Karen Summer: For instance, if you find a deal that's a brilliant deal, and you can make lots of money on it, and there's no other FBA sellers, I would be really concerned about that, and you'd need to check it out. Because you may think that because Amazon tell you you can sell it, you're allowed to sell it, but that's not actually the case. Amazon only tell you what you can't sell in terms of their gating categories, not in terms of other people's private label products. So there's been a lot of people getting suspended because they don't realize that they've infringed somebody's copyright or whatever, and they're selling a product they're not allowed to sell. So you have to be really careful, so check it out. If you find a deal that looks amazing and there's no other sellers on it, look into it and find out why that is. It might be that you just found a great deal, but that's possibly a little bit unlikely, so you should check it out. Go and have a look at the person that's selling it, and check out the name. You'll often find that when you go to their storefront on Amazon, it will talk a bit about their brand, and then they make talk about a brand name that they own, and then you'll see that that brand name goes with that seller, and that therefore you're not allowed to sell it. Karen Summer: So that's something else to be really careful of that doesn't come up as an automatic restriction when you check a product on Amazon. David: Yeah, right, okay. And let's say you've decided that you want to get ungated, and there is restrictions there, do you have any recommendations as to when sellers should think about getting ungated? Like should they look at this on day one, or wait a few months? What's your opinions there? Karen Summer: Well Amazon won't ungate any new sellers until they've got a few sales on their account. We've talked about those sellers coming on and scamming people, and so Amazon will not consider any category ungating requests until you've got a few sales, and you've proved yourself a little bit. So definitely you need to get a few sales, but not loads of sales, maybe 10 or so, that will be absolutely fine. And what seems to trip a lot of people up when they get ungated as well, is because they've got maybe a private label product or something like that they want to sell that's maybe in beauty, and what they don't realize is that they need to sell some non-gated products before they can get ungated to go and sell their beauty product. Karen Summer: And I think the other mistake that sometimes, particularly private label sellers make, is that they use their private label invoices maybe from China or from wherever they're getting their products manufactured, and they try and use those for ungating, which doesn't work, or in my experience I've not seen that work. Not very often anyway. And you should always use local wholesalers or manufacturers for invoices for getting ungated. Karen Summer: And the best way to look at it is, is there's two completely separate processes. I think people mix them up together and think that because they're selling in a gated category, that all goes together with getting ungated and it doesn't. Getting ungated is essentially just a tick box exercise. And you've got to help the Amazon representative assessing your case tick all the boxes that's on their list to be able to say yes to you. And a local wholesaler is one of those boxes, and that helps get your application through. David: And just touching on one of your previous points you made, so just to make it abundantly clear, so say you've decided you want to go down the private label route, you don't want to do arbitrage, but say you're wanting to sell in a restricted category like beauty, you're saying that you actually probably need to demonstrate to Amazon that you can meet their criteria for selling items in a non-restricted category before making that initial application to the restricted category, is that right? Karen Summer: Yes, absolutely. You have to have some sales on your account before Amazon will let you get ungated or you'll just get declined. So absolutely, so you need to do a little of arbitrage, even if that's not your business model going forward and private label is your business model, you need to do a little bit of arbitrage first to get yourself a few sales and build up your trust level with Amazon first. David: Yeah, I think that's really handy, and that's already some more quality advice. And in terms of overall, general criteria, what in your experiences been the criteria that you need to meet to become ungated? Karen Summer: I think ultimately the things you absolutely have to have is you need to have a professional seller account. So if you're not paying somewhere around 30 pounds, or whatever that is in dollars, 45 or whatever it is, for your account every month, then you don't have a professional seller account, so you need to go and sort that out. You need to have a few sales on your account like we've talked about. And you need to have good metrics, as well. Karen Summer: If you're an FBA seller, I think I see people assume that because they're an FBA seller, they will have good metrics on their account, but that's not necessarily the case, because you can lose metrics on your account just by not replying to a customer's email, or just not even telling Amazon you didn't need to respond to a customer email, and that's enough to get your some red blocks on your account. If a customer emails and asks for something, or emails with something that you don't actually need a response with, you still need to go into your account and register that you don't need to respond to that customer, because that can affect it as well. David: And in your experience, once customers say they have gone down that path and they've gotten some bad metrics, and bad feedback from customers, do you believe that there's any way back for customers going ahead and then becoming ungated further down the line, like if they do demonstrate good conduct? Karen Summer: Yes, absolutely, you should never give up with ungating. Never, ever give up. Karen Summer: And a lot of the times as well, you can look at the feedback that you've got, because you're only … certainly as an FBA seller, not so much as a merchant fulfill, but as an FBA seller, if a customer has left you poor feedback and that feedback is about the product, you can contact Amazon and have that removed. Because that is not appropriate, what they're supposed to be giving you feedback on is your performance, and therefore that should all be good. David: Yeah, that was actually a really handy tip that I found when I launched my first private label product. I think I want to reiterate that point as well, I mean for me myself, it actually took me a couple of times to get ungated, and I think that's part of like you need to have the mindset, well, one as an entrepreneur, but even just to get ungated. I think that's great. Karen Summer: Yeah, you just don't quit. Amazon keep putting hoops there, you just keep jumping them. David: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. But what about in terms of common mistakes that you see sellers make when ungating? What are they? Karen Summer: I think on the whole they tend to forget about the basics. I think getting ungated, as we've talked about, can seem so complicated and overwhelming that people spend all their time focusing on all the high level stuff that they need to make sure is in place, then they forget to do the basics like just check that the address on the invoice matches the address that Amazon hold for them. And they forget the real basic things. You've got to make sure that all of the information that Amazon hold for you is on that invoice. So don't have a different address because you're staying at your girlfriend's that night, or whatever. Make sure that it all matches what Amazon hold for you, because that will trip you up, and it doesn't need to do. If you do all the hard work of sourcing your products and finding your wholesalers, to get tripped up on something, just an address or something simple like that, you've just spelt your name wrong or whatever, then that seems like a real shame. So it's those basics that people forget about. David: Yeah, and I think we'll jump ahead, I have a question for you on I suppose any minimum quantities or special types of retailers or invoices that you recommend. I know you've just mentioned having an address, so is there a special kind of invoice, or how does that tend to work in terms of what you need to provide Amazon in order to maximize your chance of getting ungated? Karen Summer: You need to provide them with invoices, not order confirmations. So if your wholesaler doesn't give you a proper invoice, you need to ring them up and ask them to give you an invoice. And it needs to state “invoice” at the top. It needs to have your name and address, and it needs to have the wholesaler's name and address. It needs to have the wholesaler's company number and VAT number. And then you should always make sure you check, there are a lot of wholesalers sell things in cases rather than individual products. So you always need to make sure that on the invoice it not only states how many cases you've bought, but how many items there are in that case. Because that can trip people up as well, because Amazon, if the wholesaler only puts that they've bought two cases, then there might be five products in each of those cases, but Amazon won't see that, they'll only see that you've bought two products, and therefore you'll get declined because you haven't bought the right amount for that particular invoice. David: Yeah, that's actually really smart, I didn't even think about that myself. And it may well have been one of the reasons why I could've got rejected. Karen Summer: Sorry about that. David: That's all good. In terms of legal structure, does the legal structure of your business you operate under make a difference to your chances of success in your experience? Karen Summer: Yes, absolutely. And we've talked about these changes that Amazon are making all the time to make it more difficult. And that's one that's happened recently. Up until a month or so ago, it didn't make much difference on ungatings whether you were a limited company or a sole trader. But Amazon are now making it much harder for sole traders, and they're giving them more hoops to jump through than they do the limited companies. Karen Summer: Now obviously having a limited company has tax and other considerations, so you should absolutely take advice from a professional, but just from an ungating point of view, as things stand at the moment, a limited company makes ungating easier, definitely. David: Whilst we're on the topic of invoices, does the quantity of products required to be purchased and the number of invoices change between when you're trading under a sole trader versus a company legal structure in order to become ungated? Karen Summer: Yeah, it's the number of invoices that changes, not the number of products that you need. So for instance, in beauty, and health and personal care, and grocery, in those three categories, the requirement is 10 products per category per invoice. But depending on your business structure, that will change how many invoices you need. Because if you've got a limited company and you've got a business bank account, and you're VAT registered, you can provide an awful lot of backup in terms of your application. So if that's the case, you'd get away with one invoice. But if you're a sole trader, still using a personal bank account, and you're not VAT registered, therefore you're going to need to buy more to prove to Amazon that you're serious, and you'd need to get three invoices. Karen Summer: So it changes based on not how many products you buy, but how many invoices that you need. David: Yeah, great, and I guess that tidies up what we need to look for in terms of items and products. What about suppliers, or where to purchase the goods from? Is there any guidance that you can provide that Amazon tends to look favorably? Do they tend to favor certain types of suppliers? Karen Summer: They definitely do. The suppliers that they will approve changes on a regular basis, so you should always do your research from scratch and not just assume because somebody used a wholesaler last month, you can use them this month. You should always check, but you can do that. If you find a wholesaler that you think might be good, and we'll go through what to look for in a second, but you can then contact Amazon and give them the name of the wholesaler and ask them if they will accept that wholesaler. Amazon won't give you the names of the wholesalers to use, but if you contact them with a name, they will usually say yes or no. Karen Summer: But what you're looking for is a proper wholesaler and not a cash and carry type place. So you can't use Bookers, or Makros, or Costco or anywhere like that. You should always go onto the wholesaler's website and make sure you can see quite easily that they sell to trade only, because that will be something that really helps Amazon. And you need to be able to set up an account to purchase, because obviously that's how wholesalers work in terms of having accounts with their people. Karen Summer: But also make sure you check that the wholesalers, what their minimum order quantity is. Now it doesn't matter in terms of your ungating application, Amazon don't care what your minimum order quantity at the wholesaler is. But for you it will make a massive difference, because some of them have got many hundreds of pounds, or in the US sometimes it can be many thousands of pounds that you need to spend before that wholesaler will work with you. So make sure you check that out from your point of view as well. Karen Summer: But yeah, make sure it's a proper wholesaler that … you could even contact them, I always contact wholesalers before I work with them and say to them, “This is what I need. I need an invoice, I need it like this, this is the format I need, this is how I'm able to place all these orders, I want different invoices for each one,” because remember, you've got to make sure you've got the right number of invoices. So I always find a wholesaler first and make sure that they can meet what I need before I'd recommend them to a client. David: Yeah, I think that's really cool. I mean, just thinking back on what you just said, I actually got ungated a couple of years ago and used Makro. But I think it's really interesting, even the trend that we've sort of seen with how much Amazon tends to change, but it would seem to me, as like I guess an anecdote or a general tip to someone who listens that if it is going to go down the route of having to pay $3,000 to get ungated, it seems like people should be using your advice, and we'll touch on your service later on, because it definitely is probably a worthwhile investment to save the $3,000 that is probably going to come in the not so distant future. Karen Summer: Yeah, definitely. It's something that you can do yourself, you can research and learn how to do it, and you can put the effort in in finding the wholesalers and copying and pasting and finding all the products that you need. Because that's what you need to do when you've found a wholesaler that you think is good, you need to find products that are on Amazon that you can use for ungating. So you need do all that copying and pasting and find them and make sure they're in the right category, and they are what you need for your ungating application. Karen Summer: Which is hugely time consuming, it takes a long time. And there's a lot of people out there who would argue with me and say you don't need to do that, you can just Photoshop invoices. But that's not something we would ever recommend that you do, because you're risking your Amazon seller account by Photoshopping your invoices. And you'd spend … well, I would, I'd spend my whole life looking over my shoulder wondering when Amazon's suspension ax was going to come. Karen Summer: So personally, I'd always say take that time and trouble and do it properly, and do it well first time. David: Yeah, definitely, I agree with that. And it only takes one strike and then that potential source of income, Amazon income, can be crippled and it's just not worth it in my opinion. Karen Summer: No, definitely, quite right, because they're not always … if people get suspended, it can be really difficult and really expensive to try and recreate your account again and get back in with Amazon, it can be very expensive, many thousands of pounds are spent on fees with consultants trying to reinstate your account. David: Yeah, you're definitely not wrong there. And I was just thinking, we've talked about domestic people like UK residents trying to get ungated in the UK, but do you have any tips for sellers who are wanting to get ungated in overseas markets? Do you work with any people that do that, and do you have any advice for how to overcome that given that you've got the physical barrier of not being in the same country? Karen Summer: Yes, it definitely makes it much of a challenge. It's not a challenge you can't get over, but it definitely makes it more of a challenge. Because you need to try and find local wholesalers, or local manufacturers that you can use. And I've often found actually it's easier to find manufacturers that you can work with if you're working overseas rather than wholesalers. That often makes it a little bit difficult. Karen Summer: You need to think about things as well, like if you're going to buy your products, you've got to have them delivered somewhere. And it needs to be in that country, because you can't have them delivered elsewhere, most wholesalers wouldn't be interested in shipping internationally. So you've got to think about whether you need to set up a prep center, or what you need to do in that local country to make sure you've got somewhere for your products to be sent. Karen Summer: And you need to think about how you're going to pay for them, because that's another big issues. You'd think that in 2017 that international payments was really quite easy, but actually it's not. It's really not, and that's something that stumps a lot of people because the wholesalers just want local money, they don't want to be worrying about back payments nor anything else. And even credit cards. If they're not registered in the … for instance, if you're trying to get ungated in the US, trying to find someone that will work with you because you've got a UK or a whatever credit card can be really difficult. You can look at Pioneer accounts and things like that. But you need to think about things like that as well, and how you're going to pay for those things. David: Yeah, it certainly seems like it can get quite complicated or complex, especially if you're not based in the country you're trying to get ungated in. Karen Summer: Yeah, it definitely makes it difficult, more difficult, but nothing's impossible. And you've just go to keep jumping those hoops and if you're determined to do it then you'll achieve it, you've just go to … every issue that you come against, you've just got to find a way round it, or under it, or through it or whatever it takes. You've just got to keep pushing forward. David: Yeah, that's totally true. So tell me, how can you help customers become ungated? Karen Summer: Well we help customers on two different ways. We have a 16 module video course, which teaches people how to do it themselves. So we go through all the main UK categories and we screenshot the whole process of all of them, and a couple of subcategories that are popular as well, and especially in the toy ones, we do those as well. So we go through the whole thing, we give the list of wholesalers, who to use, which we keep updated all the time, because as I've already mentioned that changes regularly. So we keep it all updated. And we change the wholesalers, and we change the process as it changes, so it's a constantly changing thing, but so that it's always up to date. Karen Summer: So there's that, so we teach people how to do it themselves. Or if people just don't want to spend the time, because not everyone has got the time to spend getting ungated, it can be hugely time consuming. And we also offer a personalized service where I will do all the work for our clients, and I personally will get them ungated. They have to do a little bit of shopping, but apart from that, pretty much I do it all for them. So we offer both of those services to help people get ungated. David: Yeah, and I personally think that's great and at the end of the day, time is money and you want to spend your time doing profitable things for your business, so I think that's great that you also offer that bespoke, do it for you service. Karen Summer: Yeah, definitely. It's the way to grow a business big, isn't it, is to outsource the things that you can outsource. Because you can't do everything yourself, and if you're going to try and do everything yourself then your business is never going to be as big as it could be. David: In terms of assisting customers, so do you assist customers in getting ungated across all Amazon platforms, or you have specializations just in the UK market? Karen Summer: We do help international customers as well, we have helped quite a few, but we do specialize in the UK market. David: Okay, great, and what sort of success have your clients had? Karen Summer: With our UK clients, we have 100% success rate. So so far, all perfect. David: Yeah, you definitely can't ask for anything better than that. So tell me, what's the best way for my listeners to contact you? Karen Summer: Well I think people should go to our website, which is www.getungated.co.uk. And on there they'll find our email address and our phone number. And we'd obviously love to help them grow their Amazon business. But also what they'll find on there is a blog with lots of free information, and there's a Facebook group as well. And they can get lots and lots of free information to help them in that process, and to help them get ungated. David: That's awesome. Karen, that actually brings us to the end of today's Business Hacker session. Whilst it's been a shorter one, I actually think it's been great. Like even the little tips from calling up Amazon and saving yourself the time of going and wasting time shopping to be rejected, I think it's been phenomenal. So I want to really thank you for coming on the show, it's been a pleasure having you. And a big thank you to all my listeners. If you found this useful, please, please, please leave me a review on iTunes. Karen Summer: Aw, thanks so much, it's been great. Outro: The Business Hacker podcast has come to a close. To access the free training or discounts offered by today's guest, head to www.ecommerceguider.com/businesshacker, or join our Facebook group community by searching E-commerce Guider. ➤ Introduction ➤ Karen shared about her background. ➤ Karen explained why getting ungated is so important. ➤ Karen explained the different types of product restrictions and whether they vary from country to country. ➤ I asked Karen why category restrictions occur? ➤ Karen provided an overview of the main restricted categories and explained if it’s possible to lift these restrictions. ➤ Karen gave some recommendations to sellers about when to get ungated. ➤ I asked Karen about the criteria one should meet to become ungated. ➤ Karen mentioned the common mistakes she sees sellers make when ungating. ➤ I asked Karen if the legal structure of a business makes a difference to your chances of ungating success. ➤ Karen gave her recommendations on the minimum quantities, special types of retailers, invoices and best suppliers. ➤ I asked Karen how can she help customers who are based outside he country who wished to be ungated and whether she assists customers with getting ungated across all Amazon platforms. ➤ Karen explained the success she's had for her clients. ➤ Karen provided the best way to contact her. ➤ End. Resources You can get in contact with Karen and view her services here. Bonuses No bonuses left by this guest.
49 minutes | Oct 22, 2017
BHP32 – Tactical Arbitrage Automated Online Arbitrage Sourcing Software For Amazon FBA
BHP32 – Tactical Arbitrage Online Arbitrage Sourcing Software For Amazon FBA Enjoyed this episode? Please leave us a review on Itunes. Listen to more Business Hacker Podcast Episodes here. NEVER MISS AN EPISODE SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES SUBSCRIBE ON STITCHER Tactical Arbitrage with Alex Moss Episode Overview In Episode 32, we interview Alex Moss creator of Tactical Arbitrage. Tactical Arbitrage is a revolutionary automated sourcing software that will scan retailer listings to automatically find you profitable deals to resell on Amazon. Tactical Arbitrage now comes with an advanced custom store scan feature that allows you to add any store you want to scan. Alex has kindly given you a 10-day trial to try out this software. Simply use the code “TACTICAL10” at checkout to trial his software. Please note that the 14-day trial has been reduced to a 10-day trial. Get your Tactical Arbitrage trial here. For a more in-depth review of FBA Wizard Pro and Tactical Arbitrage make sure to check our review here. Transcript Things You'll LearnResourcesBonus Show Transcript David: Hi guys. This is episode 33, bringing it to you after a short little break where I've decided to change the format of the podcast to once a month instead of weekly. Really excited to bring to you this episode with Alex Moss of Tactical Arbitrage, automated sourcing software. It's incredible, and to make matters even better, Alex has even given you guys a free bonus trial period, extension of seven days, bringing it to 14 days for you to trial if you use the code HACKER14. Hope you enjoy. Announcer: Discover the key components of business success as we hack the minds of successful entrepreneurs. Welcome to the Business Hacker Podcast. Here's your host, David De Souza. David: Today I'm here with Alex Moss, owner of Tactical Arbitrage. And today we're going to explore the topic of automated product sourcing for your Amazon arbitrage business. Welcome Alex. Alex Moss: G'day David, how you going, mate? David: Yeah, good. Thanks mate. It's really good to have an Aussie on the show. So let's kick it off. Why don't you share a little bit about yourself and the success you've had as an entrepreneur and e-commerce seller? Alex Moss: That's a pretty big question. I wouldn't say that I was always successful as an entrepreneur. I've certainly had my fingers in a lot of pies and I never stopped hustling for one of a better term. And one project led to another. And traditionally I come from a video production background, it's essentially producing content for television stations and corporate entities and that kind of thing. And at some point I started to get heavily into the sales side of life and then combining the production side of things with the online sales kind of things. It sort of just evolved into creating a tool to allow online selling to happen in a more fluid manner. And so my producing background kind of came into play at that point and putting all of the pieces into play and into position to create a chess board, which ultimately became Tactical Arbitrage David: Yeah. Right. And so now I understand you've created this amazing piece of software. I mean, just before we get there, curious though, this is one of my favorite parts about interviewing entrepreneurs. Do you for example have a coding background or how did that come about creating Tactical Arbitrage? Alex Moss: No, I've got a production background. So there's a pretty good book about The Seven Secrets of Successful People, and I sort of read that as a young guy, and one of the main points from that was along the lines of surround yourself with people who are smarter than you in certain areas. And so I'm quite adept at putting the right people in the right positions with the big plan in mind. So I tend to sort of know what I hope to achieve and I know exactly where I want the end goal to be and how I want things to function. But if you asked me to write a piece of PHP code to make the software do something that it doesn't currently do, I'd certainly have to draw on some advice from the circle of experts that I've surrounded myself with. David: I think that's really cool. I mean, I've actually looked at doing similar things myself and even for the people who are looking at this or listening to this podcast just for Amazon advice, it's pretty cool to see that you've gone out and created this empire with Tactical Arbitrage and helped so many people, but I suppose that could be a podcast in itself. Alex Moss: It's been a journey that's for sure. Every day is just a huge chaotic juggle. We've got a newborn in the house at the moment. And this little adorable one month old girl and she's quite demanding of my attention. So I'm ping ponging around the house, making sure that I spend those quality half hours or hours, just spending time with that little one and then I walk into the next room and it's just this maelstrom of email answering and giving instructions to my developers or working the front of house, which I guess is the Facebook group and having to work with the Facebook group, which is growing quite large now and having to manage content in there. Alex Moss: And then there's multiple other arms, some that I don't have people in place for that I wear the hats, a bit of a background in marketing. And so I tend to wear a lot of the marketing hats as well. And yeah, it's this big juggling world at the moment. And to top it all off, we decided to get renovations done upstairs at the same time. So it's chaos, but every single day I like to know that I've ended up a couple of steps further along than I was the day before, and one way or another we tend to make progress that way. David: That's also that I wanted to get your time, because I'm sure you probably also don't have much sleep with a newborn as well. Alex Moss: No, it's all good. It's not my first rodeo, so I'm okay with it. And this will be our last one too. So a couple of sleepless nights isn't going to hurt. People say that newborns are hard work, but it's really when they get to the toddler phase that it becomes absolutely crazy. David: Okay. I'll keep that- Alex Moss: A lot of people out there will relate to that. David: Yeah. I haven't started my own family, so I'll keep that in mind. Let's kick it off. So I mean, tell us a bit more about what is automated sourcing software and how does it work? Alex Moss: Okay, so essentially when I started selling on Amazon FBA, it's not the first place that I started to sell online, but it's certainly where I could see the largest potential for profit, and so I was very interested in expanding into this space. And when I started selling in the Amazon space, I realized that there was no good method of finding products that you wanted to sell on Amazon. And the concept behind sourcing in an automated manner is to take that manual process out of it. The original method was really this, you'd have to go to a website, for example, let's use Argos as an example. You'd go to Argos and you would start searching through their current sale items or clearance items and you'd be cutting and pasting those titles. You'd take the titles across to Amazon, you paste that information in there and then you'd have a look at the two products and the two results to see A, if there was any profitability in this and B, if the items matched. And there had to be an exact match. Alex Moss: You couldn't exactly sell something which was the wrong size. Like you couldn't sell a 200 gram item that was actually a 500 gram item on Amazon or different packaging for instance. So the match had to be perfect and there had to be profit. So all of this appraisal had to be done inside your own head before making the decision to purchase this product and then sell it on Amazon. Now, that's a lot of moving parts. And that is just for one decision. And you could be sitting there. And I was, I was sitting there all day long analyzing one clearance section on one website and I'd contact my friends who had got me into Fulfillment by Amazon and I'd said to them, “Okay, so what tools are out there to speed this process up?” And they'd go, “Well, no you don't. There's not really any sort of … you've got to just kind of know where the good sales are and where the good clearance items are, know where to look.” Alex Moss: And I said, “Well, it seems like there's a gaping hole in this market that needs to be filled because this is painstaking. This is mind numbing to go through this. There is so many other things I could be doing with my day than sitting here cutting and pasting titles all day long.” So I wanted to automate it. So I began by creating this software for myself and it was purely for myself and for my own profit reasons, for selfish reasons, I guess. And as it evolved and it became more robust and more functional, and it was starting to actually look at entire categories and return me profitable items in seconds instead of hours, I started to realize that it might not just be me who would benefit from this software. Alex Moss: So I know I digressed a little bit there, but at the end of the day you sort of said, what is automated product sourcing? And the answer to that is, it's a software tool that goes out and examines vast quantities of products, compares them to Amazon in as accurate as a manner as possible and tries to make that match, does all of the calculations for you and spits out a list of the potentially profitable items that you may want to then further analyze and then possibly buy and add to your Fulfillment by Amazon account. So that's kind of how the entire automated software system works in a very basic level because over time it got a lot more advanced. David: Okay. And so just to clarify now, when you are doing this, because I know down the line when people will listen to this, they'll think that you probably just did this in Australia when Amazon Australia is open. But I mean, I guess for people like international listeners and that sort of thing, were you doing this on the US Amazon, UK Amazon or how did you do this? Alex Moss: So I sold originally on the United States platform. Amazon Australia is not officially launched yet. They have actually as of now sent me all the registration details because they're looking to disrupt Australia in a pretty big way. So I've been given all of the registration. I now have a Seller Central account in Australia, but the products are not live yet on Amazon. So that's very exciting for Australia. And in the next possible six weeks, hopefully for the Christmas run, we're going to start to see Amazon Australia evolve. Alex Moss: But my original sojourn into this was a few years ago on Amazon USA and I realized that there was some stumbling blocks doing it from Australia. My credit card company decided that every time I made a purchase in the United States that therefore I must be having my card stolen. So I had to continually chase after those guys and say, “No, no, no, come on guys. I've told you this a hundred times. My card is not stolen, I'm doing Fulfillment by Amazon.” And there were little hurdles like that and we had to use a prepping and shipping house in the States, but there is certainly a path to do that. And actually I'd recommend anybody who's in the United Kingdom who feels like it's impossible to work in that USA space have a think about it because there certainly is a path there using FBA prep and ship houses and just managing a system that you can do it. And from there of course I did branch into the United Kingdom. I set up my VAT with, is it the HMRC or the HRMC? I can never get that right. David: HMRC, you got it. Alex Moss: They made me jump through a bunch of hoops and submit a quarterly report. But at the end of the day, it wasn't necessarily that difficult to establish and operate accountant in the UK and certainly there was less saturation than America and definitely profit to be had there too. Alex Moss: So I've sold in both platforms and I've got colleagues now that sell all over the world and I'm certainly looking to branch into Australia. I actually sell a lot less these days. And one of the reasons I sell a lot less, and I should be honest and say that when Australia comes, I feel like it's my home turf. I can play in my home turf, but as the software kind of got released a lot more heavily, and I'm aware that people feel like I have access to people's accounts and people's data and that kind of thing. And I've got very strict confidentiality rules. I never look in a person's account, for instance, unless it's a bug report or somebody needs me to check why something isn't functioning properly in their account, that kind of reason. Alex Moss: So I kind of eased off my selling in the United States and the UK, so nobody could ever turn around and say, hey, Alex might be pinching our products or whatever. You know what I mean? So it's like if I've got access to all this data, then it's probably better if I just do my thing and make the software really good. And I've got to say, it's very time consuming too to make this software good. For me to sell in Australia, I'm going to have to employ staff because I certainly don't have the time to sit there managing this as much as I once upon a time did. David: Well. I guess you're right. That's just a whole another business you're really going to have to run and I mean, that takes up time as well. I guess there is a few different alternatives in the market from Tactical Arbitrage such as FBA Wizard and OAXray to name a few. What tends to be the difference between the softwares and why would you recommend someone use Tactical Arbitrage as opposed to one of the other softwares? Alex Moss: So my knee jerk reaction to whenever anyone asks me that question and I've got to say, I do get asked that question a bit. I kind of try and maintain a respect for the other people in the space. I mean, some of them came after me. OAXray for example, they released when I was about two thirds of the way through the creation of Tactical Arbitrage and I must admit that day I wrote to my developers and I went, “We took too long. This is terrible somebody else has released a similar tool.” And I regrouped and I said, “Well look, theirs is a Chrome extension. Mine is already well and truly a web platform. It kind of is two different things even though there's a similar sort of an output.” But nevertheless, I try and tell people most of these softwares have got a free trial, like a seven day trial and you can usually go in there. And why don't you run the exact same scan in each of these accounts and kind of see what results you get and whether you like or have a nice feel for the platform and whether that platform is for you. SIDEBAR: If you're looking for a comparison of Tactical Arbitrage and more we have a guide to help you decide between FBA Wizard vs Tactical Arbitrage here. Alex Moss: Ultimately, I'm not starved for customers, and I don't need to do the hard sell, so I want the members to be satisfied that the platform that they're using is best suited to their flow and what works for them. Some people prefer to use a Chrome extension and do that clicking on each page. I personally I'm going to be biased and say that I enjoy using my web platform mostly because I created it with myself in mind and it just so happens that people also enjoy using it. I don't really get into the myriad of other softwares that are out there and their whistles and bells. All I know is that I keep my head down, and my bum up and I just keep on adding features and I keep on listening to my members and what they want me to add to Tactical Arbitrage to make it better. And somewhere along the way people are happy with that. Alex Moss: So the answer to your question is, I would recommend you go and play with the trials and see what works for you. I certainly have a trial there and I'm more than welcome you to come and expend every hour of the seven day trial. In fact, what I might do, David, is for your podcast listeners, I might organize for you say a 14 day trial, which we can discuss before we wrap this up, and I'll get you a code by the end of this podcast that you can give members a 14 day trial. That way if they're wanting to compare between different softwares, they can have a solid couple of weeks with mine just to see whether or not it's there kind of thing. If it's something that they enjoy using. But I'm here, I'm on Facebook all the time, and if you start using it and you go, well, hang on a minute, I'd really like you to include some more VAT calculations or did you call it VAT or VAT? David: I call it VAT, but I think the UK people call it VAT to be honest. So call it what you like. Alex Moss: All right. Okay, cool. I mean, it is on my job list, for example, to include more VAT style calculations in there, a more robust features so that there's actually a column which does all of the calculations and spits out what your actual profit will be after the 20% is taken on both ends. So that is on the cards and let's say you start using it and you think you'd really like me to push that up the ladder a little bit. I'm really accessible. People message me every single day and I try and get to every single person. So there's no big closed door policy here for the most part. If you've got a question or a request, you can always reach out to me. But yeah, I can definitely get your podcast listeners a 14 day trial. In fact, I'll come up with the code right now. Why don't we do HACKER14. We can talk about that at the end, but just remember that code, HACKER14. Alex Moss: I'll integrate that into my system so that if any of your podcasts listeners sign up and use the code HACKER14 that they'll get a 14 day trial instead of a regular seven day trial. David: Mate, that's perfect and thank you very much. I'm sure that'll benefit my listeners and I think that's actually a really great piece of advice; test each of the softwares and see what results they get and what works for you. I mean, it's pretty pragmatic and awesome. So I guess we've talked a little bit about Tactical Arbitrage previously but give us a main overview of the features that are, I guess, the high level features that it tends to do, the software. Alex Moss: Originally, it was an Online Arbitrage tool exclusively. And so what that means is what we already discussed. You would go out and you would have a look at say Argos or Tesco or one of the many stores that are out there. And there's well and truly over 130 stores for the UK on there and 600 stores globally if you wanted to branch into other markets such as United States or Canada or even in the European market. Now, we've got Germany and we're just releasing a bunch of stores for Spain, Italy, France, and there's a new integration coming soon, which is going to work with the European Fulfillment network so that you can basically work out where you want to sell based on the price that you are buying it for within the part that you're in. So that's going to be cool. Alex Moss: So what we did is we originally started with an Online Arbitrage tool, and then we started building upon that. First we made the Online Arbitrage component more robust so that there's a lot more data you can work with. We integrated with a very well known tool called Keeper. And we speak to the owner of Keeper every few days in relation to particular integrations that they use in their Chrome extension. A Keeper is a tool that works alongside Amazon to let you know a historical perspective of sales, current sales rank, average sales rank over time. We started integrating more and more features, not just with Keeper but with other APIs as well. And they all sort of came together and then there was extra columns for 30 day ranks. Then we added in library search where if you wanted to just exclusively sell books, there's an entire section in Tactical Arbitrage on selling books. Alex Moss: Then we added in Amazon flips. If you wanted to buy from Amazon, send it to your house and then wait till Amazon price goes up and then send it back into Amazon and sell it there again, we implemented a tool which would let you know whether or not there would be profitable deals in doing that. We implemented something really cool called reverse search. What that does is you can insert a list of Amazon and the product code for Amazon ASIN so you can insert a list of ASINs or ASINs and it will actually go through and have a look at all of the stores that we have got in our software and tell you whether or not maybe Tesco is got that on sale at the moment and there is profit. So you're basically reversing it. Alex Moss: You're actually looking at Amazon products and it'll tell you which of the stores currently have that exact same product and whether or not there's any profit. Then we also added in wholesale because we got a big bunch of pressure from the wholesale community going well, the tool is working really well, but I'm the kind of guy who just goes to my wholesaler, asks them for an Excel spreadsheet of all of their products and then I want to do something with that spreadsheet and see whether I can sell their products on Amazon. Alex Moss: It's a really sensible model and a lot of people are doing it, and some people prefer to just do Online Arbitrage and some people prefer to do a combination of OA and wholesale and book selling. And with Tactical Arbitrage, I wanted to make it so that you could do all these things and do them in a way that was profitable. So we also implemented that you can run all of these scans simultaneously. You can actually run a product search scan, a reverse search scan, a wholesale search scan, Amazon flip and a library scan all simultaneously. That way if you've got TA running at full force, you're developing potentially five income streams at once. Now, some people even go as far again as getting virtual assistants to run certain components of TA so that the big machine is always grinding away and the juggernaut is always finding you deals and they expand their software in that way, thus expand their business in that manner. Alex Moss: So there's a lot of ways you can use TA. It started as a little baby Online Arbitrage tool with the main stores like a Walmart and the Target and a few others, and it's now this 600 site. I guess I use the term juggernaut because sometimes it feels like that to me. I wake up and I feed the juggernaut with another feature and then the day gets away from me and I do it all again tomorrow kind of thing. Alex Moss: It's so much more robust now and we're adding new stuff all the time. We're implementing some really cool stuff soon. There's an algorithm coming which solves the problem that every sourcing software has, and that is title searching. So title searching is never going to be as good as universal product code searching. In the UK, I don't think it's called a UPC. I think it's called an EAN. Now what that is, it's essentially the barcode on the product. Now, some of our stores, some of the domains in our system, will use the UPC or the EAN to cross check the product against Amazon. Now, you compare a 13 digit number against a 13 digit number and if those two numbers match, then you know you've got a matching product. Alex Moss: So it's really cool when we get a store which has got the EAN. We can use that to make sure we get very accurate matches over at Amazon. Now, the remainder of the stores use what's called title matching. Now, sometimes a title at a store is really solid. It's a long title phrase like it might be Nike, Air Jordan, such and such style, this size, red, et cetera. There'll be so much information in the title that it's still a perfect match when it compares to Amazon. Alex Moss: Now, other times though, you'll get really terrible titles at the source site, which might be like dog bowl. Now, when it goes to look at dog bowl on Amazon it's not going to find the correct item. So we've developed many different systems over time to minimize and mitigate those mismatch items for those titles because they drive me personally crazy. First of all, we did a UPC only setting where you could basically just only show items with an EAN. That doesn't really solve the problem though. That just means you're going to get good results and only see good results when you scan sites that have EAN. So with the title searches, we then implemented a system where users could submit when something was a mismatch and or fix that mismatch. So that would go through and diligently put the correct item into the system and that would change the item to be an accurate item throughout the entire network. Alex Moss: So this is really cool, right? So we're suddenly started to get lots and lots and lots of accurate items that were once inaccurate all through the system, and that's been really effective. But since then I've come up with a new algorithm and we've spent 11 months on this so far. We came up with this mid last year and I've been working on it with a team of developers since late last year and the algorithm is going to be a complete rewrite of the title matching. And when it's released, I'll tell you what the special secret sauce is, but there's a special secret sauce that goes into this as well that is going to be indisputably changing the accuracy of title matches as they currently exist in the space. Alex Moss: So I'm excited about that because we're at the 90 something percent. My guys are totally confident that it's ready. I've seen all the tests, I'm blown away. What would once be a bad match, that dog bowl, for instance, that I talked about earlier, that dog bowl will probably now match. So I can't really say much more about it, but that's one of the key features that's coming that I'm super excited about. Alex Moss: And at the end of the day. I know that I've talked about that feature a little bit much, but it's all about accuracy and speed. So speed, we've well and truly sourced out. We've got speed going really nicely. We've got a nice integrated caching feature where we actually run on the backs of people's scans before you, and we can cache and we can get data really quickly if somebody else has scanned that recently. And it only reverts to a slightly slower scan when nobody has searched that before you. So speed is cracking along right now. But accuracy, I've always wanted to improve that and so I'm really stoked that the very next thing that's coming is an accuracy improvement because I feel like that when those two worlds collide, the speed and the accuracy, it's going to be a really exciting playing field. Alex Moss: I didn't have a good estimated sales algorithm in there prior to now, and I didn't want to release something which was just a basic mathematics equation that didn't rarely hit the accurate numbers. So we've been also creating in a side project, a very, very robust estimated sales feature for both the United States and the United Kingdom so that about the same time as the new accuracy algorithm comes into play, the estimated sales column will enter the software as well. So you'll be able to see whether or not that item you're considering selling one time a month or sells 100 times a month and that's going to make a huge difference as to whether or not you're purchasing is whether you buy wide or whether you buy deep is the expression. So a lot of newbies by wide as a blanket rule anyway so that they don't get caught with excess stock. And then when the capital increases, people like to buy a little deeper and get multiples of each product. Alex Moss: So yeah, lots of exciting stuff happening within Tactical Arbitrage. I know I digress a lot, but they're the things that I'm excited about right now. I'm just so happy with some of the current features that are coming and more and as we add new stuff, we're getting some very cool feedback. We just also integrated every category of every site into Tactical Arbitrage too, so you don't have to go to a URL, you don't have to go to argos.co.uk and then find the toys URL and then find the action figures URL, et cetera. You can now just select Argos, select toys, action figures, and hit add. Now what that'll do, is it will add that to a bulk list and you can add up to 500 rows to this list before you initiate the scan. Alex Moss: So it's kind of like you collect all of the categories that you want using a very intuitive method of scanning, which is essentially I want to scan a toy. It's that easy. I want to scan a toy. So you select that, you add that to the list and you set your filters, hit scan, and then you might as well go upstairs and spend some time with your family because it'll scan … depending on how many rows you've put in there, Tactical Arbitrage will scan continually for up to 60 hours if you set enough rows and just find products. So I get excited about TA because it just started as an infant and I think at the point now that it's more like a teenager. It's gone through some really difficult teething years and I fought with a lot and I had to get a lot of security guys in to make sure that we couldn't get DDoS attacked by hackers and we had to make sure there was no flaws in there and that we had to make sure the servers were up to scratch and could handle a large load. Alex Moss: And there was a lot of sleepless nights and it's been a difficult road and I feel like it's maturing now and I'm really excited about the space that we're entering into where we can start to just play with things now and we can just add a feature with no real pressure and just make it cool and not be worrying about the miniature stuff like, is that server going to explode? Because that's all sort of now, that's all locked in that's all very, very strong. And the security and all that sort of stuff, it's all very, very strong. So we can now just focus on making Tactical Arbitrage the best that it can be. And so that's kind of where I'm at with it right now. And it's an exciting time for us. David: Yeah, it certainly sounds and honestly what I love is you can hear the passion in your voice that you're going to continue listening to customers and making it an even better and robust software, which I think ends in more profitability for the end user as well. Alex Moss: Absolutely. And we try and educate people as well that there's certain ways you can use Tactical Arbitrage that are smarter and give you a greater edge than somebody who just comes along and they haven't bothered to watch any of the training videos and whatnot. So I want people to make money with Tactical Arbitrage. One of the reasons that I can sleep at night, and one of the reasons that I enjoy this job so much is because the monthly subscription to Tactical Arbitrage should be far exceeded by the profit that you make from using Tactical Arbitrage. So it's a net positive. And that's the plan. That's my goal. My goal is for it to be a net positive for every single user after the expense of the software that it's been a net benefit by actually using the software. So we're always saying things like don't just scan the main department store toy clearance section because logically that's going to be a common place. Alex Moss: There is 600 stores. I mean, obviously if you're in a UK platform and so there's not 600 UK stores, but we are adding them all the time. We've added 15 UK stores this week actually, so we're adding stores all the time. So we say, all right, explore the landscape, get out there and have a look at what other sites currently have a store discount. Now, combine that store discount with say one of the many cashback sites like TopCashbacks. Now, have a look and see if you can find any discount gift cards. They're a little bit more prevalent in the United States than they are in the UK, but you certainly can find them. Combine all the pieces of the puzzle and then operate your settings correctly and you will definitely start to see results. Alex Moss: In our Facebook group at the moment, I've pinned a webinar that we did two weeks ago, now it's two hours long and most people are going to see that and go, Oh my God, I don't have two hours. But realistically two hours is a small price to pay to start earning you a significant amount of money. And I say this to people all the time, you're trying to tell me that you're not happy with the university degree that you did, how many years did you sit there studying that? There's no harm in watching a few hours of videos here and there to just get you up to speed with the operations of the software and learn a few tricks and tips to give you a unique advantage over some of the people who just come in and just expected to all be paint by numbers and just turnkey solution. Alex Moss: It is a kind of a turnkey solution in respect, but at the same time we're putting the fishing rod in the people's hands. We're not actually delivering all the fish. So watch a few of those videos, particularly that pinned post on our Tactical Arbitrage group. I know that this particular podcast in a few months time, it might not be pinned to the top of the group anymore, but we tend to release these newbie style webinars every few months. So one will replace another, but this one is fairly fresh at the time of this podcast. And I do recommend that people watch it because we go over the best methods to utilize Tactical Arbitrage on the most basic of searches to start bringing in … I think in the first few minutes of that webinar, I find enough profit to pay for Tactical Arbitrage a couple of times over within the first few minutes of that webinar, just a standard example on how to use TA. Alex Moss: So yeah, I do get excited about it. And I do get a bit passionate about it because it's been a long road and we've managed to actually overcome the hurdles that we experienced along the way. And raise a baby and also raise a family and just have a bit of fun. It's not all hard work. You've got to have a bit of a laugh too, don't you? David: 100%. That's really cool. And I mean, I guess at the end of the day you're sinking your time, your money into this. If you're delivering a bad product, people wouldn't use it and so people should really just give it a go and find out for themselves. Otherwise for all the skeptical people out there, yeah, the results obviously speak for themselves and we'll go into it a bit later, but I guess addressing some of the concerns that people may have, is there any kind of limit or cap to the amount of subscribed users? Alex Moss: So this kind of actually I agonized with a lot, and I still do agonize with it a lot because Tactical Arbitrage is becoming more popular. Now, there's no doubt at this point that people that use tools have got an edge. I mean, ever since sourcing tools became a thing, the guys who are cutting and pasting from one site into Amazon, they started to be at a disadvantage. A lot of those guys also go to these groups, they might buy a list which is shared with 100 people for 10 products. And that kind of reality is starting to get a little bit dated. They're called BOLO groups or be on the lookout groups. And those kinds of groups are starting to get a little bit less relevant than using these more advanced tools that are just getting more and more advanced. Alex Moss: So the issue of saturation came up to me a few times. And so I started by doing this thing where I would close the doors to Tactical Arbitrage and I would leave it shut for a couple of months, and during that time I would make sure I would add another 50 or 100 sourcing sites to Tactical Arbitrage so that there was more options for people to source from and therefore limit people all jumping into the one store to try and find the one product and then tripping over each other. So that worked for a while and that works extremely well. And to be honest, I should preface this by saying the last time I've had a person mentioned the word saturation to me was like half a year ago, a long time ago. Nobody as mentioned it in such a long time. Alex Moss: The closing the doors has worked. But also another thing that we did is I implemented a feature that would allow any user to add any site. So let's say you've got a favorite website in the UK that you absolutely love to source from, but it's not in Tactical Arbitrage. Well, now there's a button in Tactical Arbitrage whereas long as you have either got some experience with coding or you know how to use a website like Upwork or Freelancer and can just put out an application for somebody to please add the XPath code for the website that you want to source from, you can now add your own. Alex Moss: So when I talk about there being 600 stores that you can source from in Tactical Arbitrage, the actual realities is there's an infinite number of stores because you can sit there all day long with the developer and just say, please add this store and this store and this store and this store and all these sites you'll start to add and you'll be sourcing from those stores and you'll find that because you've taken that extra step to actually add a unique store that yourself like to source from, you're not competing with anybody. This is one that you've stuck in there yourself. Alex Moss: I mean, there's a small chance that you've picked a really popular one that two or three other people have done the same thing, but in my experience from what I'm seeing is that these advanced user add your own sites an untapped market. We definitely have users adding sites. The more experienced users are adding sites all the time, and I'd definitely recommend if you want to 100% overcome any fear of saturation that you do that. Alex Moss: That being said, we recently hit an absolute cap on the most amount of scans ever run on one day and it was 500 scans being run at once. Now, have a think about this. You've got product search, you've got reverse search, you've got Amazon flips, you've got wholesale, you've got library search, you've got variation scanning, you've got tactical edge, there's all these things built into Tactical Arbitrage. They all count as one scan, so this entire suite of options plus the fact that in one of the main options is actually 600 stores to choose from and in those stores, some of them have got as many as 5,000 categories like Walmart's got thousands of categories. I couldn't tell you the exact amount, but across all of those stores you've got millions of categories. Alex Moss: As long as you're aware of that and you don't just hang around in Walmart toys clearance, you're going to not trip over people anywhere near as much as you think you are. And you know how you can see that, this is the best way for you to see that. Don't take my word for it. Run a scan and there's a column on the scan which tells you the number of other sellers currently selling this product. Quite often you'll find a really profitable item. You'll see there's three people selling that item. Those guys might be nothing to do with Tactical Arbitrage. These could be Amazon sellers who have used either another platform or they might be doing it the old manual way or they might just be wholesalers and this product is in their arsenal. Alex Moss: So I really don't think saturation is a problem and it's really easy to see whether it's a problem or not by just going out there with, and I use the euphemism, your fishing rod because you're essentially going out there and casting your rod in the water. There's certainly ways that you can get more efficient at casting that rod by learning more about the software, but even at a basic level, just beginning to run some scans and getting to know the software. There's definitely deals to be had. And we wouldn't have retained the customers that we've retained so far. If people felt like they weren't finding any profitable items. We've got a really high retention rate. David: Yeah, that's actually phenomenal. I had no idea that you could do the advanced user search. I mean, that's my line is really cool. So tell us a little bit more about what Amazon platforms Tactical Arbitrage works on and I believe you said, I mean, clarify if this is wrong, you're also basically adding stores in every week. Is that also right? Alex Moss: Yeah, so we add stores as often as we can. We also add features as often as we can and sometimes I allocate the development resources towards a feature and sometimes I allocate some development resources towards adding sites. I just added in about 15 UK stores in the last couple of days because I noticed that there was some valuable stores there that were absent from TA and I wanted to make sure that they are included for the user base. We're also unlocking Spain, Italy, and France at the moment. So I've got my guys working on a bunch of Spanish stores and we've had some really good input from the Spanish community letting us know which stores they would most like to see in TA. And as soon as I feel like we broken the back on at least a dozen or two dozen of those stores, we'll move on to a similar amount of French and Italian stores. Alex Moss: And at that point I'll tend to circle back to our two main players, which is USA and UK, which by far and above hold the highest number of stores. So currently Amazon platforms works on, as I was saying, USA, UK, Germany has been there for some time. We've got quite a lot of stores there. And Japan actually, we've added quite a few Japanese stores. And the funny reason for the Japanese tangent is that when I very first got into Fulfillment by Amazon, the friend of mine who got me into it was selling in Japan and he lives in Japan. So when TA got really quite big and quite functional and I had a spare moment, I contacted him and I said, I'm sorry for no Japan love, let me know what stores you want me to put in there. And so he gave me a huge list and we made sure that Japan was working well. Alex Moss: And so I'm not sure how many or if it's just him using Japan, but he's got an open ocean there to play in. Because I think even though there is Japan prep and ship houses and there's no real reason that I can see why anybody can't sell in Japan and utilize that space as well, I don't feel like many are utilizing that. And he's probably enjoying the rewards of the 20 or 30 sites that I've put there for him at the moment. But we're expanding all the time. Definitely the end goal is to have every Amazon platform, not just Amazon, but we're also have begun the functionality on eBay. There is a bunch of logic that I'm putting into the eBay to make sure that it works the way people would anticipate eBay to work. And we're also putting in there, probably more so for the US contingent, the ability to sell on Walmart and Jet and a few others as well. Alex Moss: But first of all, I want to get Amazon a comprehensive as I can and then we're going to sort of start diversifying into those other off Amazon stores. But definitely research has been done in those areas and some inroads on paper at this point. David: Nice. I know we're moving towards the tail end of this podcast, but just I guess to sum it all up, what sort of success have users had with your product? Alex Moss: Well, that's a good question because I don't really get into much more than anecdotal evidence at this point. I certainly can't see their accounts, but I do attend some of these conferences from time to time. I definitely hope to get over that way. I've got a lot of family in England. My mother is English. I would like to come to an FBA conference over there, a couple of guys in the space over there I've got a lot of respect for such as Matt Holly and a few of the other guys over there. Alex Moss: And the invitation is there, but I have been attending some USA conferences such as in Las Vegas and Denver, Colorado. And I get a lot of people approaching me and telling them that they're making a lot of money. Some of these guys are making hundred thousand-ish plus. I can't even really give you sort of a set amount because it sounds to me like I thought I was doing okay making a piece of software. Some of these guys that are using my software are leaving me in the dust just by using the tool that I've created. Alex Moss: And I know others are just starting small and they might … and I always say to people, in the first month you might just have some small successes and you might just be finding your way through the Fulfillment by Amazon platform and learning about the space and maybe just inching towards getting your system down pat. And then the second, third, fourth month, you'll start to really start seeing some decent dollars, but at the end of the day, if you can end up bringing in an extra £500 a month for starters, and then it turns into £1,000 and maybe £5,000, then it's starting to get really nice. Alex Moss: And I believe that that is all completely possible by managing a good hustle and keeping abreast of seasonal trends. Just being aware of the functionality of the tools that you're using, not just Tactical Arbitrage, but there's a myriad of tools out there that you should learn such as the free Chrome extension Keeper. Definitely worth taking the time to learn how that functions, how to analyze the historical trends. It's just an exciting space to enter. And if you've got an analytical mind at all, if you like to sort of let your mind run and jump around and prepare prices and compare items and you definitely get faster at it. Alex Moss: I mean, you might agonize over items in the early days, but you definitely get faster and faster at it. So success is in varying scales In answer to your question. I know some guys that are crushing it, but they've got teams of virtual assistants and they're running all the searches of TA at once. They're running on multiple countries and they operate warehouses, they do wholesale, they've got multiple suppliers and these guys are making … honestly man, these guys are making millions. But the smaller guns, the mom and dad's at home that just want to get that second stream of income or just something that they can do from home so that they can enjoy time with their kids, that's totally possible. And that's totally the reason I built TA because I was in that space. I just wanted enough to spend time with my kids and I just wanted enough to not have to go and work a J-O-B. Alex Moss: So I've obviously evolved from that and I've been lucky. I was pretty damn running by the skin of my teeth a couple of years ago. And Tactical Arbitrage has been successful, but I've worked hard at it to get it where it is today. And success I think is, it comes down to what you're willing to put into it to a degree, but only put in what doesn't burn you out. I see a lot of these motivational speakers at the moment, and there's some really big guys out there in the space and they're all like, where were you at 5:00 in the morning when I was up doing this? And I'm thinking probably sleeping dude. Just let a person sleep. Alex Moss: There's time. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. You don't have to run, run, run and get a heart attack to get there, just as long as you're moving a little bit forward every day. Don't sacrifice time with your family for success. Just work towards success and expand your education and expand your processes and your systems and you'll 100% get there as long as you believe in the process and you believe in it. You don't need to kill yourself by listening to all these motivators who want you to die to achieve your goals. Just have fun with it. David: Yeah. That quote should be on the … that's going to go straight to the pool room. Alex Moss: That's a quote from the Castle. That's a great Aussie movie, the Castle. David: Yeah. Wasn't sure if you'd pick up that. Alex Moss: Yeah. David: So just finally, I know we've mentioned this before, but what would be the best way for my listeners to find out more about this product or test it? Alex Moss: Well, of course they can come to the Facebook group, just going to go into the Facebook search bar and do FBA Tactical Arbitrage. Of course, you can do the trial period to test the software. You might want to time that right. You might want to play around with learning what Fulfillment by Amazon is if you're a complete newbie or if you've got a fairly good handle on it or maybe you're already working with other softwares as well, and you wanted to maybe experiment with Tactical Arbitrage, you can come to tacticalarbitrage.com. Click at the top of the page where it says sign up for a one week trial. Like I said before, I'm going to like stick into my system now after I get off the podcast with you, I'm going to stick in the system, the code HACKER14. So if any of your listeners go to sign up, make sure you look for that little box, or little bit of text there that says, “Enter discount code.” Alex Moss: Click on that and enter HACKER14 and that's going to change your seven day trials for a 14 day trial. And that way nobody feels like they're rushed or they're struggling to get a decent look at it. And you can find the gaps in your days to make sure you can play around with it and see if it's for you and see if you enjoy it and reach out to me if you feel like there's things that I can add to Tactical Arbitrage. Definitely want to make sure that at the end of the day, everybody is happy. David: Alex thats awesome mate. And seriously one, I love to hear the passion in your voice, but also the fact that you're so open to improving the software. Unfortunately, it does bring us to the end of today's Business Hacker session. Seriously, thanks so much for coming on the show. It's been a pleasure having you on, and a big thank you to all my listeners. If you found this useful, please, please, please leave me a review on iTunes. Alex Moss: Thank you very much for having me, David. I enjoyed that immensely. And to all your listeners, have a fantastic rest of your day. Announcer: The Business Hacker Podcast has come to a close. To access the free training or discounts offered by today's guests head to www.ecommerceguider.com/businesshacker or join our Facebook group community by searching Ecommerce Guider. Things You'll Learn ➤ Show opening. ➤ Alex shared his background as an Entrepreneur. ➤ Alex provided an overview of what is online arbitrage automated sourcing software is and it works. ➤ Alex shared his motivations for creating Tactical Arbitrage. ➤ Alex shared his opinion on the differences between Tactical Arbitrage, FBA Wizard Pro and Oaxray. ➤ Alex provided an overview of how Tactical Arbitrage works and it’s main features. ➤ Alex advised as to whether Tactical Arbitrage has a limit or cap for the amount of subscribed users. ➤ Alex shared what Amazon platforms Tactical Arbitrage works on and how often new stores are added. ➤ Alex outline some of the success his users have had. ➤ Alex outlined the best way for listeners to find out more about Tactical Arbitrage works and how to test it. ➤ Alex provided an exclusive 10-day trial of Tactical Arbitrage for users by using the code TACTICAL10 at checkout. Try Tactical Arbitrage today here. ➤ Close Resources ➤ Gain an exclusive 10-day trial of Tactical Arbitrage when you use the code TACTICAL10 at checkout. Try Tactical Arbitrage today here. ➤ Use our 5 -step guide – how to claim your extended 10-day trial for Tactical Arbitrage (with pictures) here. Bonuses ➤ Gain an exclusive 10-day trial of Tactical Arbitrage when you use the code TACTICAL10 at checkout. Try Tactical Arbitrage today here. (Guide on how to claim your trial here)
55 minutes | Aug 11, 2017
BHP29 Bitcoin, Cryptocurrencies and Online Currencies Explained with Siam Kidd
Understanding The Basics of Bitcoin, Cryptocurrencies and Online Coin Currency Investing Enjoyed this episode? Please leave us a review on Itunes. Listen to more Business Hacker Podcast Episodes here. NEVER MISS AN EPISODE SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES SUBSCRIBE ON STITCHER Understanding Cryptocurrency with Siam Kidd Episode Overview In Episode 29, we interview a full-time professional investor and trader Siam Kidd from the Realistic Trader to explore the hottest investment opportunity at the moment: Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies. Listen and learn about one of the hugest changes in technology since the Internet which is going to revolutionise the way we live and work. Learn why Bitcoin and cryptocurrency investment is such a hot topic right now and how you can invest and gain a piece of these amazing returns. Discover the answer to key questions such as: ➤ What are cryptocurrencies or what coins should you buy?? ➤ What is a good cryptocurrency coin investment strategy? ➤ What is the difference between different crypto coins? ➤ What is Bitcoin? ➤ What are cryptocurrencies and how do cryptocurrencies work? ➤ What is blockchain technology? ➤ What is the future of cryptocurrency? ➤ What is Bitcoin mining? ➤ What are the best crypto currency coin exchanges? ➤ Cryptocurrency cold storage explained. Things You'll LearnResourcesBonus ➤ Introduction ➤ Siam shared a little about his background as an investor, trader and the success he's had. ➤ I asked Siam about his motivation and what the driving force behind him becoming a full-time trader. ➤ Siam explained the difference between trading and investing and why he only invests in Cryptocurrency. ➤Siam explained what is Cryptocurrency, how it works and how it differs from the normal currency. ➤ Siam discussed how Cryptocurrencies are bought, sold and traded along with his recommended trading platforms. ➤ I asked Siam about the difference between buying coins and mining. ➤ Siam discussed the main drivers of cryptocurrency coin movements and its continuous growth. ➤ I asked Siam if there is a cap on the available supply of coins and what will happen if there is such. ➤ Siam shared his insights about the best coins to buy and the difference between each type of coins ➤ Siam explained the different ways to buy coins. ➤ Siam provided the ways on how to set up an account and the timeframe to set it up. ➤ I asked Siam if you can still purchase Bitcoin if you don’t have £2,000. ➤ Siam discussed the different ways to store the coins and how these methods differ. ➤ [36:10] Siam shared his different investment strategies and the type of coins that are suited to these strategies. ➤ I asked Siam about the biggest mistakes he sees investors or traders making who are just getting started and how can they avoid them. ➤ Siam gave the best resources to learn about the different coins for us to stay up to date with changes in cryptocurrency. ➤ Siam shared some details about the e-commerce course that he offers that can help people get started in investing and trading with Cryptocurrencies and the results his clients are getting out of it. ➤ I asked Siam for his contact details. ➤ [48:10] Siam shared his thoughts about the future of Cryptocurrency. ➤ — End — Resources ➤ Purchase Coins using kraken.com and bittrex.com ➤Research Coins at https://www.coingecko.com/en ➤Stay up to date with Crypto news here: https://cointelegraph.com/ ➤ Purchase Siam's course here
59 minutes | Jul 31, 2017
BHP27 Growing & Scaling An Arbitrage Amazon Business & USA Product Preparation
Product Preparation In The USA & Growing & Scaling Your Amazon Business with Michael Zoril Enjoyed this episode? Please leave us a review on Itunes. Listen to more Business Hacker Podcast Episodes here. NEVER MISS AN EPISODE SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES SUBSCRIBE ON STITCHER Product Preparation in the USA & Scaling Your Amazon Arbitrage Business Episode Overview In Episode 27, I interview Michael Zoril where we discuss the secrets and systems behind how Michael went from taking 22 months to sell his first $1 million in his Amazon.com arbitrage business to only 4 months to his second million dollars. We then dig deeper into one of the key secrets behind Michael's success & discover how USA product preparation works in the States. Things You'll LearnResourcesBonus ➤ Introduction ➤ Michael revealed his background as an entrepreneur, his achievements and how he started getting involved with Amazon. ➤ Michael provided an overview of his Amazon business model/ ➤ Michael outlined the main drivers of his massive business growth. ➤ I asked Michael about how his business systems had changed from inception to the present. ➤ Michael discussed the realities of growing an Amazon business like his while working full time. ➤ Michael provided advice about how to scale and whether placing large inventory orders was necessary. ➤ Michael provided an overview of how product preparation occurred in the U.S. and outlined the difference between tax-free States and taxable states in the U.S. ➤ Michael shares information about how he deals with product returns and his recommendations for U.S. prep centers. ➤ Close. Resources ➤ N/A Bonuses ➤ N/A
57 minutes | Jul 22, 2017
BHP26 Expanding Your Business into the USA with Sylvia Dion
Expanding Your Business into the USA with Sylvia Dion of PrietoDion Consulting Enjoyed this episode? Please leave us a review on Itunes. Listen to more Business Hacker Podcast Episodes here. NEVER MISS AN EPISODE SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES SUBSCRIBE ON STITCHER Sylvia Dion - PrietoDion Consulting Partners LLC Episode Overview Listen and learn about the key rules, regulations and considerations that you need to take into account of when looking to expand and start selling in the U.S. In this episode, we touch on if starting a US Company is required, double taxation agreements, sales taxes, EIN numbers and many more common issues and regulations you should be aware of or at least considered! By the end of this episode, you will know what the common rules and regulations that you need to be aware of when expanding into the U.S. and if you still have questions you’ll know exactly who to ask for a professional opinion! Things You'll LearnResourcesBonus ➤ Introduction ➤ Sylvia shared a bit about her background, how she entered the world of e-commerce, as well as her experience helping e-commerce sellers. ➤ Sylvia outlined the main issues that international sellers have to consider as they expand into the US. ➤ Sylvia answered if International sellers need to incorporate US companies in order to expand into the States. ➤ Sylvia explained what International tax treaties are, how taxation tends to work, what double taxation agreements are and how they impact international sellers. ➤ Sylvia provided a brief outline of sales taxation and pending upcoming legislation changes that will impact ALL sellers in the US. ➤ Sylvia talked about EIN (Employer Identification Numbers) and when the International sellers should consider getting one. ➤ I asked Accounting and Business Systems she recommends for Amazon sellers. ➤ Sylvia shared details about the services her firm provides and added that she works with International sellers who want to expand in the US. ➤ I asked if it is better for a prospective seller looking to expand whether they should contact a local country advisor or a US accountant like her first to get the process started. ➤ Sylvia shared how interested people can contact her. ➤ Closing. Resources ➤ Taxjar: Is essential for US sellers as it simplifies the act of having to record, report and remit US state-based sales taxes. Gain your exclusive 10% discount by signing up to Taxjar using my affiliate link and using the discount code “BUSINESSHACKER”. Bonuses ➤ Taxjar: Is essential for US sellers as it simplifies the act of having to record, report and remit US state-based sales taxes. Gain your exclusive 10% discount by signing up to Taxjar using my affiliate link and using the discount code “BUSINESSHACKER”.
28 minutes | Jul 14, 2017
BHP25 – Hiring Virtual Assistants: The Secret to Growing Your Business
EP 25 – Virtual Assistants: The Secret to Growing Your Busines Enjoyed this episode? Please leave us a review on Itunes. Listen to more Business Hacker Podcast Episodes here. NEVER MISS AN EPISODE SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES SUBSCRIBE ON STITCHER The Balancing Act PA Episode Overview In Episode 25, I interview the co-founders of the Balancing Act PA to hack the secrets of hiring Virtual Assistants, the secret source that you can use to grow your business without killing yourself! Learn their tips on how to successfully prepare your business, hire your first assistant and then onboard your VA to ensure that they smoothly transition into the role with maximum speed and efficiency. Things You'll LearnResourcesBonus Show Outline ➤ Introduction ➤ The Rachel's shared their background as entrepreneurs. ➤ Rachel provided an overview of why a company should consider hiring a Virtual Assistant. ➤ Rachel detailed when a business should hire a VA? ➤ I asked Rachel if she had any advice for business owners on how to prepare themselves/their business prior to hiring a virtual assistant; ➤ Rachel outlined how a business can protect themselves security wise when dealing with virtual assistants. ➤ Rachel detailed the steps an entrepreneur should do before, during and after hiring a VA. .➤ Rachel shared her opinion on the pros and cons of hiring Western versus cheaper Asian or Indian foreign labour. ➤ Rachel outlined the best places to find, and hire a VA. ➤ I asked Rachel for her recommendation on the best payment methods and when one should pay their VAs. ➤ Rachel outlined the services the Balancing Act PA provided. ➤ Rachel provided the best way to contact the Balancing Act PA ➤ Close Resources ➤ Last Pass – Protect and store your passwords securely. Bonuses ➤ Use the code “Business Hacker” and get 15% off your first month.
42 minutes | Jul 8, 2017
BHP24 Learn How to Grow Your Instagram Account & Generate Leads with Leon Benjamin of Triple Your Tribe
In Episode 24, I interview Leon Benjamin from Triple Your Tribe who is an Instagram growth consultant who literally helps entrepreneurs to triple their tribe and grow their Instagram following. Leon explains how to use Instagram properly to grow your account following properly by engaging with followers, using hashtags as well as how to post pictures that really engage properly and result in lead generation and explosive account growth!
59 minutes | Jun 30, 2017
BHP23 – Buying & Selling Your Online Business with Justin Cooke of Empire Flippers
In Episode 21, I interview Justin Cooke of Empire Flippers about Buying and Selling Online Businesses. Learn about how the sale process works. How much trading history you need before you can sell your business, and how you can sell your business even if you have kept poor records. Finally learn about what types of online businesses fetch the most money, what sort of money you can expect to make when you sell your business. We then wrap up the podcast with tips on how to negotiate better deals when buying businesses.
42 minutes | Jun 23, 2017
BHP22 – The Stitch Leggings Case Study with Tom Hunt
In Episode 22, this podcast interviews Tom Hunt a full stack entrepreneur who started his online money making journey by launching his own Shopify / private label product range. Discover why he took this approach and the key lessons he has learned on his journey from starting his e-commerce business, building and selling his own website and writing and releasing his own book.
62 minutes | Jun 17, 2017
BHP21 – How To Make Money Selling Wholesale – The Ecommerce Wholesale Blueprint with Jamie Miralles
In Episode 21, we interview Jamie Miralles an Ecommerce entrepreneur who has sold over USD 100 MILLION through selling Wholesale. Learn how this Monster went from selling on Ebay part time to selling over USD100 Million in Sales mostly on Amazon. Discover the secrets of how to find wholesale suppliers and how to grow an Amazon wholesaling business in this podcast. We have literally distilled and uncovered the key lessons that Jamie has learnt throughout his 20 years of selling online for your benefit.
62 minutes | Jun 11, 2017
BHP20 – Growth Hacking Part 2 with Dan Stephenson of Digital Growth Hackers
In Episode 20, the second of this two-part series on growth hacking I interview Dan Stephenson of Digital Growth Hackers. Dan runs a digital growth hacking business where he helps entrepreneurs grow their online digital audiences. This episode will teach you how to get more bang for your buck with your marketing spend! Learn about different methods (both paid and unpaid), tool and tips to grow your audiences in an automated and hands-on way. We also discuss different ideas and ways to run viral campaigns and campaigns to rapidly grow your audience in a low-cost effective way!
50 minutes | Jun 4, 2017
BHP19 – Growth Hacking with Vin Clancy To Get Cheap or Free Website Traffic
In this episode with Vin Clancy a first of a two-part series on growth hacking and building online audiences we are going to deep dive into growth hacking. Vin is an entrepreneur, author, public speaker and consultant who travels the world consulting with small business right up to multi-million dollar companies to grow their audiences and revenues. We are going to discuss ways on how to generate free or very low-cost traffic to your website/product/service.In this episode, we also cover some growth hacks on how to get emails to build your email lists quicker in order to build Facebook Lookalike audiences, optimise website conversions.
50 minutes | May 27, 2017
BHP18 – Patents/Trademarks, Copyright & Misleading or Deceptive Advertising With Amazon Sellers’ Lawyer
Episode 18 - Amazon Intellectual Property Issues With Amazon Sellers’ Lawyer. Learn about Amazon Intellectual property("IP) issues such as patents, Trademarks, Copyright & Misleading/Deceptive Advertising infringements including what they are and when/how they typically occur. Discover how you can protect yourself or defend yourself against such claims and what the best approach to deal with these claims is. The principals in this podcast apply to both European/UK and US Amazon platforms.
44 minutes | May 20, 2017
BHP17 Amazon Private Label Product Selection with Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout
In this mammoth episode with Amazon giant Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout, we cover product selection criteria for both beginners AND advanced sellers looking to sell on Amazon. Greg also discusses his views on product selection tips for different Amazon markets, Greg’s approach on how to create and build your own Amazon team. We then go into Greg’s advice on how to launch an Amazon product and Greg’s opinion on the best markets to launch in and then finally rounding up with what to do if you want to sell your Amazon Business.
34 minutes | May 13, 2017
BHP16 Understanding Search Engine Optimisation (“SEO”)
Learn the basics of what Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is and how you can use SEO to help make your website and products visible on the web.
52 minutes | May 6, 2017
BHP15 Understanding Arbitrage Selling in the US with Mat Gunnufson
In Episode 14, I interview Mat Gunnufson an US-based arbitrage-only Amazon.com seller who has sold over $1m worth of goods on Amazon. We go into detail about how he runs his business, from sourcing stock, to coping with brand and order restrictions, sending in shipments and finishing off with the what Mat believes the future of arbitrage selling will look like.
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