I could talk to Barbara all day. She is a wealth of knowledge and confidence. Her confidence comes from doing the work, the hard work. A life in corporate America gives her the push to be successful. Love how she tackles problems, like no interface for Jet- let’s just create one! Great conversation with a great seller who offers some real options to grow out your business.
Transcript: (note- this is a new tool I am trying out so it is not perfect- it does seem to be getting better)
Stephen: [00:00] He just wanted to offer you a chance to get to the resonate conference that’s sold out that’s coming up in May. It’s May fifteenth and sixteenth in Atlanta. I bought an extra ticket and I’m going to give it away to someone who subscribes to my newsletter. Yes, you’re going to have to subscribe. You can text the word resonate to [inaudible] the word resonate to four, four to two. It’s gonna ask you for your email and that’s what it’s going to take to get entered into the drawing. It’s one ticket. I paid for it personally. Um, you get to hang out with me. Is Monday the 14th and includes a cocktail party. It includes lunch both on Tuesday and Wednesday in an. Includes an incredible dinner Tuesday night and I just can’t wait because I think it’s one of the best conferences. What I described it last year, [inaudible] bunch of people asked me, hey, what was it like, very technical and the attendees were younger.
Stephen: [00:53] Now I’m an old dude and compare to that. They were definitely younger, but they were so technical. Ah, one of the guys I was talking to is selling on 16 different channels. The details and the intimacy because you’re so close to the speakers, you get to talk to them, you get to ask and go deeper and it’s just really, really a valuable conference put on by seller labs. Yes, they’re one of my sponsors of the show, but I bought the ticket so you know, to be fair it is sold out. They didn’t give it to me, but I want to help them because I think it helps you and so for me to get a chance to see Ezra firestone speak, I’ve not seen him speak personally face to face. I’m dying. Bret Bartlett a. When you see James Thompson, I’m from prosper show, Peter Kerns. I’m. They’ve got this expert coming in who’s doing a talking about instagram and she is talking about instagram influencers and how to use them for your products.
Stephen: [01:48] I mean this is really, really intense stuff. It’s held in an amazing place. This was a new venue in Atlanta, so you’re responsible for your own hotel, your own flight, your own transportation to the event, but the ticket itself is paid for. I paid for it because I’d like to hang out with you, so if you’re interested in it, all you have to do is text resonate to for, for [inaudible], and it’ll ask you for your email. That’s the cost and you’re going to get subscribed to my newsletter, which I think is a valuable newsletter. But then again, maybe I’m biased, but if you want to come and hang out with me in Atlanta, it’s going to be in May, coming up quick. So I’ll probably choose the, uh, the person pretty quickly. So any questions, just send me a note at Stephen and e-commerce. Momentum [inaudible] steven and e-commerce momentum.com
Cool voice guy: [02:34] to the e-commerce momentum podcast will focus on the people, the products, and the process of e-commerce selling today. Here’s your host, Steven Peterson.
Stephen: [02:47] Welcome back to the e-commerce momentum podcast. This is episode 292. Barbara Bush and Barbara was a back episode [inaudible]. So if you want to go hear her backstory, well know for is a great place to go and listen and it’s a cool story. A lot of people will relate to corporate America coming out of that and then, you know, kind of starting over again and trying to figure it out. And even in this episode we get into a bunch of that because I think it’s so cool when you look back and you start looking at the signs and you look and you see that it’s coming, you know, either by your choice or their choice. And I think it’s cool that you get there. Uh, the key is not to get there too fast, put it off as long as you can and if you can kind of not take advantage of it.
Stephen: [03:31] But if you can make it the best for both of you, you all win. And I think barb is a good example, that the thing that I take away from this conversation, and you’ll see it in the headline, the title is using variations and variations. You’re like, oh, big deal Steve. You know, we do that all the time. Now, not just variations of products, how about variations of channels, about variations of vendors. That’s where Barbara gets me into this conversation and it was like, wow, I mean really deep when we start thinking of the possibility of taking advantage of all those different things with a few products because that’s really a lot of stuff when you build it out and it’s a great conversation. Let’s get into the podcast. All right. Welcome back to the e-commerce movement and podcast. We’re excited to have my gas to back from episode one of four. That blows me away. That was two years ago, almost two years ago. Is that incredible?
Speaker 3: [04:25] That is amazing.
Stephen: [04:26] I did not. I thought it was a. We see each other so much and I thought, oh yeah, it’s been recent and then I looked back and it’s not [inaudible] back from June of 2016 and back then we were talking about this I, you know, I guess it was relatively new platform, new to most of us. Jet And you were the queen of jet. That was your thing. You’re the jet girl. You were on it early. You were definitely an early adopter and it seemed, what was it that made it so attractive to you? Because there’s so many other things you can do. Why jet?
Speaker 3: [05:01] Well, I think at the time, um, we were looking, um, to get some diversification and that’s like my new nickname now I’m the lady. Oh, diversification where we’re trying to find another platform that looks worth the effort, like what had legs, um, you know, at that time in E-bay was there, but there were a lot of other, um, smaller platforms and which one was going to have any chance of taking on Amazon and they had such a good story with, uh, you know, they, Wal Mart ultimately bought them for three point billion dollars and they had all this good um, platform technology and we really felt like, you know, these guys are going to, they’re going to get there.
Stephen: [05:46] And, and quite honestly, that’s why Walmart bottom right is the leadership and the technology, right? That’s what they wanted, right?
Speaker 3: [05:53] Yeah. They basically wanted to by Marc Lore,
Stephen: [05:56] pay a pretty good book. And so the, the premise of chat is pretty low prices for most merchandise, right? Or is it specific merchandise? I’m not as clear.
Speaker 3: [06:08] I never bought it. They’re trying to do the best price thing and they’re also trying to do so. I think what’s like the most compelling thing for me as a seller with jet is their ability to tee up and cross out. So very. My average selling price on Amazon is like $25. Um, but on jet I can do a $300 order pretty regularly, even a 50 or a hundred dollar order because what they’re doing is they’re saying if you buy one, you know it’s this price. If you buy two, it’s a little bit of a discount. If you buy three, it’s a little bit of a discount. If you get this other product, we’ll take another discount out. Oh, and by the way, did you know it came in this color and you’re like, OK, by the time you’re done, your basket is just getting more and more full.
Speaker 3: [06:51] It’s something that I struggle with every day when I look at my Amazon sales as to why they don’t do this kind of dynamic pricing engine. I mean obviously they’ve got a lot of technology to change to be that dynamic and that fleet of foot, but I just frustrates me because I’m like, it’s so nice to have these very large orders of multiple units and multiple products and yet I go on Amazon and I just don’t have so many. You know, I think the statistic is one point, one units per order on Amazon to one and a half on, on jet
Stephen: [07:25] and when you multiply by the millions of transactions a day, right? Tens of millions probably. So. So walk me through that. So what, give me an example. Is it a bag of potato chips? Is that A. is that an example? Because on Amazon you would have a single unit or you can have multiple, you know, bundles, right? A two pack or four pack because the pack or whatever on Jed, it’s one. Or if you buy a second bag of chips who gets. How much cheaper?
Speaker 3: [07:53] Depends on. I mean there’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes, um, for one jet will use you pay 15 percent commission on, on chat or on Amazon. Jet Uses 10 points of that to drive their prices down.
Stephen: [08:08] So they’re, they’re willing to give up 10 points lower so there’s taking the same 15 but they’ll discount. So I was going to ask you. So if somebody buys a second bag of potato chips to I get to, I have to pay in that discount. Me As a seller, you’re saying no,
Speaker 3: [08:25] not while you’re paying for it out of your commission, but no you don’t,
Stephen: [08:28] but it’s still this flat 15 percent. It’s not an additional commission on top of it.
Speaker 3: [08:32] No, it’s still the flap 15. And in fact on grocery it’s only eight percent.
Stephen: [08:37] So the chips sell for $10 and they take [inaudible] the chip sell for $9. They take eight percent. Is that how it works? [inaudible]? They discounted it a dollar. So you actually get a little bit of a benefit there,
Speaker 3: [08:51] right? Exactly. And then you can actually offer them incentives as well that if someone buys, um, and it’s like a really inverted way to look at the buy box, but when you’re trying to do as a seller is give jet additional tools besides using your commission to get people to put more in the basket. And they don’t have any. I don’t know how many ppc don’t have anything like that, but what they have is you can say, all right, if you buy two bags of chips from me, I’ll give you another two percent off. If you buy, if the order gets $200, I’ll give you another percent off. If you waive your right to return, I’ll give you another 10 percent off. And you know, and we’re talking one percent, one and a half, but we’re not talking big numbers on hundred dollars order. You might say, I’ll give you a dollar or $2 off.
Speaker 3: [09:37] And that, you know, your margin can certainly sustain that. Um, if you’re getting multiple units in there. And you know, another thing they’ll do is if you use a debit card. So they’ve got all these different tools. Um, if you’re a merchant fulfilled vendor, you can even use your locational, right, because if you’re in New Jersey and you’re shipping to New York, you can charge less for that order then if you’re shipping to California, all these little things, all these little levers that you can put in there to sort of win the buy box and then also get more units for sale.
Stephen: [10:09] Now I did see a chart recently, recent for me, I’m getting older, so it’s all relative, right? It’s true. It’s like, oh, I remember back when we walked uphill both ways, but it was, I was thinking about this where it was, uh, the um, the marketplace out there. It’s like eighty or eighty five percent Amazon. And then number two was jet, I believe. And then nothing. There was like nothingness. There was nobody else. So it really was. I think maybe Ebay was in there, but it was really nothing. Maybe 80, eighty five percent. Where is, do you have different numbers in that? Do you remember anything? Because this was recent.
Speaker 3: [10:47] Yeah, I think you’re probably going to throw walmart in there. Um, for sure they’ve got, if you want to call that Walmart jet, maybe if you want to look at it that way I think is very strong to. I mean obviously nothing is as strong as Amazon and so two points on that. Um, one e commerce itself is small compared to general commerce, right? So that whole number, all that eighty five percent and everything is really only started a conference recently. Ten percent of all commerce is, is e-commerce, so that means there’s 90 percent out there that a large portion of which will ultimately migrate into the e-commerce space. So, you know, the growth is huge and one of the things I ask everybody when I speak is do they think that the average listing on Amazon is good? And most people will say no because really if you think about where that can evolve to, you know, the listings are just going to get more complex, they’re going to have more and more depths, etc. And that’ll be across all the marketplaces. And what’s interesting, back to the original question, I sort digress there, sorry I’m, is that, yeah, so most of commerce is not e-commerce and secondly, um, while amazon is hugely dominant, um, that may not be the case in five years, right?
Stephen: [12:10] Something’s going to change today and tomorrow. so. Yeah, that’s, that’s fair.
Speaker 3: [12:16] Yeah. So who’s going to be taking a little bit of their lunch? Is it alibaba? I don’t know. Is it the social media? Is it walmart? There’s all these different players and you know, I guess from my perspective as a software vendor and a seller, but as my perspective is that I want to have my feet in a lot of different places, so I’m well positioned to leap forward as those things start to transpire.
Stephen: [12:43] Well, thAt, that was gary’s advice to make every visa advice, you know, I’m dropping a name like, like sat in a room with them and I asked that question, now how do I know what the next channel was? Like? My big question, right? Ebay guy or whatever you call me, I literally call me that. He’s like, you gotta be on a more. However, now I sit back and I think, do you put that much energy and effort into all these small little things when quite frankly the risk reward, right? The even the upside is just not going to be very good. So what you’re saying though, now that jet and walmart have merged in some way or merging combined, right? If they’re, you know, because it sounds like eventually they’re going to have to be some way that they take advantage of each other completely. And so if they each have [inaudible] now all of a sudden they have four percent and so they are the dominant player. Right. And so you’re saying, hey, if you’re going to bet on a horse on ebay and then bet on walmart jet.
Speaker 3: [13:44] I say that on one side of my mouth when the other side of my mouth, but product, you go to amazon, there’s tons and tons of stuff and it’s really not well done by the sephora or ulta. It’s really well done and a lot of those niche sites, whether it’s for automotive parts or beauty products or whatever your specific interest in are exceptionally well done. Which is why I always ask when I speak, like, do you think an amazon listing is a good listing by and large and you know, when you compare it to some of those spaces that are much more unified and codified now they’re horrible and you know, the thing is, is that I don’t know what’s going to be next. So all I know is I’ve got to find a way and efficient way to take the work that I’ve done in sourcing, in building, um, a good listing or optimization in advertising.
Speaker 3: [14:39] All these things that I’ve done at step one say for amazon because that is the big kahuna and I’ve got to take the phone and efficient way to leverage all that, know how and all that knowledge and all that work my, my warehouse into other channels simply easily with very minimal effort. And the way to do that has to be, um, quite finding, you know, leveraging other people’s tools. V a is using software to read, disseminate the information, just fInd a way. Because you’re right, you can’t be everywhere if it takes as much time as the first time.
Stephen: [15:15] Yeah. That that’s a kind of a challenge for, you know, on jet now for, well, since the last time you and I talked about this was in 2016, you’re still selling there. What has happened to your sale since you started?
Speaker 3: [15:33] Well, they’ve got a cough. I’m sorry about that. I’ve had a cold. I feel like I’ve had a cold since january one.
Stephen: [15:42] Nothing personal. Thank goodness we’re not in person.
Speaker 3: [15:47] I’ve had some cold or another. But um, so what jeff has done is evolved. I think to some degree there’s still startup be like, you know, there’s stIll issues to overcome, you know, some of my stuff gets listed and it takes too long for it to get approved. So we’ve got to get um, you know, once a month my va contacts them and says, can you review these listings and go, yeah, they push a few over or whatever. If we have to do that, maybe once a quarter we do that. Um, and I think when I was first started using it, it was like a sale a week. Um, but now between jet and walmart were doing about 10 percent of what we do on amazon, so it’s worth it to me to keep putting that investment in as a seller to keep building my listings and keep working on that, that platform.
Speaker 3: [16:32] Not that we do a lot of work, mostly my va does all the, all the listing and everything. Um, but what I’ve seen in jet is where they’re going. So going back to the software side is they basically draw a line in the sand and said, we’re going to start to urbanize. We’re going to be a millennial cutting edge. You know, one thing amazon doesn’t have is a nordstrom section, right? There is a note, you know, you’re looking at a $300 beauty product next to a $20 beauty product and they’re the same kind of product, but you know that the ingredients, you know, one of them’s, um,
Stephen: [17:10] franklin, amazon, you’re going to have to work hard to find that $300 item because it’s going to be, the velocity is going to be with the really low priced products. It’s going to be way down the list.
Speaker 3: [17:21] Yeah, so you try, when you look for a specific brand, it could just as easily be next to you know, junk and you wouldn’t see that in a real retail store and a retail store. Things are very organized and set up. Um, and what they don’t have is a way to be that nordstrom piece. Um, they have luxury beauty, but again, lumped in, right with everything else. So what walmart has said jet is going to be is this urban cutting edge or organic vegan and they’re doing a lot of things that, you know, a couple of things that are going to launch in a few weeks on there that take that space and really develop it. Um, and walmart will be walmart, well motivated the amazon of the walmart jet world, but jet will be more specific and more of a, it’s not really high end, but cutting edge more edgy. So that’s, that’s what
Stephen: [18:13] versus walmart looking for cutting edge. I mean that’s just never going to happen. Right. That’s just, that stigma’s there and it’s never going to. It’s never gonna go away. At the end, and not in our lifetime, but you’re saying jeff can place themselves in that position. It’s interesting. And so we’ll, we’ll jet fuel than well, will they push off the stuff, uh, to a, to walmart, the stuff that’s not edgy and pushy enough?
Speaker 3: [18:42] They did in fact just do that very same thing. I can’t say for sure because I haven’t tested this, but I’m pretty sure there are no fidget spinners on jet right now.
Stephen: [18:52] Interesting. So they really are paying more attention to what gets you use poshmark. I’m selling a little bit on poshmark right now and it’s like you could see that there’s stuff and you can see it starting to get pushed down. Like the quality is definitely going down. It’ll be interesting to see if they try to tighten that back up because otherwise they become, they risk becoming an ebay or a walmart. Right. A kind of a general. All right, so you didn’t answer my question though. I don’t think I’m going to. I’m going to hold you back on this because I know somebody’s going to say that to me. They’re gonna be like, wait, she didn’t say so I know you mentioned that you’re up to 10 percent of your sales, but how is your jet sales versus 2016 specific? Are they flooded up? Are they.
Speaker 3: [19:36] I would say that they are flat. I would not say that they have grown. A lot of our growth we’re seeing is coming from the walmart side. Interesting. As we put more and more merchant fulfilled things over there. So that’s really a function of my ability to put processes in place in our business to. I’m like, we do mostly fba. Um, but as the fba fees are getting higher as I’m seeing more and more problems with them doing fulfillment and in the warehouse losing stuff and telling me they didn’t lose it, which drives me insane. It’s like no,
Stephen: [20:10] not allowing you to really do a lot of other fulfillment for other brands. Right. You can’t have amazon fulfill for walmart.
Speaker 3: [20:18] Right.
Stephen: [20:20] All right. So those things change too. So that’s fair. All right, so you’re saying that you’ve, you’ve not grown on jet because you’re not focusing on it because you’re trying to build out the walmart side because quite honestly that’s where the opportunity is.
Speaker 3: [20:32] Yeah, I think for me jet is still just as strong because of the kind of products that I sell, which tend to be more expensive products. So I don’t have anything really under $20. I’m more or less maybe a few soaps or lotions. Um, so a lot of what I’m doing on there is still consistent with having multiple units, multiple, you know, they get it, they get the, um, show the soap and lotion and the shower gel because it’s all in the same sentence. They love it. So they go, yeah, let me get two of those. Those are hard to find. So that kind of thing. Um, whereas on walmart I’m expanding more of the commodity type goods.
Stephen: [21:10] Now the software that you have is called what? Coal merchant merchant and co merchant, um, you have a partner, a brian, brian, very nice guy. Um, I met him a couple different times and so together you guys created this to solve your problems.
Speaker 3: [21:29] That was the backstory is we both got suspended on amazon within a week of each other and they both worked in it.
Stephen: [21:38] Oh no, it’s funny. It’s funny that that’s what causes you the pain that causes you to take action, isn’t it really, isn’t it
Speaker 3: [21:46] the birthing process, right? Yeah. Um, we both had worked in corporate America together and a couple of jobs and then I, he used to see me go shopping at lunchtime and one time he said, he goes, I know this sounds kind of sexist, but I’m, doesn’t her husband get really angry that you shop every day? Like, how do you handle that? I would be so upset if my wife spent like every lunch hour shopping. And I was like, no, he kind of likes it because it pays for our ski vacation and it pays for the kids class, you know, karate classes and things like that. Oh. So a monster was born and the next thing I know he’s going to lunch with me and he’s learning about how to do keywording and listing and all that kind of stuff. Then I got laid off or I knew I was going to get laid off in about 18 months. Um, there’s a little bit more of a backstory that will let go as to why I wanted to leave corporate America,
Stephen: [22:34] you know,
Speaker 3: [22:36] eighty hours a week, blah, blah blah. And I was planning to leave. So I left a year after that he was getting laid off and he thought, you know what, I’m going to give this a shot. I’m doing pretty good as a side job. You’re doing really well. Full time. So he went full time and then a year after that we both got suspended within a week of each other and we’re like, what did we do?
Stephen: [22:57] What is going on with us, man? Oh man. So all right, so wait. So you both get laid off or you leave the company and then you both go on amazon and you both get suspended. So you say, hey, this relationship is working really well, let’s, let’s start a business together and even deeper, but you know what, there’s something to be said for that. You knew him, you knew you known quantities. That’s so hard to know how people are going to be when you won’t work with somebody that closely for that long. You get to see them over time and that, that’s a fair, that’s, that’s the right person to partner with.
Speaker 3: [23:30] Yeah, I could, you know, I knew he was pretty steady and um, was, you know, but of course, you know, we both had a moment and I thought, well, he’s going to run back the corporate. No, no way. See, you know, and I was like, I just can’t, I just can’t go back. I gotta I gotta solve for this since thankfully Cynthia Stein said, don’t worry about it, I’ll fix it. And I was like, ok, I’m going to put my trust in you and I’m going to move on and now I need to know about how I’m going to diversify and how I’m going to solve for this. Um, you know, first thing was I can’t just be on amazon, I’ve got to have another plan. Um, I can’t do ra anymore. I’m entirely because I’ve got to have safer. It was taking so much time.
Stephen: [24:11] You hear people say, hey, wait a shopping two or three hours a day. Imagine now you’re going to be able to shop for eight or 10 hours a day. Your business is going to explode. You’re going to go three or four times. The amount
Speaker 3: [24:26] did happen. I had 15 people shopping for me when I got suspended. So, but that was huge. But it comes, I think ray has a certain amount of risk. It has a of risk in process because you’re doing not a case of something which might have 20 [inaudible], 24 items. You’re doing 24 different items. So every time you print a label is a label that goes with that. Or is it different people that I sit for ship the wrong thing. That’s a really nominal mistake, um, or issue than it can solve for that with better process. But what happens when somebody puts a hat inside a tj maxx purchased backpack and you ship, you’ve got the price tags off, but inside there’s a hat that has a tj maxx sticker on it or what happens when it just, just the control and this and are than anything else. Really the scale isn’t there. I know there are some people doing raw. I mean, we were doing high six figures in ra, um,
Stephen: [25:27] millions, but they are outliers. I think they do wholesale privately. I don’t care what they do, they’re just outliers there. They’re just, they’re outliers.
Speaker 3: [25:36] People to do it in wholesale. I think it’s possible. Obviously it is because there are people who are doing it, but the issues that come along with that in order to scale how many, you know, like how much time I’m a good friend of mine was getting, we’d go on conference and she’d have six or seven, um, issues a week with counterfeit and it, you know, it’s just crazy.
Stephen: [25:58] Well, even those people do look to see if there’s another way they all say it. You know, that’s unfortunate. It’s a, an addictive thing because let’s face it, there fast turn of the money, it’s quick, you’re able to very quickly get your money and it’s, it’s uh, taking advantage of market conditions and stuff. However, even they get tired. So I think it’s a first name and I think everybody can relate to that.
Speaker 3: [26:21] So by the end of that, by that end of that year, we were 60 percent wholesale. Year later we were like 99 percent wholesale. That wholesale has its own issues because if I can buy six cases, so can the next guy and the next guy, and I’m only as good as my last by is safe before it gets encroached on.
Stephen: [26:40] The only thing you have to compete is price period, right? I mean, that’s it. We’re selling the same thing. We’re both selling classic coke or a pepsi, right? So we’re selling the same thing. The only thing I can do better than you is offer a better price period.
Speaker 3: [26:55] Or I can go back to the manufacturer, which is where we since evolved and say, all right, you’ve got coke cherry, you’ve got coke a regular, you got diet coke. Can I have lime coke only for me though. I want lemon lime coke only for me.
Stephen: [27:12] So this is relative. So you’re describing not even a white label. You’re saying make me my special batch.
Speaker 3: [27:18] Yeah, with your brand and all your particulars on it just for me.
Stephen: [27:24] So isn’t that the same thing that when you go to walmart and you see walmart exclusive, if that’s exactly what they’re doing, right? They’re going to start working on saying, hey, this is luke skywalker. Make us one with a red shirt because nobody else has it and we’ll buy them from you. Right? And then when you’re one of those wackos who has to have it, you’re going to walmart to get that exclusive. And so what you’re describing is that same thing, but aren’t you? Don’t you have to be a multi million dollar seller? Don’t you have to buy millions of dollars to be able to get that to happen for you?
Speaker 3: [27:53] Now you might have to buy a thousand units, but you don’t have to buy. Make huge, huge things. In fact, one of the things when I, when I’m talking to people and they’re like, oh, you do private label, I still want to get into that, and I’m like, well, what do you do now? Wholesale? I’m like, you know, there’s a difference in the mentality between a wholesale and a private label and the person and or entrepreneur and how they look at things. When you do a wholesale, you’re buying cases, you know, maybe you get really big and you buy pallets, but you’re buying, you’re buying three, four cases of something at a time and you’re talking like 50 items. If the bottom falls out of 50 items, all right, I’m going to break me, but when you get to private label and now you start to have a certain volume of something, it’s amazing how differently you start looking at that.
Speaker 3: [28:43] That bottom cannot fall out. That product can not go be damaged. I’m going to learn how to do a thousand different things to enhance that and really market it. So I’ll tell a wholesale person like talk to your wholesale or vendors you don’t want to take on this huge risk of learning how to market at another level or a different, you know, maybe it’s a different way of marketing. It’s all marketing. Why don’t you see if you can get something from them where you don’t have to build a brand where you don’t have to build a variation. You’ve already got a brand on amazon from them. They’ve already got three other products selling well that you can attach to. Yeah, you’re going to have to take volume from them, maybe a thousand units in order for them to get them, um, maybe even 2000 units for them to satisfy the factories. But you’re not going to be coming from ground zero. You’re going to be coming. You’re going to be already three, four steps, maybe even a whole flight of them above where you would if you started with your own product and you’ve already got a entity. So, you know, try that first.
Stephen: [29:44] It’s funny, as I sit here and I always try to write the headline for the episode title, you know, and I always think about things and what you’re describing is basically you’re back to that same thing you were doing with jet, right? You’re using variations of products and platforms. I mean, it’s really the same thing, right? You’re saying the same thing. I’m right, and to me that’s a pretty smart. All right, so, so going back to them and you’ve had some success with that, right? So that’s, that’s something somebody’s going to be like, whoa, wait, I’m intimidated to go and talk to a vendor. But when you develop these relationships, it’s one of the reasons I love going to trade shows because you now get relationships, right? You’re now dealing on a smaller scale and quite frankly when you’re starting out, these are the places that you can have these conversations.
Stephen: [30:29] It’s hard to go into mattel and say, alright fellas, I’m here. It’s new barbie time. I want you to make steve’s barbie. They’re never gonna let even in the door, right? That you’re not getting past the receptionist. But if I’m coming to you and you make magnifying glasses, I don’t know why this is on my desk and I say, hey, I’ve got this, I want to go a peanut shaped one or something really quickly, you know, whatever those discussions happen because when they order, if you can buy their whole order, right? They have a minimum order they need to place if they’re manufacturing it overseas, right? Or their own, if they’re tooling, whatever they gotta do. And so if you can commit to that whole purchase there, surely I think of a company. And so have you ever bought from an esco?
Speaker 3: [31:11] I have a really good relationship with their sister company guns.
Stephen: [31:16] Um, so I used to buy from by all that junk and they would been like, oh, steve, you know, hey, if you’re willing to do a run, will bring them back. We’re sold out of that product. If you want to do it, you’ll be the only ones selling it. But you’ve got to buy, you know, a container load or two container loads. And, and so that is, um, I didn’t do it, but that is what you can do, um, to have those. There are company that looks for that. They’ll bring their, they’re sold out of, I don’t know what the cat in the hat dolls, ok, we’ll bring them back into production, but you gotta commit to buy a ball. And uh, so that’s intimidating at that higher level. But on a smaller scale, you know, what’s the minimum order quantity? Well, maybe it’s only a couple of hundred units. Have you ever had success with small units like that?
Speaker 3: [31:57] I have one vendor who do one unit for me. No kidding, no private label. One unit for me as far as brand brand exclusive, I think you would call this the smallest. I think we’ve been able to do. Um, probably about 500.
Stephen: [32:16] So 500. It’s not that intimidating.
Speaker 3: [32:18] Yeah. And if you’re coming off a strong raw business and you want to get or a strong wholesale business, it’s not that big a step. And a lot of times what happens is the company, does it tend to, like you were saying, I’ll bring this back, they’ll do like 10,000 units to satisfy their network. The factory doesn’t need that many of the factory may only need 1500 to satisfy their run. Like we have to have whatever their math is, we have to have this many people online and this many hours of time for this specific product for this much material, blah blah blah. So we need to make this item. So they may say, well you have to order 15 to 1800, um, if it’s a bigger item maybe or less, if it’s a smaller item, you have to order more. But there’s some kind of math that goes to the factory that’s different than what a company like an or something needs to satisfy the entire network of salespeople and stores and all that kind of thing.
Speaker 3: [33:11] So they may actually cancel something because it’s fallen below the demand for that network level. But it’s still huge. And you know, it can be huge on amazon because you’re buying six months to a year supply at a time that would work and get down to, I think the first couple we have now they’re down to with keywording and you know, improving the listing and advertising to. It takes a factory for months to make a run for us. And that’s about where we are on it. Ships it gets here, we say make another run, we’ll see you in four months so you can really develop these things and you just talk to the vendor and you say, I’m really having a hard time, you know, and this could lead to other things too, but I’m really having a hard time because when I’m trying to sell this product, my only differentiator is price. And I don’t want to do that to your brand.
Stephen: [34:00] And that’s a protective conversation, you know, sitting here thinking about it, there are two really important things to remember. You’re going to be able to capitalize on the brand’s recognition. So assuming that that brand is selling on amazon currently write another one of their products, right? You bring another lego product, but a good example of bed bed never going to happen, but you bring your own lego product out from lego exclusive. You’re going to benefit from lego because people are searching for lego and so therefore when you’re the only sour, then you also benefit because you’re able to hold the price. The other they, I think that happens too, is if you can demonstrate that this works, that salesperson, that owner or whatever, whoever that is just going to say, hey, do you have any more ideas? Because they need to make money. They need to find skews that they can get paid for it, that sell. Right? And so if you’re starting to help them figure this e-commerce thing, maybe it’s going to catch on, you know, there’s, that might catch on yet e commerce world, but it’s true. And so that benefit, that relationship that you have, um, of, of developing that you’re a proven known quantity. As more things come along, those opportunities keep one. Have you been able to go back to a vendor to get another deal from a, for another product?
Speaker 3: [35:13] yeah, that’s hitting the nail right on the head. It’s, that’s basically what’s happened is we’ve done one and then we did, I think the first time we did it we did the re um, because I thought I can’t pass this up, this, this huge. Um, and then we went back again and did three more and three more and I think we’re at where I feel comfortable Again. I think we had about 10 properties with them and I’m, that’s, I’m done now I need to go to a different company. What happens if they change their strategy or the direction or they get sold or they get sold, the owner dies and you know, you never know or they, um, like a couple of our things that are licensed. What if the license is a license or pulls back a license? You know, again, back to the diversification.
Speaker 3: [35:54] I’m one of the interesting things. I noted that it. Yeah, that definitely, um, one of the interesting things I noticed with that is one of the products I bought was there were two sister products already. So I said, all right, can I have it in another color? I’m realizing that I was going to have to price that color probably six to $7 more than the other two colors and freaking out a little bit, you know, like sometimes I make decisions and I say to my husband like, I don’t know if that was the best one, but you know, 90 percent of it’s right, but that other 10 percent is nagging at me. So that was the issue that I had with that and I thought well you know, there are two listings aren’t that great. Like can I put third variation in with about six pictures and much better description. and the funny thing is in that instance, because I thought well you know what the worst worst, you know what the other ones will be ranked say 10,000 in toys and mine will be 20,000. Still a good little little item, good little business, 20,000 toys. Great. Turns out that because it’s so optimized and it’s such a great listing, worst selling that one for $22 and it has a better rank than the other two.
Stephen: [37:05] Did you add on to the other two listings? Is it one listing with all three as a variation?
Speaker 3: [37:10] It was initially until my listing picked up enough and then I separated it,
Stephen: [37:16] so then you’re back out. So you were able to take advantage of it and build it up. Proof of concept and what would have happened if it didn’t work. You could have dropped your price down to them, maybe not even worst case and you move on. Next lesson, next lesson, and my bet is that this stuff gets easier. The more times you do it, the more confident you are. And then you know, you lead on conversations. When you do go to these trade shows or you meet these people, you now get to say, here’s what I did. This didn’t work. Here’s what I did. This did work. Here’s what I want to do with you and that conversation. I mean, think about it from their perspective. Who do I want to work with? Somebody who’s done it or somebody who’s just talking about doing it. So very, very cool. Let’s take the variation a step further. So now you take that third purple unit that you made and now you’re selling it on jet and walmart. Correct?
Speaker 3: [38:11] I’m leveraging that, that, that whole experience, that whole, all the, you know, the warehouSing of it, the listing, the whole thing, everything you like. Think about anything you do in that, like every ever lost a file and are like, oh, I can’t believe I can’t find this file again. But when you remake it, it goes so much faster. it’s faster the second time, the third, you know, so no problem. Um, and that’s what I see when we take these items. Now we’re going to put them other places and not all the component like walmart and jet don’t have any ppc. so it’s a real pain in the neck. I can apply that, but I can apply the good listing that works everywhere. So if I have a good listing with good keywords, that’s gonna come in no matter what. Um, and you know, and then I’m taking a product and think about it in another way. I’ve got 1200, 1500, 1800 units of something I’ve gotta diversify its gotta be everywhere there is a customer. Yeah. So number one rule in retail, how do you sell more? Be there when they want to be there with what they want when they want it.
Stephen: [39:16] I’m just sitting here thinking about that. What you said about listening quality, same issue on any platform really isn’t there? I don’t think about it because I’m not selling on jet and I’m just sitting here thinking, you know, the best listing must win rights, not only price, it’s that customer types in what they’re looking for and you match that you get found, right? It doesn’t have to be price because they’re not only price driven right there, there
Speaker 3: [39:44] figuring it out what the customer’s looking for. And you’re not only buying Something as a customer that you, you can’t see it. I mean You can see it but you can’t actually really see it. You can’t touch it. If it’s something you’re. I mean I’m amazed. I sell so much so, but nobody can smell it. I mean, you know what lavender smell, so you get it and you hope it’s right. But how much stuff is being sold just on the quality of the listing, you know, you have, um, let’s go back to the soap. You have a bar soap or you have a bar of soap is being held in a hand. Oh, now I know how big it is. And someone’s using a picture. Oh look, it looks like it lathers really well. Oh wow. Look, she’s having a great time in the shower. I bet I’m going to have a great time.
Stephen: [40:23] You’ve answered their questions.
Speaker 3: [40:24] Yeah. And, and the whole time they can’t smell or touch it.
Stephen: [40:28] How about a, I mean, because let’s face it now, now amazon. I know, but it’s, it’s the thing that drives the sales on amazon, right? We all know that. That’s the number one thing is I can’t saY real reviews because I don’t know how many are real reviews, but reviews. I mean, I think of my kidS, my oldest son is specially. They will not. I mean, we, we can’t even go out to dinner without them looking at yelp. I mean, I’m like, let’s just go to the restaurant and I’m like, I, you know, he’s like, oh no, hold on, let’s go here. I’m like, really? I mean they will not make a decision without looking at that group. Think to see who’s experienced it so they don’t have to go through that again. And the same thing goes for purchasing. How does that work on jet? I know how walmart works, but how does that work on jet?
Speaker 3: [41:11] Well, jeff doesn’t really. They have reviews, but the reviews are solicited by jet, which is honestly, and I hate. No one’s gonna want to hear me say this is how amazon should be doing it. Amazon should be saying, listen, if you want reviews, that’s fine. Take your product. We’re going to take one or the way we’re going to have you send one out of the warehouse to your review team and they’re going to review it or, or we’re going to make a population of 5,500 people that we’ve bonded and vetted. They’re going to review your product and these are the only ones that are going to count.
Stephen: [41:43] So if I’m going to buy a bar soap, I’ll make sure I understand this on jet. Those reviews are, are people that are connected to jet in some way and into jet success. So there they have a vested interest in being.
Speaker 3: [41:56] Oh no, no, no. They’re jet. The people who work at jet versus sending out there just like amazon sends out requests for a review, but you can’t, you know how you can do it and encourage people to give you reviews. There’s no means for that.
Stephen: [42:11] I think I was saying the same thing. I’m just saying that the people that jet is choosing, they have a vested interest in the honesty because they really need to make sure that what they’re selling is right and real, right? Because they need that credIbility. so that’s what you’re saying to. Ok. All right. So, um, that’s how they do it. Oh, interesting. How, how important is the review in your jet sales?
Speaker 4: [42:34] Yeah,
Speaker 3: [42:38] I got a feeling. I’m just thinking I’ve never really thought of it that way before. and it probably should have, but I’m thinking,
Speaker 4: [42:46] yeah,
Speaker 3: [42:48] experience you have as a buyer and jet is so different, um, than it is an amazon because you’re sort of like, it almost feels like I’m a slot machine, right? You put a, you put a dollar In, you spin the wheel, you pressed a button, I put another dollar, another dollar in and you’re there for awhile and it starts to feel sticky because, you know, you have this delusion that I’ve got so much money, I got a win. You know, the odds are comIng, like the odds are exactly the same every time you push the button, but you start to feel like you’re in a progressive slot machine and I’m going to win. I’m gonna win. I’m gonna. Look, I got more of a discount if I put more stuff in. And I think that stickiness factor starts to play more of a role than maybe a review does. But that’s my guess because I just know by how many multi unit, um, purchases we have. It’s like they’re not looking at every one of these reviews. They might have looked at the first product, but after that
Stephen: [43:45] they’re just like, you’re just saying it’s up to standard period. I don’t have to look at it because it’s up to standard. So it’s a really a price driven market place.
Speaker 3: [43:54] Yeah. I was very sensitive and it’s dynamic pricing, right? The more I buy them or I save, but I’m not, it’s not the cheapest thing there. Like if I get a soap, maybe $14 and tWelve dollars on amazon, but by the time I’m done it’s 1350. Did I save any money? Not necessarily, but maybe in the whole purchase I saved $30.
Stephen: [44:18] So yes, it’s a difference of going to a grocery store and there’s the store brand versus the name brand and then going to costco where it’s only, and let’s assume that they don’t have their own. They’re selling tide liquid detergent, but you got to buy 68 gallons to get a good price. But that’s it. I want tied. I just want the best price versus a grocery store where I can have other tings. Ok. So it’s. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. So, alright cool. Merchant comes along, um, but I don’t know how we got where we got to, but I love it. No, I think we got to a good place because I think a, I think people need to understand the wholesale is a much bigger, broader opportunity. Absolutely. Is. And when you start thinking about it creatively, like you are, again, I’m back to you in this variation. When you’re looking at the variation of marketplaces for the variation of products, you’ve really diversified your business without going. Why’d you didn’t have to go very wide?
Speaker 4: [45:12] Hmm.
Stephen: [45:13] And noT that deep, but you didn’t have to go. So why? To me that’s a very powerful thing, yet you still want to be out in different places. So thinking about where jet is going, thinking about where walmart is, new sellers that are selling on amazon are saying, hmm, you know, if I’m an ra or you know, can I sell my ra toys on walmart?
Speaker 3: [45:38] Technically speaking, I think if you read any of you have to have the rights to that product to sell it, right? Should I say somebody got it.
Stephen: [45:48] And let’s assume you got it and you’re selling them, so that’s a viable channel to do that. Um, but if you’re really developing a brand or what you described as your own variation of someone else’s brand, you’re saying that these are the places you really need to go because as of today, it’s amazon, ebay,
Speaker 3: [46:10] walmart, and jet fair. Exactly.
Stephen: [46:13] Ok. All right, cool. I, because I see some people who are on many different channels, so I, I tell this story, it’s a truth. Go search new egg and you’ll see sneakers there. And I’m like, what? So there’s nobody going. when’s the last time you thought, oh man, I’ve got to buy my computer. Oh, and let me get a pair of reeboks. No, that’s not happening.
Speaker 3: [46:33] Not after the electronics. It’s a great niche.
Stephen: [46:37] Yeah, absolutely. I mean absolutely. Right. And so that’s really the place that you need to think about. So current merchants role in this is what?
Speaker 3: [46:45] So we are a real listing service. So basically you’ve done the work in amazon and we’re going to help you leverage that into jet. And walmart were in currently developing. We just finished up a shipping, shipping and now we’re moving on to ebay, so you’ll be able to, and ultimately we’re going to,
Speaker 4: [47:06] yeah,
Speaker 3: [47:07] turn it a little bit when we do ebay so that you’ll be able to actually put your listing in at the top. So you’ll say I have the sneakers or why they’re nike, their size seven. Um, these are all the pertinent details and then we’ll be able to either we’ll take that out of your amazon listing or will you can put that in, you know, just in your database. And then we’ll say, ok, now we’re going to that into ebay. We’re going to translate that into walmart. We’re going to translate that, the jet, um, if it was something that wasn’t on amazon will ultimately translate that into amazon as well. And then you manage your inventory for them from the top. But the idea being that, um, the work output that you have to do is not repeated. It’s minimized, simplified, and super easy. We even, even if you don’t want to do the amount of work, you know, the minimal amount of work that you need to do to relist, we even have va is that for a small monthly fee, we’ll do the whole thing for you.
Stephen: [48:03] These 12 things that you need to do are the same on all these other channels in one form or another. We have created a path that converts this from this word, this english to spanish and from french and all the different things. So you basically have said this is the path that they need to go out into these other places and we can eliminate those steps for you. Steve, is it monthly service? Is it a cause? Some of the, uh, some of the, ah, I don’t want to use their names, but some of those, um, companies that do similar things like that they charge you based on sales based on, um, uh, orders and things like that. How does yours work?
Speaker 3: [48:41] Monthly service fee, flat fee? Um, well, it depends. I mean say flat fee for. It’s based on the amount of live skews. So if you were an ra and you had a bunch of empty skews, we’re not going to charge for those, but if they have inventory, um, a, the quarter quarter live, then that’s where you have a hundred and 50 skews in amazon that you want to put on gen walmart. Um, It would be $39 for the first marketplace in $29 for the second, um, we do not charge a percent of revenue because we absolutely, totally don’t think I’m a percent of revenue is an ok option if I’m sitting there saying to you, yeah, you sell shoes, you know, did you realize that you have these six skews that together would make a great bundle and we’ll dynamically make that into a bundle. And this is a recommendation.
Speaker 3: [49:32] Maybe you want to give me a little percent of revenue because I’ve actually sold something that you didn’t already develop. But, um, you know, we were talking to somebody the other day about doing some advertising and they were $2,000 a month. Well, I started choking on that and then a one and a half percent of the revenue from everything they sold. I was like front and back. That doesn’t seem right. That seems like you should get a or either go all in with me and say percent of revenue or I’m just charging you for your service.
Stephen: [50:02] Does it make sense? Is one thing never made sense to me. It’s like, so your pair of shoes that sells for $200, it’s the same amount of work for that merchant company that it is for a $10 pen right there. The technical side, right? Because you know, It’s still a transaction that doesn’t change based on the price. So why should the fee, I mean if your fees are related to the service that you’re providing, that really doesn’t matter what the price. I can be selling million dollar porsche’s and it shouldn’t matter. Right. Interesting. ok. All right. So if someone was injured, so it’s [inaudible], is that the website? Yes. So co merchant [inaudible]. Uh, and the reason somebody needs to add this, I’m going to let you do your, I mean, you did a good job explaining what you are, so go ahead and make your pitch. Ah, it’s funny, somebody just commented about that. They’re like, steve, you let somebody make a pitch and it doesn’t sound like you’re selling something. I’m not selling something. I like barbara, I obviously she’s got a lot of information, a lot of value. And so she gets paid for services that she offers. That’s fair to me. I mean, to me that’s a fair. So you earn the right to be able to do that because you advanced us all acknowledge to me that’s quid pro quo. I’m cool with that. So go ahead.
Speaker 3: [51:17] So, um, I think the number on reason I would advise anyone to get into jet into walmart is because you want to diversify. You don’t want to be. And I was explaining, someone was asking me the other day or it was on a post in, uh, one of the facebook groups. Like, why do I feel like I have a face like a house of cards here with amazon, whether I’m selling 500,000 or 5,000,000, still feels like a house of cards to me. And you know, ultimately the answer is because you only have one customer, amazon, because other people aren’t your customers a and b, the moment amazon, amazon, the store, amazon decides that you no longer have an account with them, you’re done. So yeah, it is kind of a house of cards. If you’ve only got one customer, you need to have tWo customers, three customers for customers.
Speaker 3: [52:03] You need to start developing beyond maybe even e-commerce, if you’re a private label or a wholesaler where you can start building out even more channels to sell in. Um, I think a lot of us in the ecommerce world think amazon is the be all end all and don’t think past today or even tomorrow, they’re just like, well, I’ll just sell more stuff. I’ll go find more stuff. and it’s like, no, you need to diversify and you need to have a backup plan for your backup plan because, um, you know, as I learned getting suspended, it was like, whoa, that was shocking.
Stephen: [52:40] It just happens. And then you have to try to dig your way out. So again, I love the term you used earlier. Variations. I mean, I’m taking that away. It’s variations of products and variations of sales channels. those two things combined. I can’t do this math, but it’s, it’s true, I mean very few skews but with variations and then variations of places to sell it, all of a sudden it’s a lot of stuff to sell, right? It really is. And you don’t have to go out there and find a lot of other things. But then like you say, let’s add another variation of a vendor but to that mix and now all of a sudden it multiplies it again and again. So I love it. Best way for somebody to get in touch with you if they have further questions.
Speaker 3: [53:17] Um, if you go to a co merchant [inaudible] we have, um, uh, ask me more. Um, and contact me, be happy to do, uh, send me an email.
Stephen: [53:30] I like to help people get unstuck because you’ve been stuck. Make it sound like this is easy. It isn’t you. It hasn’t been easy, right? I’m sure there’s just a lot of blood, sweat and tears. But think about when you were stuck with that point, when you dIdn’t think you could get past it, what did you do or what would you advise people to help them get past that point of stuck?
Speaker 3: [53:49] Ok, so that would be, I think the most stuck. And my husband actually said, I don’t think I’ve ever been worried about you until now was when I got suspended and I was in a fetal position for probably a good two, three days wondering how I’m going to get unstuck as you say. And I, I started compartmentalizing. There’s things I could do and there’s things I couldn’t do. I couldn’t turn my amazon account back on. But you know what, I always wanted time to stop and there’s a lot of stuff in here that needs to be sorted in, cleaned up. So I did a little cleaning and I thought, you know what, how let’s say all this go, all this stuckness goes away. What am I going to do? What’s my plan? What’s my strategy? How do I have this stuck point or the sticking point, rather I’m unstuck. How am I to make sure I don’t have it again? Like what is my strategy and planning and I thought it was selling on amazon with no strategy or plan. I was just like, whoa, this is fun. I go shopping every day. ThIs is great. And the reality was I wasn’t thinking past today and I would say to everyone right now, before you do get stuck again, or even if you are stuck, compartmentalize, puts us stuck in one place and say at doesn’t exist, what am I going to do?
Stephen: [55:07] Because you will get stuck. You will have probably it will change tomorrow. The business we’re in today will change tomorrow outside of your control pieces never calls me and says, steve, what do you think we should do? I’ve never gotten that con waiting, but he never calls me.
Speaker 3: [55:24] It asks me if it’s ok if he does something I, he knows I’m not gonna lie
Stephen: [55:29] does barbara. That is awesome, man. Oh man. It was great to see you. Uh, we missed each other in vegas even though we were at the same event to different events and we missed each other. But it’s part of the beauty of. There’s so much going on. That’s why this business is so exciting and so much fun. You’re still having fun. I hope
Speaker 3: [55:48] I tell you, I say it all the time. The best thing that ever happened to me when I was, when I got suspended because it opened up, you know, just having that huge challenge opened up. New worlds. Invest is to me that I never would have otherwise encountered. And it’s great. Love it.
Stephen: [56:04] And it probably made you realize you can do so much more to some. Very cool. All right, well I wish you nothing but success. Thank you so much.
Speaker 3: [56:12] Yeah,
Stephen: [56:13] great interview. Very strong, very strong individual, knows your business, knows their business well, takes her corporate experience and applies it into business very, very well. And a real leader out there. And uh, I think it’s great co merchant. I mean, if that interests you, I don’t benefit in any way possible other than you. If this works for you, you have success. I win and I just love it and love to hear somebody having some success with it. Send me a note. E-commerce momentum to e-commerce momentum. Dot-com. Take care.
Cool voice guy: [56:44] Thanks for listening to the e-commerce momentum podcast. All the links mentioned today can be found at e-commerce momentum. Under this episode number, please remember to subscribe and like us on
Stephen: [56:56] tunes.