Jimmy Patel is part of the executive team at the eStoreFactory. He has years of quality experience working with eCommerce sellers and helping them establish their brands by showing them how to sell on Amazon.
He joined us for an interview to discuss what it’s like working with Amazon sellers and what the scope for selling on Amazon is like.
- You should use your time efficiently to establish a strategy and social media presence while waiting for your product to be done manufacturing.
- Diversifying to other sites and using outside traffic as well as appropriate keywords will boost sales and help your brand establish itself
- Experienced sellers tend to be more cooperative than sellers just starting out because they understand and trust the process
- Product inserts, email lists, social media, and influencer marketing help with generating initial reviews if done right
- The most common mistake people make is thinking of Amazon selling as a quick and easy magic solution
Could you please just briefly introduce yourself? What do you do? What kind of responsibilities do you have at the eStoreFactory?
Hi, I’m Jimmy, and I work in the eStoreFactory as manager of all the technical and client support.
So at eStoreFactory, we usually have all the planning and execution of the activities which Amazon sellers need for their account expansion. The sellers work with our expert team and focus on development and brand growth, and we plan accordingly.
I manage the technical part- creating and helping sellers create a strategy and executing it. If they need any extra training, then I’ll leave a big house for them to give them a new idea and to train them to make the project successful.
Right. And when you go to Amazon or selling conferences and people ask you what your company does, how do you explain it in a one-liner?
In one line, I would say we have a tongue-tie exclusive service for Amazon. It’s like we create an eCommerce ecosystem where you can easily sell on Amazon and other online marketplaces. We do the product research and sourcing, then create keyword-based content. We compile infographics and images for the product, upload them, and do the product promotion to Amazon or a sponsor for the brand. I’m involved during marketing too. We use social media, Google SEO, Adwords, and help with the brand website. The company also has photography and graphic design departments so we can also help with designing the product packaging. It’s all about the ecosystem and providing services for eCommerce product selling.
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Okay. So you are helping people who want to sell on Amazon focus on what they do best, which is sourcing and developing the product. And you alleviate the pain of marketing and everything that goes with selling the product?
That’s interesting. I know you probably get asked this a lot, but if a person decides to sell on Amazon in 2020, do they still have any chances of becoming successful?
Oh yeah, absolutely. If you’d have asked me the same question in 2014, I would have said first that equally good products are manufactured in China, but Amazon will get successful sales since it has all the customers.
So now, for 2020, the main game is this. If a seller can bring the products people want to on Amazon, then they can sell on Amazon nicely. You can research the amount of traffic a specific product gets. If someone is searching for, let’s say, shoes, then you can bring in the big guns and compete with Nike on Amazon. It’s possible to do that. The only things you require are a good strategy and planning. How you are portraying your brand, your story, and the quality of your products on Amazon helps you become successful as well.
Interesting. Speaking of the brand strategy, what are some of the things that sellers should understand and know about how to sell on Amazon? What should they educate themselves about while the product is manufactured so that they’re ready once the product is shipped?
Well, in terms of shipping, there’s a considerable time gap between ordering the product and receiving it. It’s a long period of 45 to 60 days for the products to ship from China or anywhere else to your Amazon warehouse.
The good part is that you can use that time to continue planning and working on your brand. Sellers can perfect what they want their brand to portray so that their products sell. And based on that, they can develop their social media and website. They can focus on their niche and carve out a place for themselves by interacting with their potential customers.
That’s done with the initial study and development, in terms of preparation or in terms of having more confidence in the products. I think if you are confident about the product you have selected and if you are capable of sustaining your business through the next 12 months, then you can definitely succeed. It depends a lot on patience because to sell on Amazon you need patience. It takes time. It’s like any other business. You have to put in the work, take multiple factors into account, deal with problems as they arise, and work on growing by increasing input every day. Only then will you achieve success in selling your product.
You should also focus on having a strong and dependable supply chain. Don’t think that a particular supplier or vendor will be your one-stop-shop. You may want to explore different products later when you’re successful. Just because a supplier worked for you once doesn’t mean you won’t want someone else afterward. And it is good to keep dependable backups in case a vendor is unavailable.
You should do all this preparation while the product is being manufactured.
Speaking of marketing, I mentioned that you have to do a lot of work on Amazon for it to help you. I’ve heard about the 80 20 rule where you do 80% of the work upfront, and Amazon does only 20% of the work for you. However, it can also be the reverse if you do everything right. Amazon will do 80% of the work for you, and you will have only to do 20%.
Also, it’s a good idea to have social media accounts in place before you launch the product and sales. Besides social media, you can also have emails and newsletters in different sources to reach your target audience. Generally, social media is also one of the best options for promoting your product’s landing page as well as promoting your products too. All relevant information and search habits should be a part of your online marketing. Aside from Amazon, you can develop outside software to help you also.
Because you work so much on developing the outside traffic that will help you sell on Amazon, the obvious question that some of the audience might have is whether you should focus on selling on Amazon at all or diversifying to other marketplaces, or maybe build a Shopify store? In the platform-driven world that we live in today, do you think it’s worth building a Shopify store at all, or should you focus completely on how to sell on Amazon or other marketplaces?
Of course. There are multiple sources where you can send your products. I’m in my comfort zone in places like Amazon and eBay, but there are other stores like Shopify or Magento or eCommerce websites that sellers can utilize. I would say you should have your sights on both kinds of eCommerce stores because Amazon is the biggest site. In the eCommerce industry, Amazon covers around 60 or 70% of the customer base.
At the same time, as I said earlier, the ultimate goal is to make your product and your brand stronger. And you should explore whatever avenues are available to make that happen. You should also have a presence on Google as well as social media. This will give customers a clearer idea about your region, your product, and your product quality.
Ideally, you should have your website online to add all your details. That would make it easier to do a marketing campaign on social media, Google, or any other available channels to generate traffic. We can also see how it can serve as a customer base for your product. It all comes back to the lesson of not putting all your eggs in one basket and having many assets in various places.
I see. What about Amazon marketing? Let’s say that I want to sell on Amazon, and I just developed the product and am about to launch my first ad campaign, i.e., a PPC campaign. Should I focus on PPC ads in the very beginning as a way to drive traffic and future sales to build sales history? Or should I strive to make my ads profitable right out of the gate?
Well, when you’re launching your product, it’s like a product launch. You can compare it to drag racing, where you have to shift the gear at the right time if you want to live in the race.
In a product launch, there are different activities that you have to do at the right time. And if you don’t miss that window, then you get a good sales ranking. Others spin the wheel to get the ball rolling, too, and you can start focusing on sponsoring that. So for the first two weeks, I would suggest doing a campaign front for the client’s campaigns. You can use any of the product launch tools, something like launching on Snagshout, which can give you initial status posts.
If you’re targeting the right keywords, that will make your product sell more, and you will get a killer ranking. This process will also help you be on the first or second page of the search result of any root keywords.
If I have to properly sell on Amazon, you suggest focusing on keywords before PPC?
Right. Exactly. Because that’s the first stage where you can get maximum orders. Once you do that, then switching over to other campaigns will be much easier. This is because once you do that for the initial two weeks of the campaign, you will have a few reviews to start with. Good reviews will always help you start your PPC campaign. I would suggest switching to Amazon PPC campaigns from the second or third week. The idea of using the different promotion styles would be to jump from aggressive to a continuous, smooth process of product launch.
Okay, thanks for that. When it comes to more experienced sellers, are there any low hanging fruit opportunities to optimize their listing conversion that you often see with their clients?
Oh yes, of course. Experienced sellers are always my favorite because they’re aware of all the technicalities. They know everything about Amazon. So when we start working with them live, we’ll get lots of low hanging fruits or a headstart, so to speak, to operate our strategy around.
They’re less challenging than an inexperienced seller or other sellers who are starting anew. Experienced sellers know the importance of product security, and they’ve done the trademark certification.
Therefore, they also have much less competition in their products. As a benefit, we get the ability to create A+ or content storefront. This is definitely a great way to get more conversion if you are getting more resistance to your product. That’s one. The second is that if they are experienced, they might have done excellent PPC campaigns already. Since they have successful PPC campaigns themselves, that helps us avoid basic errors with new keywords because they already have the winning campaigns or the winning keywords.
That way, we can focus on taking them to the next level. These sellers are technically sound and experienced. You don’t have to explain to them in detail the challenges you’re getting in promoting the product because Amazon is very competitive in the market, in any category. Being strong and getting more sales is difficult or challenging for any of the sellers. Knowing that a challenge exists will make relaxed and more cooperative clients vote.
The other is outside traffic. These sellers know that, along with Amazon marketing, Amazon PPC, and promotion, external traffic is also essential in order to sell on Amazon. They always support getting outside traffic from Google SEO services, Google AdWords, social media, and press releases. All of those things make it very easy for us to work with experienced sellers.
What’s the proportion of new sellers to experienced sellers?
I would say it’s around 60, 40. We have 60% of experienced sellers, so about half. We’re doing almost seven figures annually when it comes to selling on Amazon, and some of these sellers are in Amazon’s top 500 in the U.S. as well. At the same time, we also have clients who are either beginners or are into 50 or 60 thousand dollars per month. It’s interesting because the most common concern among the new sellers that I’ve talked to is how to build those first reviews. If you don’t have reviews, you don’t have sales. And if you don’t have sales, you don’t have reviews. So it’s kind of like a catch.
I wonder how you deal with getting those first reviews. Not purchased, but real authentic reviews for Amazon sellers. Should you leverage offline marketing such as product inserts or email marketing or social media that you mentioned? What’s the strategy behind those first reviews?
When looking to sell on Amazon, Amazon product reviews are a complicated topic. Everybody will ask if there’s any way they can get reviews for their product. It’s the one question that always arises when you are launching a new product. We are very transparent and honest about the Amazon review part because it’s very risky. You can’t use any shortcuts to get reviews because Amazon is quick to crack down on such efforts.
Rather than risking your account and your products, we keep ourselves and our clients away from all those shortcuts. You can get genuine reviews from Amazon’s services and facilities which support you in getting reviews.
Amazon line is also an option available to people looking to sell on Amazon, central sellers, and sellers who are doing good in sales to get organic reviews. Amazon has also limited its sellers. Now you can only contact your customers once, then you can request reviews from others. That is one of the activities that can show you limited, about 10 to 20%, success, but it’s good to have that kind of gender and geography.
As for the shortcut, we have a product insert where you can insert a card in offline marketing. It’s like a menu of your product in your product packaging. You could ask for genuine reviews from your customers if they liked the product on these cards.
The other is a landing page, which is also connected with the product insert. The landing page should be a mobile-friendly landing page. You can use it to lead your customers or potential customers to your Amazon product page from the product insert or social media.
But in between all that, you are getting email IDs that you can use to develop your email list. You can then email your customers or potential customers information, give them a promotion, or ask for reviews. These are all different online and offline activities, which can get you more customer reviews.
Yeah. And do you see any clients working with influencer marketing? Because in my experience, and I’ve talked with a bunch of agency founders on this podcast, almost everyone says that influencer marketing is great, but it’s this black hole that nobody really knows how to work with regarding Amazon.
So I’m curious to know your thoughts. Speaking of your views regarding reviews as well, how can you leverage influencer marketing for Amazon marketing?
Well, I would say influence marketing works. I’ve been using this strategy since 2016 myself. However, by no means is influencer marketing free or even cheap. It might be expensive or out of the budget for many beginners and new sellers. There’s also the issue of choosing an influencer, be it on youtube or another medium.
You can promote your product to the person as a successful influencer marketing strategy. For this purpose, we use YouTube Bay’s influence marketers to promote products that are based on a niche.
You can’t just ask any influence marketer to promote any category products because everybody will have their own category. And their individual needs to promote the products. If you are targeting any electronic product, you should choose a marketer who is good at electronics, creating videos, and has a decent number of subscribers. That will maximize your chances of receiving a positive response for your product.
As you can see, selecting the right niche influencers and creating the right kind of content will help you to get sound output from your audience.
You mentioned that it might be too expensive for new sellers, but can someone who’s just starting give their product as a gift to an influencer? For example, make a mini-campaign of asking Instagram influencers to review their product for free?
Yes, they can definitely do that. However, these influencers ask for at least 5,200 products because they have many subscribers. They tend to run their contests with their questions and rules. It usually follows the influencers asking subscribers to engage with them in some way. And then they redirect the subscribers to your Amazon product page. They may even give out a coupon code or a promotional code. That is why you should have a budget set aside for influencer marketing.
And what are some of the top mistakes that you see sellers make while promoting their Amazon brand or their Amazon products? It can either be an Amazon PPC, social media, or anything that we discussed before.
There are several mistakes that sellers make. They can have a certain mindset, which leads them to not getting success in Amazon. An example is if they have a short term view. Many people consider Amazon to be a silver bullet.
They think that if they add a product to sell on Amazon, it will start selling automatically. And they will not have to do anything. They imagine that they’ll sit at home and drink beer while the sales keep coming in every minute or so.
Like one of our previous guests said on this podcast, Amazon is e-commerce and training wheels. So that’s something like that.
Yes. Exactly. So it’s not a short term view. Like any other business or brick and mortar store, you have to put in your time and hard work. You need to study and understand the technicality to sell on Amazon and then look at product promotion too. Looking for a product and then optimizing it with SEO will lead you to stable success. It will take time, so patience is key.
The second mistake that they make is starting to have an emotional attachment with their product. I come across many situations with my clients where I have to make them understand that, of course, it’s your product, and it’s the best quality. But here we are talking about fighting with other sellers or also having the best quality, and you’re talking about 15 other Amazon sellers who are also renting on the first page. Instead of maintaining the sales price, you should aim to have a higher rate than your competitors. Your product has the highest quality, so it should be priced higher. Otherwise, you’re leading your product towards failure.
Another mistake is not considering the role of trial and error in sponsored ads. For some reason, sellers believe that the more money they invest in sponsored ads, the more sales they will get. They need to understand that it doesn’t just depend on the amount of money you invest. But the strategies and keywords you use. These sellers are willing to spend more, but they are not aware of what kind of keywords and standards they should use in a sponsored ad.
I often get asked why I’m focusing on outside traffic if we are concerned with ‘sell on Amazon’ only. That is when I have to explain to people that this isn’t just about being able to sell on Amazon. If we do not promote outside of Amazon, we won’t get the maximum amount of traffic, and the organic ranking of the product won’t improve.
These are all some of the wrong points of view that many sellers have that lead to them making critical mistakes.
That makes sense. I have one last question, probably for both you and your business partner. What truth do very few people agree with you on? And that’s a question from Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One.
A lot of people, as you said earlier, come to us thinking that this is some magic wand that can be exercised, and all of a sudden, you’ll have different results.
There is no alternative to hard work, persistence, and sticking around. In that sense, I’d say even if you refer back to old books, like The Richest Man in Babylon, and whatever principles came in from there, this will stand true, even with Amazon or eBay business. So yeah, that is one of the truths, or that is something that we find very difficult to explain to people. They would rather be customers or sellers happily investing time and money into bricks and mortar stores.
If they opened up a shop, they’d be happy to stick around for two years, put in $100,000, and still think that they’re trying. Try doing one-tenth of that on an Amazon shop, and they’d run out of patience. So that is one truth we have learned, and we started the journey like that as well, thinking that this is a shortcut method in which you’ll start making money from the next month onwards.
We want to get more and more experienced sellers out of this thought process. Yet, they still keep slipping back to this sort of thought pattern just because it’s so easy to think like that. Especially the new sellers feel like this, particularly the new people that are coming on board or have seen or heard stories. Perhaps they’ve gone to one of those exhibitions or seminars and heard success stories and have come back thinking, “this is exactly what I’m going to do now.” They do not get to a level where they agree with or understand what we’re trying to be.
Not trying to shoo you away or underselling our own business and saying, look, don’t hire us. But at the same time, you don’t want to compromise on the truth. We don’t want to be dishonest with them and show them the stars as dreams, knowing fully well, it’s not going to happen. That is something that they need to align themselves with.
I love that. Thank you. And yes, almost 90% of the time when I ask agency founders or sellers whether it’s too late to get into Amazon or not, the most common answer I get is if you’re not serious about it, don’t do it. It’s not a quick buck. It’s not a magic wand, as you said.
Thank you, guys. Thank you for being on the show.
It was so nice talking to you.