Nathan: Hey! What’s up listeners? Today we have Taz joining us on e-Commerce On Tap brought to you buy Sourcify. Taz, thanks so much for joining us, we’re so excited to have you here and you know I really want to start by just asking you, how’s the day going? Where are you based today?
Taz: I am based in Boston, the day is going amazing, I could not ask for a better day honestly.
Nathan: Awesome! Well, thanks so much for joining us and you know really before we get into e-Commerce and I know you’re one of the Amazon experts out here in the world that’s selling a ton of different products through that marketplace; we always like to understand you know, how people got into e-Commerce; kind of walk us through your process?
You know, where were you born? Where you grew up and what was the first time you know what you heard about e-Commerce?
Taz: Sure, definitely so I was born in London and now based in the US. I had my stop there, I was born and raised in the UK, hence the accent, hoping people can recognize because I’m losing it.
So, I’m trying to emphasize it now, so one thing I have you know bringing from the UK. So, I was born and raised and I moved over here couple of years ago and actually my journey in e-Commerce only started very recently. So, I’ve always been entrepreneurial, I’ve always had some kind of blog that hasn’t let me take this next step of creating my own business.
So, then a couple years ago, about a year and a half ago, I decided that I need to do something now. So, I started to build a social media marketing agency and everyone’s heard of Tyler Lopez and Tyler Lopez had a course. This seems like it’s interesting it’s something I can do; this is it, I’m going to go start working on this.
And then at roughly the same time, about a few weeks after I started that course, a friend of mine told me about Amazon and Retail Arbitrage at the time was the business model that my friend was using. And so, he just told me exactly what he did. The processes he went through and I said, “Hold on a second, you do this and you just made $40,000 in December? Hold on a second, I’m in the wrong game here.”
So, I plea for refund of the Tyler Lopez course and start to retail arbitrage and so my first thing on Amazon was January of 2017.
Nathan: That’s incredible and you know I think you’ve really been creating a name for yourself an industry fast, I mean few people can scale up and grow like that I asked that because I’m sure some listeners are wondering; you know how was that Tyler Lopez course? You know we’ve all seen him around on the Internet and you know he’s one of the biggest Internet marketers in the world, how is the course? I mean was it good?
Taz: Well, so the course was kind of a bit so I can’t be too harsh on it, I don’t really feel like there was much structure, I didn’t really know how to go from A-B-C and I didn’t know how to get customers to generate revenue. It was very kind of fluffy and I didn’t like that; I wanted to have kind of a clear structure and if I worked hard I could figure this thing out and obviously you know you saw my intelligence at same time, it wasn’t clear to me exactly how I took this concept to a full fledge business, that was my challenge.
Nathan: That’s incredible, I mean I kind of just I think that goes to show some of the dynamics behind these courses where you know you buy a course and you still have to put in the work you know the course doesn’t run the business for you, doesn’t grow the business for you.
Taz: Absolutely! I mean it’s one thing being able to just do the work and actually get results out of it but there’s no being to actually have difficulty understanding a concept because it’s not explained to you correctly and you know there are people going out courses.
There are so many Amazon courses out there, it’s incredible and I’m sure very soon some will be building Amazon course, that there are very few good ones out there are very few that take you step by step on exactly what you need to do and then literally if you follow the steps, you will be successful. I mean that’s the dream, entrepreneurial dream, that’s what people looking for but very few examples of those types of courses are out there.
Nathan: Definitely makes sense, I mean so walk us through because a lot of listener are people that are just starting out, there’s listeners that are doing you know eight figures sales already but for people who are trying to get started on Amazon and you know it started fairly recently here what was those first steps? What were the first steps that you took to get started selling? I mean obviously of the bigger product but besides that process of picking a product you know what was it like getting to set up on Amazon for the first time?
Taz: Yes, I’m actually going to take a [inaudible] different business models you can use on Amazon and well I just mentioned Retail Arbitrage that was not was a thing I got into and now you can do the three main business models are Retail Arbitrage, Online Arbitrage, Wholesale and Private Label.
Private Label is the business model I’m in; this is my chosen, I think the best in my opinion when I started I was literally going around driving around not even driving because I don’t have a car.
I was going around to stalls, buying stock price you can get discounted prices, you know these are tactics to buy things I could reach for Amazon for profit and that’s why I used to help generate some revenue, some income and basically a bank because I knew that eventually, I want to go and start my own private label business.
So, starting out it’s you need to have some cash like it’s really tough; if you don’t have at least I mean at least $5,000 spare and you start on a product, you need to figure out a way to generate to get that money before you start private label because really is it so challenging now compared to say 2-3 years ago where you could just go in a bubble or do something for $1 and sell it for $15 and you’re making a lot of profit, it’s amazing.
Third party don’t really exist anymore, so you have to be smart to differentiate that part, you’re going to turn this into a brand? So let’s think about real business overall.
Nathan: Yeah, I mean that’s pretty incredible how you hustled your way up to a private label business because a lot of people you know either start by drop shipping or they start you know just trying to get money from friends and family and you actually went out and went to different retail shops around the area and bought products and resell them for a profit; I mean that’s pure hustle right there. You know it’s just taking it in executing on a concept and bring it to life and now you know you’ve grown quite a bit I mean is amazing.
So, right now on Amazon, you know where do you see the trends? Like for example, where if you were going to start selling a new product category, walk us through that process because you know a lot of listeners are more focused on Shopify right now, their interest in trying to sell on Amazon, walk us through that process of starting in a new product category and trying to rank these products. Like what would be your process and how do you think Amazon’s algorithm has really made up right now? You know what’s really pushing the algorithm right now?
Taz: OK, lots of questions. I’ll start with the categories and like where you start. I mean lots of people say, “Hey, you need to be really passionate about what you’re selling and all that kind of stuff” and you know to a point, that’s true. It’s going to be part of the rest of your entire life. But really, what you want to find out profitable products and there are lots of tools out there, are lots of different ways to find products, that’s always kind of the first stepping stone that people go through to figure out how they need to sell, what they need to sell.
And from a category perspective, I mean every– most categories are competitive and one of the most competitive, home and kitchen, outdoor, I mean you can name it as competition everywhere. So, really it’s what is your brand vision because when you start with a product and then you know what the next set of products you have in the pipeline are, that’s when that snowball starts to form and you start to get this massive ball starting to roll because when you have one product and you can cross to the other part of the parts and then part and then accessory to another product, that is really the key and that is how for some for me, I am building an arts and crafts brand and the parts are interrelated so it’s only buys one of these products they can buy another one I think that’s one of the biggest keys of being successful rather than having three or four complete despair and unrelated products; you’re thinking about building a brand.
And by doing that in the long term, I have a view to exit like a true this is a really, really this is turning into my life, it is my life and eventually I will want to exit and do something different or something else that’s the plan. You are asking about launching in ranking products again.
Nathan: I mean you know people ask all the time about how Amazon changes its algorithm the rank products and you know for you being on the ground floor and you obviously being an active seller right now, how have you gone about ranking products and you know if you can dive into your strategy behind some of these products that we all see.
Taz: Sure, so Amazon algorithm doesn’t change, it changes fairly regularly but what I think people get scared when they say, “Algorithm has changed” I mean the basic rules will always apply.
If you launch a product, you make a set of number of sales depending on the category and units will have to do some analysis, if you make a sentimental sales you’re going to rank well that particular key in that category for that area right.
So, it’s not that difficult to figure out how that should work and tend to be minor like something would change right, Amazon will put maybe they’ll put some more emphasis on your side of feedback for some reason or higher emphasis on the first negative review, a number of negative reviews whatever it is but essentially the basis of this algorithm is sales velocity.
So, you get a product, you end up making more sales on average than say the top ten products in that category for that key word but you know I mean it’s basic, is really—that’s generally how it is. So, then what we have to figure out is how do you go and generate those sales?
And the biggest challenge is reading how do you stick, so if I break that all down for you, the first thing you need to do is obviously every product and you need to get reviews because for separate page one and you’re surrounded by products and looks similar, they have hundreds more reviews that you and you’re going to find it very tough to stay in that opposition because if I see a product that’s four and a half hundred reviews and I see a product that’s five stars and five reviews, I’m 100% going for that tried and tested product. Why would you not? very risky otherwise.
So, get reviews and there’s different ways of doing it but I mean most of the time, it’s when you start, Amazon has different ways your program possible but you can get separate issues through them this is in a way and best way to do it but people do family and friends, people around get reviews together and then you start running PPC as well as trying to launch the product.
And then you go read that right because it doesn’t take much, right actually people sometimes as well when you had this big disparity in number of reviews, people think I am no chance to be successful in this; if you do make– if you have some kind of differentiation with your products and it looks a little better in different ways, there are people who is not only going to go for the one with the best reviews even if the looks of it what some people are going to say, “Hey, that looks interesting, maybe I’ll try that out”.
Nathan: Yeah there’s just so many shoppers on there that you’ve got a lot of options, I’ve got to ask I’m going after this you know review based ranking talking about what do you think about viral launch, you know and now I know they have a launch system have you used it or have you had friends that have used it and you know what are your thoughts on it?
Taz: Casey is a friend of mine and I met him last year, we were China together on one of the sourcing trips and I really believe in Bio Launch and everything they do, it’s an amazing platform and that is one of the ways that you can launch a product and is essentially has only a small Bio Launch right there they have product research, they have keyword sales, they have read sounds like kind of stuff but there initially they were known for these launches right and that still happens where they will help you get the sales last you need to actually go and rank your product.
And that it’s a basic premise right you just need to go make sure you get those sales, we sell them at discounted rate you get that but then what you again what you need to do, is if you use them for all photos or listing optimization that’s where you reading that differentiation, that’s where you have to be perfect because anyone can launch a product, anyone going to put this up and I’ve seen terrible products with almost no reviews who are launching and I think to myself why? Why are you doing this? You’re just wasting money because there is no way this will stick all it really is a battle something is just off of the listing and it can’t compete.
I mean sometimes there are several ways launch you can use Facebook ads as well, it’s one of that things I’ve used, Bio Launches is definitely a wonderful tool .
Nathan: You know I’m going to bring this up because you know we were you know somewhat closer with Bio Launch, working with different concepts, marking partnerships and with general as well.
I know there’s a lot of overlap between Bio Launch and Jungle Scout you know is or was the difference that you see in the tools or is it just two different brands? I mean is there any like a main distinct difference that you see?
Taz: Well, I think Bio Launch is—I just got the menu lots of different things as well as similar things to jungle scout; so jungle scout was primarily a product research tool that’s pretty much it and I hadn’t honestly, I haven’t gone back to see what’s changed much I know the UI has been updated by definitely user, I used to use them a lot and then came out with a couple like Mark intelligence help you rate products and all that kind of stuff.
I’m going bias towards Bio Launch more because I mean I’ve seen it myself I don’t know where Jungle Scout is right now, I’ve seen it myself in the past with my own products and I see the sales numbers on both and this is why is this so far off on Jungle Scout. And I know Casey and we’ve spoken about this in the past and how much they come a step they go into the math behind the algorithms and how they figure out, “Hey well, if someone’s doing a launch, you need to account for this spike here and look at the trade in 90 days or whatever is so we have the right number of sales and in terms of the estimates”
And that’s super important when you’re choosing a product, you can choose entirely wrong product if your sales revenue or your sales numbers are off. When you generate a ton of sales, and then you go to buy the products and you say, “Hold on a second, what’s happened to this?”
Nathan: Really it’s all in the data; I mean that’s really what it is.
Taz: And that’s honestly that’s what our launch other dates company because I think about Jungle Scout that I’m sure that tools already get so I just do not know the details of our own; I can talk more about it, I know how and algorithm you have to do it daily, so I trust the data a lot.
Nathan: That’s awesome, where do you see, you know one of the things that we see at Sourcify because we’re manufacturing for hundreds of different companies and we’ve seen this trend where marketplaces like Amazon are starting to expand their own private label brands you know Amazon inserted obviously at Amazon basics now they do their own athletic apparel and shoes and a few other products, what do you think it mean for third party sellers, I mean it’s got to be kind of scary for a third party seller that’s trying to compete against Amazon products?
Taz: It’s definitely a challenge and the best thing and you know when I’m on that whenever anyone asks me about product sourcing and they show me a product and I do a research on and I see that Amazon is selling the same thing, just don’t waste your time doing that because it’s Amazon’s house right; here on Amazon they’re going to push the hierarchy for their own products and do whatever they want to make sure that their products sell.
The thing is I don’t see it as a bad thing because there are so much opportunity, it’s ridiculous like of course competition has increased, of course are way more subtle but there’s also way more customers, there are far more prime customers coming with a platform that want different things. So, there is abundance of opportunity on the platform so I know people have said, “Oh my God, it’s so hard, Amazon has killed reviews, you can’t launch, you can do this”
I mean, I feel like it’s the opposite from my view at least where the amount of up out and a number of new products that keep getting at it’s Amazon and the number of new customers that come out and be very different story if the number of prime members are starting to decline and you know, it’s so less traffic on Amazon but then, most of that out of the problem in the book.
Nathan: Yeah well, I wonder I mean you probably did the numbers it sounds like the growth of the buyer community is drawing more than the seller community?
Taz: I don’t know the exact numbers in the relation of both, I just know that both write an incredible rate and the other thing is about the growth of seller is definitely tougher and you have to be a bit smarter when you’re all selling now and what that does though it routes out some of the people who are just doing this for fun you know the guys who would be able to buy something for a buck on Alibaba and sell it fifteen, and that’s it.
A lot of those guys are disappearing too because now for any updates actually to build a team around you if you really want to be successful in this potentially.
Nathan: Where do you see this all heading? I mean within the next 5 years? I mean people are continuing to buy a lot more often in retailers are also going direct to fact these are going on these wholesalers is it going to be this you know market where there’s a ton of smaller sellers and people competing on these big marketplaces or are there going to be other avenues? I mean have you explored other avenues are usually focused on Amazon right now?
Taz: Most of my attention is all that is on Amazon right now, I am building my own Shopify store, make sure I’m not only on Amazon, I do want to diversify myself just because again, it’s their playground and they can do whatever they want.
But I think I remember seeing this out recently that online sales didn’t only account for 10% e-Commerce, you must know this number, what’s the number?
Nathan: Yeah, it’s 10% record here; it’s crazy how like small it still is.
Taz: And we’re talking about it like it’s this massive beast at the still so much room for growth, so I see that continuing all wet and about I also see there being opportunities in retail but there’s always going to be people who want to go to stores to see things and buy things and I know I have friends who launched products on Amazon and they got licensing deals and got those products into retail.
I think it’s going to go both ways but there’s definitely massive growth still to come on e-Commerce.
Nathan: Yeah I mean I’ve got a friend Chad who runs a tool called the skew banner; skew banner you know is an incredible tool and the ability to sell products across channels very effectively, across all sorts of marketplaces in if you like at a great option for sellers that are looking to diversify right?
Taz: Definitely and I’m actually going to have Chad on my Podcast; if you guys don’t know, I have a Podcast called ‘The Amazon Entrepreneur’ where I focus on my journey and how I’m going through the whole Amazon selling process so you can learn from me and I also interview some of these big sellers, I’m going to have this guy on to talk a little bit because it’s really not just about Amazon and it’s really about understanding the entire e-Commerce space because no one should be boxed into a single platform and as great and awesome as Amazon is, I will definitely want to be wildly successful here but I do also want to diversify into running any kind of business.
It’s definitely a risk and I see it as a rest I only have to have all my eggs in just the Amazon basket.
Nathan: Right, totally I mean that’s really the beauty of the ecosystem right there are so many amazing people to learn from and you know I think one of the things that I’m realizing you know in our e-Commerce journey and you know from a person as e-Commerce seller not just to Sourcify is that you know, every e-Commerce company supply chain directly lacks their business in their marketing and in a sense that if you can you know cut your unit costs and produce your products for less than your competitors and you have more leeway to acquire cost more; like if you can spend more a higher cost rents a profitable and you can base to beat your competitors because you know your unit costs are going to directly reflect what you can spend on prior customer that’s got to be worked in your margin and so I think it goes hand-in-hand with this digital marketing world and you know how you run in traffic, your Amazon listings, your Shopify store or you know a lot of people don’t realize cost I know by 20% will directly reflect their ability to acquire customers as well.
Nathan: That’s really ready and then that also comes into hey what type of product you want to source and what price point because it’s another advantage of sourcing a product that you can sell for a bit more because you know these $15-$20 products maybe they’re small and easy to source and easy to ship in and so a whole ton of volume and you thought to take that outside of Amazon and the cost per lead is a lot higher because on Amazon, the traffic’s free, you got one traffic coming and great, they going to buy the stuff if you diversify.
You’re going to do a bit of work and you cannot run ad words campaigns and maybe Facebook whatever it is but the cost to acquire exactly as you did will make a big difference. So, nap pushing down those unit costs and then actually going to have a higher selling value ready tons of them invest more money into getting those leads and not mind so much.
Nathan: Totally, so you know wrapping up Taz, one of the last questions that I like to ask is you know what brand is the most influential or you know vice that you’ve gotten from someone else that you’d like to pass on, I mean what would you tell a listener right now that’s trying to scale up or that started this on Amazon you know what would you leave them with?
Taz: Well, that’s a really tough question because I had so much amazing advice. I think the source of this whole thing comes from actually getting started. I think you probably have a timelessness Robb’s hopefully successful, I think you have people who are thinking about it or maybe dabbling and my message to those people who are maybe on the fence and just thinking about, “Hey, how do I start this now, when’s a good time for me to get into this”?
The time is now! There’s never been a better time to be and create an e-Commerce business; there are so many tools out there, there’s so much automation you don’t have to code any more for a website, I mean now’s the time so just take the leap I keep I say this very often on my own Podcast, just take the leap, take the job and once you’re in, you’re going to figure out and you do the right things, get right people get the right mental, do everything right and really setting yourself up pretty well to be successful.
Nathan: That’s amazing, I 100% agree and Taz, thank you so much for coming on, if people want to find out you know more about you and get in touch, how can they contact you?
Taz: If you go tazahsan.com you will find a terrible website that’s currently being updated but you also find a link to my Podcast, iTunes for The Amazon Entrepreneur and it’s on Shopify as well but that’s the best place to find me, you can always send me questions through my website too.
Nathan: Amazing, thanks so much for your time Taz, thanks for tuning in, we are always excited to have you here listening in, that’s another episode of e-Commerce On Tap brought to you by Sourcify; if you ever have an e-Commerce question just bit beyond the supply chain side of things, how to manufacture products, how to cut cost, feel free to reach out to us and thanks again for tuning in for the next episode.