Chris Thomas and I had a very interesting chat about all the different ways to use Amazon as a platform to create and/or grow your business.
Listen to this episode on your favourite podcasting app or on the player below.
**Grab your FREE Amazon Listing Optimisation Checklist HERE
Some of the strategies we discussed I am familiar with and others I am not.
This is the first episode in a series where iI will be covering as many of the strategies that Chris & I discussed in greater detail with specialists in that area.
Of course FBA is my area of speciality – there are a number of reputable courses I recommend (see the training courses tab on this website)
Currently the most accessable and comprehensive is The Freedom Ticket which is FREE as part of the Helium 10 Membership. Get 10% off your monlty supbsription using code H10WOA – info HERE
Chris has used and recommends The Wholesale Formula training to learn about using the wholesale method.
The Wholesale Formula is currently not available for purchase – to be notified next time it is, join the waitlist HERE
Make sure you listen out for the next episode with Trent Drysmid where we talk at length about his winning strategy.
The following are other methods Chris and I discussed.
I have not included links as yet as I am vetting reputable course providors/trainings in these spaces and will update this page as I find them. Look out for future episodes as well where I will be talking with experts in these strategies.
Retail Arbitrage & Online Arbitrage
Print on Demand
More Than One Way to Skin a Cat with Chris Thomas
Regina: Welcome back to the women on Amazon podcast. This is episode 32 and today, Chris Thomas from the Australian seller and I, have a chat about all the different ways that you can make money on Amazon. And it was a really interesting and thought provoking episode, so much that, I’m actually gonna make this into a series. So the next few episodes I will be covering some of the topics that Chris and I talked about today in greater detail. And I will be talking to people who are actually using some of the methods and strategies that Chris and I talk about to make money in their businesses. So I hope you enjoy the chat that Chris and I had today. just very quickly, if you haven’t had a chance to download my Amazon listing checklist yet, you can do so for free from the link that’s in the episode show notes or the show notes for this episode are, we went on amazon.com/ 32.
Regina: Yes. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome Chris.
Chris: Again, thanks for having me. yeah, it’s always fun to catch up and chew the fat with you, Regina. So I’m really looking forward to having a chat to you today about all the different ways that we can sell on Amazon.
Regina: That’s gonna be exciting. That’s, that’s what I was wanting to talk about. So for people who have not heard of you and your great podcast, which is the Australian seller. And I recommend that everybody who’s listening to this, if they haven’t got onto Chris’s podcast, please do so for people who don’t know your story. Just very quickly, tell me about your background in business and how you got into Amazon. 50 words or less. Yeah. Well now you’re gonna have 250, right Well, I’m pretty old, so the story goes for a long time, but I’ll go try and make it as short as possible and as concise as possible.
Chris: So I started selling, online, back in 2001, this is olden days in the olden days. So yeah, caveman stuff for online, isn’t it It was, yes. so, and I just had a single product business back then and I kind of still do. It’s a single niche, I suppose. and plus a few other little things that I’ve got going on, but, you know, I’ve run a Kickstarter project in 2013 and raised 110,000 US dollars for that on a, on a new version of one of my products. I launched on Amazon and started selling their private label in 2014 towards the end. have had a sort of an up and down journey with Amazon in the interim between now and then, things are a little down right now, but I’ve had some really, really great years. I got into wholesale actually, which is perhaps one of the things that we’ll talk about today, back in about 2016 and, and that, that made me quite a lot of money on Amazon as well, and not doing it anywhere near as much as what I used to, but I’m looking at potentially getting back into that, in the next year or two.
Regina: So, yeah, look, I hope that sort of gives you a sense of, you know, what I’m doing and where I’ve been. And so, so you said 2016 you got onto Amazon or not That was wholesale. So when you get onto Amazon,
Chris: That was 2014 so we just moved as a family. that was private label. Yeah. So, well there’s my, a branded products that I was, I wasn’t sort of taking a product from Alibaba and slapping my brand name on it. I was actually, these were my own inventions and products. Yeah. Proprietary products. Yep. Okay.
Regina: So, so yeah, as you said, but what I wanted to talk about today is all the different ways that Amazon can be used as a platform for people who are looking to sell. I’ve personally only ever done a FBA or private label. but of course, you know, I’m aware that there’s so many others, so I’m hoping you can educate me on different ways that people, well, because you know, these days private label is, is fantastic and I, and I still recommend it however, in the year since I first started, which is, you know, five years or so, it’s becoming a little bit more complicated and perhaps a little bit more expensive to get in, for people. But there are other ways that, that you can use the power of Amazon as a platform. So let’s work our way through some of the different ways that people can make money on Amazon, perhaps without doing a private label themselves.
Chris: Sounds like a plan. Yes. What would it be but let’s do it.
Chris: The easiest, the easiest way. Well, I wouldn’t call it easy, but, affiliate marketing, I mean, if you deliver some traffic into Amazon, and that traffic is tracked through an Amazon associates account, and the traffic that you deliver to Amazon results in a sale of a product, then you will get a small, and I think at the moment it’s actually even, it’s getting smaller and smaller. It’s tiny.
Regina: Like just cut all of those. Is that something that you’ve done or you know, people have done.
Chris: Look, I’ve used affiliate marketing in the, I wouldn’t say marketing, sorry. I’ve used affiliate tracking in the past. So I do have an Amazon associates account to track conversions of marketing campaigns. we don’t need to do that as much anymore with Amazon, attribution. but, yeah, but it’s still there. I mean, they don’t sort of kick you out if you don’t deliver any traffic or anything, so, but it’s there. but I, I’ve never actually done it full time as a way of making money, for example. But I know of lots of people that have made a great living delivering traffic, you know, building out these niche sites that you see all the time. So you know, review sites about a particular product type, might be a circular saw for example, and they’ll review the top seven circular saws for 20, 20, and you know, circular saws, reviews.com, that sort of stuff. So there’s a lot of that, that sort of SEO that, you know, really good SEO people, can build out a website that’s very, very focused and very niche and very themed and Google loves that stuff. So you can rank pages and content from a site like that, reasonably easy. And then of course, it then delivers traffic through to Amazon and hopefully you know that that results in some sales and you make a bit of money from that. So I guess that’s one way you can do it.
Regina: Money is made as, as a commission that Amazon then pays you into your Amazon associates account for having driven traffic to Amazon. Fantastic.
Chris: So that’s, that’s probably the first one. The second one, this was really big. and has really come off for a couple of reasons, which I’ll talk about in a second, but retail arbitrage or online arbitrage, and there’s a difference between the two. So retail arbitrage is basically when you get your shopping trolley and you wonder around the clearance aisles of various supermarkets or the carpet stores and yeah, it’s a real boots on the ground stuff and you can pick up all of this sort of, you know, the liquidation, you know, products and stuff from a retail store and then you can take them home and jump on a Amazon listing, and sell those products as a competing offer. And
Regina: I had actually have friends who, who do make reasonably good livings doing this. So what’s the pluses and the minuses of doing a RA as it’s technically called RA.
Chris: Yes. well the, the, the probably the, the positive side of it is that, you know, it’s, it’s a quick way of making money without having to invest a huge amount of inventory, you know, in a huge amount of money in inventory. So it took me a little while to get that out. I think the, the look, the other con side of it would be, that Amazon is getting much more restrictive with regards to online and retail arbitrage because they’re looking for and asking sellers who sell those types of items for invoices. And most people only have receipts.
Regina: That’s right. I remember when that, when that changed and yes, there was, there was chatter in the Facebook groups going, well why can’t I use my Walmart receipt
Chris: Because it’s not an invoice. So yeah, that, that, that’s a big, that’s caused a lot of issues for some of the online and retail arbitrage is.
Regina: What’s the difference between retail arbitrage and online arbitrage? Just just before we go on.
Chris: I’m sure. So online arbitrage is when you order products online from, you know, some kind of sale at some department store or online website might be having, and you can pick those items up obviously very cheaply and have them delivered to your house so you’re not actually boots on the ground walking around at a pastime. So, so it’s a lot online arbitrage is a lot more efficient in terms of your time because that’s, I guess one of the big cons of retail arbitrage is that you really are working for a living. You’ve got to find those, those deals and then you’ve got to go to the store and you’ve got to buy the stuff and then you’ve got to wait in a checkout queue and then you’ve got to put it in your car to go drive all the way back home again.
Chris: Both of those cases, you’re actually still physically taking control of the inventory. So you’ve got boxes in your house or your garage or whatever that you’re then relabeling and shipping back to Amazon. Correct?That is absolutely correct. Yes. So you’re basically digging the items and sending them in. Yeah.
Regina: Okay. So you’ve given you stick the FNSKU label on it. So how would we do that for USA, for in Australia?
Chris: If we’re in Australia, that’s, you can definitely do it if you have a USA seller account. It’s just a matter of finding those specials and, or those products. And if you see a discrepancy where you can arbitrage the price. So if the price in the United States is 20 bucks and you’re picking it up for two, two Australian dollars or equivalent currency stuff of say, you know, two U S or three U S then you know, you can, you can definitely pop some items into an Australia post central and have them delivered to Amazon in United States and they’ll be received an inventory and you can FBA them.
Regina: And what about if I’m buying in the U S and what to sell in the U S but I’m in Australia?
Chris: If you’re buying in the U S yeah. So that the only way to do it there would be online and arbitrage. So in that case, you would need a third party prep center, the three PLS, right. Who would receive those items and stick them up for you. And then of course, on sand into an Amazon warehouse for sale.
Regina: Right. So, so there’s, there’s obviously a cost in that. Okay. And so are you aware of how people are getting around this invoicing issue?
Chris: The really dark ones, basically try to, forge invoices and makeup that doesn’t really work. So really, no, I don’t, I actually don’t know a way around it. other than you can do it until you get asked, I guess. And then eventually you probably, you know, I don’t see it as a longterm play, as an Amazon seller.
Regina: Right. Okay. But it may be a way to get started and build up some cash. And I guess with the brands now, you know, with Amazon tightening down with a brand registry, and a lot of the brands sort of, you know, tightening up who can sell on their listings, you’re right. I think that’s, that’s a harder and harder, way to do it. Correct?
Chris: I would agree with that. I think it’s a, yeah. Just to your point, I mean, I’ve got some students at the moment that are actually trying to create products on Amazon. They’re not brand registered is a nightmare at the moment. What used to be a really simple process of adding a new product to Amazon. Amazon’s catalog is turning into an absolute bunfight with a cell support and GTN, you know, barcodes and, you know, GTI next and man, it’s crazy, right? I want to say they’re pushing now to the point where, I know this slightly straying off topic, but it seems to me that it won’t be long before Amazon will only allow trademarked and genuine brand owners to say, okay, that registered it.
Regina: Yeah. Which, which I think in the long term is not a bad thing, you know, protects everybody, protects them, genuine sellers, protects their customers. no, I think long term it’s a good thing. It’s, it’s obviously going to cause some short term pain. but it’s also going to stop tire-kickers coming in and going, Hey, let’s, let’s see if I can do this. And then if it fails then I fail and really going to keep the proper business people in. I think.
Chris: I will say this though, is that, it is still, it depends on the marketplace, in terms of, you know, the sort of, the restrictions around product creation and even getting an Amazon seller account. It’s a lot easier to get one, for example, in the newer market, places like Singapore and Australia just a lot more difficult when it’s a lot more competitive and Amazon’s already got, you know, 5,000, 650 Silicon specialists for Sally. So they just don’t get anymore. This is probably, you know, they just don’t, they more people selling the same stuff. So anyway. Okay.
Regina: So, right, so we’ve covered affiliate, we’ve covered retail and online arbitrage. What else?
Chris: Drop shipping, I think should get attention about that.
Chris: All right, so drop shipping is when you don’t own the inventory, but you take an order and you place that basically on send that order that you’ve received to someone that has the imagery and can ship it directly to the customer and on your behalf. Good, that makes sense. So, for example, for example,
Chris: Oh, just, sorry, I’m just having a mental blank, but, I am having a mental blank. Can we cut this out this bit. Sorry.
Regina: No, no, no. I’m not that technical, but yeah, look, drop, drop shipping. Where you, excess somebody who’s got the stock you make your listing. So, cause I know for example, I don’t sell at the moment on eBay in America, however, my product is available on eBay in America. And the only way that the eBay sellers can access my products is if they’re actually physically buying it from Amazon and then on selling it to, to their eBay customers. Now, I know for a fact that those people don’t actually physically buy, they place an order on Amazon from, and ship it from Amazon to their eBay customer. So that’s an example of arbitrage drop shipping. Now I don’t know how much money they make. They might make 50 cents or a dollar by the time they’ve paid their eBay fees and paid me full retail wack for my product. Is that what you were trying to figure out?
Chris: No. Well, yes. I mean you’ve explained it perfectly. I was actually just trying to remember one of my guests names and who, who did some drop shipping and and I was just struggling to remember their name because of the pressure. I feel really bad. But basically what, what Ed was doing, it’s Ed Wiley, so Ed, if you’re listening, I do apologize. But Ed Wiley from OFX, so he created an Amazon seller account here in Australia. And so he was actually dropped shipping out of China, many credit, hundreds I think, or at least scores of listings on Amazon Australia and was drop shipping out of Allie express. So that’s another way. Yes, yes. So he was putting up all the listings and then when someone ordered from whatever, one of the products from Amazon Australia, he would, place the order through Ali express and Alec, you know, the vendor, cause that Ali Expres is a marketplace just like Amazon, that vendor would ship directly to the Australian customer here. So that’s, that, that was sort of the example I was trying to scratch her and forth.
Regina: Okay. No, that’s all right. Well, well that’s a, because I know, and I personally know people who build, not dot, don’t use Amazon, but, but build Shopify stores and make millions of dollars doing exactly that. So, so he did that with Amazon Australia. And how did he find it I’m guessing now Ali Express at the moment is it’s difficult to ship, but was was that something that he was successful at?
Chris: Well, actually, I don’t think it made him a lot of money. The reason why was because he was doing it right at the beginning of Amazon Australia. So there wasn’t a lot of customers anyway, so there was traffic was very low. But really his strategy was to put a lot of irons in the fire, lots of lines in the water to try and find out what was likely to sell and what was actually going to sell and what wasn’t. And so it helped him then to focus in on his private labels. So he was able to go, right, well I’m selling quite a lot of these units, so I’m going to private label something like this and then I’ll ditch the dropshipping and I’ll make more margin with a private label offer. Yeah. So that was sort of his approach.
Regina: Now did you interview him Is there an episode that we can link to of your podcast for, for that?
Chris: There absolutely is. And in fact, I will send that to you after this because I can’t remember exactly which episode is, I don’t want to get it wrong.
Regina: No, that’s all right. But they’ll definitely be in the show notes of this episode on my website linking back to your episode regarding drop shipping on Amazon here in Australia. That sounds really fascinating. Okay. Okay, cool. What else?
Chris: Well, I’m, I’m guessing everybody knows what private label is, so I don’t know whether we need it.
Regina: Well, do you want to cover, we’ll cover off private label and that’s pretty much what the focus of my podcast has been for the last year. However, you know, everybody in this time of COVID-19 is looking to pivot. but, but let’s, let’s cover off the pluses and minuses of private label. What do you consider to be the pluses?
Chris: Private label it Well, first of all, it means that you can build a brand around your own products, which isn’t possible to do, if you’re arbitraging or drop shipping or, or even doing wholesale. So private label does help you or enable you to create a brand. And that is a really valuable thing to do. There’s typically a lot more in private label typically, if you do it properly and you know, but there’s a lot of, I guess on the con side there’s a lot of issues or problems sometimes around managing cashflow because you have to buy inventory and often you need to buy, you know, there’s minimum order quantities around ordering that imagery and then you’ve got to ship it as well. So, you know, you can have a lot of money or capital tied up in inventory and if it’s not selling, that can really compound things quite quickly for you.
Chris: But it can also cause problems as well if it’s really selling well and you have spent all of your initial startup capital on your first batch of inventory and you’re waiting to get paid by Amazon for the products that you’ve sold, it can put you behind in terms of being able to reorder. And, yeah, so there’s a look, there’s a lot of complications when it comes to private label, but it is getting a lot more competitive as well as we know. And what that means is, I guess is it’s not, it just would be very inadvisable now to jump on Alibaba and grab a garlic press and you know, put it in a box with your own brand branded label on it. But yeah, those days are long, long and we’ve discussed this with a lot of our guests.
Regina: Then you’ve really gotta be adding value, looking to improve that, that garlic press or spatula and an ebook, you know, won’t cut it anymore. You know, what value are you adding to your product? What are you going to create, you know, so it’s a proper, proper business. Yes. There’s still huge upside. You know, there’s a lot of people making a lot of money, you know, and if it’s still something that I personally recommend, if you consider it as a proper business and not a get rich quick scheme,
Chris: I would totally agree with that. Yep. That’s spot on. Just sort of, sort of two other things much. Have you had any experience with Amazon Merch while I did get an Amazon Amazon merchant account, I do have one. I haven’t played with it. I thought about it for a while. I was actually thinking about doing like letters and numbers on t-shirts in different styles so that people like, you know, I was sort of thinking about like a college game of football or something where in America and kind of say all the kids, you know, there’s five or six of them in a row with like each, each t-shirt had a different, you know, I’m with stupid. No, don’t do that. But you know what I mean Like, so, yeah.
Regina: So explain for people who don’t know what the Amazon Merch platform is and how it works, and I believe at the moment it may have be shut temporarily.
Chris:It has been suspended. I don’t think they’re taking any new, any new designs for a much, you know, from, from vendors.
Regina:It’s a temporary thing. So I said, we’ll do it better it anyway. Yeah, why not yeah, so Amazon Merch is where it’s a print on demand.
Chris: So what you need to do is, as a merch seller, is to put your designs up on to Amazon that are not, you know, copywriter designs. You can’t put a Nike tick, for example, on a there. So you gotta be very careful to make sure that they’re, they’re your original designs or that you have a license in order to be able to use those designs to be printed on lots of different types of Merch. So the most obvious one is like hoodies and tee shirts. And I know that Amazon is expanding Amazon merch all the time so that you can print on hats. I don’t know if they actually doing that at the moment, but, that I knew that, that I know that they were looking to really expand the range of things that you can, that they can print on.
Regina: Right So, so this is Amazon’s own printing, so, so they’ve got their own printing presses. So this is actually within Amazon’s because I’ve actually had experience with, you know, print on demand using an off Amazon Merchant, and they are linked directly put things into their platform and it links directly with Amazon and you know, do coffee cups and bags and, and all sorts. And in fact, I’ve got an email yesterday saying they now doing face masks, print on demand.
Chris:That doesn’t surprise me one little bit. That’s good.
Regina: So let’s talk about, talk about that. So, so that, that’s also, you know, I have personally had experience with that. What I’ve found is it’s a very doable, doable business. However, it’s extremely time consuming because how that particular thing works is, you know, again, you don’t own the product, you only buy it when you sell it. and you know, you might make two, three bucks here and there. and it’s just one of those, there’s more lines in the water. you have the better it is, the people I know who are making money on it literally have thousands and thousands of skews.
Chris: That’s right. You need to go very, very wide. Yeah. Shallow and wide with Merch, yet you can’t just be relying on one t-shirt or one design.
Regina: Yeah, exactly. So, so you can either, yeah, you can either do it as a, using the merch account or how I’ve done it is I’ve actually just used to used my Amazon seller account and have done them as FBM orders and then my drop shipping company that the print on demand drop shipping company will send out the orders once they’re placed. I think I’ve sold two mugs, so, you know, it’s not a big part of my business, but, but, but like everything, I’ve haven’t put a lot of time and energy. Again, the people I know who are doing well in this, literally, you know, doing, you know, a hundred new designs a month or more and they’re just churning them out, churning them out, churning them out. So again, it’s, it’s a full time if that’s the way you want to do it, there’s amazing opportunities. you’ve just got to focus on which one you want to go through. Right. So Merch Handmade about Amazon handmade. Tell me, do you know much about that?
Chris: Oh, not much, but I know that, it’s a pretty big category on Amazon, it’s I believe, only available in United States at the moment. So of course that was trying to, to sort of give Etsy a run for their money. Yes, of course they are. Yes. For like if Amazon cap fly your joy that was basically compete head to head compete with knock them out. That’s exactly right. So I think, you know, I don’t think Amazon is quite having the science and the success that it was hoping for to, to knock Etsy out, but, it’s, it is basically a way where, it’s, it’s strictly FBM or fulfillment by merchant with handmade because clearly if you’re going to buy something that’s handmade, it has to be made for you. and it sort of blends a little bit with Amazon customer as well, which is another, another, area of Amazon’s business, which where, you know, it’s a little bit like Amazon merch.
Chris: So you know, you, you, like you were talking about the coffee mug, people can upload their own designs or have something engraved on something through Amazon custom. And then Amazon handmade, for example, might be, you know, when I get a, just trying to think like a carved statue or something like that. so I mean there’s clearly handmade then, you can, as a customer you can place that order and the merchant will run off and carve that thing or print that thing for you using a screen print or whatever. So, yeah, there, there are a couple of other little programs as well that it sort of sit on the sidelines too. Of course there’s launchpad. So if you have a new design or you know, like you’re a Kickstarter project, Amazon has launchpad.
Regina: Which is sort of an app cause that’s something that you have had experience with? Did you use launchpad or you, you were a Kickstarter, is this instead of, or as well as Kickstarter?
Chris: It’s actually after Kickstarter. It’s a way, it’s, I guess it was a program that Amazon set up to bring new, novel and innovative products onto the platform. So, it helps creators of, of, you know, of Kickstarter campaigns or indeed Indiegogo campaigns, any kind of crowd source campaign. I believe it’s invite only, but I’ve got a feeling that you can apply maybe, don’t, don’t quote me and Amazon will then, it’s also like a first party model too. So you actually need to sell your products wholesale to Amazon and they sort of take care of the rest. but yeah, it’s not ideal for a lot of sellers or creators. And so often recommend don’t go with launch pad model, particularly in the United States.
Chris: And it is available here in Australia, I believe in most marketplaces. but yeah, it’s a way, it’s a way for creators to sort of.
Regina: Cause it seems like launchpad has changed cause I think when they first had it, it was always that Amazon exclusives. Is that a difference, you know, there’s so many differences.
Chris: I don’t know, I keep forgetting. There’s too many programs, some, some, you know, live on and others died a slow and painful death. But, yeah, so launchpad, where were we with that Yeah. So that’s, well the advantages of not launch pad is that, he, you know, you can sort of quickly commercialize your product idea PI after your campaign. So remember that campaigns only run for 30 days or maybe 60. So you need to quickly pivot to suddenly going from a big burst of activity around, a Kickstarter campaign or a crowdfunding campaign to a sustainable business and, you know, so and, and launchpad can help you do that. So, yeah, that’s, that’s pretty useful. I, I guess the last one would be that I can think of anyway, unless you can think of any more, would be, Wholesale.
Regina: So yeah, we haven’t talked about that. And that’s something that I’ve been sort of doing some research in recently because I think from what I’ve seen, and perhaps you can jump off, in fact, you will tell me more about it. It’s a, it’s a interesting business model and a great way to make money without actually having to own your own a lot of stock or building your own brand. So tell me about wholesale and how it works and how you got in and what you did?
Chris: Sure. Well, I joined a course a few years back, back in obviously 2016. Gosh, I think it was probably talked about at the top of the show, which was The Wholesale Formula, with Dan Meddows. and, I think you heard of another business partner at the time and I’ve forgotten his name now, I think. I don’t think he’s there or maybe Dan’s left anyway, I can’t remember what happened. But, basically what happened there was that my daughter was actually watching a YouTube video and was looking at a squishy, right. I know like these really soft,
Regina: Oh look, there’s one in my house. There is one in my house, which, is being used on a daily basis in bed with my child. So yes, I know what a squishy is.
Chris: Awesome. Anyway, that were very hard back in 2016 and there still are, I think they still think they have these great drops. Yeah. Yeah. So she was watching this video and I’d only been on YouTube for about two or three weeks or something and had already had about 2.1 million views. And I was like, Oh my God, this is cause she was saying, dad, you should sell this on Amazon. So I started looking at it and so that’s sort of what got me into the wholesale form because I was like, well there’s already, that product is already on Amazon and it’s owned by a brand called, I think the brand name was, I bloom out of Japan and tell me if I’m going too slow with this story and boring.
Regina: No, not at all. No, no, no. You’re all so you didn’t, you didn’t think of, of copying and creating your own, you didn’t think
Chris: No, no. I kind of got it that the brand on this particular product was, you know, the thing that really sold it, there was a lot of generic, there’s a lot of generic stuff happening in the squishy world. But anyway, yes. So I approached the brand owner in Japan and they got back to me and said, yeah, if you want to wholesale our product, you’re welcome to like we’ve got a minimum order, you need to buy 500 squishies of here are the prices. And what I noticed, so then I did The Wholesale Formula course and worked out exactly how like for example, the buy box works and how to, how to compete with the existing. There was only one existing seller and I knew that they were using FBM to fulfill the product fulfillment by merchant. They weren’t using FBA. So, and their price was very high and I knew from all the tools like jungle scout and I think helium Tim was getting started then that, that they were making some good money. Like it was about three or 4,000 us dollars a month. It was an FBM offer. So I kind of knew from the wholesale formula pretty quickly that if I matched the same price but used FBA, that I would win the buy box and take over all of their sales. And so what I did was I ordered, I think I started with an order of 500 units of squishy, whatever the middle bubble is, I guess. Yeah, yeah. It was Billy the whale.
Regina: We’ve got, we’ve got Carolina Carlinos, her real name I think to re renamed it correlated. Look what you’re, what it was originally, it’s some green thing. I don’t know.
Chris: Anyway, anyway, so these little whales went from one, one of the world to the other, ended up at an Amazon warehouse and went bonkers. So from, you know, the incumbent seller was doing about four grand a month. I literally came in and straight away was doing 50 or 60, 70 units a day at at 30 percent. Yep. And my profit margin was about $10 a unit. So that, that lasted for a good sort of free of four months I suppose. And then it sort of came off a bit because I think it’s a little bit of a trendy thing, but yeah, it was a big, big sugar hit. So I was left with a little bit of stock.
Chris: I moved, I sent something into the UK to sell through my UK seller account as well, that, that went quite well. but anyways, so that was sort of my journey there. And then I started wholesaling Australian products into the United States. So there were things like wind chimes and sunscreen, even though I didn’t have FDA approval. So hopefully the FDA is not listening, but I would, I would say it was this products that already had listings or is this or did you create list of listings fortunately, it was a bit of a combination of both. So most of the time I was creating the listings from scratch because it was so, it wasn’t really wholesale. It’s kind of taking branded products from Australia and selling them into a new marketplace. but in on some, for some listings, yeah, I was actually jumping on existing products, so yeah.
Chris: Anyway, so yeah, it was quite good. I’ve still got that account, that seller account. I just haven’t really, it’s sort of died a little bit. I got distracted with, the podcast and other things.
Regina: As as we do and so what’s, what are the pluses and minuses of doing a wholesale approach?
Chris: Well, the, the pluses are that wholesale products, particularly established branded products tend to just sell really well. you know, you don’t have to build a brand or do anything like that. Like there’s a lot of trust associated with those products so that they’re already selling. So that’s a plus. The, the con on wholesale is that often there are a lot of other sellers who are also fighting for the buy box with their offers for, you know, on the same product. They already have the same product for sale as well as you do.
Chris: So that can create quite a lot of competition. and you, you know, if you’re not a competitive offer it can, or if you want to be competitive, it can really eat into your margin. So margins are typically very, very tight or they can be, so, you know, obviously the key to it, I’m guessing that, yep. Yep. I was just gonna say it’s gotta be like, my question, tell me what is the key to it Well, the key I believe, is to try and secure some kind of, exclusive, you know, a relationship with the, with the brand owner or the manufacturers so that, other sellers can be removed from the listing. And then there’s just you, working, you know, basically taking over what the brand owners should be doing themselves, which is to run an Amazon business on their behalf with their products as a partner.
Regina: So that’s ultimately, I would have thought the other one is, is funding, you know, spending a bit more time researching and finding products that are a little bit less, you know, I’ve got fewer sellers on them.
Chris: Well that’s, yeah, absolutely. That’s, yeah, I guess that’s, of course the easiest way to do it. the tricky bit though is that you do find those products, but then you reach out to the brand owner or wholesale manufacturer, and they just say, we’re just not taking applications for wholesale orders from, from people we don’t know. So, and that’s, that’s another con of wholesale is it particularly in the US a lot of brand owners are just bombarded with, you know, folks saying, Hey, we want to sell your, you know, we want to wholesale your products and we want to sell your products on Amazon.
Chris: It’s like, well, we’ve already got, you know, 15,000 of those people selling us stuff more three a week.
Regina: I don’t sell to any of them, you know.
Chris: So, yeah. I mean, there’s, there’s guys like Trent, Trent I believe you’ve met him actually.
Regina: I know Trent very well with this. I’ll, we’ll actually, I need to reach out. He and I met at a, where did we meet two years ago to ClickFunnels event, would you believe
Chris: I fucking believe it. He’s, he’s pretty sharp trends, but he’s got his own podcast as well. I’ll link to that as well, actually. Oh, that’d be good. I didn’t realize he had one of those.
Regina: Yes, yes. Yeah, he’s, he said, in fact, he, he’s the one that got me into podcasting or got, me interested in podcasting when I met him a couple of years ago.
Chris: Okay. That’s awesome.
Regina: Oh, I’ll put a link to the podcast and the show onto his podcast to the show notes as well. Yep.
Chris: That’s awesome. thank you. Cause I’ll, I’ll follow that link and I’m going to go, never listen to her show. So what was I gonna say Yeah. With, so with Trent, he, he’s an industrial wholesaling guy. So what that means is that, he literally has VAs and they create huge lists of Excel spreadsheets or Google docs or whatever to, to find all these brand owners. And then they just bombard them, with, with, you know, request to wholesale their products and, and eventually, you know, they kind of get one or two, perhaps a week, who are prepared to wholesale to them. So I really gotta be able to sell yourself and sell the benefits and the reasons as to why, you know, a brand owner would want to wholesale to you. and that can be tricky sometimes, particularly in U S but here in Australia, I think it’s a lot easier. And I think that there’s huge, huge opportunity to be a wholesaling United States product. Or products manufactured in the U S or certainly U S brand owners, and then in Australia. Yeah. And then actually either importing them into Australia, which probably not such a great idea with the way that the Australian dollar is kind of pretty dynamic at the moment. but yeah, sort of look at doing it that way or the other way of course, which is to take existing products like a packet of Tim Tams.
Regina: Yes. Which is selling very well. We are able to sell 10 tabs into the U S so while he is as we know that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. And so I guess from, again, from the research I’ve done, the one of the pluses of, of wholesale is your initial funds. You don’t need to have, you know, 10 to $15,000 up your sleeve to buy product as you do these days with a private label. Correct.
Chris: That’s great. Yeah. Well, I mean, you could, you could easily spend lots and lots of money. but yeah, you can actually get into the wholesale type model of selling on Amazon a lot less expensively than say going with private label. So yeah, it’s definitely something that you could look at doing for sure. Okay. Yeah, I like it. I need to get back into it.
Regina: Yeah. So what are you, where are you personally spending most of your time these days I know you, you’re doing sort of a lot of coaching obviously with the podcast. what else are you doing these days
Chris: I’ve actually been dragged back into doing search engine optimization, which was one of my previous careers. I’ve had quite a lot of careers. I used to be a cartographer, so I used to make maps for living for lonely planet. and then I saw golf software for ages and with my uncle. And then I got into, serious SEO and ran an agency for about seven or eight years from just me up to about 15 to 20 people. so yeah, I would just, I, I quite passionate about SEO, so I’ve actually just been doing a few SEO projects of late and really enjoying those. So yeah, all sorts of stuff. Also, I have another, another little business as well called Amazon sales and that does help, Amazon or Australian brands sell on Amazon in particularly United States. So I’ve got a, I’ve got a handful of clients through there, which has a lot of fun too. So just help them navigate the waters them and help them get their products established on, on Amazon in the U S and it’s good.
Regina: Nice. Nice, nice. And so how have you been using this, time at home in the last, literally for four weeks, six weeks into it now pivoting, pivoting, or are you, or are you sort of just doing more of the same
Chris: It’s tricky because we’d moved house, about two and a half to three weeks ago, so I’ve actually been renovating a lot. so yeah, you know, it was quite boring, but I’ve dropped off, quite a bit in terms of the Amazon world. but I will be back. I just been settling into this new house and fixing floors and other things that it needed doing before we could move in properly. So, yeah. That’s,
Regina: and so one last question cause we’ve covered off what have we covered I’ve got my notes here. We’ve covered affiliates, arbitrage, dropshipping, FBA, private label and wholesale. So if somebody is looking to start and are looking at Amazon as a platform, what would be your top one or two recommendations Like where would you say would be the best use of their time and money right now
Chris: Really hard. Yeah, no, for sure. I actually think probably the easiest way to get on Amazon is, is to start with online arbitrage. So looking for those opportunities where you can buy something cheap online and create a listing or jump on a listing that’s already on Amazon Australia. I probably wouldn’t be doing that in the United States, but I think here in Australia it’s definitely still possible to do that. So look for really good selling branded products on Amazon Australia. And then see if you can find a home or get a secure, some kind of wholesale relationship with the brand owner and you know, jump on the listing if it’s possible.
Regina: Right. So, so the, so that’s more wholesale really. it’s sort of, or it’s a, it’s a,
Chris: Well, sorry. Yeah, you’re right. Yeah, exactly. Sorry, I’m getting my getting confused there, but yeah, we’ll do it both. Yeah. So I think it’s, it’s, it’s a potentially a bit a blend of arbitration and wholesale. That’s probably the easiest ways to get set up and also to learn how Amazon works cause it is a complicated beast.
Regina: Absolutely. Great. Well, fabulous. Well thank you for that and we’ll talk again very, very soon, I’m sure.
Regina: And, again, I hope you enjoy this episode as much as Chris and I enjoyed making it. Well. So did you know that there was that many ways to make money on Amazon I have to say, I certainly didn’t because I’m been very much focused on private label for the last five years. But, there is more than all one way to skin a cat. So I’m very excited because Trent who is probably the best, proponent for the wholesale business model has agreed to be a guest on my podcast. So watch out for the next episode, dropping in the next couple of days where Trent and I discuss how he’s made millions upon millions of dollars using The Wholesale Formula method. So, watch out for the next episode, dropping within the next few days.