The world is going through the second wave of Covid, and in many countries the lockdowns are being implemented. This is a tough time for all of us. Ecommerce comes to help since it’s no longer a “good-to-have”, but a “must-to-do”. In these volatile times, it makes sense to consider setting up an online store.
The two big routes are creating your own line store and starting out at Amazon. The key word is “starting out”. If you start your journey at Amazon, it doesn’t mean that it has to end there too. You can always rechannel the traffic and sales from Amazon to your own online store.
An own website will cost $$$ and it’s hard to manage all of the moving parts if you are a beginner. So Amazon is much-much better for a newbie.
And, of course, Amazon is a platform where the buyers already are. Online is the opposite of offline. The slogan “build it, and they will come” will ruin you. It’s not “location, location, location”, it’s “traffic, traffic, traffic”. Thus, just start out with Amazon, okay?
But, like, how do you actually start out on Amazon? Let’s dig in?
Step #1. Buy some stuff from Amazon and take notice of small things
Go through the customer journey and pay attention to all the stages, all the signals and ways that sellers try to attract your attention and convince you to buy. As buyers, we are usually in the flow and we don’t pay attention to all of these pieces of the puzzle. Taking a new look onto them will provide you with an easy way in.
And it’s very important. Taking it easy, and taking the baby steps is vital. The reason for many folks not launching their ecommerce journies is the fact that they pressurize themselves into the need to do something big and super-profitable here and now. And this rarely works like this. Thus, paying attention to the customer journey can be your first – baby steps.
And then you can take the next step.
Step #2. Sell the thing you care about to another human without Amazon
Now. Take a thing that you’ve just bought and recognize the fact that this is your passion! Yeap. I said that. Recognize the fact that this is your passion. We all hear so many people talking about the need to identify your passion and start building on it. But passions are usually associated with hobbies, like guitar playing, pets grooming, etc.
It doesn’t have to be you. Seriously. If you’ve bought a good big bumper for your SUV, then, well, this is your passion.
Can you go into fringes because they are booming on Amazon? Ummm, I guess you can?
But it’s much easier to follow your passion and start drilling into the bumpers niche.
Now, you might already have some buddies who are into SUVs and stuff. Hang out with one of them, and explain that you are trying to roll out a thing on Amazon. And that you want to learn how the industry works.
Sit down together and ask them questions about the product, do the researching together, do the comparison together, do the calls together. In this way, you’ll be able to observe all of the stepping stones in their journey.
Pay with your own credit card. Receive the bumper at your place, and perform the inspection for any defects and compliances with promises.
Repackage the thing in the new type of packaging… Packaging is a big thing here… And deliver it to the customer. See how they are inspecting the buy, answer any questions they might have.
Boom, you are a seller now. You don’t need an AMZ account to become a seller. What you need to do is start selling. Or, to put it more correctly, reselling. Before one company used to do production, sales and after-sale maintenance. But in 2020, production is usually done by Chinese factors, but it’s American companies/individuals who resell their products here at home.
The important skill you’ll get from this exercise is the realization of who the seller is, what their duties are and how they tick. A lot of folks say “I am not a seller. I don’t know how to do sales.” but doing them sales isn’t hard. And we both know that ecommerce is destined to keep on booming for decades to come.
Step #3. Don’t pick the niche, but just move on with Step #2.
Many guides out there start talking about picking the niche that is the most profitable one in the world.
We both know that this is a fairytale, right? There are so many smart folks out there who are doing the same thing. They are fishing for the latest booming niche, like vacuum cleaners and teething toys.
While it’s a choice too, it’s pretty hard to move forward here for a complete beginner.
Thus, it’s much EASIER to stick with bumpers, or fringes or anything of that kind.
In the future, after you’ve acquired the valuable skills in this industry, you’ll be able to hire consultants, copywriters and support reps. At that point, it’ll be easy for you to course products in bulk from China and resell here.
But you aren’t ready for that. And moving forward with something very niche-y and close to you is the best choice.
What if I like houses?
Who doesn’t like houses, c’mon. You can’t start out with houses.
Just to explain to you’re the trickiness of this situation, let’s talk about bumpers. Bumpers are pretty expensive, they weigh a lot, and people just buy them and move on with their lives.
This means that the bumpers are a VERY BAD EXAMPLE FOR A PRODUCT to be sold, like, anywhere, by you, a newbie.
And the fact that half of the article talks about bumpers?
That’s the point – people make mistakes, they take wrong turns. Life is messy. Life is pizza. It’s not a sandwich. You can kinda see good ideas and bad moves there in life, but you can’t take them out one by one and look at them separately. Life is pizza!
Thus, please don’t start selling houses on Amazon, ok?
Arrrrgggghhhh… What then if not houses?
Something small, something light. Something that can’t be easily mass-produced. Something that is full of personality.
Like custom-made pet costumes for cold weather. If you like fringes.
Or, super-brutal tongs for BBQ. If you like bumpers.
So, yeah, we are getting into this space. And, no, you won’t be able to buy some stuff in China and resell it 3x on AMZ on day one. After you’ve acquired a lot of insights, then yeah. But on day 1, no.
On what day then? On day 300. On day 300, you can buy bumpers and start reselling them.
But start with something super-custom made. And yeah it’s clear that there other platforms that are much more suited for this type of products. The best one is Etsy.
The point is that Etsy is much -much smaller than Amazon. And you should first learn how to sell at least something somewhere. Amazon is much better in this regard.
Step 3 is messy. And this is how it should be. I could’ve easily rewritten this article, so that it’s as smooth as silky something. But, hey, that would be cheating, right? I can’t go back in time and fix my blunders.
Coz you can’t. You’ll make SO MANY MISTAKES IN YOUR JOURNEY. But, at the same time, you’ll keep on learning super-useful skills for 2020. For 1998, not so much. For 2021… man, you are seeing this, right?
We both saw the “silky something”. I didn’t know what, so “something”. This is so lazy, but it’s good lazy. Don’t over-pressurize yourself. Just start taking some steps. If you do some costumes, they are so ugly that people might actually like them. Yeap, it works this way in the custom-made niche.
Step #4. Get a standard Amazon account
Don’t go for a pro account. The standard one costs you $0. But you pay $1 from each buy. So, go get it now. It costs $0.
It’s super-easy to set up. Make sure that you use FBA. FBA stands for “Fulfillment by Amazon” and this means that Amazon will take care of delivery to your customers. All you need to do is packaging and sending the products to the warehouse. Read about FBA.
Step #5. Don’t do product research, competition research, supplier research
Since you’ve made custom-made something, you don’t have to buy anything from anybody. Yeap.
You’ll quickly get completely desperado with millions of small things if you decide to try and source some stuff from China. Payments, inspections, escrow, emails…
Just try it out with something that you can make yourself, uknow.
Step #6. Market the thing
Now that you are ready to sell, you do need to start thinking about how you are going to present the product. How you want to highlight the coolest things about it, how you want to diligently point out its limitations. How you DON’T WANT to oversell it. How you want people to feel human in you. How you want to communicate the value that the product brings.
It’s very important to create a great product description, a great set of photos. And it’s important to get reviews… This is so bad that many don’t move forward after Product 1. Read on.
Step #7. Sell the product via Amazon, but not exactly
Just like in the bungled example on bumpers, you can offer the product on Amazon. But then you can try and find the buyer online – on forums, via local boards, via talking to folks about this niche and this product.
Otherwise, your product might never get bought on Amazon. Yeap 🙂
If you find that buyer, talk to them post-buy. Ask them for their feedback.
Ask them to create the review on Amazon. This is the biggest thing ever IN THE WHOLE JOURNEY.
So many folks are deterred from starting out on this path because they are afraid that buyers will not like the products, that they will leave bad reviews and that they will have hundreds of items on their hands without knowing what to do with them.
Thus, those folks feel frustrated and apprehensive, and they actually never start out on the journey.
By actively searching the reviews, you’re turning the situation on the head. You are actually asking the universe for a review.
From this, you can easily grow into a super-big seller of custom-made something with the volume of 3-10 items per month!
Just think about all the… rain-blo balls… you’ll be able to buy with the money you make.
But what you’ll get is the actual hands-on experience in selling things online, on Amazon or actually elsewhere. Coz Amazon isn’t something unique. It’s just a site.
You’ll be able to leverage those skills all your life.
Step #8. Scale
The next step is scaling.
Scaling is growth.
Growth is pivoting.
Lots of small businesses start out with a specific idea. But then they have to change, adapt and wiggle. Restaurants are closing all over the globe. And it’s devastating. Their only way to survive is to go online and start doing deliveries. Or you can whine.
Thus, there’s a 99% chance that you’ll pivot out of the original products niche, and start selling something else. You might start sourcing from China. Easily. But without that first step of selling ugly dog costumes, you’ll be too panicky to take the first steps in that big niche.
Don’t try to go big. Try going.
Just try going Amazon. The best time was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.
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