Successful Amazon Market Research in 2016

Continuing with our series on Amazon, this week we’re talking about research tools available to help those selling in niche markets. Greg Mercer, the founder of Jungle Scout, a popular Amazon market research tool for sellers, discusses how sellers can weed out saturated segments to find profits.  Jungle Scout uses Amazon’s Best Sellers rankings to help you make educated decisions on what to buy and sell on Amazon.

Greg dives in about the pros and cons of developing products vs reselling on the Amazon platform. He also provides an in-depth review of the tools he uses to conduct market research, which helps him to identify products that are in demand.

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(With your host Andrew Youderian of eCommerceFuel.com and Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout.)

Andrew: Hey guys, it’s Andrew here and welcome to the eCommerceFuel podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in today. And today we’re continuing on with our podcast series about Amazon. Specifically, we’re gonna be talking about niche research today in 2016. A lot has changed over the last couple of years, but we wanna find out what’s working, what you should be thinking about if you’re gonna be launching a product or products on the platform today.

And joining me to talk about this is Greg Mercer who is the founder of Jungle Scout which is extremely popular market analysis and research tool for Amazon. It lets you go in and you can see, you know, really it gives you like a sense how much revenue certain products are making on Amazon as well as a slew of other information. And Greg’s got a lot of experience working with Amazon, running his own Amazon business, and understands the analytics and the market research side extremely well. So hope you enjoy it. I had a lot of fun chatting with Greg about this as I’m a bit of a Amazon newbie myself, and hope you find it useful as well. We’ll get right into it.

Greg, great to have you on. Thanks for coming.

Greg: Absolutely, I appreciate you having me on, Andrew.

What is Jungle Scout?

Andrew: For those that may not be familiar with you, can you give us a quick overview of what Jungle Scout, which is kind of your primary product, what it is and how it works?

Greg: Yeah, absolutely. So it’s before that you know, like just a few years ago, I used to work in a corporate job. I wasn’t really happy with it. I escaped that by starting to sell on Amazon. That kind of led into Jungle Scout which is a product research tool for Amazon sellers, so it’s a software product. And what we’ve done with this, we’ve gathered a whole bunch of data, analyzed different data points, and so forth to help sellers make educated purchasing decisions, and I help them find good products to sell on Amazon.

Andrew: And the data, so you can actually go to a product, press the button and then it will give you a bunch of data, but included in that is the number that are sold per month as a well as the revenue generated by that product for the seller, correct?

Greg: Yes, that’s correct. So that’s a little bit of like our secret sauce is the sales estimate. And a lot of your listeners probably know Amazon doesn’t personally release that data. What they do release is something they call a Best Sellers Rank, and from that we’ve developed algorithms by tracking a few hundred thousand different products on how that Best Sellers Rank correlates to the unit sales on a monthly basis, We’ve developed those algorithms, we update them each month, and from there, you can get pretty darn accurate estimates of how much any product sells on Amazon.

Using Spitly and Review Kick

Andrew: And you also have a couple of other things as well, Splitly and Review Kick. Can you just touch briefly on what both of those are?

Greg: Yeah. Sure thing. So Review Kick is a review acquisition management platform. So if you’re looking to get reviews on your Amazon product, you can go to Review Kick. You can give away coupons to real buyers there and in return they’ll leave you a review on Amazon, and that’s totally per Amazon’s terms of service, it’s totally legal. That’s how a lot of people get their reviews, and it works really well. We also have Splitly which is a AB testing tool for Amazon listings and for Amazon sellers. So yeah, kind of I guess what started out as just a product research tool and now we’re kind of turning into a suite of tools for Amazon sellers.

How to Find a Product to Sell in Today’s Landscape

Andrew: And we wanna start diving into kind of niche research on Amazon. This one thing was why I’m really excited to talk to you about given your expertise on Amazon and with Jungle Scout. And there’s been a ton that’s changed the last you know, couple of years especially over the last you know, I don’t know, twoish years with you know, the Amazing Selling Machine. I’m sure you’re familiar with that. That big info product that came out and really among other things, but it was one of the big things that brought selling on Amazon to the forefront. A lot of people coming in, a lot of people kind of following the same playbook. What’s changed over the last couple of years in terms of what should you be looking for, not necessarily two years ago with a product like that or with the old, old technique, but what in 2016, June 2016, are you looking forward today to bring a product online on Amazon?

Greg: Yes. So now, you know, all of those like really like typical or like maybe low hanging fruits have kind of been picked. The good news is there’s still tons of opportunity on Amazon, you just have to look a little bit deeper. So you know, no longer is like the spatula and the barbecue gloves, and the yoga mat, no longer those viable opportunities on Amazon. They’re just too saturated. So you know, I’m looking for a product that already has good existing demand on Amazon. I’m looking for a product that’s not too competitive and you can gauge that by the number of reviews it has. So if I look at a particular niche, and all the products have like 300, 500, 1,000 reviews or so forth, that would be a very competitive, mature niche. It’s something that would be really hard to get into. It’s like you know, if you go on search spatula, barbecue gloves or garlic press right now, that’s the type of review count you would find. So I’m looking for those items.

And then a lot of times what you’ll find are kind of like weird items, right? So if you can tell your buddy you’re selling this and he thinks it’s like a really cool, sexy product, chances are it’s not going to sell on Amazon. If you tell your buddy what you’re selling and he’s, like “You’re weird, dude.” Then it’s likely, it’s probably something pretty good. Those are the kinds of things that people need to start thinking about that are the less competitive and the better opportunities.

Looking at Search Results and Units Being Sold

Andrew: And so it’s funny because I always…I’ve done all those niche analysis stuff but it’s always been on the Google SERP side with like you know, the keyword research and the Google search pages. So trying to translate into Amazon. So for demand, are you looking at revenue with Jungle Scout? Are you looking for keyword searches using a keyword tool? What do you use to gauge both of those? What do you use for demand?

Greg: Yeah, a really good question. So I use how many units are being sold by the listings on Amazon. So if I search for garlic press and I look at those first few results, I would then check to see how many units are being sold by those particular products. And a rule of thumb that I like to use and that I recommend for other people to use is I like to see there’s about 3,000 units being sold in a particular niche across all the listings.

So Jungle Scout has like a totally free tool that anyone can use, you don’t need to sign up or anything. You just go to the site, you know, click on the Sales Estimator, and you can enter like the best sellers ranks for these products, and you can see how many units are being sold. Yeah. You can get an idea of how much existing demand is there.

Andrew: Now, when you say 3,000 units, do you mean for a category, or do you mean for an existing…like one existing product or maybe a variation of products, different colors within one skew across all the different sellers there? Which one do you mean?

Greg: So I guess, it would technically be one keyword. So if I search marshmallow sticks and I look at all of the listings for…that showed up, that are relevant for marshmallow sticks. If I were to add all of those up, you know, usually like on the first page, that’s what I’m looking for about 3,000 units, and that’s just my rule of thumb. I’ve found that if that is true, that there seems to be enough demand for me to be interested and willing to enter that niche. If there’s you know, only like 500 units being sold across the entire niche or keyword however you wanna look at it, then it’s like, well, there’s not a ton of existing demand, you can probably find something a little better.

Andrew: Got you. Okay. And sorry to beat a dead horse a bit here but so you look for 3,000 of a quantity being sold for a given…So you can go into that tool like you mentioned, type in marshmallow sticks and it’s not 3,000 products listed on Amazon, it’s 3,000 of the products that come up for that search being sold as per Jungle Scout is gonna tell you.

Greg: It’s kind of hard to say like just with voice, right? Too bad we don’t screenshare on podcast.

Andrew: Yeah.

Greg: No, if the first listing was selling 500 units per month, the second listing was selling 1,000 units per month, then we’d have 1,500 units total being sold in this niche. Then if I were to add up the third listing plus the fourth listing and so forth. Does that make sense?

Andrew: That makes sense. Good.

Greg: So each of the listings are gonna be selling a certain amount of units whether it be 100 or 1,000 or 5,000 and then I add up all those listings. Hopefully that clarifies a little bit more.

Andrew: That does. That makes sense. Okay. And is it across the entire search or do you just look at the page one?

Greg: Usually, just page one and then I only look like relevant results. So if I search a water bottle and some of the listings on that page are actually like a water bottle koozie, then I wouldn’t add those up. I don’t think those are relevant.

Greg’s Rule of Thumb for Looking at the Competition

Andrew: Okay, perfect. So that’s the demand side. On the competition side, you mentioned reviews really quickly. Is there a threshold on the review side like would do you say? And obviously or probably I didn’t mention it would scale a little bit based on you know, how many people are searching for something, but 100, is that your threshold for reviews and not go over 200? Where’s that threshold?

Greg: Yeah. So the rule of thumb I use for that is I like to see like three or four sellers in the top 10 results with under 50 reviews. So again, I’m searching water bottle. I look at those top 10 listings that show up and I like to see like three or four listings with under 50 reviews. And if that’s the case this is a non-competitive, like non-mature niche and it’s something that should be fairly easy to get some with like a small giveaway to get started.

Competing for the Buy Box

Andrew: What about the number of sellers listing on an item competing for the Buy Box? Is that something you look at and take into account or…because I’m guessing you probably are gonna be private labeling your stuff is that not really as much of an issue?

Greg: Yeah. So all the products that I launch now are private label like you said which means that they have their own listing. I’m not putting them up on an existing listing on Amazon. So actually I don’t really care how many sellers are on those other listings that I’m competing against.

Tricks for Keyword Research

Andrew: What about keyword research? Maybe it’s not even an issue because based on how you’re doing it, you’re using Amazon, you’re searching for a keyword term, and then you’re really looking at the number of units sold. So you’re not looking at searches per se as much as you’re looking at the product quantity being moved as a result of those searches. But just in case someone wanted to go maybe a slightly different route, is there any tool that can give you data for searches on Amazon, and if not, what’s the best proxy? Is it just using a traditional kind of SEO keyword tool and at least just kind of using it as a proxy in terms of relative search volumes and popularity of different terms?

Greg: Yeah. That’s a really good question. So Amazon holds that search volume data really close to their chest. They don’t release anything like that. There are a few tools that are out there. I think MechantWords is the first one that comes to mind. I think there might be a couple of others. But essentially they have come up with an algorithm on how they think it relates to say like the Google keyword research-type tools. They’re all just using some type of algorithm of how they think it compares to other search engines that do release their data.

So me personally, I actually just use like the Google Keyword Planner or I use like I think it’s called Keyword.io. And essentially these are just other keyword tools that you’d use for you know, just your typical like SEO-type research. Yeah. So like I started off with kind of doing it that way, of trying to I guess more like the traditional SEO-type way, and I found that a lot of times it doesn’t always hold true. You know, the things that people are searching for on Google, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what they’re actually buying on Amazon. That’s why to do product research, I prefer to do…just look for how many like units are actually being sold of these times on Amazon. I think that’s the best way.

Building an Off-Amazon Brand (And If It’s Worth It)

Andrew: What about building an off-Amazon brand? I think especially this last you know, 12, 18 months people are starting to realize that there’s still a lot of money to be made in Amazon, but it’s…if you don’t own the platform, there’s some risk there. Long-term, having your own brand is really you know, the best long-term bet. Today, when you launch new products, is that an integral part of your niche selection strategy?

Greg: Actually, not. So at one point I was trying to focus a lot more on it. I was trying to get a few sites started. And me personally, what I decided, and everyone’s gonna be different with their different risk tolerances is I just decided that Amazon is like such a strong opportunity right now that I’d rather just make the money on there kind of like while the getting is good, and then later you know, whether I invest that in other opportunities or so forth. That’s what I personally chose. So obviously, that’s more risky to put all your eggs in Amazon’s basket. Like you said, there are some downsides of having so much reliance on like one platform, right? You know, I was looking at how much time I was spending on like building these off-channel…I was trying to build these off-channel brands or websites or so forth. And me personally, it might also just be kind of like what I’m good at, right? Me personally, I decided that effort was better focused on just trying to make the money on Amazon right now and that’s pretty easy.

Andrew: Yeah. Make sense. It’s interesting because you kind of get the kind of fracture between the two, but I love the honest answer. What about…and there’s kind of two approaches I think you could potentially make. You allude to the fact that the days of throwing a spatula or you know, a garlic press or whatever, isn’t it Scott? Scott Walker that sells those garlic presses? Is that what he does? That’s where they always come from?

Greg: He always just jokes about the garlic press, I don’t think he actually sells it. But I don’t know, maybe he’s just using that to deter people, who knows?

Greg’s Approach to Picking Products to Sell

Andrew: Anyway. You know, all those kind of really basic non-differentiated products, selling those is gonna be pretty tough. And so like you mentioned you’ve gotta do something a little bit different, twist on a product. At a bare minimum you know, white-labeling it. But you know, increasingly it’s easier to differentiate if you tweak it or make some little change. So with your approach, do you spend a lot of time building out a smaller portfolio of really quality, differentiated, dialed products where they could either be completely proprietary, or maybe just products that you have really done the research on to tweak and you know that the changes are gonna be helpful for buyers, or do you just launch a ton of stuff as quickly as possible, see what sticks and run with your winners?

Greg: No. So I really dial it in, and at this point I’ve kind of gotten like good enough that I like already know if a product is gonna do well or not. And then a lot times now I am making like these small little changes. So for you audience what I mean by that is something like…so I’m not inventing a brand new product, but something that I do do is like just at the end of last year, I launched a product that it had plastic buckles on it. Its average rating was like three stars which is pretty bad on Amazon. And I read the one and the two-star reviews, you know, it was a very common complaint that these plastics buckles were breaking. So I just worked with factory, I replaced them with like heavy duty metal buckles. My product has an average review rank of like four and a half stars compared to my competitors that are like three stars. And these are the type…You know, that’s like one my best products now because I’m even charging money for it, but people are more than happy to buy or spend a little more on a product that gets four and a half stars as opposed to a product with only three stars.

Andrew: Okay. So you’re definitely taking the more dialed, maybe smaller number of products, but better engineered, better designed products as opposed to just everything sort, of guesswork.

Greg: Yeah. That would be my method.

A Guideline for Margins

Andrew: What about for…on the margins side? I’ve heard people say before plan on…if you sell something for let’s say $60, plan on a third of that going to the product cost, a third of that going to Amazon fees and FBA fees, and a third of that staying in your pocket. Is that a good guideline or on the high side, low side?

Greg: That’s a decent guideline. It’s fair enough. When you’re just like trying to browse through products as quickly as you can, it’s fine to go off that guideline. It only takes about 20 seconds though to use Amazon’s FBA fee calculator. You can just like copy and paste an ASIN into it, and it will tell you exactly how much the fees are. And then I like to go for a 100% return on investment. So if I’m spending $10 on a product, I wanna make $10 profit and then just calculate in those fees. So the one-third rule, it’s a pretty good rule, I don’t know a better one if we’re just going on general rule of thumbs, but especially with like some oversized products, you might find that the total FBA fees are actually higher than one-third.

Opportunities for Amazon Internationally

Andrew: What about outside the U.S.? Obviously you know, U.S. is the biggest market for Amazon, but do you see any opportunities in Europe, in Australia? Are those markets that you’re getting into at all?

Greg: So me personally, I haven’t entered them yet. I know quite a few people that have started to try to move over there. So you know, like UK is the next biggest market followed by Germany. After that there’s quite a few. You know, like Japan is growing really quickly. There’s India, Mexico and Canada, but they’re both kind of small. What I get from these other sellers that are pretty in-tuned with it is they’re not excellent opportunities yet, but they’re getting very close. So if you’re listening to this podcast, let’s say like at the end of 2016, maybe into 2017 that you might wanna start looking there because it is fairly easy to sell in these other marketplaces. Just because you live in the states, it doesn’t mean it’s that much harder to sell in you know, like some of these European markets. I probably will start moving over there may be at the end of this year, beginning next year and so forth. And I would expect it to kind of be like an amateur-type market similar to what U.S. was like a year ago or something, that you know, you probably can get in with the spatulas or whatever. So yeah, it’s something to look at.

The Perfect Product Launch Timeframe

Andrew:Interesting. What about your timeline or your timeframe for launching a product? Let’s say you spend the afternoon going through Amazon, you get a product and you’re like, “This is perfect.” Kind of like you mentioned earlier. A product, I know some tweaks I can make to improve it. From that point where you’ve identified the opportunity, what is your normal turnaround time in terms of actually getting that product listed and for sale the first day on Amazon? What’s realistic? Because I feel like I’m going through very much the educational process here, and my first product took me…In retrospect, I feel like I dragged my feet on a lot of it. So may be what’s the feasible timeline people can think about so that they can kind of you know, measure themselves, I guess?

Greg: Yeah, a really good question. So actually this is like one of the two…so in this whole podcast we’ve painted this pretty rosy picture of Amazon which is really a good opportunity. The two biggest downsides are how long it takes to get started and then kind of like the upfront capital. So realistically, it’s gonna take on average 30 or 45 days for a factory to produce an order, and that’s if you order say like 500 or 1,000 units to get started. If you ship it by air which is fine, if it’s really small and lightweight, it only takes a few days to get to the states. If you ship it by ocean freight, it takes pretty much a whole month to get from China into Amazon; So if I’m brand new starting out today, you’re doing like pretty good if you got it…you made your first sale two months from today. I’d say that’s kind of a rule of thumb or what’s you can expect.

Andrew: I mean, if you’re doing that, you’ve gotta be booking at the day you get the idea, you’ve gotta be reaching out to suppliers, you know, no delays. A lot of times there’s lag back and forth. So that’s kind of a best case scenario, you’re saying?

Greg: If you ship air freight, two months is very reasonable. You know, even if takes you like two weeks for your negotiations with your suppliers, a month in the factory, a few days for an air freight, two months is very reasonable. If you’re shipping ocean freight, that might get close to two and a half or three months kind of depending on how things go. But especially around times where there’s Chinese holidays or fourth quarter when they are…I should say like at the end of summer when they start to get kind of backed up because of preparing for fourth quarter. It could be even longer than that. So like I said, that is kind of one of the downsides of this business model is it does take some time to get these products in and on sale on Amazon from China.

Your Relationship with Suppliers

Andrew: What degree does your supplier network that you’ve built one. I mean, you obviously have a bunch of relationships with manufacturers in China. To what degree to those trusted relationships play into the niche selection process? How much are you saying, “Okay. Hey, I’ve got these like four manufacturers I really know and trust. They’re there, I don’t have to do the diligence work. I’m gonna look for more opportunities in those areas.” Versus just going to Amazon, trying to find the opportunities based purely on the product data, and saying, “Well, if I’ve gotta find a new manufacturer, it’s not the end of the world.”

Greg: I usually just go off the product data, not my existing relationship with suppliers. I have before, like if I was placing a pretty large order and it was…let’s say it filled up like two-thirds of a container, I have before asked to say like, “Hey, let me see your catalog. What else do you sell?” I’ll see if any of these other feasible products. Maybe it won’t be like a home run-type product that I would order if it was on its own, but I already know that I’m paying to ship that whole container anyway. I have an established relationship with you, you know, maybe I’m willing to sell another product that it’s not the best product out there but it’s pretty easy and cost-effective for me at this point. But the short answer to that is I mainly just go off with whatever is the best opportunity on Amazon, not my existing relationship with suppliers.

Winning Product Criteria

Andrew: And in terms of product criteria, I mean, obviously there’s some where the lighter the product, the cheaper it’s gonna be to ship, the lighter the product the lower the FBA fees. You know, some of these types of things. Are there any other product criteria in terms of just the product itself at a high-level that could apply to a lot of different skews that you think through when you’re evaluating an opportunity?

Greg: Yeah, a couple of things you could think about is, I try to stay away from products that potentially be like high liability, right? Like if they can cut, or burn, or you know, physically harm people. Those are to me are like potential for a little more high liability. I kind of try to stay away from that stuff.

And something else I’ve seen a few people get burned out is make sure you don’t order products like with designs that are supposed to be licensed. For instance, like don’t order a water bottle that has a Mickey Mouse painting on it that’s not actually licensed by Disney because you can and will get in trouble for that. Same thing would be like you know like an NFL team or whatever else. So those are a few things to keep in mind as well as you know, patents which the quickest way is just to search for a product with the word patent on Google. See if anything pulls up, and you could order the product yourself off of Amazon and see if it has printed on it you know, like patent or patent pending. Those are all the things I think about, just the legal-type issues.

Andrew: So you’re not gonna be launching the Greg Mercer white-labeled baby formula line any time soon?

Greg: No. I think I’m gonna stay away from that one.

Is It REALLY A Big Deal to Run Out of Stock?

Andrew: This is not so much on the niche selection side but one that I’m just curious about. You hear about, you know, running out of stock how bad that is for Amazon. That so much of your sales ranking is dependent on how much you’re selling and that if you run out of stock and you have to…you can’t sell anymore items, you you know, metaphorically speaking fall at the bottom of the mountain and have to climb back up. Obviously it’s true to some extent, but can you give me a sense and give listeners a sense of how big of a deal it is to go out of stock? Do you legitimately go back to square one like the day you started or is it not quite that big?

Greg: Yes, that’s a really good question, and it’s actually a good timing. I did like a public case study where I launched marshmallow sticks and we’d been out of stock of marshmallow sticks for like almost three weeks. We just got them back in stock I think like 10 days ago, maybe a week ago. And to give you an idea, like the day before we run out of stock, I think we were like ranked like number two or number three for the term “marshmallow sticks”. After we’d been out of stock for like three weeks, we were all the way at the very bottom of page one. So it definitely hurts you.

So what I did is I think for three days, I gave away between like six or eight units per day for three days. You know, I did that with giving out coupon codes and in exchange I asked for a review. So that got me additional reviews and it got me additional sales on Amazon for a few days. And then I checked just yesterday and actually now I’m back at like spot four, and then hopefully I can climb up a little bit higher. So it does hurt you and you know, it stinks because when you run out of stock, not only are you missing out like on profit for those days, but then you also drop in rank for those keywords, but to me that’s the best way to kind of get back to where you were. Just go ahead and give away a few units. Eat the cost that’s associated with having to give those discounts just because you know, it’s much better to eat those costs associated with giving away discount products for a few days than you know, be there at the bottom you’re only selling 2 a day instead of where you’re at 20.

Andrew: Perfect. And that’s a case study that you wrote up online?

Greg: I don’t think I hit the publish button on the blog yet, but by the time this podcast is released it will be. I’ll probably hit that button tonight or tomorrow. So yeah, you can find that on the Jungle Scout blog.

Andrew: Great. And we’ll link up to it in the show notes as well.

Greg: Cool.

Shipping Product to Amazon

Andrew: What about getting your product over to Amazon? Do you send it from the factory to FBA? I’m guessing not, and if not who’s managing that receiving, QC work, labeling and shipping it back off to FBA for you?

Greg: Yeah, that’s a good question. So if I ship it like air express which should be like DHL, UPS, etc, I actually print out labels and have them ship it straight to Amazon’s Fulfillment Centers. These days, I’m usually shipping ocean freight, and when I do that, I use a freight forwarder. I personally use a company called Flexport, but there’s also another called Shapiro that’s popular, or dozens of others. And what they do is they actually receive my shipments out of the container in LA. They unpack the container, they load it onto skids and then send it into Amazon for me. So they don’t do any labeling or inspection, that’s done at the factory level. So actually, I don’t put labels on any of my products, I just have the Athens Q printed straight on my packaging. So no labels are required.

Products that are easy to manufacture, I don’t even get inspections done on them. I’ll just have the manufacturer like take pictures and send them to me and that’ll be kind the final inspection. If it is like a more complicated, a product that I’m more worried about or maybe a new relationship with a supplier, then I’ll actually pay an inspection done for like 150 bucks. I mean, they’ll go in there, they’ll pull out a bunch of units, test then, make sure they are working and so forth. So that’s one of the beautiful things about FBA, right? I never have to actually touch any of this inventory. They’d ship from the factory to the freight forwarder, they unpack it, they send into Amazon, and Amazon does the fulfillment for me. So it’s pretty cool.

Product Returns Through Amazon

Andrew: Very cool. And on the return side, do you end up…because obviously people, I mean Amazon is pretty notorious for accepting just about anything. Is there someone at Amazon that you can…would they grade it and say, “Hey, you know, this is in a mint condition, you can put it back in your inventory. It’s thrashed, do you want it back?” And how much of your stuff do you end up tossing that gets returned?

Greg: Yeah. So they do. When it gets returned, they will say whether it’s resalable or not. So if it’s resalable, they’ll just put it back in stock. If it’s not, this is kind of bad, but I actually just have them dispose off of it. If I was living in the states…so I guess, for those listeners who don’t know, I’m doing like the digital nomad thing right now. So I’m just kind of travelling around while I work. But if I was living in the states, I’d probably have them send some of that stuff to my house and maybe try to repackage it or something. For now, I just have them dispose of it. And I have different return percentages for different products, but on average, I would say it’s like 1% or 2%. Maybe a little bit more complicated products that have more moving parts, it might be 3% or 4%. In the whole scheme of things, it’s not that much money, and it’s just kind of a cost of doing business.

The Lightning Round Continues!

Andrew: Makes sense. Your interview is actually part of a series I’m doing on Amazon, and I’m gonna be asking all of our Amazon guests a series of questions. An Amazon lightning round. So if you’re up…

Greg: Oh-oh. All right.

Andrew: Yeah. Exactly, so if you’re up for it, I’m gonna ask you these questions which are gonna be the same across all of our guests. And feel free to make your answers punchy and brief because we’ve got a bunch of these to go through.

Greg: All right.

Andrew: The biggest mistake you’ve made on Amazon?

Greg: The biggest mistake I’ve made on Amazon. One of my first products, I ordered, I sent it into Amazon, at the time it wasn’t in the adult category but got re-categorized as that. So when you search for it on Amazon, it doesn’t show up in the search results. They’re like hidden and you can’t do PPC on these items. So it’s very difficult to get these items to start to sell. And that was the biggest mistake I’ve made.

Andrew: What’s the biggest mistake you regularly see other people make on Amazon?

Greg: Trying to get into a niche that is too competitive. It’s very hard to do well if you get into those niches that just have tons and tons of sellers and tons and tons of reviews?

Andrew: Do you say Bezos or Bezos?

Greg: Bezos.

Andrew: Bezos. You’re a Bezos guy. Crazy. How many products have you launched personally on Amazon?

Greg: I have about 35 or 40 private label items on Amazon.

Andrew: Where do you see the most opportunity on Amazon right now? And not necessarily in a product per se, but it could be a foreign country, it could be using product ads, it could be a certain category of products.

Greg: Oversized and higher priced items I think are a great opportunity right now. I’m not too competitive.

Andrew: What was the last thing you personally ordered from Amazon?

Greg: Those lightning adapters that you can plug in Ethernet cable into my MacBook.

Andrew: Nice. What about the strangest thing you’ve ordered from Amazon that you can mention on the air?

Greg: I think back in the day when I used to have a house and a real job, I got one of those like roller things you fill up with water and roll seed on your grass. I don’t know if I ever actually used it or not, but it came in this humongous box.

Andrew: Nice. Do you own Amazon stock?

Greg: I actually do not own Amazon stock. I figure every other egg I have is in Amazon’s basket. If it’s my own Amazon business, my software business. So I’m staying away from the Amazon stock. I’m just gonna put in other places.

Andrew: Probably a wise move. Obviously you’ve shared a ton of really great tactics and advice, but I’m guessing you’ve got a few close-to-the-chest strategies that you know, as anyone would, you wouldn’t wanna broadcast to a bunch of listeners, they might become less effective. But that being said without giving away all you secrets, can you share one Amazon strategy or tactic that you have never discussed publicly before.

Greg: I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone about this, but this is actually a pretty cool hack. So when you setup a brand new listing, if you only put in the…like your most important keywords for your title and your brand, and hit like submit to have them create the listing, they’ll actually…you’ll force Amazon to put those words into the…I think it’s called the canonical. Canonical, I don’t know how to say that word, but it’ll say like amazon.com/ and then it’ll have those keywords/ your ASIN and so forth. So you can kind of like force Amazon to use those, and I’m pretty sure you’ll rank better in Amazon and probably like on Google and search engines as well. So that’s a cool tactic not many people know about.

Andrew: Very nice. How many times has your account if ever been suspended?

Greg: Knock on wood, that’s never been suspended.

Andrew: Ooh, nice. And good luck with that. In one word, how would you describe Amazon today in 2016?

Greg: Opportunity.

Andrew: In one word, how would you describe where you think Amazon will be in five years from now?

Greg: Enormous. Take over the world.

Andrew: I love it. Greg, such good stuff, man. I really appreciate your insights on the Amazon side, on the niche selection side. And if you’re looking for a good tool to do some of this analysis on your own, then check out junglescout.com. It’s uncanny how accurate some of its reporting is in terms of giving you your revenue numbers. I’ve looked at it with people I know and myself selling on Amazon and it’s really close to the real numbers. Splitly.com is Greg’s AB split testing tool for Amazon as well as reviewkick.com for reviews. Greg, it’s been great having you on. Thanks for taking the time.

Greg: Andrew, I appreciate you having me. It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed it.

Andrew: Want to connect with and learn from other proven ecommerce entrepreneurs? Join us in the eCommerceFuel private community. It’s our tight-knit vetted group for store owners with at least a quarter million dollars in annual sales. You can learn more and apply for membership at eCommerceFuel.com. Thanks so much to our podcast producer Laura Serino for all of her hard work in making this show possible, and to you for tuning in. Thank you for listening. That’ll do it for this week, but looking forward to seeing you again next Friday.

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Photo: Flickr/Stuart Townsend

Andrew Youderian
Post by Andrew Youderian
Andrew is the founder of eCommerceFuel and has been building eCommerce businesses ever since gleefully leaving the corporate world in 2008.  Join him and 1,000+ vetted 7- and 8-figure store owners inside the eCommerceFuel Community.

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