Streamlining FBA Prep & Kitting with Custom Software

Patrick Barnhill of Specialist ID is doing some innovative things with how he packs and preps product, especially for FBA. On today’s episode he shares practices he put into place at his warehouse for using custom software to streamline his processes, reduce errors, and be able to handle more inventory and order flow. If you’re into kitting or getting new processes in place, Patrick is just the inspiration you need.

You’ll learn:

  • The crazy way Patrick found his software developer
  • The software Patrick relies on for his business
  • How to get the most out of using Amazon Small & Light

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(With your host Andrew Youderian of eCommerceFuel.com and Patrick Barnhill of SpecialistID.com)

Andrew: Welcome to “The eCommerceFuel Podcast,” the show dedicated to helping seven-figure plus store owners build incredible businesses and amazing lives. I’m your host Andrew Youderian and today on the program, I’m joined by Patrick Barnhill from specialistid.com.

Patrick is a longtime member of our eCommerceFuel private forum, top contributor, all-around stand-up great guy and I was on a mastermind call with him in the recent past when he did a presentation on some of the things he was doing with his business in terms of packing and prepping his products, especially products that he kitted together for FBA.

And just at a high level, some of the the things he was doing with his warehouse using custom software to streamline his processes, reduce errors, and just to be able to handle more inventory and order flow and it was really impressive. It was a confidential mastermind but I asked him if he’d be willing to come on and talk about it on the podcast and he generously agreed, so that’s what we’re gonna be talking about today.

So, if you kit things, if you think to send things into FBA, if you’re interested in using custom software to streamline your business especially on the operations and warehouse side, this is an episode for you and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Thanks Sponsors!

Before we jump in, I want to give a big thank you to the two sponsors that make the show possible. First, to Liquid Web, who is hands down the best place to host your WooCommerce store online and one thing that’s cool, they have a bunch of partnerships, one of which I’ve mentioned before is their partnership with Glew Analytics, that’s G-L-E-W Analytics, and you can hook it up and get some really cool stats from your WooCommerce store.

Instead of just looking at stats, you can get actual data, things like understanding which products are making you the most money versus just, you know, generating the most top-line sales, getting a sense of your lifetime value for your customers right in WooCommerce, and also making corrective recommendations on what products to potentially bundle together based on sales history, so all sorts of cool stuff, one of the many integrations offered by Liquid Web that can help you get more out of your WooCommerce store.

So if you’re not using them, check them out at ecommercefuel.com/liquidweb to learn more about their WooCommerce offering. And then secondly, a big thank you to Klaviyo who makes email marketing automation for e-commerce incredibly easy and simple. They’ve got a very cool new form builder to be able to create really great popups and embeds for capturing emails.

A couple of the features they’ve rolled out in the recent past with this builder: exit intent triggering, they’ve got URL targeting so you can have different popups and forms for different URLs, additional input fields like dropdowns for birthdays or interests, a whole bunch of different things with their new form builders. So if you’re not using them, they are the best in the world for e-commerce, so you can get started for free and check them out and see what all the fuss is about at ecommercefuel.com/klaviyo.

Issues That Inspired Patrick To Get Better Systems in Place

All right, let’s go ahead and get into my discussion today with Patrick on how they’ve done some really cool stuff with custom software to streamline their fulfillment and operations. Patrick, so you’ve got this amazingly streamlined system for managing inventory, for kitting out products, you did a demo in a mastermind that you’re in and I was able to watch and just, you know, a lot of accomplished entrepreneurs in there, I think you blew a lot of their minds with all the stuff that you’re doing.

So, I want to get into the, you know, kind of the nuts and bolts of that but before we talk about the specific systems and things you do, what were some of the issues that you guys were having that caused you to build out these proprietary systems and software?

Patrick: Yeah, it’s kind of funny how you asked that question because that’s exactly the question that I was asking myself when we were in Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program a few years ago where we’re kind of, “My growth opportunity for that program was the department that we built out to be our new FBA department.”

The question that we asked ourselves is “What do we have and what do we need and, you know, what’s working and what’s not working?” and just going through those four questions and kind of writing down the responses, it was like, “Well, I need a dedicated space with computer system and I need FBA manager who’s going to be dedicated to watching the analytics and make…”

You know, it was like going right down that list of questions, so I think that was one of the best places where we started and when I looked back at those questions we were asking and I see what we’ve built now, it’s so entertaining to look back and see, “Wow, we didn’t even…if we hadn’t even started that,” and now I think this department has generated probably over $3 million since we launched it, maybe more.

And that was how we decided what we needed and we identified that we really needed a system to handle this chaos which is, you know, all these different components, all these different part numbers, all these…

Like, when you have…you know, we sell badge holders and ID badge accessories so if you have a lanyard paired up with a badge holder and it’s in blue and it’s in red and it’s in green, I mean the amount of part numbers and possibilities, it’s exponential. So, it was “How do we manage that?” and that was the problem and that’s what we’ve been working on.

Keeping Up With The Joneses (a.k.a Amazon)

Andrew: So did you…so a lot of the stuff that you showed me, of course, was related to kitting stuff up and getting it ready for FBA. Did you build out a lot of these systems in order to prepare to launch on FBA or were you doing FBA and you were just there’s lots of problems like things were coming in and maybe you were sending in a lot of orders that got mixed up or they were mislabeled and so, you know, you were getting returns from Amazon.

Was all the cool stuff we’re gonna talk about, were you just had a lot of foresight and built it out because you knew you would need to to prevent chaos or do you have the chaos and the systems helped you with kind of rein it in?

Patrick: What really happened was as Amazon made so many changes…I don’t know how many people noticed this but they switched it from…it used to be a 15% commission in office products and it went to $1 minimum commission in office products. At the time, we were selling a lot of items for like 34 cents with the flat rate shipping, it was a totally different model.

When Amazon came out with that $1, we really felt like, “How are we gonna be able to sell?” so it became a matter of we have to build a higher value product and that’s usually gonna be a kit or a bundle between…and this was directly what we put down in our opportunity statement, it’s between $9 and $14.99 or $19.99, a higher value kit package bundle, something to add more value so we can get our sales up.

And we can participate in the FBA program because on a $4 item, you just can’t be in FBA and by the time, we were dealing with like 39 set items, $2 items, we couldn’t have done FBA so we weren’t doing that, we’re doing merchant fulfilled, low value, high margin and so we had to change our entire business model.

At the same time, the thought in our head is, “We need to become the brand,” so it was a matter of becoming a brand, adding and creating that sweet spot for FBA and adding more value and doing things that weren’t being done in the best way.

Eliminating Errors With Their Kitting Process

Andrew: Yeah, so big value adding here, of course, this is bringing in a lot of raw products, maybe you bring in…I’m guessing here, tell me if I’m wrong, but you bring in, I don’t know, 10,000 badges and holders and you print on them and you can do custom lanyards, you’ve done awesome custom lanyards for us for ECF Live, thank you, by the way.

Patrick: It’s my pleasure.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s super nice for you to hook up with us. So, managing so many different SKUs, so kind of just gonna rattle off maybe some of the things that I notice you do, really, that seem very efficient, well thought-out in that kind of behind-the-scenes thing that I saw and maybe you can talk about those a little bit.

Can you talk about your kitting process that you guys have built out and some of the safeguards you have to make sure that you minimize or totally eliminate errors with FBA because as you know, like, you send stuff into FBA, if it’s the wrong stuff, it can just wreak havoc on all sorts of places.

Patrick: Yeah, a lot of our systems did improve because of things we were messing up and other things, you know, just to streamline the process and make it more efficient. So, some of the most important things we built into our system is first, when you’re doing private label or becoming a brand, you’re gonna have a part number or the SKU for every single item.

So, for us, we created based on our four main product categories, four different suffixes that go behind our prefix and we use the prefix that is kind of our brand, “SPID,” Specialist ID, then we do a dash and then we have the computer decide the next part number and assign the UPC and this is all custom program and it’s proprietary to our system for how our workflow is.

But assigning your UPCs and creating part number, that was where the biggest chaos and confusion was for us in the beginning because we were just randomly making up part numbers and then trying to grab a UPC. They needed to be structured and streamlined and not have a human, like, thinking, “Well, what should I call this one?” and then it confuses your warehouse and your fulfillment team because one time you call it something this and now it’s…you know, there’s so much potential for chaos there. That was where we started.

And the next part is, if you fulfill that part number today and then you do it again in three months, it has to be consistent and that goes all the way to the size of bag it’s in and then it also goes down to logo centered. So, we build what we called “scorecard,” I think that’s kind of a buzz term right now, everybody should making scorecards and I think everybody should be making be making scorecard for pretty much everything you do.

And now when our operator does package the product, they can look at their own scorecard and it starts with a very basic question and they check the box right in our software. It says, “Is our loge centered and not skewed?” because sometime we have someone resize the logo and make it, you know, fat and wide and our logo is supposed to be, you know, square.

There’s all these little nuances and it’s not a lot of question, I think we have seven questions on the scorecard, more or less, that just go down the presentation, the right product and the right bag, you know, is the barcode scannable? Just all the things that are important and if they do that, they score themselves 100, if they get 100, it goes off to FBA.

A Universal Scorecard For Inspection

Andrew: So when you talk about the process, stuff coming in, you mentioned the UPC which you have the automated kind of SKU internally that it’s auto-generated name, you have so many different packages, do you have individual scorecard for different type of product that you have or is it one universal scorecard for pretty much all the different packages you put together?

Patrick: We have the universal scorecard for inspecting it but each kit and bundle has its own product page in our internal software we develop called “Product Manager.” In that software, when you load up a product, say…we have one person that just does the analytics and he’ll basically say, “Okay, we need to fulfill 100 of this item, 500 of this item,” just go down the list and prepare that to our FBA team.

We have a five-person FBA team that all they doing is grabbing that analytics, it goes to the next person which is basically picking and packing the items and handing it off to the team that will run this machine stack so you’re bagging and brand this products.

And from there, that person is going to load up the ticket and that ticket does have notes, each product has special notes, it’s like, “Does anything a little bit off?” It also has instruction, like, sometimes we actually have to physically alter the product so it’ll tell you, you know, “This part needs to be removed and the key ring needs to be added,” and that’s a part of the scorecard that just, you know, “Did you check and follow the notes on the product?”

Alright Patrick. Walk Us Through This!

Andrew: So is this all part of…is the scorecard still build into your software? You mentioned the software that kind of automatically creates the SKUs for you, is there an assembly line where you got, like, four or five computers and, like, let’s say, you know, you pull up the software…I’m very kind of a visual guy so I’m trying to think through.

So, the computer, you pull up the software and it says, “We’re gonna make this packet, you need to go and get these raw materials,” somebody goes and get the raw materials and maybe they pass them down the line and the next person…it pops up that, you know, all the special notes and then it’ll pass down the line.

Can you walk me through kind of the combination of how the physical flow works in your warehouse as well as the technology and the software for let’s say you’re gonna put together a custom packet of 100 specialized badge holder.

Patrick: So most of our products won’t be a custom and that’s where we get the volume. So, let’s say we’re gonna do like a three card badge holders with a lanyard and so basically we’re collecting lanyard and the badge holders and we’re doing one set in blue and one set in black.

So, that will get passed off that they needs to be refilled, let’s say, 500 of the black and 500 of the blue, they’ll send that to the FBA manager, she will physically collect it because she has the most experience and we want the most experienced person to be actually picking off the shelf so that way we don’t make a mistake because so many of our products are so similar.

It might be a difference of on the back, one has a pinch clip, one has a swivel clip, they would look identical to someone who isn’t familiar, there would be zero chance to know you made a mistake if you didn’t know those products inside and out once they get switched into the wrong bin.

When they’re in the right bin, you just give them the right part number, once they’re out of there, there’s no way to tell, so the most experienced person picks, provides it…let’s say down the assembly line, per se, they’re gonna hand it to one of our…we call them branding specialists, these are the people that operate our auto bag machines which basically print and bag and seal within a few seconds in high volume of your products.

So, what that person will do, they’ll hand let’s say the blue off to one person, the black off to another person and that person will grab the lanyard, grab the badge holder, wrap it up, drop it into the auto bag, hit the button, it gets bagged and printed. They can monitor the job on the software. First, they would load up the software, pick the job out of our software, it’ll tell you there’s a job for 500 of this part number.

Some Automation Requires Manual Checks

Andrew: Sorry to interrupt Patrick, so does that pull in from, like, let’s say, an ERP system? I think you’re on Skubana, so does your custom software talk to Skubana and say, “Oh, we’ve got an order that just came in from Amazon that is for, you know, 500 badges, 250 of blue, 250 of red,” and it gets sucked into your custom software and then it kind of shows up on your custom software as this order needs to be processed?

Patrick: What it will do is we will be looking at Forecastly to grab the replenishment orders for Amazon and then this will be kind of a separate software which the guy who is looking at our analytics for the forecast, he’ll actually put it into the software manually.

So, he’ll search for the part number…let’s say he loads up a part number and then our software kind of does its magic where by looking at that part number, it tells the bagger that “You’re gonna need 200 of this component, 200 of this component, it’s gonna go in a four-by-six bag, this is the barcode, this is the part number,” you know, and it’s gonna pull the description and where the product country of origin is, it’s going to print all that on the bag.

That part it’s doing automatic but we’re manually entering the information for the forecast and then the time it gets sent back to Skubana is when we actually send out the FBA order. We actually create what they call an FBA order of some sort in Skubana and that sends it off to…then Skubana knows, “Okay, those are in transit to FBA,” but that part isn’t automatic.

Andrew: Yeah, I kind of was mistaken and I was thinking you were fulfilling real-time but the software just helping you kit it all up because you send an FBA, of course, FBA process isn’t real-time. Sorry, that makes more sense.

Using Skubana To Help Build Kits

Patrick: Yeah and we’re also doing it inside, so let’s say if a product sells that is a kit and bundle that we make in-house, it’s branded and it’s not an FBA, those come out of Skubana and those ones we actually hand daily, basically a stack of order to our bagging people and, unfortunately, it’s not automated because they actually have to switch the size of the bags for different orders and load up the job. That one doesn’t really need like a big job, they could just jump into the database real quick, type in the part number, hit print and knock out that job on the fly.

Andrew: So, that’s for, like, a real-time merchant fulfilled Amazon where you’d have to send out?

Patrick: Yeah, we do quite a bit of MFN, actually we do hundreds and hundreds of orders every day and a lot of those, we actually do have to run so we dedicate one of our auto bags…we have three auto bag stations and we dedicate one of those to in-house orders for at least three hours a day and there’s a time slot that the in-house orders can get fulfilled and that person will be pulled away from FBA but most of the time, they’re on FBA.

And then just to give an idea of those machines, they’re not super cheap, they’re about $20,000 and they’re from Autobag. We’re using these ones called the PS 125, it’s a smaller desktop auto bag machine. They make a lot bigger ones but those ones work perfect for our small products.

Andrew: God. And for people who don’t know what an auto bag is, can you talk about, like, what does it do and it’s really cool how you use it to take something that you could potentially label a commodity and really give it a lot more value and kind of branded quality to it.

Using an Auto Bag System

Patrick: Yeah, it’s really awesome. So, these auto bag machines, I mean people have just figured out everything so if you ever had…what we were doing and a lot of people are doing is we were taking a zip lock bag, putting an item in, and putting a sticker on the zip lock bag or even just one of those little Amazon barcodes that you can print out straight through there, the FBA software.

And it kind of takes that to the next level where you have a machine with an actual printer on top of the machine that prints the bag, brings down the bag through the machine, and then blows air into it to automatically open the bag for you.

You drop whatever you want in the bag and then you hit either a foot switch or push the little button and it heat seals the bag.

And we do those bags pre-printed on the clear side window with our logo so you can see inside the product and it looks like a nice professional retail presentation and on the backside of the bag is white and we just use a black monochrome thermal printer on there and it’s printing the barcode, our company logo, the product description, country of origin, and anything else, choking hazard, just things like that are getting printed on the back pretty much in real time and you can run,

I mean, just tons and tons of bags through those things. We can bag, you know, hundreds of items in a short period of time and it’s just so fun to watch.

A Plug for Bartender If You’re Printing Labels

Andrew: And part of your custom software integrates with your bag machines so that you can…your auto bagger rather, so you pull up that…let’s say you need to do that 500 quantity, pull it up there, you get all the pieces and then it automatically just feeds all the information to the bagger so you don’t even have to re-enter it, it’s all seamless?

Patrick: Yeah, we’re linking BarTender software which actually has a lot of database capabilities and we’re not using the auto bag software that they include or try and sell you with the machine. BarTender has a lot of capabilities when you get to the professional versions of that including working with SQL databases, Access databases, Excel files, whatever you need and you could just do all kinds of integrations between whatever you’re working with and whatever you need to send to the software or you do it manually too, it’s really easy to do it manual.

If anybody’s printing labels for anything in their warehouse, be sure to check out BarTender.

Andrew: And Patrick, I kind of totally pull this off, you were walking us through the whole process and I kind of ripped us away for a couple of side questions but I think we kind of had the parts come in that you get automatically kind of with your custom software based on your forecasting for what you think you’ll need for FBA.

You have someone pull that in, enter that into the machine or into your custom software, it tells you what parts you need in terms of the raw materials, you bring those all to one place, a picker or a bagger, you get some…the bags are already set up, the information for the auto bagger is ready so you can go ahead and crank on that. Those get sealed up and then anything past that in your process?

Patrick: Besides sometimes especially if we had, like, a temp working on it or an evening crew, we do try and run after hours and weekends shifts to utilize the baggers in a higher capacity when we’re busy, there can be a visual inspection and another check off by the manager the next day when they’re back in and then from there, they are going straight to FBA either UK, Canada, or U.S. FBA.

Processes That Amazon Has Made Easier

Andrew: And do you have…in terms of your managing getting the shipments queued up in the FBA…you know, in seller central, making sure the right ones that you’ve…I guess once you have all your stuff, you’re probably just replenishing inventory, you can put it back on the shelves and then you grab it for when you need it and pick it again for your FBA shipments. Is there anything you do unusual with the way that you…you kind of moved from the final product to labeling for Amazon, to kind of managing the shipments to make sure that whole process works as smoothly as possible?

Patrick: That part is where Amazon has done such a good job making that pretty easy and efficient with their system. The one thing we do since we are a brand owner for most of everything that we sell and the UPC is we’re not re-stickering most of the time on anything. The only time we’ll really do anything weird like re-sticker a package is if there is a counterfeiter on the product which we rarely have now that we’ve been brand gated and everything else but for the time being, we had to do a lot of covering up.

Even when we owned the brand and the UPC, we’d still have to re sticker it with the Amazon FNSKU and if anybody’s not familiar with how that works, if you do commingled inventory, you could get a counterfeiter and a legit product in the same bin and people could be buying counterfeit items from you which is just the craziest idea that a customer could buy something from us, the brand owner, and get a Chinese knockoff not in the retail packaging, so that whole concept blew my mind.

And so what we do when there is a counterfeiter, we switch everything to non-commingled with an FNSKU, we re-sticker our own stuff which is a total drag but you got to protect your brand, number one.

Andrew: Yeah, it makes sense. So, for your software stack, you’ve got your custom software that helps with…it helps especially with the kitting process, you use Skubana as your ERP. Anything else that kind of ties into that that makes it work so well?

Everyone Needs a Solid Inventory Management System

Patrick: Yeah, so it’s kind of funny, right after that Goldman Sachs program, I was really needed help with this because, you know, we’re ready to crash and burn, I was literally having an in-house SQL server posting every transaction one by one into Quickbooks and it would take it maybe almost three weeks sometimes to close out the month, just posting transactions and I had to do the sales tax, you know, by the 20th and then there was…I mean, and then when we bring up the word “sales tax,” that was a whole another thing. And so, I joined ECF, like, one of the first things I ever posted was like, “How is anybody dealing with this?”

Luckily, Scott Scharf and I jumped on a call and he walked me through how an inventory management software should work, how accounting should be done at this type of volume, you know, and so now our software stack, thanks to ECF, Scott Scharf and other members, really, Skubana is kind of the center of everything. We didn’t even have inventory management software before we joined ECF and we were feeling the pain.

That took over…it auto generates our POS, it calculates predictions for our warehouse inventory and our FBA is dependent on our internal warehouse and like I said, we do a lot of merchants fulfilled and our warehouse is also dependent of all the components and everything we build for our branded products.

So, we use the predictions inside of Skubana and we say, “Okay, let’s look at the last 60 days and let’s have 30 days moving forward on the shelf,” and that’s really helped and that’s why my brother can leave Miami. He used to have to live here and work here and he would be walking around the warehouse every day or every week with the paper and pen and we were just gonna…you know, like I said, we couldn’t have continued to grow. So, that was the big one and then, of course, we brought on the accounting specialist and they moved us over to zero for the accounting, they do that.

We started collecting sales tax and we’re gonna be collecting a 37 states at the end of the month which is just out of control but, you know, they’re handling it but, you know, we didn’t have those systems, now we have the systems in place.

On the more like the HR side, they moved us over to TSheets for time tracking and it has GPS so if your employees are off the premise and they punch out, it shows you so we can correct the time cards easily, the punch and punch out on their phone, it’s just been awesome. And then we moved everything to Gusto and we just started offering 401k and benefits and all that stuff and so that stack there was things that were intimidating and scary for me and well beyond my ability where I was and where we were and where we needed to go.

Luckily, thanks to you and ECF, I met the right people at the right time and it didn’t slow us down and we’re up 60% on Amazon this year again, which is just crazy.

Andrew: That’s awesome, that’s really cool. Can you talk a little a bit about the custom software? You got a lot of stuff, you mentioned there’s kind of software you can buy or SaaS you can sign up for, but you’ve got that magic software you alluded to that really helps with the packaging and the kitting, it’s something you built, so how did you build it? Like, do you have an in-house developer? Are they a contractor? How long have they been working for you?

Can you give me a sense of…because custom software development, as someone who’s done a bit of it and we’ve got some custom stuff in the community, like, it can be…especially the more you have to maintain it and the older it gets, it can cause some problems, so how’s that been?

How A Virtual War Lead Him To His Developer

Patrick: Yeah, it’s been fun. So, the funny thing is I had mentioned to you before I think, you know, I’m kind of a computer geek and all that stuff so I was playing online in this big virtual war every week with, like, 100 people from all over the world and 50 people per side and, like, we would be strategizing all week long and we have squad leaders and commanders and infantry and armored support, everybody working together and we’re planning these battles all week and then have a four-hour battle on Sunday with ARMA, the video game ARMA.

So, there was this Serbian squad of guys that…I was their squad leader and they would be under me and we’d be planning during the week for our attacks on Sunday and this group of Serbian guys were really talented, really good manager, you know, we’re managing a virtual army and they were just awesome and it turns out two of the guys were programmers.

So, I ended up…and one of them, the company he was working for in the U.S. went out of business and it was right at the time that I realized we kind of needed a developer and so he started working for me and now he’s full-time, so I have a full-time developer in Serbia. It’s affordable, I think we’re at about maybe $1,500 U.S. a month and he’s really available pretty much full-time. A lot of time I don’t have projects but I don’t ever say like, “Okay, well, let’s not have you work for me,” I need him to be available when we have things to run on and if we have downtime, he has downtime and I’m okay with that.

Tips on Using Small & Light

Andrew: Very cool. Any tips for using Amazon Small and Light? Are you guys still using that a lot with, I mean, the things you sell? Any tips for…if you are still using it, any tips for people who may not be aware of it or if they are aware of it, you know, ways to get more out of it or more cost savings out of that program?

Patrick: Yeah, we started the Small and Light when it was in beta and then, you know, we tried it quite a few different ways. We have since kind of just developed our products where they work with FBA instead of having to use Small and Light. The only issues we had with Small and Light is first, if you’re not the brand owner and you’re not the only seller, it wasn’t a good option. I don’t know if they fix this but if you were up against a regular Prime seller, they would win the Buy Box every time but we still had to be, like, 30% below.

We tested a bunch of different pricing structures and sometimes we still had to be 30% below to even get rotated even when we were Prime Small and Light, so then we just stopped doing it because at that time we were competing with counterfeiters and really trying to protect our brand.

And we tried it before and we’ve also had problems where people don’t realize it’s not today, it can be longer depending on how they ship it so we kind of moved away from it and then they’ve sent us some more information recently, I think they’ve improved the program and we considered going back and trying it but those are the main reasons why we’re not using it now.

It’s not to say they haven’t addressed some of those but the regular Prime program with a two-day, people are so used to it and they love it and we just priced our products more expensive so that way the value is there and we can include the two-day and people just…I mean, for some reason, that two-day Prime Badge, people just go nuts for it.

And so, we’re buying everything in our office on Amazon, even hating Amazon and knowing how evil they are and how they’re taking everybody’s money and we’re still just buy now, buy now all day long and not even checking prices or trying another website and that’s just the way it is, so I think everybody’s going for the convenience over even price shopping.

Let us say, Andrew, you work for the government, you make $65,000 a year, you need to buy a badge holder maybe once ever or maybe once a year or something and you see there’s one for $2 and there’s one for $14.95 and you’re like, “Well, let me get this nice one for 14.95 and it’s gonna be here in two days,” so you just click the button and you don’t even think about it.

Andrew: Man, so the Small and Light stuff, it’s not gonna come…you can’t Prime it, it all ships, I’m guessing, first-class mail or something like that?

Patrick: Amazon is using all kinds of different things, I think…I don’t remember if it was like Mail Innovations or first-class or even if they’re doing other stuff. When we were testing it out, it was some sort of up to four or five day first-class mail equivalent and like I said, I haven’t tested it recently so I wonder what they’re doing now and be curious to, I guess, have another mail from them to test it out on a couple of products.

I send it to my brother and my brother who’s really our Amazon guru, he just didn’t like it at all so I think we kind of have that in the back of our minds that we tried it, we didn’t like it and we’re doing so well with the regular one that there’s really no big motivation for us to try it again. I

f you were up against some non-Prime people on a low value item, totally would be worth it because you’ll win the Buy Box but then once they go regular Prime, you’ll lose it again so it’s tough to win that if you have other people in your listing.

The Lightning Round!

Andrew: Patrick, before we wrap up, I’d love to do a lightning round so I’ll just jump in and feel free to fire off fast and easy answers for me, if you’re game?

Patrick: Okay, for sure.

Andrew: Cool. What’s something you’ve changed your mind about recently?

Patrick: Well, I just got engaged so that was totally unexpected so I guess that’s the number one thing.

Andrew: So, the single life?

Patrick: Yeah, giving up the bachelor life, you know, and it doesn’t feel like giving up anything actually which is crazy, I guess. So it’s so funny, like, if I hear a song now or read a book or see a movie, there’s things that make a lot more sense now than before I met her so, yeah, it’s a total kind of, I guess, entire paradigm shift really.

Andrew: That’s cool. Congrats, man, I’m excited to meet her.

Patrick: Thank you.

Andrew: “Ready Player One,” I did want to talk about virtual reality with you because it’s something that’s a passion of yours, we, unfortunately, didn’t have enough time to get into it but I’m guessing you’ve…I would be shocked if you haven’t seen the “Ready Player One” movie, so thumbs up or thumbs down on that movie?

Patrick: I read the book and I saw the day it came out with my fiancee in the IMAX at Fort Lauderdale with the five or six story building. Big thumbs up but the book is well and just more than even any of those, the book or the movie, the idea of an oasis.

Andrew: Yeah. I rip through that book in, like, 36 hours, it was one of the most, you know, just kind of gripping books in terms of just being addictive to get through. Were you the same way? Did you just kind of read that book cover-to-cover?

Patrick: I mean, I listened to it on Audible and I loved it and I had already been really kind of just thinking about, I mean, another conversation where we can go deep on this but then the implications of just like when the virtual world is better than the real world and it was really cool to see someone had already really kind of imagined this.

Andrew: Yeah, hopefully, we have a slightly more rosy future ahead of us.

Patrick: Well, if you think it’s bad now when your kids are on their phone, wait till they have a VR headset on their head and you’re in a different planet but I think, you know, we’ll see augmented reality will fix a lot of that where we’ll be in the same room but you’ll just think everybody is high.

Andrew: What are you currently spending too much money on?

Patrick: Well, I have a weird look on spending money where I’m always like, “I don’t need to spend less, I just need to make more,” so I’m currently not making enough money in a lot of ways so I’m working on that.

Andrew: What’s something you’re currently not spending enough money on? Maybe this’ll be more of something..

Patrick: Yeah, I mean I think at the next level, let’s say, if we clear the…if we cross, let’s say, 10 million revenue next year, I think it’s really about that next level and finding an executive team and really kind of looking at it in that way. And it’s funny, I’ve seen a small business run, I don’t really know what the next level looks like so I have to do some soul-searching there and, you know, look at how am I gonna build an executive team and take this to where it could be and not where we’re at right now.

Andrew: What’s something on your bucket list that you want to do before you die?

Patrick: Well, we’re talking about paradigm shifts so I think now it’s really gonna be, you know, the idea of maybe starting a family and doing some other things. You know, I feel like on the bucket list, you know, I’ve rode motorcycles at a bazillion miles an hour, cut between the cars, and lived a high adrenaline bachelor life, traveled a lot, done a lot of things that I think a lot of people have to do later in life and now I think I’m really ready to see what the family life could look like.

Andrew: Very cool. And then finally, if you had to get a tattoo on your arm that people would see every day walking around, what would it say or what would it be?

Patrick: Man, I’ve always thought about this, I want to do the whole sleeve on the day I realized I was never gonna work for anybody else and if I did, it’s because they’re bringing me on just like a high-level exec and it wouldn’t matter what I have on my arm, I was thinking like motorcycles and World War 2 pinups and bombs but I don’t think I’ll do it. I never figure that one out, I’m working on it still, maybe we can come up with something together at ECF Live.

Andrew: Cool, sounds good, man. Yeah, looking forward to seeing you at ECF Live, you’ve been such an awesome member in the forum and in the community and yeah, looking forward to hang out again and thanks so much for being willing to come on and kind of, yeah, just share all the cool stuff that you’re doing with a hyper efficient packaging, kitting, and fulfillment process, it was cool to see and and I’m sure people got a lot out of it. So, man, great chatting with you and can’t wait to hang out again.

Patrick: Yeah, man, my pleasure. If there’s any other questions or follow-ups, we’re always happy to answer or be available to anybody, obviously this is our passion, so thanks for the opportunity and thanks for everything, man.

Andrew: That’s gonna do it for this week but a few important things to know about especially if you’re a store owner before you go: first, if you’re looking to hire for your e-commerce business, make sure to check out the eCommerceFuel job boards. We’ll get your job in front of thousands of qualified job seekers to find you the perfect candidate and if you’re looking for work, you should check out the dozens of hand-picked opportunities along with lots of other roles that pop up every week at ecommercefuel.com/jobs.

And if you’re an established store owner, you absolutely should be a member of our private community for seven-figure plus store owners. You get access to a discussion forum with over 1,000 vetted experienced e-commerce entrepreneurs, invitations to our in-person, member-only events, and access to our private review directory with over 5,000 software and service provider reviews. If that sounds interesting, you can learn more and apply for membership at ecommercefuel.com/forum, that’s F-O-R-U-M.

And then finally, a big thank you to our two sponsors who help make this show possible. First, Liquid Web, the best place to host your WooCommerce store anywhere online, if you’re using Woo, you need to check them out, ecommercefuel/liquidweb. And also, Klaviyo, who makes email marketing automation incredibly easy and powerful. You can learn more and get started for free at ecommercefuel.com/klaviyo.

That’ll do it for this week, thanks so much for listening and I’m looking forward to seeing you again next Friday. Want to connect with and learn from other proven e-commerce 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 for listening and I’m looking forward to seeing you again next time.

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