Exclusive: In my recent survey, many of you online sellers asked me for private label or wholesale sourcing advice. So I reached out to the best (=most honest) experts I know and asked "What's your best advice for someone just starting out?"
So here you go. Many of the experts have links below for free (or inexpensive) help, I highly suggest you pick one and take action.
(Private Label means sourcing mass produced goods and labeling them with your own 'brand'. Wholesale means sourcing mass produced goods that are already branded by the manufacturer).
"Focus on learning how to find good products. Look at the numbers and make sure the market has depth and demand. Learn what you need to know NOW to get to the next step. Keep it simple and don't over complicate the process and TAKE ACTION!" -- Scott Voelker, founder of TheAmazingSeller.com (Get Scott's free "how to find a great private label product" workshop here.
"Adhere to the 'lean startup' way of thinking.
That means validating products & ideas before investing large amounts of time, energy,and money into them. Try your best to scale up slow by self-funding your growth through your own sales (don't even consider outside funding or loans). Also be sure to keep an undying focus on the primary goal of any business - improving customers lives and making sales." --Will Mitchell,
co-founder of StartupBros.com
. (Catch their current live free training here
or a recent replay here
"Private labeling can be intimidating.
I have a lot of success finding domestic (U.S.-based)
suppliers and even wholesale companies that will allow me to simply take their product and put it in my own packaging. It circumvents the entire importing and customs process. I call it private label 'the easy way'. - Ryan Reger
, author of Private Label The Easy Way.
"Embrace Your Inner Weird.
The quickest way to become discouraged when moving into wholesale is to try and contact the big names you have been sourcing retail arbitrage. If you have been shopping clearance, you have probably been buying your items at below wholesale cost. Smaller companies are more likely to still be taking on Amazon sellers, have less competition on the listings, and selling for a higher ROI." - Robyn Johnson
founder (Get her free
'Getting Started' resources here
"Manage your cashflow properly and live within your means.
If you have $10k to invest, keep $5k in the bank, ready to spend on more of the product. The last thing you want is to find a hot seller, and then not be able to keep it in stock because your cash is tied up in other product. Cash makes everything easier when it comes to wholesale/private label." - Will Tjernlund
, million-plus Amazon seller, founder of AMZHelp.com
"Focus on building a brand from the beginning.
Keep this in the back of your head with everything you do. The majority of you just
starting out has limited capital and can therefore not play around. So build better products from the beginning, have A+ photos and listings, great customer service and don't be afraid to invest your money into higher priced and better quality products, be unique in what you do.
Look at this business not as a get-rich-quick scheme but rather see your investment as an opportunity to build your brand and in turn make more money in the long run. (Do this as opposed to release and launching a product every week.) Build it slowly and keep quality and focus in the back of your head." - Manuel Becvar, author of the Free Import Bible and founder of Import Dojo
"1.) Prove to yourself that you can make FBA work
: This can be as simple as buying something and reselling it for a profit on Amazon. You can still do the Fulfillment by Amazon program for very small shipments. But you are still taking steps towards your goal of selling and making money online, and that's a great thing. The beauty of Amazon is that it can scale easily, so don't be afraid to start with Retail Arbitrage or buying small quantities of inventory from Ali Express." and...
"2.) Pick something different. It is hard to make money selling popular items like yoga mats or garlic presses. You have to dig deeper to find untapped opportunities now. Think weird or obscure products that aren’t “sexy” (hint: check out the Jungle Scout Web App for this). You'd be pleasantly surprised what people purchase on Amazon!" and...
"3. Learn everything you can. The great thing about selling on Amazon is many of the education and resources you need are out there....for free! Jordan's blog, numerous podcasts, and the Jungle Scout blog and webinars are all great resources. I have done a whole case study where I share the process from start to finish for a product (bamboo marshmallow sticks), and the sales/expenses are revealed as well, so it is a fantastic learning opportunity without any financial investment! " - Greg Mercer, founder of JungleScout (Get a free trial of his product research web app here.)
"Look for products currently selling well on Amazon and then look for a similar PL product.
We currently private label just over a dozen products. For instance, our best product category is kitchen gadgets and products. A couple years ago we noticed that ceramic knife sets were selling well on Amazon (regardless of the brand name), so we sourced a very nice ceramic knife set from China. We created a brand name, The Smart Kitchen, designed a logo, and had the manufacturer print our logo on the box.
Our first order was for 200 sets, and we sold those out in about 2 months at $79 a set. Our landed cost was just under $30 so the profit margin was not fantastic but still pretty good. We still sell them 2 years later and they are steady sellers.
We have continued this process with other kitchen products and so far 90% of them have been successful (only 1 product never did well, but we still managed to recover our money over time.)" - Skip McGrath, eBay and Amazon selling expert (get his free sourcing tips and ideas here.)
“It doesn’t matter what you like
, it only matters what the buyers with money like.
Don’t overlook something simply because it’s outside of your comfort zone. I just returned from a trade show were the attendees were 90% male and I picked up SO many great products and already one exclusive. If you seek those areas where you are perhaps uncomfortable, you’ll definitely leave the masses behind!" - Janelle Elms
, Veteran eBay and Amazon seller and founder of OSIRockStars.com
"Instead of simply finding new suppliers, focus on developing relationships with partners
. You should look at how both you and your partner can benefit from the relationship. This generally means picking up the phone (you'll be surprised at how little online sellers do this), having a friendly conversation with them, and asking them questions of how you can help them. Our goal as sellers is to be the favorite customer of every vendor we do business with, and grow our business right along side of theirs! This will create a plethora of opportunity that won't be available to other sellers.”- Dan Meadors, million+ Amazon seller and owner of TheWholesaleFormula.com