In today’s Shopify ecommerce podcast, my guest is Jeff Lieber is the CEO and founder of Turnkey Product Management, a consulting firm that provides marketing strategies to accelerate the financial growth for Shopify businesses and organizations on Amazon. This is an excellent conversation with tons of learning around this important and necessary channel for Shopify-powered brands.
Today’s episode is made possible by our friends at Loop Returns, the exchange-first returns platform for scaling Shopify brands.
This is Jeff Lieber’s story…
I’m an Amazon customer and seller, and I noticed that the platform has become increasingly competitive over the years. In order to be successful on Amazon, you have to treat it seriously and put in the work. I founded Turnkey Product Management in order to help other brands grow their business on Amazon. We offer free opportunity analyses to help brands understand whether or not Amazon is right for them. We also have a lot of experience with Amazon advertising, and we can help brands get their products in front of the right people.
In this episode, you will learn:
- The importance of taking Amazon seriously as a competitive marketplace
- The potential for Amazon to be a powerful sales channel for Shopify brands
- The importance of understanding the competitive landscape when selling on Amazon
- The benefits of Amazon DSP Advertising
- What are the differences and benefits of Fulfillment By Amazon vs. Fulfillment By Merchant
Listen to today’s Shopify ecommerce podcast
Have you ever wondered how some people make a killing selling on Amazon, while others struggle to get by?
Here’s a breakdown of what is covered:
- [00:00:00] – Don’t treat Amazon lightly.
- [00:01:00] – Intro by Steve Hutt.
- [00:02:28] – Intro and welcome Jeff to the show.
- [00:03:44] – The high level of Turnkey Product Management
- [00:07:49] – The state of sellers on Amazon.
- [00:11:03] – Understanding the competitive landscape.
- [00:15:42] – Paid vs organic advertising on Amazon.
- [00:16:37] – Building a strong brand on Amazon.
- [00:21:15] – Other kinds of ads available to Amazon sellers.
- [00:26:11] – Mistakes that other sellers make.
- [00:28:39] – Amazon vs Shopify.
- [00:33:16] – Adding reviews to your store.
- [00:35:45] – Should you sell your business.
- [00:37:59] – Amazon’s private label brands.
- [00:42:01] – The opportunity for individual brands.
- [00:43:29] – Stories that can inspire.
- [00:47:20] – Opportunity for amazon to expand into Canada.
- [00:50:11] – Self-fulfill your Amazon orders vs FBA.
- [00:54:13] – The opportunity for international marketplace expansion.
- [00:56:17] – Takeaways from our discussion about Amazon.
We help Shopify founders to dream, build, launch, grow, scale, and exit.
Our North Star is to inspire founders and marketers to accelerate growth through podcasts and strategic insights. Each week, Steve Hutt and his Shopify expert guest discuss the best Shopify apps and current marketing strategies to accelerate growth and scale. You’ll learn how to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue, and build lifetime customer loyalty for your Shopify-powered online store. Today’s episode gets you one step closer to learning from those who are winning in ecommerce!
Links and resources mentioned:
- TurnKey Product Management
- Get the Strategies, Systems, & Expertise We Use to Sell 8+ Figures Per Year on Amazon! -Thanks Jeff!
- Amazon Advertising
- Playbook for Amazon Podcast
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Loop makes it easy for Shopify brands to encourage exchanges rather than refunds. We all know that returns don’t equal goodbyes, they equal new hellos. Loop has a slick process to make it easy for your customer to have a fast return or exchange. See why thousands of Shopify brands like Pit Viper, Summersalt, and Princess Polly, all choose Loop as their return partner.
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Check them out today at LoopReturns.com
In today’s episode is Jeff Lieber, who’s the CEO and founder of a company called Turnkey Product Management. They are a consulting firm that provides marketing strategies to accelerate the financial growth for Shopify businesses and organizations who also sell on Amazon, I can guarantee you this will be an excellent conversation. There’ll be a ton of learnings around this important and very necessary channel for Shopify-powered brands. So hi, Jeff. Welcome to Ecommerce Fastlane.
Thank you so much for having me. Excited to be here.
So let’s talk a little bit on the high level first, though, because I’ve not had very many Amazon experts on my show in last five years. And I’m going to put you into that bucket as being an expert because I had a little bit of work kind of prerecording say about your past. It’s very interesting, the journey that you’ve taken, but I just like to understand a little bit about Turnkey and then how all the pieces came together with both you and then your founding team.Yeah, sounds good. So basically to back up, I actually launched in 2014, not as Turnkey Product Management or as an Amazon agency, but actually I launched my own brand of pet products lovely. On Amazon in 2014 as my own seller. And then we launched on Shopify as well shortly after that. And so that was how I started, then spun off a baby brand of products as well. But Amazon was our main channel that I really went all in on, and so that was how I got started. So I ended up growing that to six figures and then beyond, and then ended up partnering with my friend’s dad who invented this crazy dog product that was like 100 foot ring launcher dog toy that was patented and really cool. So we launched that. I helped them on the e comm side. So I helped them launch on Shopify and Amazon. And Shopify was actually the bulk of our business there. And we went on to sell over a million dollars of that product, which is really awesome. But anyways, along the way, my first ever, quote unquote client was actually just a buddy from college who he launched on Kickstarter and then Shopify bottle sunglasses. Yeah, genius and super fun. I’ve opened hundreds of bottles with my hook sunglasses. No, they weren’t great. They’re titanium and they’re awesome. But anyway, so they were doing well on Shopify but not on Amazon. And they said, Jeff, can you help give us some tips? And they eventually said, hey, can you just manage it for us? Like, just optimize the listings and manage the ads? And I was like, yeah, I guess so. And so they’re like, yeah, we’ll pay you to do it. So we just came up with a friendly arrangement, and I ended up helping grow them to over six figures in their first year. And we sold over a million dollars of their brand on Amazon, and now my team just fully manages it. So anyways, that was kind of our first, quote unquote, client, even though it was just a friend from college, but they ended up referring two or three friends who then they referred a couple of friends. So after maybe twelve to 18 months, I had like ten clients that I was doing on the side managing their Amazon business. And meanwhile, I’m just like, oh my gosh, I’ve got three brands of my own, plus ten of these other people. And I was just like, all I wanted was my old nine to five job bag because I had just kind of got too heavy, too many pots on the stove. And so that was around 2017, and I just had to make a life choice and say, I need to go all in on one, which one was I best at? And I just felt that joined the turnkey route and helping other people. I wasn’t a great product inventor. I wasn’t the rocket scientist and made in the cool products or innovating amazing products on my own, but I was really great at the marketing piece, the advertising, the Amazon piece, and so ended up deciding, I’m going to go all in there. So I sold my pet brands and my baby brands over the course of a year, had a nice little exit, and then went all in on turnkey and hired my cousin and my sister and some of their friends and built a team and the infrastructure, and now we’re up over 20 people. And I’ve built a great team and have lots of successful case studies and great brands that we work with to grow on Amazon. And then most of our brands also sell on Shopify, almost exclusively on Shopify. And so anyway, they’re multi channel brands.
Yeah, thanks for sharing that. It’s really cool to hear people’s trajectory and kind of you’re really is no such thing as an overnight success, right? If there is, it just appears like that on the surface. The reality is you’ve actually put in the work and, quote unquote, ate your own dog food, so to speak, and actually did the work, made a lot of money learning the ropes and pivoting and changing. I know things have been there’s been lots of changes both in Shopify’s world and on the Amazon world, which I can hopefully unpack that in a few minutes. But it’s great to hear that story. And that kind of, I guess, sets the stage a bit for kind of my next question around just Amazon in general, because I’m not sure if he’s the latest stats or not, but my research kind of shows that Amazon represents probably about 40% or more, probably of the total us ecommerce sales last year. We’re in 22 now, but for all of last year. And I’d argue that maybe that’s where people go first to learn and see what the best fair price is and see what selections out there. And I really think a brand really has to have a strategy around how they’re dealing with Amazon and should they sell on Amazon or not. And so let’s assume that the answer is yes, I should be selling on Amazon. I understand that 40% of the total revenue of online transactions is happening through Amazon, or more likely, knowing that, let’s talk a bit about what is new for sellers today. So someone says, yes, I’m doing decent on my shopify store, I want to make that pivot over to Amazon. Let’s talk about what’s new today and how you believe that their platform can help that multichannel we just spoke about.
Yeah, sure. The stats that you quoted, that’s the way we’ve seen as well. I think a minimum of 40% of online shopping volume. So it’s basically the biggest store in the world, essentially. And you can launch on there and what’s nice and I love shopify too, I think you should sell on both 100%. But Amazon, what’s a little bit different is they have the biggest online pool of shoppers in the entire world. They’re already searching for your products, most likely on Amazon. And so let’s say that you sell a yoga mat and you’re doing one hundred K a month on shopify. That’s absolutely amazing. But they’re selling millions of dollars a month of shop of yoga mats and accessories on Amazon. And if you’re not listed there on Amazon and you’re not showing up in the search results, you are just giving away all of that real estate to your competition, to your competitors. And so it’s just a huge pool of buyers that they want to shop. They’re going to Amazon, they put in a search and they’re planning to buy that product within the next five minutes. Right. They’re going to make that buying decision because they just trust Amazon so much. And so for those shoppers, you want to be there and be in front of them. And if you’re not, then you’re just missing out on a huge opportunity. And yeah, we could talk about any risks that people have about that. But yeah, that’s kind of the first step.
So the first step, yeah, I definitely agree. You want to be there’s a baked in the marketplace, there’s a baked in audience here of people ready to buy. And you’re right, there’s this opportunity cost. I wonder if there is any technology or software available that a brand can get access to or that your team has access to that helps just understand the competitive landscape. Because let’s say I have many brands that I manage that maybe there’s certain two or three SKUs are really successful for them and the rest are selection SKUs and just trying to figure out how a brand makes a decision. If this lighted this Led makeup mirror, I wonder if I should be selling on Amazon. And when I go take a quick peek. Maybe there appears to be too many or too much competition and just trying to understand the competitive landscape and how when you on board somebody to be a client and get them on Amazon correctly. How do you select the right product knowing that it could actually it’s in a space where Amazon couldn’t reveal and highlight that product more because it’s not massively competitive niche?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, that’s one of the first steps. So anytime a brand comes to us at turnkey and wants to hop on a call or they just send us an inquiry like, hey, I don’t know if Amazon is worth my time. Is this a good niche on Amazon or not? And so that is step one. And obviously, because we have so many, we’ve been in the space so long, we have access to all the different software and tools that cost a pretty penny. But we have all these tools that can basically look at it for you, and we can do it for free because it just makes sense for us to do that. So for any of your listeners that have thought about Amazon and they’re not sure whether it’s the right fit or not, basically you could just contact us for free and say, hey, just give me a niche opportunity. Let me know the revenue potential on Amazon for my particular product, and we’ll go look at all your competitors, we’ll look at different keywords, and we’ll generate a number of analysis and reports that basically say, hey, look, the number one seller in your niche is currently doing $1.5 million a month. The number ten seller on Amazon is doing $150,000 a month. And so with those types of numbers, it’s a competitive niche. It’s going to be not super easy to break in, but it’s definitely worth your time to try to get in there and follow all the steps that we do in order to get into that niche. But there’s a small chance that you might sell some really unique product that maybe not a lot of people are searching for. And we’ll be able to look at that and say, hey, the number one seller is only doing 25 grand a month. The number ten seller is only doing $1,000 a month on Amazon. And so we’ll turn them away and advise them, hey, this is just not currently a good opportunity for Amazon, but you’re crushing it on shopify and retail, whatever you’re doing. But Amazon is not going to be worth your time or money to invest building up that sales channel, building the team, or hiring an agency like ours. And so one of the first steps is to assess and decide, is it worth my time? How much money and time. Should I invest into it? Yes or no? And we can do that for free. And so I think that’s a great idea. We could offer that to your listeners, if anyone’s curious. We could add it to our resources page that we built for you. I think it’s turnkeyproductmanagement.com/ecommercefastlane if you’re interested in that free revenue analysis. We could just do that for free and send it over some kind of.
An audit, I guess, for potential first time Amazon seller that is already doing a decent amount of revenue on their shopify store and they want to get in there, but just not sure if it’s right. You’ll be able to run a quick report to figure out the revenue numbers and sales numbers and going there is an opportunity here, and it must open doors for you, too, by running a free report like this, too, because then you’re like, hey, I trust these guys. Like, they’re giving me some free advice. You can run with it on your own if you want to, or you have a winning strategy. So that’s a win win for everybody.
Yeah, I know for sure. And sometimes people say they hired someone to throw up an Amazon listing or build their store for them a year or two ago or whatever, and they never really focused on it, didn’t optimize it, not doing super well, but they maybe never looked into the same revenue potential of what’s the competition doing. And so even for sellers that are on Amazon, that just sort of neglected it, or they’re just curious, hey, how far is the Gap? Like, I’m only doing $2,000 a month on Amazon. What’s the Gap? Is the number one seller doing a million bucks a month? Like, that would be useful to know. So sometimes, even if they’re already on Amazon, it’s still worth doing that opportunity analysis.
All right, cool. All right, I want to talk a little about the advertising side because I noticed, obviously, I’m an Amazon customer. I’m an Amazon Prime customer. And it’s interesting when you see when I query something, I’m actually looking for a Sony camera right now. And it’s so interesting that other brands try to canon other premium brands, put themselves into ad spots. But I think there’s so many different types of ad locations in different spots and different names, it almost appears overwhelming for me. But I have a funny suspicion it’s not overwhelming for you. You know all the potential paid acquisition spots on Amazon outside of the organic ratio on Amazon. So can you talk a little bit about some of the options? We can’t dig into all of the options of paid advertising on Amazon, but let’s talk about why somebody might need that versus the organic reach on its own as part of your competitive analysis report. You do. So once you make that decision that, yes, I’m going to launch an Amazon, I’m going to start building my reviews and start getting some organic reach. Why the ad side? And then where are the ads best place today that have the best kind of ROI?
I definitely want to talk about advertising, but before I encourage you to just go start spending lots of money on ads, I do want to make sure I cover that. The next step would actually be to make sure that you build and have a really strong if you just have one product listing on Amazon or multiple. Make sure that that listing is super strong. Well built. Well optimized. With full keyword optimization done. Making sure that Amazon gives you lots of beautiful real estate where you have like. Nine image slots and a video slot where you can put video about the product. There’s lots of review strategies that you need to put in place because whoever when is the last time you bought a product that has zero reviews or one two star review? Right. You got to have that social proof where if someone landed on your listing, there’s like, wow, I fully understand the product. I understand the problem that it solves for me, and it’s got the social proof, the reviews. So that’s really kind of step one, is when we take a client on, is to make sure that everything is optimized. And there’s also what’s called Amazon Storefront Now, which can have all your different products on there. It needs to be beautifully built. And so once you have those building blocks in place, then, yes, it absolutely makes sense to just start investing into the Amazon pay per click advertising side of things. So I’m happy to jump into that.
Yeah, and you’re right about the store, because that’s exactly what I found when I did a quick search for my Sony camera. I realized that I could actually go to the Sony Store and they have, like, a whole custom brand amazon. Comstoressohnynepage, and it goes into their page of all their products. I know there’s a massive multibillion dollar company, but it seems like the technology is available for brands as they start to grow up. On Amazon, it looks like there is a way of having a dedicated landing page by a particular store and all the collections and products that they have available, like they would on a shopify store. You can actually have a dedicated store on Amazon, so it’s pretty cool.
I know for sure they’ve come a long way, basically, on the advertising side of things. Number one, I believe, last I checked, amazon is now the number three advertiser in the world as far as ad revenue that they do. So they’re a big player there. And there’s a reason for that is because it’s got to be probably some of the lowest risk ads to run and highest ROI. And why is that? Because it’s search based. It’s query based, where it’s pay per click advertising on Amazon Seller Central, where if you have a yoga mat, and that’s what you’re selling. There are so many that we can come up with hundreds of keywords and keyword variations related to yoga mat, non slip yoga mat, eco friendly yoga mat. There are so many different types of keywords that customers are searching for, and we can build very advanced. But you can also keep it simple in the beginning, for sure. Just build these keyword based campaigns where, you know, someone searches for that phrase, I want my product to be in there. It’s very similar to Google Ads, which I’m sure a lot of your listeners are familiar with. And so, basically, on the Amazon, imagine that you just finally launched your yoga matt brand on Amazon. You’ve been neglecting it because you were crushing it on shopify and didn’t have the time. And then, boom, now it’s time to go on Amazon. You got to see reviews. You built the page. And now you can instantly pay a nominal cost in order to put your yoga mat brand on the first page of the search results when someone searches for black, non slip yoga mat. And that’s exactly what you sell. Even though you just launched on Amazon yesterday, you can be showing up at the top of the search results, and you got to pay for that. But it’s pay per click, right? And so it might be a dollar, it might be $2.50. It depends on your niche per click. But if you have a high converting listing like I talked about, you have a very good chance that you’ll be able to generate a very positive ROI on the Amazon ads.
Okay, so that’s on the keyword-based type. And then is there any other types of ad formats, or is there any kind of like, machine learning things where Amazon helps you spend your money and helps have your products being displayed in the right places if you haven’t done all the research? Or are there more machine learning AI things? They have, yeah.
They’re always progressing, and there’s been a lot of changes over the last couple of years, which is exciting. So we’re always staying on top of that for our clients. So you can do a lot of competitor targeting. So that’s another beautiful thing, that you can just go target the top 25 brands that are your competitors, that sell exact products similar to yours, and you can advertise on their product listing page right, and try to steal their sales and traffic. There’s so many different cool things you can do. But what a lot of people don’t know about is it’s called Amazon DSP advertising, and that stands for Demand Side Platform. Have you heard of that particular platform?
I’ve heard of DSP ads before, but I don’t know about the Amazon side. So if I don’t know, likely my listeners don’t know either.
No, a lot of people don’t know about 90% of the brands that come to us. Like they’ve never heard of it, or they just heard the phrase and they’re not too sure what it is. But basically it’s another Amazon advertising platform that Amazon owns. But it’s in a different portal and it’s DSP as you can target customers. Retarget customers in lots of different ways. Both when they’re on the Amazon shopping platform. But also. More importantly. When they’re outside of Amazon. When they’re on their phone. When they’re on social media apps. When they’re watching on their Kindle audiobook and things like that. So there’s so many different ways that you can run different types of ads. You can do really cool look back windows where you can target customers that visited your product page but didn’t buy in the last 90 days, if that’s what you want to target, and put that retargeting ad in front of them. Or if someone bought your yoga mat in the last, let’s say twelve months ago, they bought a yoga mat, and now you just launched a yoga towel and yoga block set or some accessory to that. And now you can run an ad to the customer that bought one year ago today of your yoga matt originally. And so you can cross sell your products. There’s a ton of different types that you can run video ads. There’s so many different things. But anyways, because it’s so targeted and strategic, we can consistently most of the time, not 100%, but most of the time we see very positive ROIs and are able to meet our clients goals and help them to grow.
Lovely. I’m actually on their website right now at Advertising Amazon.com. That’s the Amazon ads, they call it. But then Amazon DSP is here. And yeah, it goes through a lot of details, so I’ll put that link in the show notes to Advertising Amazon.com. Pretty cool, looks like a really neat tool. Some guides and things here, too, for those that are just going to want to self serve, kind of do it yourself learnings. Yeah, check that out. That’s pretty cool.
Yeah. And one of the things I just want to make sure I mentioned is if you’re a really big brand and you have a big budget, you can go directly to Amazon DSP. I think it even says it on that webpage. That for Amazon’s team to manage it for you. It’s a minimum $50,000 test budget, which for most brands, this is a little bit too high of a test budget. But if you go through an agency like ours, not all agencies have gone through the process to become Amazon DSP trained and become a DSP provider. But if they go through that process and you find an agency like ours. Or there are other good ones out there. I’m sure. But then. Like at our agency. Our minimum test budget is $500 because that’s truly all that we need to be able to get enough data and see is it a positive ROI. Because most of the time we can get positive ROI with just $500. And if we can’t, then we’ll be very conservative and want to move slowly with that or possibly turn off the test if it’s really not getting good results. But most of the time we can.
Well, I mean, typical thing, what you’re not measuring, you can affect. And you got to do a B testing all the time. And I think this is sounds like through your agency, it’s a small amount of money versus Amazon having to do it, but a small amount of money to test your product. After doing like your market research that you mentioned already with some of the software tools, you have to see the competitiveness of that niche and then doing a test in a certain area. It sounds like a win win for me. I want to be devil’s advocate though, for a second because that’s what I like to be. I’m sure there’s some mistakes other than you mentioned top of show about running out and creating ads and stuff and not knowing what you’re doing or thinking that, hey, I’m selling well already in this particular product. I’m sure it’ll sell well on Amazon without pausing and doing some due diligence. Let’s talk about some of the mistakes that you’ve seen other sellers do and hopefully we can teach them how not to do it themselves.
Yeah, sure. Okay, let’s see. Biggest mistakes. Number one would be a lot of the basic stuff that I just covered so far. You know, building the optimized listings and reviews before turning on and ramping up the advertising spend. That’s a big mistake that some people make. Another big one is simply just not trying and not trying to Amazon. See, literally, it was just twelve months ago, maybe it was 13 or 14 months ago, we had a brand come to us. They were doing, I believe, over one hundred K a month on shopify and they were crushing it during a solid business. But they just never had tested Amazon and they felt like they didn’t have the time or the team or the resources because they’re so busy driving traffic to shopify that they just neglected Amazon. I just don’t think it’s going to be worth it. And then finally they had a call with us. We did the revenue opportunity, showed them what the potential was, and they’re like, okay, we’ll give it a shot. And so they signed up for a performance based pricing. And so we went all in and really helped build a launch plan for them. They’ve never been on Amazon before and they launched in the first month of 30 days. We did over $100,000 of sales on Amazon and now one year later, we’re doing over $300,000 a month consistently. And their shopify store is still crushing it and growing like crazy as well.
Now, online shopping can feel risky for some customers. Imagine if your order arrives in the wrong size. This totally happened to me recently, or in the wrong color, or it just doesn’t look right on you. And it really can be hundreds of reasons why you may want to return a product. And I totally get it. And that’s why Loop Returns makes it easy for shopify brands to encourage exchanges rather than refunds. And we all know that returns don’t equal goodbyes, they equal new hellos. Luke really has a slick process to make it easy for a customer to have a fast return or exchange. I see why thousands of shopify brands like Pit Viper, Summer Salt, and Princess Polly, they all choose Loop as their return partner. Now is the time to improve their post purchase experience. So go check them out [email protected] Yeah, because I was wondering about the potential cannibalization, a bit of going multichannel on Amazon, because Amazon has really high search results, branded search results too, I might add, just because of their domain authority. Can you speak much about that? Because at the end of the day, I would suspect that the margins are probably going to be higher, not having to pay any seller fees on Amazon versus directing towards the shopify store of the same product. But just curious on your feedback of how you balance that potential cannibalization on Amazon versus shopify store.
Sure, it’s a valid concern that people definitely bring to us, and we’re always happy to talk through that. So there’s a couple of things that you can do. For example, you can run much stronger promotions and discounts on Shopify than you offer on Amazon. You don’t have to offer the same thing. And so that’s one way. Like, if you have your email list and your audience and shopify customers that are used to whatever you like to do for Father’s Day sale or whatever, you can offer those big promotions and constant coupons and things like that on Shopify that can be greater than on Amazon. So that way, because a lot of customers, they’ll check both, right? They’ll check, what’s the price on Amazon and what’s the deal I can get on shopify. So that’s one way that a lot of our clients like to do is to mitigate that. So they’ll actually one benefit of that is you might actually there’s a percentage of customers that found you on Amazon because they’re searching for the yoga mat example. I don’t know why I’m stuck on that, but let’s go with it. So they found you in the search results on Amazon and Savvy shoppers will be like, oh, I’m going to Google it and see what this brand is online. They might want to see it. If you look like a legit brand, they’ll Google you, go to your shopify site and boom. Be like, oh, wow, you have a 20% off coupon for first time customers. You have a nice little pop up on your shopify site and they end up buying with you. Right? That’s one way to go about it. Another is some Shopify brands, they don’t list all 100% of their SKUs on Amazon.
We’ll list a subset of the ones that strategically make the most sense. So if you’re really, really concerned about that, that’s a good way to sort of test the waters and not jump all the way in. But I guess what I’ll end on is that at the end of the day, most of the time, what will happen is, yes, there will be a little bit of cannibalization where customers just trust Amazon more. So if they see that it’s on Amazon, they might take that sale. So a small percentage for sure will go over to Amazon. But at the end of the day, if you do Amazon right, you’re going to be tapping into the millions and millions of customers that are shopping online every single day searching for your products. And if you’re not there, you’re just giving away that real estate to your competition. And so if Shopify was originally 100% of your sales, and then you launch on Amazon, and now Amazon is 15% of your sales and Shopify goes to 85%, what will typically happen though, is overall your revenue and profits will be growing. Okay, so that’s an important factor, is that you’re able to typically grow faster by doing both. And then yeah, I know there was a lot of info, but make sure I kind of cover some different points.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I know. One thing I noticed too, as you were speaking, was the fact that if you are on Amazon and on your Shopify store, and even if there is, some cannibalization think about the search results. You’re either going to be on Amazon or Google or potentially YouTube. There’s also three big places where people kind of start their kind of product discovery journey. And on Google itself, the results are going to be there. So now you get the search engine result pages, the Surface we call them, where you’re getting like multiple entries visually for either a branded query. They were looking for a particular Sony camera. And it’s being shown on Amazon and it’s being shown if you’re a brand owner and on Google in your direct to consumer sites. That’s interesting. So you get visually, you get that real estate above the fold. So I think that’s interesting. That’s one plus I want to be on Amazon. Plus the baked an audience we talked about and potential revenue increases that will happen. The other thing I was thinking about too is you mentioned that you can do discounts and certain things on your Shopify store. Imagine if you are able to within the terms and services of Amazon, but have something inside the box asking for a review or a special coupon code for a second purchase or maybe even a survey or something. Can you talk a little bit about that? I know Amazon is very particular about not trying to, quote, unquote, cannibalize their business because they helped acquire that customer and the revenue share that goes along with that. But at the end of the day, you do want to get more reviews. Does it have to be electronic reviews or could something be baked into the box as a thank you note of some sort that’s in a factory sealed box that says, hey, review, hey, thanks for buying off Amazon. But by the way, we have a shopify store, too, or surveys. I want to know, is it truly black and white or is there a gray area that seems to work, this sort of thing about not trying to take away from Amazon, but enhancing your shopify store as a result of Amazon?
Yeah, it’s a great point. And I think we’ve all seen those cards in the Amazon products that we buy. A lot of brands do it. So it’s definitely a gray area. It’s not black and white. We’ve seen some where we’ve ordered just me personally, I’ve ordered products and I see what they put in the box, and it’s just like they’re blatantly asking for, like, I will pay you $50 if you leave us a five star review on Amazon and blah, blah, blah, go to this page. And it’s just like that’s completely breaking Amazon’s terms of service.
So you cannot do things like that. But it is a great area. But, yeah, there’s warranty cars. It’s totally legit that customers want to sign up for their lifetime warranty or 90 day warranty or whatever, and you have to get their email in order to do that. There’s a lot of ways around it, and we talk with our clients about those strategies and the risks of each and try to make sure that we’re always being compliant with Anton. But yeah, but there are definitely our creative ways where you can end up communicating with the Amazon customers off of Amazon and they’ll end up buying down the road on your shopify site as well. And then I just thought of one other point to your question about the cannibalization, because I’ve sold a couple of businesses before, and I’ve had some business brokers on my podcast. I have a podcast called The Playbook for Amazon Podcast, and I’ve interviewed them and talked to them about the valuations in the marketplace. What is your business worth if you want to sell your business? Right? A lot of shopify brands, they want to sell their business one day. It can be a huge financial windfall. And what’s consistent from what I’ve seen and talked with people is if you are a shopify only business and you’re doing the same numbers, a million dollars in revenue and $250,000 in profit or EBITDA, and you compare that to a business that’s doing a million dollars in total, but it’s split. Let’s just for even numbers, say it’s 50 shopify, same profit level. That second business that’s multi channel will have a higher valuation and a higher multiple. When you sell your business because you’re a safer business, you’re multi channel and most buyers appreciate that you’re not reliant just on one channel. Right? So it kind of goes both ways. The same thing. If you’re an Amazon only business and you’re not on Shopify, I recommend all day that you should go on Shopify and become multichannel because of the same principle. You sleep better at night knowing that if whatever reason, Facebook changes the algorithm that was driving on my shopify sales and it dried up, well, Amazon is its own engine and can keep going and keep your business going and you’re not dead in the water. And the same thing vice versa. If Amazon listing gets taken down because of whatever some customer crazy series of complaints or whatever, sometimes stuff happens and it goes down for a few days. Your Shopify business hopefully is up and alive and kicking, and you’re just a safer, more sound business. So I don’t know, does that make sense?
Yeah, 100%. No, thanks for sharing that. I’m glad you thought at that point, because that’s important. One thing I’m also thinking of too is I did read a little bit about Amazon potentially being a little bit aggressive by showcasing or giving preferential treatment of location of one of their private label brands. I did some research. It looks like Amazon probably owns over 100 private label brands. I don’t know if they have a corporate dev department they no doubt do. Where they’re probably analyzing their own data in house and trying to figure out who’s doing well and why. And is there opportunity for acquisition of that and then owning the whole supply chain and making more revenue net all the way through because they own the product and they don’t have to pay for their own ads. But I think it’s interesting, and just one other note before you kind of answer that question, is that I remember my prior agency, they were in the hair removal industry, like kind of a cream and some things that they could rip off. So it was interesting. And they were a premium brand that everybody knew who they were and Amazon saw how well they were doing and they actually forced them. Now, there may be things have changed since then. They didn’t get into the acquisition kind of conversation, but they did force them to get involved in a separate program where Amazon is only the exclusive wholesaler. They’re the only one that can buy from them exclusively and sell on Amazon versus themselves. The brand owner or any third party. Sellers can’t sell the product either, though. So I guess there’s two sides of that question about Amazon has lots of data. Are they evil enough to want to knock off a product or give themselves preferential treatment in ads or on website? And then is there potentially an opportunity where they may force you out as you grow if you don’t choose to play by their rules of hey, only sell to us because we want to make more margin on it.
Yeah, it’s absolutely a fair concern. There is absolutely some risk there that you should factor into your decision. I mean, a lot of business is just making decisions based on risk reward. Let’s just use the example of like, okay, you got a big brand like Bulletproof Coffee and Starbucks Coffee is sold on Amazon, right? And so Amazon, they have their own brand of coffee too, right? They do. You’ve probably seen it. They have their own private label brand. Now, does that mean that all of a sudden Bulletproof Sales, everyone’s like, oh, I used to be a Bulletproof customer, but now Amazon has its own brand? Like everyone switched to Amazon and Bulletproof is now out of business? No, not likely. So yeah, it’s definitely a concern because the Amazon obviously is going to be able to place their own brand higher up in the real estate and probably charge themselves less advertising costs or maybe no cost at all. So yeah, it’s a risk they take up some real estate, but it’s their own store, it’s their own web domain. And so yeah, it’s part of it. But if you look at the numbers in some of our brands that we have, amazon has popped up in the last few years with their own brand in that same space. And most of the time it’s not like you see a drastic drop off that really crushes your business. It’s just Amazon is now another brand on there and Amazon tends to go after the lower end pricing and lower end quality. Like they’re not tending to be the super high end version of things. And so it also helps if you have a really strong differentiated brand like Bulletproof Coffee, right? Not the cheapest brand. A lot of people are diehard to that brand. They’ve got their differentiators so they’ll be fine. So it’s definitely a risk to consider. But if you consider the risk versus reward, if you do Amazon, right, even if Amazon enters your space, you’ll still be able to compete and get sales, I would say most of the time, but yeah, it’s definitely something to think about.
All right, so once again baked an audience. It’s a massive opportunity and so even though maybe they might steal some of your ideas or preferential treatment, there is still so much opportunity. I did exactly that search of just coffee on Amazoncom. Bulletproof comes up. One or two private label brands I know that Amazon owns come up, but then so do all the other major players out there from Duncan through the folders, through the Newmans and San Francisco and Kicking Horse. Bulletproof is there, they mentioned. And Starbucks is there. They’re all still there and they all have massive reviews in the 20,000 80,000. Massive reviews. So it proves that the opportunity is there for everybody to really be successful. It looks like a lot of these individual brands already have some kind of brand campaigns already going on. You don’t just show up and go, I think I’m going to buy some Green Mountain coffee today. Well, what is that? Where did it come from? What’s the story behind it? Like, you know what I mean? It’s interesting to me. Whereas maybe the branding behind Bulletproof is more unique because they have a story behind what they do and then if they want to go to Amazon and buy it because they’re a prime member, then buy it. But you’re right, I don’t believe it’s going to cannibalize everything. I just wanted to get that clear to everybody that there’s opportunity. Yes, they can use the data for their own selfish reward, but on the flip side though, the opportunity is still there and you can still test it. It’s going to be an incremental lifting your revenue. And I think that’s important.
Yeah, you couldn’t say the better myself. Thank you for summing that up.
So I want to put a bit of a story now because I think so interesting about I think it just can educate and really inspire people. When you hear about others that maybe have a direct to consumer brand and shopify and they chose to go on Amazon, it would be great if I put you on the spot here. It’d be great to maybe not give away who the brand is, but maybe anecdotally talk about a particular brand maybe and how they heard about you, what you did for them, and maybe any kind of results. Every brand will have their own results, but I just would like to hear a story and people can maybe fit themselves into that mold and going, hey, I sell a similar product or I’m in that vertical, or I could be in another vertical and maybe I can have the similar success that they had. So you love to hear something if you can pull something out of your archives.
Yeah, sure. Like I said, most of our clients are already selling on shopify and Amazon. Like they’ve already tested Amazon either on their own or they hired someone. And so most of our clients are already multi channel. It is rarer these days that someone has only been shopify only and hasn’t tried Amazon. But one of our best case studies in the last year that comes to mind was someone that was in the pet space. They built a great pet brand of products on their shopify store. That was their main sales channel. They were doing over one hundred k a month on shopify, but that was their only channel. And they had built their team and infrastructure in order to accomplish that amazing feat. Like growing your own brand from scratch to 100K. That’s not super easy on shopify, right? Anyway, but she didn’t have any bandwidth. Her team members that she had, they didn’t know Amazon, and she didn’t have the bandwidth or capacity in her head or so she thought, to manage them. She’s Amazon. She just thought it would just be this huge undertaking and a pain in the butt. But then she actually heard about us on a podcast, was what she said. Maybe it was hers. She didn’t say what podcast that it was. She just said she heard about us on a podcast. I do go on some podcasts sometimes. So she heard about us and realized, like, oh, there’s companies out there that you can just hire them to manage it and do all the grunt work for you. So we did the assessment and showed her how big this niche was on Amazon. And though she signed up and chose the performance based pricing, so we put our money where our mouth was, and we basically built her listings from scratch. And that process is kind of like taking all your assets that you have, you just put them in a Google Drive or a dropbox file that you already have for Shopify. You already have all the stuff right, that you build your beautiful Shopify store. And then we just basically convert it and build on top of it and build out all of the Amazon real estate and product listings that you do. And then we did a whole 30 day pre launch plan and had the time to do that, which I highly recommend doing, if you’ve never been on Amazon, is to have at least 30 days to properly plan a launch. Yeah, we launched. It was one of our biggest launches ever, which was over 100K in sales on Amazon in the first month. And she did not see drop off on Shopify. Shopify was still growing and doing well. And then one year later, we just did over $300,000 last month on Amazon. And her shopify is around the same, if not higher, actually. So she’s absolutely crushing it. And it’s been really fun to work with her and her team. And now she’s got a multi million dollar, multi channel business, and it’s been really awesome.
That’s really cool. I’ll make sure I give a link to a couple of other case studies you have on your website. I’ll put those in the show notes, too, when I was thinking about the internationalization side. Do you have much experience with those that maybe want to sell into Canada on Amazon, CA, or other international markets? Is there opportunity for that sort of thing? Because I know that the questions come up a lot on American brands that say, I want to sell into Canada, because I make comments saying there’s 38 million people in Canada. Imagine not selling to California, because that’s exactly the same thing. If you don’t sell into California, it’s like not selling into Canada because that’s how big the market is. And so my question to you is there opportunity on Amazon CA through your same services? Is there opportunity there and then other Amazon portals around the world?
Yes, 100%. Amazon has really made it a focus over the last, I would say five years to expand internationally. And they’ve made it relatively easy as well to launch very quickly into Amazon Canada. Because if you go to Amazon Canada right now and search for a coffee product, do the same search, you’ll see a lot of the same brands. And the listings are basically like there’s ways to migrate the listings over. So it’s a pretty fairly seamless painless process. And the other thing is only a percentage of Amazon.com sellers take the time and effort to take those steps and launch into Canada as well as the other countries. So there’s actually less competition. It’s a smaller market. Yes, smaller pie, smaller market. But you don’t need 10,000 reviews in Canada to be one of the top performing brands in your space. It’s a lot easier to take over some of the market share there. And so, yeah, Canada has been really successful. Amazon Europe has been successful for migrating brands over there as well. And then Amazon has expanded to India and so many different countries. Now it’s over a dozen countries. I don’t know the exact number right now, but yeah, it’s a big opportunity. So I would say definitely focus on Amazon.com first because it’s just like that’s the biggest opportunity to prove concept. But if you can prove, oh, wow, we’re getting a good conversion rate, we’re getting some sales. And if you want to take on internationally, that can be a great way. And it can complement as well. If you’re trying to build an international shopify store, it can help. Right? Amazon, if you have your own shopify store right. You typically get a CA as well sometimes, right? Isn’t that one of the strategies?
Yeah, you can through markets. We have shopify markets. So you can sell in your own local currency, so in Canadian dollars. And you can choose either level domain CA or you can go into a subfolder now Englishcanada, and then you’re telling Google that, hey, from an IP detection, hey, this is where you need to redirect to for Canadian queries in the surf. But it’s very interesting that you’re I was thinking another thing about the shipping side of it. You said international thing is an important thing. So there’s FBA this fulfillment by Amazon because I have some brands that do not fulfill any of their ecommerce orders or their Amazon orders. They’re all done by Amazon. So Amazon is their warehouse fulfillment partner for both their D to C so shopify, and they’re also due their prime and any kind of like sales that are happening on their marketplace. My question to you is that is there a better opportunity either or of having Amazon being the warehouse service provider for both the store and obviously have to be I guess you don’t actually don’t have to be at FBA. You can actually self fulfill Amazon orders. I just want to make sure I get I’m clear about the fulfillment obligations of me as an Amazon seller. Do I have to have my products in an Amazon certified warehouse or can I self fulfill it on behalf of Amazon? And what’s the pros and cons of that? I’m just trying to get the lay of the land a bit about and I’m just saying cross borders and stuff and what happens. There’s lots of questions here. It’s exciting about what can happen on the US side. But then the fulfillment side I find is quite interesting. Self fulfilled to your own three PL going through Amazon for both web orders or Amazon orders. I just like to hold your feedback on that.
Yeah, I think it’s an important topic to cover for your audience. So basically it’s flexible. You can do either or and Amazon doesn’t necessarily care which way. So some of our clients, like for example, that Pet brand had talked about, they were only selling on shopify and they used their own three PL warehouse. And they didn’t own the three PL. It was one of these big three pls. It’s got dozens of warehouses around the country in the United States. There’s lots of great ones out there. And so they were using that to fill their shopify. And what we did was when we launched them on Amazon, I believe they had one really big product that was just kind of big and bulky and it was just easier to test it out by doing the Fulfilled By merchants. So we can list it on Amazon, but it’s not using Amazon FBA warehouse. So if they get an order, if they get three orders today of that skew, we map that back to the warehouse, their three PL warehouse, and then that warehouse gets to print out the label, shipping label and ship it on to the customer directly. So that’s a really easy way to start. If you’re worried about the headache of managing multiple warehouses and you’re already set up with your three PL, you can start. It’s called FBN. Fulfilled by merchant. So that’s a fair way to start. One downside to that is you typically will not be able to have Amazon Prime badge, which obviously a lot of customers prefer. And like, yeah, so then what this brand? What we advise them to do is for the majority of their products we shipped, we help them figure out how to ship to Amazon’s FBA warehouse. There are dozens of them in the country, if not over 100 by now. And Amazon is usually pretty good about choosing the closest warehouse to you. So if you ship into Los Angeles and you have your three PL there, there’s warehouses really close by. So the shipping costs are not super big. So you can send a pallet or a couple of pallets of your products to Amazon. The labeling is pretty easy. And also all these three PL warehouses, they all use Amazon all day long and know how to do those shipments. So that’s a really easy way. You just tell them, I want to ship 100 of this and 200 of that. The Amazon FBA. They ship it to the Amazon FBA warehouse. And now instantly you get that beautiful Amazon Prime badge and free shipping and fast shipping and all that good stuff. But you can do it either way. So that’s the domestic part of it. Do you want me to talk about the international?
Yeah, I’m curious on the international side, because it’s interesting because in Canada, I find the selection is less on Amazon CA, and I also find that not all vendors choose the international option, and so they’re choosing to not cross borders or they don’t have a warehouse at an FBA in Canada. So maybe you can kind of explain some of those differences and what brands might want to do.
Yeah, so the Amazon actually recently opened up. I believe it’s called Amazon remote fulfillment. And so it’s really nice where you can actually fulfill orders to a Canadian customer in Canada, but it’s shipped from your FBA warehouse in the United States, and Amazon will handle that for you so that they’ve actually done a good job kind of offering that as a quick way. That’s where I recommend. If you want to try Tesla International, that’s a good, quick, easy way to start because it’s a little bit more of a pain to actually ship your own pallet of inventory across the border, whether it’s on the ground or through the air into Canada or one of these other countries. So that’s a really fast, easy way to start. I think Canada is the easiest place to start as opposed to the other countries around the world. But if you prove concept or if you’re a bigger brand and you just know we’re going to make Canada and these other countries a big focus, then it probably does make sense to ship a bulk of inventory palettes or a container or whatever it is directly into Canada. And you can use a three PL warehouse in Canada if you want to integrate with shopify. And Amazon or Amazon FBA warehouses are now in all over the world. I believe all the countries that they operate in, they have warehouses. Maybe there’s a few where they don’t, but that is another way to do it as well. So there are multiple options.
All right, cool. Thanks for doing that. Logistics, excited. Just nice to have those answers. We aren’t near the end of the show for today, but I really appreciate you coming on the show, and I think there’s quite a few takeaways, and I’m sure you have a few there’s scribbled down a bunch of notes here. I think one of the things that one of my big. Takeaways today is that if you’re not testing Amazon, then there’s this lost opportunity, I believe. And like I said, you made a really good point about if you’re doing well on your shopify store, there’s no reasons why you can’t grab a couple of SKUs, get a report from you to prove that the niche is profitable in that area, and then throw up a couple of SKUs up there, not your full product catalog, and test it out. So that’s one of the things that I think that I got as a takeaway, just getting into that multi channel mindset of it. And so those are two takeaways or anything that you want to kind of go over to make sure that we kind of summarize today’s. Podcast.
Yeah, no, I think those are great points. Thanks for summarizing that. At the end of the day, if you haven’t tested Amazon, it’s definitely worth a look. So the first step would be, like, we could do that for you. Is the free revenue analysis and niche analysis to see does Amazon makes sense or not for you? Is it a good niche opportunity or not? So we can do that for you for free. And we’ll put that up at turnkeyproductmanagement. Comfastlane. And there’s other goodies there and free resources for Amazon growth, as well as the ability just to book a call with us there. If you’re ready to hop on a call and chat about Amazon and learn more about what it would take to be successful on there, we’re happy to do that as well. Listing if you want to grow on Amazon, definitely. I wouldn’t treat it lightly. The days of just throwing up an Amazon listing, at a bare minimum, putting up one image of your product and putting the title is gone. It used to work in 2014 and you could have some success. But unfortunately, Amazon is a really competitive marketplace and you want to make sure that you take it seriously. And either if you have your own team that someone on your team, or multiple people that have bandwidth, or yourself that you have the bandwidth and can do it yourself, then go all in and train your team. Build the SOPs get the trainings that you need to do it yourself. Some of our clients, they actually want us to help coach them and consult with their team. And so that’s actually another service that we offer, is to help train their team, give them all of our student operating procedures. Some of the clients, those clients want us to manage just the Amazon advertising campaigns for them. Because that’s such a technical big piece where you can make a lot of money or lose a lot of money really fast, right? So, yeah, I would say just come up with the plan and assess what makes most sense for where you’re at in the business, or if you want to hire an agency to completely do it, for you and just take it over, do the work and you own the account. We don’t own your account or anything. Like you set up your account and then just give us a sub user login that you can always remove in the future. So we’ll build that for you and help optimize everything and do the launches and help grow. Even if you’re already on Amazon we can still come in and help grow and scale you from wherever you’re at to that next level. But yeah, I just think Amazon and shopify go so well, go hand in hand together and I recommend that you focus on both and you just need the team and resources to do it.
Yeah, it sounds like you got that bandwidth to be able to help brands at least get that revenue report, see the profitability potential in that and then just run a test. It’s totally worth it. So I’m going to just quickly through a shout out for your podcast what’s called the Playbook for Amazon podcast. I’ll put a link in the show notes for that. It looks like you’ve got quite a few episodes that you’ve been doing this for a while and exciting to kind of at least going down that journey of Amazon specific kind of Q and A and education. So I think that’s great. I will put that link so it’s turnkeyproductmanagement comFAST lane that will go to really cool landing page and looking at it right now. Thanks for putting that together. You talk about some of these free resources and what people can expect if they go to that link.
Yeah, sounds good. So you go to that page and on one side you can click to get all of our top three resources. So I already mentioned the niche analysis but you can also get our Amazon listing product checklist based on a self-audit that kind of grades your listing like college style A through F to see what your score is and it will more importantly tell you here’s what you need to fix in order to get that a quality listing. There’s just lots of good growth resources there and some free SOPs. And then also if you’re just ready and just want to learn more about what it would look like to work with us or find out more and just want to hop on a call and it’s easier to chat through, we’re happy to assess where you’re at, whether it’s a good fit or not. We’re not a huge company so we have to be selective with who we work with. But we always like just talking with people and give them the best advice that we can so that they’ll make their own decision and hopefully we’ll be able to work with you if we’re confident that we can help you and we’ll let you know.
No, this is lovely. Yeah, and I’ve learned a ton. I always joke on the show and if you’ve listened to some episodes, I always talk about how many pages of notes I scrambled down, and today’s no exception. It’s the old life of learning mantra I have, is just there’s so much to learn. And it’s nice to deal with experts who kind of focus on a certain vertical. I mean, there’s always a going joke in Shopify, but the Merchant Success team is like, done are the days of being a unicorn. It’s not possible to be a success manager or like, an account manager to know all things marketing strategy and platform and product and services and everything. It’s hard, but you really want to have select people that you can go to that are the vertical experts. And it’s very clear that you’re going down that journey of being an Amazon expert, an ads expert. You’re willing to offer some free advice. You got $1,000 worth of information and resources and tips and guides and everything here. This is phenomenal. So just want to thank you so much for coming on the show. Thanks for sharing all this information. I wish you tremendous success in the future, and thanks for opening the commandments, so to speak, like, you really shared everything today about what it takes to be successful and then the need for brands to be multichannel. There is a path to that success, and you’ve done it for yourself, and now you’re paying it forward with other brands. So thanks for coming on the show and show.
Oh, thank you. You made it easy, and you’re a great interviewer and asked the right questions. So, no, it’s fun hanging out.
All right, well, have yourself a great afternoon. Well, that’s it for today’s episode. I’d like to thank you personally for being a loyal listener of eCommerceFastlane. It’s my hope that this podcast is offering you a ton of value through growth strategies, tactics, and exclusive insider tips on the best Shopify, apps, and marketing platforms, all with my personal goal to help you build, manage, grow, and scale a successful and thriving company powered by Shopify. Thanks for investing some time today and listening to the show. I’m so proud and excited that you have a growth mindset and are a constant learner. I truly appreciate you and your entrepreneurial journey. Enjoy the rest of the week and keep thriving with Shopify.