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I’ve known for some time now, that the 9-5 lifestyle isn’t the one for me. Whilst there’s a lot to be said for the stability, the routine and the benefits that come from employment, I’ve always wanted to have my own successful business, that, whilst it may be testing at times, is completely and entirely my own.
After years of trying various different businesses on for size – social media management (not for me), eBay reselling (too tedious at times) and hiring out garden games (too labour-intensive), to name but a few – I knew I needed to find a business that I could run from home, that would ideally eventually make me relatively passive income.
It was whilst searching for this kind of business model, that I stumbled upon Amazon FBA.
Since that first weekend a few years ago, spent watching various Youtube videos, listening to a handful of podcasts, and reading a number of blog posts, I was hooked – and Amazon has played a role in my life ever since.
However, I did notice one thing: the content creators whose stories I consumed, seemed to mainly focus on the wins. There was nobody sharing both the highs and lows – and I wanted to know about the lows, so I could make sure I already had a solution figured out, if the same were to happen to me.
That’s why I’m sharing my honest, unfiltered Amazon private label journey, where I’ll be recording and reporting on my wins and losses, as I look to one day achieve the lifestyle I so desire – location dependence, financial freedom, and the ability to spend more time with my loved ones.
Before we get stuck in, catch up on my first month’s update here:
So, on the offchance that you’re new here, let me fill you in on what Amazon private labelling is:
Private label is the process of finding a third-party manufacturer and supplier (often through the likes of Alibaba) who you purchase products from to create a brand around.
As the private label brand owner, you create the branding, the overall product offering, the packaging, and any tweaks you might like to be made to the manufacturer’s samples to differentiate from competitors.
It’s not reinventing the wheel, and you don’t even need to create a brand new product – all you need is some strong product research, a little bit of cash to inject in your new business, and the creativity to stand out from the current offering.
How do you find a product to sell on Amazon?
There are a number of different product research methods you can use to find items you want to launch within your private label portfolio.
However, the quickest and most reliable way, is to use software whose sole purpose is to help Amazon FBA business-owners streamline their processes – and remove the guess-work.
Personally, I swear by Helium 10, which is a particularly smart bit of software I would recommend to anybody embarking on an Amazon Private Label journey.
From helping you with product research, to allowing you to research competitors, identify keywords you should be including in your product listing, and then helping you with your advertising campaigns, it really is an all-encompassing bit of kit that is crucial to your success when selling on Amazon.
In addition, Helium 10 has its own training course included within their membership, TONS of useful content on their website, Youtube channel and podcasts, and have 24/7 support if you need anything else.
I personally love their Project X series on Youtube, which acts as one big Amazon case study, showing the step by step process they used to find, source and launch products. The first episode can be found below (I must warn you, they’re incredibly binge-worthy!!)
I’ve been using Helium 10 religiously for about eight months now, and whilst other software platforms out there exist, no other company offers as reliable a one-stop suite of products you need to succeed in your Amazon private label journey.
So what happened for us this month in our Amazon private label journey?
As you might recall, I mentioned last month that we’d paid extra to have the second batch of our first product flown over (as opposed to being sent by sea), with the caveat that it had to arrive to us by the 27th November.
Well reader, this second batch ended up going missing in a DPD warehouse, that nobody can locate.
We spent much of December going back and forth with our supplier trying to work out what to do next, as we had purposely wanted to avoid any Brexit hold-ups, but at the time of writing this post, we’re still none the wiser.
Hey, I never said this whole business-ownership didn’t involve a few hurdles!
From a PPC perspective, we didn’t change too much when it came to our advertising campaigns – although we did opt to close down our listings in the EU in light of Brexit. It’s not a permanent change, but as we haven’t yet received an overseas sale, we thought we’d wait until things had settled down so we knew exactly what hoops we had to jump through to ensure we were meeting all European regulations now we’re no longer part of the EU.
In much more exciting news, we also paid for our second product, which should hopefully be with us by the end of February at the latest.
Whilst we created a brand for our first product, we thought we’d experiment with a generic product for our second – which means the product, and the Amazon listing, is completely free of branding.
Sales-wise, our numbers were pretty much what we expected – we’d heard that sales die off from mid-December onwards, and stay low until the New Year, so when we experienced a dry spell from 22nd December through to the 26th December, we weren’t too surprised.
Excitingly, we also potentially found our third product through a variety of product research methods, that we later qualified with Helium 10. It feels like a bit of a gamble for us, as it’s an electronic product which we have no experience with, and which requires a little more research than usual, but it’s currently selling extremely well in the US, and we’re hoping to be one of the first to market in the UK. Watch this space – there’s a lot of research for us to do, but I’ll keep you updated!
What have we learnt in December?
- If you’re creating a generic product, free of branding, you will need to apply for GTIN Exemption through Amazon (meaning you won’t need to use your own purchased barcode).
In the areas where they ask for ‘Brand’, you are able to put ‘Generic’, and should hopefully be approved within fifteen minutes of creating your listing.
- It’s certainly seemed easier to reach Amazon via their Chat function on Amazon Seller Central if you need an immediate reply
That’s how we contacted them about the ‘Generic’ process detailed above – and it’s certainly quicker than waiting for an email!
- Create a dummy listing before paying any deposits to suppliers
For our first product, we didn’t create a dummy listing before ordering our first batch.
For our second product, we did – which is when the issues with the barcode/GTIN Exemption were flagged. Thankfully, we were then able to sort this before confirming the order with the supplier – alleviating any stress had these issues arisen after paying out for the product!
I will 100% be creating a dummy listing from now on for all future products, although there could potentially be issues with Amazon wanting to see images of logo/branding on packaging, which you might not have a proof of until you receive your final product.
Total (gross) sales this month: £312
Total units sold this month: 26
Amount spent on advertising (PPC) this month: £232.14
Following on from last month, we had signed up to an Amazon promotion which gave us £200 in free advertising spend, so this hasn’t all come out of our own money – we only had to pay £118 of this.
Return on Advertising Spend (RoAS): 1.50
(As a rule, you want this to be at least two or higher – ideally 4+. It in essence means that for every £1 we spend on advertising, we’re currently only making £1.50 in sales. This is normal when first launching a product, for it to be so low, but as time progresses, we really need to be increasing this number).
Reviews: 8 (+1 in the last month)
What are our Amazon private label goals for next month?
Believe it or not, we think we might have already found a potential third product – but this time, it involves electronics, which complicates things a little.
We want to spend some time further researching the item, along with new UK requirements when it comes to selling electronic products – and if all looks good, we’d like to order a couple of samples.
We’re aware that a number of factories in China close for a long time during Chinese New Year, so we’d like to order samples before February, in the hopes that, if we like the product, we can hit the ground running when they open back up in March time.
Cashflow could be an issue with the next product potentially in mind, so we’re going to spend this latest UK lockdown side-hustling however we can. Surveys, matched betting, selling on eBay and Facebook Marketplace – you name it, we’ll try it! It’s through committing to these side hustles that we were able to raise £1000 to put towards our second product, and we’d ideally like to make an extra £500 to put towards a test batch of our third product.
Reviews, reviews, reviews!!! I mentioned last month that our review numbers are on the (VERY!) low side, and with us only increasing our review count by one this month, we need to ramp up our efforts.
We’d also like to finalise our second product’s listing, so that once they arrive here in the UK from China, we can hit the ground running. We’ll be using Helium 10 to identify the keywords our competitors are using to convert sales, and will then be building these into our product listing.
We also need to work with a graphic designer on creating some scroll-stopping imagery for our listing. All of our competitors’ listings are relatively basic, so we felt that by slightly differentiating ourselves, but also investing time and a little money into our listing, we should be able to stand out.
Finally, it would be great if we could locate our missing-in-a-warehouse products! We’ve still got about 140 products currently in Amazon, but sales are increasing and we’re beginning to get a little nervous about ensuring we don’t go out of stock!
With the UK in yet another lockdown, there really isn’t a better time to start exploring new business ventures for the future.
This month, start by watching a few Youtube videos (I recommend Helium 10’s channel, along with Tatiana James, Dylan Reed, Tamara Tee and Jonny Bradley in particular), listening to some podcasts, reading several blogs – and then try Helium 10’s free trial to get a feel for the software and the kinds of results you can achieve.
After the biggest year yet for Amazon in 2020, the beast is showing no signs of slowing down in 2021 – and if you can’t beat ’em, you might as well join ’em!