By Kai Law
On April 17-19 Global Sources held a 3 day online seller conference at the Asia World Expo in Hong Kong. The event brought together online and Amazon sellers together to learn from a wide range of speakers to help grow their eCommerce businesses. The event featured over 20 speakers covering a range of topics from sourcing, quality control, logistics to diversifying your business outside of Amazon and selling your business. Over 100 people attended from all over the world ranging from those just getting started to veteran Amazon sellers.
To those who couldn’t make it out to Hong Kong, not to worry they will be holding another summit in October. But in the meantime, here is a recap of all the talks along with key takeaways from each of the speakers.
Day 1: Monday, April 17th, 2017
KJ Robinson (Jakab Solutions Inc) – Case Study: How My Private Label Product Ended up on Oprah’s Favorite Things List
Alvan Mar and Andrew Tan (Marlaine Corp Pte. Ltd) Case Study: How We Grew One SKU to $1 Million in One Year off Amazon
Alvan and Andrew talk about their approach to direct response marketing to grow their product on their own eCommerce channel. They modeled their business behind brands such as Boom by Cindy Joseph, Squatty Potty and Poo Pourri. Andrew explains that their selection criteria for a product needs to be consumable, have recurring revenue, enables multiple order quantities and has a order value of $100 or more. Alvan goes into more detail about their marketing strategy by utilizing Facebook video marketing to create viral traffic, email marketing to drive promotions and generating leads and traffic by using giveaways.
Key Takeaways – The challenging part for most sellers is expanding sales outside of Amazon. In order to drive more traffic and engagement with giveaways, Alvan stressed that the giveaway should be something people want. Typically a branded product that your audience desires and gets excited about so that they like, share, comment on Facebook and enter their email address so you can follow up with them with additional offers.
Zach Franklin (Valuelink Corp) – The Rise of Chinese Amazon Sellers: eCommerce Lessons and the State of the Marketplace for 2017
Currently working inside a Chinese ecommerce company, Zack provides insight into the minds of Chinese sellers. He talks about the rise of ecommerce within China with 200,000 Chinese sellers selling on Amazon today, the advantages of being based in China and their willingness to generate sales over profit, improved understanding of western marketing and the future of innovation currently taking place in China today.
Key Takeaways – Chinese sellers are becoming more sophisticated, so as a western seller it is important to stay on top of your branding, marketing and providing excellent customer service. Companies such as DJI and Anker that started in Shenzhen are Chinese companies that have successfully broken into the western market. To stay ahead you’ll need to be in touch with your customers to strengthen your brand, something that Chinese sellers still lack.
Bernie Thompson (Efficient Era) – Automation – The Secret Sauce to Scale on Amazon
Bernie runs and operates a multi-million dollar Amazon business caled Plugable Technologies. He sells in 8 marketplaces with hundreds of products so he built software that allows him to run his business more efficiently through automation. Bernie talks about the automations that help you build and protect your brand. Automations that mitigate negative customer experiences and encourage positive ones.
Key Takeaways – Automation is key to running your business efficiently particularly being notified about reviews and feedback so you can manage customers’ expectations. For instance Bernie mentions when they are notified about positive seller feedback they will follow up with a customer to post a positive product review. Most customers on Amazon don’t know the difference between seller feedback and product reviews.
Neil and Karen Gwartzman (Private Label University) – The Biggest Mistakes Most Amazon Private Label Entrepreneurs Are Making From The Get Go
Having been in the private label game for over 35 years Neil and Karen share their knowledge on 3 big mistakes most private label sellers make.
- Stop being so cheap
- You aren’t thinking big enough
- You aren’t focusing on relationships
Key Takeaways – Being cheap can cost you dearly. Most people skimp on this with a simple box or plastic poly bag with their Amazon label on it. Neil mentioned that for an extra 5 cents he upgraded his packaging which allowed him to get his product into retail. He made over $28,000 off of just one order. Neil mentioned that “This is not an expense, it is an investment.” This small cost can pay off big time for your product and allow you to build your brand.
Renaud Anjoran (Sofeast ) – Quality Control Strategy and Tools for FBA Sellers
With over 8 years of experience in quality assurance and quality control in China, Renaud talks about the importance of having a quality control strategy in place to deal with issues before product leaves China. He talks about this quality control strategy in phases. Starting with product selection, supplier selection, pre-production and production.
Key Takeaways – Selling bad quality product can have your selling privileges removed on Amazon if your order defect rate does not meet Amazon’s performance target of less than 1%. The bare minimum for sellers is to check sample quality and have a pre shipment inspection conducted before the goods leave China. 95% of Amazon sellers don’t do this. Keep your factory accountable and have an understanding of issues with production so you can get your supplier to fix it.
Mike Bellamy (Passage Maker) – Practical Tips, Best Practices & Common Mistakes
Mike provide a wide ranging talk about protecting your interests when doing business in China to help you avoid scams, negotiate better terms, protect your intellectual property rights and safely handling overseas payments. Mike mentions that you can win in Chinese court (Mike himself has) and stresses the importance of having the right contracts in place.
Key Takeaways – A common mistake most Amazon sellers make is not having a proper purchase contract in place. You need to make sure it is bilingual so both in English and Chinese. Include all the key elements such as lead times and penalties, a Chinese business registration stamp and payment terms etc. As a special tip, Mike also mentioned that when signing the contract in person you should do so in front of his factory peers because in the event he breaks the contract he will lose face. The concept of face is a huge thing in China — when people see you as a man who is not of his word.
Dr Neale G O’Connor (China Sourcing Academy) – Lessons Learned from Visiting Electronics Factories
Neale conducted a study over 18 months interviewing 1000 suppliers all over China to get a better understanding of market trends and challenges. During his presentation he gave us insight into the factories through videos to help us understand the mind of the supplier, what to look for in a factory and how to conduct a factory audit. Factories that have a strong reputation, particularly ones that worked with Japanese companies, tend to be higher quality and therefore command higher FOB prices. You pay for what you get.
Key Takeaways – If you decide to visit your factory in China, it would be good to visit them along with a 3rd party inspection company that can educate you through the whole process rather than paying just a translator. By giving them feedback you’ll be helping them improve their process to mitigate future issues. Good factories tend to have checklists in place so they are doing active quality control to minimize defects and will have your best interests at heart.
Day 2: Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Brian Pitchford (Accelerated Sourcing) – How to Private Label Electronics with Confidence
Selling electronics can be scary if you don’t know what you are doing. Brian walks us through the steps to safely sell electronic goods. He talks about building a strong team to help you in China, protecting yourself with liability insurance, putting a spin on an existing product, picking the right suppliers and starting with accessories before moving on to more complicated items.
Key Takeaways – When it comes to picking suppliers for electronic items you should ask your supplier “How long the production manager has been working there?” The longer they have been at the position the better run the factory is. You will be less likely to run into issues. A factory with an inexperienced production manager is a liability and should be avoided. You should also ask if they deliver on time and whether they track the defect rate on your product.
Sam Boyd (Guided Imports) – Streamlining Operations in China to Scale your Business
When it comes to buying products in large volume most people don’t sell on e-commerce. They are large companies that buy in large volume and sell into retail. He compares each level of the supply chain when it comes to sourcing. They often start small with hiring a third party agent to going big by owning a factory. This model doesn’t work for a traditional e-commerce seller.
Key Takeaways – Ask yourself “what is holding you back in your business?” Identify where you are weak and get help — whether it’s sourcing, quality control, relationship management or logistics. This allows you to focus your attention on what matters to help you scale your business.
CJ Rosenbaum (Amazon Sellers Lawyer) – Protecting Your Rights: How to Stop Hijackers
With over 20 years experience as a lawyer in New York, CJ explains the process of protecting your Amazon account from other sellers selling on your listing. He covers trademark violations, copyright violations, trade dress, unauthorized sales and MAP pricing as tactics.
Key takeaways – Goal is to avoid litigation so you can keep selling. A cease and desist letter works 60-70% of the time to scare hijackers off your listing. When drafting your cease and desist letter identify how they are violating your IP rights, give them the opportunity to stop selling, provide them details and inform them if they don’t take action they will have their Amazon account suspended.
Anthony Cofrancesco (Brainy Flights) – Travel Hacking for Business Owners
Anthony talks about leveraging credit card rewards to maximize your travel. He covers the entire process by breaking down the type of cards you can get, picking which type of card to how you should spend it. If you typically travel twice a month, spend over $5,000 in Amazon PPC, you could potentially save thousands on last minute flights, reduce travel expenses, increase feasibility of face-to-face meetings with vendors or suppliers and enhance the quality of your personal travel with flights, hotels, upgrades, goods and experiences.
Key takeaways – Most of the benefits relate to US citizens due to high levels of competition between banks, which results in big sign up bonuses and rewards. By using your credit card to pay for your Amazon PPC spend you can accumulate points and miles. The three cards he highly recommends are Chase Ink Business, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Double Cash. Anthony also recommends booking your flights in advance, if you are going to splurge, splurge and aiming for those business or first class upgrades especially for those longer flights.
Day 3: Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Michael Hartman (European Director, Inc Plan) – Supercharge Your PPC
During his presentation Michael covers the importance of PPC, how to structure and optimize your campaigns as well as giving us 10 pro tips. Amazon sponsored ads should only account for 25% of your overall sales and used to boost your organic ranking and help you fight off competitors.
Key Takeaways – Make sure your listing is optimized so it’s proven to convert. When launching a new product you want to run an automatic campaign for at least 2-3 weeks to collect data. Do not pause the automatic campaign after you create your manual campaigns, you never know what relevant search terms Amazon can provide you.
Claire Taylor (SimplyVAT) – Understanding your European VAT Obligations to Successfully Trade Cross Border
For sellers looking to sell in European markets complying for VAT can be confusing. Different VAT rates apply for different countries with differing frequencies when filing returns. Claire also touches upon fiscal responsibility, EU distance selling rules and the effects Brexit may have on European sellers.
Key takeaways – Ignorance is not a defense. There was an estimated 193 billion euros in lost VAT revenue in 2011. European tax authorities are requesting Amazon data from Amazon from non compliant sellers. This can result in late payment penalties to having your account shut down on Amazon.
Erick Rodriguez (Virtuous Graphics) – Utilizing Product Photography, Packaging and Inserts to Most Strategically Increase Sales
With Amazon becoming more and more competitive it’s important to differentiate how your product looks visually. In order to differentiate your product from your competitors Erik recommends that you should have a strong logo, consider selling a different color and include custom packaging. He highlights this in his example
The second option is much more appealing to buyers. They will be more likely to click on the red looking meat claws.
Key Takeaways – Images can have a huge impact on conversion. You can really make your images stand out by including lifestyle shots, comparison graphics and features graphics that highlight the main features and warranty graphics to give your customer more assurance when they buy. He helped a client go from $2k monthly revenue to $8k revenue in a couple of months since the images were upgraded.
Mike Vranjkovic (Empire Flippers) – The Exit Strategy: How to Sell Your Amazon Business for Maximum Profit
Empire Flippers sold over 20 Amazon businesses in the past year, Mike talks about how FBA businesses are valued, how to maximize the value of an FBA business and the process of selling an FBA business. Most of the potential buyers have a lot of business experience but don’t have much experience with selling on Amazon.
Key Takeaways – FBA businesses can sell between 20 – 40 X monthly net profit + Inventory cost. In order to improve that multiple Mike suggests building more assets to reduce risk to the buyer. This could mean more products, selling in multiple marketplaces on different channels to having people and processes in place so you are doing less of the work.
Overall it was a great event packed with plenty of content to help your Amazon business and help you expand beyond Amazon. They will be holding another Global Sources Summit in Hong Kong during October in conjunction with the Global Sources Electronics and Gifts and Home Shows.
If you have any additional thoughts or questions. You can reach us in the comments below and get regular email updates from us where you’ll be able to stay on top of everything Amazon.
This article was originally posted on AMZ Tracker’s blog.
With 3 years of experience selling and consulting with Amazon Businesses. Kai enjoys sipping on fruit smoothies, going on hikes, chasing the warm weather and cranking out quality content for AMZ Tracker.