By Gary Huang
“A smart man learns from his mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”
Today I’d like to share with you the most common MISTAKES newbies make when beginning their private label journey.
These are errors in judgement and strategy that I have made and I’ve noticed private sellers make.
And committing just one of these mistakes can mean the difference between picking the right product, from the right supplier, and launching it the right way so you can get financial freedom and quit your job…and picking the wrong product from the wrong supplier and launching it the wrong way and losing your investment of thousands of dollars.
Mistake #1: Choosing products using research tools
One of the biggest challenges people face when starting their Private Label businesses is with PRODUCT SELECTION.
More specifically how to choose profitable products AWAY from the crowds.
I find that if you START OUT at the same place as everyone else… you will END UP at the same place as everyone else.
If you are using the same research tools, the same filters, and the same methodology to come up with product ideas, what may look good right now can be a FLOODED market 3-4 months later.
I’ve seen this happen time and time again. And I’ve been guilty of this MYSELF! Which I will share more of in a second.
Don’t get me wrong – Research tools such as Jungle Scout and Viral Launch are great ways to validate product ideas initially. But if you are using them to generate product ideas I’d be very fearful of a sea of competitors (who are using the same tools) coming in a few months from now.
And this would lead to a price war and race to the bottom.
And a wise man once said the worst thing that can happen in a price war is if you are the “winner.”
Mistake #2: Not differentiating and selling a “me too” product
In competitive markets such as Amazon US, if you are simply picking an “off the shelf” product and not making any improvements on the rest of the market’s offerings then you are basically selling the same thing as everyone else.
What makes you think a potential customer will pick your “me too” product over your competitors’ products?
Let’s look at an example in one of the areas that affects us all…. LUNCH!
When I consider lunch I think of a couple of different criteria – taste, value, environment, convenience/speed, and service.
I want something good or unique that is convenient and offers a good value. Environment and service are nice to have but I want great taste, speed (time is money especially since I need to get back to work after lunch), and I don’t want to overspend on lunch.
One of my favorite lunch spots is a Brazilian BBQ restaurant (or Churrascaria) called Pampas Grill in Los Angeles’ famous Farmers Market.
It’s actually a food stall located among two dozen other restaurants cramped into this small tourist area known as the Original Farmer’s Market.
But what surprises me is that this restaurant consistently is the most crowded restaurant and the one with the longest lines EVERYTIME I GO… regardless if it’s a weekday or a weekend.
Also I’m amazed by their LONGEVITY. The crowds were there when I first went in 2008 and there are still there TODAY.
Over the years many restaurants have shut down or relocated but Pampas Grill has been consistently successful and withstood the test of time.
What’s their secret?
While I can’t comment on their “secret sauce” behind the scenes, from my customer perspective, what sets them apart is the following:
- Taste – Excellent Beef especially the Sirloin Cap or “Picanha” – This cut is prized for it’s beefy flavor and mouthfeel. It is very RARE in the US and cannot be found in most restaurants.
- Environment – You can see the meat cooked on the grill in the spitz in front of you. You have your choice of vegetables and carbs. While they do not have their own seating they can enjoy the outdoor and communal environment that the Farmer’s Market offers.
- Convenience – The salad buffet and meat selection is all up to you. If you’re going Paleo you can choose veggies and protein and skip the rice, pasta, and carbs. Love it!
- Value – Considering the top quality meats, distinctive regional Brazilian dishes of cheesebread (Pao de Queijo) and Feijoada – this is excellent value in my opinion
- Service – Though this is not a full service restaurant (you serve yourself from the buffet), they will slice the meats according to what you prefer in doneness, and cuts. Service with a smile. And many of the staff are Brazilian which adds authenticity to the place
To me this is a formula for a winning restaurant.
Now let’s compare this to the generic POKE bowl (think raw seafood over rice) restaurant craze that was going through the world a few years ago and quickly fizzled out. Many of these copycat places have opened quickly and closed down just as quickly. There got the same idea from everyone else (a fad), served the same food, and didn’t offer anything to differentiate themselves that would attract customers.
The same is true for selling private label products on Amazon. If you are picking the same product to sell as everyone else (like the Poke copycat restaurants) how can you expect customers to choose your product over your competitors with nothing to differentiate you?
Mistake #3: Not delivering a 4.5 to 5 star product
The Amazon marketplace is getting more and more competitive by the day. In my years of selling on Amazon, I’ve noticed that when my product has solid review with an average of 4.5 to 5 stars it’s a lot harder for competitors to knock me down from my ranking. In other words having 4.5 to 5.0 Star reviews helps create a defensible MOAT around your business.
It’s a lot harder for new competitors to compete if your product has high ratings than if your product only has 3.5 or 4.0 stars.
Therefore not only is the QUANTITY or number of reviews important, but the QUALITY of the reviews is even more important and can make or break your business.
Case in point is a posture support brace that I sold on Amazon. It was a private label product that I sold and I’ve detailed the mistakes I’ve made and what I learned from it in this podcast with Seller Sessions. Check it out here.
Stay tuned as tomorrow we will learn 3 ways to come up with profitable product ideas away from the crowds.
YOUR TURN: What did you take away from these mistakes? Comment below and let me know.
PS: Do me a favor and share this post with anyone who can benefit from this.
The views, opinions and images in this article are purely the author’s own. Global Sources does not own responsibility for what is presented in the article.
Gary Huang is an American based in Shanghai, China, and working in sourcing since 2008. He is the creator of 80/20 Sourcing, which helps small business importers quickly and efficiently source from China. Gary also serves as the Co-Chair of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai’s Supply Chain Committee. You may contact him at www.8020sourcing.com/contact.