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Pivot into Success - Amazon Seller Tips with Matt Shaw - Part 2
October 18, 2021
Pivot into Success - Amazon Seller Tips with Matt Shaw - Part 2
Things we discussed in this session:

A. Part 1

B. Part 2

Things we mention in this session of Seller Round Table:

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Transcription in this episode:
[00:00:01] spk_1: Welcome to the seller roundtable e commerce coaching and business strategies with and er not and amy Wiis. [00:00:08] spk_0: So I mean let's get into the warehousing and free pl side of the business. I mean so many questions, there are so many sellers out there that have questions about this that aren't sure how to find a three pl who aren't sure how much they should be storing what they should be doing. Um So let's just talk a little bit about you know, what is a three pl and what kind of services do you offer and what do people come to you for? [00:00:40] spk_1: Okay, so three pl third party logistics, it's really funny when we were putting our name on the door. Uh you know I kind of gave him the logo and I wanted to end three pl below it and they spelled it out third party logistics. So I come back and the logos on the door, I'm like all right, that looks good. So for a three p.m. Think of it as you have inventory that you are trying to get from one point to the other and you need someone to kind of help massages around whether it's repositioning on pallets, whether it's just holding pallets for a certain amount of time or it's taking a container, breaking it down, um splitting out, you know, the inventory and then it's going to other fulfillment centers. And so um if you think, you know, comparing to amazon, amazon is just a really big logistics company that's moving inventory. So it is positioned really close to the end user. So with the three pl you're doing the same thing, we do it on a much smaller scale and do a little bit more of a white glove treatment to it. But the end goal is to have inventory readily available so that as a seller, you can have it positioned to either egg get to the end user quickly or b get into the amazon network quickly based on if you have a dedicated warehouse, your shipping to and your supplier is on the other side of the world. We have a few clients who will send us inventory so that they can position to go for all their East Coast amazon warehouses from our facility. Um, and so it saves them transit time. Of course, there is less risk of problems when something is going a shorter distance, as well as the ability to constantly be flowing your inventory kind of a just in time set up so that you can uh stay on top of what you need but not have too much, but then be able to react when you need to send more. And so I think that it's a very important thing for any amazon FB, a dealer that is kind of moving out of, you know, selling from their house and they're saying, hey, I need to be able to have more inventory. My garage is overflowing, but I don't know if I want to work with a really big company that does a lot of three pl business because I want to have someone that understands amazon and can kind of be a relationship for my brand as I grow and, and can roll with the punches because every brand that's starting out, especially in amazon is going to have the ebbs and flows of inventory problems. And I think everybody is seeing that with transit costs from china to the United States right now. [00:03:29] spk_0: Yeah, very [00:03:30] spk_1: high. Um, I have a client who is paying for a container on the water what they paid a year ago to air the products and um and so think about the transit time differences in those two scenarios. So it's pretty wild. [00:03:45] spk_0: Yeah I would completely agree. It's it's crazy. We had Chelsea come from so stocked and talk to us last night or mastermind group about you know the different level. You can't just send a bunch of stock to amazon anymore that those days are so over and you know amazon is making little promises in the background saying that they're going to change this and in the future there might be more warehouse space but they were not meant to be a warehouse. They were meant to be a distribution center. So it's really important that we all figure out our inventory and that we have inventory and buffer stock so that we've got 90 days. 90 days at Amazon. Or we make sure we're restocking as soon as we get down to 30 days of stock and we keep buffer stock either at a warehouse or three pl in the US so that we're able to keep that going. Because if we actually run out of stock that impacts Amazon, calculates our sell through rate and if you're out of stock of one of your products, that also impacts how much more you can send in because how much you sell through is actually calculated into your restock rates. So I didn't even realize that. I did not realize that if I stocked out of one of my products and I was out of stock for let's say a month or longer that now how much of that product or any product I could send back in was actually limited. So what a three pl allows you to do as merchant Phil and keep buffer stock along, you know, around amazon if possible, and then also to sell another channels. So if you are selling on walmart, if you're selling on Ebay, you were just talking about returns, being able to flip some of your returns and sell those on other channels, like Ebay, amazon warehouse deals, something like that. That's great. But if you don't have a process to do that, you can't send those back into amazon, so we need to have a way to fulfill those sales. So three pl is a great way to do that, but that being said there are warehouses as well, right? So there's warehouses and then there's three pls, and if you're just using your warehouse as a storage place and your seed feeding amazon, a three pl might not, you might not need a three pl, am I right about that. So if you're just using um a holding area for your inventory and you're sending in regular stock to amazon, a warehouse may be good enough for you. But if you're wanting to process returns, if you're wanting to sell in other channels, if you're wanting to do any kind of merchant of filled um then you should look for a three people. Am I right about that matt. [00:06:33] spk_1: Yeah. The uh the difference in the warehouses, warehouses and the kind of emotional warehouses are going to have a little bit of a three pl kind of within their their their process. But the the biggest thing there is they're going to hold stuff for a longer term and they're going to be much larger facilities that are going to have a lot of just space to just store stuff and it sits and you know, a lot of the three pls especially that are working into amazon are more set up to touch and feel the product a little bit more and solve problems. Um All the time I see a client you know is sending us a shipment uh and we're getting the labels coming in from a rep group that manages the account and the inventory came in from the other side of the world. They're ordering in the wrong master carton quantity. And so then we have to kind of help them solve those problems and determine where the mix up was along the way. And if you're working with too large of an organization, it's just going to be harder to solve that and get your product moving efficiently and quickly. Um and we really push for timely shipments, whether it's pallets or or master cartons out into amazon, so [00:07:39] spk_0: got it, that makes sense. So a little bit more of a concierge service or like you're calling it a white club service compared to a warehouse. So very good, awesome. And why don't you tell us a little bit more about your three pl and where it's located And are you guys taking new clients on right now? [00:07:57] spk_1: So we are shaw, three pl dot com is our website, but we kind of deba as shaw distribution and because we do not just three pl but we do some distribution for some other companies and we do a lot of things that are not even related to amazon. So that kind of gives us the ability to help with if you sell something into Walgreens or if you simply need to have inventory wreak it'd or repacked. We do lots of things like that for people. I'm waiting on a deal to come through for Costco where we will actually receive master cartons of snacks and then make them into the funny little displays that you see when you go in Costco where you just grab the huge bag of snacks out. So apparently there's a whole business in that. So yes, we are taking clients were looking for, you know, the brands that you know, they have amazon going there there established, but they say, hey I need help, I need a I need an East Coast presence or even some people say I need a US presence. We have some clients that have no U. S. Office at all and we're basically their whole arm of the operation over here. So um it's very interesting because we we meet so many different people and so many different products, whether it's a, you know, a wobble stool, we've worked with the squatty potties stuff before. Uh face masks, you name it, it's on amazon and especially if it's any kind of widget that has to flow through a warehouse. Um, you know, if you're putting your hands on it, touching it, making sure that any issues are solved if they're stick oring problems. And as you're very aware, you know, amazon, the sticker requirements are always changing. And there's all kinds of new programs, like the transparency program, um that are designed to kind of help people, but sometimes they can be more of a hindrance if you're not very knowledgeable and involved in those. So I like to say that, you know, clean uh and concise is the best way to do any of it. Um, and that's the way to go. [00:10:01] spk_0: Yeah. You know, you mentioned transparency and they have the transparency program in the zero program and we actually were using it for a while, but we stopped using it because it was just so time consuming and costly because you have to put a different barcode on every single one of your products. And you're supposed to also have those different barcodes on your products going to retail. And that didn't make any sense to me. I was just like, wow. At first I created a new label for our product with one of the transparency barcodes on it. My husband said no we can't use that because we have to use a different barcode for every single product. And I was like, how are we going to make that happen? You know, that's insane. So I get it. If you're selling a really competitive product that you know where you deal with a lot of hijackers, you know, it might be a business saving endeavor for you to use transparency or zero. But for us it was just so much extra work. And we're like, now mm we'll use the patents will use the intellectual property to protect us instead of Dealing with transparency or zero. But but that's another thing that you brought up. That would be a good reason to have a logistics partner, like a three pl to help you because there's so much that you have to do for those programs. [00:11:26] spk_1: Yeah, the labeling side of it, I mean, I was in the beta program for transparency a number of years ago and emailing with these engineers at amazon and the back and forth and and just trying to understand the flow of what they're wanting to accomplish with it back then was a mess and I kind of was turned off, but I feel that, you know, it may be a better fit for, like you say, there is highly competitive situations, but, you know, we're using brain registry trademark and and all that to uh, help with the products that we want. We private label and sell. But I've I've had plants in the past that, you know, you're getting ripped off by, you know, random sellers. And sometimes, you know, a lot of people have said it's the wild wild West and it is, but, you know, if you can ride your horse, uh, then you can get through it. So I [00:12:14] spk_0: love it. So, you know, you've had so much experience selling all kinds of different things on amazon and also pivoting. So I would love to ask your advice for somebody who's new, someone who's just getting into amazon today. What would be your advice for somebody looking to get into the amazon opportunity? [00:12:35] spk_1: So, there's a few sides to that you have the uh, I don't want to call it arbitrage, but people that are, you know, finding products that they can source and then compete with other sellers, so not necessarily something from the dollar store, but it's pretty easy to get lined up if you dig deep enough and find product lines that someone, some distributor will sell to you and you are able to sell those on amazon, um, and so getting a, you know, the volume going where you're saying, okay, we're making a little bit of profit, but it's all going into inventory, uh, and that's going to happen. And before you even go to PPC budgets and getting someone to help with your content, uh, you know, get those for sales, get the simple system going, and then as you start to see increases in growth and organic sales, you're kind of going to start doing more of the PPC thing. and I'm a big fan of finding the right partner for that. I'm triggering where there's so many different companies that do be do the analytics there uh and if you're a small, you know, up and coming brand and you're trying to do your private label and you're like, I just don't have time for this. Um you know, hire one of those companies learn from them, figure out what they're doing and how you can replicate it. And yes, some of them have software, but a lot of it is taking an Excel document and massaging the data, so it looks pretty uh and there's a there's obviously a lot more to that, but you can get a basic understanding from a lot of the tools that amazon is going to give you in the PPC side of things uh side of things when you're, when you're launching and you're starting to grow your volume. Um and it's not going to happen overnight. I, I see on way too many forums where people come in and they're like, have this product, I'm going to sell so much and you have to have a long road and, and focus your direction um so that you are going after uh the right products and be making sure that your pricing is correct. Um and then, you know, having the, the background with that, I see so many people who they have a great idea, but they don't understand the business side of it at all. And so they're kind of like, here's my idea, it's out there and then, you know, you need someone to come in and help you massage the details a little bit uh, to be successful and grow and there's a lot of coaching that I've seen where you know, you can, someone wants to sell you something as far as, you know, they're on Youtube and whatnot and watch that stuff learn from it and then, you know, spend the time early on to really get into the forums and ask the questions um just browsing on facebook and the comments or a lot of the seller groups, you'll see a question to be like, oh yeah, I had that question and there, you didn't have to pay anybody. You just took the time yourself to do the research. And so I think that background research, having a good product, a good strategy. I always come back to my marketing background on the four PS which are the product price placement and promotion, promotion being the PPC side of things, so you get all those to fall into line and you can be successful. [00:15:50] spk_0: Yeah, I love that advice about learning the business first, starting small and learning the business. Um That's exactly what I did because back in 2007 when I started on amazon, I was just flipping like textbooks and stuff like that. It was not, it was not a business yet. And then when I, in 2017, when I started, when I invented my product and started my own private label brands, I really had to learn it. It wasn't like, oh well I've been selling on amazon, I totally get this. You know, it's, I need to learn it, I need to figure out what is this new business model and how do I do it? And that's when I started doing retail arbitrage and wholesale and all different types of business models and just dip my toe in them so that I could understand how it works, how to read the sRS, how to understand how to look at the page you were talking about the four PS, where is the product place on the page? Can the customer find it? How do I have to do listing optimization? What does, how do I do? Search engine optimization, all of that. I had to learn and I learned it through starting with other people's products before launching my own. And that way I could get a feel for the category, get a feel for the processes. And I still recommend that today because there's plenty of opportunities still out there in e commerce, whether you're on Shopify amazon or any of the e commerce channels, there's a ton of opportunity, but the basics are still important to learn and if you learn those basics first, you're going to do well. So we have Andrew Craig asking the question here. Um And Andrew, you know I saw him at Prosper. It was really great. It's good to see that he's alive after Prosper. I wonder if his voice sounds like mine but he says no it doesn't. But anyway he said I'm starting up my Shopify store and I know matt you're going to have some good advice for him as well here. I'm sure starting at my Shopify store and I'm going to start shipping out of my garage. Yes. I love that. Um Any advice for the best shipping companies in the U. S. Or any other beginner advice. So yeah I'll let you go first Met. [00:17:58] spk_1: Okay. All right so um I have a number of clients where they have a Shopify store front and we ship for them. And one thing I love and there's a number of companies that do this. But I use ship station and ship station is a very beneficial because they have group rates for uh ups. And so I will link my UPS account and then I will have the ship station account and I'll compare those UPS rates and find the cheapest rate. Uh when I'm printing those labels. Additionally you can link in USPS through stamps dot com. That is ideally the way that I'm going to ship anything out of my facility. Um That is going as a drop ship because I've been very happy with the integration. Ship station will pull in both your Shopify orders and your amazon orders. Um and your ebay orders. So I can sell used item on ebay. I can sell a new item merchant fulfilled on amazon and I can have my website pull in a Shopify order and I go to ship station and they're all there and I can choose the rules for the shipping and everything like that, so we'll process out. I print my labels. Um I either give it to the ups driver, we have pickups daily. Uh someone that's at home is not going to have that. Uh So either, you know, you figure out where the sweet spot is in your volume to start scheduling those pickups. Uh and of course a lot of the sites will let you go on and schedule is uh as well, some of them have a fee. Um It's interesting USPS, we get daily pickups, but some, you know, they can be spotty if you remember back in the end of the year, USPS was really struggling just because of the demand, with everyone being at home. And so we have to thank them for their hard work, but at the same time have a strategy for our businesses so that we can get product to the end user because the end user doesn't care. Uh They're buying something they expect the kind of the history that amazon has given them of two days. Uh So I think that uh you know using ship station is a good place to start to find that if you're doing like L. T. L. Shipments, you probably aren't doing that out of your garage. If you are you have a big garage and you probably need a warehouse. Uh huh. [00:20:15] spk_0: Yeah. So I love all the advice that you gave. We actually had ship station on the show. Um And Andy is a huge fan of ship station and that's how he manages all of his shipments. Um from multiple providers as well. My advice for you Andrew as somebody who does a lot of merchant fulfilled orders is to open up accounts with all the big three providers. So ups Fedex, all the providers, you can actually open up accounts with them and um they they love they love serving their business customers their small business customers and you can actually negotiate better rates with them. So your salesperson for um for ups for example they'll contact you and they'll work with you to negotiate better rates. Um And so like we had a big wholesale vendor account that we were selling through and we contacted our ups sales guy and we were like look you know we need we need better rates because this is really cutting into our business and they gave us better rates than we could even get on amazon. Um Also look at Shopify. So if you're not ready for ship station yet let's just say that you're just starting out in your Shopify store and you just have one product and ship station, you're not ready to pay their rates yet to you know it's not a major operation yet. It's just a few products right out of your garage. Then just start by opening up your accounts with the big three. I love what matt said about stamps dot com. Super smart. You can get lots of discounted rates there. You can print your labels right at home. I use a brother laser printer to print all of my labels. Um It's really easy to do and it's a really affordable printer. And you can, even with UPS they're my favorite provider honestly because with UPS they give you free labels to use. You just you can go right on their website and order more labels to use. And then they'll also you can schedule daily pickups with them. So every day we have products leaving the house and we just schedule those pickups with UPS and so we know our ups driver very well. He comes by every day and he comes and picks up products right outside our front door which is right here. Um so that would be my advice for you there. Then also there's a couple of other bulk shipping discount sites like Pirate Ship dot com is another great one to use. Um as well as like I said, Shopify is going to also offer discounted rates but make sure you set up your proper labelling system and everything like that and know that you can get free labels from some of your providers. So hopefully that is super helpful for you and then think about when it comes to Shopify, you are driving that traffic. So definitely listen to our episode that we did with Colin Foster because he talks about the best way to get set up on Shopify and you know how to how to build your funnels and everything. Did that answer your question? Andrew? Yes, I did. Thank you guys very much. Awesome. Great having you on the show. Thanks for joining us in the zoom. All right, matt. Well, let's just wrap up by having you talk to us about how people can reach you and a little bit more about Michelle three pl So who is your ideal client and how can people get in touch with you? Oh wait, before we do that. Before we do that. We always ask a question about how you're staying motivated as a business owner right now. So are there any podcasts that you're listening to or books that you're reading that are really keeping you motivated. [00:23:56] spk_1: So I'm a member of build your life resume and it is Jesse Itzler uh and a few other members do a weekly, it's on Wednesday nights and it's just very inspirational. They'll have lots of endurance athletes on and people that have really cool stories um there and it's just it's a very similar format to this. It's a zoom I think it's at eight o'clock every Wednesday and I love that because if I'm kind of worn out on the week and I go in there and I get hyped up by these people that are literally public speakers, they get paid to hype people up and I get in there and I come out motivated and it just it really is a great reset. So that is my number one go to. How about you Amy [00:24:43] spk_0: Well I love the same thing. I read a ton of books I haven't heard of build your life friends may so I'm definitely going to check that out for me. It's described app. So I used an app called described ScR IBD And it's like $6 a month and they have a ton of audio books and e books and everything that you can imagine. And I'm always on their reading a new book learning something new or listening to a new book but that's that's my big thing. I'm a big reader so I described for that because it's just there's so much available. Um I used to when I was first getting started I used to always listen to podcasts in the car on the way to work. I would always listen to podcast but now that I work from home you know I just do that from that side of things. So very good. All right well thank you for that tip, We're going to definitely check out, build your life resume and it sounds sounds really awesome. So Oh Andrew says I started listening to the myth revisited today, awesome book. Yes, that was one of my favorite books. Yes, that that one really made me think of my business as a system and really um yeah, it really really helped me. So that that was a great recent book that I read as well. Um So matt back to our question that I asked before this one, tell us who are your ideal clients for Shaw three pl what they can expect and how they get in contact with you. [00:26:18] spk_1: Yeah, so Shaw three pl ideal client is someone that is navigating the Amazon business and they need help with their inventory flow that or they need to repack or wreak it or you know, go through anything that needs some kind of, some touch and feel to get to the end user. It doesn't have to just be amazon. We deal with Walgreens, we deal with walmart uh and a number of other, you know, B two B clients. And so, uh anything in that nature where it's flowing in a container, one pallet either way. Uh and then, you know, parsing it out and then sending it back out the door to a different destination. Um We can help, we do drop ships daily, uh and you can reach us ship at shaw ship now dot com. Sorry, shot through shit at shaw three pl dot com. [00:27:16] spk_0: Ship at shot three pl dot com, awesome. Well, we will be in touch and thank you so much for being on the show today and telling us your story about how you had so many, you've done so many, you've had so many pivots and I think that's that's key for people to understand that you can be successful. Um And you can uh you can pivot sometimes, you know, it's it's okay, it's okay to pivot, it's ok to move into a different business model um and not be afraid to consistently make change. Um And you've profited from that changes. So that's that's really [00:27:53] spk_1: awesome. It's exciting. I've followed a lot of financial advice on twitter and a lot of the people will, they'll plug amazon F. B. A. As something that you should have in addition to investing and rental properties and stuff. And if you think about it, it's perfect because you can diversify your revenue streams. And so when one thing is down, something else, potentially, maybe up. And so I think that those are good things to keep in mind. [00:28:22] spk_0: Very good. All right, well, thank you everyone for being here. I'm going to stop the I'm going to stop alive. I'm going to stop the recording. And for those of you who are here in the zoom, we will take any of your questions that you have. We're happy to have you here and we'll see you guys next week on the seller roundtable. Thanks so much. [00:28:44] spk_1: All right. Thank you. Thanks guys. [00:28:47] spk_0: Thanks for tuning in, join us every [00:28:50] spk_1: Tuesday at one PM Pacific Standard time for live [00:28:53] spk_0: Q and A and [00:28:54] spk_1: bonus content after the recording at cellar round table dot com, sponsored by the ultimate software tool for amazon sales and growth seller S C o dot com and amazing at home dot com.