What if I told you that there is a massive crowd of starving, rich and well trained consumers just waiting for you to present them with slightly better products than they’re currently able to buy and if you can figure that out, you will never have to go into your job or put up with the many issues of running a traditional business again? Sounds too good to be true right? It isn’t! In fact I’ve been feeding that crowd for just over 3 years now and in that time the crowd has only gotten larger and hungrier.
The crowd is called Amazon and it represents an unprecedented opportunity for anyone wanting to build a US dollar income stream, irrespective of where they live on the planet. This is the brief story about how I built a million dollar Amazon business in 3 years starting part time around another business I owned.
In 2013 I was living in Los Angeles running my own fast-growing animation company in the heart of Hollywood. The business was doing great and I had a wonderful team of talented people that I genuinely enjoyed working with every day. Life was good but like all traditional businesses, it had it’s draw backs. First of all, it required people. People are expensive and they need far more than a salary to make them thrive. In order to get the best out of people, you need to invest time into training them, money into creating a nice environment and a genuine dose of love that will make them do the little things that really make a difference when nobody is watching. I was doing all that and still making a profit but I knew early on that the business would never give me the thing I craved most – total time and location autonomy. For me, owning a Ferrari was never that exciting, but having a solid cashflow that followed me around the world really got my juices flowing.
While in LA I lived in a high-end apartment building on the border of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. My building was full of doctors, lawyers and entertainment people – well to-do folks who were cash-rich and time-poor. Almost everyday when I got home from work I noticed boxes outside of every second or third door that had the same black packing tape emblazoned with the Amazon logo. Upon further inquiry my neighbors they told me that they bought from Amazon because it was way easier than going to the shops. These guys were getting laundry detergent, consumables for their pets, clothing, homewares and just about everything in between. As an Australian (one of the few developed countries where Amazon doesn’t have local distribution centers), I had no idea how big Amazon had become or that you could buy more than books. What I was seeing was a massive shift in the way that people buy things, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Your $100 Billion Dollar Business Partner
Here’s the most exciting part about Amazon that many people are still unaware of. Anyone (that means you) can sell on Amazon in America (the largest Amazon market in the world) and Amazon will allow you to ship your inventory to their warehouses and then they’ll do all the shipping and fulfillment for you. Wait – what? Yes, that means that you can live in Australia, Singapore, South Africa, England or anywhere else on earth and be selling products to American consumers, getting paid US dollars and you don’t need to touch your own inventory at any point in the process. Then once you’ve got your products selling from Amazon’s US warehouses to it’s American customers, you can send your products to Amazon’s UK warehouses and start selling to Amazon’s customers in the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.
In 2015, Amazon surpassed $100 Billion in sales and according to Macquarie Research they were solely responsible for 50% of all ecommerce growth in 2015. One company responsible for 50% of ALL ecommerce growth? That’s truly remarkable.
From Zero To $1,000,000
When I first understood the massive power of this opportunity I decided to jump in with one product, a simple item in the home and kitchen category. I have it made in China and shipped directly to one of Amazon’s warehouses in America. I messed up a bunch of stuff in the first year but despite that, before long that one item was averaging about USD $15,000/month in sales at a 35% net margin. I couldn’t believe it.
I then expanded, product-by-product, to where I am today. Today I sell 9 products on Amazon’s websites in America, Mexico, Canada, the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and France. All of them are warehoused and distributed by Amazon and every single customer comes from Amazon. I do no marketing at all outside of the Amazon eco-system. Those 9 products are on track to generate in excess of a million dollars in sales this year and I don’t touch a single one of them. I simply maintain 9 listing pages on Amazon’s website.
5 Key Strategies To Crush It On Amazon
Tip #1 – Sell Quality & Earn Your Margin
In an age where everyone is worrying about China beating them on price, many have forgotten that two things.
1) China makes good products too (like Apple products).
2) Nobody likes paying for garbage or regrets paying for quality.
In my niches on Amazon I am almost always the most expensive seller. I am not interested in fighting to win the lowest price badge. I am not interested in selling cheap products with small margins. As a small player decided to sell innovative, high quality, well packaged products in order to maintain a healthy margin without massive buying power. So my first tip is “don’t be afraid to be the most expensive and highest quality seller”.
Remember, America has over 11 million millionaires. There’s plenty of people who can afford god products.
Tip #2 – Only Sell Items That Are VISUALLY differentiated
Think of Amazon like a dating site. When we search for a partner the first thing we look at is the photo. If we don’t feel any attraction we click on. It’s shallow but it’s also true for most people. That being the case, if you have a product that LOOKS vastly different from everything else then you are one step ahead of the game. A green calculator in a sea of black calculators. A cup that is curved when every other cup is straight. A yoga mat that is painted in a bright pattern when everyone else is plain.
With millions of products of Amazon, you need to stand out with something visual because that’s your first (and perhaps last) chance to capture a shopper’s eye.
Tip #3 – Have AMAZING Photos
This ties into tip #2 but it’s worthy of it’s own mention here. Too many people are cheap when it comes to photographing their products and it costs them dearly. I can honestly say that my photography is one of the principle reasons for my success on Amazon. They’re not just good photos, they’re world class.
In the world of ecommerce a photo is the equivalent of the consumer holding the product in their hands. An expert photographer or 3D renderer can put your products “in-situ” (in the context of how it will be used) and these types of images can be very compelling and make your product stand apart from your competitors.
Tip #4 – Don’t Choose The Cheapest Supplier
One of the reasons people trust and use Amazon so much is because of its reviews system. Customers can (and do) leave product reviews all the time. If your reviews suck, you’re dead on Amazon. If you choose the cheapest supplier you are more than likely choosing the lowest quality supplier as well and that will almost always translate into poor products and poor reviews.
I teach my students to always ask this question of their short listed suppliers:
“If I was willing to pay 20% more than your quote, what could you do to this item to make it amazing?”
At first the supplier is shocked but then they respond with incredible ways to add value and differentiate the product from all the other cheap-skate westerners that are trying to screw them down to the last cent. I have found time and again that $2 – $3 at the manufacture-end can justify a retail price increase of $10-$20 which goes straight into your bottom line and it gives you a product that gets amazing reviews because it’s better than everyone else in your category.
Tip #5 – Create & Enforce A Quality Control Checklist
Most of my students are exporting from China. China is a wonderful country full of great people, however many manufacturers have little or no quality control in place – especially for their smaller clients. In my 3 years of exporting from China I have seen them screw up even the simplest of products. It is absolutely critical that you create a checklist that clearly identifies the quality points that must be checked off before any item is packed into one of your boxes. The importance of this cannot be overstated given that these items will go straight from China and into Amazon’s warehouses without you seeing them.
Depending on the type of product you are having made and the value, you may even want to hire an independent 3rd party quality assurance company to enforce your checklist on the day that your items are being packed at the factory. There are several of these services available where they send an employee on your behalf to the factory. They start at about $250/day and can be a very good insurance policy against receiving sub-standard or damaged products.
Want To Learn More? Get Adam’s FREE Amazon Course!
If you are interested in learning more about Amazon then you are welcome to join Adam’s free online training program. It’s a 4-part video series where Adam takes you inside his own Amazon business and teaches you a bunch of strategies to building your business on Amazon, just as he has done.
Here’s a link to join for free (sponsored link)
About Adam Hudson
Adam is a serial entrepreneur who has built and successfully exited two startups, one in Australia and one in the US.
The first was a crowd funding platform that raised over $100M for early stage businesses before he exited.
The second was an animation company in Hollywood with clients including Canon, Volvo, MasterCard, Unicef, The World Bank and many other Fortune 100 companies.
Adam currently has four other boot-strapped startups ranging from education to technology to online retail. Three of those startups are profitable with no outside funding while the fourth is currently in pre-launch.
Adam is an inspiring speaker in the areas of tech, entrepreneurship and the ever-flattening global landscape for human resources.