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Leveraging the Power of Amazon

Since this is the Ecwid E-commerce show, if you’re listening to this podcast right now, you probably either have your own Ecwid store or about to start one.

On this show, we’re always covering ways to improve your store, drive traffic, advertise, and other various ways to get more sales. We usually talk to people who are websites first and then go to marketplaces to expand their reach.

At Ecwid, we obviously believe in having your own e-commerce store. We also believe there is an opportunity to take advantage of the scale of Amazon.

In this episode, we’re going to be learning from somebody who focuses on specifically selling products on Amazon.

Our guest today, Jon Tilley, the founder/CEO of ZonGuru.com, an All-In-One Private Label Seller Toolkit. We cover picking a product as well as sourcing a product. Learn more about ZonGuru’s Alibaba connection for sourcing products.

Find out more about ZonGuru at:

Transcript

Jesse: Happy Friday!

Richard: Fridays are starting to feel like Fridays again. I went through a zone where every day felt like the same day for a while. Things are opening back up, starting to actually feel like a Friday.

Jesse: Yeah, we were not together at the studio for people listening. Richie, I kind of miss you here. Zoom calls are not really the same thing, but we’re adapting, right. It’s all good.

Richard: And in the process of all this, e-commerce is booming. It’s always something good to keep talking about.

Jesse: Yeah. I hope your business is booming. If you’re listening, I’ll be hearing a lot of good reports. We see the stats. People still need to buy stuff. And so if you’ve been in e-commerce, hopefully, you see that boom. We hear lots of good stories. I know not everybody’s doing well. I don’t want to rub it in other people’s faces, but there’s a lot of good things going on, especially in the e-commerce world.

Richard: So if it’s not, keep listening and keep adjusting and learn new things and hopefully, it will.

Jesse: Or maybe you need another product or another side hustle on there.

Richard: So just that’s actually a good segway without even trying to.

Jesse: I’m a pro, Rich. That was a professional segway right there.

Richard: You might just need another product, and you might be thinking, how do I figure that out? All right.

Jesse: We have just the thing.

Richard: Because of that professional segway, why don’t you go ahead and introduce the guests through the day?

Jesse: All right. So our guest today is Jon Tilley, the founder, and creator of ZonGuru.com. Hey, Jon, how are you?

Jon: What’s up, guys? How are you doing?

Jesse: Doing great. Working on professional segway, as you know.

Jon: So professional, man. I’m just like, so jealous, you guys.

Jesse: What can I say? Yeah, maybe we’re going crazy at home. I don’t know, it’s possible.

Jon: I think it would have been even more professional if we went to that brewery across from you guys and had that Friday beer and did this off to that, you know.

Jesse: Well, it sounds like we got round two coming up here.

Richard: We’ll leave the cliffhanger at the end of this episode. How about that? You got to come back.

Jesse: I like it. Jon, you’re not that far away. You’re in LA. We’re in San Diego. So it’s a couple of hours away. Why don’t you get into your business? What we have here is an all-in-one private label seller tool kit. Do you think that’s a good description, or how could you improve our description of ZonGuru?

Jon: Yeah, that’s not bad. I think essentially we are an all-in-one toolset for private label Amazon sellers. We help you go through data, insights, and automation. We have specific tools to help you, whether you’re right at the beginning of your journey, and you’re doing product research and trying to validate product ideas. Or whether you’re trying to optimize to get more traffic. Or if you want to connect with customers or you just want a management system to really help you manage your business on a day to day basis. It’s a journey. It’s a fun one for sure. But we’re passionate about it and love it.

Jesse: Good. People that have maybe sold on Amazon a little bit, you could probably get a product up there and live and without too much issue. This is sort of next level on Amazon. This is the I really want to professionalize this and optimize and take it to the next level. Is that a fair statement?

Jon: Yeah. Amazon.com is the biggest e-commerce marketplace in the world, hands down, with so many eyeballs. And conversion rates are crazy because people are literally typing into Amazon because they want to buy, they’re not researching. There’s a hell of a lot of volume that goes through there. So and it’s a complex community, and e-commerce space has been around for a solid number of years. Having the ability to use data to find your opportunities, to find where people are searching, to figure out how to optimize, to figure out how to beat your competition is important.

Gone are the days of it’s 2013, I’m going to drop a couple of yoga mats on Amazon and make three hundred grand a year. That’s done. It’s all about a niche within a niche understanding, which is also not, especially for your audience that curated label products, that is really specific for a niche, there’s a marketplace, and that’s a million-dollar product just in itself. Our tools really help the small business owners, the private label sellers who are making a million, two million, three million bucks a year or a little bit less, find those million-dollar products, not a 10 million dollar product. We can leave those big box brands. Let’s focus on those million-dollar products and use data and software to define those and then optimize for those here.

Richard: So when you’re talking private label, I have an understanding, but what exactly does that mean for someone who’s hearing that phrase for the first time like that? You’re taking someone else’s product, and you’re putting your own name on it?

Jon: Yeah, essentially what you’re doing at a very high level is you’re creating your own brand. That’s ultimately what you’re doing. So you’re finding a product from a manufacturer, and you’re putting your brand instead of anybody else’s on that. You own that brand. So you own that IPO. I mean that product, and you’re bringing that product from wherever you’re getting it manufactured onto Amazon as a platform and selling it as a brand. You put your own UPC on it. It’s unique to you, and you can sell that product and only you unless you obviously allow other sellers to buy the product from you and sell it. But you’re ultimately creating a unique product to sell on Amazon by putting your own labels on it. Now someone else can find that same product from the manufacturer, put their label on it, but ultimately they’re selling a different brand. So that’s the important piece. And it’s cored to how we approach Amazon and why we think it’s an important, important way to do it. The other way of retail arbitrage where you take someone else’s brand and then resell it, and that can get you some cash flow pretty quick, but ultimately, not only in the IPO or the asset itself.

Jesse: Got it. So, retail arbitrages, I know the term, it’s been around awhile, that’s where people would go to the discount bins at, like Target’s got a sale, so they buy a bunch of stuff and then ship it into Amazon and sell it. Maybe there are slim profits there, but there are some profits in that. So private label is a big term in the Amazon world. Most of the audience here is more in the e-commerce world, which has an overlap, but sometimes not as much of overlap as you would think. So, a private label is basically just somebody else’s manufacturing the product. Probably this is going to be mostly in Asia, I’m assuming, and then you’re getting your label on it. So your software helps basically people look for products to sell. They may not be manufacturing.

Jon: That’s right. And I think there’s a massive overlap between how we approach selling products on Amazon as to how people do on e-commerce and with Ecwid as a platform. I think ultimately, you’re creating a marketplace, right? You’re either setting on that marketplace like Amazon, and you’ve got your own unique product, or you’re selling it on your Ecwid marketplace or your storefront of you driving traffic to that. You’re just taking on the control of driving traffic to rather than potentially sitting on a platform where traffic is going to find you. I think this is a really big overlap, especially on that unique product creation side.

What our software does and some of the ways that we approach it is, we look for the opportunity on Amazon. As I said, there’s so much traffic and so much happening. What is the right opportunity, and how do you validate that? We have a tool, the niche finder, which has a unique niche rating system attached to it, which is keyword driven. So you can type in any keyword, for example, and look at the traffic on Amazon, look at the sales volume on Amazon and look at the competition on Amazon and really helps us identify and answer four key questions that we always approach. One is the demand for that search, that keyword already. And how much demand is there? Because the trick with Amazon is you don’t want to be trading a brand and creating awareness around the brand.

You want to be selling something that people are looking for. Because that’s why they’re on that platform. So you want to understand how much demand is, first of all, the second thing is you want to understand, is there competition? And some competition is good, but how much competition. You don’t want too much competition. It’s really about what is the competition opportunity? The fourth thing is really how much cash do I need to launch this product to really compete against the top sellers? How much capital does one need? It’s a massive and really important question. Do I need ten grand, or do I need 100 grand to really compete? Because on Amazon, you need to be on page one or maybe page two for certain. In terms of understanding how much capital you need to sell to create the products and sell them to velocity, not run out of stock is important. The fourth one is a profit opportunity. How much profit can I make on this product? Will I be making enough profits that I can invest that money back into my business and growth? Or if the product is four bucks and I’m staying on Amazon, and I’ll spend a little bit of advertising, I’m out. That niche way to spot really validates any product idea based on the keyword that you can type in against those four things. And we visualize it and say, hey, here’s the breakdown of it. Yes, I think it’s a great opportunity. Based on what we see, and what the historical search volume is on Amazon, what people are searching for right now, how competitive it is, what’s the trends? So we take all these hundreds and hundreds of data points that we track, and we do.

It’s a very complex piece of software. And we simplified down into this rating score and a few other things around that. But I think what’s important to not forget and important to say is that data. And the answer is based on the data is 50 percent of the problem that you’re solving, the other 50 percent is how do you differentiate the product? And that’s a soft skill that you learn from your business training, from speaking to your target audience, understanding who your avatar is. You know, those are really important questions to understand and answer, because, at the end of the day, you can use all the data you want to say, hey, this is a great opportunity. But if you haven’t differentiated and created a product that can connect with your target audience, you’re never going to get the conversion rate to really perform at the right level on Amazon. So it’s important to really understand and use the data to find the opportunity, but then really to think through how to actually differentiate from what’s taught, then how to connect with my competition. And that’s the creative, amazing, fun part of an Amazon product and also the fun part of selling on something like Ecwid. You know, that’s what people are doing in e-commerce. They’re creating these amazing creative products that solve a unique problem in a unique way.

Richard: It’s interesting. You brought up many good points there. But one thing I just want to remind for those listeners sitting there going: Why, again, would I want to do this? Well, this is the biggest marketplace on the planet, to your point, you mentioned when you were talking there, people are going there to buy. Yes, you’re giving up some fees. And, yes, there might be some additional costs if you haven’t fulfilled by Amazon. But they’re bringing you traffic that you need to learn how to bring on your own when you’re doing your own store, which is you get to keep all those fees. So it’s why Jesse and I believe that people should be doing both.

You should have your own store creating your brand where no matter what happens in the world of Amazon algorithm change or someone like you can still be using it. But also when you use Amazon, you could be taking advantage of just a massive amount of traffic that they’re bringing in. One question I have for you, this is a very good point, because you were talking about data, and I’m sure ZonGuru is like, that’s what it sounds like. You help with accessing that data and dashboards and being able to learn a lot more about your business than if you probably went straight through Amazon. In your opinion, how do you communicate on Amazon with people, or do you think you should have this other store, or do you do it on social? That’s the part I’ve always had not quite a solid understanding on. How do you do that with an Amazon store? The actual communication, since they don’t necessarily like “Here’s the customer email,” and you can now ask them how it was.

I would love any kind of insights you have that people could start thinking about how they could when they get this data, how they can stay more personalized, or do the other half scale.

Jon: The really excellent point and I think just to back it up for a second and we’ll get into answering that. But I think, fundamentally, if I’m giving advice to someone who’s starting an Amazon, who wants to sell on Amazon. There are two ways to approach it. One is, hey, let me find a product. I don’t really have a connection with it.

Maybe, I’ve come up with the logo. I find a great product opportunity, and I start selling that product, and literally, I just generate cash. Right. So, you know, all of a sudden I’m doing 50 grand a month, 100 grand a month. Maybe I do five hundred thousand a year or whatever, and I’m making a 30, 40 percent margin. There’s cash flow that you’re creating there, but there’s no real asset in the brand. Very quickly, a Chinese manufacturer finds that opportunity. They’re like, this guy is making cash. They notice a product. They cut it by 50 percent to undercut you. All the traffic stops. There is no brand. And that guy’s business is either done, or he’s hopefully moved on to selling some other products. So you can stay ahead of the game. That’s one way that you can approach Amazon. But the way that we always teach and the way that we like to focus is Amazon is the biggest way to scale your cash flow and scale a first-time business. There’s no other big opportunity, in my opinion, of doing it because of the volume in the search engine.

But you have a massive opportunity to start creating a brand that can compete with the best in the world because we have the resources. We can do that. But you have to approach it in that way when you start your Amazon journey. And the way that I would teach that to someone is to say. Use Amazon; you see Amazon as your lead magnets. It’s your very first sale; it is the very first piece of communication that you’re having with a customer. So they’ve come on, they want your products, you offer them products, and you’ve got a sale from that. It’s what you do after that that potentially can create an ongoing conversation and build a brand. So what you brought up is absolutely important, which is how do you actually do this from an Amazon store? Because ultimately, Amazon tries to control the conversation and the communication within. There are certain ways to do it blackhead ways, obviously, but the ultimate way to do it is one to include the communication about your brand within your packaging.

So anybody who buys your product, hopefully, you have inserted there a way of delighting that customer when they open it. It’s something that talks about your brand and something that you can give them off of Amazon. So, hey, you bought this amazing coffee mug with this beautiful branding. Hey, come to our site. We have this great detail on a guide on how to be a barista. You can also buy coffee, subscribe to our coffee brand on there, or whatever. So you’re ultimately giving them an experience of the product, you delighting them, but then you giving them a reason to go to your Ecwid sites where you get more of a brand connection, the opportunity to communicate and hopefully the chance to sell them more things. Or if you’re really smart about it, you use Amazon as your lead magnets, and then you use your site to get them on a subscription. And obviously, the value of your business just absolutely goes through the roof. So that’s how I would approach it. Again, the simplest piece of advice for anybody who’s launched on Amazon is to have a website already with your brand, with ways of communicating what you have there.

That’s the beauty of this audience that we’re speaking to, are you guys have really done that. You crush it because that’s your main focus. If you’re doing it on e-commerce and you haven’t yet approached Amazon, you’re already fifty thousand steps ahead of a lot of people that are on Amazon thing that can benefit you. To your point, the opportunities you have, that communication is one. There are hundreds of others. One is driving, driving outside traffic to Amazon, which everyone here is doing; it is driving outside traffic. If you can drive that, your hands on this thing, your algorithm is going to send you to the roof. And it’s getting even more, so many benefits to someone. The idea from outside is, hey, start the Amazon, scale it, and then move that into your brand, which is over the Amazon. And diversify your risk, create a bigger brand, create an asset that is ultimately sellable. That’s how we approach it from this audience perspective, how you’ve grown these assets, and this amazing thing over Amazon.

You know how to drive traffic to the e-commerce store. Why not? Test some of that on an Amazon platform, send some traffic that way, get some sales that way, and be self-fulfilling within that loop. Hopefully, that answers it. And the last piece is there are ways of also communicating not just through your inserts but through the review process. We have an email automation system that actually emails through Amazon’s system. But when you and you guys have probably seen this with your Amazon products that you buy, and you’ll get an email from the seller. Like how everything is riding, okay, are you good with it? If you have any problems, reply to this email. And if they do or that’s just a way to start the conversation and into, whether it’s a good review, whether it’s a good experience or a bad one, you can tell that it’s a really positive raving brand ambassador for your products. Negative reviews or good ones, if there’s an opportunity to connect to the customer, you have a chance of building that brand.

Richard: That’s awesome. Definitely, there’s like 20 other things we could go down, but I want to keep it entry-level here like what’s black hat, what’s a white hat on, and where you can push the limits there. We’ll save that for the when you come back in the next episode, once people get going.

Jesse: Maybe we don’t record that, so Amazon doesn’t know, and we don’t get you in trouble with it.

Jon: Very much white hat. We look at the long term game; we’re not that kind of hustle.

Jon: I have a question for you, and it fits right here. So your software is about helping people find that product, get data, get information on what would be good. And if you have others, when you access that data, you’re going to know a little bit more. So you’re probably going to know ways to talk to your not necessarily the soft skill side, but you could take that data and use what you have with your soft skills and communicate different things with them. Get them to review, get all the others, other things that you’re talking about. But I’m interested. We always like to find out, like what got you started with this? Did you have your own e-commerce store prior? How did you develop this? What was the origin story, I guess?

Jon: Yeah, it’s yeah, it’s a good one. Well, it’s not a good story, but it’s a good question. I’m originally from South Africa. That’s the accent that I have. I’ve been around for some time, and I’ve had a long career in advertising. That was my gig from off to college. I got involved in as an advertising exec and a strategist and started in retail space from an advertising perspective, did some TV, but quickly moved into the e-commerce side of it. Through my career, it was like a 12 or 13-year career that spanned from South Africa to London and left London and moved to Los Angeles. I was dating a girl. That’s kind of the story. She was living in Los Angeles, and I was in London. And we were like, oh, one of us has to move. I was like, I’m going for the weather. So I came to LA and just stuck with it, so I ended up in Los Angeles. And it was a very demanding career. Also, a very creative side, which is great, and I loved it, but I always had this real sense of wanting to be an entrepreneur and have my own business since I was young. As things we’ve done, I was very frustrated and unhappy that I just hadn’t cracked that nugget. Anybody who is an entrepreneur I was jealous of when I was just like, I would love to have that. Throughout my years, I had ideas, but I just overcomplicated things. Everything didn’t align for me to make that leap. Because it’s just it’s a significant leap to go, hey, I’m going to quit my successful career. I’m doing pretty well with and give all that up to take a risk with whatever idea I have. I was hitting like, what, 36, 37 at that time. And I didn’t pull that and made the jump.

Then I had a lot of personal things in my life; we ended up separating and getting divorced. I just lost a lot of confidence in that. I think with any change that happens in your life, like a massive change like that, you self assess. You say, okay, what is it that I know, let me get back to all the things that made me me. That I might have given up on, that has got me to this unhappy place. And I was living out of a construction site that my friend was redoing his house that was completely gutted. And I had like one little fire and just one, and one evening I was like, dude, I’ve got to give this entrepreneur thing a crack. Obviously, everything starts aligning when you think like that. I went to Vegas, and I got to give him this free ticket to attend an Amazon conference back in twenty fourteen. I was like, okay, fine, it’s free. I’m going. I’m good. Vegas, I’m going to go and check it out, and that’s just the penny off me. I was like, this is my opportunity. I can literally find a product in a different country. I don’t have to meet the manufacturer. I can ship it; I can get a design done for me, the designers. I can ship it. I don’t have to touch it. I can put it into Amazon. I don’t even have to touch the product. They will have it. They’ll say that they’ll handle the performance. And all I have to do is really create a good brand and put on there. And I can do this as a side hustle. What I’m still doing my advertising gig. This is the opportunity. I’ve got to go for it.

I waited for it. I think within seven months, I launched my first product by just being consistent every week. Hey, we’ve got to do one thing this week on that business and be consistent about it. And I launched that product. And within the first month, I was doing 50K a month. And within two months I was like, I’m out of my career gig. And I ran my Amazon business for beds, and I created a private label, curated product, a unique product. I still sell them today. And at the time, my business partner, this was right in the beginning. It was like 2014, 2015, on Amazon. The services side was just starting. We were like, hey, let’s get on the services side as well. And he started an education business, teaching people how to create a proper business on Amazon. I started the software side of it to really support the education business in the beginning. And I obviously use my advertising e-commerce skills to put the team together and build software. And that was early or late 2015 and just built it from there. Now my main focus is definitely the software side of it. I still have my Amazon business on the side. So that’s the story of how I got here and managed to do it.

Richard: Yeah, and that’s great. It’s funny, I almost wanted to stop you for a second, but I was like, no, I got to hear the rest because when the entrepreneurial story starts with “I got on a plane to Vegas,” I was like, oh gosh, where does this go? Luckily, it was to go to a conference that was in Vegas. I was like, oh, great.

Jon: There weren’t any shenanigans around that, too. But it was one of these conferences which are like, hey, man, get rich, quick scheme. Nothing easy, I got to do this. And that was kind of seed for us to start the education side of saying, hey, this is a bunch of bullshit. This is a proper business that takes time and effort. If you are truly not just going to be that cash flow guy who crushes them and dies in the year, you’ve got to create a proper business. We’re going to create some proper software that really supports that kind of thinking. So, yeah, there were a lot of those shenanigans in Vegas. But it’s just amazing how things kind of come together now.

Jesse: That’s good. And I know there was definitely a “get rich quick” thing in the Amazon. It’s still there, of course, but it was the opportunities actually were pretty easy five years ago now it has gotten harder, from what I understand. And you do need the tools in order to find the right products, and you have to source the products. I do know there were some people several years ago that it was that easy, that they just found a product and put it on Amazon and made a bunch of money. For people now, it’s a little harder. A lot of Ecwid listeners already have a product and may want to expand their product list, some people listening might be like, I don’t know what I want to sell yet, but I keep listening to you guys because I want to learn the skills. So talk us through discovering a niche and then all the way through sourcing of products. I will actually go to an example here. We have this example that we used on the show for pancake spatulas. Do you recommend people start with a quote-unquote, passion, or an idea in a niche or just go from straight numbers and like, let’s find that perfect niche and maybe learn to love pancake spatulas if that’s your thing? Which area do you go with? I’ll just stop with that question first. Which area?

Jon: The answer is either. I think it really boils down to your personality and what you’re trying to create. There are some dudes that I know who don’t give a flying shit what they sell. They find it; they use the data; they use our product niche finder, which you literally don’t even have to put a keyword in it.

You can just set some certain criteria and say, Hey, I want a product that can make this much money with this competition opportunity. You can set some filters, just hit go. It even has an I’m feeling lucky button, which you can hit, and we’ll just return random stuff. Within a couple of minutes, you can find two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 product ideas. And you can go source there to figure it out and sell it. That is absolutely one way to approach it. The other way is (and that’s the way I approach it) if I’m going to be sending something and I truly want to create a good brand out of this over the years, why not sell something that I’ve got a passion for?

And I can tell you right now if you have a passion for anything, which everyone does this, something within that area that you can sell on Amazon, that’s going to make some serious cash. Cause you are looking at, the tiniest use case niche is a million-dollar business because of the amount of traffic. I would always stay towards the passion side, but it’s also pretty interesting to just jump on open your blinders a little bit because you’re focused on your passion, and you might be getting stuck. Just to use some of our data just to say, in general, to return some ideas and they spark other ideas, and you’re like, Oh wait, that’s really interesting. I’m actually passionate about that anyway, go down that path, but yeah, you can take either pathway. To answer your first question in terms of what is the process?

Jesse: Yeah, let’s use the pancake spatula. Presume that we are like master pancake chefs, and we have this idea for the perfect pancake spatula, right? Gold-Plated whatever, walk us through that process, through your software all the way to sourcing product and bringing it into a warehouse.

Jon: Sure, let’s use that as an example. I’m happy to use that one, one caveat I’m going to put on that is that these kind of like utensil style products are extremely competitive on Amazon and probably something that you won’t necessarily find an opportunity on. But if you’re a master pancake chef and you’ve figured out a way to create this spatula.

Jesse: Or assume that we have a pancake passion.

Jon: We’ve got a unique way of creating that product.

Jesse: We could go sideways into other products, and maybe that’s the beauty of the software is that yeah, I have this great idea. And then I plug it in, and I’m like, Oh man, it’s on the competition, blah, blah, blah. But here’s this other great idea.

Jon: Starting with that passion, pancakes specialist, the best way to with that is to plug that into our niche, find a tool, which is essentially a database that collects keywords from what people are actually searching for on Amazon. So if people are typing in pancakes, we’re collecting that. But we also collecting every single iteration of the pancake, you know searchable fields. So when you put that word into our niche finder, based on the keywords that the customers are actually searching for right now on that criteria will start to return all of those keywords and iterations of it. And then we’ll give you information, like what I just talked about the niche radar, like what’s the competition, we’ll tell you, the search volume will tell you how much money that keyword makes on Amazon a month will tell you you know, stuff like, you know, again, competition, how much, what’s the average price, all of these kinds of things, and the score. It’ll say, Hey, this is an interesting product to sell.

It’ll also return the top sellers and a variety of those. You’d get some good ideas around what you could sell. So you might start off with a pancake, and it’s gonna return, pancakes spatula. It’s going to return a pancake grill, but are also some longer tail keywords because that’s what you’re looking for. Those are more descriptive keywords. And the best way I can explain that is if someone types in pancake spatula versus someone who types in executive sous chef pancakes spatula aluminum handle. If they’re typing in their longer keyword, if your product is relevant for that, the chance of conversion is high. So you get these more descriptive keywords that people are typing in. And that is what’s really critical because I find this idea of pancake spatula, great.

The next step in terms of validation is to say, okay, the tool has said, this is a great idea, but you have to think about if I actually launched this product, what would be the right keywords to target? Where the opportunity is where I can get the sale, I can get to page one? Because I can tell you right now, pancake spatula, there’re 200, 300,000 searches a month just for that product, for that keyword. And it’s the most competitive; you probably have to do like a hundred sales a day just to maybe get to the level of what the sales are in that page. So you’ve got to backdoor a little bit and use our tool called Keywords on Fire. I came up with that name by the way to find the opportunity where there these longer tail keywords that some of the competitors haven’t optimized for, that we actually discovered that people use and people come up with creative ways of finding things on Amazon, find those keywords, target them.

If I target those keywords, can I get to page one for those keywords? Because it’s an organic listing on Amazon. And if I can, what is the actual money that I can make if I come in on those longer tail keywords? And so you’ve got to think through the launch strategy, and that’s, once you come out at the end of that process you can, you can very clearly answer, Hey, this product has demand has competition, but I can beat the competition on some of these opportunities that I see, you know, that I can make a profit off of this. And, and I need this much money upfront to really compete. Sorry, if I can add to those, I can be really confident, go and source the product in China or wherever it is, and start the process of creating your brand and bringing it to Amazon.

Jesse: Okay. Go ahead, Richie.

Richard: Yeah, it fits perfectly right now. I’ll try to make it quick. But you mentioned launching the product, and you also mentioned a couple of times now driving traffic to Amazon, even though Amazon drives a lot of traffic themselves. But there was a very interesting thing when you were talking about those keywords and the long tail; we do a podcast. Obviously, that’s what you’re listening to. And we also know you do a podcast, but while I was listening to you there, I was thinking to myself. And I’m sure you probably teach us in your education side of the business. But there’s also you could use those long-tail keywords on fire as you call them to actually be producing content offsite to Amazon. That you could use to drive traffic to your site, I’d imagine.

Jon: A hundred percent. Once you’ve discovered and grouped together, those are kind of like longer tail keywords that you believe you can win. And this is based on real data on people actually searching for using that phrase. So, you know, they’re looking for it. We use that in our PPC campaigns within Amazon, right. To drive traffic because they have their own kind of search platform, paid search platform. But that data that you see, there’s absolutely anything you can use of Amazon. You know, to drive traffic, Google ads, for example, or Facebook advertising, or those keywords are very, very insightful around what people are searching for on Amazon. But also off of Amazon. So you can absolutely use those. That whole process and this is another deep, nugget to dive into, but it’s an important one for your listeners anyway, is the way I use my e-commerce site. I drive traffic to the site from Facebook or Google ads or whatever.

It’s essentially a landing page. And I just have a link in there from my products, Hey, buy on Amazon. And they just click on that. And it redirects to my Amazon listing where they buy their product. But we have this tool in a place called a Super URL, which basically mimics the organic search process based on their keyword that you’re targeting when it goes to Amazon. When they took on that mimics the organic search for that keyword pancake spatula, and then when they buy it on Amazon, the Amazon algorithm is going, Hey, that was an organic search for Amazon spatula. I’m giving him juice for that specific keyword, right? People are searching on Amazon for my product, but I really love people coming from outside of Amazon who buys it. So it’s given them more juice, and you have a very good shot at ranking money for the long tail, but some of those shorter tail keywords as well.

So the fact that your audience already experts in that, driving traffic to it, to a landing page or to their own listing, it’s a very small pivot to go, Hey, I can take some of that traffic and drive it to my listing. And then straight to using a Super URL, I’ll drive straight to Amazon and get some sales in there and get it fulfilled by Amazon. They take 30% or whatever. Maybe I don’t make as much margin maybe, but it’s handled by Amazon. And you can still focus on your e-commerce side of the business. It’s a really small pivot with a lot of apps versus people who are just on Amazon.

Richard: Does your software actually create that landing page too?

Jon: We don’t, that’s where Ecwid would be a platform they would use. And I don’t know the ins and outs of the software, but some of them might just be API connected to Amazon. And the fulfillment happens that way, but simple hack on that is just to go click on this button and then open up in another window that actually on this thing. And they can buy just starting from there, but in that process, using that super URL to drive in. Which would be something that they would, there’s software out there that could either embed that on Ecwid, within their link or figure out another way to do it. That would be the best way to approach it. From a ZonGure perspective, we just handle the actual Amazon side of it, but there’s definitely software and ways of handling the off of Amazon side, which obviously you guys are perfectly set up to you as well.

Jesse: Got it. Yeah. I think that’s a pretty deep cut for the SEO nerds in there. I liked that it’s a good nugget. I do want to return back to the sourcing part. Okay, we did the research, we decided pancake spatula is a little too broad, but we discovered that like aluminum handled pancake spatula with a beer bottle cap opener is what just missing. Right. Nobody made this thing yet. There’s keyword volume for it. The thing I like about your software, you have a connection to actually, look for manufacturers of this and get this private label product. Tell us a little bit about that.

Jon: You have this idea now, maybe we should make this product. You have this idea that the pancake spatula with the beer bottle openers. Well, how do I find the right manufacturer to make that? And one of the places to source that is alibaba.com, the biggest platform in the world for manufacturers. But there’s a lot of mistrust, I think, with their platform as well. There are some shady sellers on there. They have sellers from all around the world. You can type in pancakes spatula, and you’re going to get hundreds of thousands of manufacturers and how the hell do you choose the right one?

And more important for you, how do you make sure that you can trust them? That they’re not going to take your IP, create it and sell it and do all that kind of stuff. So it’s that kind of next step, which is like, how do I gather the information and the toolsets and the education to really make sure that I can find the right potential manufacturers. And then ask the right questions to make sure that they’re a good fit and do it in the right way. That’s a little tricky to navigate, but the first thing I’m saying is that is as you do that, just trust your business sense. Ask the right questions, and you’re knowing your gut if they’re right or wrong. But in terms of software, I think it was June of last year, alibaba.com was like, Hey, you know, private label sellers on Amazon is a massive, massive piece of our business.

On e-commerce platforms anyway, but Amazon specifically and how do we better serve those customers, those people who are selling on Amazon and we need manufacturers. And so they put a pitch out to all the top software companies in our space last year, and we went up there, we were part of it, and we actually ended up winning that pitch. And so we’ve partnered with Alibaba. It’s a unique partnership where we’re ultimately there said, Hey, we’ve got this database of all of these manufacturers to let’s work with you. Cause you guys are experts in understanding what is the key data and the right kinds of customers, manufacturers that the Amazon sellers need it’s work together, and it’s fall the data in the right way. It’s presented the right way. So that ultimately we have the ability to present the cream of the crop. Manufacturers that are best suited to e-commerce sellers on amazon.com or Europe, depending on where.

Let’s also give them the right filters and information so that they can look at it and go, Oh, okay, this is the right guy for us. And then, and then connect. So it really just shortcuts that whole process. We have a Chrome extension, which is for anybody, it’s a great piece of software that basically embeds into your Amazon websites. So it’s a Chrome extension. It just sits on the browser. And as you search for products, you can bring up the Chrome extension. It validates whatever’s on the Amazon page that you’re looking at it and says, Hey, this is a good opportunity or not. And then we have a little widget that goes, Hey, this is what it costs on Alibaba. It has a few products. You can click on that and go directly through to that listing on Alibaba, and you can connect with your manufacturer there. So it just shortcuts that whole process and just brings it all into such experience, which people love in, and it works well.

Jesse: Yeah. I think that’s awesome on a lot of levels. There’s one for the people just starting with. We’ll call it the random niche, our special with the bottle opener. But then there’s a lot of other areas. For I’m thinking of Ecwid users that have a store, they’re doing okay. But they need another product, but they don’t have the ability to manufacture it. Right. Everyone’s heard of Ali Baba, but they know if they go to alibaba.com, it’s gonna really be overwhelming the first time. And it’s like, I’ve seen, I’ve done it. It looks like, Oh man, I don’t know. I’m scared. I’m backing out here. This looks like a way to shortcut that and know that you’re getting obviously you still have to use business sense.

Don’t be dumb. Don’t just wire money somewhere without checking it out. But like it short circuits that process a little bit to connect an idea in your head for a product you want with the people who already make this product or something really close to it. So I love that anybody listening out there, like if you have an idea, it’s very, very easy to bring that idea to market. And this is, seems like a really good path to do it. While also making sure you can sell it on Amazon.

Jon: Absolutely. You know it seems pretty scary. Hey, I’m connecting with this manufacturer in China that I didn’t even know where they’re based or what they’re doing, but they’re pretty switched on to servicing this marketplace, and their sales agents all speak great English. They are very, very customer focused if you find the right guys. There are certain things that you do upfront to just make to kind of weed through and just make sure you connect with the right manufacturers. One is obviously using our system, which we have done a lot of that, but the first thing to do is really to just give them a brief, like, Hey, I have this product idea, can you get at a high level, this is what I’m manufacturing or what a manufacturer can you do it? But before I get into a lot of the details on this, can you send me back your, an NDA, nondisclosure agreement signed and with the company stamp on it.

They’d take it really seriously, and some of them won’t, but if they do, you know that, okay, I’ve taken that first step, this is a trustworthy manufacturer. Then basing the rest on your kind of soft skills, because at the end of the day, you’re trying to form the best-case scenario is you’re trying to form a longterm relationship that you’re gonna bring them money. They’re going to bring you, and you’re going to create this amazing product that starts as this pancake spatula there with a beer top. That’s going to end up with this whole brand and line that you sell on Amazon off of Amazon. And you’ve built a relationship over two, three years. That’s where you want to end up. So you’ve got it’s an important relationship aspect that the manufacturer you find it’s literally the key, that’s the success, your business is finding that right one.

Jesse: That’s perfect. I just want to make sure we talked about that because I found that super interesting. I like probably a lot of people, I have a lot of ideas in my head, and sometimes they make it into the notebooks and, and, but it’s one thing to take an idea in your head and actually get it into a product form, and it’s becoming easier than ever now. That’s awesome.

Richard: Just a super quick question. You had mentioned it a couple of times, and we don’t have to go really deep on it, but there was something there you were mentioning about how much you would need to get started. Does your software actually help calculate, because it knows this particular seller needs this much as a minimum order or something like that? Like, what exactly did you mean by kind of give you an idea of how much you would need to get started?

Jon: Yeah, good question. So, so basically, we use software to come up with a number, right? A number that you essentially need to buy the stock, right? So we kind of either know the price from our tools, or we work it out as a margin percentage to say, Hey, if it’s sending for this much, if it’s sending for ten bucks, it’s probably cost around three bucks. So, so depending on where we get we’ll come up with a number, Hey, this is what the cost of goods is, how much it costs to ship it. We have numbers around per unit, how much it’s going to cost. So we’ll come up with a cost of goods number, and then we factor in how much stock you would need upfront to stay.

Just sell it at the velocity of page one for the keywords that you’re focused on, because you want to compete on page one. So what are the sales that people are doing on page one? If I’m going to compete there, I need to sell it that velocity. And then we factor in a two to a three-month window where you have enough stock to stay in stock for three months at that sales velocity. Because you know, typically, what happens is anybody’s sitting on Amazon will know this is you, you become, you get successful. All of a sudden, bam, you’re out of stock. And then you, you shipping stuff and you have to restart again. And so what we kind of in theory put forward is, Hey, let’s give you a capital number that allows you to buy your cost of goods, sell it at the velocity of page one and stay in stock for at least two to three months.

So you can reorder, get stock back before you run out. And typically, if I’m starting, our kind of number is 15 grand,10 to 15 grand as you can start a really solid business with 10 to 15 grand if you find the right niche. If you plow that money back into that business and you do well with it, you stay in stock, within a year and a half year, you’ve got a really good business that you can start to take a little bit of cash for yourself, off, but first and foremost, remember that anybody starting there you want to invest that money back into their business as much as you can. Cause that’s the only way you grow up. Cause unless you take outside capital.

Richard: I am glad I asked that question. That’s a lot of calculation that someone would have to do on their own that you guys can take care of it.

Jesse: Yeah. I agree. I didn’t think it was going to be quite that complete. There’s a lot of data points in there, including the most important one is what does this cost for this product? You mentioned there without getting into the Amazon algorithm nine; there’s the sales velocity, you need to sell enough to stay on that first page just because you ship a product in the Amazon and create a perfect listing. Amazon doesn’t really care that you don’t just go on the first page. Like you have to sell in order to earn your way into the first page. I think people forget about that it’s not just a build it and they will come, no, there’s a whole process there.

Jon: Absolutely. And to that point that you want to sit on the first page for the budget target. And that’s why the longer tail keyword is so important. And we record that the halo effect. And to just unpack that for a second, the theory is if you could find those less competitive, longer tail keywords that the competition isn’t sitting on and they’re relevant for your product, and you can target your launch strategy around that, Amazon will see the conversion rate for those. And it’s going to be over 20% because typically around 20%, but they’ll see high conversion rates and say, Oh, this is a good product. It’s making us money. It has some of that organic short tail keywords with high volumes because we think you’ve got a great product. And so the halo effect happens where you convert for those mid-volume, longer tail keywords, but very quickly, the algorithm is giving you a shot to your brand new product. They want to get it in front of more users. They want to make some money. If you got a high conversion rate, they’re going to give you that organic traffic, and your business will just explode. So there’s a proper strategy around how you launch and what keywords target. And if you do it right, you’ll do really well.

Jesse: Sounds awesome. I hope I hope people are listening. They are like; we didn’t lose you guys. It’s a kind of an advanced world. I think that’s one reason why you don’t really just want to go do it on your own. You do need some help and resources. And Jon, that’s one of the reasons we brought you on here to kind of you know, get some of that knowledge out to our audience. So if people are thinking about it, they know also where to go for help.

Jon: Yeah, I mean, just to see, kind of jump in there, I live and breathe this stuff, and we can get deep in the data. But you know, one thing that we focus on hands-on group is I’ve given you the behind the scenes, the duck’s legs underwater what’s happening. But the way we visualize it is really simple so that you can be very effective in making the right decisions for your business. That’s our responsibility, give you the data in the right ways. You can make the right decisions to move forward. It’s the point that I said, in the beginning, is it’s 50% of the data and how you ingest that and make decisions on, but it’s 50% of making a great product.

And at the end of the day, if you can differentiate and make a great product, it’s really hard to screw that up on Amazon. You’re gonna make money. Especially for Ecwid listeners, they’ve created these cool awesome products, and if it’s awesome and they can quickly validate that idea. And if there’s an opportunity on Amazon, they’re going to crush it no matter what. It’s going to be hard to screw up. And that’s what I say, if you get the part of differentiation pod rights and you just make sure you optimize your keywords, your hottest problem is going to be staying in stock — everything else you don’t have to do. If you get the first part wrong, then you’re oh, well now I’ve got too much stock. Well, now I have to drive outside traffic, yada, yada, yada. So it can be very simple if you just do it right.

Jesse: Yup. Yeah. If running out of stock is your biggest problem, you’re doing something right. You know, it is a problem. Don’t get me wrong, but yeah, like you’ve done everything, right. You’re out of stock. You need to restock. So we wanna, we want everybody to get there. Richie, we’re running low on time here. You got any last questions before we move on?

Richard: Oh gosh, no, I want to go get an account is what I want to do. So I would just say, where could people go? I know you got a podcast, and where can people go to learn more about you? If I remember correctly, I think you have a couple of assets you have set up where people could.

Jon: Yeah. @ZonGuru is our social handle; you can get us on Facebook. You can get us on Instagram, actually, which is a really cool one. We approach that a little different view where instead of it just being a reflection of our business, we’ve focused our whole thing on product differentiation and ideas and inspiration. So it’s basically a feed within your Instagram channel of great product ideas and how, what’s hot, what’s not, how to differentiate. So that’s a cool one just to follow if you want some inspiration. And then we have a private Facebook group called Amazon seller network. And we do a lot of our podcasts, and we showcase them through there. So you can always join that, or you know, just hit us up at ZonGuru.com.

Our support group is very passionate about this space, and they can help you with anything you want. And you can ask any questions, and they’ll come back to you. Then finally, I think if you just want a bit of a feeling of what we were talking about in terms of how do you validate a product idea and what are some cool things that sell on Amazon, we have the latest hot products. This it’s about 60 products that you can get for free. You can just go to get.zonguru.com/hot-products. And there’s just a PDF download of 60 products. But more importantly, we’d go into that whole niche rate score of like, how do we validate this product? And yet, what are the important things? How do you differentiate it? So there’s a lot of like high-level education stuff in there as well. So I would start there.

Again, that’s get.zonguru.com/hot-products. Just start, they all go to our homepage. There’s a 2020 challenge you can take, which will teach you all the stuff we’re talking about. This is like a three-part series that will very quickly teach you how to go about approaching Amazon. So there’s a bunch of near that they can get their hands on for free before even thinking about signing up for an account.

Jesse: Alright, that’s awesome. I think this has probably been one of the most like information-packed pods.

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