After meeting, speaking to, and educating thousands in the “selling physical products online” niche since 2002, I feel responsible to let you know that…
Private Label on Amazon is a LOT of work and it comes with significant legal and financial risks – along with a marginal long term success rate – especially for newbies. That’s why it’s not a central focus in our community.
While we DO have many succeeding with this model in our community, typically it’s NOT the rookies who are winning!
If I wanted to make a few million dollars easily, I’d roll out a course on the topic of Private Label selling (as many others are doing) and I’d make it appeal to rookies with big flashy results from the few who are winning in the game. My course would easily compete with the other “big hype” courses out there with a fun, friendly step-by-step system! I’m sure we’d get enough success stories (5% is all it would take) to get some impressive numbers and easily justify the $x,xxx price tag. In my quest for a “big launch/big hype” pay day, I’d ceratinly leave out the fact that Amazon can and frequently does shut down seller accounts anytime they’d like for any number of policy violations (something we address thoroughly in our courses, but few others even address at all), and I’d also leave out the massive legal exposure that comes from selling your own brand. Newbies are rightfully frightened by those topics, so we’d conveniently leave those little details out of the course “hype” and course content.
That’s not how my team and I do things though.
Some very popular big launch courses have lead the general public to believe that PL is THE way to go on Amazon and it can be reduced to a step-by-step formula – but it’s just not true.
PL (private label) is ONE of MANY ways to do well on Amazon and it happens to be probably the most difficult and riskiest as well.
We’ve encountered numerous PL disaster stories from those who jumped into this model with both feet and lost thousands. These are people who went “all in” with huge investments in courses, imported products from popular but risky sources, big marketing gimmicks etc., they got lost in the “legal weeds”, and they LOST BIG TIME. There’s no step by step path to proven Private Label riches on Amazon and if you think there IS, then YOU are the sucker!
…but there are some VERY predictable ways to profit on Amazon using a slow and steady approach. Success on Amazon does NOT require a big investment!
Take our student Brett for example. He and his team of 40 are doing millions quarterly on Amazon and they could care less about private label vs. wholesale vs. retail vs. online arbitrage etc. It’s a low risk, low investment, huge ROI approach that anyone can follow. His presentation at our recent live event brought the room of 550 to their feet!
Instead of focusing on private label on Amazon, his team is focusing on finding hot niche markets where customers are begging for a product (as indicated by the search phrases they are using on Amazon), but there ISN’T a product being sold that matches those keywords.
These are the “great products” to go after. Yes we are putting a course together on how his team of 40 does it, and “NO” it won’t cost $x,xxx with a big hype launch. It will be just another AWESOME course that we quietly roll out to our community like all the other reasonably priced courses we roll out around here.
When we launch our course there is never a four video big hype launch contest with cars, cash and 50% affiliate payouts to our “partners” – we don’t have any “clueless gurus” and mega bonuses from those pretending to be interested in the “flavor of the month” business opportunity.
Instead, I’m proud of the slow and steady approach we’ve used for training others in this arena. We are doing the same thing we’ve been doing since 2002 when we began helping serious entrepreneurs sell physical products online. Sure, we teach a lot of other business strategies now as well, but few can boast of the 1,000+ success stories we’ve created now among those who’ve used our training to build a legit business online.
Why do we charge so little for our courses that SHOULD cost far more? Because we want a community of successful leaders – not a community of “wide eyed big hype junkies.” When you are both “the best” and “the least expensive” you also make a lot of waves – and we like that. Those who truly do their research (instead of falling for the hype) wind up in our community.
Back to ‘private label’ & Amazon with my final tip…
I encourage you to stop asking “What private label product can I produce?” and instead ask yourself “What hot products are shoppers looking for online that they just can’t find on Amazon?”
Stop caring what label is on the box, and start caring about margins and multiple streams of income – that’s what we teach and it’s been working for over a decade.
Recently there have been a lot of courses launching claiming to teach success selling on Amazon. Some of these courses are getting the mega-launch treatment attracting multiple “big hitter” affiliates seeking the fat 50% commissions and contest winnings on the very high priced courses. As you might suspect, these types of “endorsements” aren’t always based on integrity. It’s important you know the qualifications and intentions of the person doing the endorsing when you encounter a “mega-launch”.
If you want to spend thousands lining the pockets of experts who are possibly only excited about their fat affiliate commissions, while learning the same things that we teach around here in superior, proven, time tested courses that cost 1/10th the price tag – that’s fine, but after you read this blog post at least you’ll know the full story from my perspective.
In this blog post I’ll make a simple case as to why you should consider an alternative to the “big launches” and stick with the long time proven courses with long term established communities and experts instead. Save your cash for inventory!
Consider the ProvenAmazonCourse.com (the “PAC”) course in this case if you are ready to learn how to sell on Amazon.
Are you eager to jump into Private Labeling? Check out ProvenPrivateLabel.com (by the way, you get BOTH courses in one place -> ProvenAmazonCourse.com for under $300)
Or, don’t buy ANY course and just get going with one basic idea than anyone can use (one of the multiple strategies we teach inside our PAC course) – here’s an 8 minute video I made that’s getting great feedback so far. It shows you how to get started selling on Amazon at virtually no expense at all:
I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about the coming “eBay changes and updates for sellers” lately – many of you are wondering what my team and I think about the supposed “new” eBay that is emerging etc.
I’ve been getting updates from trusted friends who were there at the 20th anniversary, but I’m not making any changes to my business at all based on what I’m seeing and hearing so far.
Here’s the BIGGEST reason why:
Regardless of what policies eBay puts into place, the new “rules” don’t matter if the shoppers aren’t showing up…and Amazon is KICKING EBAY’s BUTT in that department, so it’s a bit of a non-issue to me.
I’m much more of a “wait and see” kind of guy. That’s how I avoid jumping in with too much gusto and regretting it.
Slow…and…steady…. wins the race.
We are still doing decent volume on eBay- and will continue to do so, but I’m not spending much time at all on what eBay “says they are changing”.
I’ll do like I always do. I’ll sit back and ignore what people are SAYING and PLANNING and I’ll wait patiently to see what RESULTS the creative early adapters are GETTING. This is a non-emotional numbers decision for me (and it should be for you too). Once I know the NUMBERS I’ll share with all of you as the best ideas float to the top like they always do around here.
For now though, this entire discussion is still a bit of a non-story to me personally. Show me, don’t tell me.
An incredible community of online entrepreneurs recently gathered for three days in Louisville, Kentucky. The event sold out in one day months ahead of time, but you can still follow the event by following the hashtag #ces3KY on social media. Join the Facebook group for the event and scroll through to catch a glimpse of the energy.
In the audience of ~550 were some of the most successful, giving, friendly, powerful leaders, students, authors and experts in the world of Internet business.
I can’t hope to express in a simple blog post the mind blowing impact that these kind of event have on every attendee. I feel strongly that we are raising the standard of what an Internet biz conference should look like.
Last year, in his opening comments, our keynote speaker Rabbi Daniel Lapin had us on the edge of our seats – and one of the biggest take aways for most people was the fact that in life as in business and in all other arenas, we are NOT meant to be alone. Solitude is poison, and as Internet entrepreneurs we have to resist the urge to “hide” and try to “go it alone”. Relationships matter in internet business – arguably more than in “real life” because we can be tempted at times to sit behind a keyboard in solitude as online marketers, but that’s NOT OK!
There’s something powerful about face-to-face meetings like CES. Because the core of our audience is made up of such passionate, caring, giving people, the atmosphere is always alive and quite emotional even at times. It’s hard to explain, but from the pics and comments that were posted last year, you can start to get a feel for the impact of events like this.
Please visit this website:
… and click "vote". A friend and active member of our online community is a top ten finalist to get his own Super Bowl commercial – paid in full!
Here’s the back story:
One of the most entertaining success stories in our community of students has been the rise of "Death Wish" coffee. From humble beginnings in his own struggling New York coffee shop he’s now risen quickly to the TOP RESULT on Amazon.com for the coveted search term "coffee". He’s beating the biggest brands in the world (Folgers, Maxwell House etc.)
He keeps on applying what he learns from us – and it keeps working!
Even more exciting:
Mike Brown – the owner of Death Wish (the strongest coffee on the planet) is now a TOP TEN FINALIST in a contest that had tens of thousands of small business entries! His story is so compelling and he’s getting the attention he deserves!
He credits his initial foundational success online a couple of short years ago with his decision to apply my "gatekeeper" strategy of intentionally connecting with thought leaders and popular personalities in your niche. It’s a basic strategy I share in my 101FreeMarketing.com book, and on my blog in numerous articles.
More importantly for now though, we have a chance as a community to "VOTE" Mike into a free super bowl ad all his own! The biz with the most votes wins a paid in full Super Bowl commercial!
What a story we will have if we can make this happen together! Please vote and SPREAD THE WORD! Share the link!
Mike is coming to our live event this week (CES in Kentucky – get details at JimCockrumEvents.com), and I’m excited that he’s brining a bunch of his coffee with him!
Get details on the contest here:
You are allowed to vote daily on multiple devices – thanks for the help! I’ll keep you posted!
Retail Arbitrage. Is it dying?
If you want to skip this article and just trust me, I’ll cut straight to the point. Retail Arbitrage (RA) is NOT dying – it’s going to be with us forever, or at least as long as we have free markets where products can be privately bought and sold.
If you want to hear my reasoning in the briefest possible terms, read on…
First, for the sake of those new to online business, let’s define Retail Arbitrage.
Retail Arbitrage, or RA is the art & science of finding items locally on retail store shelves that you can flip and sell for a profit online (i.e. Amazon, eBay, Craigslist etc.). In “the biz” we call it “RA.”
While RA is just ONE of numerous ways to source profitable inventory (we teach over 50 strategies in our Amazon course for example), the fact remains that RA remains a very popular starting point for many online sellers.
It’s never been necessarily easy to do RA, but it’s always been simple to grasp the concept – which is perhaps why it’s been popular for a couple of decades. It’s also been a viable sourcing option for that same length of time. Along with many other experts in the online selling industry, I believe that RA will ALWAYS be an opportunity as long as there are relatively free markets in operation. I have no hidden agenda or secret reasons to prop up RA. Like I said, we teach 50 strategies for sourcing profitable inventory and RA is just ONE! If I’m wrong, and RA becomes unviable for my business, I’ll confess I was wrong publicly, and easily walk away from it – but I’m nearly positive that RA is NOT going anywhere but UP. I pay a team to do RA for me. The deals are out there and will continue to be.
I’ll make my case for the long term stability of RA below as briefly as I can. If you grasp the basics of economics and free trade (supply & demand etc.) it will really help this article to soak in. If the basics of economics are foreign concepts to you, it might not make as much sense, but I reserve the right to say “See, I told you so” in ten years either way.
First, a bit of history of the retail arbitrage opportunity:
RA first popped up on eBay as a viable way to earn a nice living nearly a couple of decades ago like I said above. Since that time, on eBay, Amazon and many other online selling platforms we’ve seen hundreds of billions of dollars of product move from retail stores to enterprising entrepreneurs like us and then on to Amazon or eBay and then of course finally to consumers.
An example of RA: Let’s say you are out shopping retail for yourself and you notice a large bin of products marked down 80%. You quickly check eBay and Amazon with one of the available apps – many of which are free, and you discover that many of the items are selling quickly online for much more than the discounted price available to you. Next, you buy the products (after asking for a deal of course), and then you flip them for a nice profit.
Sounds simple right? It really is.
There are those in the industry however who are predicting the end of RA as an opportunity, and I’m here to say publicly I think they are quite wrong on that point. Also consider that many experts who are predicting the death of RA have an easily identified agenda behind their premature announcement of RA’s demise. I on the other hand have no vested interest either way in the fate of RA except for the fact that I love free markets and would enjoy preserving that particular stream of income for myself – but I have many other sourcing and product creation concepts I both teach and utilize in my own business.
From where I sit, the only way RA will ever die is if free markets die while consumers are dragged in kicking and screaming at every step.
The supposed threats against RA are as follows:
Let’s discuss these three faulty theories one at a time as I offer a simple argument against each:
Competition is a reality of any biz opportunity. Of all the rationals given for the demise of RA, this one is the strongest from my vantage point, but on a scale of 1-10, the “competition” argument is maybe a 2 in regards to making me nervous. Free markets correct themselves naturally – and RA is the ground floor level of retail correction. As more people become aware, more competition will be in the picture. That’s how business works. It’s not new, but so few people are willing to do the work and put in the time. The truly motivated among us are a rare breed and they will continue to thrive with this model.
More good news for RA sellers: eBay has been in the picture for 20 years now and you’ll still only encounter a handful of people in your community who “get it”. If you ask 1,000 people on the street if they know how to do RA, you’ll get 1,000 confused looks…or 999 1/2 confused looks. This entire trend is STILL in its infancy – as is “online shopping” which still only represents a tiny fraction of total retail activity. In other words, the hottest trends in retail shopping history are still the equivalent of babies in diapers. Those announcing the “death” of any Internet business trend are almost certainly doing so with an agenda that serves their own purposes.
Further evidence in support of RA is this:
RA is an “entry level” activity for many/most serious online sellers. It’s how you get your feet wet. Those who do it well typically move on…leaving plenty of $10 widgets that can be flipped for $50 on Amazon or eBay. Make no mistake – this can easily put $100K per year in the bank for a part time effort, but still, it’s only a starting point. Serious sellers use RA as a launching point, and then often move on to slightly more complex models like wholesale or private label (both of which we discuss in our courses by the way).
#2 Grumpy Brands
A quick note about brand owners.
Mistakes by brand owners and retail channels are opportunity for RA sellers. Brand owners and retail outlets take on a lot of risk when they make and ship a million widgets all over the retail channels. Inevitably, they make, order or ship too many or too few – almost every time. Inevitably they price the products too high or too low. This “over/under” pricing and ordering game creates massive online opportunity for those of us in the RA game. In spite of Amazon’s attempts to stay on top of it all by getting in the buying game themselves, you still have a massive advantage if you are willing to scan a few prices at local retailer and spot the “winners.” This will not be going away…ever.
Many brands are refusing to allow their stuff online though, or they want to work directly with Amazon and somehow cut out the RA sellers.
That may sound like bad news for RA sellers, but from a big picture vantage point I see nothing but opportunity unless the brand goes ONLY with Amazon and refuses to sell through any traditional retail channels. In that rare instance, the RA opportunities for that particular brand are indeed dead. This model represents only a tiny fraction of Amazon brands however.
Next, the law is on our side. Once you buy something you own it and can sell it. If Amazon or eBay won’t let you for some reason, there will always be other options if the deal is good enough. If a brand sells via retail and you get it for a great price, there WILL be a way to sell it for a profit. Ebay has been fighting and winning battles on this front for 20 years, and now Amazon is in the fight too (to defend RA). Sure there are some exceptions, but in general we are winning (aka Free Markets are being protected). The worst case scenario is that you may not be allowed to call it “brand new” (we’ll address that in point 3), but you can still sell it as “like new.” Remember – shoppers aren’t stupid. If Amazon for some reason sides too often with brand owners on this point and allows ONLY retail level pricing on Amazon.com direct from brand owners, how do you think Amazon’s hundreds of millions of buying customers will respond? The answer: They’ll start shopping somewhere else where they can save some cash – which is exactly where the RA sellers will follow. In other words, the pressure to keep the inventory flowing in at the cheapest possible prices is on AMAZON, not on us. Amazon will never care about what price brand owners want to assign to their products. Amazon cares only about getting as many as possible quality product options at the best possible prices in front of their customers.
If Amazon were to suddenly stop offering this discounted merchandise (which WON’T happen), someone else would fill the gap. The free market will continue to win until laws are passed that shuts it all down (and then God help us all because that’s the death of free markets.) We’ve heard a bunch of these other arguments since the early 2000’s with eBay when it was supposedly going to start preventing retail arbitrage in the early 2000’s. Predicting trends is fun, but right now it’s business as usual from my vantage point.
#3 “new” vs. “used”
This is an easy one to refute. While I could write a lengthy chapter on the topic I won’t.
Again, consumers and free markets save the day and WE (as RA sellers) benefit.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s suppose for a moment that Amazon creates a new product category called “like new/purchased retail” and forces us to use it as RA sellers. Why would they do this? They might do it to make their “brand owners” happy, to guarantee perfect retail boxes as much as possible, and by doing so force RA sellers to distinguish truly “brand new” items from items purchased retail and “flipped”. In other words – the same exact products in the same exact boxes, but categorized differently on Amazon.
This may sound like bad news, but again, supply and demand wins in the end.
Shoppers will find and buy the better deals even if Amazon tries to hide them. Smart shoppers (there are a lot of them) would quickly realize that there is rarely if ever a difference between the categorization of “new” vs. “like new/purchased retail”. They’ll take the better deal.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a test.
You have a chance to buy a bright clean widget in a perfect box for $50 or get one with a dented corner on the box for $30. With all other things being equal EXCEPT the seemingly irrelevant condition category, which price will you choose? Some consumers will pick the higher price -sure. That’s just goofy human nature, but as smart shoppers learn that the category “like new/purchased retail” is just as good as “new”, they’ll begin to go where the deals are. That means WE WIN in the end as RA sellers.
And for the sake of being thorough, let’s assume that Amazon no longer allows brands to be sold on their site unless they are direct form a manufacturer. How long will it take word to spread that the real “deals” are back on eBay or elsewhere? In other words, the pressure is on AMAZON to keep RA alive – and they will do so even if they don’t like RA sellers for some reason. Their buying customers will DEMAND it.
Bottom line: RA is NOT going anywhere anytime soon. Keep on scanning! The same can be said for OA. The deals will always be there for those willing to do the work.
With tens of thousands of Amazon selling professionals in our readership base, we are positioned well to keep tabs on bigger trends effecting sellers. Right now, there seems to be a slightly higher than usual number of suspensions happening. It’s scary to get a notice from Amazon saying that they’ve suspended your selling privileges.
While the odds of a permanent suspension are very slim IF it’s handled correctly, it is still a scary process to go through.
If it happens to you or someone you know, we are here to help as much as possible. Please know that the majority of suspension can be overturned if handled properly.
Here’s what we are doing about the suspension trend in our community:
The best selling (and continually updated) book “Silent Sales Machine” has been about online income diversification from day one. Our entire community is built upon the premise that multiple income streams online are better than one because reliance on any single “big boy” website like Amazon is risky. Get the book on Amazon, or at SilentSalesMachine.com
Finally, if you or someone you know is suspended on Amazon please send proof of that suspension to us and we’ll get the suspended seller free access to our latest course from ProvenProductPartnering.com as our way of showing support and helping them be aware of the need for income diversity with Amazon. We’ll also direct them to an expert who can advise them and assist with reinstatement.
Are you new to selling “physical” product on Amazon or eBay?
After having helped thousands of sellers succeed on those two platforms, I have some of the most universally ignored, yet entirely sound advice you’ll ever get about succeeding on those platforms.
Here’s the tip:
You make your money when you buy your inventory – not when you sell it.
If you want to begin successfully selling physical product online, that should be your mantra. That statement doesn’t seem to make sense until you understand that RESEARCH is what makes you a winner in this game. It’s all about being as certain about your results as you possibly can be BEFORE you commit to buying any inventory that you hope to resell.
This simple tidbit of advice has steered many of our students away from disaster. I can’t stress enough (especially for newbies) the importance of learning to do proper research before buying inventory. We get clients all the time who unfortunately poured piles of cash into 1,000 units of a widget before they met us. They poor souls were SURE they could move their “great deals” later at a high profit margin.
Most often these gullible newbies were told in a course (not our course!) that the secret to riches was in going “all in” in a single product and then marketing like crazy (aka SEO, feedback tricks, ppc ads etc.). That model DOES work…about 10% of the time. If you are really paying at tenting you’ll note that a 10% success rate is just about enough “success” to keep the “big launch” wheels turning – with course after course promising riches following the same mostly broken model.
If you want something more predictable, steady, proven and reliable however, I suggest you heed my advice.
Success selling physical product is NOT about creatively marketing inventory after you’ve poured your money into buying a pile of it. Instead, success awaits those who cautiously purchase ONLY the items that they KNOW will sell – and sell quickly, profitably and predictably. Slow and steady incremental growth is the battle plan. Quick hit, overnight riches based on one large inventory buy is a path to nowhere.
To be clear, if you buy the wrong inventory, you can’t rely on being bailed out by:
…any other “trick” to get you out of the situation.
We tell all newbies to go “a mile wide and an inch deep” when starting out buying inventory – that means don’t buy more than a handful of anything until you are REALLY good at this game. Don’t pour all your cash into a single type of product unless and until you REALLY know what you are doing (that can take years for some people – while others catch on quickly).
To learn how to properly and predictably enter the game in a much lower risk fashion, check out the number one course in the world (yes, I’m biased) on the topic of selling physical products online: ProvenAmazonCourse.com
UPDATE: I think my community just gave Google a wake up call! THANK YOU! Check out the comments that have been left on this blog post to see what I mean!
About 36 hours after being told by Youtube (owned by Google) that my “SilentJimDotCom” account was shut down with “no possible recourse” as well as the fact that I was “banned for life” from getting a new account, my account was suddenly restored by Youtube.
Youtube seemingly changed its mind shortly after I requested that they visit the blog post as seen below and check out the comments. Nearly all of the people leaving a comment on this blog post came from my active Facebook community and this single post I made on Facebook as soon as I was suspended by Youtube as well as this post left on FB by my loyal and supporting wife Andrea.
Youtube hasn’t told me why they changed their mind yet, but I do know this: The only request I made to youtube (using this suspension appeal form) was to please read the below blog post and comments. Again, THANK YOU to all who shared, commented and supported the restoration effort. I never imaged a simple post on Facebook would generate such a reaction from the community that supports this blog and my work. Thanks also to Youtube for allowing sanity to win in the end.
====Original Blog Post Follows====
Yesterday, April 9th 2015 my youtube account (ID: “silentjimdotcom”) was suspended after being labeled somehow as “inappropriate for children” (aka porn?) and also being accused of having “misleading spam content”. I wasn’t given much detail really – just an email letting me know it had all been deleted and I’m not allowed on youtube ever again.
My business will be fine – we had backups, but this is a pretty large inconvenience for my staff and I – and even more disappointing for my large audience who benefitted greatly from that content (see the comments below). We also have links all over the web pointing to our Youtube content – I urge your reconsidertaion.
Here’s where my audience steps in…
Rather than “go it alone” in requesting this suspension be reconsidered, I thought I’d give my audience a chance to speak up. Below you’ll find their unedited comments about this situation. My youtube account is in your and their hands. I’m moving on.
A few additional facts for Youtube while you hopefully reconsider this situation:
Thank you Youtube – I can be reached at JimCockrum(at)gmail.com – I look forward to getting an update from you.