Take a few minutes and search the web and you’ll find lots of small business owners sharing their tips for performance on Amazon.
There’s Wendell Morris, who grew his yoga gear business to an eight-person company with double digit sales every year. Morris’ advice is simple: “Start with an idea. Add some hard work, well-placed ingenuity, and consideration of your customers. Anyone willing to try can create business on Amazon,” he says in this Amazon case study. Will Tjernlund and his brother have sold more than $6 million of product on Amazon.com since he graduated college in 2013 by leveraging Amazon’s private label services. An Amazon seller of toys earned $10,000 in just two months by leveraging some of the platform’s services, according to this AOL report. There are plenty more examples.
And then there’s Scott Jordan.
Scott and Laura Jordan own SCOTTeVEST, an online seller of tech-enabled, pocket-filled clothing that, according to them, is the perfect balance between function, fashion, and necessity for life on-the-go in the modern world. Scott was a contestant on the hit show Shark Tank and counts Apple founder Steve Wozniak and entrepreneur Peter Shankman among the members of his board of advisors.
His secret for kicking butt on Amazon: Go. All. In.
“No matter what kind of business you’re in, you need to lean in fully to Amazon, immediately,” he said to me. “Don’t be scared of it.”
Jordan learned this the hard way. For years he struggled selling his product through different channels, including his own website, before deciding in 2015 to devote his business fully to the Amazon platform. The result: an increase in volume by 40 percent “almost overnight.” He believes it’s just the beginning. Jordan looks at the internet today and people’s buying habits and sees it as a no-brainer to commit fully as an Amazon merchant. Survey after survey has shown that when people want to buy something they frequently go directly to Amazon.com rather than Googling. Jordan is such a believer that his digital advertising points prospective buyers directly to his Amazon store instead of his website. He’s all in.
What about the downsides? The margins you have to pay the retailing giant? The fees charged? The potential loss of customers from your website or the cannibalization of sales? The “knock-off” competitors that troll the site and make counterfeits? Jordan dismisses these concerns. “None of these are true. We have the analytics to prove that it’s not cannibalizing off our sales; our existing customers stay our customers, new customers are added every day – all our growth is coming from Amazon.”
Jordan invests. He has used both external and internal people to manage inventory, marketing, engagement on social media, and work the relationship with Amazon. He recently hired someone full time in an analytics role, a “much-needed investment,” to stay on top of what’s working and what’s not. He’s also personally spent time building his own relationships with Amazon management and solidifying his company’s position as an Amazon Exclusive partner. From this, he gets more enhanced account management, premium content, and other benefits.
There are a lot of choices to sell your products online. For any business, managing multiple platforms is difficult and time-consuming. Smart entrepreneurs like Jordan are focusing their efforts on one platform rather than spreading their resources thin across multiple platforms. Whether it’s Amazon or anywhere else, the lesson is this: Go. All. In.
Scott Jordan and I will speak in a live webinar hosted by Avalara on April 11. Join us as we discuss
- Tips for growing as an Amazon merchant
- How FBA sellers view issues like competition, cannibalization, and compliance
- Tools, services, and developments sellers may be missing
About the Author
Gene Marks is a columnist, book author, CPA, and owner of Marks Group PC, a technology and consulting services firm. Gene writes every day on business, politics and public policy for the Washington Post and weekly for Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, and the Huffington Post.