Today, our private label product, Jungle Stix, have arrived at the Amazon warehouses. Our listing is officially active and live, and we have already scored a few organic sales! While our listing is unoptimized with less than perfect product images (still just a quick cell phone quality photo), somehow a few customers have found the product and purchased Jungle Stix! Already generating profits to donate to non-profits, which is very exciting. We are still collecting votes for exactly which organization that will be, please be sure to cast your vote here (it takes less than two seconds).
A quick update on shipping from our manufacturer in China: it turns out that Air Cargo was going to take 20-25 days, longer than initially anticipated. While Air Cargo is still less than Air Express, it is still significantly more expensive than Ocean Freight, and at 20-25 days en route, not much faster than Ocean Freight at all. Greg had already sent 100 units from China to Amazon (via his warehouse for quality control and inspection), and opted to send just 200 via Air Cargo, and the remaining 700 units by Ocean Freight.
The rationale for this decision is that there would be enough inventory with the 300 units that arrive Air Express and Air Cargo, that it didn’t make a difference whether the remaining 700 units arrived Air Cargo or Ocean Freight. So why not save $2000 and have the last batch of the 1000 initial order arrive a few weeks later than initially planned, without any threat of running out of inventory? The one downside is that there is more paperwork and administrative work when going through customs and ocean freight, but well worth the cost-savings and therefore increased bottom line of profit.
Greg used freight forwarding company Flexport to receive the shipment and send to Amazon warehouses, but there are other options, like Shapiro, Shiphaus, or FBA Forward. These companies do not do any product inspection, but simply receive the product from overseas, handle the paperwork, and send the product to Amazon warehouses. For this service, the 700 units of Jungle Stix costs $1200 via Flexport, but even so it is a significant savings from the alternative of Air delivery.
As noted earlier, there have already been a few sales even though the product was activated just to get some initial reviews. Here’s a look at the first full day of an active listing on Amazon with no promotion, PPC, or promotions:
Not bad, an organic sale without any effort! Jungle Stix is currently on the second page of results for “marshmallow bamboo stick”:
The sale was for $27.99–after the cost of goods sold and the Amazon FBA fees, that is an 82% Return On Investment! That 82% does not account for taxes or future Pay Per Click fees. However, considering the cost savings with sending 700 units via Ocean Freight, the ROI will increase to around 150%, which will certainly allow us to generate some handsome proceeds for our non-profit organization.
This is what our listing currently looks like:
Adding HTML to the product listing
There is certainly some room for improvement here, with some better product images, and more of them. A quick note on the product listing: we included some small HTML to help with the formatting.
This includes basically just a Bold font and some spacing. To be honest, this is a little but of a gray area so do so at your own risk. In Amazon’s downloadable instructions, they tell the seller they can add the break or paragraph tag, yet in other areas they say HTML in the product description is not allowed.
We decided to go ahead and add these two HTML formatting items, which their system does not automatically remove. We guess that if Amazon begins to crack down on this, they will likely send us a message asking us to remove them which will be no big deal.
Our Product Description looks like this on the backend in Seller Central:
Which renders to the end customer like this:
There is still room for improvement here, we will continue to optimize the listing, especially as we see actual customer search queries once we turn on pay per click advertising.
Getting Reviews: Supercharging the Launch
(Important Update From October 2016: This content has been updated to reflect the changes in Amazon’s Terms of Service addressing incentivized reviews, utilizing promotions to get honest reviews is no longer allowed. Review Kick (which was used in this case study) has now been relaunched as Jump Send, focusing on email communications to help Amazon sellers grow their business. Jump Send is also a large deals marketplace where sellers can improve their rank by offering non-incentivized deals. Find out more information about the latest Jump Send updates here.)
One of the most important parts to launching quickly and successfully is gaining momentum with early sales, and gathering reviews.
Why? Well when you launch a product listing, you are starting from the bottom. Your listing won’t rank favorably in Amazon’s algorithms and the main factors that come into play to improve your rank are sales history and sales velocity.
One thing that really helps to increase your conversion rate (the percentage of people who visited your listing and then bought your product) is social proof in the way of product reviews. Reviews in ecommerce are a huge factor in the decision-making process that many consumers rely on. So as a seller, the more reviews you get, the higher your conversion rate, and the higher your sales velocity. Simple!
Run a Promotion
A super easy way to get those early sales flying in is to use promotions or coupons to offer your product at a deep discount for a week or two. You can set this up using Seller Central and a deals marketplace such as Jump Send, which has thousands of ready-to-buy discount shoppers.
This is an upfront investment, as you may break even or even lose money on all of these initial sales due to the discount. You need to view this as a good investment for the future of your product and product listing.
About Jump Send
The great thing about Jump Send is that it has plenty of features that will help you, the seller, to safely earn those sales without breaking any rules, and without risking any adverse affects like a customer wiping out you entire inventory.
Here’s some of the things Jump Send can assist with during this important launch phase:
- Sellers can approve coupons: You can approve or auto-approve all coupons, so you can control the amount of coupons you give out, and you can end the promotion any time!
- Inventory Protection Feature: There’s a really useful inventory protection feature, which, when used, prevents shoppers from being able to buy all of your inventory at once. Peace of mind!
- Follow up with some automated customer service: Jump Send is also the most robust automated email tool in the Amazon space. This means that you can excel at customer service and send targeted follow up emails to all customers. It’s all entirely automated, so you only have to set it up once. The best thing is: it’s still OK to email customers and ask for feedback and reviews, so long as you never require a review or actively canvas for positive reviews. Asking for an honest review to support your business if the customer feels like they have something to say about the product is allowed.
- Everything is strictly within Amazon’s ToS: We know that a lot of sellers became worried about giving out discounts and coupons when Amazon changed the rules on incentivized reviews. Fortunately, Jump Send is 100% within the latest Amazon TOS, and will not put you at risk of getting in trouble with Amazon in any way.
Here’s a video of how to set up a promotion in Jump Send:
And here’s a video about automated email marketing for Amazon sellers:
Next Steps For Our Product Launch
Our Jungle Stix are currently being photographed by Robert at Product Photography. We have discussed a few possible shots that would emphasize the size, quality, and various use cases for Jungle Stix, and we will certainly share the photos as soon as they are live.
After we update the product images and get some initial sales and hopefully reviews, we will initiate the Amazon pay per click campaigns, and hopefully increase our organic sales in tandem.