Lessons Learned this Season & Closure
In this episode, we cover the following topics:
- An update on the Jungle Slider launch;
- The top 10 lessons learned during this season’s Million Dollar Case Study;
- Closing thoughts;
- Missed an episode? See them all here.
We’re covering all of this today in our 18th episode of the Million Dollar Case Study. Watch the video, keep reading and don’t forget to subscribe to our Million Dollar Case Study email list, so you never miss any future product launches!
Welcome Back to the Million Dollar Case Study!
This is episode 18, and it’s a little bit of a sad day, given that it’s our final episode for season four of the case study.
During this episode, we will be sharing the top 10 lessons learned throughout this season and we’ll go ahead and wrap it up with tips on where to go from here.
Jungle Slider launch update
- I have stopped all promotional giveaways and rely 100% on organic and paid traffic now. So, in essence, the training wheels are off.
- At the time of this writing, we are organically ranking for our main keywords on page one of Amazon (last I checked, we were in the #14 slot).
- Sales are holding steady at 15 or more per day; not bad considering our launch goal was to hit 10.
- I’ve been optimizing our PPC campaigns and have brought down our ACoS percentage (Advertising Cost of Sale) significantly; right now we’re at around 50% ACoS. I’ll continue to optimize our PPC campaigns, with the aim to bring all campaigns below 25%.
- Going forward, we may explore other avenues to scale our sales; if we do, we will document every step of the journey.
- Our next goal is to reach the one million dollar mark, which I am confident we will reach this year; this means more charitable donations for Pencils of Promise.
Here are the top 10 lessons learned during season four of the Million Dollar Case Study:
1) Give your customers exactly what they want
I think the top lesson we learned is that we always want to give our customers what they want. In fact, this season, we coined the term Customer-Driven Innovation™.
This product research strategy is halfway between an invention and private labelling. It leverages Jungle Scout to find products that sell well, but are lacking key elements or features to make them truly appealing to users. It involves looking at sales, ratings and reviews.
Through this product research process, we were able to find key differentiators, vastly improving our product in comparison to our competition’s. We created a product from scratch and I think this was a huge win for us.
Over time, it’s only going to separate us even more from our competition.
2) If creating a new product, expect and plan for a much longer timeline
Be sure to plan for delays and setbacks. We initially planned to launch this product at the end of 2018 but, because of the issues we encountered, we launched three and a half months later than expected.
The idea was to invent a new product. We took an existing product that was selling well on Amazon, reimagining what it would look like through Customer-Driven Innovation™, and sourced it from China.
So, if you’re going the invention route (like we did), give yourself a little more time before launching. When you’re recreating or developing a product, it’s bound to take more time than taking the private label route.
3) Expect the unexpected
As I said earlier, we wanted to have the Jungle Slider listed for sale on Amazon by the end of 2018. That didn’t happen. And because the launch was delayed, we missed Q4 and its holiday sales bonanza.
In addition to that, we were further detained by the Chinese New Year and a government shutdown. But, what was key was stopping ourselves from becoming discouraged when the unexpected happened.
Often, when you’re just getting started, building a business is just as much a mental game as it is a game of strategy and tactics. So we need to stay focused on our goals when we run into all of those little things we didn’t expect.
Expect the unexpected. Don’t get discouraged. Keep powering through all these little speed bumps we’re bound to hit along the way!
4) Act quickly; don’t procrastinate
You need to act quickly. You can’t procrastinate. There is no time for that, given the fact that there are several moving parts in the Amazon FBA business model. You’re dealing with:
- Your supplier;
- Amazon and Seller Central;
- Your customers;
With so many moving parts, you need to be able to act quickly.
The more you delay in taking action, the more it’s going to pile up on you. At the end of the day, procrastinating will only lead to frustration and stress. As soon as it hits your inbox, act on it in whatever way you can. Don’t put anything off that you can do immediately.
5) Money management is key; make sure to account for everything
Money management is vitally important. I hear a lot of stories of people running out of funds before they could even launch; that just comes down to poor money management.
When you’re creating a budget for your business, it’s better to over-estimate costs. Give yourself a bit of a cushion, rather than trying to figure out your potential finances down to the penny.
For example. in the early stages, as you’re reaching out to suppliers and getting quotes, those quotes should be fairly accurate. But some sellers add a buffer to the quote, in case anything unforeseen happens (ie. the sudden increase in Chinese tariffs).
Next, you need to be able to factor in how much it will cost to hire a freight forwarder. You also need to know how much you need for PPC, and how many units you’ll give away during your promotion.
Factor in all of the above beforehand (plus any other additional costs) because you don’t want to have your product arrive at Amazon and be out of cash. Better to over-estimate costs and over-budget, than be short when you need it most.
6) Use the right tool for the right job
Something that helped me more than you might expect was using the right tool for the right job (since there are so many tools to choose from).
I see a lot of beginners trying to be really scrappy, choosing less-reliable tools to save money. Frankly, I can appreciate that. After all, one of Jungle Scout’s core values is to do more with less.
But the downside to going with unproven, cheaper tools is data accuracy is usually sub-par and not all processes are automated. It’s going to be a bit more difficult, which could lead to discouragement and costly mistakes. So start using the right tools right away!
7) Learn as much as you can about International Commerce
Selling on Amazon is very different from operating a mom-and-pop shop in your hometown. There is a cultural contrast between the two. Being an Amazon seller usually means working with a culturally diverse group of people.
As an example, if our product is manufactured in China, we need to understand our suppliers. We must ask ourselves how best to communicate and negotiate with them. It’s also important to know their customs and holidays, not only to get to know them personally but to understand how the dates will impact shipping.
And you have to look at both the details and the big picture. That means knowing your supplier’s culture is as important as knowing about the US-China trade war, and how it might affect your business.
We also had a government shutdown. You can’t plan for that, but by learning as much as you can about it–and things like the US-China tariffs–you can mitigate the consequences of the setbacks as much as possible.
Don’t worry though! This shouldn’t take up a lot of your time. For the most part, it’s just keeping up with what’s happening in the news.
8) Be vigilant and monitor every step of the process (specifically what’s happening on Seller Central)
When I talk about being vigilant, I’m talking about Seller Central:
- Monitor your inventory levels. Running out of stock is the worst! It just means you’re losing money for no good reason at all.
- Monitor your customer reviews. Read what they’re saying. Communicate with them and provide the most value possible.
Log into Seller Central every day. Make sure there’s no alerts in there you need to follow up on.
9) Always be testing
By this I mean test your listing title, test your bullets, test your back-end keywords, test your description, test your images, test your pricing. Try new packaging. Try new inserts.
Always be testing!
If you want to stay ahead of your competition, never stop refining. Monitor what they’re doing and improve upon their improvements. Continue with Customer-Driven Innovation™ throughout the life cycle of your product.
As Amazon becomes more competitive, making the best product and optimizing its listing will determine who succeeds. Sellers who test and retest will be the seller’s kicking butt on Amazon.
10) Provide the best customer support
Last but not least, always provide exemplary customer support! Go above and beyond. At the end of the day, we can’t succeed with customers, so our customers should always come first.
We had a one-star removed (of the reviewer’s own accord) because of the customer support we provided post-purchase. It goes to show how powerful and important it is to provide excellent customer support.
Lessons learned: closing thoughts…
We faced challenge after challenge this season, but we didn’t allow it to hold us back.
My advice to you is to:
- Never stop learning.
- Surround yourself with people who are just as hungry for success as you are. Check out a local meetup of Amazon FBA sellers, or events like Prosper, or SellerCon.
- Set clear goals (write them down); this is why we began this season the case study series by creating your vision board.
- Find someone to hold you accountable.
- Never give up.
“It’s not the Destination, it’s the journey.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
You’re going to look back in life and the difficult moments–the ones you powered through, turning a negative into a positive–are going to be the moments you’ll always remember.
So savor the moment, enjoy the process, and keep crushing it Freedom Builders!
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