Day 1: Now what?

Today is the first day of my new status. What am I talking about? Well, let me give you some background info. My job allows me to take a voluntary leave of absence when work slows down. The leave is unpaid, and can change due to a fluctuation of work. My busy season is the first six months of the year. And every year around July, I take some time off. My SO and I enjoy taking time to travel, read good books, binge on Netflix and generally have quality time together. In July we go visit family, and take off to fun places that we couldn’t using our vacation days. Well, this year is going to be different. 

I’ve always been a spirited entrepreneur who wants to work for myself. I’ve always had a good job that others would love to have. The problem is I’ve always been afraid to take the leap to go full-time at this. What am I afraid of? Well, failing, of course. Unlike others, I’m not backed into a corner, I still have a job to fall back on. This doesn’t mean I have plans of returning, my goal is to quit the 9 to 5. Truthfully, my private label efforts are doing well enough that I could likely replace my income. But, as someone watching the numbers, my private label after having 6 months of increase after increase, is taking its first nose dive into bad sales. That scares me. That shows me anything could change at any time and if I really want this to work – I have to do everything I know how to do to make this work.

Now, if you’re still hanging on- allow me to get to the point. I’m going to do retail arbitrage and online arbitrage again. This past weekend I finally prepped out a shipment of product I sourced from January. In my adventure to maximize my potential, I will be consulting with others on their full-time ventures and coming up with a schedule to keep myself accountable. I will post new posts on staying relevant in an FBA world, post my schedule of how I’m doing things, and new tips to stay competitive. I’ll still be posting about my private label ventures on the Forty Hour Rebel blog, but this also means you can look forward to fresh content on this site.

It’s 8:30 here in Utah, and that means I’m already 90 minutes into my old work day. I’m pretty sure if you aren’t moving, you aren’t making money. Time to get moving already.

I’m Unemployed..How Do I Make Money with Amazon?

Today, while waiting in a Starbucks drive-thru, Linda left me a comment on my ghost-town of a blog. This is what she said.

Wow, you’re really inspiring! How are you doing now?

I’d love to know how much money I should have saved to be able to use it as startup for my own fba journey to profits. How much is necessary?

I’m currently unemployed, living off of my savings, and the support of my parents. I want to put all my energy in this and make it happen. I’m desperate for a change and can’t find a job. I’ve tried different things online before but I truly believe this will be the game changer for me.

Thanks so much in advance, I’d really appreciate any tips you can share with me. 

I’ll be checking back here for your response!

Peace

It’s been so long since I’ve written a post, I felt like this was a great opportunity to answer some questions so many of us have when getting started. Here’s my reply back.

Linda, 

Thank you for the kind words! I’m glad you found some inspiration in the posts that seem so long ago! You can find out how I’m doing with private label at fortyhourrebel.com. I’ve got awesome stuff up my sleeve for this year so you’ll want to join our FB group to keep up, and get quick responses to your questions from the awesome community. 

A guy I know quit his job after 8 months of hustling in his time off and I know deep inside this is a viable option for anyone. So let’s get you started…

How much money do you need? I know cash is tight, with no money in and money always going out. So I’d really recommend starting by thrifting and looking around the house. You’ll want to go to your thrift stores and scan books, scan new items that are still in pristine condition. Check the VHS tapes, you’d be surprised the real gold here. Now don’t go buying hundreds of dollars here, if you do have some expendable income you’ll want to use that to start you in retail arbitrage. Basically going to your local stores and scanning the shelves for anything. Clearance, sales, anything popular in toys. I don’t want you to get discouraged, this is very much about the hunt. 

You don’t need much cash, if you start today with $100, spend $25 at the thrift store (don’t rush this, be picky!), and the rest at retail. You will need labels that will run you $12 or so, and a working printer, boxes and packing tape. You can start this for cheap. You’ll need to be very diligent with learning. Familiarize yourself with terms in Amazon like best sellers rank, or BSR, gated categories, categories requiring approval, turnaround, ROI, margins. Absorb what you can from blogs like this one and just read read read. Seriously, join the FB group and read every post here. Buy products with a good rank under 60,000 or so. Again you are going to take all of your profits and reinvest over and over. Hold a garage sale and get rid of stuff you don’t use and flip that into your business. 

I know I’m going off on a tangent here, so to answer your question- don’t go nuts. Learn the business by investing a very small amount. Risk only what you are willing to lose. Then flip the money over and over. When you get comfortable, invest more. You’ll need to be approved in certain categories to see faster flips, so like I said focus on learning this week and get your feet wet. 

I’ve tried to send an email, hope it came through. If not, best of luck! Feel free to ask more and more questions! Let’s make this happen. 

 

March Private Label Report

When I originally wrote my PL report, (on March 30) I had so many different things to say. It’s funny how in a matter of a day or so, your takeaways can change. Your “lessons learned” can change, and your success is measured so differently. All in a matter of hours. And you ask yourself, “Well, Valerie, what changed?” I say unto you dear reader, “My mindset.” What could be considered a problem, is now welcome.

Before I jump into the numbers, here’s my top 3 lessons of March.

Order more, worry less. It’s no secret I have the worst commitment to something that is seemingly proven itself. I spent the first two weeks of March suffering for it, okay more like 10 days, where my sales suffered. The Chinese New Year threw a wrench in, and I didn’t have enough stock to hold me over. I have since learned to just order more and more. When you think you have enough..you’re wrong. To the same statement, if you orde more, your costs go down. I’ve managed to bring down my cost at least $1 since starting a couple of months ago.

Competition. Damn them. This is really all a nod to having stock issues. If I didn’t have inventory woes, I wouldn’t have lost my first page position for my category. But I did, and I have. My competitor dropped the price from $25 to $12. I suffered for all of 2 days. Then, I played ball. I updated my listings to highlight the extras I offered. I dropped my price down to $17. I gained traction, upped my PPC bids, and now am priced at $20. I’ve actually increased in sales at this new price point and while my bottom line would expectedly drop, the quantity sold has increased. Yep, thank you competitor. Happy to have met you.

 If all else fails, slow down. If you’ve kept up with me this far, you’ll know I expanded my brand quickly. I now have the original item along with 3 other items I am working on. I also have another on order that compliments all products as an additional add-on. And you’re asking, “wasn’t the bold saying to slow down?” Yes. It was. I say if all else fails, because I feel like I started hastily. I wanted to enter every space quickly, and had no time to perfect it. Had I launched properly, I wouldn’t be playing catch up. So learn from my mistakes, slow down. Launch properly, calculate sales properly, order double. Welcome the competition.

Finally I’m off my soap box and ready to talk numbers. I’ve broken down every number I anticipate being asked.

  • Total Sales for the BRAND (Giveaways not included) $9676.76
  • COGS $4.73-4.99
  • Profits $4944.23
  • Margin 51.36%
  • Total units 423
  • Average unit price $22.88

Giveaways were a total of 13 units. I’m doing a similar promotion this week for 10 units and will expand as the month goes by. I gave away a retail value of $324.87. The total cost to me with COGS and Amazon fees was $110.08. This yielded 12 reviews, which I think is a great percentage.

Pay-per-click was run for the full month both on automatic and manual targeting. I spent $136.45 on advertising and was rewarded with $1905.19 in sales attributed. That’s ACOS of .07 or 7%. It’s a bit high for my taste, but I can deal. I’ll hope to see this percentage go down in the future.

I’ve broken down the sales based on each item.

  • Original item: 264 units, $5446.35
  • Item 2: (aka addon1) 149, $4060.51
  • is it fair to say item 2 is its own item and not an add on? While they are often purchases together it’s rivaling item 1 well.
  • Item 3 (aka addon2) 9, $270.91 (took way longer to get items in stock, so these numbers are skewed.)
  • Item 4, 14 units sold, $223.86 (testing item, will likely add in April). I purchased 16 and kept 2 for photo purpose.
  •  Item 5, in the works now is a compliment to all items. It will cost me under $2 and sell for $7-10 based on demand. Once I rank it, I expect to push for $10, and have the COGS for under $1. I’ve only purchased 50 units for now.

Thats all for this month! Sales were so close to $10l this month I can taste it for April! At this rate this brand will yield at least $100k in sales this year. With that, I hope you are following along as I create another brand on Forty Hour Rebel. The product launches this week and I’m excited to see it grow!

How about you? How is your FBA business going?

February 2015 Income Report

Income reports are back. I’ve tried to maintain income reports since the beginning of Learning FBA. I took a few months off, and realized that since Income Reports still create a lot of traffic for the blog- maybe, just maybe, people still want to read them. True? The way I like to format these reports are pretty simple. Lessons learned + Numbers = Improvements. I’ll tell you all the things I learned in the month of the report, report the final numbers, and then talk to you about the takeaways and how I’ll try to improve in the following months.

Let’s get started…

Lessons Learned

One of these days someone is going to yell at me for running out of inventory. Luckily, February wasn’t too bad of a month on the inventory side of my first private label product. You can get down to the nitty gritty details inside of the Private Label Inventory report. No retail products went into the warehouse in February. I’m living off of old sourced products on that front. I’ve focused so much time on PL, I haven’t picked up a retail product to scan once. Between PL and working FT and the regular job, can you blame me for putting all of my eggs in this basket? Though, I’ll let you in on a secret- I think I might dabble in retail arbitrage just to generate more money to do private label faster. I can’t help myself, I’m addicted.

Numbers

I pull my numbers directly from Amazon’s summary report at the end of the month. I’m not doing fancy anything, so you’ll see exactly what I see and we wont get lost in all sorts of craziness.  You have access to the same reports as a pro merchant.

Total Income $9026.32

Amazon Expenses (2948.35)

Sales Tax (54.61)

COGS (1800.91)

All other expenses (76.20)

This includes subscription fees for Appeagle, TaxJar, and Inventory Lab and a few supplies.

Net Income 4146.25

Margins 46%  (Jan was 38.6)

Improvements

Guys, can you believe these numbers? I didn’t send in any retail outside of what was already there. I focused only on private label. If you read my PL report already, my PL product counted for $6100 of my sales. That’s almost $3000 of just residual retail product. That hard work all those years just keeps trickling in. And the best thing is, I’m going to probably pick up retail arbitrage just to feed my private label addiction. It’s nuts. Little to no effort, and I’m happy with my profits.

As the year goes on, I’ll be focusing hard on recycling all of my profits into my business. If you follow the podcast, Forty Hour Rebel, you know I’m trying to quit my 9 to 5 job this year and this is what is going to get me there. It’s end of March and I’m excited to share what has happened in March in less than a week.

My biggest takeaway has been this:  if you fail, at least you tried. No one ever remembers the failures.

February PL Report

Well, here we are everyone, doesn’t time fly by when you are having fun? Really. It’s this awesome feeling when you know where you’re headed, and happy with the path you’ve already taken thus far. If you’re new to the blog, you can catch up by reading the first post where I announced I would be changing my FBA strategy. I have since completed many orders, testing product, having it customized with logos, and you can read up on that here. Now that I’ve completed my second month of selling I am so stoked to share this adventure.

Before  I jump to the numbers, my lessons I have learned thus far are still plentiful.

Keeping Stock

After all this time, I still haven’t figured out stock levels. I sold out again. What is wrong with me? And what was even better? The factories and their closing times for the new year! I got in luckily with enough time to squeeze in an order from a supplier to hold me over. Barely. Close call!

The factories have reopened as I write this post, and I’ve already ordered my full stock that I sold in February. In another week, I’ll be  ordering another order. I’m not losing this momentum. I refuse.

Packaging

I haven’t made much growth on the packaging end. I’m trying to find a China factory to create the boxes for me. I really hate the options I have and feel I need to stand apart from the crowd. In a couple of weeks its going to be pointless to assemble boxes myself, I’m still in search of a solution to complete this whole thing for me.

Rebranding Already

After seeing the awesome take off of the product this month, releasing more add on products, I decided I need to put more into the branding of it all. The initial logo I made myself was flat, and didn’t convey the message I wanted to the audience. I paid a designer to create a logo for me and while it was a $300 investment- to me it was worth it.

What is Focus?

If you are a member of the Facebook group, you may know that my branching to private label is causing other interests. This month I started a podcast called Forty Hour Rebel, and while its not making much traction, its actually keeping me quite accountable. I’ve decided to actually branch off and make another blog where it follows my foot steps in making a brand new private label brand. The focus here is repeating the process and proving my own theory. Cracking the code, if you will. With that, if you click the link for Forty Hour Rebel you’ll be able to follow along as I outline my every move week by week.

The Numbers

Now that you’ve made it all the way here, let’s talk numbers! Even though I had a couple of days out of stock,  here’s my total sales & units.

Gross Sales: $6033.60

Units Sold: 240

Avg Sale: 25.60

At this point, I have maintained a price from $23.99-$27.99. $23 on my rare slow days, and $27 when I need to slow down my numbers but not lose too much momentum.

Add-On Items

The add on items are not included in the total above. 

This brand clearly has a mind of its own and I am branching out quicker than what a normally sane person would do.

Add on 1 that I mentioned last month sold 9 more test units before selling out on 2/8. I kept the price at $31.99 and that will stay the bottom price going forward. I reordered a couple of weeks ago for 16 units because that’s all the factory had. The product will be in stock hopefully in a week. I have another 50 units coming in which will be here around March 10, and I’ll order another 50 likely in a week or two just to keep up the pace.

Add on 2 is something I hadn’t mentioned that arrived in the warehouse on 2/21. I have since sold 32 units at $24.99 for a total of $814.68. I have reordered this product at only 200 units but will be reordering again in another 10 days or so. I think this one has the same potential considering that I hit a good stride almost immediately.

In the works, Add on 3, is something I having a hard time finding a manufacturer on. I have to buy 500 units at once from one company, and was in mid-conversation when the factory closed for the holiday. I’m hoping to get a jump on this in the next week.

Take Aways

I couldn’t be a bigger fan of private label at this point in time. My biggest goal is to continue to replicate the concept to prove the theory. That’s my big take away- go slow, prove the concept and then  you can hit the ground running. This brand alone will show a great return as soon as everything is in motion. I’m excited to flip these profits into more inventory, and also use it to branch out into new PL experiments.

I leave you with this: You have to try. If you fail, no one will care. No one ever remembers the failures. 

January 2015 Income Report

Income reports are back. I’ve tried to maintain income reports since the beginning of Learning FBA. I took a few months off, and realized that since Income Reports still create a lot of traffic for the blog- maybe, just maybe, people still want to read them. True?

The way I like to format these reports are pretty simple. Lessons learned + Numbers  = Improvements. I’ll tell you all the things I learned in the month of the report, report the final numbers, and then talk to you about the takeaways and how I’ll try to improve in the following months.

Let’s get started…

Lessons Learned

Inventory of PL 1

Lessons in January were a carryover of my idea to change my FBA strategy in 2015. You can read all about that on this blog post from December. With product 1 doing well, I’ve been trying really hard to just maintain inventory. This is probably the best worst problem to have. With this being a full fledged month of having inventory for at least 90% of the month, the numbers are awesome (don’t worry, you’ll read them soon).

Retail

I sent in one shipment of retail product in January. I’m going to be focusing most of my spare time on private label products and I expect to send in one shipment a month of retail product as we go through 2015- until Q4 where I will likely go back to retail because, let’s face it- Q4 is just crazy. My main focus with retail is to sell through some old inventory, and move on. I’ve toyed with the idea of training someone to shop part-time for me, but honestly, we’ll see how I feel about that as the year continues. I may just abandon all things retail.

Books

The books still are not getting easier so I jumped back on with Inventory Lab. Have I opened it since? Nope. I’m just being honest. I’m a terrible bookkeeper and this may be the year I talk about getting an accountant. Know your weaknesses.

Numbers

I pull all of my numbers straight from Amazon Seller Central, and the transaction reports. You have access to the same reports as a pro merchant.

Total Income $6,388.13

Amazon Expenses (2,226.59)

COGS (1,613.66)

All other expenses (84.95)

This includes subscription fees for Appeagle, TaxJar, and Inventory Lab and a few supplies.

Net Income 2467.93

Margins  38.6%

Improvements

Guys, can you believe these numbers. I sent in one shipment in January outside of my PL product. If you recall my PL product report for January, sales for my PL product were $2,840.22. That means that 44% of my sales in January was one item. That’s just nuts. My margins for product 1 are also awesome at 53% which means that most of January I spent breaking even or making tiny returns for my retail product. I know this to be true because I was aggressively pricing Q4 product to move it out. I want to free up cash to invest more in my private label ventures. Where the returns are dismal, I’m pulling the product out and going where I can see better investments.

Writing this already half-way through February I know that I’ll still be struggling with inventory for my PL product. I know this is going to be an awesome opportunity in March. I’m going to run out in February with the Chinese New Year and I couldn’t be happier! I will be repricing product to make sure I don’t lose too much momentum but I’ll tell you this – when you think you should buy X quantity… double it.

In other news, I’ve launched a new blog called Forty Hour Rebel that is going to document my entire journey with building a new brand from scratch. The podcast went live on Friday the 13th via SoundCloud while I wait for iTunes to give me the green light. This experiment is going to go through every step as I do research to find the new product I’ll invest in. I decided to start from scratch so I could be on even playing ground with others who also want to start Private Label. If you are tempted to start Private Label in 2015, or just looking for a new podcast please join me on the new site.

Alright guys, that wraps up the first month in 2015. How did you do in January? Share your experience, I’d love to hear from you. I thrive on feedback and write these reports just for you!

Moving too fast : Private Label Confessions

I moved too fast. I kept pushing through and started ordering samples for everything I was interested in. On the private label introduction, I mentioned I was going to go into pets for Product 2. And then…I decided not to. Why? Because. Yep, just ’cause. I decided I didn’t want to go into pets yet, so I’m going to just put that on the back burner. And that’s okay. The samples can sit under my desk while I mull it over.

Then, guys, I decided to jump into another category. I.must.be.crazy.

Seriously. What was I thinking? I ordered probably a 6 samples, picked what I liked and ordered 80 units. I’m probably insane. And what better than to tell the world how crazy I really am!

I’ve mentioned it already in passing that I jumped into another category and regretted it almost instantly. What can I say, when I go at something hard, I go for it all in. So I bought 80 units, listed them and have ZERO organic sales. Because the product is newer, its been slower to adapt. The competition is already thick and I know its going to be an uphill battle. I’ve done some promos for reviews and learned pretty quickly what not to do.

So, I’ve learned my lesson- stop seeing dollar signs everywhere I go. And how will I remedy this? By becoming the public guinea pig the world needs. I decided, in order to keep myself accountable – I will be starting yet ANOTHER product, and going against all philosophies in the world. Save the hate mail guys, I know I’m a bit crazy. Think of it as a public service. If I don’t do crazy things, how will we learn from my mistakes?!

With this in mind, next week I’m starting a brand new blog. A brand new podcast. A brand new everything. For 8 weeks, I plan on documenting the ins-and-outs of private label. Every dollar accounted for, every email discussed. (Minus, the actual item) I will not disclose names or companies in the email. Because come on, I’m still in it to make a successful new product. But otherwise, ask me anything, and you will know all the dirty details.

So, now that you know the scoop – visit my new site: Forty Hour Rebel and like the page on Facebook. I’ll still be posting on this blog, and the LF Facebook group will continue on course. But for those of us  obsessed over PL, you now have a new place to come together. Come join me on the dark side, there’s tea.

January Product 1 PL Report

There’s some sort of awesome light bulb effect that occurs when you realize you’ve come upon a great idea. If you’re new to the blog, you can catch up by reading the first post where I announced I would be changing my FBA strategy. I have since completed many orders, testing product, having it customized with logos, and you can read up on that here. Now that I’ve completed a full month on Product 1, I have numbers and lessons to share.

Before  I jump to the numbers, my lessons I have learned thus far are still plentiful.

Keeping Stock

After my third purchase, or as I call it “Trial 3″, I decided I have to keep up on stocking this product. At that point I had only purchased a sum of 140 units because the manufacturer I had was willing to work with me. This is not always the case with factories, which I have definitely learned. During December I had a major inventory snafu, and spent most of the month without product. In January I was sure this had changed, only to find myself 4 days without product, again. Well, fool me twice and the rest is on me. I have since ordered another 300 units, and they are all in hand and accounted for. I have about 100 units to send into the warehouse and then I will order again in about a week. If  the factory I work with is having a short Chinese New Year. For those of you not aware, Chinese New Year can last from a few days to up to 3 weeks in some areas. I have enough product to last the month just in case. 

Packaging

I feel like my packaging has progressed over the last few months as I got my bearing. I wasn’t a fan of the factory packaging and decided to create my own. Since then, its been more assembly time. Its not too bad, but this will not be a long term solution. I am contacting printers now to find someone to create me a custom retail box. The problem is that most box companies say that orders of 500 or 1000 are small potatoes and costly. I’ll have to make a decision soon as to ordering quantity.

Stay Focused

I recently listened to Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Episode 144. I’ve listened to Pat for years now and this was one of my favorite episodes. I don’t often plug another blog or podcast, but this came at the right time for me. I have another PL product at the warehouse now, and it has had ZERO traction thus far. Listening to this episode reminded me to focus on one product, then stay in the brand and create upsell products. I have done this, and I am seeing bigger sales because of it. I hope to talk about that more in the future. Right now, I’ve purchased a complimentary product and only purchased 15 to test it. I’ve sold 7 or so, and 3 of them were purchased WITH product 1. That’s a $50+ transaction.

Make Goals

I talked to my brother-in-law about PL, and talking to new blood about an exciting adventure just rejuvenates your own passion. Having someone as excited as you are really helps you stay on the ball. I have since nailed down my goals, on paper for this particular product. I based the goals loosely on my own dollar goals, and broke them down into small hurdles until the “ultimate goal” as I like to put it.

The Numbers

Now that you’ve made it all the way here, let’s talk numbers! Despite my 4 day snafu during January, here’s my total sales & units.

Gross Sales: $2840.22

Units Sold: 116

Avg Sale: 24.48 (I was pricing from $22.99-25.99)

I charted this info daily, watching the colors purchased, price purchased at, and what was being purchased when. I’m pretty sure I’ll be finalizing price at $24.99. My approximate margin is 53%. That means my take home on this was about $1505.31. And frankly, I couldn’t be more pleased.

My add on item sold 7 units, not included in the numbers above. One unit sold immediately after hitting the warehouse at $29.99 so I raised the price to $31.99. I will continue to play with the numbers on this product. Stay tuned on that one!

January was a great lesson for me. I met my first goal of $2100 gross sales. And hope to see great growth in February. 

How are you doing in PL?

Product 1 Breakdown

The good news about sharing your journey with others is being able to actually stay organized for not  accounting purposes. I’ve written down all of my costs including my sales price and ROI.

I’ll try and just keep this one page updated for this specific product so we all don’t get confused.

12/19/2014

The Introduction told you all about the newest shipment I was waiting on. Because I needed the same colors as previously (plus new colors) it took a few more days.

1/9/2015

The 100 shipment just arrived this week. My packaging pieces are still arriving, and will be here by tomorrow. I will assemble this weekend. I expect to ship out on Monday to several warehouses, and expect it to be available for sale on Thursday 1/15/2015.

Because I have a pretty good hunch, I’m going to go ahead and buy more. I’m talking to three different factories (one being the current one I’ve worked with) to see if I can get better pricing based on volume. I’m also researching better packaging as I want to become the leader in this product if I move quick enough.

Meanwhile, the product has no reviews and I’m trying to learn how to work on this. I’m considering doing a giveaway on Instagram to help with this.

I’ve put a “coming soon page” on the website and going to rework my email capture. I expect to only have a page for links to social media, contact, and wholesale inquiries. My additional goal for this product is to offer wholesale, and likely exclude Amazon from a resale avenue. Again, still deciding.

I expect the 100 trial should be sold out within 30 days of warehouse arrival. It’s a conservative expectation of selling 3 a day. If I sell out of the 100, it will gross from $2200-$2500 depending on my final price point ($22-25). My net will be $1000-$1200. This is based on $6 COGS (estimated, with packaging and I’m hoping shipping too). I hope to make no more than one or two runs where I assemble it myself. After that it will be taken over by another company to become completely hands off.

I’ve got lofty goals for this product but if all goes well I expect to scale up on this product quickly and it will be the first successful product of 2015.

Trial No.
Quantity
Item Cost
Packaging
Sales Price
AZ Fees
Profit
ROI
1 10 5.99 .74 24.99 6.32 11.93 1.77
2 30 7.77 .75 24.99 6.32 10.15 1.19
3 100 3.90 1.36 24.99 6.47 13.26 2.52

2/1/2015

Read all about the January breakdown of Product 1 at this link. I’ll continue to keep this post update with all of the exciting happenings of PL.

Private Label Introduction : Where I’m at Today

It’s no secret that the newest “trend” will likely be for entrepreneurs to enter the private label space to become successful. Gone are the days of needing to be a real “make it from scratch” type, now you can find a product and release it to the masses all while at your computer. Not to say that PL isn’t a tough business, doesn’t require market research, cost analysis and team of designers, etc – but PL has never been easier.

This post will go over where I’m starting at, my background and knowledge. If you’ve been a fan of the blog already, you may know I’m planning on implementing big change in 2015 going to private label as my main focus. Retail arbitrage has been a great gateway into this sector and I’m ready to take a stab at it.

My Background: 

I work full time in a completely unrelated field, working my busy season the first half of the year. The second half of the year, I focus mostly on Amazon, and my other venture (Etsy). I was an art major for all of two seconds in college, but have a passion for graphic design. I do not have any other experience, outside of this. My BS degree is in Psychology (just graduated in December) so I’d like to think for the most part this is a level playing field.

Up till now: 

Right now, if you are on the Facebook group, you may know I’m dabbling in private label. I decided to jump right in, without reading any courses, without any knowledge of ..anything.

Product 1 which will also be referenced as Product T (T for toy) was first tested on the market the last week of November. I sent in 10 of this product, 3 color variations. The product sold-out within 2 days. Uh oh. This went a lot faster than I expected. To go into further detail, the product came with branded extras and was poorly packaged in a polybag.

There have been no returns thus far, and I do not anticipate any. My first run was purchased at $6 landed, $6.80 after the extras and sold for $24. As soon as the first sale happened, mind you, it was pretty instant – I ordered 30 more. Big mistake. First of all, the supplier had a big hiccup with their freight company.

It did not arrive into my hands until December 12. I paid for expedited shipping mind you, so it should have been in my hand by Dec 5 if I’m not mistaken. Needless to say, the product reached the warehouse on December 16 and is still being checked in today at other warehouses. The product that has hit the shelf has sold out. Realizing I should have gone deeper…

I have since ordered new packaging, two new colors, and focused more on package design to make it a better customer experience. I bought the domain name of my product, and have a contact page up for now.

If you want more details on anything, let me know in the comments. I’m being pretty broad up for now. I can teach you anything form setting up a domain name to getting a logo made.

Back to the post…

I only bought 100 of the product on this next run because I don’t know anything more about this market. I found this market because of my nephews, and felt there was great potential. I kept the product run low again because I’m quite the chicken. $400 is a lot for me to sink into something I’m still unfamiliar with.

Which also is good news, I got the price dropped from $6/landed to $4/landed. This was due to the mistake with the freight on the 30 order. I will not get this price again if I stay with small runs. With the new packaging, I’ll be adding a 60 cents more until I decide to go all in.

I’m telling you these numbers to show you the real potential here. I’m a small fry in this big world. I don’t want to sink thousands of dollars into this yet. I know there is potential, but I have to know where my next paycheck is coming from (so to speak).

Product 2

I’m really starting to feel that this is the right avenue for me. I have decided to go into the pet niche for my second test. I’m going to keep it pretty vague other than that. The product I have ordered for my test run is 10 of 2 colors.

So 20 total. They are $6 for each because its a sample only. Update: (I just finalized the 20 order and they dropped it down to $4/pc, totaling $81.)When I order again, I will be ordering 100 of each and have the price down to $2.70.

I will be adding my logo which will be an additional cost, along with packaging. I have not decided on packaging. I could go a simple route of no-nonsense cardboard, or make it a true customer experience (think box, inlays, etc). Again, undecided. For now I’m looking at quality of the product, testing it to ensure I like it – and then I’ll make that bigger order.

I have already purchased the domain name of a broad brand name. I plan on using this domain for all pet related products I launch. It will be sort of a “petsmart” website housing all of my pet products. I have not named the product yet that I plan on selling.

It is something I needed personally and noticed the market was pretty non-existent. The 4 products I found all are in the $20-30 range which shows the great potential. It allows leeway for me to offer add-on products, different colors, different uses, and really market the brand.

I plan on having the Bark Box approach with this website and do something similar where they have the Bark Cam, Bark Post, Bark this…and Bark that. My name is nothing as clever so far but you get the idea that I will want them all to be cohesive so that customers know my product is related to the big umbrella.

The Plans

Product 1

I have some of my packaging arriving for product 1 this weekend. I will not be shipping it out until after the holidays as my schedule is pretty packed. I will be reaching out to consumers via Instagram to start doing a few giveaways to get more brand recognition. I do not have a timeline yet for this but will be writing that up. So here’s the focus:

  • Package product
  • Ship product
  • Create VA list of tasks (website clean up, research contests for similar products, blogs etc)
  • Write timeline for more consumer interaction (VA will handle this, with my supervision)

Product 2

I anticipate arrival of the product after the holidays. This leaves me to focus on a different strategy. Here’s the list:

  • Logo creation
  • Website needs landing page to collect emails
  • VA will develop blog posts on similar topics
  • VA will set up Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
  • VA will find 5-10 blogs I can market to (whether I choose advertising, giveaways etc)
  • Determine 3 ways I will market ( Amazon ads, Facebook ads, PPC, Instagram, Pinterest)
  • Determine how to build feedback for product quickly
  • Packaging research, narrow down how I want to package.
  • Product arrives
  • Packaging tests with physical product
  • Product pictures
  • List product

Now you’re probably saying, “Valerie, you’re going about this backwards. You are supposed to do this before you order.” And I say to you… “I expect my sample will take two to three weeks to arrive. I have purchased my competitor’s product for now to see what I like and dislike and to use for quality comparison. It will arrive on Monday.

I am taking a new approach with this product as I want to make sure I try very hard to build a brand with this product long term. I am going to use my VA more for this one as there are a lot of tasks he can do for me. I still want a hands on approach with the development, so I will stay on top of this part.”

Wrap Up

I am literally hoping to have my product in Amazon’s warehouse by end of January. If not, it will be in stock by mid-February. I literally just wrote up my game plan as I wrote this post as I didn’t have one set in stone until now. I’m happy to talk to anyone willing to listen about their PL ventures, or if they want to take the ride along with me!

Just getting started? Tell me all about your PL adventures. Don’t know where to start? Let’s talk. Have a great idea but want someone to help with certain steps? I’m here!