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Transcription in this episode:
[00:00:01] spk_0: Welcome to the seller roundtable e commerce coaching and business strategies with and er, not and amy Wiis. [00:00:08] spk_1: Mm [00:00:14] spk_0: Hey, what's up everybody? This is Andy are not with [00:00:17] spk_1: me [00:00:18] spk_0: And this is still a round table # 109. And we are super excited to have Kevin Sanderson on Kevin. Thanks so much for being with us. Super excited to be here. Thanks for having me Andy and amy. Yeah, so we like to get started. Uh, you know, we called street cred, right, so we got to know how, how you were, you know, how you became a blood or a crip, you have to, you know, give us the backstory. Uh, no, we like to hear, you know, kind of where your board, where you're raised, um, you know, any uh, you know, schooling, uh, kind of hard knocks, kind of the journey to where you are today. We love to hear about that. Sure, sure, sure. So I, I decided to join the bloods because I was, you know, in the hood and came up with what such, you know, just for full disclosure if anyone's listening. I was never a member of uh Bloods and Crips. So no, no offense, Bloods or crips are listening. Um, but I did get into the whole gang of e commerce um some of my accident. So I always had this desire to uh do something entrepreneurial. Uh once upon a time I was working at walt Disney World as a restaurant banquet manager. And I had bought, I think this is maybe around 2000 and four ish, 2004, 2005. I don't even know, it might be a count doesn't go back that far, but I bought two Nike for woods golf clubs To resell and what I thought was going to happen was I went to nike.com and they were selling for like $400, but on ebay they were selling for 40. So in my head, well if it's selling a Nike dot com for 400 I can 10 x my money and I'm gonna, I'm just gonna do this over and over again. I'm gonna do like a test by to something great. And then very quickly I started looking back on Ebay and realizing all the other Nike for Woods golf clubs were selling for $40. So my dream of taking the manufacturer's suggested retail price and using that as a price to sell on Ebay wasn't going to work. So I did what a lot of people do, I just did nothing. And I actually still have one of those golf clubs uh in the bag still, it's still packaged and then the other one um is in a golf bag, which it's almost no use whatsoever. Um But the point of that story is I didn't take action because just let fear get in the way, but imagine if I had actually done something with it, said, okay, even if I lose money in the first couple transactions, I could still make money long term. So fast forward to about 2015. I was working at a buddy of mine's insurance agency, they were going through rocketship Growth, I was very happy for them and you know what they were experiencing with the growth of their agency, but I was like, I'm working really hard for someone else's dreams and because I know these people, I'm friends with them, I was seeing it firsthand and so it wasn't just one of those cliches of like when you work for someone else, you're working for their dreams, I literally was watching it happen in real life and so I was like, if I'm gonna work this hard, I want to work on my own dreams. And so I just happened to be scrolling through um one day I had kind of a rough day at work, I don't remember what happened, just remember just left and was a rough day and I looked at the uh podcast app on my phone and found the amazing seller podcast with scott walker at the time. That's he was really talking a lot about amazon and it kind of got me into the thought process of that. So dabble a little bit of retail arbitrage, got my very first sale that summer and then it was a high school football official At the time, so I took a season's worth of earnings that fall uh to put into my first product, which was when I launched in early 2016, and then just kept reinvesting back into the business and then uh kind of shortening the story. But I three years later I left my job and now I'm here, both as a full time seller. And then along the way I had learned one of the easiest ways to grow my business was to sell an international market places like europe and Canada. And now I also help people go into international market places like europe and Canada. So now I'm here talking to you, fine folks and hope to help people who are looking to do that as well. Autumn, I love the fact that you're still uh you know, doing the selling thing because there's a lot of people in this industry that are, you know, coaching and and and doing courses and things like that. And they're like, yeah, I sold at one point, you know, for three or four years ago, it's like, well the game's changed, right? Yeah. It's getting harder every single day to, to sell on amazon. Uh, you know, there's new hurdles. I mean, I've been getting a lot of people reaching out to me lately just being like, hey, this got banned, This got, you know, it's just doing business on amazon is just getting harder and harder and harder. And you know, the people who don't realize that they get, you know, rich quick people try to get in and out of amazon to make a quick buck, you're gonna fail. Um, that's the dynamic today. So on that same note, kind of, what do you think are, you know, some of the things that, you know, some of the big mistakes that some of the sellers are making when they get into amazon early on? Yeah, Yeah. I think some of it is this could be a controversial statement, but I think sometimes people get too much into the idea of wanting to have that hero thought it's like, and I think the product is going to sell 100 units today is very sexy and sells courses if you're doing youtube videos are running ads. But you know, there's so many other opportunities in so many different ways you can go about things. So I think learn what works from folks. But then also if everyone's digging, do a little bit of a yeah, I like that. So, um, you know, when you're talking about first getting on amazon, you know, in the, in the past it was a lot easier. You can get a product up as long as it, you know, a decent pictures, decent copy, things like that. You could, you could probably do okay. You can, you know, spin up on auto PBC campaign and and get some, you know, something's going um you know, anything that you're doing differently today um in terms of marketing promotion sc or anything like that, that you're doing differently today than you were, say a couple of years ago. Yeah, good question. I think of being a lot more intentional, especially with PPC about like what I'm targeting, what the bids are. Like I remember, you know, back in the day, just giving a campaign manager, like all I would do is pull the search term report, I look at it and it was probably just fumbling through it, barely really looking at the data. Whereas like now I think you have to be a lot more sophisticated with how you, you know, look at the data. Sometimes you have to come up with some of your own formulas for how to manipulate the data and come up with bids. You can't just say oh amazon said I should spend between a dollar 25 3 24 so I'll just split the difference. You know you gotta, you gotta be a little bit more strategic and you realize that at the end of the day, the only one that's really looking out for your businesses yourself. I mean the other people like us that care about you listening and want to see you succeed but at the end of the day no one's gonna understand your business and what works for you like you do. So I think that question that's great. Yeah amazon PVC is is like is like dealing with the water company right? It's like if you go outside your backyard, turn your, you know your kids turn your hose on and playing it and then don't turn off and it runs overnight there like ha ha I got you amazon is not there to save you money on PBC. So I think kevin's got a great point there where you you definitely have to come up with, you know, one of the biggest mistakes I see even to this day is people bidding too high and budgeting out. You know like whenever it's like smack my forehead, I'm like no no do it the other way lower the bids and raise raise your budget. And then when that when that tops out then you start raising bids. Um Yeah it's kind of a funny dynamic there but hopefully that one little tip for somebody who didn't know that yet, we'll help today. Um But let's get into the international stuff. Which is it Yeah which is sort of your bread and butter. So did you start selling in the U. S. And then expand internationally? Or did you start internationally? And and kind of expand from there? And what was the question? Yeah I started in the US and it's one of those things that you know, especially when you first start out, you have more time than you necessarily have money. So I was listening to all these different podcasts, Shopify related podcast people saying you know, do this on Ebay and I was trying all these different, you know uh my own web store and getting some sales. Not really all that much. I was finding at least for me amazon was where I was doing the best. You know, I remember trying to get accepted into Sears um which we were just joking about a serious commercial before we had to record. But uh you know, Sears at one time, actually, People were actually talking about serious as a serious marketplace in 2015 when I first started getting into this game, that's no longer the case. And so, you know, trying all these different things or I remember spending because I saw the full time job about 2 to 3 weeks, maybe even longer than that span of the amount of time I had in my free time to focus on the e commerce business on Jet dot com. And I focused all this time trying to figure out Jets and I've maybe made $400 in sales on jet before they shut it down. Like not my listings, but just Jet dot com is no longer there. And so, you know, trying to figure all these other marketplaces where it's like, at least for me, I have amazon somewhat figured out. So I was starting to find, okay, if I've got amazon figured out, what do I need to do to grow amazon and you know, yeah, I can maybe find some additional long tail keywords and things like that. But I started realizing for the amount of work on the front end because as we talked about before, like it's not total passive income, so everything is an investment of some level of time and so Relative to the amount of time I put in, I was finding, I could list my products in Canada, get 10, at the time, uh you know, in europe, I could get maybe another 10 15 20% of my sales by listing them there. So how do I do that? And just the hard part was the hoops that jumped through the front and once I got hoops jump through then from there, you know it's basically just the snowball is growing and then now the money making from international marketplaces could fund new products and other things. So you know it definitely something I start in the U. S. And branched out because I was finding I was having a lot more success with the time invested trying to figure out international marketplaces than trying to figure out Sears or jet or ebay. [00:11:02] spk_1: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I mean there is a lot of different channels and I think that's the first thing is a lot of sellers they don't expand internationally because of those hoops, right? Because they feel like okay, europe, I got to set up that PPC costs in europe are really crazy and managing your PPC now not only in the US but in Canada in every country in europe everywhere else, you know? So, I mean, it seems like you're recommended title for the show was the simple path. So what do you think about simplifying that process? So sellers kind of know which marketplaces they should expand into and kind of getting over some of those hurdles of now having to manage PPC everywhere. And now, what do you recommend there? [00:11:56] spk_0: Yeah, I think a lot of it is um, going back to the old Jim Rohn quote, don't wish it were easier, wish you were better. So don't wish the situation was going to be simple because nothing is totally simple. Now, I'll still say this. Yes, you'll have to manage PPC and other marketplaces if you're another marketplace. But compared to like, let's say, yeah, figuring out Canadian PPC for sponsored product ads versus figuring out facebook, you know, it's two completely different skill sets. Whereas the US sponsored products and Canadian sponsored products, the money symbols, not even different, it's just a different currency. And so it's just a different dynamic because there's different customers looking at it. And so yes, it is the simple path now, I think going back to the, you know, I wish you were better uh start off with something that's a little simpler. And so europe is the one that everyone likes to kind of go to first because we hear that all these people in europe, there's all this opportunity. But to your point there is that uh they say, I still will say that dust has not completely settled on Brexit yet. So there's a lot of variables which I wouldn't say should scare people away from there, but I wouldn't start there. And so I think relative to the time invested, Canada is like the one that everyone forgets about. People sometimes think about like well I'll go to Australia first. Australia might be 20% of the sales of Canada for a lot of people. So Canada might be 1020% of the US sales for a similar type of catalog. And so what ends up happening is amazon will say the seller's, hey you can go to Canada and sell in the north. American remote fulfillment program will take all of your products and you can just list them up there. Now some of the products don't get accepted into the program and as we also learned, there is no free lunch in this world. And so if it's shipping to another country, especially in individual packages, then the customer is going to have to pay additional shipping additional duties and instead of taking a couple days to get to them because their prime members that live in the Toronto area, they're having to wait a week or two before it's a clear customs and get across the border from the US. And so what ends up happening is sellers will oftentimes find instead of maybe one or 2% they might get a narf if for some people, it's not even that high, they might get 10 20% for having local FBI inventory. Now, the hard part is you have to jump through those hoops. And so the easiest way to put this is, you know, there's a couple of forms you have to fill out with Canadian revenue agency to get a business number, uh GST HST number, which is basically their sales tax number as well as the import number. And so once you've got all that, then, you know, you can send your stuff in, you add your listings into that marketplace and the whole thing with PPC. The nice thing is you've done all this work to figure out what keywords work in the US Canada. They use almost the same words we use here because even though Canada is the second largest country by land mass, um most of the population lives about 100 miles from the U. S. Border. I've never seen an official statistics but I've seen relatively uh accurate places saying between 75 90% of the Canadian population lives about 100 miles from the U. S. Border. So the way they describe things, their culture is very similar to the U. S. [00:15:27] spk_1: Yeah I would agree. We've written a lot of Canadian listings and compared to the listings like that we've written in the UK, we're listening in Australia like it's very very similar and yeah so and a little easier than Mexico, we're starting out there. So, you know, I think the hurdle also that people run into is when like for me, I tried my stuff is already made in the USa some of it. And so I tried to move it up to Canada and it was so expensive to go from us to Canada that and I ended up having to raise my price and then you know, the Canadians that can just shop on amazon dot com are like, well I'll just buy it on amazon dot com and wait longer. And so it ended up actually backfiring on me because it was, it was more expensive. I had to make it more expensive in Canada and then they had the ability to buy north America. And so for me, for my products made in the US, it didn't make sense. Now my products made in china, I could import directly to china or to Canada from my supplier in china. And that will probably reduce some of those costs. Although right now with shifting being insane I'm sure that that's another consideration. But but yeah I agree that it seems to be the easiest first place to start. Um But do you recommend as far as importing those, do you recommend that people go straight from their supplier to Canada? Like what's the easiest way to avoid the massive duties that you have to pay to get into [00:17:13] spk_0: Canada? Yeah great question. So with that I would say if you can you're better off shipping straight into Canada. I personally shipped to the U. S. And I just say okay now that it's here let's decide. How much do I want to go to the U. S. Fulfillment centers, How much do I want to go to Canadian fulfillment centers. And uh the interesting thing is the biggest, basically if you do a uh shipment into Canada you're going to get to invoices at least from ups. I'll just use ups as an example. One is an import invoice and one is an exporting voice, your export invoices, the shipping to export it out of the U. S. For example. And then the import invoices, the What you're paying at the border. Now the biggest expense there is the GST that they're going to charge. So they charge you 5% GST. Now G. S. T. If you're registered for GST actually as a credit when you go to file. Now, I'm not here to provide tax advice but generally for most folks is if you put your GST HST number into tax settings in seller central in Canada, they're going to charge the customer. And so if a customer let's say lives in a province where it's a 10% GST HST amazon's gonna charge that on top of the selling price just like we do here in the U. S. And then they're going to give you that as part of your dispersement and then once a year you're going to have to go file and then you're going to take that and subtract out some of your G. S. T. That you've already paid as credit. So that means basically your customer is going to be paying you back for the G. S. T. That you pay to the border. And so that makes it pretty nice. And the nice thing about Canada, you don't have to file once a year. And it's actually super simple. Once you kind of know like where you go what numbers you put in the boxes and you know, I find it to be pretty simple. Now, sometimes with shipping, shipping is a lot of variables. So maybe in your case the the product was just, [00:19:09] spk_1: it was a large, large product, so it was really expensive to ship a pallet. Now it's one of my other products are smaller and so maybe I can take them out of the warehouse here and do that. And that one tip that you just gave though right there is going to take a lot knowing that that cost is going to be paid for later is awesome. I think that one tip is going to remove a lot of the barriers to entry for folks going into Canada myself included. I'm going to go revisit. [00:19:39] spk_0: Speaking [00:19:40] spk_1: of which one of your favourite countries to sell in and why [00:19:44] spk_0: good? I would say it's Canada and the UK probably cause my sales are the highest there. Now my sales are higher in the UK and traditionally always have been relative to Canada. But Canada, my profit margins tend to be better than they are in the UK. So sometimes I end up with the same amount of money all said and done now, the nice thing is as we were recording this um it is advantageous bringing money back from those countries into the U. S. And so going back to some of the costs, if you're paying for something in us dollars for your product, you're almost buying it at somewhat of a discount. And then when you ship it into let's say Canada and you if you're charging let's say Let's say you came up with, I'm gonna, hypothetically use 1.4 is my rule of thumb which often times people do is usually between 1.35, Uh is there a rule of thumb and kind of massage the pricing people would pay a little bit extra candidate. You might actually, because of the way it's working, a Canadian dollar is going to be even closer to a U. S. Dollar, which coming from that direction is actually a good thing. Um So what that means is you're bringing home more US dollars than you would have been even a year ago for the same amount of Canadian dollars. And in the UK it's very similar to this could all change tomorrow. Um But my theory without getting too deep in the weeds on this is with as much printing of money as we've done in the US that having additional sources of other currencies is beneficial for spreading out some of your risks. And so I like Canada and the UK because a relatively simple now UK is a little bit more complex to set up, but you're bringing in right now. One of the things I like about is that both of their currencies are relatively strong to the U. S. Dollar. Thanks for tuning in to part one of this episode, join us every Tuesday at one PM pacific standard time for live Q and A. And bonus content after the recording at cellar round table dot com, sponsored by the ultimate software tool for amazon sales and growth seller S C o dot com and amazing at home dot com.