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Sourcing Around the World - Amazon Seller Tips with Meghla Bhardwaj and Margaret Jolly - Part 1
December 6, 2021
Sourcing Around the World - Amazon Seller Tips with Meghla Bhardwaj and Margaret Jolly - Part 1
Things we discussed in this session:

A. Part 1

B. Part 2

Things we mention in this session of Seller Round Table:

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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 hey everybody, how's it going? We're live now. So I just wanted to say hello to my friends, mega and Margaret where you're from India sourcing network. Hey ladies, good morning, good morning, good early morning from for super early. Yeah, so we're going to hang out today and we're going to talk about you know, all of us source from different areas of the world and there's a lot going on today um and upcoming and just kind of the state of affairs and you know, I just got back from S. G. T. G. Last week and prosper before that and we've had a lot of conversations about what's happening in different places. So I'm excited to talk to you guys about what's happening with on your side of the world as well as just in your networks, what people are doing. And we'll talk of course about sourcing from India because we have to because it's yeah and then you know, we'll just we'll hang out and see what's going on. So everyone who's watching here on the live, if you would like to join us on inside of the zoom, you can go to seller round table dot com forward slash live and you can join us in the zoom and I'm going to hit the record button and we're going to start recording the podcast. So without further ado let's go, hey what's going on everybody. This is amy weeks and and er not is out today, He's taking care of the kids. So you handle handle the podcast for me last week and I'm handling it for him this week. But we miss him because he's great. We're here with my friends, uh Megillah and Margaret from India sourcing network and we're on episode 120 nice round number of the seller roundtable. And we're going to talk about some really interesting things today. We just want to talk about kind of the state of affairs right now there's some crazy stuff going on across the world. There's, there's just, you know, container shortages and Like the last shipping prices were like $30,000 for container more and you know, China handles a lot of the raw materials. So no matter where you stores from, it's crazy. We're going to talk about sourcing from different areas of the country. We're going to talk about what our private label sellers going to do when they run out of inevitably run out of inventory and can't afford more. When is all this stuff going to normalize. We're going to talk about how we're managing our businesses during this time. Um and so it's going to be a great conversation with ladies with just a wealth of knowledge from sourcing all over the world here. So ladies, thank you so much for being here and I would love to just start with start with mega and just a quick introduction. Tell everybody a little bit about your background and where you're from and however much you want to tell us uh awesome. Thanks Laramie for inviting us. So Um my background is basically in the sourcing industry. I've been working in sourcing for over 20 years. I started way back in the year 2000 in India and I moved to the Philippines. Um I lived and worked in China for almost 10 years and currently I'm in Singapore. And um most of my career I will I've worked for B two B sourcing platform called Global Sources. And um about three years ago I started my own venture trying to help amazon and e commerce sellers source products from India. And I started India's forcing trip Which was basically an eight day trip to take Amazon sellers to India the source products. And of course we couldn't do the trip in 2020s. So we had to kind of pivot and we started helping sellers source virtually. So then I joined forces with Margaret and her partner Kevin and the three of us launched India sourcing network earlier this year. And then last year we also were doing virtual India sourcing show where we were inviting um manufacturers from India to do live webinars inside of our group. And we recently lost launched a workshop as well to help people source from India. So yeah, pretty exciting stuff. That is awesome. And you know, I met you in china at global sources in person for the first time and you're just a wealth of knowledge and, and I was so stoked to go to India with you. And then, and then Covid, what happened? Right, that's what we all said. And then Covid, we've all said that it's crazy. So great to have you here. Michaela, Thanks so much for being here and Margaret, tell everybody a little bit about you. Yeah, well, thanks for having me, say me, it's not going to be here. Um Yeah, well I suppose started uh, oh my career, I've worked in managed businesses with my own businesses. So I've sort of had a pretty sort of, You know, business orientated career. But in 2017 we decided we started looking at doing some selling on Amazon and started off with china of course, and we're on our way to Canton to find some more products after in october that year. And we actually stop in Hong kong and found a really, really great indian supplier at the uh, one of the fairs there and look, the rest was history. We just went, we got to Canton and we went, what are we looking for here? We found our products, we're not going to really look so we spent a couple of days just moseying around Canton and went sightseeing for the rest of the week and started sourcing communities. So we've actually sold out about china products and started developing products from India and to this day I still got the same supplier and we've sort of moved forward with that. But in the meantime of course we met mega because we're sourcing communities, somebody um contact put us in contact with mega and she said come on our trip which was the trip of a lifetime. People, you have got to get on the next trip. I mean people say how good is it until you've done it. I can't even explain it. I've never had even a holiday that's been that well organized with the queen of organizing herself, Meghalaya. She was it was just unreal the trip and look we still talk about and it's funny, you know most of the people on that trip we still speak to regularly we message each other for our birthdays. We still we formed a little family I think so yeah and from there of course well you know the next trip was booked and paid for and we're all heading off and we've got canceled. So we started doing these shows and we've just you know what else can we do it because it's you know we thought we'll be going in april will be going, you know and it's just going on so you just gotta keep pivoting and I think you know we've done well and um got the indian sourcing network going and hopefully you know it's not as good as going to India but um it's a way for people to find products and and move on. So yeah, looking forward to going to India next year. Hopefully there's a cross, there are no people have been reaching out to me and because they can't unfair, you know, I have a little china trip, it's not a big china trip a little one. And people have been reaching out and saying, hey, are you going? And because they can't unfair just recently said that they were going to do it in person. And I wrote an article for already expressed because you know, people were asking questions like who's going and how do you and the, I think what we didn't expect is that when can't unfair announced, okay, they were going to do it in person right this time. I think that was right before we had the peak again of covid numbers going back up again. And so, you know, I think they announced that and then everything kind of lockdown. So, But there's, there's a lot of restrictions. It's very hard you would have to add for at least 14 days onto the front end of your trip for quarantine rules and stuff like that. Um, and then, you know, there's really no guarantee like you have to have a specific vaccine that's approved by China. Um, and then on the back and there's some other kind of requirements to, there's no guarantee you could get out right. You know? So we were like, no, I mean if you want to go, here's the information of what you could do, but we won't be chartering a trip there. No. So how is it in India right now? Is it? I know that the numbers were kind of climbing recently and um, and they were kind of hitting their peak after us. Right? So how is it going in India right now with the covid situation? Well, it is improving a little bit as of now and a couple of months ago was pretty bad. Numbers were very high and um, you know, it was a lot of people are being affected and there were lockdowns and everything, but now things are sort of improving. In fact in Delhi they've announced that they're going to be reopening schools later this month. So that's a really good sign after almost a year or maybe a year and a half, you know, schools are going to reopen in Delhi. So that's a good sign. And the organizers of the Deli fare, which is the main export focused fair that we visit during the trip they have recently, just a couple of days ago announced that they are hosting the physical in person fair in october um, again, I don't think too many people are going to be coming in from overseas like in Ad can't unfair. They're also expecting mostly domestic people to come to the fair. Yeah, I think so the same for the deli fare as well, they're probably expecting maybe if there are sourcing agents that represent buyers or maybe, you know, some of the companies there have their own buying offices that their representatives, it's going to be mostly domestic and local people attending the fares. But I think that's a really good sign that, you know, these fares are happening can't unfair. Daily Fair. Global sources is also hosting their fair in Hong kong in october. They usually do three fares, but they've now compressed all of the three into one. So they're just doing, you know, one small fair. So yeah, hopefully this is a sign of good things to come next year. Yeah, I love that you pointed that out because I think also in the US, you know, things are starting to open back up again as well. I mean, I know we also had a trip plan to the las Vegas licensing expo and it kept getting moved and kept getting moved and then same thing traffic and conversions. A lot of people had tickets to that and that kept getting moved and now they're actually hosting and holding these conferences. So, um, it is still, it is still a concern, right? You've got a big group of people in a very contagious virus right now. So, you know, I know a lot of us went to prosper and got covid myself included, luckily there weren't too many major cases like, you know, nobody was, you know, massively hospitalized or your death as far as like, I know right? But um, but it's still a concern, you know, it's it's still, we still need to be careful and, but it's a promising thing, I think that like you said for domestically things are starting to open back up and people are getting out and they're going in there meeting and um yeah, I've really enjoyed the events getting back up to some of the events. Again, it's been a nice time. Also in terms of manufacturing, you know, we found that there hasn't been too much disruption this year for manufacturing of course, you know, factories had to be closed down in case there were, there was a case over there or in case some cities were in lockdown, the factories had to be shut down entirely. But overall what we found is that this year's suppliers were kind of keeping their factories open, but they were, you know, following all the different types of procedures and safe distancing and all of those things. Where as last year when there was a lockdown, there was a complete lockdown, like all factories were completely shut down and the whole country shut down for like almost a month. But this time the government has been a bit more cautious about, you know, announcing like a nationwide complete lockdown. So they've allowed industries and offices to function. Um, and so we found that most people, there have been delays in terms of the orders that people were expecting, but there haven't been um you know, significant factory shutdowns, that's what, that's what we found and Margaret, you can maybe talk about your own factory with nothing at all. No, look, not in this year, but I think back in May, they had like a bit of time where a lot of the workers had gone back to the villages, but I'm expecting my supply last thursday and um he's probably, I've got an order ready for christmas and it's hopefully it's going to leave today or tomorrow. Um but he said like they've probably they've struggled a little bit to just keep up because and of course, you know, they've been getting busier because, you know, we've been sort of directing a lot of work over there as well and I think so, you know, it's sort of given them a bit of a business first as well because we've, you know, people are now finding India and moving to India as well, but you know, he said he's been frantically busy and it's really good and at the moment, I mean, I can't complain for what they've been through to have my order ready now, I'm quite happy because, you know, I mean, I would have thought that the earliest would have been, you know, mid august anyone. So yeah, pretty good. I think, I think in terms of, you know, suppliers in china, it's similar, A lot of, a lot of workers did not come back. Um there's a lot of evolution that's happening in china in terms of factories selling their own products and so you know, it's changed a lot in terms of priorities I think for some of the factories but then also just the increase overall globally in um purchases and people getting into e commerce and all of that has really increase the workload of a lot of folks in china. But what I would love to ask and you know, I'll ask this to Margaret since you're kind of working through some shipments right now, how you know, we're being really impacted by the increase. Uh, there's container shortage and the increased shipping prices from china which seemed to be controlled by the shippers, like they're kind of able to set their own prices. Um, so how are you being impacted in India? Is that the same or not anywhere near as it is high shipping? Like the container cost, I've heard, you know, as you said before like china is like, you know 30,000 I think at the moment India is more like 10, 12,000 container. But I mean that's still is, you know, a huge increase in like I actually, because I get people to send me their quotes and look at the costs and I mean just for people's interests, just the shipping component part, I think the cubic meter rate went from like mine was $57 a cubic meter 12 months ago and it's now the last time I looked at was 260 there's a new increased do again today, wow. So it is, you know like it's a pretty, but I mean that's only the shipping component, it's not all the other add on. So it doesn't mean it's going to be that, you know, times that, but it's still a big, big increase and we know every fortnight they get a shipping increase. But I mean I think it's still the shipping lines are owned really by the same companies worldwide. So I think they're going to prospect but another actually was on a call with somebody last night and they said, oh well should we wait, do you think the prices will go down? Yeah, I'll just get out my crystal ball. I mean we're hoping that maybe India because we don't have the chinese new year rush and all that that once they get the backlog of the christmas shipping done that maybe India's prices might come down in the new year. And I'm hoping because I've just got another order that's ready and I said I don't have it ready till january please. I'm not paying for it in december. So you're hoping because I was just going to ask that to you ladies is in terms of, You know, shipping supposedly is supposed to normalize in 18 to 24 months um, oh globally right, so that gives us some idea like we're going to be in this situation for about two years. And so when we look at I know at least the folks that I know and myself included were ordering a little bit more inventory. I tried to get myself out in august, I've still got one thing that left I think this week and my shipping costs for it was like six grand for 2000 units which normally it's like two grand for just for shipping. So I mean for me to take up a part of a container it wasn't it wasn't that bad, it wasn't like $24,000 but still you know it's definitely increased. And the way I was able to get a lower rate was to go through the supplier because I think they already have reservations on some of these um uh in some of these containers already, so I was able to get a lower rate that way. But the question is you know, what are you what are you seeing people doing? Are they thinking about raising their prices? Do we think there's space to raise prices or do you think they're just going to sell out? And if they can't source again like they can't restock for a reasonable price? Um Do you think they'll raise their prices then or you think they will not? I mean I was talking to my buddy Carlos the other day and he said you know some of my brands, I'm stocking them up right now I've got a lot of inventory, but when that inventory runs out, if if shipping doesn't normalize, I'm not gonna I I don't think the market is going to take necessarily an increase in price. I'm just gonna let it sell out and I'm going to move a lot of my, I'm gonna start sourcing a lot of new products kind of building up brands in a different way and sourcing new products from the U. S. And latin America. So you know trying to stay local so that you don't have a lot of shipping costs, right? But that's not easy either. You know, you have to completely change your brand. You're focusing your products, there's a lot of things that you can get in the U. S. For example. But you know, you need to switch to like food products and stuff like that. So what are you seeing across the border? Are you guys seeing people are planning on raising their crisis, do we not? Really, no. Yeah. Look, do you want to go with that or you go ahead? Yeah. Well look I think well personally I mean when I look at it, my sort of if my quote comes in at what I'm thinking it's going to be, I'm probably up on average I mean overall my products probably about $4 a product. I mean some I could probably sustain the two or $3 price increase but some you know, you've got to look at each and each and go, you know, who's my competition? Um, you know, can that, is that sustainable? Can I do it or not? But I mean, I'm hoping that a few more people put their prices up, but I just, I found in one of my niches that everyone's got quite a price war happening and some people, like, I've got a product that I sell for 49 95 there's been people, so, you know, 48 were all were around the same price. Some of them are selling for 28 95 I'm going, why, what is going on here? Like to me, I don't understand that theory. I mean, they are chinese suppliers. I've gone and investigated. So it seems to be whether they're trying to get rid of the other people who, you know, they've got cheaper shipping rates. I don't understand it at all in that, in those niches. So I think it just depends what nature in whether your nation can stand, you know, maybe a diocese to someone the other day, maybe put it up a dollar next month and try and all of the next month and try and over the next month and see if that slow price crease can happen. But I actually, I had a product last year that I ran out of stock at this time. So I just evaporated in a small shipment And of course it was an extra $5 a product. So I just thought I'm still going to run out of stock the way it's going because it was sort of going quite well. So I put my price up $5 and my price is still up $5 today because it really didn't affect, You know, I mean, it may have maybe I just sold more, but hey, I don't care. I'm making $5 extra. It's pretty easy money. So, um, you know, you don't know until you try it. I think that's, I think that's great advice. And I think the other thing that people should be thinking about is, you know, there's going to be a lot of people who keep their price low and run out of stock and aren't going to be able to replenish with the same reliability in the same price. So, you know, just like when I used to do reselling and retail arbitrage, you kind of can play the game. You can let the, the special folks kind of get a run out of stock and then you can, you can raise your price and be the only one selling. You know, and I'm not saying to gouge people, you know, but you can utilize some of those tactics, raise your price a little bit like Margaret saying, you never know, raise that a dollar here, raise that a dollar here and speak, see what happens right to see if it's still selling. And then when other people in your market run out of stock, because they're selling at these rock bottom prices, you're the only one, the only game left in town and you're selling like grade at great prices. I think overall prices are going to go up. Like, if we look at Ashley furniture is one of the largest importers in the US of furniture, right? And one of the biggest movers of container and containers and furniture has already gone up like double three times. So it's like across the board, most goods, the prices are going to go up. So I would encourage people um to not necessarily pay attention to that factory who wasn't making any money and it was like, remember a consumer, as long as they as long as it's not outrageous, right? And then they're seeing the value for what they're paying. They will usually pay more and they'll actually perceive your brand and your product at a higher value simply because of the price and the presentation of it. So, I love that tactic. I think it's really smart to not be afraid to just try it, right? You're gonna give it also. Yeah, I think you're right. I mean, everybody's in the same boat, right? I mean, everybody is experiencing the same type of shipping cost increases. So, um ultimately, you know, it has to maybe be passed onto the consumer or you have to kind of discontinue the product altogether. And uh I think a lot of people are also reviewing their products to see you know where they can maybe um how they can reduce the production cost over all of the products. I'm also seeing, you know cos talking to their suppliers and trying to figure out, okay can we make this you know smaller, Can we reduce the you know, width of the wood for example, over here? So I see a lot of people kind of talking to their suppliers should try to come up with ways to reduce the overall production costs because yes the shipping component we can't control but we can control the production costs. So you know that's what that's something that you could consider as well. Just talk to your supplier and see if there is a way to maybe use a different material or change the functions features of your product to kind of get a lower price and not such a great point my glove and not to mention also changing your packaging dimensions or the way that your product collapses down. That can save you a lot of money. We have a product that we just folded it differently. It's a foldable product and we folded it differently and the packaging, it reduced us and it saves us $10 in Amazon fees per product. So it's like, jeez that made a huge difference. Like really brought our margins up and hear all we did was just try to fold it differently and put it in a poly bag a different way where we used to roll it? And it was like really long and that put us in a different category. So uh yeah there's lots of things that you could do and we should be looking at, where can we move the needle? You know, maybe we need to focus in on our advertising in a different way, Maybe we need to reduce the cost of production. Maybe we could move, you know, so moving production to India for example is a great opportunity sometimes in other countries, you you know in china often you have to order larger quantities because it's bigger factory stuff like that. And what I love, you know, I've been trying to move some of my stuff to latin America. I was talking to a factory in Mexico today um and I was first of all surprised that I could even find it but um in Mexico what or latin America often the problem that people have is that these factories are not china. Right? So they can only order in smaller quantities. Um but production is very fast and it can be in the US in 2 to 3 days after production. Right, So you can really, you can order smaller quantities. It's perfect for micro brands, Perfect people that don't want to have to order 6000 units and leave it sit there? Right, so how is it in India? Can we order smaller quantities across the board? And how is that going for shipping? Are we able to maybe we can find the same or similar product in India? Can we reduce costs that way? 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.