August 16, 2018 by Andrew Minalto - 32 Comments
FINALLY: Quick, Easy & Cheap way to pay suppliers in China!
I have some really good news to share with you—some REALLY good news! I have been waiting for this moment for years now and it has FINALLY become a reality. Transferwise is now supporting USD payments to China! BINGO!
This means we no longer have to overpay our banks for sending USD to our suppliers in China, and don’t have to use shady online currency exchange places, etc. It’s all gone, forever! We can now make simple, quick and cheap international USD payments to Chinese suppliers (and many other countries), and all for a very low fee with guaranteed currency exchange market rates!
If you have been importing your products from China, you will know that banks can charge £20 or even £30 for international bank transfers to China—even if the amount is very low, like £1000. Plus, they never use actual market rates for exchanging GBP to USD (the market rate is basically the BEST exchange rate you can get, which gives you most dollars for your pounds). That means that you’re overpaying twice:
1) The high fee for making the payment
2) The bad currency conversion rate (which can be as much as a 2% difference)
Combining these two, you can actually lose 5% (or more!) on a GBP to USD conversion and transfer to China, which is SHOCKING! Obviously, the more money you send, the lower the percentage because the transfer fee per £1 decreases as the sum increases. Still, why pay even 3% to a bank when you can put that money in your pocket? Exactly!
As small business owners, we are always looking ways to save money and efficiently cut costs, and bank fees and transfers are an area where you can cut costs with absolutely no impact on your product quality or customer service. You should never be overpaying on fees and you should always seek out the cheapest, most efficient cost-saving processes for services that don’t affect your customers. (more…)
August 9, 2018 by Andrew Minalto - 12 Comments
My July 2018 Amazon UK FBA Update:
RECORD £20,992.27 in Sales + Prime Day SUCCESS!
Another month has come and gone. While the majority of people are enjoying their summer holidays, since mid-July, I have been spending most of my time in the office working on various business-related tasks. Of course, I could opt to extend my time off, but as I explained in my June update post, it does not bring out the best side of me. I feel so much better now that I’m back in my routine and making consistent progress on my business every day.
Also, there’s that great feeling inside that comes from knowing that I’m working while everyone else is holidaying. Maybe that sounds weird and maybe you feel the opposite way? Why should I work when everyone else is partying in Ibiza? It probably depends on how you look at things. For me, this feeling is magical—it seems to me that I’m getting ahead and will eventually be rewarded for doing this in the future.
It’s a similar feeling that I experienced 15 years ago when I was spending ALL my free time—evenings, weekends, holidays—learning about online business and e-commerce while my mates were hanging out, binge drinking every weekend, and basically living through the best time of their lives (probably). Back then, it also felt like I was doing the right thing. Even though it was hard work and I was missing out on some fun, I knew that I would eventually be rewarded for my sacrifice, and I have definitely enjoyed the fruits of that for many years now.
I really like how Gary Vee talks about this concept. He explains that TRUE success is created in July/August. While the majority of people are taking off time, you take this time as an opportunity to work even harder towards your dreams! And then, by the time Christmas comes around, you can relax and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Nothing could be more true when we talk about Amazon businesses. Now is the perfect time to work on planning your sales for the holiday season, do your market research, find new suppliers, etc., so that you are months ahead of everyone else and don’t have to panic to get your stock in on the last week of November!
What am I trying to prove with this? Nothing! Just that working during the summer months can also be very satisfying if you look at it from the right perspective. Making progress while everyone else “sleeps” is a GOOD THING, in my opinion, and if you’re doing the same: congrats and well done! (more…)
August 2, 2018 by Andrew Minalto - 4 Comments
How to LEGALLY buy 5-STAR product REVIEWS on Amazon.com for your FBA Listings!
When you’re are starting a new listing on Amazon, the biggest problem you will face in terms of sales conversion rates is product reviews. More specifically, a LACK of product reviews. Let’s be honest: a listing without reviews can look like a ghost listing. It almost looks like the product is out of stock, and this dramatically reduces your chances of getting good sales from day one.
We’re used to seeing product reviews and using them to inform our online purchasing decisions, so our unconscious mind has been programmed to seek out listings with reviews on Amazon. But it’s even more important than that; as online buyers, we have learned to quickly scan these reviews and pick only the listings that have a higher quantity and quality of reviews for comparison. We automatically click on listings in search of those that have best reviews first. It is only when we can’t find what we’re looking for that we will click on other listings in the search results:
Don’t believe me? When was the last time you bought something on Amazon from a listing with no reviews? Can’t remember? Me neither.
It’s possible that I have done it on a few occasions, but only if there were no alternatives OR it was a well-known, branded product so I wasn’t unsure about the quality. Plus, when I see a product being fulfilled by Amazon, I trust that I will get it and I will get it on time.
But, in general, a brand-new listing without any reviews has a much smaller chance of converting well. How much smaller? Amazon itself says that:
A listing with just one review will perform 3.5 TIMES better than a listing with no reviews—and I believe that data! In my experience, a listing with 100 reviews will perform at least five (if not more) times better than a listing with no reviews at all.
As you can see, it’s not a question of whether you need to get reviews for brand-new listings; it’s a question of HOW to get them and how many! In my experience, even 2 or 3 reviews can dramatically increase your conversion rates (and Amazon data proves that with the 3.5 multiplier), so that should be the minimum you’re aiming for. (more…)
July 24, 2018 by Andrew Minalto - 14 Comments
My June 2018 Amazon UK FBA Update:
£100K in 6 Months!
I know, I know. You have all been waiting for this post for the last two weeks. The truth is, I really struggle with my work ethic during the summer months—especially with the exceptionally good one we’re experiencing this year! I know that it shouldn’t be an excuse for a business owner like me, but something magically happens to my brain in the summer. It simply goes into “lazy” mode and, without fail, my productiveness goes down.
Of course, each year, I try in vain to fight this natural urge to relax, but, as you know, when you are the boss, when you set your own hours, it is actually very hard to do. Yes, even though I’ve been in this position for soooooo many years, I still have to fight myself to get back to work and keep my motivation levels high. To be honest, it actually gets worse on some level when you reach a decent level of financial independence; it’s very, very hard to make money your main motivator when you’ve already got a good income coming in each month.
And there’s another thing: this year, this summer, I’ve come to realise that I’m a routine person, which means that I perform at my BEST when I’m in a set routine each and every day.
What do I mean by that? For me, routine means:
- Waking up at the same time every day (6 AM)
- Going to bed at the same time every day (10 PM)
- Eating three healthy meals every day, at the same time each day
- Going to the gym or doing some sort of sporting activity every day
- Being outside for at least a few hours every day
There are a few other nuances, but you get the point. When I follow this routine, I’m the most productive, HAPPIEST, healthiest version of myself. I know that for some people this may seem like a strict military regime. You might think, “where’s all the fun?” The truth is, there’s lots of room for fun in those 16 hours between sleep and three healthy meals—trust me! 🙂 And I’m not saying that this is what YOU should be doing. I’m just saying that this is the way I keep myself feeling my best and most productive—and summertime, long evenings, and dinner parties have ruined that routine for me. Truth be told, I’ve even struggled to put this blog post together…
Anyways, I’m rested, rejuvenated and ready to get back on track with my routine. Enough partying; I’m ready to do some SERIOUS WORK! And there are lots of things to do, as you will find out later in today’s blog post. Seriously, I can’t wait until September starts, the kids go back to school, and the sun goes down before my bedtime.
Now, let’s get back to business—that’s what you’re here for, right?
For those of you who are first-time readers of my monthly results update posts: in these posts, I cover just one of my Amazon businesses. I detail how many sales I have generated, how much money I spent on ads and so on. I highly recommend you check out my previous posts in this series to learn more about the business and results so far. (more…)
June 21, 2018 by Andrew Minalto - 38 Comments
How to START Selling on Amazon US FBA from the UK!
As I covered in my previous Amazon UK FBA business update post for May, I have finally started selling my products on Amazon.com too, which is by far the world’s biggest Amazon marketplace! Many of you asked me afterwards for more details about how exactly to start selling in the United States because, while there are many online guides covering this topic, none of them truly give a complete and thorough overview of every step of the process from a seller’s perspective.
And that’s where I come in, right?! Today I want to give you a step-by-step walkthrough of how to start selling on Amazon.com using FBA! The principles will be applicable to sellers who already sell on Amazon UK (or any other Amazon European marketplace), but the same rules and steps will also apply to sellers who are just starting out. In this post, I will assume that you already have a product to sell and understand the basics of how Amazon FBA works.
Also, as you saw in my previous post, my US launch was actually much smaller than the UK launch I did in Autumn 2017. By that I mean, in my first month on Amazon UK, I broke £12k in sales. In my first month on the US platform, I made just $3k or so in sales.
This is quite important to understand: while Amazon.com is a much bigger marketplace with much greater demand in most product groups, it also has much more competition. You’re competing against much bigger players with a lot more resources!
So, unlike the UK platform where you compete with, say, 20 other sellers in your category, on the US site, you suddenly have to contend with 200 competing sellers! And it’s not easy, even for seasonal sellers like me. (more…)
June 5, 2018 by Andrew Minalto - 10 Comments
My May 2018 Amazon UK FBA Update –
£15,639.46 in SALES and £3,942.98 in NET PROFIT!
Another month has ended and, as usual, I will share my latest results from my Amazon FBA journey. Hopefully, seeing these real numbers will inspire some of you to take action and learn something new along the way.
In terms of sales, May has been a very steady month—very predictable and slightly boring at the same time. It is in months like these that I start to get a little bored by the business to some extent. By that, I mean I have pretty much done all I can with these products on the Amazon UK platform and have reached a sales level that will be very hard to break, because:
1) Demand for this product is “fixed.” I can’t magically increase the demand just because I want it to happen. There is simply a certain number of people each month who will search for these products on Amazon. Some will buy from me; others will buy from my competitors. This overall demand is steady, and that threshold is not something we, as sellers, can do much to change once we reach a certain level.
2) I have optimised my PPC campaigns to a good standard. There are always ways to improve ad campaigns. I will continue adding new keywords as I find them, manage bids, etc., but all in all, I’m already covering all the major keywords related to my products. It’s not like I can just discover some “magic” keywords that unlock lots of additional traffic (or at least not at a good cost).
3) My organic rankings are very solid too. I’m not number one for my main keywords but I’m in the Top 3, Top 5, etc., which is good enough for me. The thing is, I will probably NEVER be number one in the search because the prices I charge for my products are higher than the market average—and that’s fine by me! (more…)
May 24, 2018 by Andrew Minalto - 45 Comments
How I LOST 7 Months and $805 Registering
a TRADEMARK for Amazon’s Brand Registry!
Today, I want to share my story of how I wasted 7 months and hundreds of pounds on registering a trademark for Amazon’s Brand Registry, which, at the end of the day, turned out to be totally useless! This story just shows how fast everything changes and that you can never rely on old information when it comes to things like this. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Brand Registry Overview
For people who are new to Amazon selling or even for active sellers who are still not using Amazon’s Brand Registry, I highly recommend you sign up! It’s the quickest and easiest way to protect your brand, enhance your listings and unlock additional features in your Seller Central account.
Brand Registry is a place/service where Amazon allows genuine brand owners to register their brands.
After the registration process is complete, you get benefits like:
- Protect your brand from being used in other listings, act on copied products, help with finding potential infringement, copied images, logo and other elements.
- Gives you the option to use Amazon Stores. (Awesome!)
- Gives you the option to use Enhanced Listing descriptions. (Awesome!)
- Gives you the option to use Headline Search ads. (Awesome!)
So far, I have not personally had any experience with the brand protection side of things (hopefully, I will never have to do that), so I can’t comment on that. BUT for me, as a seller who creates amazing brands and wants to showcase my products in the best possible way, the most important and immediate benefit of being part of the Brand Registry is the ability to use Enhanced Listing descriptions (or Enhanced Brand Content Detail Pages, as Amazon calls them).
What are they and why are they so important?
By default, when you’re NOT registered with the Brand Registry, you can only use a very basic version of the listing description editor—it’s just plain text! However, with the help of an online HTML editor, you can add some simple HTML tags to it (bold, bullet points, etc.) but that’s about it. Your product descriptions will still be just plain text, which very few people will actually read. Here’s how it looks on Amazon:
Now, when you get into the Brand Registry, Amazon gives you the ability to use their Enhanced Brand Content tool to create VISUALLY RICH descriptions!
This includes creating your very own layout from predefined blocks, like this: (more…)
May 10, 2018 by Andrew Minalto - 17 Comments
My April 2018 Amazon FBA Update –
£14,644.62 in SALES and £3,604.91 in NET PROFIT!
It’s time to do my monthly Amazon FBA business update for April 2018! As usual, I will show you my exact sales numbers, ad costs and net profit. PLUS, I’ll share my insights, lessons learned and my plans for the next month.
Before we get into actual sales numbers, I wanted to quickly talk about the business itself. Many blog readers have commented and asked me what products I sell?! For obvious reasons, I won’t be sharing that information with everyone—at least not for now. My blog gets more than 1 million unique visitors each year, so I don’t want to share my Amazon products as I know for sure that some will try to copy me and sell exactly the same product.
Not that I’m afraid of competition that much—this niche is already VERY crowded. However, because my product is THE BEST on the marketplace, I can still get very good sales, even when selling at the highest price. Sometimes even at double the price my competitors charge.
So, the competition is not what I’m worried about. I’m more worried about people trying to “cheaply” copy what I do. As they don’t have the knowledge or skills required, they will fail and say to me, “I tried what you do, and it doesn’t work.”
It does work, as proven by these monthly posts, BUT you need to have a certain skill set and know-how to do it all properly. How are you going to be able to compete, stand out from others, charge premium prices and be profitable, even after reinvesting a good amount of your profits on ad spend if you’re already taking shortcuts by copying someone else? If you put in the time and effort to build your knowledge and skills, it does work.
For this reason, I’m not disclosing this business on my blog, BUT I do show it in detail in my Amazon Sharks course. I actually use it throughout the course for all the step-by-step examples. So, if you’re interested in learning more about what I do, check out my Amazon Sharks course.
Also, regarding this particular Amazon business that I’m covering in these monthly posts series, there are some other things I want to clear up—especially for people who may be new to the blog and don’t know the history. This is NOT my whole business! I created this new Amazon account and new brand in Fall 2017 so I can document my journey from day one with a brand-new account and brand-new company to help show the entire process on my blog as well as for the Amazon Sharks course purposes. (more…)
April 26, 2018 by Andrew Minalto - 18 Comments
15 GOLDEN Tips to START a Successful Amazon UK FBA Business from SCRATCH!
Today’s post is taken from my Amazon Sharks course as I really wanted to share this information with as many people as possible.
These are 15 rules/lessons/mistakes EVERY newbie Amazon seller should be aware of! It’s not only about Amazon of course but rather eCommerce business in general and can be applied to eBay too for example.
I truly believe that IF you stick with these 15 rules, you WILL save time & money while achieving results much faster! So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Mistake #1 – Running before learning how to WALK!
If you’re totally new to the whole business model of selling physical products online, be REALISTIC about what you can and can’t do! Don’t try to create a massive empire in your head when you haven’t even sold one product on Amazon.
Dreaming BIG is all good, but you have to be realistic and start small, especially if your budget is very limited.
I regularly receive emails from people who actually want to compete with and BEAT Amazon or eBay by starting a competing website. They throw around the idea of no fees to sellers and what not.
These are REGULAR emails that I get, which means that a lot of people actually believe that they can beat these huge companies with their own website. While I won’t defend eBay and Amazon here, C’MON!!! You really think you can build a competing website when you haven’t done anything online and have a £1000 budget? Are you for real?
Another example that is specific to selling actual products online is people who spend months and even years planning out their massive empire of businesses they will have. They have purchased all kinds of domain names, like their brand name + sports at the end, brand name + home at the end, and so on. (more…)
April 19, 2018 by Andrew Minalto - 149 Comments
VAT for Amazon Sellers – The TRUTH No One Wants to HEAR!
Let’s talk about Value Added Tax (VAT) as it relates to selling on Amazon.
Recently, there has been a storm forming around this subject, especially after the infamous Amazon invalid VAT number email that I covered in last week’s post. I have received tons of emails from my blog readers asking one simple question: DO I HAVE TO REGISTER FOR VAT?
Since I am often responding to each individual with the same answers and information over and over again, I’ve decided to create a blog post that answers this question in as much detail as possible. I will cover as many scenarios as I can think of, so that after reading this post, it is 100% clear whether you, in your specific case, have to register for VAT to sell on Amazon or not. With that, let’s get started!
The Basics of VAT
VAT is something we all hear about and experience on a daily basis, whether it’s through business transactions, Amazon forums, retail shops, or invoices and receipts. VAT (Value Added Tax), as the name suggests, is a consumption tax based on the value of goods and services. This tax is used in all European Union countries, as well as many other countries. In Canada, for example, it is called GST (Goods and Services Tax), but the principle remains the same.
The VAT rate varies from country to country, but in Europe, it is usually around 20%. Here are a few examples of current EU VAT rates for 2018:
- Belgium – 21%
- Austria – 20%
- Denmark – 25%
- France – 20%
- Germany – 19%
- Ireland – 23%
- Italy – 22%
- Poland – 23%
- Sweden – 25%
In the UK, the rate is set at 20%, which actually puts us amongst the countries with lowest VAT rate. In the past, it has been even lower; prior to 4th of January of 2011, the VAT rate in the UK was just 17.5%, and there was once a temporary period where VAT was only 15%.
The VAT rate we are talking about here is the STANDARD VAT rate, which is the rate used on most everyday goods like:
- Home products
- Garden products
- DIY & tools
- Clothing & shoes
Basically, most everyday products that you see on Amazon or in your local Tesco will have the standard VAT rate of 20% applied to them. It is the rate you are most likely to encounter on a daily basis. (more…)