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andrewormes.com

Category: Personal Growth

Selling On Amazon and Sourcing Products From Alibaba

Alibaba is a PITA. More precisely negotiating with manufacturers on Alibaba is a PITA. I will go into my struggle and progress in this post and hopefully someone can learn from my experience so far.

If you are interested in sports clothing manufacturers stay tuned because I ordered samples from manufacturers and I will review them, pick the best ones and let you know who I am working with.

As mentioned in my previous post, I want to get out of eCommerce and I want to sell my main website this year. Right now it’s not worth as much as it should be and I am bringing it up to the point where someone will buy it for at lease $100k. That’s my goal.

To do that I will be utilizing three traffic sources, Amazon, Facebook and Google. All three places have the potential to bring in hundreds of sales every week.

I think Amazon is a big key to what’s missing in my business. I can get into how I’m going to use Amazon in another post which I will link here.

In short I am going to be sending products from China to the USA, to a FBA prep-packing warehouse, who will check the quality before they package my products off to an Amazon FBA warehouse. To which I can offer my customers next day delivery on sweet Amazon prime.

Sounds good? It will take at least two more months to get there depending on how quick I find the right supplier in China AND that’s not accounting for any hiccups that may occur along the way.

The main product I sell on  the website in question is T-Shirts. However the customers I sell to would also like athletic sublimation polyester polo shirts. With my designs on of course.

Unfortunately I know of zero eCommerce fulfilment companies such as Teespring or Gearbubble that offer sublimation polo shirts. This means I have to look for manufacturers who can.

I searched for manufacturers in the UK, USA, Australia and China.

From extensive research the polo shirt I would like my designs to go on has been created by an Australian company who I contacted and at first they wanted my business. Unfortunately the director of the company has stopped replying to my emails.

I gave him my design and he created a mockup that looked stunning which is so annoying. I felt like he teased me on this. He offered me $14 per polo shirt as well. I can’t describe how frustrating that is and I hope my design doesn’t start popping up on shirts for sale in Australia.

Mykel at http://aussiepacific.com.au I’m talk to you. I love your polo shirts, I know you can deliver so help me out. Pleeeease.

Next I found a company in the UK called Scimitar. A well known brand with lot’s of good exposure, who can make really nice shirts. 50 shirts works out at £17 per shirt ($21 a shirt), that’s £850 not including shipping to the USA. Anything above $800 worth of product passing through the USA I have to pay customs duty tax. So this is an added cost using this company. Ordering below 50 shirts and it becomes too unaffordable.

The benefit of using Scimitar aside from the fact they would look amazing is that I can go to the factory and inspect my order before I send them out.

To be affordable I had no choice but to turn to Alibaba who have thousands of manufacturers and what seems to be hundreds of companies who can make my polo shirt. The downside is finding a good one that ticks all the right boxes.

I have been shopping around for a manufacturer who can recreate the polo shirt I like. The problem… Every manufacturer you contact can make your product. I think if you ask a company that specializes in making curling irons and ask them if they can make your polo shirt, they’ll say yes I can easily and “best quality too!”

Today is a very special day because after what seemed like forever I finally ordered my first sample an hour ago. It’s taken me four weeks. Four long weeks to get to the point of paying for a sample. Negotiating paying for a sample has taken one week. I don’t know why the Chinese make it so hard to do an easy thing.

I won’t go through every detail but all I will say is the manufacturers on this website can be stubborn. I always try to leave my ego at the door when I go into negotiate a sample (and my future bulk orders) but it almost seems like they don’t want my business. It’s like they don’t realise I have hundreds of other people I can give my money too and they don’t care if I go somewhere else.

One of the things I ask for is a reference. I don’t care if they have been a gold member for 8 years an they have inspection checks and trade assurance. If you can’t give me a reference then we won’t do business. (This was my headspace going into this four weeks ago.) I think I read it on a website when doing research, if they can’t provide a simple reference then it’s a red flag. So I was adamant on speaking to a reference.

You have to remember that this is my first time ordering on Alibaba and I don’t want to be another scam story. If they can give me a reference that I can contact and that reference is real, has a legitimate website and responds to my questions with good answers, then we can do business (so you would think)…

…I have contacted over 40 manufacturers this month and only two have given me a good reference. One manufacturer got close to a sample but at the point of payment he refused to do a Paypal or Trade Assurance with me. He wanted me to pay through Westen Union. To which I told him to F*CK *** but in a nicer tone of course. We went back and fourth but he refused to do Trade Assurance WHICH he offered on his Alibaba profile page. Slightly annoying.  So much time wasted.

That’s Kevin at http://www.starbesports.com/.

I’m not saying Kevin at “GuangZhou Starbe Sports” is a scammer. I don’t know and I’ll never find out because I am not going start a relationship that ends up with me sending thousands of dollars into someones bank account and I am not covered. Red flag? I tried explaining to this guy but he refused to do Trade Assurance. He told me to come back when I’m ready to do business. Such a shame because he did provide me with a reference. Out of the hundreds of manufacturers to choose from, I chose YOU.

It must be me?

The only other sports clothing manufacturer to give me an amazing reference was Doris from Passion Sportswear. Shout out http://passionsportswear.com.

It took us a couple of weeks but one Paypal invoice later and we’ve got a sample in the works. I cannot share the reference she gave me but this reference was GOOD and their products looked GOOD. The only problem is she’s slightly more expensive than others I have spoken to, however I want to see her sample which cost $50.

I can’t say Doris is a slam dunk to work with just yet. She’s yet to prove her services to me but I am hopeful and time will tell. I will come back and update you on that. I wish I could show you my sample but it will give away my website.

What to look for when looking for a manufacturer on Alibaba.com?

I am an not an expert, far from it. I am yet to receive my first sample however I recommend you check out Andrew Minalto who seems to know his stuff. Andrew has answered questions for me within 24 hours of contacting him. He has helped me out a lot. I definitely recommend you check him out. andrewminalto.com/alibaba-scam-exposed/

I myself look for companies with gold supplier and trade assurance badges. I like to see that their premises have been checked by Alibaba and they have a decent volume transaction level. Then the big one for me is getting a reference which is very very very very very very VERY hard to get. If you do get one it’s normally rubbish.

One manufacturer gave me a reference who just ordered his first sample and hadn’t done his due diligence by the looks of it. That person must have more faith in people than I do because the company had no trade assurance or transaction volume. It was not the reference I was looking for.

I am looking for someone who’s ordered in bulk and they’ve worked together for a long time and has good things to say.

I contacted Andrew Minalto about my reference problem and he said it’s common for manufacturers to not want to give references, 1) because they don’t want to give away their customers and 2) because their customers don’t want people to know who their suppliers are.

I get it, it makes sense however the thought of sending a company thousands of dollars halfway around the world to a stranger who could just walk away with your money is scary. Talking to a reference who vouches for a company absolutely helps with trusting them because you know they’re legit. It doesn’t mean to say they can’t pull a fast one BUT it helps me to trust them in the negotiation process.

Since talking to Andrew however, I am letting my guard down. I am in talks with a few other manufacturers who tick all the right boxes everywhere else. I am in the process of ordering samples and I’ll go from there.

Aside from wanting bang my head against a wall some days, looking for manufacturers on Aliaba has been lot’s of fun. It’s new to me so it’s a good break from the usual repetitive Facebook stuff.

As always this is not the end of this blog post I will come back and update as I move along in my journey.

I have called some manufacturers out in this post for good and bad reasons and there is a reason for that… When I was looking for reviews of manufacturers I found NONE. Out of over 40 different companies I found nothing on Google. So I am leaving company names and websites on this article so people like me who search for reviews will hopefully find this article and will get an idea of who they are. You can contact me as well if you like.

As I use more manufacturers and continue through my process of finding the perfect polo shirt I will list the companies I use for samples and my opinion. Doris at Passion Sportswear seems like a good choice so far and I can’t wait to make an update with my review of my first ever sample from Alibaba.com.

Speak soon.
Andrew Ormes.

I Am Selling Out

flipsite
Back in the dark days of 2009 when I was struggling and I first found this thing called internet marketing, the first thing I learned was how to flip websites on flippa.com.

I didn’t exactly master my craft but I flipped websites none the less. My best result was creating an MMA website and selling it for $369. It only took a few hours to create. I was so happy. Apart from the listing fee and domain fee it was all profit.

Recently I have been looking at this site called Empire Flippers: http://empireflippers.com

A lot of websites sell on there and they sell for lot’s of dough. This is because only serious buyers and sellers are allowed access.  All websites are vetted thoroughly before they go up for sale which means buyers know they’re the real deal and therefore websites are sold for lot’s of money.

I really hope they let me join the club.

Basically if you have a website making $1000 or more profit a month they will sell it for roughy $20,000. They typically put websites up for sale at 20x it’s monthly profit earnings.

I’m getting a bit sick of the eCommerce game. I want to free up some time to really dig into getting better at copywriting, affiliate marketing and CPA. That’s where the big money is and it’s fun digging a knife into peoples pain emotions and wiggling it around.

Yea… you also help people solve their problems along the way too BUT Influencing cold traffic to take action and buy a product is fascinating to me.

So it’s a decision of mine that I want to sell one of my eCom sites, free up some time and get a big wad of cash that will fund my education and mentorship. I am giving myself three months to sell out.

Three months to make as many sales as possible…

Empire Flippers look at your past 12 months and your previous three months and estimate the value of your website. The goal I want to sell at is $50,000-$80.000 but I think realistically it could be around $15-000-$30,000. We’ll see what happens over the next few months.

I will come back and update this post as I progress along.

Practice The Strategy Of Preeminence

Here’s an example of me trying to live by Jay Abrahams teaching…

This is a true story of something that happened recently. A customer ordered from Australia in November when I was running a Black Friday sale. Seven weeks later he still had not received the order.

The items were sent via Fedex and the tracking number was showing it was undelivered. The guy contacts me asking where the items are. I send him a prompt refund and contact my supplier who refunds me for the items. I lost that sale.

The customer contacts me, thanking me for the prompt refund and says he wants to order again, can he get the same Black Friday discount he got on his original order. This is something I could not deliver on as at the time of his order I cut my prices by 40% because my supplier cut his prices by 50% which allowed me to run my offer.

I couldn’t fulfil this request because I would be losing money instead of gaining money. Now you might say I lost a customer but I offered him a 20% discount instead and he replied saying he’ll order in a couple of days.

I could have left it there but then I thought about the strategy of preeminence. I am supposed to be looking after my customers and do whatever it takes to help them.

So I emailed the customer back and said instead of him having to pay high shipping fees from USA to Aus and having to wait weeks for your items to arrive again via Fedex, how about I send you the .png design files for the shirts and you can find a local printer. Now he can get them printed for next to nothing and have them within days instead of weeks.

Let me be clear, I made no money on this order and I have just given a customer two design images that have made me thousands of dollars in t-shirt sales.

I made him promise to only get them printed once as these are images I own and are property of my business.

Of course he loved the idea and said he would only use the files once.

These were meant to be a Christmas present for his wife who as it turns out has ordered several shirts from me previously and a couple of mugs. I didn’t know this but now I am glad I helped him out even more because I know this is a story he will tell his wife and his wife will tell the story to all her friends.

How many companies do you know that would do this? You might think I’m stupid for doing this. Maybe I am but I feel good doing it and my customer is ecstatic. So I think overall it was a good thing.

The funny thing is I don’t advertise my website in Australia. I don’t know how his wife found my website in the first place. I also don’t really care if he printed 10 shirts and sold them to her friends. Not that he would. I believe he will actually just print what he needs.

Even if he broke his promise it’s not the end of the world. It wouldn’t affect my business one bit. If anything I think it will actually help it in the long run. He has two designs and I have another ten designs his wife doesn’t own yet. When his wife wants another swimming shirt, guess where she’s going to shop… With me of course.

Anyway I thought this was a good story kind of relevant to strategy of preeminence mindset.

Watch the video and try practicing it in your business as well. There’s no harm in treating our customers well.

Dammit I keep calling them customers and not clients! Sorry Jay, one step at a time. I’ll get there eventually.

2015 Fourth Quarter Wrap Up

2015 was a bumpy ride. Generating money in the ecom department didn’t flow as easily as I thought it would. I started selling shirts in 2014 which was my first time I ever tried selling physical products online.

Prior to 2014 I was a struggling affiliate marketer who had just quit his job to travel the world. I put my goal of travelling ahead of my business goals because it was time to have fun. Eventually 2014 came around I landed back in London and Don Wilson landed on my Facebook newsfeed. I bought his product and six figures later I moved into building my own e-commerce stores.

A lot of 2015 was slow for me. I am stubborn and with my stubbornness I cut off my nose to spite my face. I would not let go of my previous successful niches and venture into bigger and better things. Instead I stuck with my niches which still generated money BUT the audiences don’t venture outside of a 1,000,000 people. You can’t have 10,000+ teespring campaigns from small audiences.

So I stuck with what I knew and continued to stay within niches that brought me my riches from 2014. Not a bad thing but if you’re in the t-shirt business you know as word spread of the success people were having the competition grew. Copycats were round every corner and finding ways to hide your campaigns for as long as possible was more and more important. The money was not as fruitful as it was in 2015.

Fourth quarter could not come fast enough. November and December rejoiced me with the five figure months I once knew existed.

Was it my mind set? I think it’s partly to blame. Once your stuck in a rut it’s hard to get out. I won’t bang on about it but I sucked at selling items while everyone else around me in Facebook groups were having six figure months (in revenue anyway).

Luckily good old surveying my audience (that “thing” I always bang on about) saved the day. Running into December I asked them what their favourite phrases were and built shirts around what they wanted. This gave me some successful shirts and one really successful shirt that is continuing to sell successfully into 2016 with no sign of slowing down yet. The rest of the money came from relentlessly emailing previous buyers every day. Sales rolled in and the bank account grew. Finally!

For me Shopify is a far superior way to run a business than with Teespring. Teespring is more a handsfree model because all you have to do is send traffic to a URL and let them handle the dirty work. However my problem with Teespring is that people are going to find your winners no matter what. I know there are shopify spying tools out there but less people are going to find your best selling items. If you sell 20,000 units through a Shopify store no one knows unless you brag about it or they find your viral posts on Facebook. Sell 20,000 units through Teespring everyone knows how much you sold because it’s displayed on the campaign page. It’s not long before you have 1,000 copycats selling your shirt without thinking twice about it.

So 2015 was wrapped up nicely with a sigh of relief and overall it’s been a good year. I have learned a lot. Going into 2016 I have the knowledge to make it a great year financially, just got to wake up and get it. I also hope to take more holiday this year as it’s my 30th.

Not sure what else to add except it’s time for bed. Tomorrow it’s back to cracking into the big niches. 2016 is not going to be about the little niches with a 1,000,000 audience. I want a piece of the pie that comes with niches that have over 50,000,000 people in them.

 

 

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