Zero to Hero Brand Evolution

Brand Building Essentials Checklist

Brand Building Essentials Checklist – Last week we introduced you to our overview of the Zero to Hero blog series. In today’s blog post, we will cover the areas you need to focus in building your brand from the start. The phrase “Build a Brand” gets thrown around often and most people know that having a brand is essential, by implementing these features, you are guaranteed to have a good foundation to build a global brand.

Before I get into this first blog post I wanted to give you an overview of whats coming and what the main milestones are in this series. Some of those topics are super exciting so make sure to share this blog post and stay with us until the end of the project

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Building a Brand    

❏ The importance of building an Ecommerce brand

❏ Choosing a brand name & why it’s crucial for long term success

❏ Creating a Logo

❏ Choosing a slogan that fits the brand

❏ Creating a story behind your brand

❏ Brand Design 101: Brand colours, fonts & mood/voice. Consistency is key.

Business Incorporation   

❏ Why incorporating is essential for your business )

❏ Where to incorporate. Pros and cons of each + which one is better for e-commerce.

❏ Currency accounts / Comparison of each & why it’s essential to not lose money in exchange rates.

Choosing a Product  

❏ Product Research Guide

❏ Industry Research & Demographics 

❏ Competition Analysis

❏ Identifying flaws in competitor’s products & making your product better.

❏ Private Label vs Own Design and why being unique is better.

Manufacturing  

❏ Complete Guide on Manufacturing Overseas

❏ Certification

❏ Materials & components to avoid when starting

❏ Contracts – Protecting your brand 

❏ Choosing a supplier

❏ Ordering samples & how to test each sample effectively

❏ Product Design Guide

❏ Mould Process Guide

E-Commerce    

❏ Why having your own website from day 1 is essential for your brand

❏ A look at Ecommerce platforms & what do they offer. Which one we recommend for beginners.

❏ Building you store

❏ Email Marketing & Building a List      

❏ E-commerce SEO and how to drive traffic 

❏ PPC Overview

❏ E-commerce blogging

❏ Why good product descriptions is key to success

Social Media Marketing   

❏ Setting up Social Media

❏ Gaining Exposure

❏ Social Media Marketing

❏ Connecting with Authority in your niche

Inventory Storage   

❏ Fulfillment Centres – What they are and why they are essential for your growth

❏ List of fulfillment centres

❏ Fulfillment centres vs FBA 

Branding your Product      

❏ Product Photography

❏ Custom Packaging – standing out from your competition

❏ Shipping Boxes

❏ Insert Cards & Marketing Materials

❏ Customer Service & Experience

AMAZON 

▪ A guide on using sellers central platform effectively.

▪ Amazon Sponsored Products – A guide to PPC and how to optimize your listing based on Amazon ppc Results

▪ Customer Service – How to handle different customer issues and respond effectively.

▪ Amazon Deal Guide – Lightning Deals – Prime Day – Black Friday Deals. How to apply and maximising profits during deals. We will also explore how to run deals outside of Amazon to your listing.

▪ Amazon Vine and Giveaway Program – An explanation and overview if it’s effective for your business.

Retail & Wholesaling  

❏ Finding retailers & distributors in your niche

❏ Create a catalogue

❏ Contacting retailers

Going Forward 

❏ Expanding to other countries

❏ Maximising other sales channels

❏ Creating a product line

❏ Exhibitions & Tradeshows 

❏ Outsourcing

Now let’s go into today’s post.

The Key Areas To Building a Brand

Choosing a Brand Name

This will be the main feature besides the logo of your brand, so it must be chosen carefully. Brand Names can be mainly classified into 3 main categories:

1. Niche Specific – Example: Joe’s Tea Company 

This choice is fine if you’re planning to exclusively sell within one specific niche or main category. However, as your company grows, it is essential to expand into different areas of one category. 

2. Category Specific – Example: Joe’s Beverage

This option is ideal if your main focus right from the start is to grow your brand to dominate your niche. By not limiting the choice of products in the brand name you can diversify according to the market at that time. Targeting multiple sub-categories within a niche is essential(as we will learn later on in the series) because you can target multiple keywords within that niche.

3. Unique Brand Name – Example: Empower Drinks

This gives you the most freedom for your brand, as you can expand and release products without being limited by the brand itself. However, a lot of effort must be made to get the name out there and customers won’t start associating your brand with a specific category in the short term. The best benefit of a unique brand name is that you have complete control, this is especially true if trademarks, domain names and other intellectual property is available for you to register.

Ultimately, a brand name goes down to preference. All three choices require effort, a line of successful products and excellent customer service to succeed.

Logo Design 

The logo, in most cases, IS what makes the brand. It is the key feature with which your customers will identify your brand. Before hiring a designer for your logo, here are some key aspects your logo should include:

Simple but Detailed

A logo shouldn’t be too complicated as it can be distracting, especially when it comes to products. Think of the products you will release, or plan to release on the market, it is likely your products will be made of different materials(wood, stainless steel, fabric, etc.) and a variety of methods of application(embroidery, engraving, stamping, etc.). A great logo will make your products stand out more and its a great way to start building a brand.

Colour Scheme

Ideally your brand shouldn’t have more than 2 or 3 colours in all of it’s branding. This applies to all aspects of the brand. In the pictures below, you can see how all the major brands pick one main colour and focus all their branding on it.

Image Source: The Logo Company

Here is how certain colours effect Men and Woman. Depending on your niche, this may prove helpful in the design process

Image Source: Entrepreneur.com

Demographics

 

Make your brand appealing to the audience you’re targeting. Audience segmentation will be helpful in targeting the right demographics that may be interested in your brand through advertising and social media. The main demographics you should be interested in are:

1. Gender: Male or Female

2. Age Range

3. Location – Country and State/Province

How ImportDojo Applies Branding

As you can see from the image above, Import Dojo implements all key elements when it comes to branding. The brand name in itself has great relevance to its audience. The logo is fairly simple and recognizable, with few, but bright colours. 

However, what makes the brand in this case, is the story of how Import Dojo was started and why Manuel had the idea to start the blog. You can read more about it here.

Products, even if essential, are only one aspect of the brand. When you combine the same concepts throughout your website, social media and packaging; that’s when a brand truly starts to distinguish itself from the competition.

The Hard Truth: Branding Takes a Long Time To Be Effective

Unfortunately, the not so sexy part about branding is that it takes an unbelievable amount of work, consistency and time to see the rewards. Nonetheless, people are more likely to buy from a company that offers a unique experience to its customers. The whole point of the series is expand your brand to multiple sales channels and expand globally.

While Amazon will still be the main sales channel, having control over your brand, customers and products is going to be the only way to succeed in the future.

 

Conclusion

This was only a brief overview and guideline on the process of kick starting your brand. We hope this blog post was helpful in guiding you in the right direction. the upcoming weeks blog posts, we will dive deeper into:

– Choosing a great slogan and how to make a slogan that fits your brand.

– Brand Story – How stories can help your sales and connect with customers.

– Finding a Designer – The questions to ask before hiring a designer and what to look for.

 If you have any questions or you would like to know in more detail, please leave a comment below.

All the best,

Duncan

https://importdojo.com/importdojo-masterclass/

Zero to Hero Brand Evolution

How to build a brand – Introduction


How to build a brand. My name is Duncan and I have been an Import Dojo Master Class member for the past 8 months. As mentioned in the previous blog post, I will be making a blog series on how to build a better brand and provide an in-depth guide on tools & strategies to help sellers expand beyond Amazon.

The Idea Behind The Series and Course

Over the last month, many established and new Amazon sellers have experienced several changes on the platform – both positive and negative. The biggest change was the update in Amazon’s review policy which made launching a new product much harder.

That’s when the idea of the Zero To Hero blog series came up. Both I and Manuel realized that to succeed on Amazon, you need to have: 

●      A good product

●      A strong brand

●      Multiple sales channels

Over the past few months, we have explored different strategies which will help you not only become a successful Amazon seller, but also gain exposure globally.

Aim For Long Term Success: Building a Strong Brand with Multiple & Global Sales Channels

The main aim of the blog series is to go from idea to a strong, recognizable brand in your niche. Unfortunately, a lot of entrepreneurs are focusing solely on the Amazon platform. While it may be the easiest and the lowest barrier to entry; there are many disadvantages:

●      No control over your brand since the customer belongs to Amazon       

●      Amazon has made several changes which affected sellers badly   

●      Building a business on one income stream is never good   

●      Higher competition & lower pricing   

●      Some markets are saturated

In Zero to Hero, we will go over other E-commerce platforms, both in the US and in other countries. The series will provide an in-depth guide on which channels work best, including marketing strategies for each, including:

1.     Which E-Commerce platform to use to build your own online store

2.     Expanding in the US beyond Amazon, this will include stores such as Walmart and also small retailers(How to find them & approach them)

3.     Selling in Japan & EU

4.     Product branding – How to custom packaging, handling customer service & inserts

5.     Social Media Marketing – A deep look into Adwords & Facebook advertising for e-commerce

6.     Outsourcing & Building a Team – Where to find Virtual Assistants and which tasks make sense to outsource.

This is only a fraction of what will be included in the full blog series. Below is a representation of what Zero to Hero will offer. In the next blog series, we will have an introduction on what makes a successful brand and how to apply it to your brand or product.

An Overview of Our Blog Series


 
 

Please feel free to share and comment if you have any questions or if you want something included in the series.

All the best and happy selling 🙂

Duncan

https://importdojo.com/importdojo-masterclass/

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How to import to the US for international sellers – ship to Amazon directly

Two of the questions I receive the most is: “Can I sell on Amazon US as an international seller” or “Can I send my order directly from the factory directly to Amazon? and “Can I ship from China to US directly?”

Yes you can!

This prompted me to do a write up on the topic and without further ado, here’s a quick guide for you that hopefully answers your questions:
You basically have four options:

  1. Using a customs broker acting as the ultimate consignee (No EIN needed)
  2. Using a courier service like DHL/UPS/FedEx etc. (Amazon’s EIN recommended)
  3. Using a prepping and forwarding company that acts as the ultimate consignee (NO EIN needed)
  4. Using a forwarding company/customs broker when delivery by regular Air or Sea shipment (not by courier) and acting as the Importer of record and ultimate consignee yourself (Amazon’s EIN needed)

In all cases I still recommend you to get your own US Tax Payer Number or also commonly referred as EIN.

Simply follow this link for information and call the number mentioned under “Apply by Telephone – International Applicants”. It’s a very simple and straightforward process that takes about 10-15 minutes.

https://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/How-to-Apply-for-an-EIN

Some important reminders:

1) Not all customs brokers can act as the ultimate consignee. The ones that do usually offer services on top to act as your ultimate consignee:

2) Very Important: Never put Amazon as Importer of Record on any document. In case you send goods directly to Amazon only use them as the ultimate consignee but never as the Importer of Record otherwise they will definitely reject your shipment.

3) One thing that is super important if you decide to send products from China to Amazon without any stop in between (Prepping, Labelling or Quality Control company in the US):

HAVE AN INSPECTION. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have an inspection before sending anything to Amazon directly.

I know that many buyers have an inspection in the US. But what if the goods are defect to such an extent that you can’t rework them in the US? Are you going to send them back to China? Unlikely.

Save yourself this step and have the inspection in China with a reputable Inspection company like http://www.asiainspection.com

If there’s anything wrong during the inspections you can still have them re-worked in the factory directly.
On top of that you protect your initial deposit to the factory by having an inspection.

4) Also make sure you comply with Amazon’s packaging and labeling requirements (weights, labeling & carton measurements). Amazon’s fulfillment centers prefer palletised shipments but you do have an option to send the shipment un-palletised. There will be an option in Seller Central when you create your shipment that allows you to choose the option of un-palletised shipments.

5) Do as much labelling and prepping in the factory as possible!

Your factory can take care of all the labels and prepping needed for Amazon, you simply need to give them clear instructions when you place your order.

6) Think hard about “inventory placement” that lets you ship from China to one Amazon warehouse only.

This costs 0.3$ on top of the product cost but it might be worth it considering that you only have to invoice once. On top of that shipping companies charge extra for each set of documents on various levels and it is complicated to instruct your supplier to ship to 2-3 different warehouses. Think about all the labelling and coordination that has to be done with the supplier. However if you ship to multiple Amazon warehouses, have each order palletised for each warehouse while in China, so that you’re not using U.S. labor to de-consolidate a shipment and re-palletise goods.  You’ll also have to book the ground shipments after your ocean shipment has arrived, which adds complexity to the process

Lets look at each option in detail:

1) Using a customs broker acting as the ultimate consignee

There are several companies in the US that can act as your customs broker and ultimate consignee. If they offer to be a ultimate consignee they usually add a few services on top that they are looking to sell to you such as:

  • Clearing customs
  • Receiving cartons (LCL, LTL or UPS/DHL etc.)
  • Apply shipping labels
  • Ship to Amazon
  • etc.

This can add up in costs on top of your product but they’ll make sure that items are properly packed, labelled and cleared by customs as an ultimate consignee.

I’ve been contacted by http://www.westernoverseas.com a Third-Party Logistics (3PL)/Prepping/Customs Brokerage company based in the US and they had such a detailed process lay down in PDF that I decided to post them (with permission). Credit of the following content goes to Westernoverseas however please note the entire process is the same for other 3PL companies as well.

Why do I need a Customs Broker?

If your shipment is arriving by Regular Air Cargo (not by DHL, UPS, or FEDEX) or Ocean cargo, you will need a Customs Broker to clear the shipment on your behalf. All shipments must be cleared through Customs. Certain commodities are also subject to the regulations of other government agencies such as FDA, USDA, DOT and EPA. Please check with your Customs Broker for import requirements. Please do not ship without doing your research!

What type of Services does Western Overseas offer?

  • International Freight Forwarding (Shipping) – by Air and Sea
  • Customs Brokerage
  • Domestic Delivery from port to final US destination
  • Amazon FBA prepping
  • Warehousing

Should I use Ocean or Air Shipping?

Your decision should be based on how quickly you need your shipment and how much you’re willing to pay.

  • Ocean shipments are less expensive but take longer to arrive. The costs are generally 1/2 – 1/3 the costs to ship by air. You should figure approximately 3 – 4 weeks’ lead time.
  • Air shipments are more expensive but are faster to arrive. You should figure approximately 3 – 5 days’ lead time.

If I choose Western Overseas as a Customs Broker, how do I open an account? Is there a fee?

There are several forms that you must complete to set up an account. Please contact us at Ecommerce@westernoverseas.com. We do not charge a fee. However, we may charge for a consultation fee if extensive research on your product is necessary.

What is an EIN Number? Do I need one?

As a foreign importer, you do not need an EIN number for Customs Import purposes. You may need one as a seller on Amazon for State Tax purposes. Please check with Amazon and/or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You will be assigned an Importer Number by customs which will be used in lieu of an EIN Number for the purpose of the Customs declaration. You can be an importer without an EIN#. Customs will assign to you an Importer Number.

But you still need a Customs Broker and an Ultimate Consignee with an EIN#. If you use our FBA Prep Services, we will act as your Ultimate Consignee.
If you are U.S. based and are intending to import under a Corporation, then your EIN number will serve as your Importer Number. If you are U.S. based and are intending to import as a Sole Proprietor (e.g. John Doe dba ABC Importers), then your Social Security Number will be your Importer Number. If you are U.S. based and are intending to import as an Individual (e.g. John Allen Doe), then your Social Security Number will be your Importer Number.

What is a Customs Bond and what is the cost?

Customs requires that a bond be posted with every ISF and Customs Entry to ensure that all duties, taxes and fees owed to the federal government will be paid. An Annual Continuous Bond can be purchased for $500 (through Western Overseas) and it will cover both your ISF filings and Customs Entries. Having a Continuous Bond also reduces our ISF filing fee by $25. If you choose not to purchase a Continuous Bond, you have the option of purchasing Single Entry Bonds for ISF filings and Customs entries. This can become quite costly especially if your shipment value is high or is subject to other government regulations such as FDA. Furthermore, the bonding companies only allow a maximum of “5” Single Entry Bonds for ISF before the importer is required to purchase a Continuous Bond. You would be saving money in the long run. However, if you are planning to import only once, then a Single Entry Bond might be for you. Single Entry Bonds are subject to a $25 Bond Processing Fee. Our Bond costs are below:

  • ISF Bond: $75
  • Customs Single Entry Bond: $6.50 per $1000 of the shipment’s declared value + duties/taxes (minimum charge of $65). For OGA (other government agency – i.e. FDA, USDA) regulated commodities, the rate is $6.50 per $3000 of the shipment’s declared value + duties/taxes.
  • Customs Annual Bond: $500

What happens after I place an order with my supplier?

The process will depend on the terms of sale between you and your supplier. But the following steps are what typically occur for Regular Air and Ocean shipments. The below excludes shipments sent by Air Express Courier.

  • Production begins (seller might send you a sample for approval)
  • Determine if you will be using the services of an inspection intermediary service such as FBA Inspection, Earth Class Mail or Western Overseas.
  • Seller arranges the International Freight Forwarding if his cost includes this (CIF terms); if his cost does not include this, then you are responsible for arranging and paying for the freight.
  • Your supplier may have a couple of shipping companies to refer you to or you can obtain a quote from Western Overseas. If the latter, seller will provide you with the cargo details which you will pass onto the forwarder giving you the quote. You will also want to include the U.S. destination address – whether it’s Amazon FBA or the Intermediary Inspection service of your choice.
  • Hire a Customs Broker if separate from the Freight Forwarder.
  • Get ISF details to Customs Broker (ocean shipments only)
  • Shipment departs
  • Send copies of all shipping documents to Customs Broker
  • Shipment arrives
  • Customs clears
  • Our invoice is paid
  • Shipment is delivered or dispatched

It is your responsibility as an Amazon Seller and Importer to know Amazon’s FBA requirements.

What is Importer Security Filing (ISF)?

There are 10 key elements about a shipment that must be transmitted to Customs at least 24 hours prior to the vessel’s departure from origin through Importer Security Filing (ISF). This filing provides information to Customs regarding the impending import shipment. Your Customs Broker is the most ideal party to handle this transaction. If the filing is late, misfiled or not filed at all, then the importer will be penalized a minimum of $5,000 (max $10,000). Customs requires that all ocean import shipments have an ISF filing whether or not it is late. Otherwise, your shipment will not clear Customs. A late filing or non-filing of ISF also guarantees that Customs will examine your shipment.

What is a Harmonized Tariff Code (HTS)?

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS) is the mechanism by which international tariffs are standardized. If you ship items overseas, you are required to classify them according to the harmonized system. Each country has its own Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS).

The description and coding system of global tariffs is an internationally standardized system of names and numbers for classifying products. The first 6 digits of any HTS Code is (in theory) the same for any country. Beyond the six-digit level, individual countries sometimes have different rules for classification. Importers and Exporters the world over must classify all goods moved across international borders using the Harmonized System of the country of import. Every item you sell must be assigned an HTS Code according to the Customs tariff schedule of the country from which you are selling. Each HTS Code has an applicable duty rate. HTS Codes are sometimes referred to as HS Codes and Tariff Codes.

What is the time length for my shipment to be cleared by Customs?

We must allow Customs at least 48-72 hours to clear a shipment, although it could be less.

Why did Customs put a hold on my shipment? I have never had a problem with my DHL/UPS/FEDEX shipment before.

Please bear in mind that Air Express Shipments are treated differently by Customs. They simply move too many parcels on a daily basis for Customs to be able to monitor each one. And because Customs allows Air Express Couriers to clear an entire manifest under their own name and bond, it’s possible that your previous shipment may have just flown under the radar.

With regular Air and Ocean cargo, there is always the possibility of a Customs Exam which may cause a 3- 5 days delay in release. Any exam related charges will be the responsibility of the Importer of Record. Customs exams are generally random unless they have had a recurring problem with the manufacturer, the importer, and/or the commodity. That said, please ensure your product and its labeling comply with Customs laws prior to shipping.
What information do I need to provide Western Overseas to obtain a quote?

For a Customs Brokerage Quote:

  • A full description of the item(s) you are intending to import – i.e. General Description/Name of Product, Function, Material/Composition, Declared Value, Unit Value, & Country of Origin.

For a Freight/Shipping Quote:

  • Terms of Sale (i.e. FOB or Ex-Works)
  • Address of your Supplier
  • Port of Loading
  • Number of cartons
  • Dimensions of each carton
  • Weight of each carton
  • First U.S. Delivery address

For Amazon FBA Prepping Services Quote:

  • Total Number of Cartons and Units
  • A detailed scope of the services you require – i.e. Check for product and package damage, Apply FNSKU labels, Bundle, Insert Cards, etc.

What other fees should I expect?

If you using the International Freight Forwarding Services of another company, then you can expect charges due to their U.S. agent. Your shipment will not be released from custody until those charges are paid. Western Overseas can pay those charges on your behalf for a fee of 1.5% and include them on our final invoice. Other fees may include Customs Exam and related costs and Storage/Demurrage Fees.

Who should be listed as the Notify Party, Consignee, Ship To?
If we (Westernoverseas) are hired as your Customs Broker, we should always be listed as the Notify Party.

Western Overseas Corporation
510 Myrtle Ave. Ste 208
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Tel: (650) 952 – 2955
Email: Ecommerce@westernoverseas.com

If you are a U.S. based importer, the Consignee’s name and address will be your information. The Ship-to party will depend on who will be receiving your shipment immediately upon release from Customs.
If you are a foreign importer, the Consignee and Ship-to parties will depend on who will be receiving your shipment immediately upon release from Customs.

My supplier is asking for Shipping Marks. What are Shipping Marks?

Shipping Marks are printed on the outside of each Master Carton of your shipment. They should contain the information that will identify your cartons from cargo belonging to others. The suggested marks would be:

  • Your Company Name
  • Carton Count – e.g. Carton 1 of 10, Carton 2 of 10, etc.
  • General Description of item
  • Country of Origin
  • Any special handling instructions – e.g. This side up, Handle with Care, Fragile, etc.

What shipping documents do I need to provide to Western Overseas (or other 3PL)?

  • ISF Details (for Ocean shipments only; we must receive this at least 72 hours prior to the vessel’s departure from origin)
  • Ocean Bill of Lading or Air Waybill
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • The above documents are obtained from your supplier. If you use our Int’l Freight Forwarding services, then our overseas agent will supply us with the ISF details and the Ocean Bill of Lading.

When do I pay Western Overseas ((or other 3PL) and what type of payment is accepted?

Payment for an Annual Customs Bond will be due upon receipt. Payment for Customs Brokerage services including duties/taxes, delivery, freight, etc. will not be due until your shipment has cleared from Customs and is ready to be delivered or dispatched.

We accept the following payments:

  • Credit Card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express)*
  • Wire Transfer**
  • PayPal*

*subject to a processing fee

**full invoice amount is due without any deduction of your bank’s wiring fee
June 2015

—End of content from Westernoverseas—

If you are interested in their fees and other services here’s the contact information:

Susan Park
Business Development Specialist
Western Overseas Corporation
11605 Pike St.
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
Tel: (562) 985-0616 x5069
Direct: (714) 243-5069
Fax: (562) 364-7798
Email: Susanp@westernoverseas.com
Website: www.westernoverseas.com

2) Using a courier service like DHL, UPS, FedEx etc. (EIN recommended)

Air Express Courier shipments sent via DHL, FEDEX, or UPS are different. Customs has special regulations for them where they are allowed to clear entire mass quantities of shipments under their own name and Customs bond. They simply move too many parcels for Customs to be able to clear every single one. Therefore, they are authorized to clear shipments that are on one cargo manifest of low-risk up to values of their own discretion. They also won’t ask you to apply for a customs bond or filling an ISF. They provide a one-stop solution and are therefore more expensive than forwarding or logistics companies/customs brokers.

You simply be the Importer of Record with your foreign address or you can subscribe to services like http://www.usamail1.com/ to get an US address (not obligatory) and apply for an EIN here (obligatory if you want to be the ultimate consignee): https://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/How-to-Apply-for-an-EIN

3) Using a prepping and forwarding company that acts as the ultimate consignee (NO EIN needed)

There are several services around that receive your goods (where you act as the Importer of Record) after cleared by customs. For example if you send in your order by courier (DHL etc.) and then want them prepped, labeled etc. you can use prepping companies that can also act as your ultimate consignee. These guys are similar like the first example but usually don’t clear customs for you. You can act as the Importer of Record with a foreign address and will be assigned an Importer Number by customs. Once the prepping, labeling etc. is done these service provides will send in the order for you to Amazon.

4) Using a forwarding company/customs broker and acting as the Importer of Record yourself (Amazon’s EIN needed)

If you send items by Air or Sea the regular way (meaning no courier like DHL, UPS etc.) you will need a forwarding or also referred to as Third party logistics company (3PL) that can act as both the forwarder as well as the customs broker HOWEVER not as the ultimate consignee.

In this case you will be the Importer of Record and Amazon will be the Ultimate consignee. You don’t need an address or bank account in the US but you will need an EIN number of the ultimate consignee or Importer of Record. You can contact Amazon for this information but your Customs Broker should be able to obtain this information for you.

I also heard that sometimes Amazon refuses your goods if you don’t provide your own EIN but I haven’t found anything to the contrary.

You simply be the Importer of Record with your foreign address or you can subscribe to services like http://www.usamail1.com/ to get an US address (not obligatory) and apply for an EIN here (obligatory if you want to be the ultimate consignee): https://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/How-to-Apply-for-an-EIN

There’s one more option. If you know someone in the US who is willing to receive your order as the Importer of Record providing his EIN number you can go that way too. But I recommend you pay all fees upfront so your friend/acquaintance doesn’t have to bear them.

Miscellaneous:

I do recommend you to apply for an EIN for general tax reasons and to comply with IRS regulations. Amazon can track your sales tax back with you and your country of origin.

If you want to learn more about the process and import from China professionally please check out our ImportDojo Masterclass here:
https://importdojo.com/importdojo-masterclass/

I will be adding over 20 hours of new material to the class in February 2016 increasing the price in the process, so act soon.

Hope this helps and if you found this article helpful please share below trough social media 🙂
All the best and happy sourcing,
Manuel

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How-to-steps when prepping and labeling in China

How to label your Amazon FBA product in China – Today I wanted to walk you through the process of placing the order with your factory and which steps you need to take to guarantee safe delivery.

The following is crucial when you start out and are looking to save costs because of a tight budget or wanting to learn the ropes when it comes to working with factories in China.
I actually recommend that you handle your first order with factories in China yourself so that you are aware of all the steps that need to be taken.

As time passes and you enlarge your assortment you should be focusing on developing your business, adding new products, travelling to exhibitions and you will have less and less time to manage your factory orders.
At this point I recommend you to let professionals in China take care of your orders who have been doing this for years, actually sitting in China, easing the communication with suppliers because of the same time zone and local language but many more reasons.

WIthout further ado here are the steps to be taken that I go trough once we I am ready to place an order to a factory:

Step by step guide when shipping directly to Amazon:

Once you have agreed on all terms with the factory (price, MOQ, etc.) you should request the Proforma Invoice and below details.

STEP 1: Creation of Product Listing

  1. Supplier must send you all details concerning the product and its packaging in order for you to create a listing on Amazon (if you haven’t done that yet) This includes:
    – Product pictures (if they don’t have good ones you should ask for a final sample to be sent to your photographer of choice)
    – Product measurements and weights
    – Packaging unit measurements and weights
    – Export carton measurements and weights
    – Factory address and contact details (needed to create the shipment plan on Amazon)
    – Die-cut of the packaging (in order for you to create an artwork –if needed)
  2. With these details you then need to go onto Amazon Seller Central and click “add a product”. Ideally your items are unique therefore we recommend you to create a new listing.
  3. Latest at this stage you will need to purchase either an UPC (for the US) or EAN barcode (for Europe).
  4. Create the general product listing with the details that you have from the supplier. Please note that you do not need to enter all bullet points or descriptions at this point. You can do so while the product and order is being placed.
  5. Once you have finished the product listing Seller Central will automatically take you to “send & replenish” meaning that you are now in the process of creating the shipment labels and plans for this product. If it does not take you there automatically please go to: “Manage FBA Inventory” in the tabs on Seller Central. Tick the product listing and select “send/replenish”. If the product is not there yet give it about an hour before the listing shows up.
  6. Now you will have to create the shipment labels for the factory to apply to your cartons.
  7. To do so you will have to follow the instructions of Seller Central and populate the fields accordingly.
  8. Enter the units per case (export carton) and number of cases (export cartons). You can gather this information from the packaging & units per packaging that the supplier sent you under step 1).
    For example:
    If you order 1000 pieces of a garlic press. The supplier will give you the unit per packaging and number of export carton. For example the supplier packs 50 pieces in an export carton meaning there will be a total of 20 export cartons (1000 units in total). Enter this information in the fields.
  9. Under “prepare and label products” choose “Merchant” in both cases. Meaning the supplier will apply the labels for you at the factory.
  10. The next step will be to “complete shipment”.
  11. Once you press complete select: “work on shipment”.
  12. You will now be asked as to how things will be shipped.
  13. Select SPD (Small parcel delivery) if cartons are below 20 pieces and or weight of total shipment is LESS than 150LBS (75KG).
  14. Choose Shipper as “other”.
  15. Select LTL (Less than truckload) if shipment is more than 20 cartons and or total shipment weight is MORE than 150LBS (75KG)
  16. Select “multiple boxes” under shipment option or “more than one SKU per case”.
  17. Select “webform”.
  18. Enter the units per case (per export cartons) and number of cases (export cartons) as well as the weight. Again this is the information that you receive from the supplier under Step 1.
  19. Check all information is correct and confirm shipment.
  20. You will now be able to print shipment labels.
  21. Click on “print labels” and save the PDF on your computer.
  22. Send this PDF together with further documents under Step 2 to the supplier. (send once you have completed all steps to avoid dripping information to the supplier as this irritates them).

STEP 2: Logo’s/barcodes/insert card

  1. If you have your own logo or artwork for the unit packaging send the logo in .AI or .EPS file to the supplier.
  2. Advise the supplier where you would like to have your logo placed onto the packaging. E.g. if you want your logo on top of the packaging and the barcode underneath tell them so.
  3. If you have no logo advise the factory only to print the barcode on the unit packaging. However I recommend you to have at least a written company name on the unit packaging.
  4. If you have UPC or EAN barcodes that you purchased under point 3) above send these barcodes in .AI or .EPS file to the supplier.
  5. If you have your own artwork design of the entire packaging send the entire artwork including barcodes, logos, photos and description. The supplier should be able to send you the die-cut that you need to create an
    artwork under point 1) above.
  6. If you have no artwork designed and only wish to ship the product in a white box with logo and barcode on it advise the supplier of this.
  7. If you wish to include an insert card that for example has your company name and instructions on how to use the product send the insert card to them.

STEP 3: Order placement and order instructions

  1. Before you place the order and get started with production I advise to send all files as described above in one go. Again, this should include:
    – UPC or EAN barcode
    – Export carton shipping labels
    – FNSKU barcode that you can print in the shipment plan under “prepare and label products”. This is only needed if for example you are re-ordering or listing your product under an existing item on Amazon.
    – Artwork design (if any)
    – Your own logo (if any)
    – Insert card (if any)
  2. If any of the above is applicable but missing from your side I recommend to collect/prepare all information first. However in most cases you can send artworks and insert card to the factory at a later stage but should not later than 25 days before production.
  3. An example email of how to instruct a supplier with labels can be found here: https://importdojo.com/how-to-properly-place-an-order-with-factories-in-china/ 

STEP 4: Order placement

    1. If you have not placed the order yet now is the time to place the order together with all your documents as described above and instruct the supplier accordingly.
    1. FNSKU/UPC’s etc. need to go onto the gift box/unit box. Usually at the bottom of the box or a small side
    1. Shipping labels need to be put onto the outer side of the export carton. Seller Central will give you a PDF with a number of all labels (according to your order quantity)
    1. Pallet labels apply when you ship by pallets. This is usually recommended above 20-30 cartons.
    1. The supplier should now arrange the order and production with your above instructions.
  1. Follow up your order and book inspection, shipment and final samples if necessary

Most importantly: Have an inspection!

I know,I know I keep saying it but yet I still hear so many horror stories in Facebook groups that people didn’t have an inspection. When you book an inspection (and those services start at 100$) you can instruct the inspector to check all of the above to make sure the supplier followed them through.

If your supplier forgot labels, barcodes or insert cards for example this can be found during an inspection. You want a hassle free delivery to Amazon’s warehouse and an inspection is therefore a must.

Monitoring your order is very important to keep the supplier engaged with your order and not to miss important deadlines.

Here is an overview of how we at ImportDojo handle order follow up after Step 4:

STEP 5: Follow up
1) We will now keep you updated with the order completion date as well as any inspection date
2) We will keep you informed on the shipment booking and arrangement
3) We will advise you when inspection will be done and when the result is out
4) We will advise you when inspection is pass, shipment picked up and on its way to Amazon. If inspection is not pass we will inform you immediately and work together with you to find solutions. In 90% of all cases if the inspection is not pass it is only because of minor defects like scratches.
5) If inspection is pass we will inform the shipper to pick up the goods.
6) The final payment of the order is now to be made to the supplier (usually the remaining 70%) before shipment is released from the supplier.
7) A shipping company that we recommend will now pick up the goods and arrange the transport as well as appointment booking with the Amazon warehouse. If you wish to have the goods delivered to your own warehouse or other address please tell us once we place the order to the supplier.
8) We will inform you once goods have landed in the US and are to be delivered to Amazon.
9) You should get a notification from Seller Central as soon as goods are being checked-in.

All done!

Please note that you should advise your supplier before hand that he has to print labels and stickers to be put on your packagings export cartons BEFORE receiving the Proforma Invoice.
If you tell the supplier at a later stage that there will be labels and stickers to be applied they might charge you more.

More information and email templates on how to properly place orders in China also here:
https://importdojo.com/how-to-properly-place-an-order-with-factories-in-china/

Hope this helps you guys in determining what you need in terms of labels, insert cards etc.
Please feel free to share this post 🙂

All the best and happy sourcing,
Manuel

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Be a part of history! Libellum – instant supplier verification

Hey folks,

I’ve mentioned it in my previous blog posts that I have been working on a big project and I didn’t want to announce it before we wouldn’t have at least some partners on board already – and now we have.
The day has come to reveal what I’ve been working on. Without further ado I present to you: https://libellum.io (Latin for certification)
Before I get into the nitty gritty details of what Libellum is about I wanted to address why we created it. Let me ask you some questions first:
  • – Have you ever been in the position that you received a test report from a supplier but you weren’t sure if it is fake or not?
  • – Have you ever wondered when inquiring with a supplier on Alibaba or Globalsources if they are legitimate?
  • – Have you ever worried sending money to a supplier in China?
  • – Would you like to know with a simply click if a supplier is legitimate or not?
  • – Would you like to have the opportunity to see legitimate suppliers with a simple click on a platform?
If you answered any of the above questions with YES then Libellum is for you

What is Libellum?

 

Simply put Libellum is an interface that connects three parties via a platform: 

  • Suppliers
  • Buyers
  • Third Party test laboratories
E-commerce is growing rapidly. The need for verified suppliers from China is more than ever as many new and inexperienced buyers fall to scams of illegitimate suppliers. Libellum’s aims to connect buyers, suppliers and third party test laboratories (who issue certificates).

Take for example a foreign buyer who wants to purchase/manufacture a product in China for the first time. For him to verify supplier authenticity, He either has to hire a sourcing company with reputable suppliers, a third party testing and auditing company (e.g. TUV, SGS) or fly to China personally.

Furthermore, a buyer from overseas has to comply with international laws, product regulations and compliances set out by the governing bodies and authorities. The buyer has to either fully trust a supplier’s documents and certificates or hires a third party testing company.

Unfortunately, faking certificates is a common practice amongst dodgy suppliers.The only way for the buyer to verify the certificate validity is for them to call or email the third party that issued the certificate. This not only results in unnecessary costs to the buyer, but more importantly, reduces the trust in the system as the process is slow and time-consuming.

Libellum works to solve this problem by enabling clients to lookup a certificate or test report number (provided by a supplier) on Libellum’s interface. If said certificate has really been issued at some point in time the interface will have all the supplier and product information — that at some point has been verified by a third party inspection company. Hence the buyer can immediately verify the authenticity of the certificate via Libellum. Libellum will implement 2 core technologies to make sure the system is safe for the buyer:

  1. A digitally encrypted QR code that has all the supplier information and is verified by third-parties.
  2. Data is stored on Libellum’s blockchain, which allows for the data to be immutable and transparent.

Thus allowing buyers to purchase from verified suppliers. (Due Diligence on manufacturing process has to be done from the client’s side nonetheless with the supplier).

 Many customers have been asking how to verify a certificate/test report? While some Third Parties Testing Companies offer to verify these reports it is inconvenient and not always accessible.

Previously I would recommend a customer who asked me how to verify, to contact the issuing Testing company to verify. Moreover many local Chinese testing companies are unknown, issue reports in Chinese and are difficult to verify by a customer.

With the emerging Blockchain technology, our Libellum platform and partnering with Third Party testing companies this problem is eradicated. Now both suppliers and their test reports (issued by verified Third Party Testing companies) can get verified via the unchangeable and 100% safe Blockchain technology.

The aim of Libellum is to make information about manufacturers accessible in one platform. Currently, information and verifying a supplier (e.g. in China) is either hard to find, incorrect, or inaccessible. We aim to solve these major problems in the manufacturing and logistics industry.

Libellum Token & Pre-Sale Details

Libellum will run it’s pre-sale stage from the 20th August until September 20th 2018. Here are the details for our upcoming token sale:

  • Websitewww.libellum.io
  • Whitepaper
  • Total Supply: 100,000,000 LIB
  • Tokens Available For Pre-Sale: 40,000,000 (40% of Total Supply).
  • Libellum Ticker: LIB
  • Price per LIB token: 1 LIB = $0.08 (Pre-sale) 1 LIB = $0.10 (Public Sale).
  • Whitelist Registration

User case example

Say you want to purchase a product from China but you have little experience or no way of flying to China and verify a supplier on site. Most people head to Alibaba or Globalsources to find suppliers. Naturally you want to comply with your local regulations and laws and ask your supplier to send you test reports or certificates relating to your laws. Suppliers then send you test reports or certificates that claim their product are compliant to US/EU laws.

However you have no way of verifying this information and you’ve heard many times that suppliers can fake certificates. All you can do is to call or email the issuing third party test laboratory from who the supplier claims the certificate comes from. What happens next is mostly waiting or dead ends. In most cases after countless emails and unable to verify the authenticity of the certificate you give up or worse, blindly trust the supplier.

Libellum works to solve this problem by enabling you to lookup the certificate number or test report on Libellum’s interface. Within a few simple clicks you will be able to locate the certificate on the Blockchain meaning that the test report is valid and has been uploaded by the issuing Third Party test laboratory.

You are safe to purchase from this supplier because the certificates provided have been verified by a third party testing company. And only the third party has access to Libellum’s interface to upload certificates or test reports. Meaning this supplier really has at one point tested his products for compliance or has gone through an audit with a legitimate testing company. (Due Diligence with supplier management still has to be done from your side nonetheless with the supplier)

How do we get all the certificates on the interface and how can you trust them?

Simple. We already have and will partner with some of the largest test laboratories in the world. Through working in the import/export industry our CEO, Manuel Becvar has built a large and unique network with the Top 10 testing laboratories in the world. Ideally down the road we’ll add hundreds of testing laboratories to the platform/interface.

We are also working on partnering with the largest sourcing sites on the net. These sourcing sites can allow to post the digital code of the suppliers certificates (QR codes) on their sites and interested buyers can immediately verify via clicking the QR code and being directed to our interface/platform to check if the test reports/audits etc. are real.

Whenever a tests certificate/report/audit of a factory is issued by a third party testing laboratory it automatically gets uploaded to Libellum’s interface.

We are creating API’s for testing laboratories in order for them to upload certificates to our platform/interface. Saving us and them time in the process.

How do we guarantee that these reports are safe? We use Blockchain technology to ensure that reports are only uploaded via the third party test laboratory ONLY and no one else. Blockchain technology creates a irreversible entry onto the network.
Libellum won’t have access to customers and third party testing laboratories documents/reports. Only through the API used by the third party will test reports be uploaded. Eliminating the risk that suppliers upload fake certificates.

Who can access the database and view records? Anybody. We’ve created Libellum especially for buyers, importers, ecommerce sellers, retails consumers, regulators, customs and more. Never worry about fake certification any longer.

During the Beta phase where we upload (millions of) existing certificates and new certificates to populate the database/platform Libellum will be free to use by consumers.

Me and my team have worked tirelessly the last few months to put this together and we are now at a stage where we need YOU!

The concept is clear and we have already worked with Blockchain Developers to ensure this can be done. We have also partnered with large third parties because we obviously need their cooperation (they are the ones issuing the reports and uploading them to our interface). I have spoken to some of the largest buying offices in Asia as well as countless importers, eCommerce sellers and importers. They all want this to go live ASAP.

We are issuing a total of 10,000,000 tokens to early investors at a reduced price of 0.05$/1LIB). Early investors can purchase LIB tokens with a minimum investment of 5ETH at current ETH market rate.

For instituional/private investments in Fiat money (USD) investors can contact us at: info@libellum.io Once we receive your interest we will contact you back (only from info@libellum.io).

We will conduct a KYC/AML (Know Your Customer/Anti Money Laundering) procedure and upon successful approval send you more details on how you can become an Early Investor.

When we founded Libellum, our goal was not only to create the best Supplier Verification (bold) platform, but also to reward all those who believed in our company vision right from the beginning. As an early investor you receive a range of benefits as an appreciation for your contribution and trust in us.

By investing in Libellum, you will receive:

  • 50% bonus on the Libellum token ($0.05/LIB instead of $0.1/LIB)
  • Free membership for 1 year of the Libellum Platform once we switch to paying access only
  • Partner site discounts (announced at a later date).
  • Free manufacturer/supplier lookups for the first year.
  • Beta access.
  • As we get closer to launching Libellum, we will also announce further benefits since we are continuously forming partnerships with leading companies and products in the industry.”
  • A possible stake in the company or percentage of yearly profits to be determined by the amount of LIB tokens initially purchased is also in the planning after we launch the platform.

Obviously we are not simply creating a business model but we aim to solve one of the biggest problems in the import/export industry. Verification of suppliers with a simple click.

There’s a lot more to it of course. Libellum will not be just a simple interface but so much more. Imagine you could not just view supplier’s certificates and verify them but also FIND suppliers on our platform who have already been verified.
You could simply use our platform as a go to place when looking for new suppliers (that have been verified) already.

To view the platform benefits visit:
https://libellum.io

To read our technical paper and all details visit:
Libellum Whitepaper

We will release more information in the coming weeks. We’re extremely excited to make our Libellum project public and look forward to have you participate in our pre-sale and token sale stages.

If you want to request more information about the Libellum blockchain and token sale, please contact us at info@libellum.io or via our social media channels:

Thank you for your support!


© Libellum LTD. A Hong Kong Registered Company. Reg. Number: 69605504

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How to travel the world and make money along the way – GERMAN POST!

Hey guys,

Todays’s post will be in German because the review I made of the online course that will change income streams for Digital Nomads is in German.
 
My good buddy Bastian Barami from Officeflucht.de has worked tirelessly for the past 6 month on an online course that explains how’s he’s able to travel the world while making money along the way.
 
I know that because I was with him for an entire month when he was working on it. Not only did I witness him filming parts of it but I was there when he worked into the night for weeks.
 
Airbnb is not new but Bastian has approached the system from a whole other level. Within 3 weeks of setting up everything he was making money and had his Airbnb booked out for 3 months.
 
He became Superhost within 1 month and ranks one of his apartments at the number 1 spot on Airbnb in his city.
 
As I said, I witnessed him sweating blood and tears for this course and you’ll see what I mean by looking at some of the free videos that show the true quality and level of professionalism that Bastian put into this course.
 
I made a short review to show you whats inside. Check out the review for yourself below
 
 
Let me know what you think in the comments.
All the best,
Manuel
travel to China

Q2 update, Cryptocurrency gains & personal goals for 2018

As you know from my previous post I’ve taken a bit of a time out in Q1 of 2018  and travelled a lot. Last stop was Bali were we I had a bit of a workation with friends in the industry and where I also found my next project.

The Bali Digital Nomad gang 

After Bali it’s been a little quiet around me but thats because I’ve been frantically working on 1 big project.

So for the last 2 months I have been working on a few new projects but 1 big project that brings me back to my roots – importing from China.

I cant say much about it yet but I can already tell you we are in talks with big partners who endorse the project and want to see this get off the ground as soon as possible. This could revolutionise the importing/exporting industry.

I can tell you already that the company is registered, domain is bought and we are working on milestones and talking to investors. This is bigger than anything I’ve ever done but it is really exciting to work on a project this size. Best of all, it will help my community of eCommerce sellers and importers, namely: YOU. Stay tuned for more updates on this in the coming weeks.

So whats next?

I will continue to focus on this 1 project and be in Europe most of the Summer (1st June – 14th of September). I’ll be hiding in my sanctuary in Sweden for most of the time, visit family and friends in Austria, 1 conference I am attending and head back to Asia mid September. After that I am heading to Australia/Tasmania for 1 month with 2 of my best friends on a road trip.

Back to Hong Kong in October and then (still waiting for approval) hoping to join the Nomadcruise 7 in November (https://www.nomadcruise.com/nomad-cruise-7/).

I’ve heard a lot about the Nomadcruise and a few friends have been on it so I wanted to check it out. You are basically on a cruise ship travelling from Spain to Brazil for 14 days. There’ll be workshops and events so if you are looking to become a Digital Nomad this might be the best place to start.

I’ll be working on all my projects remotely. That’s the beauty of Entrepreneurship and the Internet. Meeting all these people on the road is great to expand your network and even find job opportunities or cooperations with other eCommerce entrepreneurs.

1 guy I met in Bali quit his job in August 2017 went onto the Nomadcruise 5 and found someone he’s is cooperating with and now living in Bali working on his dream.

How am I affording all of this? My remaining Amazon business is running on auto-pilot, the sourcing business (www.asiainwest.com) is running smoothly (check it out if you need help sourcing from China) and my online courses continues to grow in memberships (https://importdojo.com/courses/).

If you want to learn how I built my eCommerce brand, sell on Amazon and make an income check out my courses. Anyone can do this. I m not a rocket scientist and not the smartest person around to be honest but when I started my journey I read up on everything that I could get my hands on. In 2014 I didn’t even know how to build a website or run a blog.

Cryptocurrency

Another thing that gave me a bit of freedom and helped immensely to subsidise my Amazon inventory purchase is Cryptocurrency. Don’t laugh it off. I invested 600$ in July 2017 and made nearly 40,000$ by end December. Frankly speaking anyone could have made money last year with that bull run and I do believe it is about to happen again this year.

Portfolio in July 2017

Portfolio 1st week of January 2018

Admittedly the big crash in January did some damage but I was lucky to have sold some of that by 2nd week of January by researching past market trends. I went back into the market beginning of March with 1000$ and my portfolio is doing rather well and I do believe we are about to go on a bull run again. If you are curios, these are my current holdings (in no particular order): EVE, ARY, PRL, ETH, OCN, POE, REQ, SUB, NEU. You can check out https://coinmarketcap.com/ to learn more about these.

I m not an investment advisor nor should you take my advice for investment but even if you put only a few hundred $ in cryptocurrency you should see some returns by year’s end. I’ve learned not to trade but to hold on long term. Every time I did some short time trades the coin I sold went up in value. So HODL your positions 🙂

I personally have larger positions in alternative coins (Altcoins – such as the above) than in the big ones (BTC, ETH, XRP etc.) as the growth potential for the smaller Altcoins is much higher.

Don’t know how how to buy Cryptocurrency? Register with Coinbase buy some Ethereum (Bitcoin is much slower and fees are higher), create an account on Binance (Binance is the most convenient and largest exchange in my opinion) send that Ethereum to Binance and start buying your first Cryptocurrency/Altcoins.

Do your own research but I recommend coins/projects that have a good team, working or alpha product released and real life use cases. My portfolio above are all projects that are in my area of expertise (eCommerce, logistics, import/export). Never invest more than you can afford to loose.

However be aware. Crytpocurrency is a VERY volatile market and within a few days you could loose all (or double your money). It’s an emotional roller coaster. So never invest more than you are willing to loose. A few people I know have made thousands of $ within a few hours. Personally whenever I invest I try to take out the initial investment once the price climbs. That way all you have left is “play money” and you won’t be so emotional.

Personal Update

I believe a healthy mind & body is key to being successful in business. The depression (last blog post) and some personal and family issues have really taken its toll on my body. I now realise really being out of shape was one reason why I was so depressed in Q1. When I started working out again in March this year I not only felt my spirits lifted but my mind was more focused on tasks & work in general. Which eventually helped me with my new project and finding passion again.

I used to only do cardio which is fine if you want to stay in shape but if you really want to get in a great mental and physical shape lifting weights is the best thing to do. At least for me it helped immensely. I feel much better mentally now than I did in Q1.

I do try to mix it up with cardio/hiking/running (30%) and lifting weights (70%) at the gym. Gym alone would be boring and I love the Outdoors 🙂

Here’s a before and after: (NSFW) 🙂

 

Beginning of March

22nd of May

That’s all for today, stay tuned for updates from the road 🙂

All the best and happy sourcing,

Manuel

 

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How I sold one of my eCommerce businesses for 6 figures…and got depressed

Hey guys,

Not many people know this (I hinted at it in my previous post) but I’ve sold 1 of my eCommerce businesses about 4 months ago.
I can’t go into specifics on what business and what the deal was but it was a healthy 6 figure number. I can tell you that it was an Amazon & Shopify business.

Today I wanted to give you an idea of how you can build and sell a business and what specifics a deal like that entails.

Before I go into details I wanted to give you a brief update of what I’ve been up to in the last few months. I took a bit of a time out and travelled a lot.

I am currently in Bali with a good friend (Bastian from Officeflucht – check him out if you speak German).

 

Bali so far has been amazing and we were lucky to be here around a couple of traditional ceremony days. Melasti was one of them. Villagers walk in traditional clothing and cartable temples from their village to the beach.

 

Bali has amazing sunstets, check it out

 

Other places are equally stunning.

 

 

Before that I was travelling to Germany in January for a conference (Amazon Sales Kongress).

Always present in style 🙂

Stopped by my hometown Salzburg in Austria for a few days

Salzburg at night.

Went back to Bangkok and had a friend visiting and we took a motorbike ride up the North of Thailand.

Village near Pai, Thailand.

Mae Hong Son near the border to Burma.

 

Farming near Mae Hong Son.

 

We went on to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat (the biggest temple complex in the world). Simply stunning, see for yourself.

 

 

 

 

Dirt Quads around Siem Reap

And then I had enough and work was calling 🙂

So now I am in Bali working again full time on my businesses. Thats what I love about eCommerce and this business model. You can take some time out, travel, bring your laptop and work from anywhere in the world. Obviously I had to put in a lot of work in the beginning, its not all as peachy as I make it sound like 🙂 But after 1-2 years anyone can do this.

So now onto my actual posts. How I sold 1 of my businesses last year.

When I sold the business in November I really didn’t know what to do for a few weeks. I was really depressed for a few weeks.
You might think why would you be depressed if you just netted a six figure amount? Well I worked on this business for more than 3 years and it was kind of one of my babies that I took care of every day.

 

All of a sudden it was gone and while I still had my other businesses going on I felt empty with one big part of my daily life gone. Haters gonna say, take the money and be happy. But thats not what I m about.

 

Every since starting on this eCommerce journey I realized I like building different businesses. Now, 4 months later I have come to terms with the fact that I just need to move on and build something else in its stead.

Through all these years I’ve met so many amazing people, students and eCommerce entrepreneurs that made me grow my skills, experience and much more. So eventually I just moved on and found motiviation again.

 

Another thing why I was so depressed and couldn’t find any motivation was the fact that I felt secure. I never had this amount of money in my bank account and I realized why I didn’t hustle anymore. I felt safe and lost my “hunger”.

I am talking about the “hunger” that I had for 3 years working somewhere between 8-12 hours a day for months on end.

 

I know many entrepreneurs who have flipped many businesses for lots of money and they don’t retire. They just move on and build other businesses.

 

For me this was a first timer. I thought I can take a couple of weeks of, take it easy and chill. These weeks turned into 2,3 & 4 months doing barely anything. I really felt miserable.

My other businesses still generate 5 figures every month but they could be doing 6 figures a month. Slowly that is decreasing as well and I am starting to eat into my savings (I spent way too much money in the last 4 months)

 

I really neglected things. But meeting a few entrepreneurs over the last weeks here in Bali really gave me motivation again and I’ve started to pick up things again. That’s another great thing with this industry. You meet a lot of like minded people that can help you along the way. Be in brainstorming or doing projects together.

 

So after selling that business I basically travelled around Asia, went to Germany for a conference, and took life really easy. I always thought once you make a big chunk of money you can relax and everything is awesome.

But let me tell you its not. I guess thats how many people feel when they retire with 65. All of a sudden you have nothing more to do. While I still had things to do I felt that way. The good thing about my business set up was that I diversified and had more than 1 income stream.

 

If you recall in my older blog posts (How to scale an Amazon business / Existenzangst) I always stress out the importance of that. If I wouldn’t have those other income streams I’d be eating up my savings for the last 4 months.

Not that I could retire anyway but I felt like semi retirement for a few months. Trust me, it is REALLY boring doing nothing for a few months (apart from travelling).

 

You may understand me if you get to that point and I hope that many of you will 🙂

But onto this blog posts topic. How I actually sold that business and what that entails.

It started early last year after I released my last courses on ImportDojo (ImportDojo certifications & Brand Evolution) that a friend approached me and told me he sold his business on Empireflippers.

I wasn’t even thinking of selling the business. But after hearing how much my friend made on the sale it sounded good.
I went onto Empireflippers Calculation tool to evaluate the business’ worth. I got an email with an estimation and I was surprised.

Within the same day someone from Empireflippers contacted me and asked me for a phone call to see if my business is suitable for their marketplace. I think that was around late May.

In that call we discussed how the business is set up, if I have social media following, email lists, age of the business and other details that may influence a sales price. He gave me another estimatation at the end of the call which was even higher.

 

In a follow up email after the call I now had to prepare a lot of documents and answer over 30 questions regarding my business. For the next two weeks I was collecting income proof, screenshots and answer the questions related to my business. I had to fill in a very detailed profit and loss sheet that they provided and that took me at least 10 days to complete. I sent in all the necessary documents and then I waited.

 

After about 2 more weeks I got an email that my listing is approved and a final sales price has been calculated. Forget the typical 24X you can get in a normal business. eCommerce businesses can be sold much higher.

 

The older the business and the more consistent in growth the better. A lot of things go into the final sales price. Like how old the business is, how many email subscribers, how many Facebook fans, Instagram followers and so on.

So I agreed to the sales price and the listing went live. Within the first week I got 12 depositors on my business. The way this works with Empireflippers is that the business itself is not revealed. However a description and actual figures are revealed.

So interested buyers can deposit a minimum fee and then see the actual business. This is actually good because otherwise everyone would see your business. This could be bad, people could copy your business or even hurt your business if they knew who you were.

 

Within the second week we had an interview with a potential buyer. Empireflippers is on the call with you and prepares you before hand.

 

They manage the entire call while the buyer is asking questions. You just honestly answer the questions and at the end of the call Empireflippers will gently ask the potential buyer is he is interested. He said he’ll evaluate and think about it. Two days later I got an email that the buyer wants to close the deal.

 

However at a lower amount than I was asking for. The buyer had concerns about seasonality and the industry which was normal so I agreed to the price. He couldn’t wait to make the transfer. The deal was done. At this stage Empireflippers will collect the money and hold it in escrow until I hand over the business completely to the buyer.

 

This is called migration. Once the buyer confirms that he is now in control of the business the money is released to me.

 

This “migration” part took about 3 weeks. Empireflippers will be there with their team to help transfer domains, email and other things. I had about 4 or 5 calls with the buyer to explain everything about the business. Another 4 calls and 2 months support via email was agreed upon. Then finally the buyer confirmed that he is in control of the business.

 

3 days later I had the money in my account. I looked every day and just on the 3rd day there it was. I couldn’t believe it. The business I built for more than 3 years has just netted me a nice chunk of money. And just 2 days later I fell into the “hole”…see above.

To wrap up, all in all it took about 3 months from contacting Empireflippers to closing the deal and getting the money. If you are cosindering selling your eCommercebusiness I can highly recommend them.

 

So thats that. What I also probably learned of this is to not get too attached to your business. Of course if it’s your life’s dream to build a business and run it until the end and you throughly enjoy doing it then don’t sell it.

 

But if you want to build different things then go for it. Also the money you get for your business can be used to invest into other businesses.

I choose to put it into my other Amazon business to grow it and real estate as it is the most secure way to put your money in. Even it a property would decrease in value – you still have a roof over your head.

 

The moral of the story today I guess is, build a business, sell it if you can and keep building other businesses. Take some time off but don’t loose track of why you went into entrepreneurship in the first place.

 

To live freely, travel the world and build something meaningful. I don’t regret selling this business and to anyone who is hesitating if Amazon FBA is right for you – don’t hesitate. It has enabled me a lifestyle I never thought possible.

 

I do hope this gave you a bit of an idea what its like to sell a business and how I felt doing it. Don’t make the same mistake I made. Taking off too much time and loosing yourself. Get some well deserved rest and then tackle the next thing 🙂

 

You may ask yourself whats next for me? Well I m really putting in a lot of time into my remaining Amazon business (Mandarin-Gear), my sourcing business (ImportDojo Sourcing– message me if you need help), working on a new (FREE) course for ImportDojo, as well as building an Amazon affiliate site which I want to document publicly.

But the big news will come towards the end of the year. I am working on an interface that lets you see if a supplier or his test reports are verified by a third party testing company. I contemplated a lot over the last few months what I can do that will actually help people and change the industry. Because two of the most common questions I get asked are:

  • How do I know if a supplier is legit and not a scammer?
  • How can I verify a test report from a supplier?

Obviously with research, due diligence you can answer these questions for yourself. But what if you could see in an interface that this is true and verified by third party companies? This is a big project and will take 2-3 years to develop but I am confident we can bring it to the market. Let me know if this is something you would be interested.

Stay tuned 🙂

All the best,
Manuel

IMG_8821

Why you ALWAYS need inspections in China and Europe trip report

A little more than 2 weeks ago I came back from my Europe “vacation” which was not really a vacation but more work because I was constantly on some calls or working on other stuff.

It was quiet around me but I was not sleeping but rather working on many projects. Some of them I wanted to share today. Before that I also wanted to share some moments of my 7800 kilometer trip (4800 miles) in Europe before I start with today’s blog post which is about factory inspections in China. 

What else can you expect in this blog post? 

  1. I launched a new product (the best day & dry pack 2018) 🙂
  2. I ordered more products to ramp up my second brand Mandarin-Gear
  3. I launched a new case study on brand building and social media (all for free)

But more on that later. So without further ado, here are some impressions from my Europe trip:

Before I left to Europe I spoke to Thai Amazon sellers about Brand Building. Fun!

We left to Europe on 29th of July. Most people who know from my previous posts about my fear of flying. Also explained here. So I treated myself to lying flat again.

We landed in Vienna (Austria) pretty late that night and had a long breakfast the next morning with an amazing view

Perfect setting for a Sunday morning.

We then headed to my Mum’s place near Salzburg and would you know there was a village festival. Which was pretty empty for what it was ?

Stayed for a few days there and then headed for a hike in the Tyrolean mountains near my friends place. I took the opportunity to snap a few pictures with my newest product that I launched 2 weeks ago. 

Pretty proud of this item and I even use it myself (or ask my wife to stand in for photos) ?

We then made our way to Sweden and stopped in Hamburg in between to meet up with Gil from Privatelabeljourney.de and his lovely wife.

We finally arrived after a 16 hour drive to my private sanctuary. Had to chill for a few minutes to let it all sink in.

On the very next day we went looking for mushrooms in the forest.

There you go ?

Enjoying a sunset.

And we are off fishing!

I M ON A BOAT

Preparing for my speech in Innsbruck (Austria) 2 weeks from now.

In between goofing around and relaxing.

Or eating Swedish food.

Our first catch!

And more mushrooms!

…and mushrooms….

 

On the last few days we had friends from Thailand visiting

A few days later we were in Venice, Italy. Another 18 hour drive.

Venice

Venice

From there we headed to Budapest, Hungary (another 8 hour drive) for one of my best friends wedding.

Including a bachelor night. No details here ?

Meeting friends from Hong Kong in Budapest

The wedding was set in a beautiful castle outside of Budapest.

And there’s the freshly married couple

We went to lake Balaton (Europe’s largest fresh water lake) and Vienna for a few days after that.

Eventually bringing me to the last leg of my trip. I was speaking to becoming and existing Amazon sellers about niche selection and why innovation in product development matters.

Amazing crowd and excellent event!

And Vienna again on the last night before flying home.

 

So that was that, my 6 weeks in Europe. A lot more moments that I wanted to share but I don’t want to bore you and get into today’s topic:

why you ALWAYS need inspections in China.

So when I got home to Asia I had an inspection on my 7th re-order of the French Press case study product I did a year ago. 

I’ve always preached how important inspections are and I do them every time. Even with suppliers I work with for a long time.

It really doesn’t matter how well you know your supplier and how often they plead not to do inspections. You hear something along this line: “don’t worry my friend – always good quality, no need to inspect”. Have you heard that phrase? I’ve heard it a million times and I ALWAYS do inspections anyway.

So this was an inspection with my “famous” French Press and before I received the report the supplier told me many times that we don’t need an inspection… Even on the day before I received the report the supplier messaged me (because he was obviously in the factory during the inspection) that I should release the shipment, there are just a few scratches, nothing to worry about and I should go ahead and send him the payment….

Never trust your supplier. I am not talking about the sales representative of the factory. I am talking about the factory workers, the QA manager on duty and down the hierarchy. They might have a bad day or the factory manager decides to rush an order (remember many factories are being closed right now so I attribute these issues to that).

Have an inspection, evaluate the problems and release shipments if these are minor mistakes. I often release shipments even if the inspection is “fail” when there are minor issues. However in critical cases, demand re-work & re-inspections until its fixed. Otherwise the supplier doesn’t see his money. Another good point to never pay more than 30% downpayment.

To see what I mean when I say critical issues here are some images from the inspection:

Always view inspections from a customers point of view. Would you accept these type of issues? 

The supplier just switched screws that were cheaper without my approval!

And there were many other issues. So what do you do in these kind of situations? First of all you need to have an agreement in place when you place the order. I usually have three terms that I include in my contract and 95% of suppliers will agree to that:

  1. Re-inspection and re-work at suppliers cost if the inspection has major and critical issues
  2. Replace returned units from customers higher than 6-8% (depends on product). This usually means those 6-8% are free units on my next order.
  3. Penalty fees for late delivery. Say 10 days after agreed delivery date 0.5% of total order value. 15 days – 0.75% and so on.

Most suppliers will agree to these terms. The point is you negotiate this when you place the order and before you transfer any money. These things happen can happen to all of us and you always need to have a safety net (inspection).

So what happened in my case? The supplier asked me if it would be ok to send pictures only without a re-inspection… no way. How would I know if he just takes photos of items that were in perfect condition anyway and not re-work?

So I asked them to acknowledge our agreement of paying for re-work and re-inspection in case of serious issues. And that’s what happened. The supplier has since re-worked everything and the re-inspection was a few days ago, this time with very minor issues and I released the shipment.

The moral of the story here is really to have a safety net and don’t let the supplier talk you into easy solutions (for him). Because your business will suffer in the end. Granted this was the first time the supplier screwed up but that just makes my point. You never know what is going on on the day of production and it might not even be your sales representative fault. HAVE INSPECTIONS they start from 100$. 

So what else happened? 

  1. I launched a new product that I developed over the last 6 months. If you’re into hiking and outdoors, feel free to check it out ?

2) I launched a new website a few weeks ago called eCommercebutlers to help people on brand building, social media and decided to do a new case study on brand building (all for free). 

I will be documenting my entire journey on growing and further building my brand with videos on where one of my brands (Mandarin-Gear) is right now and how I intend to launch all my products in the future via social media and email lists only. 

My goal is to show that it is inexpensive to build a brand but it can be done (while I admit it takes time). 

The entire case study is free to watch so please head over to below link and sign up for updates if you are interested in watching my progress:

https://www.ecommercebutlers.com/brand-building-case-study/

Ps.: We also have a FREE Product Launch Checklist for you when signing up to our newsletter. 

I’ll also have a group where I’ll share updates and where we can discuss strategies over here: 

https://web.facebook.com/groups/124707288184753/

I aim to release a new video every week to show my progress.

I’d be happy to have you join me on this journey ?

That’s it for today, long overdue and long blog post. Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed it, please share ?

All the best,

Manuel