This is part IV of how I launched my first product on Amazon. If you haven’t yet read part I on how I discovered private label selling, you can find it here: Part I.
Selecting a Private Label Product & Messaging Supplier
A solid two weeks were spent on detailed searching throughout the Jungle Scout platform. By setting the filters to only show products that met my requirements for a private label item, it allowed me to scroll through the product database and only think about which items I had an interest in or may be a potential good private label product. I utilized the product tracker function to save items that I wanted to revisit at a later time and dive deeper into on the Amazon detail and search pages. One thing I always kept in my mind when searching through these products was ‘How can I improve or change on this product to make it a better experience for my customer’?
I narrowed my results down to two items. What I liked about both of these options was they were small (I wouldn’t incur any oversized storage fees), they sold at a good price (around $20-30 with cost of around $4 / unit), and they were very simple (no moving parts, couldn’t crack / break, etc). I was able to find what looked to be the exact same products on alibaba.com and reached out via the chat function to learn more about MOQ, pricing, customization and samples. I ended up only moving forward with one of the two options. I made this choice after some additional research and attempting to analyze the market with the information I have access to. The product I chose only had one item selling (with only one color) on Amazon that was comparable and there was only one seller of that item. The other product had many different design variations and color variations so I knew it would be a bit harder to gain market share and differentiate.
Communicating with the manufacturer
Now this is my first run at a private label or bulk order from alibaba / aliexpress, but it was not the first time I have contacted manufacturers on these platforms. I have been communicating with suppliers on here since I first tried selling knock-off baseball hats in high school on eBay – a failed venture but learning experience. After that I was always trying to find deals on aliexpress on items for personal use and communicated with suppliers to get quotes for single units or to convince them to only sell one for bulk price.
There are a few goals to have in mind when contacting a supplier and seeing if they are the right fit for your product.
- Are they responsive? You want to find a supplier that can communicate decently in English and within a reasonable timeframe. Keep in mind they are ~12 hours ahead depending on where you’re located. Communication can take a while with this time difference, so try to be clear and concise in your messaging and keep messages basic. I always try to convey appreciation and happiness in my messages as I think it is a good way to start a relationship and build trust.
- Product Details: In my first messages I usually try to get more information than what can be found on the product page. Do they have additional images? Are there specific dimensions / weights you would like to know? What color / material options are there? Do you allow customization?? ← This is a big one as it lets you know if you can create a better product than is currently available.
- Pricing Details: What is the minimum order quantity? What is the price per unit at that quantity? What would be the price of a sample unit? What would be the sample price of a customized unit (they will probably need specifications of what you need done in order to quote)?
After I have made contact with the supplier and I can understand them, those are a few of the questions I start with. Seeing actual product images to determine quality is the first step, then understanding what customization can be done.
This initial conversation resulted in a great dialogue. Within the first message the supplier provided around 10 images that were not available online of actual product shots that gave me a better understanding of the size and quality.
After understanding my options with customization I provided a very basic mockup I created within Adobe Photoshop to see if it was a possibility. They responded with the options that we had which fit my needs for customization and they provided the additional price per unit that this would incur. The next step in my process was to get samples of these units in my hands so I could feel and see the quality and test them out myself before moving forward with any larger purchases!
Purchasing Sample Product
In the various Facebook Amazon groups I am in I often see questions regarding sample products and payment / pricing of sample products. You have a few different options for this. If you found the item on AliExpress and are opting not to customize the product (I don’t recommend this as I would prefer to make a better product) you can purchase directly on the platform and have the items shipped to your house. Now if you want to customize these products you are better off starting your searches on Alibaba. Alibaba is where many sellers from AliExpress have their wholesale offerings. If you are wanting to customize a product, most suppliers will require you to order higher quantities.
Logistics: keep in mind that for these sample products you will usually be paying a higher price than what you will be when you order in bulk. I knew for my product that I would be paying around $4 / unit, but for the samples I got 2 units and shipping to my house for $50. It was broken down as $15 for the 2 samples, and $35 for air freight. These samples took around 2 weeks to produce and then another week to be air shipped. For $50 to have 2 samples in my home to test and get others opinions on was a great investment. $50 to confirm what you’re purchasing before dropping thousands on a large shipment is necessary.
Payment: my supplier requested that I use PayPal for the payment of the samples. I was a bit skeptical at first but after research learned this is a typical process for many suppliers. It allows the funds to be released to them as quickly as possible so they can begin the manufacturing process. Do not be hesitant if they request PayPal, it is normal and you are protected!
I have my samples, now what?
Once you have received your samples, it is time to make sure everything is how you want it. Make sure to check your product very carefully and take notes. What were your initial thoughts? Does it look like it did in the pictures? How is the quality? Is this something you would be proud to sell? Is this product worth the amount of money you plan on selling it for?
This is your chance to make sure you are getting the product you want and expect and to have additional dialogue with your supplier before moving ahead with a large purchase. And remember, if you aren’t sure after receiving the samples – don’t rush ahead! You can always keep the dialogue going with your supplier and let them know if you want additional changes or don’t feel the quality is good enough. If all else fails, ditch the product and move on to a new one. Don’t fall in love with your ideas, always be ready to ditch them if they are not profitable.
Once again, thanks for reading and stay tuned!