The Beginning of My E-Commerce Journey

I have been selling on Amazon for several years now and I still believe that this platform has a lot to offer. Whether you are a business owner selling your existing product online, or you are a side-hustler on your way to quitting your 9-5, you can use FBA to drastically increase your income.

How I Started (Retail Arbitrage)

I started selling on Amazon about three years ago and over this time I created about 8 products. Initially, I was doing retail arbitrage. I would go to the closest Walmart and buy anything that was on sale. I used an app called Profit Bandit. I used to scan the items and the app would show me the price of that item on Amazon. I would run around inside Walmart trying to find an item with high enough margins to justify the amount of work I was putting it. I soon realized that I hated spending my Saturday mornings hunting for inventory. The money was decent but I knew I could do better than that!

Online Arbitrage

One day, a friend of mine told me that he was selling hats on Amazon at a 3x return and I was instantly intrigued by it! He told me that he was buying them in bulk from discount websites and he was shipping them to the Amazon warehouse. I liked this model better because I didn't have to physically look for products to sell but I could simply do some research online. My experience with online arbitrage lasted only a few months though. To sell a significant amount of units in a day, I had to constantly win the "buy box" and that meant lowering my price and giving up profit. 

The Revelation!

After a few months spent researching and perfecting my Amazon game, I finally decided to private label! It was a scary choice at the beginning because I knew I had to deal with suppliers, graphic designers, packaging and freight forwarders. Nonetheless, I was stoked because I knew that this was the real deal!

After researching a product to sell I decided to start with tempered glass screen protectors. I got a nice box made with my logo and I ordered a few hundred pieces to start. I actually ended up being one of the first listings on Amazon.com for S7 Edge Screen protectors!!! One morning I woke up, I refreshed my Amazon app and I saw that I had already made 12 sales. I couldn't believe it! By lunchtime, I was at 30 and by the end of the night, I had sold over 70 units. The sales kept coming in for days and weeks on end until... I got inundated by customer service messages.

Unfortunately, tempered glass screen protectors are very delicate and about 10% of what I sold ended up cracking during delivery or while the buyers were installing them on their phones. I remember spending entire nights trying to process refunds and replying to angry customer emails. It was not fun! The money was very good but the listing started losing steam when the bad reviews piled up and it was only a matter of time until I closed the listing.

Even though I was able to make around 40k USD with screen protectors, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth. Everything happened so fast! The listing climbed to the top, stayed there for a few weeks (close to 2 months) and then it crashed and burned.

I was set on creating a product that would stand the test of time and generate a long-term passive income. I needed to find an item that was not breakable and that had a steady demand. That's when I started looking at kitchenware.

Silicone Kitchenware

After a few weeks of researching thousands of products online, I finally came across spatulas. I remember thinking to my self: "who's gonna buy a spatula online?" and "I never even used these things, why would I start selling them?" but I put my personal preference aside and went ahead with trusting the process.

Although I was sold on selling silicone kitchenware, I knew I needed to differentiate my self somehow. I started contacting several suppliers to figure out pricing and MOQ (minimum order quantity). Most suppliers were happy to provide customizations like colour, engraving and packaging at a small additional cost. I knew from my experience private labelling screen protectors that small customizations go a long way when you are trying to differentiate your listing from someone else's.

The journey to the Amazon warehouse

Within a few weeks, my first order of 2000 boxes was ready for shipping. I remember feeling proud because I owned a couple of skids of inventory but also nervous because now I needed to ship them to the Amazon warehouse and, unlike the screen protectors, the spatulas were bulky and heavy so I couldn't use Fed Ex or DHL. 

After a doing a bit of research I came across a freight forwarder called Shapiro. They specialize in FBA freight forwarding and brokerage. They have an entire department that works with FBA seller, so I was able to set up my shipment in a matter or a couple of hours. 

Overall, the experience was great, what I didn't take into account though, was how long it was going to take for the product to arrive at Joliet (Amazon's warehouse in Illinois).

I recall checking my email every few hours hoping to find out that my product had arrived. It was nerve wrecking!!!

The First Sales

The spatulas had a very different sales cycle than my other products. They had steady growth. When I first launched the listing, I was getting a couple of sales a day for a few weeks. Then, as time went on, I was getting 4 or 5 sales a day until I plateaued at about ten sales a day. I was actually pleased about that number because my margins were about $10 and ten sales a day meant about $100 profit a day. 

Holiday season

I remember looking at my Amazon sales one morning around black Friday and thinking "It's happening again!!!". I had already sold ten items, and it was only 9 am! By the end of that day, I was selling 50 to 60 units a day throughout December and into January.

The evergreen brand

I am happy to say that my kitchenware journey is still alive and well. I have been working on adding new products to my line, and my spatulas are still selling well after two years. I couldn't be happier with the results I got, but I know that there's still a ton of opportunities awaiting out there!

DM me on Instagram @denierob for Amazon consulting. If you want to instantly create a new passive income stream, FBA is the way to go.

Deniero Bartolini