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Robert: Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast, today’s guest is Karen and Neil Gwartzman and they’re from that private label university, welcome to the podcast guys how is it going?
Neil: Excellent thank you very much for having us, yes thank you.
Robert: And what’s the website for the private-label university.
Karen: Its www.privatelabeluniversity.com
Robert: Ok and today we’re actually going to be talking about finding products, finding the right product for people to sell and we’re going to be talking about the perfect product syndrome but before we get into that, let’s just get into who you guys are, how you got started and just your whole website and what you do at private label university.
Neil: Great thank you Robert, thanks again for having us. It’s quite a nice situation, we’re a husband-and-wife team and we are private label and importing specialists, we’ve been in the industry for over 35 years from sourcing private labeling importing especially for the big box chain stores such as Walmart and Toys R Us, Michaels, those are just a few of the large ones and plus we dealt with thousands of independent retailers nationwide and actually worldwide and I started, in my family business which was has been in operation for over 50 years in Canada and about 30 years ago I took the business internationally and I started doing in countries, doing business in countries such as Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, all across Europe plus into Mexico and because of our strong background with importing from all over the world, we basically had the advantage over those that were just starting in the industry and , you know, I learned the ins and outs of both sides of sourcing from importing and exporting and then of course venturing into a lot of the private labeling and importing for retailers as well as entrepreneurs. So not only as a buyer but also as a supplier to these companies and the nice thing was that Karen my beautiful wife being a certified business coach, she was also helping entrepreneurs build businesses and she approached me and she said, “You know what we really should work together because the strategies that you use and the strategies I use can really help everyone in the retail industry as well as the entrepreneur industry of that physical product business”.
So we together, we teamed up and we created the private-label university and we just knew there was a need because people ask us all the time for not just from the big chain stores and independent people and it was basically created for the entrepreneur.
Karen: So we created the private-label university because there was this huge need for product entrepreneurs to come together kind of as that community and learn the correct process because remember, we come from retail, we come from retailing products. I’m in that industry so we know products, we know how to find them, how to make them, how to import them and how to sell them. So all the things that the retail stores do but they don’t want to share with others, so we really felt that the industry really needed a place to go to have a community that supports and shares with them. So we are mentors to a ton of Amazon sellers, retailers, eBay sellers and helping them finding the right products so that they can increase their business. So our main goal was really to bring like-minded entrepreneurs together and share to build relationships, to create networking opportunities and all at the same time teach how to stay ahead of your competition by finding better prices, by finding better pricing on products, newer products, the right products to sell, how to find reliable suppliers and the correct way of building international relationships so that you can import hassle-free and grow a business.
Robert: Ok so before we get into the perfect product, what are the different types of products that product entrepreneurs can sell?
Karen: So that’s a great question, a great question so there’s really three different areas to consider, there’s a retail arbitrage, there’s wholesale arbitrage, there is manufacturing and private labeling so actually there’s four but retail arbitrage and whole sale arbitrage are very similar. I’m going to have Neil explain that’s ok if we have some time, just kind of explain the difference between them because some of them are easier to get into and a great way to start a business and some involve a little bit more investment. So if you want to talk about that.
Neil: And as Karen was saying, you know, the arbitrage what we’re going to say terminology or formula is really the simplest way to say it is, you buying yourself, you buy at a low-cost and you sell at a profit and really it’s buying something and making a profit on it. So with retail arbitrage you’re buying a retail product, could be off a retail shelf, it could be on a retail site and then you’re reselling it and of course making a profit. Works with wholesale and retail arbitrage it’s usually small quantities if you’re not buying a huge volumes as opposed to a wholesale arbitrage where you’re buying from a distributor or from a wholesaler typically in larger volumes, in steady flows of the product that you’re going to be nurturing and selling and again low investment, high profit. Then so we kind of group those two together because they’re both arbitrage and then you get into your private labeling. So someone sees that they have a great product or they see a product that could be valuable for them to sell and they want to have a private label, they want to have their brand, they want to have their name on it, they’re basically creating a buzz for that product and that would be the private labeling side and then you have your core manufacturing where you’re actually, you know, it could be someone who knits sweaters or who builds custom boxes maybe out of home, what typically years ago we called cottage industries where you’re doing out of your home or out of your garage and making a business out of it.
So you’re actually making the product and then of course your business from there where you start to outsource and look for ramping up volume, that’s the manufacturing part which is very successful, which a lot of people see for example on shark tank, when they see someone, you know, and they say well, you know, what can your business expand to now, we can really take it to the next level or the Sharks want of course invest in ramping up their business.
Karen: And there’s no right or wrong area to go into, you know, we always encourage people to start off small and then grow. So a lot of people who are just starting businesses don’t have a lot of money to invest so we always recommend, what about trying something like retail arbitrage or wholesale arbitrage where it involves little investment to start a business. You kind of get your feet wet, you see what it’s like, you test it out to see if it’s even a business you want to get into and then getting into more of private labeling, it involves more of an investment and then getting it obviously into manufacturing where you’re creating the product and then, you know, even outsourcing it then involves a little bit more money there. So, you know, some people want to jump right into private labeling or right to creating an idea and manufacturing it but some people want to take it a different route and just want to test the waters and don’t have a lot of money to invest then, you know, doing something like retail arbitrage or even starting with private labeling one product and small volumes then that’s a great way to start.
Robert: Yeah thanks for defining all of that and giving an overview with the different types of products. Since we’re talking about the perfect product, does it even exists, it seems like everyone is trying to find this perfect product but is their perfect product out there really.
Karen: I love that question and we hear that all the time, is there even a perfect product? Well, you know, there’s so many budding entrepreneurs today, looking for the fastest way to make money online and a lot of people gravitate to the physical product industry and for good reason because there’s a ton of money to be made. The challenge however is you need to have a product to sell and it needs to be that perfect product, the one that you know will show you the money but they always say, right. So everyone wants to know the secret, how do you find that perfect product.
Neil: In legacy, you know, this is the number one question again as Karen mentioned we hear all the time and with our experience of over 30 years, finding those products not just for us personally to sell but for the chain stores and some of the biggest chain stores worldwide, it’s always even for them, it’s hard to find that perfect product because that’s of course what’s going to set them apart. So we see so many businesses that are really searching and searching for that product and of course what we always we joke around, they contract what we call the perfect product syndrome and Karen loves to talk, you know, how it’s, it really is a condition that happens to the biggest and the smallest.
Karen: Yeah so we call it as short PPS, ‘perfect product syndrome’ and it’s a real problematic issue. I mean it’s an area of stress and frustration for entrepreneurs who are struggling to source and sell physical products online. So if you’re spending too much time trying to find that perfect product or spending too much time on an existing product and you’re not really seen any profit, then you are suffering from PPS, from that perfect product syndrome and it’s so hard to watch because it really cripples the growth of a business that could be successful or in many cases actually even prevent entrepreneurs from even starting.
Neil: And the sad thing is, you know, we see people all the time who say they’ve been searching for that product for months, for years and they’re still looking out and they reach out to us to help them, kind of guide them and give them direction how to find that product. So, you know, imagine if you start a business and a few years are passed, you bought all these online programs, you try to get started selling online and again you’re still looking for that product and again we see this all the time, again that’s what we call the perfect product syndrome because people are still searching for that perfect product.
Karen: Yeah its product overwhelmed, so to answer the first part of the question does that perfect product exists, the answer is no. There really is no perfect product and I say one perfect product actually, there’s really no one perfect product and because really every physical product is a perfect product at least to someone.
Neil: And with that being said, finding and selling that perfect product, it’s not as much about the actual merchandise and it’s about understanding the process and it’s the process that really helps you, it’s going to find that product. So between sourcing and importing and marking you kind of have to build it all in one, that’s going to make that product successful.
Robert: And since you mention profit products or PPS, how can somebody overcome this syndrome.
Karen: Yeah overwhelmed you love that, right. The biggest challenge product entrepreneurs have with overcoming PPS, it’s really understanding and recognizing it really. You know, each year we do a live training in China at the Canton Fair and it’s a place where everyone who attends this fair gets PPS, even we get PPS I mean it’s inevitable. You just think, you go to this fair, if those people listening aren’t familiar with the Canton fair, we take a group there, it’s a the largest fair in the world, there’s 60,000 vendors that come to this fair, can you imagine 60,000 vendors and they’re showing you all these products and they want you to see their products, how could you not be overwhelmed with so many products. I mean when we were walking through the fair is I keep telling me, oh my god I could totally sell this one, I want this, I want this, I leave there with PPS. So really the number one reason people get to PPS is because of this overwhelm and what happens is people kind of get stuck in this phase, in this first phase.
Neil: And it’s the same thing with online, you know, a lot of people getting involved with the physical product industry, they start to go online to places like Alibaba and they start searching for products and they’re searching for, you know, hours go by, days go by, months go by and they don’t really know what to commit to because they see, oh I like that or I like that. So for those who don’t know what Alibaba or Aliexpress or these are the online platforms where trading companies and manufacturers across Asia show their products and they sell their products and anyone can buy them. So again it’s another place that people are exposed to where they going to choose but again they’re not focused on how to choose because there’s just a huge amount of products out there.
Karen: Right, so what happens is lot of people get this overwhelming PPS and then they stop and they don’t continue with their business. So the first thing that we recommend, if you contract PPS is just take a breath and breathe, just take a breath and key is really to stay focused, to really understand what it is you’re looking for and we face a lot of this on training, what we call the unique signature. So everyone has a unique signature, it’s what makes you, it’s that uniqueness about you that draws people to you. So most of us have no idea what this is, so we help you find this unique signature in our program because your unique signature is actually the key to helping you find that perfect product for you. So you need a piece of you in the product in order for you to be able to be successful selling that product. So let as I mentioned, in our program we have a program called the import success formula and we walk you through a series of exercises that we created called the unique signature formula and it allows product entrepreneurs to understand what products that would be best for them and why and it gives them insight as well to who they should be selling these products to and that is key because you want to make sure that you have an audience to sell your products to and it allows them to stay focused and that’s really what it’s about.
So to avoid PPS, breathe and know that you’re not alone because we all get it and understand your unique signature. This will guide you to your product, your category that you may be searching in and yeah it’s all about being focused.
Robert: Ok so but how will you know that you found the perfect product after you’ve relaxed, you work it down your breathing exercises, you have meditated, you know your unique signature then when will you have that aha moment, this is it.
Neil: So I feel like, a lot of people have call me very dangerous in what I do because I’ve been carrying around the secret for over 30 years on how to do this. So if it’s okay, we can actually share with you on the interview, what I consider probably the seven most important steps in finding that perfect product and I think that’s the key that helps every audience in the physical product business. So if you want, we can share that with you and give all your listeners some huge advantage over everyone else.
Robert: Yeah we definitely would love you to do that and we appreciate it.
Karen: Alright well let’s start with step one.
Robert: Is step one relax?
Karen: So find something that interests you, so find that perfect product around that unique signature that we talked about. So frankly if you don’t care about what you’re selling then you’re probably not going to commit to it, we spent a lot of time teaching and mentoring students around as I mentioned that unique signature and it truly leads people to a product. Studies and research have proven that products success is because the Creator is emotionally attached or vested in that particular product. I mean think about it, if you really believe in something and you share that with someone else, what are the chances are that they’re going to be, Wow tell me more about it right, is that ever happened to you.
Neil: Look at Steve Jobs, you know, he was so passionate and invested, what he felt was the best computer that would solve everyone’s problems and be the simplest to use and, you know, that he’s a perfect example of something that’s worldwide everyone knows about it but that was his signature and that Apple of course carries with everything. So step number two would be doing a research and this is kind of a two-fold process so I like to again joke around and tell people, yes buy on other people. You have to spy on other, you have to see what other people are selling, see if that product that you have an interest is going to be profitable because it comes down what you want to be making money in this business and you know we personally sell on many different online platforms like Amazon and eBay and rakuten and believe it or not, you can actually see if your product is going to make money. So whatever product you choose, if you do the research. One of our number-one tools that we love to use cash calpro, jungle Scout, you know, these are tools that will help you see if your product is making money or a product that you’ve interested in is going to make any money.
Karen: It’s a great way to spy on other people as well, using cash cow pro is of one of my favorite tools to use and it’s a great way to go in and even if you’re not selling on any platforms to go in to Amazon, you don’t even have to be selling on amazon, it’s a chrome extension just like jungle scout and you can go in and see what people are listening and how they’re selling so it’s a great way to kind of spy on others.
Neil: Yeah and it’s not something that’s bad, it’s doing your research so it comes down to what your spying on is research to see who your audience is and, you know, you want to see that who’s being attracted, how many people are being attracted to the product. So because if you don’t have an audience or people that you’re going to sell to then your product is not going to make any money or whatever you choose is not going to make any money. So, you know, you want to make sure that your product is solving a problem that it’s going to fill the void for someone and, you know, how many times you come across a problem and you think to yourself well if I only had one of these or only had one of those then it could help me, I would like to buy one. So I can guarantee you, you know, everyone has this problem but if you came up with a solution, people are going to buy it and that’s the key part of that process. So step number three I like to jump in, you know, you want to keep your product simple, you want to keep it, you know, a lightweight product, product that you can easily to ship and price ranging anywhere from twenty to fifty dollars. So it’s a good return on it and again makes it easy to ship, your investments are low and your profits are considerable on those items.
Karen: And step four, you want to find suppliers and compare your prices so once you have an idea of, you know, the product of the area, you want to go into sites like Alibaba, aliexpress, amazon, you want to google, you want to go into different sites and just kind of see if that that category and that product is around there and start comparing pricing. See how many people are selling the product. Again going to trade fairs, we talked about the Canton Fair earlier, it’s a great place to go and be in a place with 60,000 vendors and be able to find products and look and compare pricing and suppliers so that step 4.
Neil: And then step number five, we always say, you know, know your numbers, you know, make sure that you’re doing the math, ask yourself some simple questions, what’s the product and it costs from the supplier, how much will it cost for the shipping, are you going to be warehousing or shipping yourself, are you shipping it your customers, is it an FBA fulfilled by amazon product and then again any extra charges whether be packaging or labeling, if you have to hire someone extra for advertising. So there’s a lot of variables to consider when you go through that process but you start to learn and that’s the key, you’re going to be learning along the way of what to do and that’s what we kind of turn that whole thing, the import success formula because people it’s a formula for building your business from choosing that product to being successful with the product.
Karen: And step six is communicate order and analyze samples from suppliers, it’s really here is about the details, it’s about communication and building relationships, getting in your orders, your sample orders so that you can then analyze them, you can make sure that they’re right and then go from there, make any changes but again it’s a process and this step 6 of communicating, ordering samples and analyzing is one of the longer steps because it takes time. There’s a lot of communication back and forth especially if you’re dealing with some of these online sites, you’re dealing with oversee companies, there’s a lot of barriers that stand in the way, communication barriers, language barriers so many different things. So it’s a little bit of a process here that’s why we love to go again to the Canton fair because you can get everything done within just a few days that could take months if not longer. So then once you’ve decided on a product based on your supplier, the price, the samples and you’ve compared all that and looked at the numbers and the variables then you’re ready to kind of take a leap and commit to a product.
Neil: Right, your step number seven is just start importing that product, you’ve already done your research, you’ve done all the work and of course, you know, in the training that we give we go into great depth. So taking those seven steps and really expanding on it on all the parts of logistics and sourcing it and use it working with customs and that’s kind of all the before your perfect product so it kind of leads up to choosing that product and using your new signature to really know what’s going to work or what’s going to sell for you.
Karen: And we really break it down into baby steps because we know it can be overwhelming and we know that there’s a lot to know, I mean 35 years we’ve been doing this, there’s a lot to know. So we break it down into such baby steps that you could do it while you’re sleeping.
Robert: So thanks for sharing all those seven steps, I’m sure if we were to follow the steps as you have highlighted them then everybody should be able to find a unique product that they can sell. What’s the best way that people can learn more about you and just get more information and resources.
Karen: So our website is a great place privatelabeluniversity.com and actually what’s great is when you get there, we actually have a free five day boot camp so we walk you through the steps of private labeling within five days, you get an email sent right to you, it’s a great way and it’s free which is great. So through our website privatelabeluniversity.com, we also have a YouTube channel called private-label university and there’s tons of free content there, we do videos all the time and do a lot of updates so it’s a great place to go. We also have a private Facebook group called the private-label university for amazon and eBay sellers and it’s a great place to meet us and other like-minded entrepreneurs.
Robert: Any final thoughts about PPS or just finding the perfect product.
Karen: Really stay focused and understand that unique signature because we promise when you do, you will find your perfect product.
Neil: Yeah and that’s the key, you know, turns to start, take a breath, learn what your new unique signature is and I always say if you don’t start the race you never going to finish. So it’s important that people are involved started and then you’re in business.
Robert: Okay and I usually ask one more question in the end which is, what is the one thing a business can do right now to get more traffic, get more sales and to grow.
Karen: Its to build a community, surround yourself with like-minded people so whether you sell on amazon or any other e-commerce site or you have a brick-and-mortar store, build a community, bring people together, it makes for a stronger business.
Neil: Yeah and, you know, while it’s important to make sure that you surround yourself with people like Karen said not only likeminded but are professionals and know what they’re doing and have experience. In any, you know, in all operations from, you know, shipping and importing, people having your financing and people that are going to be giving you helpful hints whether it be legal, you want to make sure you have good people around who are giving you good advice.
Robert: Ok Karen and thanks again for being on the e-commerce marketing podcast.
Karen: Thank you so much.
Neil: Thank you so much for having us, it’s been an absolute pleasure we appreciate it.
Karen: Thank you Robert.
Robert: Thank you for listening to the e-commerce marketing podcast, join the e-commerce marketing Facebook group to learn, connect, collaborate and grow with other e-commerce marketers at ecommercemarketingpodcast.com/fb. Ecommercemarketingpodcast.com/FB, subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for e-commerce marketing podcast and please leave a rating and review. Thank you for listening, see you next time.