Today we have our first two guest episode with husband and wife team Travis and Jenna. With 50 - 100 sales per day, Travis and Jenna have been successfully selling on Amazon since the middle of 2015.
On this episode Travis and Jenna also reveal how they were able to get an exclusive deal to be the only company that can sell a patented product someone else created on Amazon.com. How the deal came about is very interesting and if you want to come up with outside the box ideas for building an ecommerce business you'll love hearing the story behind this deal.
You'll also hear the reason behind why they wanted to build an ecommerce business in the first place and it's something that most business owners probably tend to overlook.
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Get involved and ask a question about selling on Amazon and Chris may answer your question live on a future episode of Sellercast. Also, if you think you'd be a good guest for the Sellercast podcast feel free to tell us more about you and your company here.
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Show Notes and Links
Intro: Hello everyone, Chris Guthrie here, host of Sellercast. In today’s episode, I speak with Travis and Jenna, a husband-wife team that have been selling on Amazon since the middle of last year. They’ve been doing about 50 to 100 units per day, and they’re continuing to grow this business as we go through the year. Now they’re doing a few interesting things as well. For starters, they actually have a deal with a product that’s patented, so they can be the only ones that sell it on Amazon. We talk about how that deal came about. It’s a very interesting story. And we also talk about the reason behind why they built their business. It’s not something we’ve discussed on the show before, and I think it’s really important. So we talk about all that and more on this episode. You can also check out the show notes by going to Sellercast.com/22. And let’s go ahead and start the show.
Chris Guthrie: Hello everyone, Chris Guthrie here. And today we have two people on the show, Travis and Jenna, who are both selling as a husband-wife team on Amazon. So welcome to the show, guys. Thank you so much for joining us.
Travis: Hey, thanks, Chris.
Jenna: Thank you.
Travis: We’re pretty excited to be here.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, so how long have you been selling for on Amazon, just so we can get that out of the way. And then we’ll talk about some of the other experiences you’ve been having as you’ve been going along here.
Travis: We started researching back in May in 2015. And then July 7th of 2015 was our first sale.
Chris Guthrie: Awesome, awesome. And how are you guys doing now sales-wise? You can say a range if you don’t want to say specifics.
Travis: We’re doing pretty well. We sell around 50 units to 100 units a day. And we can get into more specifics later if you want. That’s okay.
Chris Guthrie: Okay, cool, so that’s a great context. So July, and now we’re here recording this in late January, 2016. So that’s great. So what were you doing before you started selling on Amazon?
Jenna: Something that we’re actually still doing. We’re both optometrists. We own two optometry practices in our area. And we both still practice optometry full-time and do this kind of on the side right now.
Travis: And our optometry practices are actually brand new too. We opened them about a year ago. So we started that business at the same time just to add a little more stress.
Chris Guthrie: It’s interesting. I have a friend that’s dentist, and he bought his practice. And it’s become a common thing where you’re either buying a practice, but starting a practice is a whole different animal, I suppose. But anyways, that’s a different conversation for a different podcast, I suppose. It’s an interesting background. You’ve been working in eye care, and you both do that. Why did you try and get into selling on Amazon? Were you interested in doing other online businesses in the past? Why did you even decide to get into this?
Travis: The reason I loved the concept of Amazon when it came on my radar is because I’ve been selling e-commerce on eBay since around 7th grade when probably eBay first came out. And I’ve always wanted to scale it larger, but I’ve never been able to because I was the limiting factor and I didn’t know how to distribute and everything. So I came across the course that looked pretty appealing. So we just decided to jump in. And Jenna has another reason as well.
Jenna: I call Travis a serial entrepreneur, so he always has tons of ideas. But this opportunity looked really great to me because there’s such an ability to work from home. And once we have kids, that was something that was really appealing to me.
Chris Guthrie: That’s awesome. I remember the eBay days. I’m thinking back. I used to sell Pokémon cards on eBay, just the packs. I never actually played the game. I just thought that you can make money selling. I started doing that years ago.
Travis: I would sell cards pretty much...
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that’s actually the same problem too. It’s being able to find an easy way to do it. I was going to the post office and bringing in packs of these cards, little bubble mailers to the post office, and then knowing how people were behind me waiting to mail their more important things, I suppose.
Anyways, I digressed. So you had that interest from the eBay days. And now fast forward, you’re doing Amazon. Are you doing anything else, like reselling other products? Or are you just doing the private labeling, the 50 to 100 units a day that you’re doing right now?
Travis: We have a little mix of both. Half our products are private label and half are wholesaling. We’re wholesaling from a distributor in Ohio, actually. We have exclusive rights to sell his product on Amazon through the year 2016. In 2017, he’s going to allow another seller to come on, which is okay. And this product is going to be hopefully on Shark Tank in the fall. He actually auditions next month to be on it. And he’s a pretty eccentric guy, so I think he’ll make the cut, but we’ll see. And we’re kind of already preparing for the Shark Tank effect if that does happen.
And then our private label, we have three private labels right now, and we’re looking at two more next month. And then our goal is to get that up to around 10 to 15 by the end of the year.
Chris Guthrie: Wow! I actually want to talk about the Shark Tank. We had a guest on an earlier podcast. I’ll link to that in the show notes. If you go to Sellercast.com/22, which will be the show notes for this episode, you can listen to that episode as well. We talked about the Shark Tank effect for his product and his business. That’s interesting.
So how did you actually find? You don’t have to go into the specifics of what the product is. But how did you find this person to be able to get the rights to sell their product?
Travis: The funny thing was this was a product that looked really appealing to me, and it was very innovative. So I ordered a couple of samples of it from the CEO of the company and loved it right away. So we ordered about 200 of them, put them up on Amazon, and they took well right away too because it’s a completely different product than you’ve ever seen in this field that it’s in. And I was having a conversation with my father-in-law one day. And I was like, “I don’t know what I need to do. Should I talk to the CEO and till him I’m selling on Amazon? Or should I just keep it to myself and keep selling them?” And he actually told me I need to talk to the CEO, tell him what I’m doing, and ask for exclusive rights. So the next conversation I had with the CEO of the company, I talked to him about exclusive rights. And he said, “That sounds like a great idea. It seems like you know what you’re doing, so we’ll give it to you.”
Chris Guthrie: That’s awesome. So just the proof of concept from buying a couple of hundred units, throwing a few of those up on Amazon, and seeing you’re getting sales led to the conversation with the CEO. And now you have the rights to sell that product. That’s amazing.
Travis: Yeah, and he’s a pretty accomplished guy himself too, the CEO of that company. And it’s great to be able to talk with him. We talked quite a bit about business in general.
Chris Guthrie: It’s interesting. I’m presuming he’s probably working on other channels of distribution. So he figures that Amazon is just one of those channels. And if you guys can handle that for the company, then that’s one thing off of his plate.
Travis: Yeah, his primary distribution is retail. And he has quite a bit of retail establishments. And he also has his site. It looks like a Shopify type site. And I do the Amazon for him.
Chris Guthrie: Okay. Getting back to now: you have three private-label products, eight that you’re wholesaling. And you’ll be releasing more next month. And forgive me if you’ve answered this before, but was the split in sales roughly 50-50 between those?
Travis: No, private label is definitely larger. The three products that we have sell at a higher price. And we sell about 20 units a day usually.
Chris Guthrie: That’s awesome. Okay, so let’s expand on here. What are the goals now? You’re adding more products. You’re wholesaling. You have this pretty sweet deal here with this patented product that you’re doing. So what are your longer-term goals to try and scale this up? Are you going to try and find more deals like this where you can find more CEOs you just call up and say, “Hey, I want to sell your product.”
Travis: Actually, the initial goal of this business – just going a little off topic – was to be able to send Jenna, myself, and our whole practice staff to Jamaica every year to do eye exams because we love to go every October, and we do eye exams down there. And then as you know and most of the Amazon sellers know, this can grow really fast. And we didn’t really know that it’d grow this fast.
And now our goals have kind of shifted into creating more of a permanent clinic in Jamaica where we go. And then we’re also going to try to create a clinic in South Carolina where it’ll be called Pay What You Can Afford Clinic. And that’s where people come in. We tell them what the retail price of all their services, glasses, and contact lenses are, and then they just pay what they can afford to pay. And it’s something that’s kind of unheard of in healthcare, but we think it will work pretty well.
As far as product-wise, we’re planning on coming out more private-label and focusing on that area.
Chris Guthrie: Wow! That’s really neat. There are two neat things: trying to give back in terms of the service for Jamaica, and then also even on the clinic side in South Carolina. So that’s amazing. … About how much time are you spending on your Amazon business every week?
Jenna: It definitely varies, but I would say we spend less than an hour a day just responding to things like customer service inquiries. And Travis likes to kind of play around with pay-per-click and Facebook advertising. He’s really doing a lot of work on growing our email list right now. And then I take care of more things like responding to reviews, responding to feedback. And I do all the copywriting for each of our products that we release.
Chris Guthrie: That’s interesting. Let’s talk a little bit about the email list. And I also want to talk just a bit more about the way you split the responsibilities up, since it’s something that just kind of came up there. For the email list side, what are you currently doing to grow your email list? Do you have your own website that you’re using to drive people to email lists? Or is that specifically from just your pay-per-click advertising through Facebook?
Travis: Right now we kind of have a mixed email list, but we get it mostly from warranty registration. And then I also ask permission from our patients at our office when we collect their emails. I also ask for their permission to put it on our other email lists as well. So they’re on my practice email list and then our business email list as well. But right now, we’re trying to gather more Facebook advertising. That’s the one we’re really honing in on.
Chris Guthrie: Okay, and then I’m also just curious in general about what you both focus on. Does one of you focus on, okay, I’m going to be working on finding new private-label products within our specific niche? And you’re maybe going to stay focused on that one niche. And another person is focused on other specific areas.
Travis: We have the products that we’re going to come out with. We already have our probably 20 to 30 products, our next products, … all in the same niche. And we don’t really care about competition. We’re just going to do what we know how to do and stick with our mission. And it seems to be working so far. And like Jenna said, she does most of the customer service because that’s what she’s good at. And I’m sure I speak to most guys when I say this, that when somebody complains about something, you don’t really want to respond to that because you kind of get angrier yourself. And … relationship when it’s coming from her. Even when I respond to customers, I put Jenna’s name afterwards just because it’s a little better.
Chris Guthrie: That’s interesting. I’d be curious if there are any wide, large studies that show… I think that I can kind of see anecdotally how that might be the case. But I’d be interested if there’s a study. So if anyone has seen something like that, feel free to post in the comments. I’d be curious. So it’s interesting. Okay, that’s great how you have that split out.
And then how is your time commitment? It sounds like you put only an hourish a day. And I’m assuming that bulk of your time is spent just when you’re looking at new products to go with. Was it something that slowly ramped up? Or has it always been fairly consistent in terms of your time?
Travis: I’d say now that we’re selling more products, we are spending less time per day because as you probably know, the initial product launch takes all your time. And finding the products, finding the sourcing agent, once you get that in, it’s pretty smooth sailing for the most part. And you just monitor your pay-per-click every day. I just kind of play with it just because it’s fun. And now we’re kind of branching off into Facebook advertising. But for the most part, it’s mostly just a couple of little busy-work things that have to be done. And the rest is just kind of optional when I have time.
Chris Guthrie: I think that I found that when a lot of new sellers began, they spent a lot of time trying to make sure everything is right for the first product they launch, understandably. But then once you’ve done one, you kind of have a good system in place that you want to use for your future products. And you can go to work implementing that system and just kind of fine-tune it as you go through each product. And we’ll talk a little more about your product launch strategies as well. Along the way, have you found any mistakes? What are the biggest problems you’ve had?
Jenna: Actually, our biggest mistake was probably in the first product that we released. It just had way too many moving parts. And a piece would go missing or something would break. And we had no idea how we were going to replace that for the customer. So we ended up ordering all of the parts from our supplier. And we keep them in our house. So when somebody does need a replacement and emails us, we can just send it to them in the mail. So we kind of learned from that. And the products that we have now have significantly less pieces to them. So it works out a lot better for us. We get a lot fewer emails this way.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, so I’m curious then about that. I mean have you thought that if you’ve been able to reduce the number of moving parts in the first product and you’re still selling it, then maybe this is moot point. Are you still selling that first product though?
Jenna: Yes, we definitely are. And it does really well. But we just make sure we have the pieces now that we can assemble because before, we really didn’t. And we haven’t had too many complaints. We started working with the new supplier. And we really haven’t had too many problems since then.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah. Are you just storing that in your house, basically?
Chris Guthrie: Yeah. I talked to a friend. I went over to his house last year. And going into his living room, there were just packages of individual parts for various products he’s been selling all over the place. I was like, “Dude, you’ve got to get an office space.” He has a lot of those moving parts of the products that he’s selling. So he’s constantly sending out things.
Travis: We’re lucky it’s just in a small box.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, okay, that’s interesting. Are there any other problems? I mean it sounds like the biggest mistake was just you have too many moving parts in your first product. And you’ve got to end up sending out different pieces to it. That was not too bad. I mean, have you had any other problems along the way besides that, any type of sourcing issues or...
Travis: Our private-label products are pretty complicated. I say complicated by just what you need to do to get approved to sell them. You need an FDA approval to sell our product, which is pretty common. But ours is a little more unique because it has to go through certain types of lab testing that’s a little more rigorous. And then of course you have to get ungated with Amazon as well to do it. And it’s a little harder to get ungated in this category for some reason. And we had to jump through a lot of hoops. It took us about probably a month and a half to get ungated for it. And then you have to wait for your FDA approval and everything. So that was a little bit of a hurdle, but we knew what we wanted to do. And you just stick with it and just keep fighting for it.
Chris Guthrie: That’s great. I think that the other thing, even going back to what you were saying earlier, we had 20 to 30 products already online. I wanted to actually touch on that a bit more. What is your research process for finding the products that you’re selling on Amazon? Having already 20 to 30 that you want to do and having a roadmap for where you want to go with the company that far out already at this stage, it’s pretty impressive, actually. So I’m curious what you’re doing right now to already have that in line.
Travis: You kind of just hinted on it. We have a very specific market that we hit. And we went into that market. We knew what we wanted to look at. We don’t look at BSR. We don’t look at sales value. We just stick to our niche and just go with what we’re doing there. And just to give you an example, when you search for our main keyword on Amazon, you get 143,557 results. I just did this today. So it’s a pretty competitive market that we’re in. But we’re having a lot of fun trying to move up in the ranks. But for the most part, like I said, we just stick with what we know and what we love to do, and that’s how we picked our products.
Chris Guthrie: It’s amazing. Then what are you doing in terms of actually launching these products? Are you just reinvesting all the profits from your business back into more products? And that’s how you’re able to do that. And then you can focus on doing your day job with your optometry practices?
Travis: Yes. So what we did is we sat down and we said, “This is how much money we need to live, to pay our student loans, to pay our mortgage, to pay for food.” And we made that with my wife’s salary from optometry practice. And I don’t take a salary from any business now. And we invest all the rest back into the practice. And then we invest everything from this business back into the business because we know we have to live off of it, and we get that from the practice. So we invest all our profits back into the businesses.
Chris Guthrie: That’s great. So you’re basically doing that on two fronts.
Travis: Yeah, we’re doing it with our practice because it’s very new, and we’re doing it with this business as well.
Chris Guthrie: Just out of curiosity, how long do you think you’ll need to do that on your practice side? And then I guess at what point do you plan to switch that on the Amazon side as well?
Travis: We’ll probably keep doing it until we don’t know what to do with hopefully the excess money. We’ll figure that out when we actually have that problem.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, okay, great. So then your goal for the number of products you have, you said you have two more that are coming out next month, eight total. What do you think you’re going to be at by the end of the year?
Travis: By Christmas, we want to have 15 products that are humming along, to be able to sell the however many 30 to 50 to 70 units a day that they’re going to be doing. So we want to have 15 products by Christmas.
Chris Guthrie: That’s great. Okay. When it came the time to select the category that you wanted to go into, it sounds like it was something that you’re both already interested in and you knew a lot about. But maybe I’m just guessing at that. Was that the way that you went into that niche?
Travis: Yeah, that’s exactly right.
Chris Guthrie: Okay. Now the thing that I’m curious about too is because we have a lot of people that are listening that are sellers really all over the board. I talk to sellers sometimes, they’re saying they’re doing seven figures a month. And I’m like “I’d like to have you on the podcast” and they’re sometimes secretive. And I talk to new sellers that are just getting started, and they’re learning from the podcast and other podcasts and other blogs and everything else. So a common mistake that people make, I believe – and really, this is the #1 mistake, I think – is people picking the wrong types of products to get into. So during the research process, were there some different types of categories you thought that you would avoid for people that are getting started?
Travis: The ones that we’d avoid, I would say, are kitchen, babies, outdoor, patio, and of course supplements because everybody does that. And even our category, we’re in clothing. I would avoid that category because it can be a bear at times, and it’s hard to get into.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that makes sense. Another question I had too is about the actual products themselves. You mentioned that some of them are fairly complex, moving parts in the first one. And then you simplified the other ones. What are you doing to distinguish your products from your competitors’ beyond the products themselves? I mean you have the one, the exclusive patented product. And that’s nice. You can be able to sell something that no one else can sell. But what about on the private label side? Or maybe you have some more competition.
Jenna: We really focus on our brand’s mission statement. It’s on our listing. It’s on our packaging. It’s on our product insert. And we have a buy-one-give-one mentality. So every item that we sell, we give proportionate profits back to someone that’s in need. So it’s definitely something that you may feel like a lot of companies are starting to do now where they really give back. But we found that our customers really appreciate it. And they absolutely love it that we’re giving back. And I think that definitely sets us apart.
Chris Guthrie: Have you seen a lot of people leaving you reviews and mentioning that type of mentality where they’re buying something and you’re giving something away as well?
Jenna: Yeah, definitely. We definitely have a lot of comments on that.
Chris Guthrie: That’s interesting. That’s really a test, I think, between that strategy or not using that strategy because once you pick it, it’s hard to not keep doing it. But I’d be curious to see how much more… I think that it’s beyond the benefits of just giving away to people that are in need, seeing about how that works on the marketing side. Obviously, if you think about shoes, Toms, I believe, are probably the first ones who’ve started doing that with buy a pair of shoes and get a free pair of shoes. But I’ve seen other sellers on Amazon using similar types of strategies. So I’m interested in that.
Okay, I want to talk a little bit more about the sourcing. You have the one where you talk to the CEO. You’re able to get that product. What did you do to source the other products, the private label ones that you’re doing?
Travis: To start sourcing, we just went with Alibaba, like our training taught us. And found a couple of sourcing agents on there that were middlemen. And they were okay. And I would say to find a good, reliable supplier, you’ve just got to network and go to every event that you can that has Amazon, or that are for Amazon sellers, and just network with people because that’s how we found our current supplier. And we couldn’t be happier with it because it’s made our lives a hundred times easier by just knowing somebody that’s over there and trusting somebody that’s over there.
Chris Guthrie: That’s right. You don’t have to talk about who your sourcing agent is. But is this one of our mutual friends?
Travis: It is.
Chris Guthrie: Okay, that’s great. So you did use Alibaba initially. Were you able to do any products through there?
Travis: Yeah, we did our first couple of products through there. And to give you an example, what happened with one of the products, this middleman didn’t want to put the product together for us. So they sent us all the pieces of a thousand products. And we had to put it together. It was a mess. Our house was a mess because there were a thousand units. And our house isn’t that big, so they were just everywhere.
Chris Guthrie: I mean I have to laugh because when you talk to people that are selling on Amazon, you hear all sorts of kind of crazy stories. So how long did it take for you to put together one of those products?
Travis: I think it took us about 15 to 20 hours to put it all together and get it out.
Chris Guthrie: Oh wow! Did you just put them all together at once and then send them out to FBA? Or did you do a few at a time?
Travis: We just did it in segments, a hundred at a time. We hadn’t ordered again from that person.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, I would imagine that. So what are some of the other learning experiences you’ve had when you’ve been working with these different suppliers?
Travis: You’ve just got to have patience and really develop a relationship with them. Something we did for our current supplier for Christmas is we actually gave her a $100 bonus. And I think that really set us apart from other buyers. Maybe not, but that’s what we think. And we told her that we wanted to give her bonus, and if we could, we’d like PayPal it to her. But she just said that include it in one of our wires, and she will get it. So I sent that to her. And I think she really has grown to like us because she responds to us very quickly. We have her personal contact information. We can reach out to her any time, and she gets back to us within minutes.
Chris Guthrie: That’s great. It’s a continual theme that I find. You’ve been selling for less than a year. And it’s a continual theme that I find that when people are doing well and they seem to have good supplier relationships, they’ve done something nice. Even if it’s money oriented, that’s fine. But something else where they’ve developed a good relationship with their supplier, it helped really well.
Travis: And we actually got her really excited because with our Jamaica mission trips, I told her that we’ll eventually fly her down to Jamaica from China to come. And she was pretty excited about that.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah [laughs], that’d be awesome. That’s great. So what about on the quality control aspect? I mean I think after you had those 1000 units sent all disassembled that you had to reassemble, you probably thought, “Okay, what are we going to do here?” What are you doing now for trying to avoid anything like that occurring in the future?
Travis: Having that sourcing agent that we were just talking about, it’s just huge. She does all the quality inspection on the China side. Her company puts everything together for us. And she really does make sure that it’s quality. And we’re starting to really trust her more and more because when we get samples of products, we have her send those over, just so we can test them. And then once the product gets into Amazon, we usually ship about 2 to 3 per shipment order to our house. And we just give them away in our community area because people are always asking us about it. And then we just give them away there.
Chris Guthrie: That’s cool. Let’s talk a little bit about your launching strategies. What did you do for your first launch? And how has that strategy evolved for your future products and as you’re going forward now?
Travis: Our first launch, we just gave away to family and friends and used a Facebook group to give away about 20. And then once reviews started rolling in, we turned on PPC and sold out in about 20 days. So we did the common first-timer mistake of ordering just 100 units, and then oh, this actually works, and now we’re sold out. Now let’s wait 25(?) more days until we can sell again. We did that right away. Now we’ve got a little more fine-tuned. And we order usually about 1000 to 2000 units on our first order. We’ll do 30 giveaways through a website called giveawayservice.com. A lot of top reviewers on there. And you just have to give it away for 99% off. And we use that Facebook group still, and we usually give them about 30. And then we always turn PPC on right away just to start gathering keywords and see if it sells. And then we give away about 50 to 100 units through Secret Deals Club, and we do that a couple of weeks later as then the reviews are there. And then we do kind of a wave launch with the Secret Deals Club where we’re selling 30 a day for three days. That usually boosts us up to page 1 or 3 in a highly competitive keyword like we talked about that has 150,000 results when you search it.
Chris Guthrie: That’s great. So then is there anything else that you do differently now compared to when you first got started?
Jenna: We definitely stopped giving away products to family and friends for reviews. We found that those tend to get removed by Amazon anyway. And family and friends take forever to do their reviews for you. So we were just constantly badgering people for their reviews. And it just took longer than using another source for those reviewers.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, you think that of all the people who would be so excited about this new endeavor that you’re starting, that your friends or family members would want to review your products. But time and again, when I talk to people, it’s always the same story. It takes forever. Especially, it’s true after Amazon changed their review guidelines. You’re technically not supposed to do friends or family for reviews anyways anymore.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, this product was great. I was told to say this [laughs].
Travis: All right.
Chris Guthrie: Have you tried anything else that just hasn’t worked? I’m always interested in both what works and also what doesn’t work and then the story behind it, that story about having those products arrive, that you had to re-assemble, that’s the first time I’ve heard of a seller who had to do that. And I think it leads to an interesting conversation. But on the launch standpoint, have you had strategies that you’ve tried before that haven’t worked?
Travis: We’ve actually been pretty lucky because when we first sold out a product, one of my friends in my mastermind groups told me that you need to try out this giveawayservice.com, and it’s got great reviewers on it. And ever since he told me that, it’s worked every time. And there are great reviewers on there. And I’m not a big advertiser for this website, but it’s an awesome website. It worked really well. As far as launching methods, we do have one product that’s just a complete dud, and we can’t get it to go anywhere. And we sell about 2 to 3 a day. And sadly, that’s the one that we had to assemble in our living room a thousand times.
Chris Guthrie: [Laughs] I’m laughing hopefully because maybe enough time has passed so you both can laugh about it as well and other success can overshadow it. But maybe that’s not the case yet.
Travis: We can laugh about it now. It’s been far enough. But the funny thing is I just got an email from Amazon about 10 minutes before we got live saying, “You have too much stock of one item, and it’s not going to sell for two years.”
Chris Guthrie: [Laughs] Yeah, increase your sponsor ads budget. You have a 1000-day supplier.
Travis: That’s exactly what it said.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, okay. And we’re actually getting close to the end. But I wanted to ask a few other questions here. Similar thing too I found is that when you’re starting an ecommerce business, you’re going to have different challenges. And when you’re doing a business like your optometry practices, or even if you're selling digital products or anything like that, what are some of the challenges that you’ve had? Do you have employees you have there helping out with this? You’re doing an hour a day. Can you tell us a little bit about that as well?
Travis: We don’t have anybody yet other than that sourcing agent that’s over in China. And she doesn’t really directly work for us. She works for a company over there. And we just pay her through paying for our inventory. Some other challenges, inventory is always the biggest one. I feel like that’s a problem with everybody. And something that I’ve found – I don’t know if people have found this, and it’s a pretty simple concept – is that you can set up replenishment alerts on your products. And I set that to about to 6 to 8 weeks. That’s when I usually order more product. I think that’s huge.
Compared to our physical products, as far as our optometry practice though, this is nice because we don’t have to manage staff. If you ask any optometrist in the world, they’re going to say staff is your biggest headache. So both of them have their advantages. But I’d say going back to inventory, that’s probably the main challenge that we’re dealing with.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, I think it’s always probably a grass is greener thing about the challenge is the business area … type of thing. And all businesses have their different challenges. That’s great.
What about when you’re actually running your day-to-day? Is there something that you’re doing to get things done faster or some type of process you have in place that helps you out in any aspect of your business?
Jenna: We just make sure to definitely dedicate every morning to our Amazon business before we actually head into our optometry business. It’s just so important to consistently work on your business, get a routine in working on the business, and just have things that you do every day and that you work on every day, so that we can definitely stay on top of things.
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, it’s good. And I know you mentioned earlier that you have a website for your brand. At what point did you do that? Are you trying to use that as a sales driver? Or is it more just like a branding approach, so that if people on Amazon are doing more research, they search your brand name, and they find that you exist somewhere else besides Amazon?
Travis: We had to actually have that to get ungated on Amazon and get all our approvals done. So that’s why we just started right away. We had our website up before we were selling product. And it’s not really a shop. It’s just an information site that talks about our mission. It shows slideshows from our past trips that we’ve been on. We’ve been on four trips total. And it shows our products as well.
Chris Guthrie: That’s great. And then I guess the final question I have is that is there anything else that you think that the people that are in any area of this business… I think no matter how successful someone is or is not yet in building an e-commerce business, there’s always something that can be learned from a lot of people, from everyone, really. So if there’s one thing or a collection of things that you think that you could touch on, either reiterating what you had already said before or just something new that we didn’t get to, I’d love to hear what you think and can share with others.
Jenna: Well, for me, it’s mostly just you’ve got to keep your head up. You’ve got to keep moving forward. We’ve had a lot of tough hurdles along the way, but we’ve definitely learned from every one of them. And every one of them is completely important to how your business grows. And I think Travis has a couple of other tidbits.
Travis: I could really talk about this stuff all day. This is kind of my bread and butter. I think I have a couple of tips. My first one is just you’ve got to find your why first. You’ve just got to ask yourself why you’re selling on Amazon. Is it for the money? Is it for a purpose? We had to define why, and that’s why we’re doing so well. Our why is that we want to create free and low-cost clinics in areas that need it, and we want to support these clinics through this business. And then once we’ve found that why, we pursued products that matched up to that why. And we wake up every morning because of our why with a lot of energy and wanting to go at it every day. So I think that’s where a lot of people miss in their Amazon business, and they’re wondering why they’re not selling. It’s because people can feel it if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing and you’re just trying to sell a product.
I think another thing is you’ve got to set goals and make a plan to stick to them. I have a buddy. His name is Ryan. He’s been my accountability partner since October of 2014. And we talk once a month about goals. And we talk for about an hour or two. We tell each other what’s working for us, what’s not. For example, he wants to be a public speaker and life coach. And he’s going to make a great one some day. And just going back to the email I got from him, I told him I was going to make my podcast debut tonight. And he said, and I’m quoting Ryan, “Make sure you turn up your excitement a little bit. Mellow personalities maybe good in person but not on podcasts. Think to yourself what would Ryan do. What type of enthusiasm would he bring to this interview?”
Chris Guthrie: Yeah, that’s great. I think that that finding your why is a great advice. I think it’s something that no one has mentioned before on the show. And I think that also too, just the fact that you’ve set goals and you have an accountability partner that you can talk to about your goals. I have people that I talk to fairly regularly. And I think that that’s really what’s helped me to be able to continue to grow. And I think that when you’re going through life and through business, you’re always trying to do new things and to improve yourself and to grow your business. So that’s great that that’s working so well for you as well. So that’s awesome.
Chris Guthrie: So let’s wrap this up. Thank you again so much for both of you to come on. It’s a great first tandem two-person, I guess, interview here. And I think it’s great that you both are doing this together and how you’re doing it with your other businesses. And you have a great purpose for why you’re doing it as well. Thank you so much for coming on.
Travis: All right, well, thanks, Chris.
Jenna: Thanks, Chris.
Outro: All right, and that was the episode with Travis and Jenna. Hopefully, you’ve been enjoying this show so far. And if you have, please leave us a review by going to Sellercast.com/itunes. If you’re listening on another platform, please leave us a review there as well. The more reviews we get, the more people can find this show, and the more guests we can have on, and the more fun that we can have, and the more you can learn. So thank you so much for tuning in, and we’ll see you in the next episode.