As Happy as a Quokka®: finally becoming a reality! Amazon FBA
So, you would have read in our previous blog post that it all started with a Quokka photo that went viral. I then made some silly decisions due to my ignorance in the business and photography world, decided to quit my job and drive around Australia, and that’s where we are up to in the story.
Well about 3/4 of my way around Australia, I started to really think about what I was going to do to start As Happy as a Quokka®. My mate who was mentioned in the last blog post was commencing his Amazon FBA journey and was letting me learn alongside him.
Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) is the process of creating your products, uploading your product listings to Amazon.com or.com.au for example, and then posting your products/ stock to the Amazon fulfillment centres. Then people head to the amazon website to search for their products of choice, stumble across yours, hopefully buy, and Amazon then collects a fee as you’re selling on their platform, collects another fee because they are storing your products for you, and then another fee because they are mailing it out to the customer for you. You then as the seller get paid the remainder of the sale. If your product gets viewed a lot and purchased a lot, it can be a really profitable business (according to a bunch of people on YouTube).
The Pros of this process include:
- You don’t really have to do anything once you’ve set up the product listings and optimised the for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) purposes. A little bit of maintenance, customer service and keeping an eye on things, but realistically, Amazon does majority of the work.
- You can sell elsewhere (your own website for example) and use Amazon’s fulfillment services, meaning you don’t need to store the item or walk down to the post office yourself to get the items to your customers.
- This also means you only need a device and internet connection to organise delivery to customers (if it is purchased outside of the Amazon platform), so you can be traveling, while running your business.
The Cons of FBA (which took us a while to learn):
- Once your product is there and the listing is up, you don’t have to do much, but the process to get there is long and technical. You not only have to organise your products (manufacturing or sourcing), but need barcodes, trademarks and such. It is an especially lengthy process if you are creating everything from scratch.
- You don’t get much information about your customers, so you are none the wiser of what demographics are interested in your products.
- If you want to run targeted marketing campaigns to your products, you are constantly assuming who would be the ideal customer, rather than letting the data explain what is working and what isn’t.
- You also don’t get the customer’s email address, which means you can’t follow up and ensure the products arrived in good condition or on time. You additionally can’t ask for a review in a personalised way. It all goes through Amazon in a boring, automated way.
- Those fees that Amazon charge add up if you have to run marketing campaigns to get people to see your product listing.
- Amazon controls everything on their platform (understandably from a business point of view). It is difficult to keep up with all of the things they are doing and changing on their platform. You may need to hire an Amazon expert to optimise your listings.
The outcome of my FBA journey wasn’t all that great. Simply, I felt like Amazon wasn’t the platform where my ideal customers were searching for my products. I might use the platform again, and potentially only list my products there but still handle the storage and fulfillment of the products myself. My friend, on the other hand had a lot more success than me. His style of products seemed to be much more suited to the people that were searching on Amazon AU.
There are some people that are worth watching on YouTube if you are interested in Amazon FBA. Some are better than others, and the ones that I appreciated the most, especially because their content was relevant to Australia are:
- https://www.youtube.com/c/AussieOnlineEntrepreneurs - Aussie Online Entrepreneurs (Neil explains everything clearly and in an interesting way)
- https://www.youtube.com/c/JackParrotta - Jack also explains things clearly from an Australian perspective
So, Amazon was the first platform I used to try and sell my products. Let’s put it down as a great learning experience, but a failure in terms of growing the business, building awareness and making profits.
Let me know if you’re looking into starting your own product based business and are thinking of utilising Amazon FBA’s services. I’d be excited to hear about your plans and hopefully successes. Also, I would love to hear from you if you have ever purchased from Amazon AU. Maybe it is a platform that has become more suitable for my products, and if the customer experience has improved, then it certainly is worth investigating further.
Next blog post will be about how due to the failed attempt at Amazon FBA, I had to build a brand, and not just try and sell products.
Stay tuned… the fundamentals of what As Happy as a Quokka stands for is next!