We all hear of e-commerce success stories starting from small beginnings – this e-commerce CEO started from the bottom and now he’s here. Watch it now. 

In the second episode of Skubana’s E-Commerce Mastery Series where we invite experts of their respected fields to share their best practices for success, our host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz of InspiredInsider.com interviews David Wolfe, founder of Merchandise Mecca and e-commerce selling expert.

Merchandise Mecca is an online specialty store focusing on vacuum filters, air filtration systems, and home appliance replacement parts. Their wide variety of product selection, and optimized listings across numerous channels have made them an e-commerce success.

In this episode you’ll discover how to optimize your e-commerce business with these insights:

  • Merchandise Mecca’s journey, from starting out of a basement to fulfilling out of numerous warehouses
  • What to ask suppliers about prospective inventory to ensure profitability and success
  • When to stick to your niche, or explore other avenues to increase sales and brand exposure
  • The essential tools to optimize on re-pricing and gain positive customer feedback to stay competitive & retain customers

RAW TRANSCRIPT: David Wolfe of Merchandise Mecca

Dr. Weisz: Dr. Jeremy Weisz here. I am founder of inspiredinsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders like the founders of P90X, Baby Einstein, Atari and many more, and how they overcome big challenges in life and business. This is part of the Skubana Ecommerce Mastery Series where top sellers and experts teach you what really works to boost your ecommerce business. Skubana is a software platform to manage your entire ecommerce operation. Today I have a David Wolfe. He is founder of Merchandise Mecca for almost nine years, and he specializes in selling vacuum parts, coffee filters, and all the sexy stuff like air filtration. David, thanks for joining me.David: It is a pleasure to be here.Dr. Weisz: I do a lot of research on people and you really fly under the radar. I can’t find anything besides just a few things. I am really looking forward to digging into what works, what doesn’t work, what has worked for you. Just start off, what’s a must for sellers to boost sales when people ask your advice?David: Well, you’ve got to have good product. You’ve got to have good relationships with your suppliers. You have to know a little bit about how to operate some of the programs to sell, and you’ve just gotta work hard.

Dr. Weisz: What are some of the best questions? Do you have a network of people that you turn to in the ecommerce world?

David: I have a couple of people that I talk to. I had a friend of mine who has owned a central vacuum cleaner website for 15 years, and he is the one that I got interested in selling online from. I would throw things by him, and he didn’t really much care about me competing against him. If I had a question, he answered it and that really helped get me started.

Dr. Weisz: What good advice did he give you early on when you were getting started?

David: The best advice is that content is king. So when you try to sell something, you can’t just throw out a one sentence description and expect people to buy it. So pictures and descriptions are critical, and price, believe it or not, is much lower on the list.

Dr. Weisz: Really? So do you do certain things to build a really good description? What kind of components go into that for you?

David: Well, I order everything. I don’t put stuff online before I actually have it in stock. I bring it in, I take it out of the package, I see what kind of quality it is. I really try to sell stuff that is not going to come back. I want quality products here at all times. And then I look at what the manufacturer has put on the package. I will use that. I will go to the manufacturer’s website and see what they say about it. I will go on to eBay and Amazon, and I’ll look at other seller’s websites and see what they say about it. I will look at everything and I try to rewrite it the best I can and just do the product features, the description, the call to action — everything. Price is important. I try to price it fairly, but I always felt that if I had all that other stuff that it would sell. It does.

Dr. Weisz: So a lot of copyrighting and marketing goes into it. Do you find any specific types of call to action that have worked best throughout the years?

David: Well, I try to make sure that after I have looked at the product and I like what I see that I call it a deluxe or a premium, something like that, so they know that it’s not garbage. Then I try to let them know like if it is a vacuum cleaner filter that you need to change it every three to six months, make sure you have backup. Just real simple things, they seem to work.

Dr. Weisz: So what else works for you to boost sales that other people should be doing?

David: We sell on multiple platforms, and I just try to offer the product in a one pack and I do a lot of bundles and kits. So I will sell it in a two-pack, four-pack, an eight-pack to give people a lot of choices. And then I will put it in kits. If it is a vacuum cleaner I will sell the vacuum cleaner with extra bags and extra parts. Adding extra value and trying to keep it around the same price and that seems to interest a lot of people. And it is really hard to pull the price out for people to really compare it so it really does seem to work.

Dr. Weisz: Yeah. The kits, so it’s like a one-stop-shop for whatever their need is. What have you found is a sweet spot for two-pack, four-pack, eight-pack? What do people like to buy?

David: Well, it is interesting. I sell a lot of vacuum cleaner bags so you’ll get these commercial cleaning companies that will buy cases of bags where you will sell them. You will offer them 500 bags. So you have that kind of niche, and then you have the regular homeowner that just wants to get it really fast and don’t want to spend a lot of money. They will just buy one pack and then usually there is a middle of the road person that will buy maybe 4 packages, maybe 20-40 bags total, something like that. That seems to work really well. There is not a lot in between.

Dr. Weisz: Do you also sell to the big companies like a 500 bag or whatever?

David: Yeah. You would be surprised how many big companies actually buy on eBay or Amazon. You would be really surprised.

Dr. Weisz: What about things to avoid? What mistakes should people avoid with their ecommerce business?

David: Well, I do a lot of talking to my suppliers to try to find out what other people are selling. I just ask a lot of questions. So I am really careful about what I buy and I am really careful that I don’t overbuy. And that’s really important because I’ve had situations where I get, I think, what is a good deal on something and I’ll buy 1000 of it and I’ll be looking at it two years later. And I might be looking at it in the dumpster two years later.

Dr. Weisz: Right. That’s painful. That’s money throwing out.

David: Yeah, that’s a real pain.

Dr. Weisz: So what are some interesting things that your suppliers have told you throughout the years that have helped?

David: I have developed relationships with some of them to the point where they’ll tell me things that maybe they shouldn’t tell me about what’s coming up, what a new product is, don’t buy something because there’s going to be a sale on it. Building those relationships has helped me a lot. They tell me things that are very important and save me money and make me money.

Dr. Weisz: That’s interesting. So relationships are huge. So are there certain ways that you keep up with people like relationship wise or do you have a process for that that you, “Okay, I’ll call these people just to check in every so often,” or what do you do?

David: That’s exactly what I do. I will either call or email no more than 30 days out, even if it’s just, “Hey, just checking in on you.” Most people use email. They don’t want to be bothered with a phone call that’s not a sale. So I’ll do email and for those who I know maybe don’t check their email regularly enough, I’ll give them a call and just say, “Hey, just checking up. Anything new I should know?” And it really, really helps.

Dr. Weisz: So you have been doing this for almost nine years. What other mistakes would you tell your old David self to avoid?

David: David gets a little shopping addicted sometimes and I’ve had to really calm that down. You just get sometimes so motivated to build up business that you think you have to bring in all this new product and new inventory and do it all at once. What ends up happening is you’ll bring in 10 or 20 new products and then it will take you 30-60 days to get them listed. You have essentially idle dollars sitting in your warehouse. That can get to be a problem.

Dr. Weisz: Basically turning over inventory, it kind of goes into that.

David: You must turn over your inventory. Critical.

Dr. Weisz: Tell me about the process a little bit. They ship it to you and then what happens?

David: Well, the way it used to work 100% of the time is they would ship it to me. Sometimes it would just be a sample but if I knew what it was I would just bring in a whole batch of it and then I would get it listed. It really started out on eBay. That was my first foray into online retailing. Then I would take pictures and I would drop the listings. I have a little familiarity with HTML so I would write up my own listings. And I would do the bundles and the kits and all that, and I would get it going.

Initially I used to do this when I first started I was working out of my basement in my house. And that was very difficult because I was bringing inventory into my… I was getting UPS dropping it off on my driveway or I would go to a supplier and pick it up. I’d have to be bringing cases of heavy product down into my basement. I found a really good software program initially to use to print labels. I was printing the labels and doing the orders and then dragging the merchandise upstairs and taking it outside to the front door waiting for UPS and USPS to pick it up. Today I’m in a 3000 square foot facility. So we just download the orders using Skubana and manage everything with that. The orders come in and it’s really almost as simple as pressing print and the labels print out and then the orders and set up to go out.

Dr. Weisz: I want to talk about Skubana. You can go with a lot of different software packages. You’ve been doing this for a long time. First I want to go back to those basement days. Most people start there — getting it in their basement, packing and shipping themselves, carrying heavy boxes, but I want to back up one step. What were you doing before? I know we were talking and you worked for 17 years somewhere. What were you doing?

David: I was working for a distributor of floor care supplies, about 20 minutes from my house. I was a buyer for them actually. So I was very familiar with the floor care industry. I was buying a lot of items. We were selling tons of vacuum cleaners and tons of parts. And I was sitting behind a desk for all those years and then one day we had some other products there. We had sewing machines and certain electronic items like cash registers and calculators and things like that. We had a bunch of overstock, and we were just talking like how are we going to get rid of this and there was this platform called eBay. We thought, “Well, let’s try that to move some of our stuff.”

At that company we started an eBay business and we quickly realized — this was probably 2001 maybe — that this was going to be a pretty good thing. We just started moving product out of there. It was kind of touchy because we were a wholesale distributor but then we were selling retail. This was just a few years before it became kind of mainstream where pretty much every manufacturer sells to a consumer and the wholesaler does. At that time we really tried to protect it from other people knowing what was going on. But I was kind of overseeing that whole process.

Dr. Weisz: So at what point did you decide… because it’s a tough decision. You were somewhere for 17 years; you decide I’m going to strike out on my own.

David: Well, the economy was starting to get a little shaky in 2005-ish in Michigan in particular where we had a good stronghold there. It was a year or two before it really took over the rest of the country. We saw it. We definitely saw it and business started to decline. I had young children and I saw that my income was probably not going to be what it was and I needed another way… I knew I was going to need another way to make money. We had so many things going on at that company that I didn’t have control of. Even though what I was doing was doing pretty well, I just didn’t think that the company was going to survive.

Dr. Weisz: The company as a whole you saw it going downhill.

David: I saw it going downhill, and I said I’ve got to do something myself. So I wanted to do something myself that wasn’t in competition with my employer. Just by chance we had gotten a dog and we wanted to put up an electric fence. A friend of mine told me go to this company and this is where you buy it. So I go and I buy the electric fence. In the package when I opened it up was a letter saying, “We’re always looking for dealers and if you’re interested, give us a call.” I gave them a call and they told me how the operated, that they drop ship.

This was actually new to me that a company was actually going out and soliciting and that you could actually make a profit on selling their items. I started doing a little eBay myself with that, with my own store name. Then I paid somebody. I think I went to Elance.com, some website where you hire a freelance designer. They helped me make a website, and we called it petstuff.com. That’s how I started experimenting with Google ads and really kind of learning all that. I was doing eBay and I was doing that. And so I saw for myself that you can make money online as a single person trying to do it. I didn’t need a company behind me.

Dr. Weisz: Did you build up the business before you left the previous company or what was that transition like?

David: I had been building up my eBay business to the point where I had a really good amount of feedback which is really, really critical on eBay — getting your feedback and a good reputation. Once I did that I could probably sell anything. You really want to go and you want to sell something you can actually buy at a price you can make money on when you resell it. So I had used some of my knowledge of the suppliers that I had had. The other business that I was working at, business was really not doing well. I knew it was time to go. When it was time to go, I had already gotten this other stuff going and just really with the help of some people that I knew in the industry. One person told me to go talk to somebody else and someone said talk to somebody else. The next thing you know I’m doing all these listings on eBay for vacuum cleaner bags and filters and Kirby chemicals.

Dr. Weisz: It’s pretty random. So what was the evolution of product that you sell? So you start off in pet stuff.

David: So I started selling pet supplies and then from there I still did it for a while actually . . .

Dr. Weisz: I’m wondering why you’re not still doing it.

David: Because there’s only so much time in a day. That’s why. It’s a really good area to be in if you can focus on it. It’s very, very competitive. The margins are ultra slim. I had to make a choice at some point where do I want to spend my time. Do I want to spend it selling pet supplies or do I want to spend it selling something that I have connections with and that’s the choice that I had made.

Dr. Weisz: So you went from pets to… what were the next products that you introduced?

David: Vacuum cleaner bags. With vacuum cleaner bags I then started selling Kirby carpet shampoo because, believe it or not, Kirby is probably the number one vacuum cleaner bag sold. A lot of the people that have Kirby vacuums those vacuums are multi use machines and you can use them to clean your carpets. A lot of chemicals sold with that. So I would do a gallon of chemicals, two packs of bags, and an extra vacuum cleaner belt, just a little kit there for people.

Dr. Weisz: So what was next for products?

David: I was doing that and then I just built that up as much as I could. Then pretty much after a while you’ve got to start looking for other products and I started a few years ago getting involved in air filtration products for air cleaners like Honeywell air cleaners, Honeywell humidifiers and other brands, and branched out into that. So now I do the whole mix.

Dr. Weisz: David, how do you compete? Obviously there’s probably a lot of companies selling Kirby vacuum bags and everything like that. How do you compete now?

David: Well, as I said before it’s not always on price. A lot of it is on your reputation, it’s on your content, it’s on you pictures and then it’s on your price. The advertising and marketing is also very helpful. So I did all that and I probably have… you know the 80/20 rule? Probably 20% of the items make up 80% of the profit. The other stuff I have to have but I’m really careful when I buy stuff. I look at the market and see where it’s at. I’m not afraid if there’s no profit in it. That kind of differentiates me from other people. A lot of people want to be all things to all people. They want to have the whole category and that’s not how I opted to do it.

Dr. Weisz: So what are the best sellers for you? What’s the top 20% that you really focus on?

David: Air filtration is a huge issue all over. People talk about it all the time, especially this time of year when kids go up to school. They’re bringing up air cleaners and in the winter there are just a lot of humidifiers sold. All that stuff is really taking off and continues to grow. I’m pretty close with a couple of companies that work with manufacturers in China and are always looking for the next hot product.

Dr. Weisz: What’s hot right now besides air filtration or air filters?

David: We’re also doing stuff in coffee filtration. Coffee filters are also becoming really big for us, and we’re just looking to keep adding. There’s a lot of product out there that you don’t even realize until you just really do your research.

Dr. Weisz: That’s what’s interesting because there’s so much you can do and sell even within a certain industry. What’s your criteria for okay… because you’re doing all this research, okay, I’m going to move forward with this and start to try and sell this.

David: The criteria is pretty simple. It has got to be something that retails hopefully. I try to get my average retail at least to $20. You really want to be higher than that so you can make a little bit of money on the sale. You want it to be light and you want a lot of demand. And you want it to be good quality because you don’t want it returned. I keep my returns very low and try and keep that overhead low.

Dr. Weisz: What works for you? Like you said, compete advertising and marketing is huge. What do you do that works as far as the marketing and advertising?

David: Well, over the past couple of years Amazon has been just really huge for us. We’ve been learning the ins and outs of it. It seems to change and it seems to be a lot more people selling on it, so what do you do? We’ve been doing a lot more of the Amazon advertising within Amazon and just drawing people to the product that there’s not tons of competition on but we feel that there is demand for. So we can be a little bit higher price on it because we’re directing them right to our page where we’re selling it. We try to make sure that the content is there and the pictures are there and it’s fair priced. And then they see our reputation. We have a 99% satisfaction rating which is really, really high on Amazon. You’re able to convince people that it’s okay to buy it from them. It may not be Amazon but it is a legitimate company.

Dr. Weisz: What is the toughest part about the business?

David: Probably the hardest part is just trying to stay efficient and just do things as efficiently as possible, process the orders as fast as possible and accurately as possible. Get the product here quickly and then get it back out the door real quick. That’s a challenge.

Dr. Weisz: So tell me about… because obviously you put systems in place and software since your basement days. What kind of things do you have in place now?

David: Well, I’ll just tell you from the beginning we did not have very good inventory management. The inventory management was right up here, and then it went to spreadsheets and that was really tough. Then we were doing cycle counting and yearly inventory just to make sure that everything was what it should be, but it was terrible. It was absolutely terrible until I became familiar with Skubana actually. And that program has been just a huge factor over the last five or six months. It has really changed everything. It has simplified the whole process that we go through from ordering to inventory management to order processing and labeling, everything. It has been great.

Dr. Weisz: I think it’s important to talk about… and I don’t want to make this like a Skubana commercial or anything but I think it’s important to talk about within that some of the processes that it breaks down. Obviously you probably looked at a variety of solutions before choosing one. What systems does it have within it that everyone should look at whether they use Skubana or anything? What does it do for you essentially?

David: It keeps track of my inventory as a whole. Then it communicates that information to the various platforms that I sell on. If I have 100 of something, it tells all the other platforms that he has 100 for sale. If I sell 10, it takes 10 off of all of them pretty quickly so there’s no overselling. That was a problem before. Overselling can be a problem because you don’t want to disappoint your customers and you don’t want to get a bad reputation from them. That is something that other pieces of software didn’t really do, and if they did do it, they didn’t work as well and they were too expensive. And I’m a small business I would say, small to medium sized business now, and it really was unaffordable before.

Dr. Weisz: I don’t know what you share as far as this goes but to give people a sense what volume or numbers can people put on… what does that mean to you like a small or medium sized business?

David: I will just say this. We’re a multimillion dollar company. We do something around 15,000 orders per month.

Dr. Weisz: Wow. That’s wild.

David: So from my basement . . .

Dr. Weisz: Imagine you in your basement with 15,000 orders a month. That would be crazy.

David: We do ship a lot of the product that comes in here and it goes to Amazon, and they fulfill the orders. But we still do a fair amount of orders right through our warehouse here.

Dr. Weisz: What have you seen are the problems of overselling? Like before you had a system in place, what would happen?

David: Well, the way we avoided too many problems was we always sold products that we knew that we could get within a couple of days that we wouldn’t have to explain to our customers why we didn’t have the product that we advertised. Initially on eBay, people expected you to have the product. If you advertised it, you should have had it. Now, I think people understand that this goes on a little bit. Now it gives us the opportunity to maybe bring things in that we don’t have to worry about if we oversell. So that’s one real good solution.

Dr. Weisz: Have you had instances where you did oversell?

David: Oh, yeah.

Dr. Weisz: What happened?

David: We would have to refund the customer or we would call the customer and see if they could wait. Then you would almost always get some type of a negative feedback from them which would affect your overall ability to sell. Then you might have to contact them again and say, “We did refund your money right away. Can you please retract that?” It was a time waster. It was not a good way to do business.

Dr. Weisz: So what platforms do you find work best? Because you’re probably on a lot of different platforms, right?

David: Yeah, we’re on eBay and I do a little bit of order management for a couple other companies as well, processing. We have our own website, and then we do Amazon. We do it fulfilled by merchant and fulfilled by Amazon so we really can keep track of the inventory really tightly, where the merchandise is being stored and how much is being shipped and what our total inventory value is — very important.

Dr. Weisz: What makes you divide up… instead of sending a lot to… how do you decide how much to send to Amazon Fulfillment and how much to keep in house?

David: It was a lot of trial and error. A lot of research goes into it. It took probably a year and a half of just selling fulfilled by merchant until I realized that I could sell it fulfilled by Amazon, that it was even possible. It seemed like such a tough process to go through. You have to label the product and you can’t really screw it up. You have to put small labels on the product and then just get everything exactly right. It just seemed a lot more than we could handle. Then we just noticed how some people their feedback ratings were just going up and up on Amazon, and they must have been selling so much more than us and how were they doing it. More research just took us to… we have to try this. We did it. We would send maybe 20 of something and then it would sell real fast and you went to 40 then to 100 and then pretty soon you’re sending 1000. The numbers get pretty staggering. Most people wouldn’t realize the volume that gets sold by Amazon.

Dr. Weisz: That’s remarkable.

David: It’s really eye opening.

Dr. Weisz: Did you find the press to be easy? Don’t they label it and do those little things for you, or do you have to do certain things in house before you ship it to Amazon?

David: The fees that they charge to do that are probably twice as much as it would cost me to do it. Every time that I would see them charging 20 cents to apply a label, I would say a label cost me half a cent and the printing is maybe half a cent. If people are doing it efficiently here, we can do it for maybe a nickel instead of 20 cents.

Dr. Weisz: And over 15,000 orders; that makes a huge difference.

David: It’s a huge difference. Pretty soon they become real numbers.

Dr. Weisz: Right. How many staff do you have to have?

David: I have four full time people here and I have two part time people. Then you deal with the normal things that you deal with — turnover, days off, vacations, sick days, all that kind of stuff.

Dr. Weisz: It makes that 20 cents on Amazon not look so bad sometimes.

David: Exactly.

Dr. Weisz: I know we talked before we hit record. Most people in the area that you’re in, the industrial spaces, are kind of one and done. You’ve been there and you’ve expanded from one to four. What have you seen… I don’t know how much you talked with their business, but what have you seen why they go out of business?

David: They go out of business or they go back to their basement. You know, people tend to try things. They don’t have that “stick-to-it-iveness” and they just don’t want to work hard in order to make their businesses succeed.

Dr. Weisz: Tell me about that tenacity because up to this point I’m like, okay, there is a lot of competition for the vacuum bags. A lot of people probably start in their basement putting it on eBay and Amazon, but you are succeeding and doing really well. It has got to be something more than descriptions and pictures. What am I missing here? What else are you doing that is working?

David: I swear to you it’s just hard work.

Dr. Weisz: So tell me what’s a typical day like that most people would say, “Whoa, David, you’re working really hard.” What does your day look like?

David: At this point it’s a lot more mental labor than it is physical, but it was a lot of physical at first. My day starts out probably 6:30 in the morning with a cup of coffee and the Wall Street Journal, letting the dogs out. Then right after that I’m off to my office or I’ve got the computer up at home and I’m going through all the orders. I’m actually looking at all the messages. I have people to do that but I want to stay on top of that. I want to know what people are asking about and so I read them. I don’t answer them but I read them.

Dr. Weisz: You keep your pulse on things. I’m just wondering what you’re doing. You picture Michael Jordan how he’s so good. Well, maybe after everyone is done with practice he would take like 100 free throws or something. I’m wondering what are you doing that people are not seeing behind the scenes?

David: Well, you know that thing about the 10,000 hours? If you do something 10,000 hours? That’s kind of where I’m at. I’ve just been doing this so long I know what to look for. I know when to stop selling a product. I know when to look at products and lower my price to get rid of them. Just try and stay as liquid as possible so that I can pay my bills. That’s another thing too by the way. All the vendors that I deal with, I always stay within my terms. I don’t think I’ve ever been late for a single payment. Despite the fact that I may not be their biggest customer, I’m probably their best paying customer, and they always remember that. If you talk to them and stay in touch with them, you will get the benefit of some of the good deals and the opportunities to make more money. I just stay on top of what I do. I definitely don’t think I’m the smartest. I don’t think I’m buying everything at the lowest price.

Dr. Weisz: That’s the first time I’ve heard a Michigan graduate say they’re not the smartest.

David: Yeah.

Dr. Weisz: I’ll show my wife this.

David: Yeah. I always try to impress people. When they ask my background, I tell them I graduated from U of M Business School. They think I’m really smart.

Dr. Weisz: What keeps you up at night now? Things are pretty automated. You’ve been doing this for nine years almost.

David: Besides the dogs? I just always think about how I can make the infrastructure of my business better because there has got to be an end game at some point. As you get older you want to make sure you have the business really built up to the point where it’ll be interesting to somebody else. I’m not ready to be done by any stretch, but I think that you want to think about that and think about how you can build the business up so that one day you can pass it on to somebody else. I don’t think my kids want it. I do think about what am I going to do so that all the processes are worth keeping?

Dr. Weisz: That’s a good point, David. What infrastructure do you have in place now that you think is really essential? What do you think is the next level for you?

David: Well, I think it’s really important to have good people. I think I’m at that point where I have really good people. Just the process now with the inventory management has really improved. Of course, keeping good product here and then keeping good relationships with my vendors. If I have all that, I think I’ll continue to do well.

Dr. Weisz: Anything in the future that you’re looking at as far as infrastructure that you think will make things even better? Or do you think you’re at a point now that you have things, not coasting but… you know what I mean.

David: I’m definitely not coasting. I think there’s a point where because of the way the business is physically set up that I’m going to want to maybe go to just one larger building so maybe I can be a little more efficient with maybe the utilities.

Dr. Weisz: Because you’re in four separate spots.

David: Yeah. They’re all connected and we keep the prime product as close to the packing area as possible. We are fairly efficient in that way. And it may not be as efficient to do that because maybe it’s just going to be too costly to move and too costly to go into a more modern facility. This is not modern but it’s definitely not an A+ building.

Dr. Weisz: How do you decide when or if to even do that?

David: Well, I’ve been thinking about it. We’ve been really bursting at the seams recently. That makes you think you should maybe keep your eyes open for a good location. My lease is up really soon so it’s probably not a bad time to start looking at it, but it’s kind of a nightmare to actually do the physical part of the move.

Dr. Weisz: You probably have so much tied to the address and the shipping and everything. It’d be a logistical headache that you don’t want to deal with. What other systems or software? Is there customer service software or other things that you use in your business that would be helpful to mention?

David: For Amazon, we use a repricing tool which I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but that’s something that has been important to help maximize our sale price and profitability. We also use software that requests feedback from our customers if they haven’t provided feedback. Again, with Amazon and eBay, the higher your satisfaction level is, the more business you’re going to do. So we keep those numbers, like I said earlier, at 99% and it just really helps. We have an advantage over those that are less than that in terms of search relevance. Very important. (40:30)

Dr. Weisz: What do you use? What software?

David: We use a program called Feedvisor for our repricing tool, and then for our feedback we use Feedback Five. There are other companies out there but those have been really good for us.

Dr. Weisz: David, I love hearing the journey from the basement to the four warehouses. Since it’s this Skubana Ecommerce Mastery Series, my question is what are some of the best tips that people can take action on now to increase their ecommerce business? What should we leave them with?

David: Well, probably the most important thing is part of your question which is what do they need to do to take action? You have to take action. You actually have to do it. You have to go ahead and you have to try it. If there’s a product that you want to try because you think it might be good, I think you ought to try it. Don’t bet your life savings on it but try it. Think about what your liquidation price would be before you do it. That’s what I always do. Can you afford the loss? That’s one thing that I do. (42:05)

Ask a lot of questions. I simply ask my suppliers, “Are other people buying this?” That’s a great question. You get a lot of feedback from your suppliers. Any risk that you take, just make sure it’s calculated. Don’t take out a year lease on a building if you’re not sure you can make it. Do a month to month and pay attention to your business.

Dr. Weisz: That’s a good point. The suppliers are the ones selling it to all these people. You might as well just ask them what are the best sellers and what are other people buying that will be good. David, where should people check you out? What site should we send them to?

David: You can check me out at merchandisemecca.com, and then you can check out our store on eBay which is Merchandise Mecca. Also on Amazon if you just type in Merchandise Mecca in the search bar, you’ll find our products.

Dr. Weisz: Do you know what I find interesting, David? Why do you think that other people selling vacuum parts online are just giving each other advice and there’s not a cutthroat nature to it?

David: Don’t believe that there’s not a cutthroat nature because there is somewhat. But there are some really good guys out there who realize that the market is huge and they’re not going to get 100% of the business and so they just don’t worry about it. And they’re getting their own. Actually there are some really good people out there. There really are.

Dr. Weisz: It’s very interesting as far as that goes. I want to be the first one to thank you, David, so much. This is probably as much out there on the internet of you that there ever will be maybe so I appreciate you taking the time.

David: It’s a pleasure to be here, and thanks very much for having me.

Dr. Weisz: Thank you.

 

Interview Highlights:

“The best advice is that content is king. So when you try to sell something, you can’t just throw out a one sentence description and expect people to buy it. So pictures and descriptions are critical, and price, believe it or not, is much lower on the list.” (00:02:16)

“Well, I do a lot of talking to my suppliers to try to find out what other people are selling. I just ask a lot of questions. So I am really careful about what I buy and I am really careful that I don’t overbuy. And that’s really important because I’ve had situations where I get, I think, what is a good deal on something and I’ll buy 1000 of it and I’ll be looking at it two years later. And I might be looking at it in the dumpster two years later.” (00:06:26)

“Well, probably the most important thing is part of your question which is what do they need to do to take action? You have to take action. You actually have to do it. You have to go ahead and you have to try it. If there’s a product that you want to try because you think it might be good, I think you ought to try it. Don’t bet your life savings on it but try it. Think about what your liquidation price would be before you do it. That’s what I always do. Can you afford the loss? That’s one thing that I do.” (00:42:05)

“For Amazon, we use a repricing tool which I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but that’s something that has been important to help maximize our sale price and profitability. We also use software that requests feedback from our customers if they haven’t provided feedback. Again, with Amazon and eBay, the higher your satisfaction level is, the more business you’re going to do. So we keep those numbers, like I said earlier, at 99% and it just really helps. We have an advantage over those that are less than that in terms of search relevance. Very important.” (00:40:30)

Conclusion

We hope these real insights from a real seller can help your e-commerce business grow and succeed. Be sure to stay tuned – this will be an ongoing weekly series featuring a variety of e-commerce experts looking to provide you with hard-won knowledge free of charge.

Be sure to checkout our previous E-Commerce Mastery Series episode featuring Scott Scharf of Catching Clouds as he drops some serious knowledge when it comes to accounting optimization for your e-commerce business.

Work Smart. Sell More.
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