STEPHEN SOMERS is a 7-figure Amazon seller and serial entrepreneur. Also co-founder of Marketplace SuperHeroes, an education platform that teaches members how to create a 5-7 figure income stream selling products on Amazon.
How long has it been since you were last an employee? How easy or hard was that change?
Did you think that having a job was crushing your dreams?
How did you start selling on Amazon?
Did your first product launch succeed?
How do you scale an Amazon business? Is it by adding more and more products?
what % of your selling is done outside of Amazon?
Confirm Dismistify this: when you get to 7 figures selling all your cashflow problems go away!
Should I get a trademark before I start?
Should I create a LLC before my first sale?
what kind of adversity in a fast-paced startup? How to overcome that?
If I was starting today How to get started with any new business online the RIGHT way
How to build the connections and relationships needed to go beyond failure in business.
Getting beyond self-limiting beliefs that are keeping you stuck in life and business.
How to take massive action in your life and business every single day and keep on moving the needle.
The daily rituals and routines that you need to start right now to achieve success.
How Stephen failed as a musician and discovered online business as a way to move forward.
How Robert’s company failed and from the ashes of that company, the guys built a new Amazon business.
How MPSH Freight Partners failed and how they created a freight service to overcome that.
He and his business partner, Robert Rickey, are both 7-figure Amazon sellers and serial entrepreneurs.
The guys have built Marketplace SuperHeroes which now has over 3,800 members, as well as a full Freight Company and Accountancy Service for Amazon sellers.
They have spoken all over the world
Selling “boring”, everyday items across multiple markets.
Helping our community of Heroes create home-based lifestyle businesses selling simple, everyday products globally on Amazon.
Our aim is to create the #1 platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to come to learn how to build a real business from people who have ACTUALLY done it.”
Genuinely passionate about seeing our members become true business owners rather than just ‘another Amazon seller
we are painfully focused on making sure that our members learn the skills required to become world class business owners
Today, we have a guest who is a seven-figure Amazon seller and a serial entrepreneur. He is also the co-founder of the Marketplace Super Heroes and education platform that teaches members how to create five to seven-figure income streams selling products on Amazon. Our guest today is Stephen Somers. How’s it going?
Stephen: Going very well. Thanks for your introduction, man. I’m really looking forward to conversation today. Hopefully, I can add as much value in the time that we have available. Let’s get rocking, Quin.
Quin: You used to be an employee. When was the last time that you were a employee?
Stephen: Now, it’s almost 10 years at this point. I think it was 2010 when I started, so that’s nine years. Yeah, nine years when I started the business. But of course, before that, was almost quitting getting there. I guess nine years officially now and I haven’t looked back since.
Quin: I know what the feeling is of actually jumping out and not looking back. In my experience, it was not easy to let go. Was that easy for you? Did you have some hard times?
Stephen: Absolutely. The opposite of easy. [laughs] Very hard. I came from a background where my family were not necessarily entrepreneurial in nature, but parents were great people but were not business owners. My whole life, I was in the situation where I always say, “Look, I’m just in the music industry, originally,” and said, “If the music doesn’t work out. I’ll do business.” You can probably guess that music didn’t work out since I’m sitting here today.
Stephen: In a situation where didn’t have that background and I wanted to get into business after the music didn’t work out. Of course, everybody around me told me, “You’re crazy. Don’t do it. It’s the biggest mistake you’re ever gonna make. You should never go into business. People like us don’t go into business.”
Very much for a mindset-oriented at some point. Very, very difficult because I didn’t have the belief system of a business owner. Also, I didn’t have the skills of a business owner. I’d never ran a business before. They were the big things that held me back, certainly, and I got fortunate in that.
After asking around, when I figured out I wanted to get into selling products online, physical products, I was lucky enough I met this guy Roberts through my aunt. Robert had that business, selling products on places like Amazon and eBay in Europe only at the time. For me, I was lucky. He said, “Come in. I’ll show you how things work and we’ll go from there.”
I had my job. I took a vacation to go learn with this guy for a week. Went to his warehouse, saw products being sold and shipping out. I really, at that age in my early 20’s, the first time I said, “Wow. This is something that’s real. It’s not like all this online stuff that I’ve been Googling and buying and getting ripped off.”
That was my breakthrough, really, because it allowed me go, “Wow. I have a mentor now who I can begin to learn from. I don’t have all the answers today but I know that if I just stick with this guy and I do what he tells me, eventually, I’ll get some success and, of course, we have that success. We’re still business partners to this day which we’ll chat about. That was my breakthrough, really, Quin.
Quin: Perfect. Did you have that feeling that your nine to five was crushing your dreams or you just didn’t wanna wake up to go to work there, or was it really the entrepreneurial vibe that was biting you?
Stephen: A lot of people laugh when I tell my story ’cause people who are a little bit older than me, they say, “You’re only in your early 20’s. You didn’t experience life at all,” and all of that, which I totally understand why people say that. But to me, at the time, you’ll only say how you feel at the time. For me, working in a job, I love the people I was working with but that job was really strangling my want to do things for myself.
I always said, as I mentioned earlier, I’d get into business if music doesn’t work out. Because in the music industry I’ve been in, trying to make gifts, whatever that means these days, I guess I was entrepreneurial in nature. I was doing gigs all of the time. We’re filling those gigs and all of that, so I wanted to take that to the business world and actually do something for me because I’ve always been a driven person and I suppose being someone who’s driven, you wanna try and be in a situation where you’re gonna make money for yourself.
Since I’m a kid, I’ve been shoveling driveways, and all that kind of stuff, being in a job, really, when against my nature of wanting to have freedom, wanting to have the ability to do these things for myself. But my biggest barrier at the time was I didn’t have any business-specific knowledge. I never had a business that paid me full time before. That fear of, well, I have to jump from job where I get paid every month, or whatever, to uncertainty, that’s obviously a big fear.
While the job was crushing my happiness, ultimately, I had to make a big leap across to the other side of uncertainty and all of that which, again, now looking back with all the knowledge of business that I have after building multiple companies at this point, I know now that it call comes down to who you’re learning from, that they’ve had success. When you just really lean into a person who’s your mentor, you’re gonna get some form of success that way.
The worst idea possible was what I used to do, which was trying to piece things together from different videos online or different articles or different bits and bobs. That’s partly the reason why we’ve created our educational company now to help people like where I was. A lot of times, you probably hit this too, Quin, people look at your teaching stuff like how to sell things on Amazon, they say, “If you’re so successful, why do you teach it? Why don’t you just sell all those products yourself?”
For me, I always think back to when I was younger and didn’t know how to do all these things, no one was there to guide me. I got my shot when Robert said he’d guide me. For me, it’s like if we can give people that opportunity in some way, that would be great. Now, people said, “Why don’t you just do it for free?” Like anything, if you gave it away for free, nobody takes that stuff seriously, which we can get into. That’s kind of where I was at then.
Quin: I hear you 100%. To the point that the fear you were talking about leaving your job and stuff like that, that’s a very legit fear. I want everybody that’s listening to know that if you are afraid of leaving your job, that is absolutely normal.
Stephen: Oh, yeah.
Quin: Maybe something you should not disregard because there’s a lot of people out there that say, “Quit your job tomorrow. Start selling on Amazon.” You can’t quit tomorrow. You still need to be able to feed that business, so my personal opinion is you should keep it as long as you possible can if it doesn’t interfere with your growth and stuff like that ’cause you’re gonna need that money.
Stephen: I fully agree with that, by the way. That’s a brilliant point. We’ve seen it. I was somebody. One of our members, they purchased one of the products that we used to sell, one of the brands we used to sell in Amazon. We actually sold it to them ’cause we didn’t have the time to focus on that ’cause we’re starting my Marketplace SuperHeroes so we sold one of our brands to these people and the brand was doing really well. It was selling a lot of products. Whenever we handed it over to them, it was at that level.
What happened was that person decided to quit their job to start traveling. I told them, “Don’t do that because you need to focus on this brand. You need to make sure your products stay in stock. You need to be forecasting stock. You know the drill, and to make sure these happen.” This person didn’t take my advice and they just started traveling and doing all these different things, took their way out of the ball completely, and made a bit of a mess of that brand and, therefore, didn’t get what they wanted.
That’s one example. Obviously, for you right now, if you’re listening and you wanna build a business on Amazon, like Quin said, I would not quit my job today. Why is that? When you start selling a product on Amazon, at the end of the day, it’s gonna take time to get into stock ’cause you’re gonna get it produced.
If you see freight, which a lot of our products produce are bigger and things like that, it’s more profitable to see freight long-term, that takes time. Learning how to find products takes time. Getting samples takes time, and that’s all cool. If you quit your job today, you’re probably gonna be sitting around for quite a while after you find the products you’re gonna do. Really, there’s no need to.
Quitting your job is the goal for a lot of people. It was my goal as well. If I should advise myself back then now, I would just say, “Stay in your job.” What you said as well, Quin, is so important, you do need an income. It takes money to start a business selling physical products online, especially private label. Any wholesale, that also takes money. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing.
But ultimately, having that income stream is really good because it allows you to build your business and you know your expenses are gonna be catered for, is gonna be allowed for, ’cause that allows you to build this business with a little bit of a safety net, and that’s good because no matter what you do with a product, it takes time for that product to start ranking.
It takes time for that product to start working for you so having an income is great. Do not let anybody tell you it’s not. At the right time, when you’re making enough money, enough profit for your business that you want to, then, move from your job, great. That is absolutely available to everybody but it does take time.
Quin: Absolutely. The sooner you start taking money out of your business, the quicker you start killing your growth. A lot of people that quit immediately now, they need to take the money over the business to pay for their mortgage, or their rent, their car, and all that stuff, and now there’s nothing left to grow that business.
Quin: That’s so [inaudible 10:52]
Stephen: That’s a huge point. That’s huge, though. They could make everything, right? It’s so funny. A lot of people have different methodologies when selling at Amazon. We won’t get into our different ways of doing it today ’cause at the end of the day, if your method is working for you, that’s great. I don’t ever go head-to-head and all that nonsense with people. I just go, “It’s working for you, fantastic. Here’s what we’ve done. Here’s what’s worked for us.”
Point is that when you’re in that situation, when you’re getting your business up and running, you got to understand that, as you said, it does take time. You do have to reinvest, and that’s the biggest point. If you have a product that’s selling a hundred units a day, and your cost price to that product is, say, $5-6, you know that you’re gonna have to order anywhere from two to three months of that product.
It’s great to have a successful product, but having a successful product also poses challenges which, again, is why if it’s Quin, if it’s us, whoever, you do need people who are mentoring you, who’s seen these things before because if, all of a sudden, your product goes crazy, that is actually also a problem ’cause you use up your capital there, so we’ve learned a lot of strategies around using other people’s money.
But the point is, we have often tell our new sellers, it’s fine to have a product that only sells 5-10 units a day ’cause it’s manageable growth, it allows you to learn what you’re doing, and sure, down the line, if you get something selling crazy units a day, 100-200 units, it’s better that happens down the line.
Quin: Absolutely. I’m so glad you brought that up because there’s also another myth out there that is when you get to seven figures, all your cash flow problems are gonna end.
Quin: In reality, when stuff like that happens, now, you become a seven-figure seller or eight-figure seller, and you have products that are selling a hundred a day, and you need to order $60-70,000 sea cans at a time, you’re only gonna see that money back a couple months later because 23 days crossing the ocean, you still do 70/30 or 30/70 of the payments. Basically, you’re spending the money a lot before you’re gonna get it back. It doesn’t matter how much money make. The cash flow issues are always there. That’s why it’s very good to use other people’s money, too.
Stephen: Yeah. Again, that in itself is, again, of course, gonna give any big tip today for those of you guys listening, one of the things we’re doing as a company now with Marketplace, SuperHeroes, we are looking in time to offer capital to our members. We have a freight company that we run ourselves. I’ll tell you how it works on that. It’s been built specifically for sellers because of all the hassles we’ve had with freight forwarders over the year.
The point is with the capital end of things, if you can utilize other people’s money only to pay for things that are working and are validated, that’s the best way to use other people’s money. I see so many people trying to use other people’s money on unproven products that are just new and it’s just crazy. You might say, “I’m selling 20 units today in this thing. Why would I use somebody else’s money?”
It’s a really, really good idea because you’re selling 20 a day. Use someone’s money to take care of that, and then use the additional capital you’ve freed up now to start growing your business. That was something we didn’t do, Quin, years ago, that is. We were always in this cycle where when we were learning this cash flow issue, that one thing was doing well and then it was flame, flame, flame, then we’re trying to get new items in. This one ran out of stock, we used the money to buy new things. It was a constant bouncing act.
When you start using other people’s capital to basically manage validated products, now you’re in a good situation, and that’s a situation where a bank or a lender, they’re gonna give you money for something that’s working, or they’re not gonna give you money for something that’s unproven.
Quin: Exactly. A lot of people that are afraid of the interest rate, you have to do is measure and see the impact that’s gonna have one new. If somebody’s charging you 5-10% interest rate, your product is giving you a 25% profit and it’s better to do that than to let run out of stock because it’s also gonna kill your momentum if you do run out of stock. Those kind of things.
Stephen: You have to have a long term vision as well. Usually, I’m talking to people who are just starting on Amazon so we don’t get into these types of conversations, but they’re really good. A really, really good conversation to hover on this is, “What’s the bigger vision for your Amazon company?” That was always something I struggle today, if I’m being honest. I didn’t really know what the bigger vision is.
But the great thing is you can do a couple things. You can always sell brands, you can sell your Amazon Company if you want to. That can be difficult to sell as sometimes, depending on the brand and the business. But the one big thing you can always do in time, you can liquidate your company in the future when it’s doing very well and all that cash you’ve built up, you can then get that out typically in different countries or different rules but you’ve got different reliefs you can get from the government to take that money out.
For those of you listening [inaudible 16:14], “Why build in any way?” It was really scaling like why you really build it up, they’re just some of the things that you can do. Our attorney, actually, in the US, a guy called Robert Rice, a really, really good Amazon attorney, he helps companies do it all the time, sell their businesses and stuff like that. He’s seen some great results in that regard. Why was that? Because the people built it the right way, and they had that long return vision which was, “I’m gonna sell it eventually.”
Some people may never want to sell. They might wanna just keep on, get that money tree, let the money tree keep on producing fruit. At some point, if they just don’t wanna do the business anymore or whatever, then they can liquidate and get out that money there. I didn’t know that a long time ago. As to something you may not sound like rich advice right now, but that’s how you’re get money back out again. It’s a big thing.
Quin: Exactly. Exactly. If I was starting today, what are some of the steps I would have to do? Am I starting an LLC before my first sale? Am I trademarking before I do anything?
Stephen: There’s different skills upon these things. For us, we say LLC is very important. Some people, they try to go to a sole proprietor and change over. You know yourself with Amazon, they’re a great company and all that, but sometimes they can be funny. When you’re trying to change over from a sole proprietor to an LLC, things can happen.
We start with the end in mind because if you’re starting as a sole proprietor and you’re just like trying to dip your toe in, you’re kinda starting saying, “I’m not gonna succeed long-term anyway, so I’ll just try this.” We start there, doesn’t cost for any much money, certainly in the US, to start an LLC. LLC have a lot of European sellers as well. I’m sorry, UK limited companies or whatever. A limited structure is not a big cost.
It’s a great thing to do because it protects you, protects your assets, and all of that. Also, it puts a message down saying, “I’m gonna do something with this.” That’s number one. We do do that before. We have this thing whereby a lot of people say, “Start your Amazon account today.” We don’t do that ’cause we’re saying, “If you don’t know what you’re gonna sell, what’s the point?”
If we’re talking a bit of private label business, we start with research. Our big thing in Marketplace SuperHeroes is just research. We spend so much time there because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. If you put a product into the market that is too much competition is not something that you can prove upon you can prove your offer. It’s gonna be very hard to be found organically and obviously, with PPC, it’s gonna drive up your PPC cost. Massively, it’s very competitive.
That’s a very important thing. As somebody obviously spend a ton of time researching. When we’re getting close to finding the product, we’ve got a sample and all of that, that’s typically when people get their company ’cause this only takes a few days and at that point then, they’re getting close, then they’ll place their orders. It’s a timeline issue. It depends, but that’s how we go about it.
Then, when we’re pretty much ready to order our products, then we begin the process of getting our Amazon account organized and all that. So many people, they have an Amazon account sitting there for a year, and what’s the point? You’re not doing anything with it.
Quin: Yes. I know other people like that. The first steps are just completely insane, buying software. I know a lot of people that bought software and now, they’d tell me, “I have this software. This one and this one and this one. I started even email marketing software.” And don’t have a list, and don’t have a product. I’m like, “What are you tracking with that software since you haven’t sold in it?”
Look, it’s human nature at the end of the day. Before, I was a in-business and I didn’t know what I was doing. I probably would’ve done all those things because, let’s face it, they’re easy things to do. You feel like you’re making progress so you’re confusing activity with achievement as the same. I was one of those people. I’ll put through with my hands and I’ll say that was me.
Let’s face it, we all want to feel like we’re making progress and I get that. I think the important thing, though, is, again, calling back to the softwares and stuff, with the way we do our research, it’s a very involved process, takes time. We don’t use a whole lot of softwares, if I’ll be totally honest. We do have our own software we build to track research and we do have a way of looking at markets.
But, for me, when I started research in a long time ago, I used to use tools Terapeak. It’s a great tool for eBay research. I used to just be like, “Give me the hot products.” That was how I started. My first product was a cream campus wardrobe. I’ll never forget it, and I just broke even on that thing and I was looking to at the time.
It’s important to understand that it’s easy to get a hundred bestselling product lists and just pick one and sell that. That’s fine but, ultimately, there are the products that everyone’s gonna try and do because they’re the easy way and they’re gonna become saturated very quickly. For us, it’s like, “I don’t mind if take me a month everyday to find a product.” That’s fine, because if I sell for two, three, four, five years maybe, that’s a great use of my time.
For me, for us, for all the stuff we teach, we spend a lot of time there because at the end of the day, that’s the bedrock of the business and you can jump around and use all the software you want, but at the end of the day, if your product is not solid and your products are not solid, that’s another important thing, don’t just have one product. Have two or three, get them out there, then start testing optimization.
I know, Quin, you’re talking about email marketing, and I know you talk about building funnels. We often say it’s stage two for us. Stage one for us is we validate on Amazon. We do our work there, we do some PPC there. Then, of course, once we see it’s validated, it’s working for us, we start bringing in those secondary strategies.
But again, everyone’s process is different and, I guess, for us, a lot of the products that we’re selling, they’re very low competition and they’re not products that are selling 100-200 units a day. They’re products that are selling maybe five units a day. That’s cool, ’cause we started selling those in multiple markets in Amazon where we scale up our business relatively quickly without having to worry about getting into crazy strategies from the get-go.
Quin: Thank you for that ’cause that goes towards what I believe as well. Finding the things that not everybody is looking at right now because there’s products that, today, may not have super, super competitive categories or may not be full up competitors is what I mean. But if the product is on the top list right now, two months from now, everybody else says, “Look,” and they have it right now, is gonna have those products launched, right?
Quin: That’s something that I look at as well.
Stephen: It’s human nature yet again. I remember buying a product years ago. God, it must be 10 years, 11 years ago, and I will call it simple product research. It was teaching me good strategies for looking at eBay at the time and looking at what products have their auctions ended and have been successful. And all the rest. I just tell me what to sell and I’ll just do it. Because I just wanted to get something up and running back then, and a lot of people are the very same because we just want something, get something on Amazon, get it selling.
But really, being coach-mentor, giving people the right advices, you wanna know something? It’s better to take your time and get the right stuff out there than it is for you to rush out there ’cause some people, they have what we call a one product obsession. They put one product on the Amazon and watch it like a hawk, and because they have the obsession on one product, they probably found other opportunities that were less competitive.
Probably wouldn’t sell quite as much and they winged for the overly competitive, saturated product because mentally, they said, “That one’s definitely selling, right? ‘Cause it’s really competitive, so I’ll get involved in that.” When, really, it’s like, “No, no, no. You should’ve done the other ones.” I was the very same, so I understand that. I suppose that is the advice you really need to, as best as you can, take to heart because that’s the advice that’s gonna get you a lot more success.
Quin: Nice. Let’s get into a failure of yours here. Maybe with a product or, I know your music career failed, right?
Stephen: I can talk about a number of different instances for products. My first product, like I mentioned, was that cream canvas wardrobe. They still sell today on eBay and Amazon, and it was a mistake but not a mistake because you said something in the pre-chat. You were talking about Bill Gates, and how you’re saying that success is the worst teacher, and that can be very true.
That product, it did fail and that I got my money back but I didn’t make a cent. It was too competitive, there were too many people selling it but I rushed to get it into stock ’cause I want some selling. For me, that failure, though, that’s the reason why I began to be successful because I understood the next time I’m bringing a product, I’m not gonna just sell something that’s too competitive.
I’m gonna sell something, I’m gonna take a “risk”, although it’s not that much of a risk because my numbers, as we talked about, I know I’m making a good profit on this product. I also know, worst case scenario, I can blow it out not for free. I blow it out at cost and I get my money back, so I don’t move backwards but I learn again.
That’s the big thing. That was my first failure and it taught me a lot. It also taught me, don’t use the manufacturer images. That’s a really bad idea. Go get better images. And a lot of other things, too. I suppose another product failure at the time, we used to sell a lot of TV mounts for mounting your TV onto the wall or stands. We don’t do them anymore. They’re just very competitive now and people are selling them very cheaply.
The point is that we just thought we could sell any of these things now because it doesn’t matter. Our supplier gave us a catalog of products. Different things. Speaker stands, TV stands, different stuff. We just started randomly buying lots of different products they had without doing any product research ’cause we just thought, “If they are producing them, then surely, they work.” Of course, they came into stock and some of them did okay, but a lot of them didn’t work. They failed. Failed miserably, didn’t sell.
The reason they didn’t sell was we didn’t validate the market. Yet again, those failures, monetarily, they cost some money, but they bigger thing is they just help us refine our research process, remind us that we have to keep looking at these things. I can tell you another failure about a product.
We actually ordered, it was not a stand, it was for clothes. Clothes hanger, big rail. It was a good product, big product. It was probably gonna sell for about $50, around that range. It was big. Therefore bulky, therefore sea freight, all of that. We typically sea freight, anyway. Point is, came into stock, we didn’t a sample. Why? ‘Cause the sample was gonna cost us about $3-400. We said, “No. That’s too much. Do an order.”
We did an order. I can’t remember the exact order amount now, but it was probably anywhere from three to five grand, I would say, ’cause the cost price was relatively high. Of course, they came in, we opened them up, and they joined the corners of the product. The finish was awful. It just looked awful and very untidy. Very, very bad. There you go, yet again another product failure.
Really, when you look at all those failures, we could’ve avoided it all because we just skipped the process. That really will help us refine our process. I hope there’s some examples of some failures we’ve had. We’ve had many more, by the way. I can share a million with you. They’re just some that came to mind.
Quin: Thanks. Because you started and you said you do most of your freight and sea freight, is that why you created it, because you’re getting so much business of your own, you created your freight company?
Stephen: Yeah. No, it’s a good question. We only created the freight business. We’ve been trying to create it for about three years, but only in the last year did we actually launch it officially. The story behind that one really is that we’ve been doing sea freight for years. Robert, my business partner, even longer than I. He’s been doing it for nearly 20 years now, and we’ve been working with freight forwarders that entire time.
Whenever I started working with Robert nine years ago, started learning with him, we still use freight forwarders all the time when we’re importing. I’m with that right up to the time when we started Marketplace SuperHeroes. When we started Marketplace SuperHeroes, the last thing on my mind was starting a freight company because what we had done is, Robert had two warehouses, had lots of staff.
We then used Amazon FBA, other fulfillment sources globally, to build our company. We outsourced pretty much everything. The last thing we wanna do is go back to warehousing again, so here we were. We started Marketplace SuperHeroes in 2014, 2015 officially. We taught the process for a number of years. Of course, we were referring people to freight forwarders all the time.
What was happening? Well, people were getting charged a lot of money for freight. Sometimes, the partners that we had let us down, so three years ago, we said, “We gotta try to do something about this.” At the time, we didn’t have a whole lot of capital to build a freight company, cost a lot of money, so we were using freight forwarders and we were trying to build a unit within their company.
We just kept getting a letdown because wanted to do a very different model, which I’ll explain how it works. No picture or anything, just so everybody understands. What we did was we said, as work with these people, these freight forwarders didn’t work. Lots of problems there for our members which was not good. We had to solve those issues all the time. It was just a massive headache.
We said, “Let’s get some capital together. Let’s keep going, and let’s eventually start something.” Last year, with the help of two of our partners in the US, they’re actually members of our course, become successful sellers, Keith and Melissa Armstrong in Texas, they agreed to help us start a warehouse in Houston, Texas. We also had another one of our members, Don Mcnair, he’s over in the UK. He started our UK warehouse.
For the last year now, we’ve had SuperHero Freight. What we do is we put on our own containers with all our members’ products in those containers. We don’t deal with freight forwarders in that way. We are the shipper or consolidated network. We’re not a freight forwarder, we always tell people. The idea is, “You will have to pay these lest on container low charges on the sea. You just put your stuff in there and our freight into our container.”
People pre-buy their shipping with us. They buy, say, five cubic meters ahead of time. They pay a set amount of money for that so when the product comes in, they pay their taxes, they pay their duties, and a small handling fee. They don’t pay all these million and one charges that freight forwarders charge.
We’ve really solved that problem for members. They pay a membership for the year as well, so it helps keep things running. The idea, really, Quin, is very simple. It was, “You’re shipping on the sea, that’s where you wanna be long-term. Especially if you’re shipping bigger items. You can’t ship them via air, you won’t make any money. It’s like, “Let’s solve the problem rather than just keep them referring people.”
We’ve got about 520 of our members are in that now, and they’re shipping. We have the freight app online, and all these cool things. For us as well, as a company, it’s nice that our members’ success directly impacts our long-term success. If our members aren’t successful, they’re not gonna keep shipping and the thing doesn’t work. It’s good that we’re in it together with our members.
Quin: When you say your members are in it, I guess the members are the ones that sign up and take your training.
Quin: Can anybody, let’s say, if I was interested and I would say, “Hey, I have three pallets coming two months from now. Can I fit them in your sea can?”
Stephen: Yes. Basically, how we do that is we usually, up until now, we only had it available to members who are in our paid programs. We actually open it up now to people outside. The civilians in the outside world. Because, again, it’s a company of its own now, really. How that would work is simple.
Basically, we charge $497 to join for the year for 12 months and people, they would pre-buy. Let’s say you have two pallets. Roughly, that’s four cubic meters. Roughly, it’s two cubic meters for a pallet-ish. That four cubic meters, you buy five-cube with us. I can’t remember the exact fee now. I think it’s about $900 or something like that.
Then, basically, you would then connect us with your supplier so when you place your order, to produce those goods, you connect us with your supplier and then we deal with your supplier. We help get your goods to our warehouses in China. We consolidate the freight to bring it over. That’s at a basic level help. We have a full training inside our app and everything else.
Quin: Awesome. There’s something I relate about you guys, you and your partner. On your website, when you look at Robert’s profile, it says that Robert has generated between 10-20 million in sales. The profit of approximately 20-30%.
Quin: When I see numbers like this immediately strikes me of, “Okay, these are real sellers that actually know their numbers.”
Quin: That’s something that really bothers me. Hearing somebody speak about their profits and their margins and somebody saying, for example, I hear stuff like, “I get 250% margins.” That doesn’t exist.
Stephen: No, you can’t do that. [laughs]
Quin: It doesn’t exist. There’s nothing above 100%. Plus, in the real world, I doubt that there’s anything above 80% when it comes to margins.
Stephen: I think as well, that’s another conversation because it’s like we have two different ways we look at percentages of profit. The first one we have is we call POI, Profit On Investment. And we’ve got POR, Profit On Return. Profit on investment is the percentage increase of our invested amount. We would look for a POI of 100%, so we’re doubling our money. But our POR is what is that profit, what is that percentage of the sales price.
If you’re selling something for $20, we look for about 30% POR after all fees are paid, so we’re looking for about a $6 in your hand, that’s what I have as my profit. That’s what we’re looking for. We’ve built software to learn for all those things because you know as well, Quin, people say things like, “Amazon just takes all your margin, takes all your money.” I was like, “No. It doesn’t. Amazon, in my opinion, even my account always say to us, they seem to take a lot of money there from you.
I always say, “Hold on a second. You’re leveraging a global workforce, a global warehouse network, and you do pay storage and all, but again, with our freight company, sometimes we offset. We don’t charge much to Amazon for storage so we can offset those things. The point is you really only pay for when you make a sale. You do pay storage, I know that.
But the point is when you bear those things in mind, you’ve got a variable cost structure, variable cost-structure with a global company, that opens you up to millions of their customers, the fees in Amazon are pretty fair, I think, for all that you’re getting. The other side of that is if you wanted to have a global warehouse network, if you wanted all that customer support, you wanted all those things in your own company that you owned, just think how much money that would cost to run for a business on their own.
‘Cause we used to do it. We used to have all the warehouse staff. We still do now with SuperHero Freight. Back in the other Amazon specific business, we had warehousing staff, we had customer support, we had all those different things. It was doable and all, but if you’re still using FBA, you’re shipping here from there. For us, this does make a whole lot of sense.
The problem we had at the time was that intermediary position of supplier to pre-Amazon, we call it, to Amazon. That’s what we solved their SuperHero Freight. We always needed to put ourselves somewhere. Of course, that’s an issue for a lot of people. I think we’re on the same wavelength here anyway, Quin, on that point.
Quin: Yes. There’s one thing that comes to mind, when people do say that Amazon takes all my profits. In some people’s case, it may be true.
Stephen: Sure. [laughs]
Quin: When you’re selling a $10 that has the 15% commission, it is completely normal. Doesn’t matter if you’re selling a $10 item or a $100 item. But the peak impact fee, which is a fixed fee, if you’re paying $4 plus your 15%, let’s say, goes up to five bucks, you’re selling a $10 item, that’s 50% gone right there. When you’re selling something very, very unexpensive, of course, in percentage, Amazon is taking all your fees.
Stephen: Absolutely. That comes then to something you were saying, which we’re a big fan of, knowing your numbers is big. Also, a bigger point is whenever a lot of Amazon courses came out a long time ago, the big advice always was small and light items. Only sell those, don’t sell anything else, because it allowed people to air freight them in quickly, which we all know.
At the end of the day, it’s cool if you can sell a small and light item that’s got a high price tag, fantastic. I’d say, “Great. Do it. Absolutely do it.” If you can get better than a 30% POR like you talked about, you can get up to 50 or 40, or whatever, fantastic. Because if it’s small and light and it’s inexpensive and you can sell it for a lot of money, hats off.
At the same time, we always teach our members, “You know your numbers with our software. You can plumb your numbers in there, put in how big the product is, put in how many you’re ordering. That’s gonna tell you your profitability to the penny before you order it as long as you sell it at that price. Therefore, you can order bigger products. You can order bulkier ones. That’s fine.
Once you know your numbers, you can be confident. For us, we used to sell all manner of things. We used to have big TV stands. These were huge, these things were. They were almost just within Amazon’s dimension allowed. They were very heavy, too. But everytime we sold one, we’re making a lovely margin on those. A good cash margin. Maybe not as good percentage margin.
For those of you who are listening, you know what I mean, right? I might’ve got $10 but my percentage might be quite as good, but that’s fine. Sometimes, that happens. Equally, we sell products for $100. The market to all the stocks will make sense about product, it’s big and bulky, that’s cool.
At this point, when you sell those more and further come as difficult products, you’re gonna experience minor competition because most people, they don’t do them because they just wanna do the small and light items. It’s a big opportunity there for bigger products globally, as well.
Quin: I agree 100%. We could still find a lot of people teaching those exact same things. Just stick with the small and light. Non-breakable, get away from electronics. Personally, I don’t like electronics either, but I find that if we go into what you mentioned, the dollar profit instead of the margin profit, and you can find certain items that instead of selling 10 or 15 a day, they sell one a day but gives me $100 profit, it doesn’t matter. I can do those all day.
Stephen: Yeah. Great. [laughs]
Stephen: You know what I mean? It’s all numbers. Absolutely.
Quin: With the 2-3% return rate on something like that, it’s gonna take six months before I get a return, it’s just there’s a lot of benefits in there. It’s a lot of risks, of course, storing too many of something that is huge.
Stephen: Absolutely. That’s a big thing you have to consider, for sure. Typically, if you’re ordering bigger, bulkier items, you’re typically gonna have a lower minimum order quantity, anyway, because obviously, with the supplier, they don’t expect you to order quite as much. That’s not always the case, but that can be the case.
I also think as well, no matter what level you’re at in this business, the partners, the people you outsource to are very important because Amazon, you’re outsourcing, too. We know they are a quality company. They are great. I’d see stories all the time. I’m telling you, this is a true story. She is now a member of our community. She wasn’t, we’ll make it clear, when I first spoke to her. She told me she ordered something. It was only two-cube or three-cube, or something like that. It was tiny order. A little bit over a pallet.
She told me she said, “I paid freight fee of nearly $5,000 for this. I was like, “This makes no sense, though, because you have to divide that out and understand you could not make any profit. You’re losing on every unit. But
lady, she was piecing stuff together with Youtube and all the rest and just got in overhead, worked with a bad outsource partner, and unfortunately paid astronomical amount of money for her freight.
Things like that really annoy me but also motivate me. Also, it’s a business now to really help people because at the end of the day, that’s crazy. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of outsource partners, they don’t care how much money you make because they’re like, “We’ll make some money today and who knows if they’ll be back for us.”
For people like yourselves as well, Quin, I’m sure the ongoing relationship with your clients is all about you have to be successful ’cause if your’e not, well then, we can’t be successful long-term, right?
Quin: Absolutely. I like how passionate you really are about this and how you actually care. I know you wanna build the number one platform for entrepreneurs to come and create your business and learn with people that have actually done it. That’s what I appreciate. Do you have any plans? What’s your plan for growing this to the number one platform?
Stephen: That’s always the mission, and that’s the goal. For us now, as a business, we’re in this Amazon world and our intention is to really keep going deep with this. The way we’re doing that at the moment internally is we’re partnering with a lot of people who are members sometimes. Sometimes, other experts who we know we’ve worked with, we’ve [inaudible 44:44], and they’re bringing new things to our community.
For us, we have a lot of our success in research in doing simple Amazon PPC growing our business globally. But it could be just people like yourself. Quin, you talked about things like email marketing, building funnels, that’s what I would call a brand, we call the marketplace model that we teach using Amazon on Marketplace starter business. Then, you got the brand model which is going deep on you brand, going heavy on your brand. Getting outside of Amazon in order to build your brand up.
That’s the area now we’re bringing a lot of people in to partner with because there’s people out there even better than us in that area, so we’re bringing that to help our members. That’s key number two. Then, it’s really just having more services or building a company called SuperHero Office right now, which is gonna be CPA services and accounting services for our members.
Our goal is really just to keep on building more of those. Building softwares within my first few years, and then just keep on going and see where it takes us and see how far we can help our members get to.
Quin: Nice. Nice. Your CP, I’m guessing, is just gonna be for US-based businesses?
Stephen: It will be for US and it will be for European-based. We have a whole training we could do on European selling, one of the things that typically happens is a lot of even non-Europeans, they start a UK limited company. Why UK? Just ’cause our Amazon is located in Europe. It’s the easiest place to locate English-speaking, and again, this is not tax, or advise, or anything. I’m just saying what I see a lot of people do.
We have a UK arm with that because a lot of people utilize the UK site. The US site, we’re figuring out because there’s a lot of different filing of requirements in States, so we’re just figuring that out with a couple of partners at the moment. Once the kings get there, it will be an online portal where you can basically connect your Amazon account. You can connect your bank account and it’ll bring in your purchases, your sales, and then our team will come in and basically sort out your bookkeeping.
There’s a lot of stuff like that we’re trying to do. We have let a full-time software team in Ukraine who actually work with us now as well, so that helps us reduce all these things. We’re basically putting all the money we make for more coaching education back into the business to help people to make things better and that’s an important thing.
If your coach, you talked about it earlier, Quin, if you’re taking money out of the business too early, and if all you’re doing is taking from the business, it’s not gonna survive for very long. Especially, we know that, so we wanna keep on billing these things. I’ve spoken to a lot of other people who teach this stuff, and it’s cool. A lot of people don’t want to build services. It’s complicated, it’s hard, it’s tricky. We like it because that’s where we feel like we’re really helping people long-term.
Quin: Very good. What percent of your business do you think is from Amazon Europe?
Stephen: I would say 60%. Probably, it depends on the product. It’s hard to say, but overall, I would say it’s probably 50/50 now at this point with Europe and US. But I say Europe because, I would say, that would be UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain are the main markets right now. You can sell in all of those from one Amazon account, as you probably know with the EFN, European Fulfillment Network.
It’s probably 50/50 but, obviously, if you’re to break it up like US, this would be the biggest markets, and UK is probably number two, Germany is probably number three, countries like Italy and Spain, they’re still growing, they’re still developing. There’s new markets like Holland and Poland coming in, these markets will take time to grow.
But the great thing about them is they’re non-competitive. They’re really not as competitive at all because most people, they only really wanna sell on Amazon.com. Other people are afraid of Europe, actually, for VAT and Brexit, which aren’t really that big an issue but when you’ve not been in business, they seem terrifying.
But that’s another reason why we built all these services to make it easier for people to transition. So, about 50/50. US is still a big market, a huge market. I think people who say Amazon saturated are crazy. Certain products are very competitive, but to say Amazon is saturated makes no sense when you consider 12-13% of retail sales are only made online. Now, Amazon makes a big percentage of those but, still, there’s a lot of people to move online, and then going to move on to Amazon to buy things.
In my opinion, globally, the opportunity is definitely getting bigger and bigger. Of course, if you’re to only sell in one market, that’s fine. But to me, if I can sell globally, why wouldn’t I? Maybe that’s the European in me, looking from a little country like Ireland out to the world, that’s probably where we get that from, but it makes complete sense. Having good partners is important but it’s not something that’s impossible. It’s very, very possible.
Quin: I believe so, too. I don’t know, maybe the European in you, just like the European in me, ’cause where I was in Portugal, there’s not even any online marketplace yet, so there’s no Amazon.
Quin: No eBay, right?
Stephen: Yeah. The other side of that is when you think about it, you think of a country like, say, Spain, very close to Portugal, slightly different language, of course, but relatively speak in a close country. I’m sure a lot of Portuguese people would buy from, say, Amazon Spain. They might buy from Amazon.co.uk and might buy from Amazon.com. The point entirely is if you’re in Germany, Austrian customers are buying from Germany.
That’s the thing. It’s all these neighboring countries buying as well which just gives you this big market. Also, it’s important from a corporate structure, as you understand that, because if you go into Europe with a non-European business, an LLC or something like that, US LLC, you’re gonna be in a situation where everytime you make a sale in a different country, you have to register for VAT, which is why we give people help with that kind of stuff with our accounting partners as well, because you gotta know what you’re doing going in.
It’s not to scare anybody, it’s just like set things up the right way from day one, and you’re not gonna have these issues down the line whereas skip these things, they’re gonna become a pain down the line. It’s not a big cost, these things. They’re very low-cost.
Quin: You have about 3,800 members on the Marketplace SupherHeroes.
Quin: If people listening to us, if they wanna join, if they wanna learn more about you and your businesses, where do they go to find you?
Stephen: Just go to Marketplacesuperheroes.com. You’re spelling heroes, H-E-R-O-E-S.com. Everyone leaves the E. I guess I probably used this before at a website on. Marketplacesuperheroes.com. Typically, there’s just free education always on the site. I always point people there. You can go to Marketplacesuperheroes.com/next-generation. If you wanna watch a web class. But it’s free training there. Check out the Youtube channel, load stuff for free. We give value first just like yourself and if our model suits you, if you think it sounds good, great.
But equally, I just say no matter who you learn from, make sure you learn from someone that knows what they’re doing and you can actually contact them in some way. Just learning piecing stuff together from videos is a very difficult strategy. You don’t have any help or support you can get. I don’t care who you learn from, just learn from somebody who know what they’re doing. But Marketsuperheroes.com, best place to go.
Quin: Perfect. Thank you so much for your time, Stephen. I really appreciate this. This was super fun. I love how genuine you are and really passionate you are about this.
Stephen: Thanks, man. I really enjoyed my time. Hope people got value and hopefully, we’ll speak again sometime.
Quin: We certainly will.
Stephen: Awesome. Alright, man. Thanks.Quin Amorim, Host of Amazon FBA Selling Online Podcast